Harry didn't think he was one for dramatics. Even though his teenage years sometimes felt like a soap opera thanks to Voldemort, Harry still believed he was pretty well-adjusted, especially with everything that happened to him in his formative years.
Still, when Austin and Harry had their first real disagreement, first argument, Harry felt as if he was walking around with a broken soul while there weren't speaking.
They might have had little fights here and there, but the two of them always made up within a day as it wasn't a big deal in reality.
"The Fight" wasn't at all like their former arguments, though.
Part of it was Austin's fault, but another part was Harry's. He should have thought it weird that Austin was still in the U.K. Bill might have been there still, but he was married to Fleur, and he knew the two of them discussed where they were living.
Harry and Austin had had no such discussion, mainly because the relationship was so new. When the two of them were spending time with Bill and Fleur, Bill innocently brought up the state of Austin's job.
Harry instantly tuned into the conversation, even though he hadn't really been listening, anxious to know the answer.
Austin shrugged nonchalantly. "I gave it up to move here. I'm still looking for work unfortunately."
"What?" Harry asked lowly.
Austin blinked. "I said I gave it up to move here. I thought you knew..." He trailed off.
"How could I have known when this is the first time I'm hearing about it?"
Austin rolled his eyes. "I'm still here. What did you think happened?"
Harry stared at his hands. "Truthfully, I hadn't thought about it. But if I had to guess, I would have thought that you took some time off to recuperate from the war. I'm sure any employer would have granted it, given the circumstances. I wouldn't have guessed that it was permanent time off. That's something you usually talk to you boyfriend about before you do it," Harry said, making sure to emphasize the term 'boyfriend.'
Out of the corner of his eyes, Harry saw Fleur tugging on Bill's arms, and he heard Bill mutter, "We'll leave the two of you alone." Both ran as if Voldemort were on the tails.
At least someone understands, Harry thought.
Austin's face, on the other hand, showed his confusion. "I don't understand. Shouldn't you be happy? I'm staying here with you."
Harry tried to keep control of his temper. There were times when his could rival Ron's, and he needed to keep a lid on it if he was going to get Austin to understand. "We are still considered a new relationship, and you should not have made a life-altering decision so quickly, at least not like that. You made the decision without me, and I should have been consulted."
Austin stood up and started pacing. "I did it for you. The decision was for you. I know neither of us want a long-distance relationship, and this was the only way you wouldn't be forced to leave your friends and everything you know. You should be thanking me, but instead you're giving me a hard time about it!"
"You just don't get it. You assumed that was what I wanted. Maybe if you bothered to ask me, you would have realized how wrong you were." Harry paused, breathing heavily. "You're supposed to be the experienced one while I'm the relationship baby. How could you do something so stupid?"
Austin opened his mouth, but Harry didn't wait to hear what he had to say. He stormed away, waved quickly to Bill and Fleur, and left through the floo.
Harry blocked the floo from Austin's temporary flat. He also blocked Bill's floo, knowing Austin would try to get in through that. He adjusted his wards, so Austin wouldn't be allowed pass a certain point. The wards wouldn't hurt Austin – Harry wasn't that angry – but they would act like a barrier.
During the period of silence, it was the worst Harry slept since fifth year. He felt listless, and it was a struggle to eat and do normal things.
Bill, forced to Apparate, came over to talk, but Harry refused to allow Austin entrance. He wanted to ignore Bill as he pleaded Austin's case.
"I know Austin made a mistake, but just talk to him. Please, so he'll stop moping around my flat."
Harry hung his head as he quietly admitted, "I'm still so angry and upset."
"Talk to him," Bill prodded. "I understand why you're angry. After everything Dumbledore put you through, I get it, but he doesn't. You guys are good for each other. Don't let this break the two of you up. Don't let one argument become between the two of you. He truly thought he was doing the right thing.
Bill put a finger to Harry's lips, silencing him. "Don't tell me; tell Austin."
"Is Austin over at your place right now?" Bill nodded. "I'll unblock the floo."
"I'll tell him to come over."
Harry opened the floo, and Bill went though. Austin stepped out within a minute after Bill stepped in.
Harry crossed his arms as Austin hesitantly stepped forward. He stopped at the look on Harry's face. "Sit down."
Austin immediately did on the couch.
"Let me explain something to you. When I was a teenager, most of my major life decisions were taken out of my hands. I was forced to live with neglectful relatives because of Dumbledore. I was not able to live with my rightful guardian because of the inept government. I was forced into a war because of a prophecy. I don't like having choices taken from me."
"I didn't think –"
"No, you didn't, and it hurt me that you didn't consider that. You were around for a lot of it, but you didn't think about how I felt when it came to my freewill being usurped from me."
"I thought I did what you wanted."
Harry screamed in his frustration. "You thought!! You should have asked me. It's like Relationship 101. Don't make decisions without your boyfriend or girlfriend's input."
"I get the choices thing, I do. I remember how you reacted to the prophecy, but why is this decision upsetting you so much? Don't you want to stay here with your friends?"
Harry bit his lip. Finally, he whispered, "No."
Austin quickly grabbed Harry's hand and pulled him so he sat down on the couch next to him. Their thighs touched, and Harry sighed as Austin's arms went around him. He definitely missed those arms. "You don't want to stay here?" he asked disbelievingly.
Harry shook his head, avoiding Austin's eyes. "I need to get away from the media. It feels like they're sucking the life out of me. They seem to ruin every joyous occasion, especially our dates. The only time we're left alone is when we're at one of our flats or one of our friend's places. Thankfully, they all have wards, or we wouldn't even be safe there."
Austin brushed Harry's bangs out of his eyes. "I know they're hard to deal with, but you're used to it."
