Mother Magic

Title: Mother Magic
Author: ExcentrykeMuse
Pairing(s): Harry/James I, Lily/Sirius, (past) Lily/James
Summary: As fate would have it, walking on his wife Lily cheating on him with his best mate was the most brilliant thing to ever happen to James Potter. It also gave him permission to openly fall in love with his own son and practice the ways of mother magic.

Warnings(s): Incest (father/son), Slash, chan (16/36), infidelity, graphic lemons, paganism, Muggle bashing, Slut Shaming (not really, barely).

Chapter One—

James sighed as he flicked his wand to open the front door.  It had been a long day at work.  Sometimes he really hated Aurors.  He knew they protected public interests but when he went head to head with them as a law wizard—

He sighed.  Sometimes Aurors forgot that until a suspect was proven guilty, they weren’t actually a criminal.  Unless they had a previous record.

This time around his client had been little more than a kid, a few years older than his own son Harry.  It seemed he had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The dancer he’d picked up in Knockturn Alley had been under surveillance for a good few weeks and actually had the Dark Mark on her ankle of all places.  James shook his head and a breathy laugh escaped his lips.  Sometimes he would never understand the fashion sense of the younger generation.  At least, though, despite the hours he had spent at the Ministry arguing and pulling every trick he had like a Muggle stage magician, he got to come home two hours early.

It was only a pity that Harry was at his friend Hermione’s for the afternoon.  Still, he’d be home for dinner.  He always was.

The living room was unusually quiet as he stepped through, and he looked around for any sign of life.  “Lily?” he called out, knowing that she should have been home.  She was a Charms academic and had leave over the summer to write an article, which she usually did in the living room or study.  “Are you there?”

There was no response.

His eye caught the sight of Sirius’s favorite leather jacket, which he must have left there earlier in the week, though it was unlike Lily to leave it lying around.  James had nothing against untidiness, but Lily was rather stern about organization and order.  She said she couldn’t think properly otherwise, and James and Harry fell into line.  He nearly tripped over a pair of shoes that weren’t his, and wondered at that even more.  Really, Sirius shouldn’t just leave his clothes lying about, and he really should have noticed if he were shoeless when flooing home one night.  Then again, this was Padfoot he was thinking about…

Shrugging, James tossed his briefcase into his study—the smaller of the two, not that he really minded (most of the time)—and loosened his tie.  He really hated his professional robes at times.  He found them stifling, and wearing a tie just reminded him of detentions with Slughorn, for whatever reason. 

He walked through the kitchen and noticed that a kettle was on as if someone had walked through only five minutes before.  A discarded Quidditch magazine showed that it was Harry.

A smile spread across James’s face at the thought of his son, the apple of his eye.  With a lightness to his step, he trotted up the stairs, taking them two and three at a time, figuring that Harry was probably in his room.

“Har-“ he began to call, but stilled at the top of the stairs.  “What’s wrong?”  He hurried forward toward the hunched form of his son, who was sitting across from the master bedroom, staring disbelievingly at the closed door. 

Green eyes turned to meet his and widened in shock.  “Da.  What’re you—?”

“Case finished early,” James explained as he came to kneel in front of his son, who was unusually pale.  He clasped Harry’s hands and noticed they were trembling.  “Prongslet?  What’s wrong?”

“I—“ The one word was strangled, as if Harry couldn’t breathe or force it out, and James furrowed his brow in worry.  He reached out and cupped his son’s face, and was thankful when Harry leaned against it in support, though his eyes had flickered back to the door.  James followed the gaze and then stilled completely when he saw the pair of stockings and one lone heel that had been kicked haphazard to the side.  Lily didn’t wear heals except when he took her out to dinner or a show.  Certainly not on days when she was working at home.

“Da,” Harry gasped, his hands scrabbling at James’s arms.  “I don’t—It can’t—I—“

“Did you get home earlier than planned?” James asked, knowing the answer.  He forced himself to look away from the discarded clothes back toward his son.

Harry swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing.  He nodded.  “Ron came over—and—“

“He’s your best mate, though,” James reasoned, needing to grasp onto anything other than the fact that his wife was behind that door with Siri—He wouldn’t even think it, it was too terrible.

“Yeah, but Hermione—“

“Oh.”  Realization dawned on James.  He’d wondered for awhile if Harry fancied his Muggle-born friend.  He’d always thought she was a little bit too like Lily, and didn’t want Harry to make the same mistakes James did in his youth—but he would never interfere.  “I’m sorry.”

Harry looked at him in confusion as if he didn’t understand, but shrugged.  Clearly it wasn’t the most important matter at hand.

“Why don’t you go downstairs and get yourself some tea?” James tried.  “I think there are some biscuits in the cupboard, too, and I’ll be down soon.”

“Are you sure?” Harry asked hesitantly, and James offered him a roguish smile. 

“Of course I’m sure.  I’m a marauder, and we can handle any adventure life throws at us.”

A doubtful expression crossed Harry’s face, but he allowed James to help him up and steadied himself against the wall.

“I’ll cast a Silencing Charm as soon as you’re down there,” James promised, pressing a light kiss against Harry’s temple, breathing in his scent.  “Love you.”

“Love you, Da,” Harry whispered, clasping James to him momentarily before slipping down the stairs, his shoulders hunched slightly in resignation.

James sighed.  He really wished Harry hadn’t been here to see—to suspect—no son should be placed in that position.  He was barely fifteen, and after the debacle of the Triwizard Tournament the year before…  James couldn’t forgive Dumbledore for that one, despite the loyalty of having once served in the Order of the Phoenix when Harry was a baby.  The official story was that there was a fluke with the cup, but somehow the winner—and Hogwarts champion, Cedric—was portkeyed from the centre of the maze alive and a moment later appeared before the stands, clasping it and completely dead.  Harry and Cedric had barely known each other, but Harry always felt things more deeply than other children his age, and he’d been depressed since then—and now all of this with Hermione…

He shook his head.

With a flick of his wand, a silencing ward was put in place and he took down the one that had been placed on the master bedroom.   Any hope he had that it had all just been a horrible misunderstanding disappeared when the sounds of slapping flesh and gutteral moans met his ears.

“Lily,” the familiar voice of Sirius groaned, and James’s jaw clenched in anger.

He inched forward and with a flick of his wand the simple Alohamora broke open the doorway and the door creaked open.  The familiar sight of his bedroom met him, though the drapes were drawn and lit candles floated in the air.  A pile of flesh on the carpet showed him that his best mate and wife hadn’t quite made it to the bed.

The sight was sickening.  Sirius was lying on his back, his black hair spread out, and Lily was riding him with abandon.  He watched as her back muscles flexed, and Sirius guided her hips up and then back down, her moist heat sucking in his engorged cock.  Clothes were strewn about them and her bra seemed to have been ripped in half.  It was also wine red and lacy.  James had never seen it before. 

Another glance around the room showed that his wife had been wearing matching lace knickers—and a garter.  Clearly she had gone all out for sex with his friend.

“You know,” he drawled, leaning up against the doorframe; he allowed all of his training as the scion of a pureblood house to come forward, arrogance dripping from his voice and gracing his expressions, “it’s really tacky to fornicate in a place where an innocent fifteen-year-old could come across the evidence.”

Lily halted, mid push, her thighs quivering as she fought against gravity.  She whipped around, her red hair flying out of the semblance of a twist and pooling down her shoulders, partially concealing her breasts—which were very wet.  He really didn’t need that mental image.  “James?” she gasped, trying to cover herself. 

Sirius sat up in shock and the action caused Lily to sink down onto him.  A moan escaped her lips as her eyes rolled momentarily back into her head at the new angle.

“That good, eh?” James quipped. 

“Prongs, it’s not what it looks like,” Sirius gasped, his gray eyes betraying his worry.

“Of course it isn’t,” he mocked back.  “You do know that Harry came back from Hermione’s early and I found him sitting outside, staring at the door in horror.”

Lily closed her eyes painfully.  “Is he—?”

“He’s downstairs having tea,” James assured her.  “I didn’t want him to have to see this.  He doesn’t deserve it after everything that’s happened this past year.”

Sirius’s arm settled around Lily’s waist as she swayed, off balance, and James stared at the action for several long moments.  The silence was heavy around them.

“Forgetting the fact that you’re married, Siri, and have a child on the way—what the fuck were you two thinking?”

“I—he—“ Lily babbled, scrambling off of Sirius and grabbing at a sheet to cover herself.

“It’s not like I haven’t seen it all before,” James shot at her, and she at least had the decency to blush.

Sirius, it seemed, was content to sit on the floor, a smug smile curling at the corner of his lips, as if he couldn’t quite control himself.  His angry cock stood to attention though it seemed to have wilted just a little.  The sight disgusted James.

“Right,” James began, taking in the scene.  Sirius was unrepentant and was now eyeing Lily’s bum which was peaking out from behind the sheet.  Lily was blushing and refused to look at him.  “Sirius, get out and don’t come back,” he decided.  “I’ll see you out.”

“James,” Lily begged, but he ignored her.

“The wards will be reset and in the next week Harry’s godfather will be magically changed.  Don’t even try to contact him.”

“Prongs, isn’t that a bit—“ Sirius shut his mouth when James pointed his wand at him.  “You won’t tell Flo, will you?”

Lily gaped at him.

“Not to her face, no,” James reluctantly agreed.  At the moment he had two options, really.  Either this was somehow going to be magically swept under the rug, and then it was a private family matter, or he was suing for a magical divorce, and then it would all come out anyway.  Looking at Lily and considering the state of their marriage over the past half dozen years, it would probably be the latter.  Merlin, he couldn’t even remember the last time he’d shagged his wife.  She always claimed that she was tired or on her cycle or just not in the mood. 

Grinning lazily, Sirius got up and stretched, and James noted that his wife’s eyes settled on his burgeoning erection hungrily before she quickly looked away.

It took Sirius only a handful of minutes to dawn his clothes, though a sock was missing.  James really didn’t care.  “You weren’t wearing a condom,” he realized aloud, and he shuddered at the fact.  He looked at Lily accusingly.  Thank the gods that Harry was fifteen and clearly his, otherwise the truth just might kill him.  He loved Harry desperately with his very soul; he was everything to him. 

