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All Was Well by LucyLovegood
Chapter 1: Good Morning
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All Was Well
The house buzzed.
“James Sirius Potter, I’m serious, get out of bed.”
“Why can’t I start this year? Why?”
“Lily, we’ve been through this.”
“James, we will leave without you!”
“Five more minutes.”
“But, dad, it’s not fair.”
“Lily, you’re not old enough.”
If the residents of Grimmauld Place were actually aware of the cacophony of noise being made by the inhabitants of Number 12, more than one neighbourly complaint would have been made on that brisk September morning. But they were blissfully unaware of goings-on of the Potter family, as they were of the Potters’ existence, and as such, the family was quite at liberty to make as much noise as they liked.
And they did.
“Lily, how old are you?”
“I’m nine, but-” Lily Potter began, matter-of-factly. She had had little success pestering her father, and so had started on her mother.
“And how old do you have to be to start at Hogwarts?” asked her mother, calmly, momentarily halted in her bid to track down a missing dragonskin glove.
“Eleven, but mum-” she protested.
“Eleven, exactly. So your problem is…?”
“But it’s not fair. I want to start with Al.”
“Lily, I’m sure your brother is big enough and ugly enough to look after himself.” And with that Ginny Potter headed off down the stairs in search of the glove. Making his way up the stairs was her husband, to whom Lily threw an imploring look before following her mother sulkily down to the kitchen. “Your turn.” Ginny shrugged, as she passed him on the staircase.
Harry Potter moved towards the doorway of his eldest son’s bedroom. The nameplate that once read 'Sirius' now read 'James'. Thanks to the efforts of Kreacher, the room that had once belonged to Harry’s godfather had been returned to its original state when Harry and Ginny had first moved into the house. But Kreacher’s efforts appeared to have been in vain; the room might as well have been left as it was; scarlet and gold Gryffindor banners were strewn from the wardrobe and bookshelf, cuttings from The Daily Prophet and Which Broomstick? of broomsticks and star players decorated the walls, while photos of the Potters and Weasleys cluttered desk space and windowsills.
Kicking his way through the clutter, Harry had James dangling in the air by his ankle with a flick of his wand and a silent Levicorpus.
“James, it’s time to get up.” Harry said with a grin.
“Argh! Okay, okay! Let me down!” demanded a less than pleased James.
And with a quiet thump, James landed softly in his bed.
“Get ready, we’re leaving soon.” said Harry, as he headed back out of the room. In an instant, James was up out of bed and pulling on some jeans.
“ARGH!” A mighty crash came from downstairs in the kitchen. Acting on instinct, Harry raced downstairs to see what the matter was.
Finding Ginny flat on her backside surrounded by what appeared to be half the contents of James’ trunk, Harry searched the room for the cause of this disruption. A handsome young man with mousey-brown hair smiled sheepishly down at Ginny as he offered her a hand.
“He won’t stop crying!”
Grinning, Ginny accepted and allowed herself to be hoisted up by the strapping lad. “Do you have to apparate right where I’m standing, Teddy?” she laughed.
Harry looked blankly at Andromeda. Why was she telling him? What did she expect him to do?
“He hasn’t stopped. It’s been a week since... He just won’t stop.” The exhausted woman cradled the screaming bundle in her arms, rocking it in a desperate attempt to calm the restless child.
Though he had been made aware of his responsibilities regarding Teddy the day after Voldemort fell - when Remus and Tonks’ will had been read, this was the first time Harry had seen his godson since the baby’s parents were alive.
He should’ve gone to visit earlier, Harry thought bitterly. Already he was failing at his godfatherly duties. Understandably, Andromeda had had enough, flooing to the Burrow in search of some respite.
“I’m middle-aged, I’m in no position to be raising and caring for an infant!” She said pleadingly, continuing to rock the bundle. Teddy continued to wail.
Harry still wasn’t sure what she was implying. In what way would he be more equipped to care for Teddy? He was seventeen for goodness’ sake.
But Andromeda made her intentions quite clear as she thrust the crying bundle into Harry’s arms and made for the fireplace.