Harry closed his eyes. He loved Austin's gentle touch. "Just because I'm used to it doesn't mean I can ignore it. Besides, I don't want them to drive you away. I know you said I was worth it, but I still worry it's going to get too much for you." He paused, scared to go on.
"Go on," Austin whispered.
"I'm already starting to fall in love with you, and I don't want to lose you. I want to live my life in peace, where my status as a war hero won't be as big of a deal. I think the best way is to leave the UK."
Austin's arms kept a strong hold on him. "You're going to miss your friends. I know the Weasleys are like your family. I don't want you to regret anything we do; that's why I wanted to wait before we made love."
Harry smiled, eyes shining as he finally raised them to meet Austin's. "I'm glad you said 'made love,' and not 'had sex' or 'shagged.' It shows me that you're in the same place I am concerning our relationship."
"Was there any doubt?"
Harry decided not to answer that. He had a feeling his answer would only serve to anger Austin. "Anyways, about my friends, I can always visit, and there are holidays. You're more important than anything else, and I think we have a better chance at survival away from the UK. It's sad, but I think it's the truth."
"Okay, we'll do it then."
Harry sat up and crossed his arms. "If you remember correctly, you've already quit your job. It's too late now."
Austin tugged Harry back down to his side. "Don't be such a princess. My boss said if I changed my mind, he'd be glad to have me back. I was one of his favorites after all. It will be no problem getting my job back."
"Really?" Harry asked hopefully.
"Really, so there are no problems."
"Harry, next time, instead of walking away angry, tell me why your angry. Don't try to get me to figure it out for myself."
Harry glared. "Okay, deal. Next time, don't make any decision without talking to me first."
Austin grinned sheepishly. "Deal. You have nothing to worry about, though. After all of this, I will not be making that mistake again. I'll just make new mistakes."
Harry rolled his eyes. "You really are a dork sometimes."
Austin smirked. "I'm your dork."
"And cheesy," Harry added.
Austin gripped Harry's chin and guided his lips to Austin's. Not breaking the kiss, Harry straddled Austin, ready to show how truly happy he was with their plan to move to Egypt.
Harry and Austin had been in Egypt for awhile when the next obstacle crossed their paths. Harry was studying when the wards alerted him that someone was approaching his home. Harry looked at the time and knew it was too early for it to be Austin.
In his threadbare clothes, ones he always wore for the comfort, he went to the door and came face-to-face with a very tall man. He had green eyes a couple of shades lighter than Harry's, a pert nose, a strong jaw, and a muscular body. When he smiled, dimples shined through.
Harry swallowed nervously. "May I help you?"
"I'm looking for Austin," he said in a deep baritone.
Harry eyes narrowed. "He's not here. Who are you?" Harry knew he sounded rude, but he couldn't help it.
The smile turned into a smirk. "Xavier." He said it as if Harry should know who he was.
Harry blinked. He took great pleasure in saying, "Austin never talked about you."
He stifled a smile when Xavier glared. "Who are you?"
Harry crossed his arms. "Harry, Austin's boyfriend."
Xavier stepped closer until his invaded Harry's personal space. If he was trying to intimidate, he failed. Nothing really intimidated him after facing Voldemort. "Not for long," he huskily vowed.
When Xavier turned away, Harry slumped. Austin's ex-boyfriend was back in town and wanted him back. What was Harry going to do?
"Oh," Xavier called out with his back still turned. "I'll be back later today and hopefully Austin will be home."
Harry glared, and he wished he had heat vision. He closed the door with a slam and marched back to the couch.
He couldn't focus on studying the rest of the day. He stewed while he waited for Austin to come home. As soon as Austin walked in, Harry pounced metaphorically. He demanded answers. "Who in Merlin's name is Xavier?"
Austin opened his mouth, and then closed it again.
Harry tapped his foot. "I'm waiting."
"Um, Xavier is an ex-boyfriend. How do you know his name? I know I never told you about him."
Harry nodded. "Yeah, he came to the door today, asking for you. Why is he asking for you?"
"I don't know." Austin shrugged. "I haven't talked to him since we broke up."
Harry relaxed his posture. He knew Xavier's reappearance wasn't Austin's fault. He felt defensive, and he was taking it out on Austin, rather unfairly, too. "I'm sorry."
"It's okay," Austin said, even as he still looked hesitant.
"Why did you break up with him?"
"Actually, he broke up with me," Austin said. Almost immediately, he hit himself in the forehead. "I really shouldn't have said that."
Harry turned away. "No, you shouldn't have."
"Listen, that's all in the past. I'm with you now, only you. You have nothing to worry about." As soon as Austin put his arms around Harry, the wards alerted.
Harry sighed. "That's probably Xavier. He said he'd be back later today."
Austin squeezed Harry's shoulder before going to let Xavier into their home.
Harry watched as Xavier stared at Austin's ass as he was led in. He clenched his fists.
Austin tossed a smile over his shoulder. "I know you already met Harry."
"Yeah, yeah." Xavier barely acknowledged him.
Harry went back to the couch and sat with his legs crossed.
Austin didn't seem to notice Xavier's attitude.
"You're looking good, Aussie."
"Aussie?" Harry asked incredulously.
Before Austin could answer, Xavier spoke. "It's my nickname for him."
Harry rolled his eyes. He wanted to say it sounded ridiculous, but he bit his tongue, literally.
Austin smiled warmly. "You look good too, Xav."
Harry was pushed to the end of the couch so the two of them could sit next to each other. Austin wasn't even in the middle, though. He was on the other end. Xavier seemed to already be wedging himself between them.
Harry looked down his hands. It was true that Austin never talked about the relationship, and that could mean he moved on. On the other hand, it could mean it was too painful to talk about the relationship. It might also mean Austin had lingering feelings for his ex. The last two would not mean good news for Harry.