He frog marched Sirius at wand point to the front door, sending Harry a sad smile as they passed the kitchen, and summarily kicked him out.  Closing his eyes and focusing his magic as head of the House of Potter, he felt the wards shift so that his former best mate couldn’t enter without express permission from him.  He walked back to the kitchen and Harry pressed a mug of tea into his hand with just enough milk in it.  He smiled at his son and leaned forward to kiss his forehead. 

“Thanks, Prongslet,” he murmured, stroking Harry’s cheek.

Harry looked up at him with guileless green eyes.  “Mum and Padfoot?” he whispered, his hands shaking a little when he set down his own mug.

James grimaced.  “So it would appear.”

Footsteps on the stairs alerted him to Lily’s approach, but he didn’t look at her when she entered.  Harry’s gaze never shifted from him and James wrapped an arm around his waist and pulled him close.

“Can you go and stay at Hermione’s tonight?”

Harry blushed.  “I—er—“

“Oh, right.  Ron.”  James sighed.  “I guess that means the Burrow is out, especially with Ginny there.”  They shared a grimace.  Ginny Weasley had fancied Harry since she had first laid eyes on him on platform nine-and-three quarters her first year.  She’d been a bit of a menace ever since, and from the sounds of it, had even threatened a few witches at wand point who were interested in Harry romantically.

“I could floo Ollie,” Harry suggested tentatively and James nodded.  Placing another kiss on Harry’s forehead, he released him.

“If I don’t see you before you leave—“ His voice constricted as Harry turned to look at him.

“I know, Da.  Love you, too.”

James looked down at his tea as he heard Harry connect to the floo and talk to his previous Quidditch captain.  Oliver had been a bit of a mentor to Harry, taking him under his wing Harry’s first year when he’d become the youngest Seeker at Hogwarts in a century.  He supposed he was almost an older brother to Harry in many respects, and he had a good head on his shoulders.

The sound of floo travel signaled to him that Harry had left.  He now was alone with a woman that he had thought he had known, but now seemed like a stranger to him more than anything.

The two stood in silence for several long moments, James not able to bring himself to look at her, although he could feel her presence.  He had been head over heels in love with her once, when they were children.  He’d spent so many years trying to impress her, trying to get her to go on a date in Hogsmeade, that when he’d finally managed it, he ignored all of her flaws, refusing to admit to himself that he could have made a mistake.  The Potter pride had then gotten in the way when his mother had actively disapproved.  She was a Black and firmly believed in blood purity, although her husband’s beliefs in tolerance had tempered her stronger views over the decades.  He’d let Sirius goad him into proposing, especially when the war seemed so dark and he’d wanted some form of comfort in the night.  Within a few months, Lily had been pregnant, and then his world focused only on Harry, and it had been that way for fifteen years until the point where it seemed that they were married in name only, as if they were two purebloods betrothed at birth—except James didn’t have any of the benefits of a pureblood wife who would never think of—with his best mate no less—

“Say something,” Lily begged, her voice small.

“Do you love him?”  James still couldn’t look at her.  It was too painful, not because it meant she didn’t love him, but the betrayal of the very act. 

“It’s not about love.”

“It’s about an orgasm,” James answered for her, and she didn’t refute it.  He glanced at her and saw that she had thrown on a Muggle sundress and sweater, her auburn hair tangled around her shoulders.  She looked like she had just been shagged within an inch of her life, and not by him.  A hickey stood out against the pale flesh of her throat.  She hadn’t even bothered to glamour herself.  “How long?”

“That doesn’t—“

“Yes it does,” he nearly shouted at her, and forcefully reeled in his temper.  James breathed in deeply through his nose, the air like poison to him.  “Our son—You did it in our home where my son could have seen you.  He saw enough evidence of it, so how long has it been going on?”

She scratched the back of her hand nervously. 

“Weeks?” he prompted, and she shook her head.  “Months?”

She flinched.

“Years?” he asked incredulously.

Lily looked away, chewing on her already plump lower lip.  He’d found that attractive when they were at Hogwarts, but it held little power over him now.  There was no remorse on her face, only sorrow and hesitancy.

James’s mind spiraled out of control, his thoughts turning to Harry, who had been sitting in the hall, staring at the door.  There was no shock on his face, only fear, as if he had known or at least suspected—and this was just the actual proof that he needed to know that the affair was going on—

“How long has Harry known?”

“Shouldn’t you ask him?”

“I’m asking you.”  James’s voice was hard, cold, emotionless, but inside he was boiling with anger at the thought that his son had been put in such a position.  His wand felt sweaty in his hand, and he was surprised that he was still holding it, as if ready to attack or defend himself at a moment’s notice.  His cup of tea was growing cold on the kitchen counter, which saddened James as Harry had made it for him.

Lily took a deep breath, her shoulders shaking a little with the effort.  “He walked in on us a little over a year ago.  He—“ Her voice hitched.  “You were working and couldn’t pick him up from the Express, and we lost track of time—“

James’s heart sank.  Harry had only been thirteen years old, and to have to find his way back to Godric’s Hollow alone and to see that.

Turning toward the sink, Lily braced herself on the countertop.  “I told him it was a lapse in judgment, that it meant nothing and asked him not to say anything.”

And Harry had done just that.  Of course he had.  He was loyal, and if he truly believed that it was the only time—No wonder he had asked about sex that summer, coming to find James early one morning before Lily had even been awake, stammering and stuttering and not making eye contact.

“You lied to him, then.”

Lily looked out the window and James noticed that tears were glimmering in her eyes.  “He’s so gallant,” she whispered in confession, lifting her chin high.  She reminded James of a priestess of the old ways, broken and yet strong, firm in her beliefs even when Muggle traditions ravaged the wizarding world and destroyed what was held dear—although Lily herself refused to even acknowledge the old ways and forbade James from teaching Harry anything about them.  “He came one afternoon to the university with flowers and took me out to lunch.  He’d found a little family owned place in Muggle London, near Russell Square, and he was so charming, so attentive.  Sirius seemed to actually care about my research, and he flattered me.”  She blushed like a coquette, sickening James.  “I knew he was a rogue.  He always was you know, back at Hogwarts, and he was recently engaged to Flo, but it didn’t seem to matter as long as we were in the Muggle world.”

James stared at her incredulously.  “Harry was eleven,” he accused, realizing just how long the affair had been going on without him even having an inkling.

“Yes,” Lily agreed, a bit reluctantly.  “I was glad when he went off to Hogwarts.  He was always underfoot, wanting me to show him magic when I wanted to work.”

James clenched his teeth and heard them grind together.  This was a familiar argument between them.  Lily wasn’t very motherly.  She was sweet to Harry when she thought she had a moment, but James was the one who would bake with him as a child, who taught him how to fly, and mended all his childhood bruises.  He often had to remind Lily to come kiss Harry goodnight, but by the age of eight, Harry had stopped asking her for anything, his entire world focusing on his father.  She hadn’t been like this before the war ended, but once You-Know-Who was gone, she didn’t seem to care that she had a family or a child except when it was convenient to her.

“Sirius made me feel beautiful and wanted.  He only married Flo to get a child.  That’s why he chose her.  She was young and fresh and recently graduated from Hogwarts—and a pureblood.”  Her tone was dismissive, as if she didn’t care at all for the young woman her lover had married.  “Sirius couldn’t get what he needed from her,” she explained, turning to James and looking him in the eye.  Her eyes were so green, though slightly less vibrant than Harry’s.  “She’s a bit of a prude from what it sounds like.  She was taught that one should lie back and think of England.”  A tinkling laugh escaped her throat as if she thought it were funny.

“Don’t be such a hypocrite,” James spat at her, remembering the first few years of their marriage when Lily behaved exactly the same way.  She wasn’t remotely adventurous, wouldn’t try anything.  She just wanted to lie back and make James do all the work, and then complained afterwards.  It was never really an act of two people; she expected pleasure to just happen if she lay there like a wet fish.

Her eyes flashed dangerously.  “That was years ago.”

“Yes,” James agreed.  “But you were Florence’s age, and thought the same way.”

“It was your job as my husband—“

“Not this again,” James sighed, laying his head in his hand in defeat.  They hadn’t had this discussion in years, and he didn’t plan on having it now that their marriage was in shambles and unlikely to be repaired. 

She huffed and he heard her moving about the kitchen.  “It’s not like you haven’t nipped out to—“

“Just because I’m a pureblood doesn’t mean I’m unfaithful to you,” James shot at her angrily.

Lily looked at him, shocked.  “I thought—“

“You thought wrong,” James answered, his shoulders slumped.  “I just—Are you even sorry?”

She glared at him.  That was all the answer he needed.  The marriage, as far as he was concerned, was officially over.

“You have half an hour to get whatever you need together before the wards will evict you from the property.  You’ll be sued for a magical divorce this time tomorrow, and as of this moment you can no longer use the name of Potter.”  He didn’t look at her, instead turning to his tea and tapping it with his wand to warm it back to the temperature he liked it.

“You can’t—“

“Oh yes, my dear, I can,” he answered scathingly. 

“Why couldn’t you just love me the way I was?” she whispered brokenly, and James spun around, staring at her incredulously.  She was leaning against the counter, and seemed so much smaller than she actually was, tears glittering on her ginger eyelashes.  Glancing at him, their eyes met, hers wide and imploring.

“You’ve made your bed,” he told her as gently as he could, though his voice was still hard.

“There’ll be scandal,” she told him.  “It will affect Harry.”

It was a low blow, even for her.

“The fault lies with you.”  And it was the truth.  She had slept with his best mate, their son’s godfather for years.  She’d forgotten to pick up Harry from King’s Cross, let him walk in on her and then continued the affair, uncaring, and barely any more careful, given that Harry had still suspected it was going on and he had nearly walked in on them again.

He walked up to her and leaned forward.  He watched her prepare herself for a kiss that would never come from him again.  “If you ever come near Harry again, I will kill you,” he promised, and then swept out of the room, not looking back at her although he could hear her quiet sobs.

Chapter Two—

This couldn’t be in house, James decided.  He had just enough time before closing hours and with the wards closed against Lily and a note left on the kitchen table in case Harry strangely came back, James floo’d to magical London.

