The cottage caught Harry by surprise as he flooed in. After seeing Xenophilius’s ramshackle cottage he expected something similar but the inside was neat, filled to the brim with books and interesting specimens gathered from around the world, however, it gave off a sense of scholastic importance and interest, not one of disorderly, esoteric curios. The kitchen was large and bright with a large brick fireplace. For how homely the place felt, Harry felt like he was back in the burrow. Luna appeared from the doorway, dreamy smile on her face as she carried one of her children on her hip.
“Good to see you, Harry” She stepped forward and gave Harry a hug and Harry could smell earth and herbs in her hair. He smiled as she pulled back.
“Hi Luna, How are you?”
“Okay actually, the Auguries are calling so we’ve had to move our mud pies inside.”
“Okay?” Harry said confused. Even after all these years Luna never failed to confuse.
“The Augurey predicts rain and storms.” She gurgled to the infant at her hip. “Did you want to see them, Harry?” Harry nodded. Not sure whether he actually did want to see them or not. Luna turned and left the room as he followed. The rest of the house was much the same and the only words Harry could find to describe the place were words like ‘homey’ and ‘cosy’. She led him out some patio doors and out onto a small terrace overlooking a small babbling stream. When she didn’t stop he jumped, chasing after her. She guided him down a winding overgrown path to a patch of garden which looked like it was being tilled ready for planting. Surrounding the plot of land there were hedgerows of brambles and thorns. Harry noticed the noise straight away. “Can you hear them?” Luna asked in her dreamy way.
“Where are they?” Asked Harry looking around at the trees surrounding the hedges.
“We’ve got a nest of them, in the hedge.” She pointed to a greenish-grey bird. It sat on the hedge like a hungry looking thing and Harry almost felt the urge to feed it. It seemed to have sorrowful eyes.
“Unusual looking bird,” Harry said.
“They’re supposed to predict a person’s death,” Luna said absently, and Harry felt fear fill his heart as the creature cawed at him.
“Oh, don’t worry Harry, That was disproven. They only predict rain” Harry clutched his heart and shook his head.
“Luna!” He chided. She smiled as she began walking back to the house.
“The rain is coming, Harry, let’s go and get some Gurdyroot tea” Harry almost gagged at the memory.
“Do you have any regular tea Luna? The healers have told me to cut back on Gurdyroot” Harry lied.
“I thought you looked a bit purple” She added as they neared the cottage.
The exterior of the cottage was a thatched dream cottage set into the dense flora. Flowers and bushes seemed to rise up on both sides as though hiding the cottage from muggles.
Once they were back indoors Luna began making the tea after settling the infant on a blanket with some toys.
“Don’t you have two children Luna?” Harry asked as he took a seat.
“Yes Harry, they’re twins” Luna smiled.
“What are their names again?” Harry asked.
“Lorcan and Lysander,” She said as she turned away from him to pour the tea.
“Where is his brother?” Harry asked.
“Oh, Lysander? He’s around. He was playing with the Nargles earlier, they seem to enjoy each others company.” Harry worried slightly as he looked around for the second child but was relieved to see the twins now together on the blanket. Both were blond like their mother but seemed to have the colouring of their father, they’re darker skin tone looking shocking against the blond.
“They look like you,” Harry said with a smile as he took the offered cup.
“Really? I think they look like themselves” She said airily. Harry shook his head as he pulled out the presents from his pocket.
“These are from me and Ginny for the boys for Christmas” He pushed the parcels forward. “They’re just something little but we thought of for their first Christmas.”
“Thank you, Harry, That’s lovely” Luna smiled.
“Sorry for just dropping in, I just wanted to pick your brain if you don’t mind?”
“That’s alright Harry, but brain picking is a bit strange”
“I would like your opinion on something personal” He smiled.
“Of course, Harry” Luna sipped her Gurdyroot tea without so much as a shudder.
“Have you seen the paper this morning?”
“I have, It was a very lovely picture of you and Draco,” Luna said as she tilted her head. “How is Draco?” She asked.
“He’s alright I think, I’ve not spoken to him today,” Harry said, feeling slightly guilty. He would drop him a note when he got home.
“I think he is enjoying his work at the ministry,” she said with a smile.