He knew he should trust Austin. He never really had any reason to doubt their relationship. Maybe if Austin had told him about Xavier, he would feel better about this whole thing. Watching Xavier flirt and seeing that Austin didn't seem to mind caused something to crack in Harry's chest. Maybe it was his heart.
Xavier leaned in really close, and Harry tuned back into their conversation. "We should definitely get together alone. Catch up."
Austin frowned. "I don't think that's a good idea. You, Harry, and I can do something, though."
Harry began to relax, seeing that Austin wasn't going to go off alone with Xavier. Another thought struck him. Maybe he wasn't going off alone with Xavier because he couldn't trust himself alone with the man. Maybe he was afraid that if he was alone with Xavier, something would happen between them.
Harry needed to know if there was anything lingering between them for his own peace of mind. "You should go out with him."
Austin's eyes widened as they locked with Harry's eyes. "What?"
Harry stared impassively in the face of Xavier's smirk. "I said you should go out with him. Catch up with an old friend. I'd just get in the way."
"You never get in the way," Austin whispered.
Harry bit his lip. "I'd be bored. You'd be telling stories about days before I knew you. I wouldn't be able to follow. I'll have more fun here. Maybe I'll call Suzie and go out with her."
Harry knew if he said he'd go out with Suzie, Austin would give in. After moving to Egypt, Harry met Suzie, the little sister of one of Austin's co-workers. She immediately became his best friend in a very unfamiliar place.
"Are you sure?"
Harry forced himself to smile. "Very."
Austin looked at Xavier. "Okay, sure. We can go out... I guess."
Harry didn't say anything as they left the next night. He had lied; he wasn't going out with Suzie, but Austin didn't need to know that. Harry didn't ask questions when his lover got back. He closed his eyes while they made love. He wondered if it was going to be one of their last times together.
Austin and Xavier went out a couple of more nights before Harry finally spoke up. "Xavier, wait. Before you go, I need to say something."
Xavier leaned against the wall, arms folded across his built chest, glare fixed firmly on his face. Austin looked at him questioningly.
"I've been doing a lot of thinking, and I don't believe I have it in me to be manipulative or even persuasive. Not really. Especially when I never thought I'd have to be with you, Austin. Frankly, all I care about is your happiness."
Harry held up a hand, silencing Austin. "Please, let me finish. Austin, you mean everything to me. Which is why I'm saying what I am to you. If you want to be with him, I understand. You two just seem to click, and I want you happy, even if it's with someone else. I won't stand in your way or try to talk you out of it."
Xavier's glare turned into a smirk. Harry knew what was going through his mind: I won. Was it really winning when Harry surrendered, though?
Austin turned around to face Xavier. Harry closed his eyes. He might have said it was okay, but he didn't want to see them kiss. He didn't think Austin was that cruel, but one never knew. "Xavier, what you and I had at one time was wonderful. It was passionate and fun." Harry clenched his eyes shut even tighter. "It was only ever temporary, though. It was never meant to last. If you hadn't broken it off, I would have when it fizzled out." Harry opened his eyes. He felt cautiously hopeful. "What I have with Harry is meant to last. Not only do we have the passion and the fun, but we have the talking and understanding. We fight, but we talk and make-up. We don't go weeks without talking because of a fight. We both work at our relationship, and that's why it's as strong as it is. It's so strong that I'm astonished Harry would even consider the possibility of me breaking up with him. I love him and only him. He's who I want, and there's no one else for me."
Harry stepped forward. "You never said that to me."
Austin turned back around so he faced Harry. He gripped Harry's chin gently so Harry couldn't look down at his feet. "Of course the first time I said it, I hoped we'd be alone, but it doesn't change the truth of the sentiment."
"Why did you wait so long to say it then?"
"Didn't want to scare you off." Austin moved his arms around Harry's waist.
Harry smiled. "We have a lot in common. I was afraid of scaring you off as well. I love you, too. So much. The thought of losing you devastated me, but your happiness meant the world to me."
"You don't ever have to worry about losing me. You stuck with me."
"That's the best news I ever heard."
As they kissed, Harry was aware of a door being slammed, but he didn't care. He had his lover and nothing was about to make that change. Not even an ex-boyfriend.
Harry couldn't believe it was coming up. If he had been asked as a teenager if he ever planned to marry, his answer would have been, "I don't even expect to live to see adulthood. Why consider marriage?"
But, he had miraculously survived. Most of it was thanks to the witches and wizards who fought on his side. The order of the wizarding world was restored. He was alive, and he was happy. And he was getting married. To the love of his life.
He remembered the night Austin proposed to him. Austin had taken him on a date to the first place they ever went to in Egypt on a date. It was this rustic restaurant. It wasn't the best food, but Harry had loved the atmosphere with the friendly staff. The staff seemed to wear perpetual smiles that were infectious. It turned to be an amazing date.
Their server had been levitating their desert along with another box. Harry had looked curiously at it, even more so when Austin took it. He held his breath when Austin got down on one knee like a muggle would.
"I promise you that this doesn't make you the girl in the relationship, but you recognize muggle traditions more than wizarding." He opened the box. Harry felt his eyes glisten at the sight of the beautiful ring. "Harry, I love you. There is no one else for me in this world, whether it's the muggle world or wizarding. I can't imagine my life without you, and I never want to live it without you. Will you marry me?"
Harry was speechless, and for once he didn't mind that he was the center of attention as all eyes zeroed in on the two of them. He didn't even have to think about his answer. He nodded as he cleared his throat. "Yes, I will marry you. There's nothing I want more."
Austin slipped the ring on his finger before claiming his lips amongst the rapid applause. That was two months ago.
