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19 Years by marauder5
Chapter 53: Year 6: The Test Result
Healer Halford was a middle-aged woman with an outdated, frizzy haircut, and two gold teeth in her upper jaw, something that Ginny didn’t notice until the Healer returned to the exanimation room, smiling for the first time since the two women met. It was Oliver Wood who had recommended her, and so there Ginny was now, sitting atop the hard cot in the centre of the room, feeling slightly dizzy after nearly an hour of examinations – which, among other things, had consisted of Halford withdrawing alarmingly large amounts of blood from the crook of Ginny’s arm, forcing two potions, both of which tasted absolutely vile, down her throat, and pointing her wand at different spots on Ginny’s head, mumbling incantations and scribbling down notes on a piece of parchment that was charmed to fly after her at chest height as she moved around the room.
“All right there, Mrs Potter?” asked Halford now, as she pulled a chair on wheels forwards and sat down, facing Ginny and still smiling faintly.
“I will be if you tell me I can still play Quidditch,” said Ginny. She had walked around with a giant knot in her stomach ever since her conversation with Oliver three days earlier, and the wait hadn’t exactly made things better. Harry had offered to ask Cho Chang to get her an earlier appointment, but Ginny had hastily declined, claiming that she could use a few days to think anyway.
By now, she felt quite done with thinking, and all she wanted was answers.
“Well, your head is fine,” said Healer Halford softly. “But I’m afraid you won’t be able to play for a while anyway. I think congratulations are in order, love – you’re pregnant.”
Ginny nearly choked. “Excuse me?” she wheezed, pressing both her heands against her chest.
“You’re pregnant,” Halford repeated. “Congratulations.”
“I hardly need to explain that, do I?”
“No, of course not – I just – I know how it happens, it just wasn’t…”
“It wasn’t planned?” Halford’s teeth glittered as her lips stretched into another smile. “It can happen anyway, Mrs Potter. Even if you perform the spell every single time, it can happen. It’s kind of extraordinary, isn’t it? I think some babies have a will of their own, a will to be born, and contraceptive spells have no say in the matter. It’s quite the miracle, don’t you think?”
Ginny made it home in what felt like a haze. She was hardly aware that she was walking over to the fireplaces, that she threw a pinch of Floo Powder in the flames or that she finally, in the whir of living rooms she passed by spotted her own one and stumbled forwards, coughing as she stirred up a cloud of ashes on her way. She felt like she was in someone else’s body, someone else’s mind, and once she had methodically cleaned up around her circular fireplace, she started pacing back and forth through the room, her mind spinning and her stomach aching.
She wasn’t thinking about miracles. No, she imagined folding up her England Quidditch robes and handing them over to Avery Hawksworth, urging him to pass them along to someone else – saying goodbye to her dream. She imagined sitting on the bleachers in Holyhead and watch a new girl pass the Quaffle around with Gaylene and Gemma, the crowd singing a new name when she scored.
What was extraordinary, she thought, was the fact that the Holyhead Harpies had recruited her straight out of Hogwarts. What was miraculous was that she had made a career out of her favourite thing to do in the world. And as far as miracle babies went – Ginny could feel the tears burn behind her eyelids as she thought it – they should stick to people who actually wanted them.
When Harry came home on his lunch break only an hour later, he found her lying on the couch, her legs curled up against her chest and tears streaming down her cheeks. He dropped the parchments he was carrying under his arm – one of them rolled dangerously close to the fire, but he paid it no attention – and rushed over to her, squeezing in next to her and pulling her into his arms.
“Is there nothing they can do?” he asked as she pressed her face against his chest. “Ginny?”
She forced herself to sit up and look at him. “My head is fine,” she said in a thick voice.
“It is? But – what else is wrong? Are these tears of happiness?” A confused wrinkle was forming next to the scar on Harry’s forehead.
For a moment, Harry’s face went blank, and he simply stared at her, frozen in his position. Then he burst into laughter and jumped to his feet before grabbing her hands and pulling her off the couch as well. Once they were both standing, he wrapped his arms around her waist and lifted her feet off the ground, spinning her around in his embrace while continuing to laugh.
