It had been a good wedding, Harry
knew. There had been cake, and dancing, and Ginny had looked wonderful,
more than wonderful, even. Ron had messed up his speech, after assuring
Harry the night before that he'd be fine, and that he'd done it lots of
times. In a way, the day wouldn't have been as perfect without his best
friend making a complete arse of himself.
Of course, the wedding day had led to the wedding night, which had also been good. Most definitely good. More than good, even.
the wedding night had in turn eventually led to a little bundle of joy
named Jessica Anne, now thirteen years old and nominally asleep in the
room that she was sharing with her cousin Catherine.
girl was asleep. Far from it. In fact, they had been less than subtle
as they made their way downstairs past Harry and Ginny's bedroom. Harry
poked Ginny in the ribs insistently until she gave up any pretence of
sleep and rolled over.
"The girls are downstairs," he reported.
"So it's your turn to go and chase them back to bed, remember?"
"Because I did Ben's feeding last night."
"But you were awake anyway..."
"It's still your turn, and I don't know where my slippers are, and the kitchen floor is cold at this time of night."
"You, Harry, are a wimp."
two in the morning, in a nice warm bed, and the prospect of having my
daughter hate me until tomorrow morning for chasing her back to bed,
that's very true."
Ginny grumbled as she got up, tying her
dressing gown over her increasingly prominent stomach. She looked
mournfully at her reflection in the mirror at the foot of the bed.
"I hate how I look when I'm pregnant," she groused, without feeling.
love how you look when you're pregnant," Harry replied, through a yawn.
"Your breasts swell and you glow with an inner beauty. Now quit
stalling, because I'm not getting up tonight."
laughed, waving her wand at his slippers - which had been sitting next
to his side of the bed, where he usually left them - and making them
jump up and land on his head, but her husband was already asleep and
didn't even flinch.
"Harry, Harry wake up."
Ginny's insistent prodding caused Harry to roll over with a growl, and stare balefully at his wife through sleep-gummed eyes.
"You're already pregnant," he said, his voice rasping. "Sex can wait until morning."
followed a short bout of grappling that ended with Ginny astride
Harry's stomach, her knees pinning his wrists to the bed beneath her.
"You were saying?"
Harry growled something unintelligible, staring up at his wife with eyes that sparkled in the darkness.
Ginny shivered as his hands moved against the backs of her calves. She glared down at him, her smile matched by his.
you want to know what our daughter was so anxious to talk to Catherine
about? Why it couldn't wait until morning? Why she couldn't talk about
it with other people around?"
"Later," Harry grumbled, trying
and failing to work out once again how his petite wife could so
successfully immobilise his entire upper body.
"Harry," Ginny said, her voice carrying a warning of no satisfaction unless he paid attention to her.
relented, although not before stretching his fingers as far as he could
to see if he could distract his wife from the conversation she seemed
intent on having to the detriment of his desires. Unable to break her
concentration, he surrendered to his wife's need to have an apparently
serious conversation, a definite break from the norm in the Potter
"Go on," he relented, begrudgingly.
"Jessica fancies Tom Wood."
nearly sixteen years of marriage prior to that moment, Harry had never
been able to find a way to throw his wife off when she had him pinned
to the bed.
"So, not interested then?" Ginny laughed, as she
lay sprawled before him. Harry sat up, torn between the sight of his
wife with her nightgown lying revealingly askew, and the desperate need
to hunt down and hex a teenage boy who he'd never heard of ten seconds
"It comes to us all, love," Ginny said, easing
herself forward and pushing Harry back onto the bed. "Now, I think it's
your turn to talk to her."
"Why is it my turn?" Harry
protested feebly, as his wife slipped one of the straps of her
nightgown off her shoulder. He let himself be pushed backwards until he
was lying down again.
"We agreed, remember?" Ginny said,
toying with the other strap as she hovered over him. "You'd talk to the
girls, I'd talk to the boys."
"Yeah, but you know I was never happy with-"
"Sorry, love?" Ginny settled into place.
"Yeah... Tomorrow's okay, right?"
"Tomorrow should be fine," Ginny smiled.
Harry and Jessica
"You wanted to talk to me, Dad?"
your mother wants me to talk to you," Harry replied. "I'd rather you
were talking to Aunt Hermione, or Uncle Ron, or even Uncle Percy. I'd
almost rather you were talking to Fred and George, may Merlin have
mercy on me, but it's fallen to me to point out that your mother and I
know all about Tom Wood."