Their ceremony was rapidly approaching. They had discussed it and decided on a fast engagement since it was going to be a small bonding ceremony. Neither of them wanted it to become a media circus, but with the boy-who-lived-to-defeat-you-know-who marrying a guy, it was becoming difficult to keep it from happening.
The only people invited were close friends and family, so Harry hoped everyone was keeping their lips shut about the upcoming ceremony. Unfortunately, some of their friends were pathological gossipers, so that didn't seem likely.
They each decided on only one witness. Bill was chosen for Austin, and Hermione was chosen for Harry. Both decisions made sense, and there were no complaints, unless it was jokingly done. Everyone knew how close Bill and Hermione were to their respective grooms.
The very short list of attendees were Suzie (the close friend Harry had made in Egypt), Andromeda, Teddy, Fleur, Gabrielle, Angelina, Ron, George, Charlie, Ginny, Dean, Neville, Luna, Molly, Arthur, Austin's parents, and Austin's childhood best friends, Ashleigh and Stephen, who were married. And of course Hermione and Bill.
When Harry had first met Austin's parents, he had been nervous. Austin didn't talk about them that much and that had made Harry's heart pound in fear. All he could think about was why Austin didn't talk about them. What was wrong with them?
It turned out that Harry had nothing to be worried about. Marie and Gerald, Austin's mother and father, were very warm people. They lived in the muggle world, and Austin had a very good relationship with the two of them. They both knew about Austin's sexuality and supported it.
Even though Harry didn't know much about them, they knew all about Harry. They treated Harry like a second son, which helped relax him during that initial meeting. He didn't understand Austin's secrecy, until he saw Austin covering his mouth, stifling laughter. He marched over and stomped on Austin's foot.
Austin glared, and Harry smirked. "That was for purposely scaring me. You knew I was worried about meeting you parents, and you continued with the charade. You big meanie!"
Austin raised his eyebrows. "Meanie? Really?"
Harry's pout lasted all of two minutes, when Austin pulled him into a searing kiss that left him weak in the knees. He pulled away blushing when he realized Marie and Gerald were clapping heartily.
Marie smiled warmly. "Now that you know there's no reason to be scared of us, let us get to know our future son-in-law better."
The rest of the meeting was much more relaxed, and Harry allowed his personality to shine through.
Since the ceremony and reception were so small, they were able to marry within two months of getting engaged. They decided the faster they married, the less chance there would be a reporter there.
Unfortunately, like Austin and Harry feared, someone couldn't keep their mouths shut. No one admitted to it, but Harry had his suspicions that it was either Ron or Ginny. Maybe even both.
Ron liked being in the media, even if he was only mentioned in passing as attending the boy-who-lived's wedding. Harry believed it was one of the reasons Ron pushed so heard to be his witness – so he could be mentioned a bit more – but of course, Ron denied it when confronted by Harry.
And then there was Ginny. Even though she was dating Dean, who was much better for her than Harry could ever be, he knew she still wished Harry would change his mind and claim Ginny as his wife. That wasn't going to be happen, even if the ceremony became a media circus, but it gave her motive to make it one. It could have also simply been her revenge for his rejecting her, especially as the Weasleys knew how much he hated being in the media and how much he didn't want his wedding to be featured.
Harry and Austin simply grinned and bared it. They set up wards so at the very least, the reporters couldn't get into the garden where the ceremony and reception were being held.
No one gave anyone away. There was too much stigma attached to the act. Instead, first the witnesses walked down the aisle, and then the two grooms took the same path while holding hands.
They wrote their own vows.
Austin went first. "I never thought I'd fall for someone so much younger than me, never mind someone who was like an honorary little brother to a very close friend. But I did. I made you wait until you were of age, and then again until the war was over. You were very persistent in those first years, but I was sure you'd find someone your own age within that time; I thought it would be someone you went to school with, someone you worked closely with during the war. I waited for what I thought was the inevitable. Bill kept insisting I was wrong. You were too loyal, and once your mind and heart were made up, it took something drastic for either to change. Bill took great pleasure in gloating after we shared that first kiss."
Harry smiled at the memory of Bill's childish antics.
"We had our issues to work out when we got together. We had the media hounding us, both of us suffered a bit of PTSD, and there was miscommunication, especially where our move was concerned."
Harry rolled his eyes.
"That last one was definitely my fault. But we got through all of that, and both of us are striving in Egypt. I never thought I'd be able to have the job that I love here and you. I was willing to give up the former, but you showed me that I didn't have to. I never want to think about being without you, which is why I want to put that ring on your finger as soon as possible. I waited until I was absolutely sure you wouldn't be scared off before proposing, and now you're stuck with me. Forever. So get used to it."
There were laughs all around, and then it was Harry's turn.
"Just so you know, I want to be stuck with you. Anyways, you should have known better than to think I was going to give up. You saw me for me. Not the hero. Not the abused child. You didn't pity me for my less than savory upbringing. You didn't let me get away with anything. If I was wrong, you made sure to tell me, and I think that made me a better person in the long run. I had a lot of anger issues after Sirius's death. Most people said I had the right to be angry and allowed me to do whatever I wanted, even if it involved treating them horribly. You didn't, though. The first time I yelled at you, you yelled back. You made me see that no matter what happened to me, no matter how bad it might be, it didn't give me the right to take it out on other people. And I'll forever be grateful to you for that. Because of that, I work on my anger management. I discovered ways to calm down when I got mad before I took it out on those around me."
Austin caressed his cheek, and Harry realized he was crying.