“No, I don’t have an appointment,” he told the receptionist, who was a pretty witch with ginger hair.  How he hated ginger hair now.  He didn’t think he’d be able to look at the color ever again without revulsion.  “Please tell Mr. Lestrange that it is urgent and that I need a law wizard immediately.”

“For yourself?” she squeaked, clearly knowing who James was.

“Obviously.”

“Right.”  She grabbed a quill and wrote something down on a scrap of parchment, that she then charmed into a little airplane.  James noticed that it was red, showing that the memo was urgent.  “If you could take a seat, Lord Potter.”  She tried to smile at him, but it fell flat, not that James cared.

In a matter of minutes, he was ushered through to Lestrange’s office, and saw that the law wizard was sitting behind a desk with several folders on it.

“Potter,” he greeted.  “What a surprise it is to see you.”  Rabastan Lestrange was a handsome man with chocolate curls and a full mouth.  It had been rumored that he was a Death Eater during the war, but no one had ever found evidence against him, so he had walked.  Still, he was a menace of a law wizard, and was known in magical Britain for his unrelenting success in championing pureblood rights, which is exactly what James needed at the moment.

“I need a divorce,” he told Lestrange quickly and without preamble. 

The two men stared at each other for a long, drawn out moment, and Lestrange nodded, a curl of a smile on his lips. 

“I walked in on my wife at the house with my son’s godfather.”

Lestrange dipped a quill into a pot of ink and began making notes.  “His name?”

“Lord Black,” James answered. 

Lestrange stilled for a moment and then quickly scratched notes. 

“My son was home and there were clothes lying everywhere.  I found him sitting in front of the bedroom staring at the door.”  James grimaced at the memory.  “They weren’t using protection,” he got out through clenched teeth.  He knew this was important.  Lestrange had to know all the facts to make sure that Lily was completely blocked from everything.  Normally, he would go for an annulment, it was easy enough with the right law wizard if you were a pureblood and the Muggle-born spouse was in the wrong, but he couldn’t leave Harry a bastard.  He was too precious, so it would have to be divorce, and Lily could have no claim.  “I got out of her that it’s been going on for about four years.  Also, when Harry was thirteen, she forgot to pick him up from King’s Cross.  He had to come home on his own and walked in on them then.”

“Harry is your only child?”  Lestrange’s tone with cold, professional, unsympathetic.  It was exactly what James needed at the moment, though it didn’t make Lestrange any less of a bastard.

“Yes,” James answered.  “I need him legitimate.  He shouldn’t be held responsible for her faults.  There can be no annulment.”

“Where is he now?” Lestrange asked kindly, or as kindly as he could.  His blue eyes were glinting maliciously, though James knew from experience that it was at the thought of what Lily had done.  Few purebloods, even those who weren’t extremists, had any tolerance of Muggle-borns cuckolding purebloods, even blood traitors.

“His old Quidditch Captain’s flat.  He’ll be safe there for the night.”

Lestrange dipped the quill again and it hovered above the parchment.  “I’m assuming she lied to him and told him that it was the only time?”

James nodded.  “She made him keep it a secret, but I think from what I saw today, that Harry at least suspected that it continued.—She’s never been much of a mother.  She’s thought of Harry as a nuisance since he was three, and refused to allow me to bring him up in the Old Ways.”

“Conspiracy,” Lestrange murmured.  “She’s been breaking her marriage vows for over a decade.”

Grinding his teeth together in frustration at the situation, James looked away.

“I take it they’re both banned from your home?”

“Yes,” James answered.  “I also need to have Sirius’s privilege as Harry’s godfather revoked.”

“And the replacement?”

James slouched against the chair.  He had no idea.  Peter was locked up in Azkaban.  It turned out he was a Death Eater and he was arrested only a few short months after Harry was born, and Remus was a werewolf and unsuitable by magical law.  The Prewett brothers were dead—

The sound of rustling paper drew his attention back to Lestrange who was now looking at a large family tree.  He noticed it was the Blacks’.  “Your mother was Dorea Black,” he murmured, tracing a line, and James grunted in agreement.  “Who’s the godmother?”

“He doesn’t have one,” James admitted.  “Once Lily realized what a magical godparent does…”  His voice trailed off in defeat.

Lestrange stared at him and then pushed the parchment aside, scribbling furiously at his notes.  “We want people in power,” he murmured.  “Purebloods.  You have a good relationship with Amelia Bones, correct?”

James smiled wistfully.  “Yes,” he admitted.  Although she was the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, she was a stickler for protocol and wouldn’t let her Aurors get away with anything if she could help it.  Harry was also friends with her niece, Susan, who was in his year at Hogwarts.

“I’ll send out a request immediately,” Lestrange promised.  He hesitated.  “How do you feel about Lucius Malfoy?”

James’s eyebrows shot up.  “Pardon?” he gasped.

“Hear me out,” Lestrange said.  “Apart from being married to my sister-in-law’s darling little sister, he and Lord Black are known to be enemies.”

“He was suspected of being a Death Eater,” James argued.

Lestrange looked at him serenely.  “So was I, and yet you’re here.  Lucius may be many things, but he is loyal and likes a good vendetta.  He also believes in the purity of houses—and will want to purify your house and help with that in any way possible.  He’d consider being your son’s godfather a privilege as he’d be able to bring him back to the Old Ways and perhaps influence him in the future to marry a pureblood.”

“How Slytherin of him,” James sighed resignedly.

“Yes,” Lestrange agreed.  “However, if he were your son’s godfather, it will send a clear message, and Lucius will be loyal to you and your son’s interest.  You’re also distantly related by marriage.”

James sat back in his chair and rubbed his forehead distractedly, thinking of all the pros and cons.  His mind was a whirl of images, Harry’s shocked face, Lily’s back flexing as she gasped in pleasure, a wet nipple shining at him—

“It can be changed later?”

“If necessary,” Lestrange agreed, and James nodded his acceptance.

The house at Godric’s Hollow was unbearably empty when he arrived that night, and James wound up ordering takeaway.  Part of him wanted to sell it, to just forget that Lily was ever a part of his life, but he shoved aside the thought.  This was Harry’s home, where he had raised his beloved son.  As he lingered in the door of the master bedroom, he saw Lily again in his mind’s eye, her green gaze flashing at him in a lust that wasn’t for him.

Strangely, it didn’t hurt as much as it should.  He just felt numb.

He stared at the carpet and the image of Lily morphed within his mind, the eyes becoming more vibrant, the lips a bit thinner, the cheekbones higher.  The hair around the smooth face was no longer a deep auburn, but a familiar black that almost shone blue in the light, and it came down to the shoulders, slick with sweat.  Glasses were perched on the nose, slightly askew, and he imagined himself kissing the pink lips as they gasped from pleasure.

James shook the thought away.

He wondered where Hapsy was, and found her sitting in the attic, sewing.  A new rush of rage swept over him when the house-elf confessed that Mistress had sent her there again and she wasn’t to move until she was ordered to.

“You no longer have a mistress,” James informed her, and the elf began to cry large purple tears, bobbing her head and whispering that she was glad.  He set her to changing the linens and rug in the master bedroom, telling her to sleep when she was tired even if she wasn’t finished, and slept in Harry’s room atop the covers.  He fell asleep staring at a promotional poster of Oliver on the ceiling.

The next morning he lingered in the kitchen, not wanting to go back to work and face another battle at the Ministry for Magic.  He was dressed impeccably thanks to Hapsy, but the house felt wrong without Harry there to brighten it with his smiles or laughter.

The sound of the floo connecting startled him, and he came into the room to see Ronald Weasley brushing off soot from his secondhand clothes.  “Harry?” he called out, not noticing.  A smile was spread across his face and his blue eyes were alight with joy.  “She said yes!  Elissa said yes!”

“Who’s Elissa?” James asked in confusion, and Ron visibly startled.

“Oh, hi, Mr. Potter,” Ron greeted, the smile from his face dimming a bit.  “Where’s Harry?”

“He spent the night at Oliver’s,” he responded.  “We had a bit of a rough evening and I thought it was better if he got away for a bit.”

Ron’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion.  “Oh.  Right.  He could have come over mine, though Ginny’s there.”  He grimaced at the thought.  “She’s been rabid since—well—“ The boy blushed to the roots of his ginger hair.

More ginger.  James wanted to groan, but he held back the impulse.

Ron shifted uncomfortably under his gaze.  “Er—do you know when he’ll be back?”

“No idea,” James answered truthfully.  “I’ll leave him a note to floo you.  You’ll be at the Burrow, right?”

“Er—right,” Ron said, a lopsided smile spreading across his face again.  “Tell him that Elissa’s my girlfriend, too.  Er—she’s Mione’s little sister.  Hermione gave me a right chewing out yesterday about being a gentleman.  Lasted for hours.

James blinked at him and then nodded.  Well, it seemed like Harry still had a chance with Hermione if he wanted one, though James didn’t really like the idea.  Still, he never wanted his son’s heart to be broken.  “Shall do,” he promised, and Ron was away again in the green flames.

James sighed.

Work was hell.  He got into a rather heated argument with Shacklebolt that nearly came to blows.  The Ministry was under a lot of pressure to find out what had happened at the Triwizard Tournament, and thought it would be a good idea to bully Fleur Delacour.  It turned out they had held her in England under an obscure law regarding Magical Creatures, even though she was three-quarters human.  Her French law-wizard was deported the night before and James was called onto the case mid-morning.  At lunch he received an owl from Lestrange, telling him of the court date for the divorce, which was only a formality, and that both Amelia Bones and Lucius Malfoy had accepted the role of godparents to his son.  He was in the process of setting up a “family” dinner for that Friday night.

James wondered if obliviating himself would help at all.

What James didn’t expect was for Narcissa Malfoy to be waiting for him in his office when he came in at half past four, weary and ready to return home to dinner with Harry.

“Lord Potter,” she greeted calmly, not rising from her seat to show that despite the way she addressed him, she considered them close friends if not family.  “What’s this I hear about Sirius and your wife?”

James grimaced at her.

She smiled at him kindly.  “Lucius told me that he was named your son’s godfather, and then I heard from Regulus that Sirius was named as a third party in your surprise divorce.”

“How did Regulus know?”