“We’ve not really talked about work yet”
“What did you want my opinion on,” Luna asked, “I think that if you have feelings for Draco you should let him know” She looked at the Gurdyroot drink. “If you’re worried about your friends, I find people only tend to tell you what they’re thinking when they’re not happy about it.” Harry would have been surprised but he was used to Luna now, she was much more observant than she let on.
“I got a howler from Ginny,” Harry said matter-of-factly.
“I can understand that”
“Really?” Harry asked.
“Lorcan always cries when Lysander plays with his toys, even when he’s not played with it in weeks.” She looked down at the two boys playing quietly on the floor, then, turning back to Harry with her wide eyes. Harry nodded, as he thought he understood. It made sense in a weird Luna way.
“Do you think I should ask her permission before talking to Draco?” He asked.
“You can but I think she’ll not give you what you want.” Harry nodded again.
The fire suddenly whooshed into flames and Rolf Scamander appeared. Luna smiled and greeted him with a kiss.
“Ah, Harry, how are you?” He asked as he offered his hand.
“I’m alright thanks, and you?”
“Yes, not bad. Bit of bad news at the ministry but I suspect Mr Malfoy has already spoken to you about it” He said with a smile. Harry shook his head feeling even more guilty.
“Actually, I’ve not spoken to him today.”
“Ah, that would explain it,” He said with a sage nod of his tanned head.
“What?” Harry asked curiously.
“He’s been working hard, but whenever the interdepartmental memos have entered the office his head has shot up quicker than a quidditch snitch and eyes larger than a Mooncalf.” Rolf smiled kindly.
“I must get home, I feel terrible, he must have been hounded by the papers today too, I didn’t think”
“He needs to speak with you about something work related anyway, so use our floo if you need to.” Harry considered it.
“I need to go home first I think, But I will speak with him tonight, thank you again Luna” He nodded his head in thanks and shook Rolfs hand again.
“Bye Harry,” Said Luna as he disappeared through the floo again.
Harry emerged at Grimmauld place and sat down for a second. Before he went to see Draco he wanted to talk to Ron and Hermione. He was just about to floo out when Lunas face appeared in the fire.
“Luna? Hi” Harry said as he jumped. “Everything ok?”
“Fine Harry, just wanted to let you know your owl just arrived with some letters for you, I thought I should floo them over” Her lilting voice sounded as tranquil as ever.
“Thanks, Luna” The letters appeared at the fireplace and Harry took them carefully.
“Goodbye, Harry” She smiled before her head disappeared.
Harry looked at the letters and began to open them carefully.
There were three in total and from the crease marks he could see that they had been folded into the paper plane shape of the interdepartmental memos that the ministry used. He smiled as he saw the familiar elegant script.
“Harry, saw the Prophet this morning, sorry for the media frenzy. I can’t believe how crazy they are going over two men having a cup of tea. The photo wasn’t even on my best side, you looked good in it though. Just wanted to offer a kind word on something that promises to be a trying day. If you need to talk, you know where I live. Yours, Draco”
He smiled as he looked at the writing again. He opened the second one and again recognised the writing.
“Harry, I need to discuss something about the project I am working on at work. When are you free to meet up again so that I can pick your brain? I look forward to your reply. Yours, Draco.”
He kicked himself mentally as he could see Draco sitting at his desk fretting over not having a reply. He opened the final letter.
“Harry, I still need to discuss something with you pertaining to work. If you could contact me at your earliest convenience, I’ll make it brief. Draco.”
Harry felt his heart falter at the change in tone and knew what it meant. He sat down and read the letters again. He needed to speak with Ron and Hermione sooner rather than later. He stood and grabbed a handful of powder at the fire and called out their address. He stuck through his head a wished he hadn’t
“Rose Granger-Weasley you get down here right this minute and apologise to your brother!” Hermione could be heard shouting in the background as Ron was trying to calm down a crying boy closer to the fire.
“Hi Harry,” Said Ron in a flustered voice.
“Well it’s not the best but hey, families!” He snorted “Come over if you like,” Ron said.
“Yeah, come on, we know you need to talk to us” Harry felt the confusion and knew it filled his face. Ron laughed “Don’t look so worried, mate!”
Still feeling confused and apprehensive he stood up and stepped through the fireplace, the green flames flashing around him.
“Uncle Harry!” cried little Hugo as he ran and hugged his waist, his bushy brown hair like a cloud around his face.
“Hey Hugo, you alright?”
“Yeah, Rose hit me” Harry rubbed his hair.