"At times I thought I was going to lose you. I thought you'd realize I was too much hassle and give up. But you didn't. You proved to me that I was worth loving and nothing would stop you from wanting me. Even though you could have thought – and some people would have in your place – that my insecurities was a sign that I didn't trust you, you never considered that an option. You were patient and told me every day you loved me until I believed it. Even after I believed it, you made sure to tell me it every day. We could be in the middle of a massive argument, and you'd tell me you loved me before we went to bed, even if one of us was on the couch that night. You annoy me in almost as many ways as you make me love you, and I wouldn't change that for the world. I want to wake up next to you every morning, not including the times we're fighting of course, and this ring is the way to make sure it happens. Just like I'm stuck with you, you're stuck with me. I love you, Austin." The last sentence was whispered.
"I love you, too," Austin murmured.
The rest of the ceremony passed quickly. Harry kind of ignored the words until he heard "And now, the two of you may seal your union with a kiss."
The kiss was gentle and a bit on the chaste side. Harry was very aware of his young godson watching and didn't want to scar the poor child.
The reception afterwards was a lot of fun with lots of alcohol. Harry hoped the people drinking weren't planning on Apparating afterwards. He didn't want any of his guests to splinch themselves because of idiocy. It didn't take Molly long to corner the two of them after they shared their first dance as a married couple. "When are you two planning to adopt kids? They don't need to blood to still be my grand-babies."
Bill laughed as him and Fleur joined the trio. "They just got married today, mum. Let them breathe a little bit and just enjoy being married. Besides, you know Fleur's pregnant. That should make you happy for the time being."
Harry covered his mouth as he laughed. "It's okay. We've actually talked about it. I made sure we talked about that before we got married. I didn't want that to be one of our instances of miscommunication. I always wanted a big family and wasn't ready to compromise that, no matter how much I love Austin. We'll adopt when we're ready, but we're not sure when.
"Good." Molly nodded her head, seemingly satisfied. "Don't wait too long."
"And on that note," Austin took his hand. "Let's dance."
They danced the night away and continued to dance in their bedroom. They were going to Asia for their honeymoon, but they weren't leaving until the next morning.
They touched and kissed all night and when they had to meet for the Portkey, both of them had tired eyes and huge smiles.
It wasn't until Harry was an established healer that he brought up the idea of children. "So, kids... What do you think?" It wasn't the most eloquent way to ask, but it got his point across.
Austin's answer was to simply smile which didn't please Harry in the least.
"Well!?" Harry demanded.
Austin's grin widened.
Harry silently began to seethe as he crossed his arms. "I'm waiting for an answer." He tapped his foot impatiently, but he stopped when he realized it was probably reminiscent of Molly Weasley, and that was one person he didn't want to remind Austin of.
"Don't worry, Harry. I've been ready for children. I've just been waiting on you and your career, though."
"Really?" Harry asked sheepishly.
"Really." Austin pecked Harry's nose. "So, I think we decided that adoption was the way to go."
Harry nodded, and they got to work looking into their options.
They went to many orphanages on their time off. They had only planned on adopting one child, believing that was all they could handle as first time parents, but they hadn't been counting on falling in love with five-year old twins, a boy and a girl named Dillon and Anna.
The children were about to be separated since the orphanage couldn't find anyone to take both of them. Remembering Fred and George, and knowing how close twins could be, Harry hated the thought of them being forced to say goodbye to each other.
After Austin and Harry met the two precocious children, they felt like it was kismet and the four of them were meant to be a family.
Although extremely intelligent, Dillon and Anna were also extremely cynical. It came from being in the system for so long, and despite being in the wizarding world, the children still hadn't received enough love.
Harry was still new at the hospital, and he didn't hold any real seniority, so his schedule wasn't as flexible. Austin was the one who took some time off of work to spend quality time with the newest additions to their family. Harry requested and was granted weekends off, so they made that family time. They went to parks, muggle cinema, and played games that either Dillon or Anna asked for.
A couple of weeks passed by and there routine didn't change. On the second Sunday, after they came home, Anna asked, "When are you going to get rid of us?"
Harry glanced at Austin before he knelt down and quickly said, "Never."
Although Harry knew there was no such thing as a quick fix, he hoped his response would begin to make Dillon and Anna feel welcome.
Austin and Harry knew about the twins' history. They knew they had gone to families before and had been sent back before the adoption went through. Neither knew how anyone could not want Dillon and Anna. There loss was Harry and Austin's gain, though.
They'd do everything they could until Dillon and Anna believed they were there to stay.
The two of them both suffered from nightmares, something Harry could understand better than anyone. He allowed what he always wished he had been allowed to do as a child. Anna and Dillon always climbed into their bed with no resistance from Harry or Austin. Harry would hold Anna close while Austin did the same with Dillon.
The more time they spent together, and the more Harry and Austin assured Anna and Dillon, the more they began to believe they were there to stay.
Their sixth birthday was fast approaching, and Austin wanted to throw them a huge party. Harry never had a birthday party growing up, and he doubted the twins did while they were in the system. He was eager to give them something they had missed out on. Everyone who had been at the wedding came, including the kids some of them had by then. Bill and Fleur had two daughters. Suzie was married and had a boy a year younger than Anna and Dillon. George and Angelina had a son and daughter. Dean was bringing his daughter, but Ginny, who was his ex-wife by then, wouldn't be there. Ron and Hermione had a son and daughter. Neville and Luna had two sons. Ashleigh and Steven had two sons and one daughter.
The party was a blast. Teddy took an immediate liking to the twins, something Harry was grateful for. He had feared that Teddy might resent them for being in his godfather's life. Instead, Teddy took them under his wing, and in return, Anna and Dillon looked up at him in awe. Both Austin and Harry could see the hero worship forming before their eyes.
Harry didn't mind, though. Teddy was a good kid, and if his children were going to look up to anyone, he was glad it was Teddy. They could definitely have a worse role model. Austin was in total agreement.