Miraculously, the bundle fell silent. Harry looked from his tiny godson, shakily drawing breath, to Andromeda, who already stood with floo powder in hand, searching for an explanation, advice, a clue.
“What did you do?” She was aghast. Harry merely gaped, confused and unsure.
“I’m sorry, Harry. I need a break. I’ll be back to fetch him in a couple of hours."
And with that – and a flash of green flame – she was gone.
Harry blinked. And blinked again. What else was he supposed to do? Looking around the living room, he searched for some clue, some indication of what it was he was supposed to do.
Deciding that the best thing to do was to avoid waking the now snoozing Teddy, Harry sunk into the couch smoothly.
It was awfully silent.
Mr Weasley was already back at work, eager to help rebuild the Ministry. Seeking comfort in the shop, George had rarely been seen since the Battle. Ron and Hermione had excused themselves for the day, setting off to visit Hermione’s freshly-restored parents. Mrs Weasley had taken affirmative action to restock the entire house’s supplies, having lived in relative isolation for such a time. The house was empty.
Harry had hardly been sitting there a minute when Ginny appeared in the doorway. Seeing Harry holding the sleeping bundle, she beamed, rushing over to the couch to join them.
“What’s all this about?” she asked, leaning over to fix the blanket in which Teddy was wrapped.
“Andromeda was here. She left him with me.” Harry was still completely bemused by the situation – but having Ginny beside him was reassuring. As much as things between them were still altogether unresolved, there was still something elating about having her so close to him. She picked up his free arm and draped it over her shoulders.
He gazed at her intently as she smilingly traced the baby’s nose with her finger. She was amazing. And Teddy was pretty cute.
“Gin…” Harry didn’t know where to begin.
“Hmm…?” Ginny replied with eyes still fixed on tiny Teddy.
When Harry didn’t continue, she looked up to find a pained look upon Harry’s face. “What?”
“Well… Teddy; I have to look out for him. He’s my responsibility, isn’t he?” Harry began.
Ginny gave him a bored look.
“Well, he is – and it looks like he’s going to be around a fair bit.”
Ginny’s patient silence indicated he should go on.
“Well, what does that mean… for… us?” Harry finished uncomfortably, choosing to stare right ahead rather than to look at her.
Ginny looked at him in mild incredulity. “What does that mean for us?” Her unbelieving tone tore Harry away from his avoidance of her gaze. “Merlin, for someone who just saved the wizarding world from the darkest wizard there ever was, you can be exceptionally dim.” She grinned.
“What?” Harry was now truly confused.
“Harry, I waited five years for us to happen, then suffered through all of this year, not knowing if you'd survive - Merlin, if I'd survive. Do you seriously think something like this is going to drive me away?” She looked happily down at Teddy.
Harry just looked at his lap sheepishly.
“And look how cute he is!” she laughed.
But a part of Harry was still unconvinced. He couldn’t even conceive what he was contemplating as he continued, “But what about when, if… we… we were to…one day… maybe…” This was excruciating. He wasn’t even eighteen and he was considering marriage and children?
“Get married and have kids of our own?” Ginny responded nonchalantly.
Harry’s eyebrows had never been so high. “Yeah…” he answered in amazement.
“Are you forgetting? I’m a Weasley. Our family motto is ‘the more the merrier’.”
“Harry, I love you. I love Teddy. I’m not going anywhere.” she smiled and Harry withdrew his arm to squeeze her hand in appreciation. Could he have asked for a more perfect girlfriend? He beamed at her.
“But seriously,” she whispered earnestly. “I’m in no hurry to start on that – the children and the marriage thing. Merlin! I’ve still got seventh year!”
Author's Note: So there you go. I hope you liked it. I'm planning for most of the usual pre-epilogue things, but I've got a couple of other things up my sleeve... :) but if you've got any ideas at all, I'd be more than happy to give them a go. Thanks for reading!