“What did you do?” Harry asked looking down into his large bright eyes
“Nothing,” he said too innocently.
“Really?” Harry asked raising an eyebrow.
“Ok, I stole her chocolate frog, I only wanted the card. I just need two more and I’ll have the whole set, but it was one of Dumbledore again” He said, sounding disappointed.
“I think you should go and tell your mum, and apologise to Rose!” Harry said sternly.
“Ok,” Hugo said sadly as he left the room
“It’s such a shame you and Ginny never had kids! You’re a natural” said Ron in admiration. “Tea?” Harry nodded and they both headed towards the kitchen. Harry knew that as soon as he entered the kitchen it would look much more muggle than the kitchen at the burrow or even Grimmauld place.
“How was work?”
“Interesting,” said Ron as he poured out the hot water. “You could’ve given us the heads up about the reporters this morning, caught me and ‘Mione right off guard” He laughed.
“Sorry about that, it didn’t even occur to me as I didn’t think I’d done anything newsworthy”
“Yeah about that, you really need to speak with Malfoy,” Ron said as he handed Harry the cup.
“Really?” Harry’s eyes narrowed as he looked at Ron. “Ron? What did Hermione say to you on the train when we first met?”
“Oh shut up!” Ron shouted with a laugh “I’m not someone pretending to be me, Git!”
“That’s what someone who wasn’t you would say”
“Fine! She told me I had dirt on my nose”
“I’m still not convinced, do you actually like Malfoy?” Harry asked surprised.
“Harry, It’s clear he’s liked you since school, that’s nothing new” Said Hermione as she stepped into the kitchen.
“Really, you’ve just too oblivious to notice”
“Question is do you like him?”
“Are you asking me if I’m gay?” Harry asked, feeling a knot of fear in his stomach
“Harry, you know we don’t care about that, love is love, we want you to be happy,” Hermione said
“So if I were gay it wouldn’t be a problem?”
“He really is thick sometimes isn’t he?” Ron said to Hermione as if he wasn’t there.
“Hey!” Harry said.
“Come on mate, we’re your friends, We followed you through the back of beyond for months smashing Horcruxes and you think liking men instead of women makes a difference. You really need to sort out your priorities” Ron said. Hermione laughed
“Okay, let’s say that I am gay which I’m not sure I am. What if I decided to date Draco?”
“We’ve both talked about it and we think it’s a good idea”
“Who are you people?” Harry asked as he ran his hand through his hair.
“What do you mean?” Hermione asked
“Draco the death eater? Draco who called you mudblood, you would give me your blessing?”
“Harry, I didn’t want to believe it but he has changed, and he needs you as much as you need him.”
“He had a panic attack at work today,” Ron said seriously as he sipped his tea.
“Oh no!” Harry buried his face in his hands, trying to hide from the guilt he was feeling.
“Yeah, pretty bad, I thought at one point he was going to pass out. It was lucky me and Hermione found him otherwise I’m not sure what would have happened. The feeling at work at the moment isn’t one that is sympathetic towards ex-death eaters and ‘chosen one-seducers’.” Ron shook his head “And it wasn’t that sympathetic before”
“You need to do something Harry, you need to make a decision”
“And you think that I should ask him out?” Harry asked, “If I’m gay”
“Harry, really? Is there any question?” Hermione asked incredulously. “We’ve all seen that photo and although there is nothing untoward or incriminating about the photo, it’s clear to those that know you that you don’t laugh or smile like that around us. Not anymore. You look happier than we’ve seen you in years”
Harry was quiet for a long time as he considered this information.
“Ginny sent me a howler,” He said finally.
“She did what?” Asked Ron, his cheeks flushing angrily. Harry nodded.
“She’s still hurting Harry, I’m not excusing what she did, but she still loves you” Hermione sipped her coffee.
“Do you think I should tell her what I’m thinking of doing?”
“I think as long as you try and keep it out of the papers I think it’s none of her business,” Said Ron. “Stupid cow” he shook his head.
“Right guys, thanks for the chat, I’d better go and make things right.”
“Good luck mate, let us know how it goes”
“I will, thanks again” Harry placed the cup down on the work surface and returned to the fire. He threw the powder on causing green flames to erupt. He waved back to them and disappeared through, ideas rushing through his mind of ways to sort out the mess he had made. He would take a detour via Malfoy manor first.