Jessica flushed a bright red.
"Anything you want to tell me?" Harry asked. "Bearing in mind that if there's anything that you should tell me, you know you'll feel better if you tell me now."
Jessica huffed, and dropped into the armchair on the other side of the fireplace.
"There's nothing to tell," she said. "He's just a boy, Dad."
"Just a boy, right," Harry said. "Does this boy know you?"
Jessica shrugged. "I guess."
"What year is he in?"
"Fifth year," she said.
Harry tried not to react. Jessica was a third year.
"And do you and this man-child have anything in common?"
"Sorry," Harry held his hands up. "I was just hoping that we wouldn't be having this talk for a few years."
"Oh, Dad, we're not going to talk about sex, are we?"
so," Harry said, pulling a face every bit as horrified as that of his
daughter. "Er, would you feel better if your mum talked to you about
"Ugh, no. She just goes on about... bits."
"Right," Harry said disappointedly. "Er, bits?"
Jessica squirmed in her chair. "Dad!"
"Right, right," Harry said hurriedly. "So, how do you know this Tom boy, anyway?"
"He's a Beater for Gryffindor," she said. "We made it onto the team at the same time and we've talked quite a bit since then."
"And he joined the PA as soon as I asked," she said.
"The PA?" Harry asked, certain that he wasn't going to like the answer.
"Potter's Army," Jessica mumbled.
"You run it?"
"Sirius, James and I do, yes."
and James Lupin, eldest sons of Remus and Nymphadora, were twin boys a
year older than Jessica, and the proud heirs to the tradition of their
father and namesakes. Harry knew for a fact that Hermione, in her role
as Head of Gryffindor House, had been forced to discipline them only
two weeks before for breaking into one of the Prefects' bathrooms with
a pair of older Ravenclaw girls in tow.
And that's who my daughter is learning to act from when she has a crush... Oh well. What was it that Sirius said?
Harry and Sirius
"Harry, come in."
Harry made his way dispiritedly into the kitchen and sat down opposite his godfather.
"Harry, you're bloody brilliant, you know that?"
Harry blinked in surprise, his usual guarded expression slipping completely.
star, rebel, Dark Arts instructor, hero... I know that you don't like
attention, but you don't exactly hide your light under a bushel, do
"I don't-" Harry began angrily. How could Sirius
say something like that? Wasn't it bad enough that he was going to have
Snape trying to read his mind? Or that Umbridge was waltzing around
Hogwarts like she owned the place? Or that-
Sirius went on, interrupting Harry's bout of self-pity with a gleam in
his eyes. "The girls are going to be chucking themselves at you if you
keep this up."
"What?" Harry said, nonplussed.
Harry! Pretty, softer versions of boys that you want to smell and touch
and snog. Unless you prefer boys, in which case I'll need a minute to
change this speech I prepared a bit..."
"Er, I like girls," Harry said, feeling somewhat swept along by Sirius' enthusiasm.
good. Now, listen carefully, Harry. I'm going to teach you a few things
that should make you very popular with the ladies."
Harry and Jessica
Harry smiled grimly. They did, too, he thought. But I'll be buggered before I teach my own daughter all that Sirius said that day. And she's never going to learn how to get the Map running in Mating Mode.
I might tell Sirius and James, though. Hermione never did learn about that trick.
Coming back to the present, he looked at his daughter, wondering how to proceed.
"Your mum told you about bits then, did she?"
apparently hoping that minimal input from her might reduce the length
of time her father would spend on her continuing embarrassment, nodded.
Harry grinned. "Well, in that case, it falls to me to share the
ultimate truth about relationships between men and women. Are you ready
to hear this?"
Jessica nodded slowly, looking slightly less embarrassed but still rather pink-cheeked.
She nodded more firmly.
"Are you sure?"
"Dad," she said crossly, folding her arms across her chest and raising her chin in a way that she'd inherited from her mother.
Harry smirked. "Okay, I'll tell you."
"All men... are bastards!"
Jessica's jaw dropped. "What?!"
Harry and Sirius
"It's true!" Sirius crowed,
grinning maniacally. "Think about it! Who gets pregnant? Who has to
give birth? Who's most likely to give up their job to look after the
kids? Who cooks? Who cleans? Who disciplines? Who nags? Women, that's
"And who gets to sleep around? Who gets more
respect? Who can get into fights? Who gets the most interesting jobs?
