A/N: Plot bunnies… and my first, epilogue compliant piece of work. MY GOD, the world is coming to an end!!!!… kidding, you'll see why I have finally come to terms with the infamous epilogue. I knew there had to be something good about that disaster *lalala*
A 1,900 words fic, broke into 19 drabbles, that I wrote for the lj comm harry100, theme #08 - future.
I hope this doesn't break any rules…
Disclaimer: Harry Potter is not mine… oh, the injustice…
"a different future"
(post-dh, epilogue compliant // In which Harry wonders about a different future while he learns a few shocking truths.)
He looks at his ringless fingers, wondering. It's been months already, but still, Harry felt the divorce so… surreal. And it isn't just him, he's sure his children still have a hard time believing it.
Now, his children… James, Albus and Lily had been the main reason why he took so long to make up his mind. Having grown up without loving parents, he hadn't wanted to deprive his children of that, but now with them at Hogwarts… he hadn't been able to postpone the issue any longer.
To the Wizarding World it'd been a surprise, but his inner circle…
Hermione had seen it coming months before he even thought about it. Ron, probably weeks after he started struggling with it. And Ginny…
Ginny had seen it coming from the moment they resumed their relationship.
"You love me, Harry. I know you do. But you are not in love with me… You never were."
Now, thinking back, he knows Ginny had been right, surprisingly so. He also knows she had been very in love with him. So, not wanting to cause her any more pain, Harry had submitted the custody of their children, saying they needed their mother much more.
He'd been thoroughly surprised when, after telling their children about the arrangement, Albus had announced he wanted to live with him. His son had cleverly claimed that, while their reasoning had merit, it wasn't fair to leave him without family to go back to after work. Ginny had given him a watery smile and agreed, she then added that he was free to visit James and Lily whenever he pleased, just as Albus was always welcome to go to his mother whenever he needed her.
And here he is now, a bachelor again and spending summer with his 15yo son.
The slam of a door snaps him out of his musings, and Harry knows Albus' come back from wherever he went early in the morning. He thinks about leaving the sanctity of his study and go welcome him back, but a feminine giggle stops him.
Well, this is unexpected…
There's a muffled murmur, and then Albus clear voice breaks through the short silence that falls over the cottage.
"No worries, he's at work."
There are more murmurs, followed closely by more giggles and then the cottage is silent again.
Well, I'll just slip out unnoticed… and come back… much later…
Harry briefly hopes Albus decided to go to his room with his… friend (and chuckles to himself at how different his youngest son is from him at that age), so they could have more privacy, but if they have stayed in the living room instead, well… he'll just slip out really-
"Stop it… God… Albus Severus Potter!"
The playful tone of the girl's voice makes him stop dead on his tracks, mind reeling as the implications sink in.
Oh, my God.
Because he knows that voice, as well as he knows the voices of his own children.
"Rose Lillian Weasley!"
He stands dumbfounded on the entryway to the living room, watching as his son peppers his niece's face (his -Albus'- cousin!) with tender kisses before stopping over her mouth. They're not snogging senseless, just sharing a few sweet kisses here and there, and from that, Harry can tell that whenever this (them) happened, it hasn't been long.
Albus pulls back and smiles softly at her; Rose caresses his face and returns his smile with one of her own. And for a moment there, Harry's not seeing his son and niece, but himself and… Hermione.
Hermione and a whole different future.
Harry knows he should probably move and leave, but the shock is too much and-
-he's already been seen.
Albus springs away from Rose, as if suddenly burned, and turns to look at him, something akin to fear shining in his eyes.
"Dad! What are you doing here? I thought…"
"I took the day off."
He never thought he'd see the day he'd thank the Dursleys for conditioning him to control his emotions, but… alas, that day has finally come.
Albus swallows nervously, behind him, Rose stands fidgeting with the hem of her blouse.
"We can explain…"
"Are you… in love with each other?"
The teens blush profusely, growing steadily more and more nervous, but answer nonetheless-truthfully.
He pinches the bridge of his nose, foreseen a headache and trying to understand when this all happened. "I… Merlin's beard, you are cousins."
Both teens share a worried glace, but remain otherwise quiet.
"What will your mother say, Albus? And Rose, what about your father-Good Lord, what will Hermione say?"
Rose's blue eyes stare right at him and, again, Harry's reminded of Hermione.
"She said she doesn't want me to have any regrets in the future."
His mind's reeling, again, out of control. Rose's talking, going nonstop about how Hermione told her that her biggest regret was rush into a marriage that could have very well destroyed one of the best friendships she's ever had. He stops listening then, his mind going back to the day of his wedding, to that last real conversation with Hermione.
When, with her eyes full of tears, she'd told him how happy she was for him, for seeing him happy.
However, what he'd believed to be tears of happiness, had been not.
A month later, she'd been married to Ron.