After a day of games and good food, followed by a huge birthday cake, that featured flowers and dragons, for Anna and Dillon respectively, both children were utterly exhausted. They sat in their own beds and shared a look as Harry and Austin said simultaneously, "Good night. Sleep tight."
Anna nodded and Dillon smiled. Anna turned her big brown eyes onto Harry and Austin, while Dillon did the same with his identical eyes. Together, they said, "I love you."
Harry felt as if his heart was about to burst with utter happiness.
Austin said, "I love you, too." Harry echoed the sentiment.
Harry hugged Dillon tightly while Austin did the same with Anna, and then they switched children.
Although they loved the children, Harry also knew their family wasn't complete quite yet.
Two Years Later
Dillon and Anna were now eight years old, and Austin brought up the subject off adding to the family. Considering Harry brought it up the first time, Austin felt it was his turn. They talked to Dillon and Anna, and by then, the twins were totally secure in their place in the family. The only thing they asked for was a younger kid as they wanted to be a big brother and sister.
Since they were going through the same agency, the adoption process was easier. They had a spotless record, so they didn't need to go through the whole background check again.
This time, they fell in love with a 3-year old redheaded girl named Michelle. The red hair wasn't Weasley red, though. Instead, it reminded Harry of his mother's hair color.
When he admitted that out loud, Austin teased, "That's the only reason you want this little girl."
Part of Harry feared that Austin was right, but the moment he held Michelle, all doubts were erased.
Anna and Dillon took to being a big brother and sister like a duck took to water. Even with the twins' reassurances, Austin had feared jealousy, but there was none of that. Dillon and Anna took their new roles very seriously and doted on Michelle. It reminded Harry of how Teddy had been with them, and Austin thought that might be part of the reason for their behavior. Not that Harry minded. They seemed to genuinely adore Michelle and that was all that mattered.
As they watched Dillon and Anna play Pat-a-Cake with Michelle, Austin leaned over and whispered, "We owe Teddy a huge birthday present."
Harry simply nodded.
They had discussed their family, and they were planning to adopt one more child, hopefully a boy to even it out.
One Year Later
The twins were nine and Michelle was four when they ended up adopting again. They weren't planning to adopt so soon, but it was taken out of their hands by extenuating circumstances.
They had decided to go to the UK to visit their family, and Harry wanted to take the children to London. Being raised by half-bloods, the children knew how to act around muggles. While exiting a restaurant, Harry happened to look into an alley while trying to find a place they could inconspicuously summon the Knight bus. There he saw he hadn't seen in a long time. It was Dudley and he was in the middle of smacking a small girl who couldn't be older than six or seven.
Harry immediately intervened. When Dudley looked as if he was going to take his aggression out on Harry instead of the girl, Austin pulled out his wand, realizing who Dudley was thanks to Harry's stories.
Dudley looked at the wand in fear, immediately grabbing his behind as if he remembered the pig tail. "You're a freak too I see."
Austin glared. "You should really watch what you say to the person holding the wand."
The children looked on in fear, hiding behind Austin. Harry hoped Dudley didn't see them. He didn't want his cousin's poisonous attitude turning on his kids.
Thankfully, Dudley seemed to be working himself up to a rant, and it was completely aimed at Harry. "This is your fault. You infected my kid with your freakishness,"
Harry didn't bother asking how that was even possible when he hadn't seen Dudley in years, never mind the fact that he didn't know that Dudley had a kid. Harry learned as a child that you can't reason with stupid. All that mattered was that Dudley's daughter had magic, and he was taking the same approach his father had once taken with Harry.
Harry quickly learned thanks to Dudley's rant that he knocked up a girl in a one-night stand and as soon as the baby was born, she left the child on his doorstep the way Harry was left on the Dursley's doorstep. The child started showing signs of accidental magic at the age of three, and ever since then, Dudley had been trying to beat it out of her.
Harry was positively vibrating with anger. "Vernon wasn't able to beat it out of me! What makes you think you'll succeed?
"Your freakishness infected her. I can disinfect her."
Out of the corner of his eye, Harry noticed that Austin's grip on his wand was tighter. Frankly, he was surprised the wand hadn't snapped, yet. Austin stepped forward, but Harry sidestepped, blocking Austin's path.
He knew he should discuss it with his husband and kids, but there was no time, especially where Austin's temper was concerned. Austin could put up with a lot of things, but one thing he couldn't stand was parents or guardians who hurt their children, and Harry knew his own upbringing was the main reason Austin was fighting to control his temper. The last thing their children needed to see was their dad losing it.
So, without any discussion whatsoever, Harry came to a decision. "Listen Dudley. This is what we're going to do. You will give up your rights to your daughter, and we will adopt her."
The 'we' seemed to catch Dudley's attention, and he smirked. "Not only a freak with magic, but you're a pouf as well. Why am I not surprised?"
"Papa?" Michelle asked quietly.
That snapped Harry into action. "Listen, either you give up your rights to your daughter, or we go to the police. You'll be charged with child abuse for sure. You'll probably end up in jail. It's up to you."
"I don't want the freak anyways."
Harry smiled, but there was nothing genuine about it. "Then it's settled."
The adoption was quick and painless, and soon Kylie Dursley was Kylie Potter. Austin made sure that a clause was put into the contract making it illegal for Dudley to come within 100 feet of her. If Austin had anything to say about it, Kylie would forget that she was ever a Dursley.
Kylie was quiet and scared. She acted the way Harry had acted before he learned about the power of friendship. She bonded with Harry quicker than Austin due to their similar upbringing. Harry understood her in a way that Austin tried to, but ultimately failed as only someone with loving parents could fail to understand. Kylie did grow to love Austin though; it just took some time and patience.