Who're the big heroes? Who gets all the good press for spending a few
hours with their kids? Men, that's who!
me when I say that I have the utmost respect for women. But we have it
so much easier than them. Watching your parents with you, well, it was
clear who was doing all the hard work, and who was just there for comic
"Harry, when you're with a woman, never
underestimate them. Somehow we've ended up with the important jobs in
the world, but most women could do them a hell of a lot better!
them right, Harry. By all that's holy, they're the best thing to ever
happen to this planet, and that includes Quidditch, beer and really
good fried breakfasts.
"So I never want to hear about
you not treating women properly, Harry. The rewards for doing the right
thing are worth it, believe me. If you find a girl who really likes
you, and if you find that you really like her too, treat her right,
make her feel like the most special person on the planet, hell, in the
universe. We've done nothing to deserve them, but by God we should do
our best not to let them realise it."
Harry and Jessica
"Jessica, I want you to understand
something. It's a man's place to pursue the girl, okay? By all means
let this Tom boy know you're interested, but don't throw yourself at
"But he's been spending a lot of time with Vanessa Jordan, as well."
it's meant to be, then it'll work out," Harry said. "If the boy likes
you, he'll find his way to you soon enough. If not, then you're best
off not worrying too much about him."
"How am I supposed to do that? Whenever I see him, I can't think straight."
smiled as he thought about how Ron and Hermione had all but thrown him
at Ginny after he'd spent months trying to pluck up the courage to ask
"James and Sirius will help," he said. "Tell them. It can't be any more embarrassing then telling me."
"Are you joking?" Jessica asked. "They'll tell the whole school!"
"Bet you a Sickle they won't," Harry said. "Not if they know that you really like him. I know that they're..."
like your uncles Fred and George," Harry finished. "But they're good
lads, and I know that they'd do anything for you. They always have
done. I remember when you were about two, and this big ashwinder got
loose in Ron and Hermione's. None of the adults noticed, but James and
Sirius got hold of their parents' wands and kept it at bay from you and
Catherine. Even before that they were keeping an eye on you, but since
then they've really taken it seriously. Remember when you broke your
Jessica nodded, rubbing her elbow absently.
was about ready to hex your uncle Bill that day, because he wouldn't
believe you were really hurt. It wasn't until he drew his wand and
tried to hex your uncle that we knew he was serious. Anyway, they'll
keep an eye on you, and stop you doing anything too embarrassing."
"How do I get him to notice me?" Jessica asked. "I thought that he might ask me out after the last PA meeting of term-"
"You're going to have to change that name, you know."
"Everyone loves it, Dad," she said, smiling innocently. He sighed, and waved for her to go on.
he was there, and hanging around long after the meeting had finished,
but I was talking to James Allen about snapping his wrist when he does
a Banishing Charm. Tom kept looking at us and opening his mouth, and
then closing it again, like he wanted to say something but wasn't sure
"Well, that sounds promising," Harry said, waving his
wand and conjuring a pot of tea and two mugs. Pouring each of them a
cup, he sat back in his chair with a sigh. "Now, what were you doing
with this James Allen? Banishing Charms? You weren't holding his hand,
"No, Dad," Jessica said, shaking her head emphatically. "I was just... Oh, Merlin."
Harry peered over the top of his mug, and crooked an eyebrow quizzically. "Hmmm?"
I had one hand on his wrist, and another on his other shoulder to show
him how to get his balance right," she said, sighing.
"Ah. So, not even remotely like you were about to snog him, then?"
Jessica didn't even look embarrassed now. "Oh... bits."
harm done, I'm sure," he said briskly. "It might even get this boy to
realise how much he likes you. Didn't you ever hear about how Ron and
Hermione got together?"
"Wasn't there a fight, or something? Some boy she was seeing?"
Goldstein," Harry nodded. "Your mother went out with his friend for a
time, and that's how he got talking to Hermione. Of course, being a
Ravenclaw, he had a lot in common with her. Smart, funny, resourceful
and all that. Your uncle was ready to top himself by their third date.
It was Anthony this, and Anthony that. Then..."
"Yes?" Jessica asked, sitting forward.
"She called him Tony."
Jessica's eyes widened.
"She had a nickname for him?"
"You didn't know she had it in her, did you?" Harry chuckled.
"Wow, poor Uncle Ron. What did he do?"
"Well, Ron being Ron, his first instinct was to kick something."