“He’s been sweet on Florence for years,” she confessed.  “It was a bit of a blow when Sirius married her all of a sudden a few years ago, but he likes to check up on her.  She’s distraught, as you might imagine.”

Well, that explained Sirius’s sudden interest in Flo years ago when he’d been a confirmed bachelor half a week before he announced his intentions drunkenly one night at dinner.  Just like the blighter to see something someone wanted and then go after it just because he could.  James was only partially surprised that he hadn’t played that trick back at Hogwarts with Lily.  Damn him.  “I had no idea,” James answered as he sat in the armchair next to hers.  He pinched the bridge of his nose.  He felt a migraine coming on.

“There was no way for you to know.”  She reached out and squeezed his hand in comfort.  “How’s Harry?”

“I don’t know.  I sent him to his friend’s so that I could deal with Lily, and he wasn’t back by the time I left for work.”

“He was there when—?” She asked delicately, and James could only nod.  She released a breath in shock.  “Wonders never cease.”

James stood up warily and began shifting through files, deciding what to take home and what to leave for the next day.  “Why are you here?” he asked not unkindly.

“I wanted to offer Malfoy Manor as a refuge, if you or your son need to get away.  We’re now family, and it couldn’t hurt for Harry to be around purebloods who understand what this type of divorce means.”

“You mean that Muggle-borns might be sympathetic to Lily.”

“Yes,” she answered carefully.  “Or they might fill his head with the idea that you’re being too cruel in the divorce.  I’m assuming, as you named my husband as godfather, you want to start bringing your son up in the Old Ways.”

“It’s been my dearest wish since he was born,” he admitted quietly, staring down at his hand, which still bore his wedding band.  He took it off and chucked it out the window.  He saw Narcissa smirking out of the corner of his eye.

The image of Harry kneeling in front of a marble altar, dressed in the white robes of Samhain, flitted across his imagination.  It was a beautiful sight, Harry’s pink lips and midnight black hair contrasting with the smooth fabric that would partially hide his face from view as he sacrificed the fruits of the season to magic.  A smile would curve across his face as he finally felt his magic connect to the earth as it was meant to, and the juices of the pomegranate he would eat in the ceremony would slip down his chin to the earth below him.

The image made his loins stir and begin to harden, and James closed his eyes in humiliation.

“It’s not a sin, you know,” Narcissa murmured, and he looked up at her, seeing her eyes focused on his waist.  “Magic welcomes such love and allows it to flourish.”

For a moment, James thought about denying it, but the knowledge in Narcissa’s eyes showed that she wouldn’t believe him.  She would only consider him a coward.  “He’s a half-blood and my son.”

“True,” she agreed quietly.  “Still—“  She tilted her head to the side in contemplation.  She really was a beautiful woman, James mused, although she didn’t move him.  Only Harry did, much to his continued shame.  “Draco’s been brought up in the Old Ways.  I don’t know if they really know each other, but he’d be a good comrade over the summer, I think.  He’d be able to guide Harry, and offer the perspective of someone his own age.”

“I’ll ask Harry,” James promised and she nodded, standing up in a fluid movement. 

Her pink robes swished around her legs.  To James’s knowledge, she was the only Black who didn’t favor darker shades, choosing to dress to her own coloring than in family tradition, and Lord Malfoy had the money to indulge her completely.  The robes were for daywear and yet they were lined with Acramantula silk and embroidered with what looked like unicorn hair.  They had to cost a small fortune.

“Ease him into the rituals,” she murmured.  “Sit down to the evening meal and just say the blessing and let him ask you about it.  Don’t overwhelm him with outlining all the changes to his life.  He must be very confused.”

“Thank you, Lady Malfoy,” he responded, seeing her out. 

Less than five minute later he had floo’d home, and breathed in deeply when he smelled homemade lamb stew.  The house was bright and warm and he noticed that a private dinner setting had been arranged in the living room.  A smile flitted across his lips at Harry’s thoughtfulness.

“Prongslet!” he called out happily as he tossed his briefcase into his study.  He noticed that Lily’s was closed, though it hadn’t been that morning.  She hadn’t had time to take anything from it, and he wanted to make her sweat a bit without her notes.  It was a bit petty and childish, but he really didn’t care.

“In here!” Harry’s voice shouted back and James entered the kitchen to see Harry sitting on the counter, a bottle of Butterbeer in his hands.  “Da,” he greeted, leaning into the hug that James gave him.  “You’re a bit later than I thought.”

“Sorry,” he murmured, running his hands through Harry’s long hair lovingly.  “I was held up a bit.  How was Ollie’s?”

Harry shrugged.  “The same as usual.  Quidditch, Quidditch, birds, and Quidditch.”

James laughed openly, but sobered at the tenseness in Harry’s shoulders.  “How are you, really?”

“Relieved,” he answered, biting his lip in worry at James’s reaction.  “What’s going to happen?”

“Well,” James answered as he tried to steal a spoonful of the stew.  Hapsy slapped him with a clean wooden spoon in retaliation.  “I’m divorcing your mother.”  He looked at Harry and saw no response.  His face was smoothed of any emotion, and James wondered when Harry had learned to do that.

“You’re not annulling?” Harry finally whispered after a long moment, his green eyes sad.

“No,” James promised, embracing his son.  “No, I’d never do that to you.”

Strong, smooth arms came around him and Harry buried his face in James’s neck.  “Oh, thank God,” he murmured and tears splashed against James’s face, but he didn’t care.  He held his son warmly and carefully, rubbing a hand up and down his spine to try and soothe him.  “I’m sorry,” Harry murmured, finally pulling away.  “I shouldn’t.”

“No, it’s fine,” James promised, leaning forward and cupping Harry’s face.  “No matter what she’s done, I will always love you.  I will never hurt you, Prongslet.”

“But I knew,” Harry whispered desperately, his eyes shining with tears.

“You were a child,” James assured him, leaning forward to kiss his brow.  “What Lily did was wrong and she never should have put you in that position.  Nor should your godfather.  He was meant to protect you when your mother and I couldn’t, and he failed.”

Their eyes met and a flash of something—some strong passion that James didn’t quite comprehend—tore through Harry’s gaze before it subsided again.  “What else?”

“She’s not allowed anywhere near you or the house, and I doubt she’ll get joint custody or visitation rights once it goes through the courts,” James answered truthfully.  “Unless you want—“

“No,” Harry answered firmly.  “I mean, I—and—“ He looked away and chewed on his lower lip, much like Lily did when she was nervous.  Somehow it was more attractive on Harry, but James forced his mind away from such thoughts.

“Amelia Bones is now your godmother,” James continued carefully, “and for the time being Lucius Malfoy is your godfather.”

Harry turned to him, his eyes wide in shock.  “The Weasleys and the Malfoys hate each other,” he murmured, clearly thinking about his best mate.

“Yes, but we’re Potters, and my mother was a Black,” James corrected kindly.  “It’s important to show a united pureblood front at least until the divorce goes through, and it sends a very important message that we’re distancing ourselves from everyone connected with either your mother or—“

“—or Sirius,” Harry finished for him in understanding.

“They have a son your age, Draco.”

Harry laughed.  “Padfoot hates him. Says he’s too much of a Black.”

“Yes, well,” James agreed quietly.  “The same could be said about me on occasion.”

“But I love you,” Harry answered earnestly, their eyes meeting again.  James’s breath caught in his throat at the devotion he saw shining out of Harry’s eyes.   “What of Flo?”

The moment was broken. 

“I don’t know,” James answered, helping Harry off of the counter and leading him toward the sitting room.  They settled on the floor across from each other while Hapsy served them.  

“Will the baby still be my little cousin, or—?”

James smiled sadly at him.  “Again, I don’t know.”

Harry looked at him for a long moment.   “Did you see—them—yesterday—?”  His voice was soft, lilting like it did when he was a child.

“Yes.”

“I’m sorry, Da.”

“There’s nothing to be sorry about, Harry.  You’ve done nothing wrong—and they made their choices.”

“But you loved her, didn’t you?”

“No.  Not really,” James responded carefully.  He wouldn’t lie to Harry, but he knew that Harry probably believed they loved each other.  James had told him often enough that a family was made up of love when he was growing up.

“Oh.”  Harry stared down at his bowl of stew, and picked up his spoon to begin eating.

“Prongslet,” James murmured, and Harry instantly looked up.  Reaching out his hand, he watched as Harry hesitated and then took it, his food momentarily forgotten.  James closed his eyes and sought his magic, feeling it swirl and pool in the depths of his soul, pulsing with power and desire.  Even his magic wanted Harry completely, and while he would not deny his feelings, not to himself, he tried to soothe the continuous ache.  “Maeder majic ure thu the eart on heofunum,” he whispered, and he felt his magic tingle through him and rise up to meet Harry’s.  The power thrummed about them as he whispered the sacred words from his childhood that had gone unspoken for so long.  As the final words left his lips, he felt a sense of peace and contentment come over him, which settled down into his limbs.

He opened his eyes and was met with the beautiful sight of a peaceful and smiling Harry.  Although his eyebrows were drawn together a bit in confusion, the hint of a smile lingered on his face, and all of the tension had run out of his body.  Slowly, his eyelids fluttered open, and he looked at James in amazement. 

“Da?”

James only smiled at him.  “You can eat now.”

For several long moments, Harry just looked at him in wonder and then, as if coming to himself, shook his head and picked up his spoon again.

They ate in silence, James openly admiring his son while Harry snuck glances at his father every so often. 

“Does this mean I’ll never have to see Dudley again?” Harry suddenly asked, causing James to break out into rumbling laughter.

“Yes, yes it does.”

“Thank God,” Harry sighed and genuinely smiled, a sparkle glistening in his eyes.  “He’s such a prat.”

“I never did understand why Petunia married Dursley,” James mused.  “They got married a few months before your mother and I.  He was monstrously overweight even then, and Petunia wouldn’t stop simpering as if there was no tomorrow.  It was quite sickening.  If Lily hadn’t made me promise not to do anything, I would have pranked him until the wedding was called off.  Fat whale.”

Harry chuckled and took a long sip of pumpkin juice, leaning back so that he was almost slouching against the foot of the couch.  “I can see that actually.”