Harry worked to show her she wasn't alone with her magic, and although she was a bit different, she wasn't a freak by any means. Her magic made her special, not a freak. Harry made sure to stress that.
Like with Michelle, Anna and Dillon doted on Kylie. They did everything they could to help and make her feel like part of the family. They shared their toys and helped feed her. They played with her and told her stories. They took care of her when Harry and Austin were needed for something else.
Meanwhile, Michelle, who was two years younger than their newest addition, latched onto Kylie. She started following Kylie around, and therefore, she followed the twins around since they were always with Kylie.
Although Michelle had followed the twins around before, since Kylie was closer in age, Harry and Austin figured that Kylie was more interesting to Michelle. Kylie loved having Michelle's total attention. She seemed to enjoy taking care of Michelle in the way the twins took care of her. Harry understood that feeling of importance it probably gave her, and he could totally relate to it.
Although Kylie wasn't a planned part of their family, Harry and Austin were glad to have her. They still wanted another boy, though, and after a discussion, they decided they would adopt one more time.
One Year Later
The twins were ten, Kylie was seven, and Michelle was five when they finally adopted another boy, their last child. Little Sam was five years old and as cute as a button. He had cerulean eyes and long brown hair. Before they began searching for the last child to complete their large family, Harry and Austin had already decided they didn't want a child younger than their youngest.
When they met Sam, they had been unsure. He was very quiet and introspective. According to the handlers at the orphanage, he didn't get along with the other children. He was an outcast.
They learned more about his history after they met him. Sam's father was a muggle and his mother was a witch. When his father found out the truth about the mother, and therefore Sam's, magic, he couldn't handle it and abandoned the two. Sam's mother decided she couldn't raise a child alone so left him to the devices of a wizarding orphanage.
Harry thought about Tom Riddle and how eerily similar their stories were. They were both half-bloods abandoned by their families, and both of them were outcasts in the orphanage they were dropped off at. The only difference was the type of orphanage, and in the end, that might not make that much of a difference.
Harry feared what would happen if Sam never finds the love of a family. He could become the next Dark Lord, embittered due to his loveless upbringing. Although Harry and Austin didn't connect with Sam right away like they did with Anna, Dillon, Michelle, and to a lesser extent, Kylie, they also know they could give him the love that he truly needed.
Before they adopted him, they brought the children to meet him. Although both Austin and Harry wanted to shower Sam with love and affection, they needed to think about the kids they already had, especially after the head matron of the orphanage told them that Sam didn't play nice with the other kids.
Michelle was instantly smitten with him, probably due to being the same age. She wasn't the only baby of the family, and she probably liked having some of that pressure taken off of her.
Kylie's instant reaction was to say, "He's cute." She then proceeded to hug him tightly. Sam held his hands in midair, obviously unsure of how to respond to such affection.
Anna and Dillon were at the age where they were trying to act cool and showing emotion was totally not cool. They went for indifference, but both Harry and Austin could see they were quite taken with Sam.
It was settled and Sam was adopted.
Almost a month after the adoption went through, Sam was finally becoming a true member of the family. He had severe temper tantrums when he didn't get his way, but he was beginning to learn how to deal with the disappointment in a calmer way. He got along well with the other kids, and Harry suspected it wasn't Sam's fault that he didn't get along with the kids in the orphanage.
Sam sometimes suffered from nightmares, but Austin and Harry had already gone through that with the other kids, so they knew how to help him.
When Sam first whispered, "I love you," Harry nearly cried, and he knew Austin was right there with him. They didn't think they would ever hear those words due to how jaded Sam was. He seemed even more cynical than Anna and Dillon had been when they first joined the family.
Austin had brushed Harry's bangs out of his eyes when Harry commented about that in a mournful tone. "It's because Anna and Dillon at least had each other. Who did Sam have?" Austin asked rhetorically. That question was harrowing.
"We love you too, so much," Harry breathed reverently into Sam's brown locks.
Austin kissed Sam's forehead before pulling Harry away from the bed. "Good night, Sammy. You know where to find us if you have a bad dream."
Sam sleepily nodded, and Harry saw his eyes already drifting close.
They left the room, but kept the door open with the light on in the hallway. Just in case.
Their next stop was Michelle and Kylie's room. Harry had offered to expand the house so they could each have their own room, but neither minded sharing.
When Harry still insisted on expanding, Austin wrapped his arms around him. He gently reminded Harry, "They will have to share at Hogwarts. They can get used to it now. There's no reason to spoil them with their own rooms."
Harry still seemed unsure, remembering his childhood and worrying about what Kylie's might have been like.
Austin, like always, knew his thoughts. "The bedroom isn't a cupboard under the stairs or whatever Kylie might have slept in. The room is plenty big enough for the both of them, so stop worrying."
Harry nodded as he finally allowed himself to relax.
When they finally opened the door, both girls were already in bed and under the covers. Austin and Harry walked in. Harry kissed Kylie while Austin kissed Michelle, and then they switched girls.
Austin and Harry smiled after they made their way back to the door.
"Good night," Austin said.
"Sleep tight," Harry finished.
"Good night, dad. Good night, papa," they chorused together like they always did.
Austin and Harry walked out of the bedroom, and closed the door with a soft click.
Anna was next, and they walked into her very purple room.
She was brushing her hair while she sat on her lavender bedspread.
Harry shook his head. "Don't stay up much longer, Anna."
Anna nodded. "Of course, papa."
"Good night," Austin said without trying to kiss her.
"Sleep tight," Harry finished."
"Good night, dad. Good night, papa."
They left the room, allowing the door to click close behind them.
Dillon was last and when they walked in, he was under the covers reading.