When he snaps out of his memories, both Albus and Rose have worried looks on their faces. A small smile makes its way across his face, more for their sake than his. However, Albus' next words wipe it out within the second.
"I don't want to have any regrets, dad. I don't want to cause problems to our family, but…"
He watches in wonder as his son extends his hand to Rose, who takes it gladly, both sharing a private smile before turning to him.
"I'm willing to take the risk."
"We both are."
Harry rubs his face tiredly.
"I don't regret marrying your mother-"
"Yes, you do."
His son's smile stops any kind of protest that might have formed in his head; he looks so… mature. So much like him at that age, only without the strain of a psycho breathing over his neck day in and day out.
"Yes, you do. Otherwise, you'd still be married to her."
"James, Lily and I are the best that's happened to you, I know. We're probably the one good thing that came out of your marriage; you love us. I know, you'll never regret us."
There's a pause.
"But you do regret marrying mum, as much as Aunt Hermione regrets marrying Uncle Ron."
Harry sighs. Why does he feel so tired all of a sudden?
"Uncle Harry, you don't have to keep pretending for our sake. We know what it feels like-"
Rose frowns in concentration; the sight is so… so Hermione that he has to bite his tongue to keep himself from laughing.
"-to fall in love with the wrong person and still feel like it's the rightest thing in the world. Believe me, we do."
"But we'd rather choose what's right over what's easy."
Harry laughs humourlessly, finding it ironic that two 15yo hormone-controlled teens seem to be teaching him a lesson-about life no less! But his son's words strike a nerve, deep down in his heart.
Was that what he'd really done? Choose what's easy over what's right? Well, it certainly seems so. But what can he do about it now? It's much too late for him, for them-no. Harry blinks, looking at his son and niece as they watch him worriedly, and smiles.
It's never too late to start over, to take risk.
Just look at Al…
"Does anyone else know about this?"
The teens blush and smile tentatively.
"Scorpius, he… is kind of… helping us cover it up, you see," says Albus.
"Someone found out I started dating a Slytherin at the end of Fourth Year, so…"
"He's making it seem like it's him?"
Harry smiles amusedly at them, finally at ease after such a discovery. "Well, that explains Ron's sudden hatred."
"Oh, he's being so silly, Uncle Harry!"
Seeing Rose huff and rant like that, makes it impossible for him to keep his laugher at bay.
Good lord, so much like her mum.
"Has he gone mental, Al?"
Their surprised looks and inquiries about his sanity make him laugh harder. He can't seem to stop, because, for the first time in many years, Harry feels like he can finally be happy. Really, truly happy.
"You okay, dad?"
"Yes, sorry about that."
"Um, Uncle Harry, about this-"
"I won't tell anyone."
Rose smiles gratefully and surprises him with one of her mother's trademark hugs. "Thank you."
He pats her head lightly and returns her affectionate smile. "You're welcome. When are you going to tell Hermione about this?"
The girl blushes, averting her gaze.
"Well… I was kind of planning on sending her a letter after the start of Fifth Year…"
Rose walks back to Albus' side and he's surprised to see how eagerly his son responds to her silent requests.
Just like he used to do with Hermione's.
"What's this, Rosie? That's not the attitude I expect from a girl who got sorted into Gryffindor."
"Please, dad? We don't want… we just… don't want to share this with the world just yet…"
Harry nods, his smile becoming softer, and ruffles his son hair. "I understand, don't worry, your secret's safe with me."
Grinning mischievously, the green-eyed man makes his way to the doorway. "Now, I'll be… out for a while. So you kids can have some privacy."
Catching the hidden meaning of his statement, both teens react instantly; Rose blushes profusely while Albus grins back at him.
He nods and turns to leave, but stops when Rose calls him back.
The girl grins at him, that very same grin her mother possesses and that never fails to make him want to please her.
"Mum took the day off, too."
A brief smile later and, silently, Harry Disapparates.
Rose stares shocked at the place her uncle vacated, before turning to her boyfriend. "How can he do that? That wards are still up."
Albus shrugs, already used to this. "That's dad for you," he says and then smiles suggestively, a mischievous glint in his green eyes. "Want me to Apparate us to my room?"
The blue-eyed girl grins but pulls away from him, walking towards the stairs. Albus follows her at a distance, enjoying the view.
"No, thanks, I don't fancy being splinched. I don't know about you, but I think that would be a real turn off."
The boy flashes him his charming smile and within second, they reach his room. "Turn off? More than being caught by your Uncle?"
She doesn't replies, wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him into a proper kiss instead.
Not too far from there, in an apartment downtown London, a brown-haired woman feels a sudden tingling sensation that she often associates with her best friend.
A moment later, he's standing in front of her, giving her that devastatingly mischievous grin of his that never fails to make her want to melt into his arms.
"Hey, fancy a chat?"