James’s eyes lingered on Harry’s lips, but he forced himself to look away.  Why did he have to fall in love with his son, who knew nothing of the Old Ways and couldn’t make an informed decision?  It was sweet torture.  He was nearly free of Lily and yet the love of his life was still beyond his reach.

Chapter Three—

The story made the Prophet two mornings later, and James came downstairs to find Harry sitting at the kitchen counter, the front page spread out in front of him.  There was a large color photograph of James and Harry shopping in Diagon Alley the previous summer, and a smaller inset of Lily.  The headlines screamed Potter Divorce—Muggle-born Wife Unfaithful. 

“Well,” James said, coming up behind Harry and kissing the back of his head.  “They certainly got to the point.”

“There hasn’t been a divorce in England for nearly two decades,” Harry answered, turning and catching James’s eye.  “They even know who my godparents are.”

“Oh,” James said, genuinely surprise.  He glanced at the article, his eyes quickly skimming through it.  “Must have been my law-wizard then.  It’s better if we get the story out before she can, I suppose.”

“Who’d you get in the firm?”

“I went outside of it,” James admitted, accepting his mug of tea from Hapsy.  Harry held out his hand obediently, a light of excitement in his eyes, and James murmured the morning blessing, their magic mixing and comforting each other.  How had he been able to give up such a feeling of completion?  How could he have been stupid enough to convince himself that Lily was worth it?

“Who?” Harry prodded gently as he began his own breakfast.

“Rabastan Lestrange.  He’s well known for championing pureblood rights.” 

Harry grimaced.  “Wasn’t he—?”

“Probably,” James answered, knowing what Harry meant.  Harry had an aversion to Death Eaters since Sirius let it slip that Pettigrew was the original secret keeper when the small family went into hiding for about a year.  Harry had had nightmares for months, and never really got over it, even though he was only six at the time.  “He isn’t anymore, though, Prongslet.  You-Know-Who’s been gone for over a decade and will never come back.”

“Mum said that Dumbledore—“

“Well, he’s not always right,” James put in quickly.  He knew Lily’s opinions about Dumbledore.  She thought him infallible, which was a little dangerous considering everything.  “And your mother’s judgment doesn’t seem to be the best at the moment—or really in recent history.”

Harry nodded and turned back to the morning paper.  His fringe fell into his eyes and he pushed it back distractedly with one hand, the light catching at his wrist.  James carefully leaned forward and brushed it behind his ear, and Harry smiled, flipping through the pages.

“Jesus!” he exclaimed, snapping James to attention.

“What—?” James asked, but then he saw it.  It seemed there were more pictures on page five of the paper, all in color.  There were a few of Harry, one of him even catching the Snitch, and several of James.  The paper had managed to get hold of an early one of both James and Lily—and several candid photographs of Lily and Sirius in a Muggle restaurant.  One even showed them in a back alley, Sirius’s hand up Lily’s dress and hers pulling out his well-endowed cock.  James quickly snatched the paper away.

“How did they get those?” Harry asked in wonder.  “They must have been months ago.  Mum’s hair hadn’t been cut yet.”

James glanced at the photograph.  Harry was right.  Lily’s hair went to the small of her back in the photograph, and just before Harry returned for the summer she had cut it to about three inches beneath her shoulders.

“Seems like some reporter was tailing them for a story and it broke before they got the chance to start the scandal.”  James shivered at the thought.  He wished it could all be entirely private, but divorces always created news and speculation.  There was a nasty one just as he was entering Hogwarts, and people were still talking about it when he had taken his O.W.L.s. 

“Poor Aunt Flo,” Harry opined quietly.

James silently agreed with the sentiment.

Harry was off for the day at the Burrow.  “Elissa’s coming for the first time,” he told James.  “Ron’s mad about her and, well, I never thought he’d fall for a Muggle, to be honest.”

“Love does mysterious things,” James agreed, hooking his arm around Harry’s waist and pulling him close for a hug.  He’d always been extremely affectionate with Harry, and it hadn’t waned at all as Harry grew into the teenager he now was.  It had almost increased in some ways, strangely enough.

“You’ll be home for dinner?” Harry asked, biting his lower lip that was close enough for James to kiss.

“Course, Prongslet,” he murmured, leaning forward and kissing Harry’s brow.  “Be safe.”

“Always,” Harry answered cheekily before flooing away. 

James could only chuckle at his playful nature.

Reporters found him outside of the Ministry, but he pointedly ignored them.  He knew it would happen, and he was only glad that Harry wasn’t there.  He couldn’t bear the thought of his son being harassed.  That would have been too much.  So far Harry was holding strong, but it might not last.  It was all a bit of a shock and perhaps a relief at this point for Harry, but the notoriety of the divorce would wear on anyone.

“I want a divorce.” 

James looked up from his half-eaten lunch in shock.  He’d nipped back to the office to file a lawsuit against the Ministry on behalf of Fleur Delacour, and decided to let Scrimgeour, the Head Auror, sweat a little.  Usually it got better results if you left him alone and he could become slightly paranoid.  Hopefully, Delacour would be released and home by teatime.

“James.  Did you hear me?”

“Yes,” he answered quickly, looking up at Florence Black.  She was a beautiful witch, with deep brown hair and blue eyes.  She was naturally slim—willowy might be the word even though she was about six months with child.  Her jaw was set in agitation and stress, and her hands were on top of her elongated belly, as if to protect her child from the rest of the world.  “Won’t you have a seat?”

She sighed.  “Don’t mind if I do.”  Flo managed to lower herself into one of the two armchairs and settled her robes about her.  “Now.  I want a divorce.”

“I’m not a divorce law-wizard, Flo,” James said kindly.

“No, but you’re angry, so you’ll get the job done.”

“I’m involved,” he explained.  “It would be a conflict of interest.”  He took out his quill and wrote down Lestrange’s name.  “Here’s the law-wizard I’m using.”  He paused, thinking momentarily of Lestrange.  “Er – he usually focuses on disputes between purebloods and non-purebloods, but he may take the case to have a thorough job with it.”

“Well, she’s a mudblood,” Flo argued petulantly, her mouth twisted in distaste.

James stilled in shock.  He had never heard such a word come from Florence’s mouth before.  He knew she was a pureblood and from an old family in Godric’s Hollow—the Fawcetts.  He had suspected Sirius had met her on one of his many visits to the small hamlet to visit the Potters; she had been barely eighteen when they met and became engaged.  James had laughed at it then, calling Sirius an “old dog” and congratulating him, never having any idea that his best mate had been fucking his wife at the same time.

Gods, life was complicated.

He looked Flo over carefully.  “Can I ask what he’s said?  As a Friend.”

“Sirius?” she murmured distractedly, her perfectly manicured nails thrumming against the arm of the chair.

“Hmm.”

“Oh, nothing much.  He was gone the night before, probably with her, I’d now imagine, and so when I read the Daily Prophet he was nowhere in sight.  A little warning would have been nice, by the way.”  She glared at him.

James shrugged apologetically.

“I went out for a bit, needed to clear my head, and when I came home Lily was there.  At least she looked abashed, but Sirius was there and just informed me that she’d be staying—she’s not in any of the spare bedrooms at Grimmauld Place either,” she argued.  “Sirius has moved out of the master bedroom and into his childhood bedroom with her.  They didn’t even bother putting up silencing charms last night, James.  Why in the Gods’ names did you have to kick her out?”  There was no reproach in her smooth voice, only exasperation at the situation.

“I couldn’t have her near Harry.”  The words fell on her deaf ears.

“I had to sit through breakfast with her and then she had the audacity to take over the library for her ‘work.’  It’s simply insupportable.  I told Sirius that I’d file for divorce if he didn’t get rid of her, but he laughed at me.  So, here I am.”

“Ah.”  Well, that made sense.  So, Lily and Sirius at Grimmauld Place.  Somehow James suspected that it was only to annoy the portrait of Sirius’s crazed mother as well as his younger brother Regulus if he dropped by out of the blue, which did happen maybe once every few years.

“As a law-wizard, I am legally obligated to tell you that if you do divorce him—“

“Which I will.”

James ignored her.  “—you will most likely be forfeiting your rights to your child.  Sirius, although clearly in the wrong, is a pureblood Lord and the head of the Ancient and Noble House of Black.  You’re carrying his heir.”

Sadness crossed her features and for the first time in the entire encounter, he saw tears in her eyes.  “I’m a pureblood.”

“Yes,” James agreed.  “However, you’re a third daughter, have little fortune, and will inherit nothing.  The match was advantageous for you politically and financially, and all Sirius would gain was an heir and a young bride.  In the eyes of the law, he’s entitled to those two—advantages.”

Flo bit down on her lip, which had been painted a deep read.  “So I have no options?”

“Oh, you have options,” James informed her kindly.  “You are Lady Black.  Although Sirius sets the wards, you can uninvite Lily.   The house will listen to you, as will the house elves.  You can deny her food, basic amenities if Sirius is being thick headed.  You can even file a lawsuit against her, saying she’s overstepping her bounds as Sirius’s mistress.”  The words were like dry sand paper in his throat, but he forced them out.  How could so much change in a week?  He’d been married less than a week ago.  He wasn’t happy, far from it, but he was used to things.  Now, everything was in shambles, and it was all his best mate’s fault—at least originally.  He knew Lily.  You couldn’t be married to someone that long without knowing them a little, and Lily would never jump into a casual shag.  She would have to be wooed seriously for months, romanced, until she finally gave in—and Sirius was the one to instigate the whole disgusting passion. 

Flo looked at him in interest.  “Really?”

“Oh, yes.  You can get a restraining order against her so that she can’t come within three miles of Grimmauld Place.  You’re a pureblood lady carrying the Black heir.  She’s being divorced in disgrace and is a Muggle-born.  I wouldn’t take it that far.  Just threaten to leave and go back to your father’s house with the child and state your demands.  Sirius will want his child born near him, and he’ll clear Lily off quickly enough.”

She finally smiled, and it brightened her face.  James looked at her for a good long second.  Sirius, as far as he could tell, was a fool.  Flo was loyal, beautiful, and every inch a pureblood lady.  He knew that Sirius probably secretly revolted against the idea of a pureblood marriage, which is why he went after Lily who was the complete opposite, but Flo had been fond of Sirius and their relationship, from what James could tell, was full of gentle affection that had probably died when Sirius had so callously brought Lily into his home.