Malfoy," Harry said, not quite restraining the grin threatening to
spread right across his face. "Right where all hope of the Malfoy
succession rested, too."
"Uncle Ron kicked Draco Malfoy..."
"...in the bits, yes," Harry finished.
course, it was all the excuse that Malfoy needed to get angry, and that
weekend he led a gang of Slytherins in an ambush of some younger kids.
Hermione and Anthony saw it and tried to help, but they were
outnumbered. Anthony was all in favour of running for help, but then
Ron ploughed in on his way back from a detention in the greenhouses,
and he just took them all out, one by one. Seems like he'd been
studying some extra spells to impress Hermione with."
"Did it work?"
right it did," Harry grinned. "Hermione and Anthony split up, mainly
because after that your aunt couldn't keep her hands off Ron. Malfoy
got suspended for a month and failed his sixth year. He had to re-sit,
and your mum kept him in line for the next two years without any
trouble. Anyway, the whole point of that story is that your uncle Ron
responded to a bit of healthy competition and won the fair maiden's
"Do you think Tom will do the same?"
Harry said, draining the last of his tea. "And maybe not. I guess that
I can't give you the perfect answer, because there isn't one. If he
isn't interested, no amount of effort will make him fall for you. If he
is, then he'll work it out for himself. I genuinely believe that the
best relationships evolve over time, and trying to make it hurry up
probably won't help."
"Mum reckons you were a relationship disaster zone before you met her, though," Jessica said.
mother, much as I love her, has always had a very... competitive
streak. She likes to believe it was just a formality that she and I
would end up together. But the girls I went out with before her...
well, they weren't disasters. There was just something missing that I didn't find until I got together with your mother."
"What? Oh, your mother... Your mother..."
Harry and Sirius
"One day, you'll meet her Harry," Sirius said, suddenly calm and serious.
one for you. For all you might know, you might already have met her, or
walked past her a thousand times and just never seen her."
"How will I know?"
"You just will."
"That's not very helpful, Sirius," Harry said.
suppose not," Sirius replied, sighing. "I never met her. I wonder if I
ever will. My dating prospects aren't exactly great these days."
"Did... My mum and dad, did they..."
"Oh, of course!" Sirius brightened immediately. "How stupid am I? Wait, don't answer that!"
leapt to his feet and rushed to the cupboard in the corner of the room.
He pulled out an old leather-bound book, and banged it down on the
table, sending dust flying from its cover.
said, opening it to the last page and jabbing his finger at the
photograph spellotaped haphazardly in place. "Remus was looking after
some of this stuff for me. I haven't looked in ages, but look."
looked at the photo. He recognised the participants immediately, for he
had a very similar photo in his own album. It showed his mother and
father holding a baby that Harry knew to be himself. His mother was
doting on the infant, and his father stroking its hair, but every few
moments, his father would look up and look at his wife's face for a
second or two and smile.
"He said it was like having a
firework go off in his chest," Sirius said quietly. "Like the world was
complete when he was with your mother, and that having her there with
him just made everything else fit into place. Without her, he said that
the world just didn't seem right."
He closed the photo album and sat back in his chair.
the best I can offer you, Harry. Hopefully, one day, you'll find that
girl, and you'll be able to come up with something better to tell your
own kids when they ask."
Harry and Jessica
"Your mother... was always ready to play Quidditch," Harry smiled.
Jessica looked at him in disbelief. "That's it?"
"No," he said. "But it's the best I can do. I don't reckon you can be told about something like that. You'll just know."
"Now, I reckon that we've both been embarrassed enough for one day. Shall we go get some butterbeer? My round."
Harry and Ginny
"You know that Jessica think you're a cool dad now?"
"Wasn't I always a cool dad?"
but no. You were her hero until she was about eleven or twelve, then
you were the annoying dad who wouldn't let her be alone with her
friends when she wanted to gossip about boys, or who never realised
that she was growing up and was now a woman."
"But now I'm cool?"
"Hmm. I guess I can live with that. Besides, I only have room for one woman in my life."
"I'm glad. I'd hate to think that you did this with just anyone."
"Only my wife."
"Just how did you learn to be so good, anyway?"
Harry and Sirius
"Just remember, Harry. Just... there. Any woman will be putty in your hands."
"There? Really? I'd have thought..."
"Oh, that's not bad, and it'll do the job, but for best results... There."
"That's it. You'll make some woman very happy with that, one day."