“That’s amazing, Ginny!” he said. “I’ve never been happier?”
He sat her down and she grabbed his arms for support, as she was feeling slightly dizzy again. “Do you really mean that?”
“Of course I do!” he said, still grinning ridiculously. “I’ve dreamt about this day, Gin. Can you believe,” he said, surprising her by placing his palm on her still flat stomach, “that there is a baby in here that’s got half of you and half of me in them? Can you imagine anything more extraordinary than that?”
Ginny stared at him. Suddenly, instead of Quidditch, she imagined her husband cradling a small baby in his arms, looking down at it with that same glow in his eyes that he had now. She imagined a little girl with her hair and his smile; or pehaps a boy, with Harry’s green eyes, the pitter-patter of his little feet against the living room floor…
Returning to the present, Ginny realised that Harry had stopped smiling. “Those were tears of happiness, right?” he said now, his voice lower and deeper than before.
Ginny bent her head down and as he removed his hand from her stomach, she lifted hers to replace it. It didn’t feel different – but inside her, just there, were the cells that would grow into hers and Harry’s baby. It’s quite the miracle, had the Healer said.
“I… you’re right,” she said, and tears were forming in her eyes again. “I can’t imagine anything more extraordinary. It’s just… I’m not going to be able to play anymore. This means that my career is over.”
“Sure you can!” Harry insisted. “I mean, not while you’re pregnant, I guess, but once the baby is born you can go back to playing. Which Broomstick? called you the Chaser of the decade after the finale, remember? You’re brilliant. The Harpies are going to take you back with open arms, I’m sure of it.”
“Maybe... and I guess I could ask Mum to help look after the baby if you’re at work and I have to be in Holyhead…”
“I bet she would love to,” said Harry.
He insisted on coming with her to Holyhead before his lunch hour was over, and so only a few minutes later, once Ginny had washed her face and Harry had gathered up his parchments again, they found themselves walking through the corridors under Holyhead Harpies Arena, hand in hand on their way to the coach’s office.
Darren Weinhold looked surprised when he opened the door for them, but quickly stepped aside to let them in. Ginny had only been in his office a few times before – before her very first practice as a Harpy, the time he told her he wanted her to play her first match with the team, and the time Avery Hawksworth had come to watch their practice. The room hadn’t changed much since her first visit. There was still the large, old desk with the miniature Quidditch pitch, and the countless of team photopgraphs covering every last inch of the walls. Everywhere she turned, Ginny saw players dressed in green zoom in and out of the small wooden frames. The one thing that was different as she stepped over the threshold now – apart from Oliver Wood sitting in one of the puffy visitor chairs – was the golden Cup sitting on a shelf right across from the desk. Ginny’s lips curled into a smile at the sight. Sometimes, she still couldn’t believe that they had actually won the league.
Oliver Wood stood up to reveal his full, bulky height, and smiled at Ginny. He looked a little unsure when he saw that Harry was right behind her, but continued to smile as he folded up a paper he had been looking through and stuck it under his arm before starting to tug at the sleeves of his grey jumper.
“Hi there!” he said. “I’m sorry, I’ll get out of your way so you can talk to Darren…”
Harry was just saying “Great! Thanks!” as Ginny shook her haid and exclaimed: “No, please stay. I kind of need to talk to you too. I mean, the press will be very interested in what we need to talk to Darren about, so we could really use your help.”
“Okay,” said Oliver unsurely. “So what is going on?”
“Have a seat, first,” suggested Weinhold, and Oliver stepped aside, allowing Harry and Ginny to take a puffy chair each. “Can I get you anything to drink? Some tea?”
“No thanks,” Ginny said. “We – er – we have some news…”
“Are you sure? I think news calls for a cup of tea. Oliver, why don’t you come along and help me carry it?”