Sometimes James wondered if he even knew his former best mate.  He’d taken pranking to a whole new level, one that was destructive and hurtful—far more than the pranks they pulled on Snivellus at Hogwarts.  Harry, though, was paying the price for that, he was sad to say, and James had been able to do nothing about it.  Hopefully his new association with the Malfoys would curve Snape’s enthusiasm for giving him detentions for things like breathing.

“Have you decided on a name yet?” James asked curious.

“Oh, yes,” she murmured distractedly.  “I was in Ravenclaw, but Sirius is insistent that any child of his will follow him into Gryffindor.”

“Watch the little lord wind up in Slytherin,” James laughed openly, and Flo giggled.

“Leo,” she stated.  “Leo Sirius Black.  We thought a new name in the old tradition might be in order.”

“What if it’s a girl?”

“Oh, well,” she sighed.  “Something not as hideous as Nymphadora.—I take it you won’t be named godfather anymore.”

“I wouldn’t accept it,” James agreed.  “It’s all too—“

“Yes,” she agreed quietly, not looking at James.  “Perhaps we would have been happier together.  If you hadn’t married her—“

“I would never give up Harry for the world,” James answered harshly to her wistful note, and Flo turned to him in shock.  A sad smile spread across her lips several long moments later and she nodded.

“If you say so,” she murmured, and then she pushed herself to her feet, and left through the door, the parchment with Lestrange’s name in hand.

James wondered when would be the next time the two of them would meet, knowing it probably wouldn’t be on such friendly terms.  Flo would never actually divorce Sirius.  She was angry now, saddened and hurt, but she wouldn’t risk losing her child or her position in society.  She’d always be the wife of the man who had ruined James’s marriage, not that there was much of one to ruin.

He floo’d over to the Burrow that afternoon, after he had seen Fleur off with an international portkey.  It was a good day’s work, and all he wanted to do was see Harry.  He was surprised that the sitting room was rather quiet, but was startled when he saw two figures curled around each other in a large patched armchair.

James cleared his throat, and the two teens immediately broke apart.  One he immediately recognized—Ron Weasley.  The other was a slightly younger girl with bushy brown hair, but she was a lot prettier than Hermione.  This must be her sister then.

“Ron,” he greeted.  “Is Harry around?”

“Ha-Harry?” Ron squeaked, pulling his hand through his ginger hair.  “Er—right.  Harry.  He’s hiding.”

“Hiding,” James repeated to make sure he got it right.

“Did he just come out of the fireplace?” the girl whispered to Ron, and he smiled bashfully at her.

“Yeah, Liss.  It’s called Floo.  He’s Harry’s dad.”

She looked up at him with wide brown eyes and Ron leaned down to kiss her again.  This was really getting excessive.

James cleared his throat again.  They pulled apart.

“Harry?” he prompted.

“Er-right,” Ron agreed.  “Ginny’s a bit—obsessed.  Mione’s been trying to talk some sense into her.  I mean, Harry’s gay so she doesn’t even have a chance.”

James just stood there, shocked.  Harry was gay?  His heart fluttered in his chest, but he forced the feeling down.  Ron, though, didn’t seem to notice his wide eyes or shorter breaths, and kept on prattling.

“Of course, we wouldn’t tell her that.  Harry’s a bit private, and head over heels—wait, never mind.”  He glanced at James apprehensively.  “Go purebloods?”

Ron was blushing a deep red.

James was completely floored.  “So, he’s hiding,” he repeated, trying to push all other thoughts from his head.  Gay.  In love.  Pureblood.  What did purebloods have to do with any of it?

“Yep.”  Ron smacked his lips together on the ‘p.’  Elissa giggled at him.  Teenage infatuation never seemed to change.

“Inside or out?”

“That’s anyone’s guess,” Elissa told him helpfully.  She looked him up and down.  “I’ve never seen robes before.”

James decided it would be easier to ignore her.  “Thanks,” he murmured, setting his briefcase on a chair, not wanting to carry it around.  He pointed his wand at his throat and murmured Sonorus.  “Prongslet!” he called, the house shifting around him at the loud vibrations. 

One of the twins popped his head out of the kitchen.  “Harrikins is in the orchard—or was,” he supplied, and James thanked him.  He didn’t look back at Ron and Elissa, who seemed to be snogging again.  Kids sure moved quickly these days, he thought.  He wondered how Hermione felt about the situation, given the fact that Harry might have mentioned something in a letter home about an argument Ron and Hermione had at the Yule Ball.  Hermione had gone with the Durmstrang champion and it hadn’t gone over well.  Then again, James never knew these days.  He’d thought that Harry fancied Hermione, but he was gay.

A stab of hurt coursed through his heart.  He wished his son had told him—that he had trusted him enough.  Maybe Ron was mistaken, but James hoped he wasn’t.  He wanted Harry to fancy blokes, to grow into his pureblood heritage and—

A vision unbidden flashed in his mind.  Harry sitting cross-legged on the bed in the master bedroom, wrapped in a robe.  A pale shoulder would be revealed, Harry’s black hair brushing against it.  James would come in and lean forward, plucking the glasses from his nose to reveal his bright green eyes.  Then there would be a sweet kiss, hesitant and gentle at first.  Harry would gasp and James’s tongue would snake into perfect warmth as he pushed Harry gently down against the bed.  A gasp in the candlelight and—

“Da,” Harry greeted, launching himself into James’s arms.  James staggered backward and held his son closely, breathing in his familiar scent of forest moss and treacle.  “What’re you doing here?”

“I finished early and wondered if you wanted to go out tonight,” he murmured, kissing the side of Harry’s head. 

“But the divorce.”  Harry pulled away, his green eyes sparkling in worry.

“Never mind the divorce,” James answered.  “We can go into the town center and only the few wizarding families in the area will know us.”  He leaned forward and brushed his nose against Harry’s, delighting in the decadent gasp that escaped from his son’s lips.

“Just the two of us?” Harry breathed out, reaching up and brushing his fingers against James’s cheek.

“Just the two of us,” James agreed.

“It’s a date then,” Harry answered impishly, leaning up and kissing James’s lips before running back into the house.  James stood for several long minutes, staring into nothing.  His fingers reached up to caress his mouth, wondering if he had dreamed—could he have?—No.  It had been too real.

A rustle to his left caused him to look over.  Hermione Granger was standing there in jean shorts and a tank top.  No, James realized absently, poor Hermione would never be as pretty as her younger sister.  If Elissa had been magical instead of Hermione, it might have been another Petunia-and-Lily situation, but that didn’t seem to be the case fortunately. 

Hermione was looking at him carefully, as if gauging his reaction.  “You didn’t imagine it,” she told him helpfully, as if she were a Legilimens, which was impossible for a witch her age.

She shrugged her shoulders at him and carefully made her way around the chickens that were milling about at her feet and headed toward the house.  Her hips swayed in her scantily clad jeans, and James wondered whose attention she was trying to catch.  It certainly wasn’t warm enough to be wearing just that.  It was a rather cool summer, that day included.

Hermione stopped just in front of the back door when Ginny Weasley came out, similarly attired in a sundress that was a bit too tight around her chest.  James sighed.  He wondered if he was just jaded after several unhappy years of marriage to these tricks that adolescent witches played.

“They’re snogging again,” Ginny told her, as if she didn’t realize that James was only a few paces away, under the one tree in the back garden. 

Hermione crossed her arms angrily and huffed.  “I never should have had Ron over at the beginning of summer.  He was a little too keen on the idea all of a sudden when he’d never visited before.”

“Who would have guessed he would even think of dating a Muggle?” Ginny tried to comfort, leaning against the ivy-covered wall.  “It’s absolutely insane.”

“She’s too young,” Hermione griped.

“She’s older than Harry,” Ginny quipped, sighing.

“The joys of being Catholic twins.”  Hermione pushed a piece of bushy hair out of her eyes.  She had her mass of curls up in a bun, but some of it had inevitably come undone.  “I thought by going with Viktor I’d make Ron sufficiently jealous, but he just wrote me off—“

“Ron’s a prat.  Who knows what he thinks.  Do you—“ She hesitated, playing with a bracelet on her wrist.  “Do you think Harry noticed me today?”

“No,” Hermione answered truthfully.  “I’ve told you a million times, he’s not interested and never will be.”

For that, at least, James was thankful.

“He needs to be comforted, what with the divorce,” Ginny tried to reason, thrusting out her chest although there was no one but Hermione to see.  “Isn’t it horrible?  How could she?  How could his father—?”

“I really wouldn’t,” Hermione tried to interrupt, but Ginny just continued on as if she hadn’t said anything.

“I mean, I always thought that Lord Potter was a good sort.  He married a Muggle-born, so he wasn’t obsessed with blood purity and the Old Ways, but now he’s divorcing her under pureblood law and I read about who Harry’s new godfather is.  The Malfoys!  Do you think Harry’s dad is a secret Death Eater, too?”

“Ginny!” Hermione gasped.  “How could you?”

“Easily.  It’s so plain to see.  Harry really should sue and have his mother gain custody.  She simply made a mistake, and who could blame her if James Potter is a Death Eater using her for cover?”

James leaned against the trunk of the tree and closed his eyes, trying to cool his anger at the youngest Weasley.  He knew there could be some backlash, but he really didn’t want to hear it, and as far as he was concerned, the Weasley chit wouldn’t be welcome at the Cottage, not that she ever really was.

Hermione looked worriedly to where James was concealed under the tree’s shadow.  “Ginny, you really shouldn’t—“ she began, but at that moment, the back door opened and Harry’s head peaked through, his eyes squinting toward the tree. 

“Da!  Come on!”  He bounded out of the door and flew into James’s embrace again.  “What’s taking you so long?”

“Nothing,” James said, smiling, as he let Harry lead him back toward the Burrow and a now gaping and blushing Ginny.  “Sorry I took so long.”

Harry played with the fingers of James’s left hand.  “You took off your wedding ring,” he murmured.  “It’s really over.”

“Yes, it is,” James agreed, stopping just outside the door and cupping Harry’s face in his hand.  “Are you all right?”