Austin chuckled, and Harry knew what he was thinking. Anna and Dillon might be twins, but they were so different.
Before Harry opened his mouth, Dillon shut his book with a snap. "Don't say it, papa. I'm going to sleep now."
Harry smiled. "Glad to hear it."
Austin waited until Dillon had put his book aside before saying, "Good night."
Like with the others, Harry echoed, "Sleep tight."
"Good night, dad. Good night, papa."
They left and clicked the door shut. Harry missed kissing Anna and Dillon good night, but they weren't very appreciative of the gesture right then.
Austin and Harry went to their own room and collapse onto the bed. Harry was thankful they were already in their pajamas. He was beat, and he wasn't sure he would have been able to move to change if he hadn't done so already, especially since he liked doing things the muggle way so he never got spoiled by magic.
Austin pulled him into strong arms, and Harry sighed contentedly. It wasn't very often that they got to just be together with their jobs and the kids, and Harry had learned to savor every moment of alone time he had with his husband.
"Having kids is exhausting," Austin murmured against Harry's unkempt hair.
Harry sleepily nodded.
"I don't regret it at all," Austin said, and Harry heard the grin in his voice.
Harry looked into Austin's eyes, and matched his husband's grin with one of his own, although a very tired version. "I love you," he whispered.
Austin leaned down so their noses touched. "I love you, too.
They began lightly kissing, but Harry felt himself fading, and Austin chuckled into his slackened mouth. "Don't worry about it, love. There will be other nights."
Austin kissed his neck. "Go to sleep."
And Harry did just that.
4 years later
Harry gripped Sam's hand as they arrived at King's Cross to see Anna, Dillon, and Kylie off to Hogwarts. Although Anna and Dillon were entering their fourth year, it would be Kylie's first year.
The commuters stared curiously at the owls as the family wove its way toward the barrier between platforms nine and ten.
Harry, Austin, and their children entered Platform Nine and Three Quarters, where they met Ron and Hermione's family. Ron and Harry unfortunately weren't as close as they used to be – with Harry living in Egypt – and it was common knowledge that Ron never completely accepted his marriage to Austin. The silence was awkward as they both focused on their respective families while Hermione chatted easily with Austin.
Anna and Dillon ran off right away to see their friends.
Michelle, who was holding Austin's hand, moaned – reminiscent of Ginny – about being unable to go. "It's not fair," she pouted.
Sam looked as if he was close to tears. While Harry held one hand, Sam gripped Kylie's hand with his free hand. Harry knew Sam would have trouble adjusting to Kylie's departure, but he didn't think about how hard it would be.
"It will be okay," Harry said soothingly.
It didn't seem to make Sam feel any better.
"Sam, Kylie will write a letter every week and she will come home for the holidays."
"So what? It won't be the same!" Sam sniffled.
"I know. I'm going to miss her too, but both of us have to be strong. She needs to leave so she can get an education, so we have to let her go. Can you be strong for Kylie, Sammy?"
Sam nodded even while he continued to sniff.
Harry wished he could help more, but there was nothing else that could do right then. They had to get the kids onto the train.
In passing, Harry saw Draco Malfoy and his wife with their son, Scorpius. Malfoy acknowledged Harry with a curt nod, which Harry turned. They would never be friends, but they could now be in the same vicinity without throwing hexes. That was definite progress.
Dillon came running back to them, grinning widely. Anna followed closely behind. She giggled before saying, "Teddy was kissing Victoire. It was so sweet."
"It was gross," Dillon muttered.
"No. It was sweet," Anna rebuked.
Harry turned his eyes away from the twins, who entered a squabble, to look at Kylie. "What's wrong, Ky?"
She let go of Sam's hand to grab Harry's shirt and she pulled. Understanding what she wanted, Harry knelt in front of her. Her small hands rested on his shoulder. "What if..."
"What if...what?" Harry asked patiently.
"What if I'm not sorted because I'm muggle-born? I might not have enough magic for Hogwarts. Maybe he really did get rid of it."
Harry knew the 'he' she referred to was Dudley and she feared he really did beat it out of her.
Harry pulled Kylie into a strong hug. He pulled back and answered, "Don't you worry, Ky. Every witch and wizard is sorted, no matter whether they're a pure-blood, half-blood, or muggle-born. There are many muggle-borns in the wizarding world, just like Aunt Hermione, and they all get sorted just fine."
"Aunt Hermione was strong, right? Even though she was a muggle-born, she was strong, right?" Kylie sounded as if she really needed to be sure.
Harry nodded. "She was one of the strongest witches that I knew. Blood doesn't mean anything when it comes to strength."
"That's right," Hermione echoed.
Harry smiled over at Hermione as Kylie seemed to relax.
Suddenly, the warning whistle blew, and the family watched as all of their children got on the train.
Harry followed the train and waved goodbye. He was happy to finally be leading the life he had always dreamed of, but he couldn't help the slight clench of his heart.
Austin must have read the emotions in his eyes. He held Harry from behind while simultaneously watching Sam and Michelle. "They'll be fine. No matter what house Kylie ends up in, Anna and Dillon will both keep an eye on her."
"I know," Harry said.
"And remember, we still have two more children in the nest."
Harry smiled at the familiar muggle saying. "I'm not sure what I'm going to do when they leave. I won't know what to do with myself.
Austin squeezed Harry closer to his body, if that was even possible. "It's too early to start thinking about that. There are still two more years before all of our children are at Hogwarts."
As Harry took Michelle's hand and Austin took Sam's hand, they left the platform through the barrier. As they made their way to the Apparation point, Harry thought about everything they had gone through to get to that point. All of the ups and downs. All of the celebrations and disappointments.
And to top it all, the scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.