The two men left the room, Oliver while mumbling, “Aren’t you a wizard?” Meanwhile, Harry leaned forwards and grabbed Ginny’s hand. She raised her eyes to meet his and both of them broke into a smile.
“Thank you,” said Ginny when the door closed behind Oliver and Weinhold.
“For reminding me of what’s really important.”
Harry smiled and was just leaning in to kiss her when the door flung open again and the two men returned, carrying two steaming cups each that they placed on the desk. Weinhold went to sit in his chair and Oliver leaned against the wall behind him.
“So,” he said, “good news or bad?”
“Good!” said Harry.
“And a little bad, I guess,” Ginny added. “I… I have to hand in my notice. I’m quitting the team.”
“What?” Oliver cried out. “Why?”
Weinhold, on the other hand, put down his teapcup and sighed heavily. “Oh, the joys of coaching an all-female team,” he said sarcastically. “I suppose congratulations are in order?”
“Yes,” Ginny smiled. “I’m… pregnant.”
“Hm,” mumbled her coach, while Oliver said, “Oh,” and fell silent.
“So, I obviously can’t play Quidditch anymore,” Ginny said, and it didn’t sting as badly as she had thought it would.
“Terrible timing,” muttered Weinhold. “At the peak of your career – Gwenog’s going to kill you – and with the National Team showing interest…”
“Trust me, I know all that,” Ginny said. “We didn’t plan it. But we’re still happy about it.”
“But you’re quitting?” Weinhold asked. “For good? Because you could come back, once you’ve had the baby, if you wanted to. I mean, you’d might be on the reserve team for the first few months, but it doesn’t have to be over for you.”
“Would you really take me back?” Ginny asked.
“We would be mad not to.”
Suddenly, Ginny felt as if something was bubbling inside of her, like carbon dioxide was spreading through her body all the way out to her fingertips. Come February, she was going to hold her baby in her arms and look at it the way she had seen her sister-in-laws look at their children in the delivery rooms of St. Mungo's, and Harry would take it in his arms and his chest would be swelling as he brought him or her over to the family to introduce them, and from that moment on, they would have a family of their own. And she wouldn’t even have to give her career up to get it.
“Just promise one thing, Potter,” Weinhold said, finishing his tea in one last big sip. “If that’s a girl,” he said, pointing at her stomach, “and she’s got half the Quidditch talent that her parents do, don’t let her sign up for any other team than the Holyhead Harpies.”
Both Ginny and Harry burst into laughter. “Don’t worry, coach,” Ginny grinned, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
She turned to Oliver and realized that he had been awfully quiet for the last couple of minutes. He was holding his teacup with both hands, but it didn’t look as though he’d even tasted it. Noticing that she was looking at him, he suddenly straightened his back and smiled.
“So, no head injury, huh?” he said. “That really is great news.”
“Yeah. We do need a plan on how to deal with the press though, won’t we? I mean, I think we’d like to keep it to ourselves for as long as we can…”
“Of course,” Oliver nodded. “Well, we don’t have to say anything at all until the season starts in September. By then, you can choose whether you want to tell the truth or come up with some other excuse as to why you’re taking some time off.”
Next to Ginny, Harry was placing his cup on Weinhold’s desk before pulling up the sleeve of his robes to check his watch. “Hm, I should probably get back to work,” he said. “Will you be all right, Gin?”
She nodded, and he stood up, placed a quick kiss on her forehead and waved to Weinhold and Oliver. “Congratulations, mate,” Weinhold called after him as he left, and Harry grinned widely again before disappearing out the door.
“So, do we have a deal then?” Weinhold said then, turning back to Ginny. “You’re not quitting the team, you’re just taking maternity leave. And if you have a daughter, you’ll raise her to be a future Harpy?”
Ginny giggled as she stood up, ready to follow her husband’s example and take off. She didn’t want to stay in Holyhead long enough to run into any of her teammates, who would most certainly start arriving soon to get ready for afternoon practice. She quickly said goodbye to both Weinhold and Oliver, and was just heading out the door when the latter called after her:
“Wait! I’ll walk you to the fireplace…”
And he sat his teacup down on his boss’ desk before hurrying out the door as well. The two of them started walking, and Ginny was just about to start talking about the weather when he cleared his throat and said:
“I’m really happy for you.”