“Yeah,” Harry breathed out, his green eyes staring imploringly at James. 

James couldn’t help it, but he was immediately hypnotized.

“I’m glad she can’t hurt you anymore.  That both of them can’t, but I’m worried about Flo and the baby.”

“Flo’s a strong witch,” James tried to soothe, dropping one hand so that it wrapped possessively around Harry’s waist.  “She knows what she wants in life and won’t let Sirius get away with anything within reason.  You have nothing to worry about.”

A hesitant smile crossed Harry’s lips and he nodded.  He leaned forward again, giving James enough time to move away, and brushed their lips together.  “You’re all mine now,” he murmured.  “Only mine.”

“I’ve always only been yours,” James promised him as Harry laid his head against his chest.  It had been true since the moment Harry had been born and had opened up his big, beautiful green eyes for the first time.

Chapter Four—

Harry was sleeping.  James stood in the door, silhouetted by the hall light that shone over his shoulder to land on Harry’s beautiful face.  He leaned his head against the doorframe, not permitting himself to come any closer.  All he needed was to see that Harry was safe and silently adore him from afar.  Harry’s lips were curled in a half smile, so plump, so perfectly pink, and he longed to kiss them gently.  The ghost of the kiss from three days earlier haunted him.  It hadn’t been repeated when they left the Burrow—but still he remembered.  He imagined claiming those lips again and again, in front of magic as their witness, swearing his undying love.  They would part in pleasure when James trailed kisses down Harry’s bare chest, his hands grasping his hips until he came to the succulent flesh between his legs.  James would come level to it before looking up and catching Harry’s lidded gaze, and then he would open his mouth and—

A crinkle of sheets drew his attention, and he focused on Harry asleep on the bed.  The sheets were tangled around his legs, his sleeping pants riding low on his hips to reveal pale skin.  The hint of hair poking out caused James to look away for fear of what he would do to his precious son.

“Da?”  The word was low, husky with sleep.  James snapped his gaze back to Harry who was blinking blearily at him.  “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” he murmured, finally pushing away from the doorframe and moving cautiously forward, forcing his eyes to remain on Harry’s face and not travel lower.

“Then why—?”

“I just wanted to see if you were all right,” James soothed as he sat on the edge of the bed.  “You’ve been through a lot this week.”

Harry nodded, not disputing it.  “Can you not sleep without Mum?” he asked hesitantly.

James shrugged.  “It’s—different,” he admitted truthfully, “but I’m glad she’s gone.”

Chewing his lip, Harry blushed and turned toward James.  “You can—sleep here, if you want.”  His large green eyes shone in the half-light, entrancing James.

“I—“ All the air in James’s lungs disappeared at the earnestness in Harry’s gaze.  He reached forward and trailed his fingers along Harry’s cheek, feeling his magic spark in his fingertips.  How he adored Harry.  Without thinking about it, he began to lean forward, but at the gasp that escaped Harry’s lips, he came back to himself and looked away.  “I couldn’t, Harry.  I’m sorry I woke you.”  He made to stand up, but a thin hand wrapped quickly around his wrist.

“Da, stay,” Harry pleaded, his thumb rubbing sensuously against his pulse point, causing James’s heart to constrict. 

“Harry?”

“Stay,” he repeated, and James only nodded dumbly.  He allowed Harry to drag him down until he was resting on the bed, his shoulders still tense.  Harry sighed and snuggled against James, closing his eyes.  “Sleep.”

Tentatively, James reached out and wrapped his arm around Harry’s waist, pulling him closer.  Harry’s hand reached under his arm and held him closer so that the two were intertwined.

“Sleep,” Harry commanded again, and James couldn’t help but laugh quietly.

“I will,” he promised, when Harry untucked his head from James’s chest to look up at him. 

“You’re just saying that.”  Harry was pouting slightly in his half-asleep state, and James reached forward and kissed his brow lovingly.  “Da—“

“I’m here,” James soothed.  “Nothing can harm you.  Not anymore.”

He ran his fingers through Harry’s black hair, playing with the ends of it.  A tear formed in the corner of Harry’s eye and dropped down to his cheek.  James couldn’t help but follow the movement with his gaze.

“Why are you crying?” he whispered desperately, wiping the tear away with the pad of his thumb.  “I’m here.”

“So long,” Harry confessed, burying his head in the pillow.  “She was hurting you—and I was so afraid and let it go on for so long.  But I didn’t—I didn’t want—“  He groaned in the back of his throat, and James grasped both of his shoulders from behind and buried his face in Harry’s back.

“What didn’t you want?” he breathed out.  “You can tell me.  You can tell me anything, Harry.  I’m your father.  It’s my job to take care of you.”

A sob escaped Harry’s throat, and James heard it even though it was muffled through Harry’s body.  His form was wracked with deep breaths and James felt Harry tremble beneath him, but he still embraced him, whispering sweet nothings into the darkness.  “I love you, I love you,” again and again and again.

Finally, Harry quieted and just lay there on the bed.  He had turned his head to the side, and James stared wondrously at his profile, covered in tears and wet with pain.  Harry’s lips quivered as he took in every breath, and James longed to just stretch a little, to rain kisses down on the flushed cheeks, to drink in the honey from his son’s soft lips.  Harry would moan, arching toward James, hooking a leg on the back of James’s thighs, keeping the two of them pressed together.  Their bodies would rub against each other, and James would cause Harry to gasp as he was gently aroused—the kisses gentle and longing and becoming more and more heated.  Harry would whimper and moan, never speaking, too overcome with the reality of their unspoken love.

James blinked.  Harry was still lying on the bed, his green eyes gazing at the wall, unseeing and unmarred by his glasses.

“I love you,” he murmured adoringly, and slowly Harry looked at him, his eyes unfocused.  James reached up and carefully cupped one cheek with his calloused hand.  “I will always love you.  Nothing will ever change that.”

“You loved Mum once,” Harry argued, and James sighed.

“No,” he corrected.  “I wanted her.  I loved the idea of her.  There’s a difference.”

Harry was quiet for several long moments and closed his eyes.  James withheld a sigh, thinking Harry had finally cried himself back to sleep, and shifted to the side so as not to crush Harry in the night.

“Stay,” Harry whispered, and James stilled immediately.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he promised.  “I’ll never leave you.”

He settled onto his side and pulled Harry against his chest, reaching up and running a hand through his messy black hair.

“Sleep,” he murmured and slowly Harry relaxed against him.  Finally, James fell into a peaceful slumber, his dreams full of the boy in his embrace.

James awoke to the feel of the summer sun on his skin and he blinked repeatedly, trying to remember exactly where he was.  A small, warm body was pressed against him, and he grinned into the back of Harry’s neck when he remembered falling asleep next to his son.  Carefully, he disentangled himself and pressed a lingering kiss to Harry’s temple before quietly leaving the room.

Hapsy was humming tunelessly when he finally made it downstairs.  Two large cups of tea were waiting for him—and the long day ahead of him.  He wrote a quick note to Harry and, gazing one last time at the stairs where he knew Harry was still sleeping, floo’d away to work and another long day.

The hours passed agonizingly slowly.  Today was the day—the day he would finally be free of Lily once and for all.  He just had to get through lunch first.

He spent the morning doing mindless paperwork.  He would be useless today and all of his cases could be delegated to underlings for the day and put on hold until his own divorce was settled.  Divorce.  There had never been a divorce in the Potter family.  James knew what his mother would say if she were still alive.  She would sit regally in the living room in her midnight blue robes, her hair swept up perfectly on top of her head.  It would be grey now, he mused, although when he was young there were still strands of the gold that only Narcissa seemed to share in the entire family. 

Part of James was glad that his mum was now gone.  She hadn’t taken one look at Harry after he was born and proclaimed that he looked like a half-blood.  James hadn’t spoken to her since, and only regretted that with the estrangement from his mother came a natural separation from his father.  The two had been murdered by death eaters just before Harry’s first birthday.

His mother would have said that she had predicted all of this, though.  A smile twisted across James’s face.  He could hear her now, going on about how Muggle-borns didn’t understand their traditions, were faithless, and how “the Evans girl” was proof of this.  He supposed in the end his mum had been right.

Lunch was spent at a high profile restaurant in Diagon Alley with Lestrange and Lucius Malfoy.  The White Witch was beautifully and simply decorated, and the three wizards sat at a table in front of the window, where everyone could see them and where reporters could easily take pictures from a respectful distance across the street.  James had to hand it to Lestrange.  He planned it all beautifully.  They were making a statement and giving the press what they wanted without being hounded.

“How is young Harrigan?” Lucius asked over his brandy, leaning back in his seat.

James looked up startled at the use of his son’s legal name.  Lily hadn’t liked it and had always called him ‘Harry.’  James had just followed suit, putting away memories of his own grandfather Harrigan after his death, the association being too painful. 

“This must be a bit of a shock to him.”

“Yes,” James agreed, sitting back and trying to ignore the flashes from outside the window.  “He’s coping.  He’s feeling a lot of guilt, but I’ve been trying to make him understand that he was only a child when this all started.”

Malfoy paused for several long moments.  “Yes,” he finally agreed.  “He was eleven, was he not?”

James nodded stiffly, but met Malfoy’s gaze. 

“A travesty if ever there was one.  How do the Weasleys take it?”

Lestrange looked over in interest.  “I’ve been wondering about that myself.  He’s best friends with one of the sons, isn’t he?  And another Muggle-born?”

“Yes.  I don’t know what Hermione thinks of it all—or Ron Weasley, but the youngest, a girl, has been vocal about her beliefs that I was a Death Eater using Lily for cover.”

Malfoy arched an eyebrow in thought.  “Well, perhaps it would be best if he curtailed his association with them at least until school begins,” he suggested carefully.  “A young man doesn’t need that sort of insinuation when the situation is already difficult.”

“No,” James agreed, thinking of Harry’s tears the night before.  Harry didn’t need it—and he wouldn’t put it past the Weasley chit to stir up trouble if she thought that voicing her opinion would win her points with him. 

“Perhaps he and Draco will hit it off,” Malfoy mused, catching James’s eyes.  “Narcissa took the liberty of explaining the situation to our son.  Draco’s been brought up very strictly, of course, but he understands that any faults in young Harrigan’s upbringing are because of a conspiracy on the part of his mother.”