She peered over at him. “Thank you. I mean, I understand if it’s a little weird…”
“No, it’s not that.” Oliver smiled and placed a hand on her shoulder. “You and Harry will make great parents. I really am thrilled for you both. I guess I – and it’s incredibly selfish, I know – but when I thought you had the same injury I did, I couldn’t help but think I would feel less alone in my situation… That maybe we could talk about Quidditch sometimes and it would feel a little better.”
Now, Ginny stopped walking, and she grabbed his arm and pulled him into a hug. “I’m really sorry,” she said softly. “I know that it’s really unfair that it happened to you. For what it’s worth, you’re a great asset for the team even if you can’t actually be out on the pitch with us.”
Oliver was still smiling as they let go of each other and started walking again. “See?” he said. “You’re going to be such a good mum.”
“Blimey,” Ginny replied, “I can’t believe I’m actually going to be a mum. I mean, I know how to throw a Quaffle, but how in the world am I supposed to look after a poor, helpless little human being?”
It was nearly those exact same words that Harry wailed out to her when he returned from work that evening and found her in the kitchen, cooking with her nose deep into one of her mother’s old cookbooks, a very nice-smelling soup boiling on the stovetop.
“Is this some kind of pregnancy super power?” he said, raising an eyebrow and placing his hands on his hips. “You can’t cook!”
“I guess I can now. And you will have no problem looking after a baby. Aren’t you the one who’s always saving people? You’ll be a natural at the whole father thing. I know you will.”
Harry sank into one of the kitchen chairs, placing his elbows on the table and his chin in his hands. “I just… I never knew my dad, you know? So I don’t even know what a good dad is supposed to be like. Merlin knows I hope I’ll be nothing like Uncle Vernon.”
“Of course you won’t be like him!” Ginny said, closing her book with a bang that made Harry jump several inches into the air. “Harry, every time I see you with Teddy, I think about what an amazing father you will be one day. You already are the closest thing he has to a dad. He absolutely adores you. And so will our baby.”
“Do you really think so?” said Harry weakly.
“Yes. If we’re going to be worried about anyone’s parenting skills, it should be mine.”
“What makes you think that?”
“Well,” Ginny began, “for starters, I’m the youngest of my family. I’ve always been the one that got taken care of – I’ve never had to be responsible for anyone else.”
“Aren’t you the one that Teddy has to kiss ten times before we can put him to bed? I only get one. And aren't you the one who tells him that story about that boy and his unicorn that he claims I can’t do justice? He adores you too, love. And so do I. And I bet our baby already adores you. It’s kind of unfair, you know, that you get these nine months with her, and she’ll come out and know you already, but I’ll just be a stranger.”
“She?” Ginny questioned, and her husband shrugged.
“I kind of like the idea of having another Harpy in the family.”
“Well, I think it’s a boy,” Ginny grinned, walking over to him and sitting down on his lap. He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her cheek.
“Either way, this will remain the best day of my life until she – or he – is born. This is what I’ve wished for, Gin. We’ll really have a family. And you,” he added, kissing her lips this time, “are the only person I would want to have it with. It doesn’t seem so scary when I know you’ll be right there with me, you know?”
Ginny cupped his face with her hands. If only you knew, little baby, she directed her thoughts to her stomach, how much your daddy already loves you. And I do too. And you and me are the luckiest in the world to have your daddy. We don’t have to be scared of anything as long as we’ve got him.
“Yes,” she said, “I think I do know.”
A/N: Okay, so this chapter was a STRUGGLE for me. Hence the long wait. I'm sorry about that. I'm still not entirely happy with how this turned out, it's a little too cheesy for me (and Ginny, I think) so please, let me know what you thought of it. And thank you again for setting aside time to read and review. It makes me almost as happy as Ginny's news made Harry xxx