The words were harsh, but the meaning was clear.  Harry was no longer being viewed as a half-blood but a pureblood heir—for which James was thankful.  “To Harrigan,” James whispered, lifting his glass in the air.

“To Harrigan,” Malfoy and Lestrange agreed, clinking their glasses together.  James felt a shiver of magic run through him and he relaxed.  It was an accord and magic herself was happy.  One of her sons was coming back into the fold after a long absence, and Harry would be saved from his ignorance. 

Harry’s green eyes flashed in his mind and he saw his son running across the back garden in a flowing robe of pure gold.  Laughter would fall from his lips as he would come to the straw doll standing at the end of a stick.  A jug of milk would be in Harry’s hand and, smiling, Harry would pour the milk into the earth beneath the doll’s feet, stepping in the wet dirt with his bare feet.  He would sing as he patted the doll with his hands so that grain would fall into the ground, his head thrown back as he finished the solstice rights.

Lily had taken so much from both of them, and today, finally, it would be set to rights.

Sirius hadn’t bothered turning up to the Wizengamot, and instead a squat little wizard was in his place.  Lily was standing proud and beautiful, but James hardly looked at her.  The case was pretty clear-cut.  Because of the eyewitness account and the photographs in the Prophet Sirius wasn’t contesting his involvement and had issued a statement, which the little wizard read in a nasally voice.  It outlined the affair in vivid detail as well as the fact that when Harry was twelve, Lily had been pregnant with Sirius’s child, which she had gotten rid of with a carefully brewed potion.

His throat tightened in disgust.

She was left with nothing—not even her savings or the wages she had earned when they were married.  Her possessions—her books, the copyrights of her scholarly publications, her clothes—were considered property of the House of Potter, paid in restitution for dishonoring the hearth.  Some pureblood laws were archaic, but they worked in James’s favor in this matter.  She could never legally marry a wizard again and any child she had would be considered a bastard by magical terms, even if its father were a Muggle she legally married.

Divorces were not kind.  James felt little pity for her as he looked at her for the last time.

“I have nowhere to live,” Lily begged the court, her green eyes wide and pleading.

Ah.  Flo had gone through with her threat, and Sirius had chosen his heir over his whore.

James walked out of the chambers with his head held high, and ignored the reporters who shouted questions at them.

“No comment,” Lestrange shouted at them as the two pressed toward the Floo.  James looked at him gratefully as he stepped into the fireplace and was whisked away back to Godric’s Hollow.

The living room was empty and a jacket had been thrown across the cushions of the sofa. James glanced at it as he tossed his empty briefcase to the side, and saw that it probably belonged to a teenage witch.  Hermione Granger was the likeliest choice, though it could be Susan Bones or even Katie Bell.  He really didn’t know what Harry’s plans for the day were. 

James traipsed into the kitchen and saw two half consumed bottles of Butterbeer.  He smiled to himself as he saw that one of them was almost completely empty.  That one was certainly Harry’s.

He imagined his son sitting on the counter, bottle in hand, his legs swinging.  An earthy green robe would barely cover him, his bare legs peaking out, a flash of a naked foot.  A garland of flowers would crown his wild black hair, declaring him pure for the Beltane festivities.  So beautiful, so perfect—a foot stilling as it rested on his thigh, pressing gently to show that Harry was slowly growing up, growing to understand how precious the love between them was—

Chaste Butterbeer filled kisses driving him mad.  A flick of his wrist and the green robe would slide down one of Harry’s shoulders.  Untouched but visible and pale.

“Are you sure about this, Harry?” Hermione’s voice cut through the fantasy, and James turned toward the open backdoor that led out to the garden.  “It’s just—it’s awfully risky.”

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” Harry argued quietly, and James heard Hermione huff out impatiently.

“You do realize that your mother would never—“

“I don’t have a mother.”  The words were harsh and cold.

“The marriage wasn’t annulled, Harry.  It’s a divorce. Even if it had been—that—she would still be your mother.  You just wouldn’t be—“ She trailed off, and James closed his eyes painfully.  The thought of Harry not being a part of him was heartbreaking.  He was so precious, so perfect—

“She wouldn’t approve,” Hermione reasserted factually.  “She won’t if this goes off without a hitch.  I’ve researched and researched.  Although there have been cases, it’s always been between purebloods, usually siblings, not—“

“Yes, yes, I know.  But Hermione, I’ve wanted—for so long—and I’m so close.  I can’t go back to Hogwarts without knowing.  What if Da… what if he finds someone?  A pureblood witch perhaps.  I wouldn’t mind if it made him happy.  I want him to be happy, even if he wanted a new family with her, a new pureblood child, but I want to give it to him.”

James’s breath caught in his throat at the words.   Quickly he withdrew from the kitchen, taking the stairs two at a time and mindlessly changing out of his work robes and into something more comfortable.  He registered that he heard the backdoor closing and people moving downstairs.

He must have misheard, James decided.  Harry was simply worried that James would marry again—that he would be replaced somehow, by a wife, by a child, although there was no chance of that at all.  Harry was everything to James, and that would never change.  It never could change.

The thought was ludicrous.

James barely glanced at Hermione when he went downstairs.  His eyes centered on his perfect, innocent son, who was glancing at him hesitantly.  With a flick of his hand, Harry had launched himself into James’s arms, burying his head in the crook of his neck and breathing in his natural scent.  “Shh, Harrigan,” James whispered, the name sounding natural on his lips.  “I’m here.  You’re safe.”

Hermione must have floo’d away because she was gone when Harry eventually pulled away, his green eyes looking up questioningly at James.  “Harrigan?”

“Your name,” James murmured as he cupped his son’s cheek.  “Lily never liked it—and, well, if you’d rather Harry…”

“No,” Harry interrupted.  “Harrigan’s fine.”  A hesitant smile spread across his face.  “That is—if you—?”

“Harrigan it is then.  My beautiful, perfect son.”  James leaned down to kiss Harry’s smooth forehead, but Harry leaned up and their lips met briefly, a jolt of magic running through James.

“Do you really think me beautiful?” Harry whispered desperately, and James stared at him in confusion.

“Of course,” he murmured, running his hand through his son’s messy black hair.  The tips curled out a bit, barely brushing his shoulders.  Lily used to complain that it should be cut, but James wouldn’t hear of it if Harry wanted it that way, and Lily would never have bothered with actually taking Harry to a barber herself.  “I wouldn’t have said it otherwise.”

Harry then was reaching up again and their lips met longer, lingering.   “I love you,” he confessed.  “I’m in love with you.”

“Harry,” James gasped, but Harry didn’t let him speak, instead capturing his lips once again.

“I wanted you to know,” Harry finally whispered as he pulled back, his green gaze searching James’s.  “It’s why I didn’t tell before—I didn’t want you to hurt because I thought you loved Mum—and…” His voice caught in his throat, and Harry glanced away, not meeting James’s gaze.

“And?” James gently queried, hooking his finger under Harry’s chin and slowly turning it so that his tearstained face was facing him.  “Oh, Harry.”  Leaning forward, James gently kissed each cheek, tasting the salty tears against his lips.  He imagined kissing Harry fully here in the kitchen, having him arch against him as a low moan escaped his throat.  Harry’s knees would give out, but he would be there to catch him, pulling him close against his body as he carried him upstairs to the master bedroom where Harry would sleep chastely in his arms, Harry’s tears drying as he realized that he was loved in return and that he was protected.

A gentle kiss pressed against James’s lips brought him back to the present, and he blinked once, gazing lovingly down at his son.

“It would have broken my heart if you had—chosen someone else over me.  She—Mum—was before.  I couldn’t blame her for that—but if you had chosen someone else, someone sweet like Flo or—I don’t—“

“There would never have been anyone else,” James assured Harry quietly, pulling him closer until Harry relaxed against his chest.  “I love you so much.  You’re everything.”

They never made it to the Malfoy’s that night.  Instead, James led Harry upstairs and explained to him the different type of coarse robes that wizards wore for ceremonies.  Harry sat on the bed, a look of rapt attention on his face, before he let James dress him in one of the robes from his own days of Hogwarts. 

“We’re over a month late,” James murmured as they walked together out into the back garden.  Their fingers were entwined, and James held a jug of milk in his free hand. 

“The mother—magic—won’t mind?” Harry asked quietly, a look of wonder on his face at the promise that he would feel their magic mingle again.

“No,” James promised, leaning over and kissing Harry gently.  “She’ll be happy that you are being taught.”  They chose a spot that overlooked the rolling hills beyond the village and danced together beneath the setting sun.  Harry swayed a little self-consciously in James’s arms, but at the blush on Harry’s face, James was filled with such happiness that he thought he would never truly know. 

The milk was poured into their footprints, nourishing the earth, and Harry squeezed in honey to mix with it.  Their magic rose together and mixed, and Harry gasped when their joined hands shone a gentle honey gold.  Then Harry was kissing him gently, hesitantly, as if he had never really kissed anyone before.  James held him close, delighting in Harry’s gasps as their tongues slid against each other.  Harry’s cheeks were flushed when they pulled apart, his eyes glazed and sparking in contentment.

“Marry me,” he whispered, before biting down on his lip furiously as if trying to prevent himself from saying anything else.

“You’re so young,” James murmured, but Harry only gazed at him longingly.

“Marry me,” he repeated.  “You’re free.  I don’t want to let you go.  Marry me when I’m of age.”

Their lips met in a slow and sensuous kiss, James’s answer.

Hands still entwined and bare feet sticky with milk and honey, they entered the cottage after the moon had risen.  James washed Harry’s feet carefully at the sink, allowing his hands to run up the smooth, Quidditch-toned calves of the boy who was his entire world.  Harry reached down and tangled his fingers in James’s messy hair, silently telling James that he was wanted as well.  That night Harry slept in James’s arms.  The next morning James would go to Gringotts and find the old Potter betrothal ring that Lily had refused, but she didn’t matter anymore.  James didn’t care what happened to her, only that he was allowed to love Harry softly and quietly as he finished growing up, the hope of a future filled with tradition and magic awaiting them.

THE END.

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