UPDATE: I'm going to put it here to avoid any possible confusion, ITALICS MEAN FLASHBACK. No matter where they are in the context of the story, italics always mean flashback. Thanks again for reading, you are superstars :-)
Chapter 2: Growing Pains
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All Was Well
Not long after that, Harry, Ron and Hermione were summoned to a private meeting with the newly appointed and highly decorated Minister of Magic – or as they knew him, Kingsley.
“The magical world has changed;” began Kingsley in his characteristically deep voice. “And so too must the Ministry.” He waved a hand in gesture of his glittering wood-panelled office. Harry, Ron and Hermione nodded in understanding. “But as you know, we have been ravaged; of those who survived more than half were corrupt in some way – or hexed into a terrible state.” Again, the trio nodded in understanding. “The Auror office-” An alarm bell went off in Harry’s head, ears pricking up at once. “-was particularly decimated.” Harry’s heart unwillingly started to beat faster. Beside him, Harry sensed Ron lean forward expectantly.
“The three of you have shown bravado, courage and skill in the field of defence against the Dark Arts at a level unparalleled by yours peers and in some cases higher than trained professionals.” Kingsley paused for effect. “So, with that in mind, we are asking you, Harry, Ron and Hermione if you would be prepared to join our Auror Office.”
“Yes.” Ron practically shouted, unable to contain his joy.
“Sure.” Harry grinned, shaking his head at Ron’s indiscretion.
“I am glad to hear it.” chuckled Kingsley.
All eyes were now on Hermione, who bit her lip and sat staring at her shoes. “I’m flattered, I really am – as we all are I imagine… but-” She looked up. “I can't accept.” She looked cautiously at Ron and Harry, anticipating a reaction. “I need to go back to Hogwarts. I've been working towards my N.E.W.Ts for years, I'd regret never taking them. It's important to me." Hermione concluded, purposefully catching Ron's eye. He seemed unsurprised by this.
As Ron took Hermione’s hand, Kingsley reassured her, “Really, you have all contributed so much; the wizarding world is indebted to you.” Harry saw Hermione relax a little. “I’m sure you would be welcome in any of the new Ministry’s departments, when that time comes. I believe you are passionate about the rights of magical creatures? Perhaps you would be interested in starting your career in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures?”
“Really? Yes!” Hermione squealed. With this proposition, she was back in full organisational-Hermione swing. “When would Harry and Ron start? Obviously they would need training – would that happen here, on site?”
Kingsley went on to elaborate; Harry and Ron would undergo training at the Ministry working alongside trained Aurors for the three years required while Hermione would begin shortly after completing her seventh year, starting out in the Office for House-Elf Regulation. Ron decided that he would continue to help George out at the shop on weekends, now that Angelina was there to help him out (and keep him company) during the week.
After a half hour or so, thanking Kingsley profusely, the trio made their way out into the busy level one hallway. Buzzing with excitement and chatting amongst themselves, Harry, Ron and Hermione avoided the stares and pointing fingers of a number of Ministry workers and traveled back down to the Atrium.
“And really, I’ll be able to really make a difference – what an opportunity,” Hermione gushed, as they passed the Fountain of Magical Brethren. “Working towards the promotion of equality for magical creatures –”
Suddenly, Harry caught sight of a flurry of unmistakable silver blonde hair moving towards the golden lifts. “Wait – is that who I think it is?” Harry threw his arm out to stop Ron and Hermione in their tracks. Sure enough, none other than a restless looking Draco Malfoy, flanked by both of his equally anxious parents, stood waiting for the lift.
“What the bloody hell is he doing here?” asked Ron, craning his neck to get a better look. “Who does he think he is, showing his face around here?”
“Honestly, Ron, can’t we just leave him alone? It’s all in the past now. Come on, let’s get going.” Hermione grabbed Ron by the sleeve and gave him a tug towards the Visitor’s Entrance.
Harry was surprised by an unfamiliar feeling that rose in his chest. Emptiness seemed to permeate throughout his torso and body. He didn’t care. It was such a foreign emotion; in the past, the sight of Malfoy would make him sick in the stomach or filled him with rage, but today there was nothing. It was quite a relief. Harry pulled himself out of his reverie to find himself staring out into space and Ron and Hermione half way up the corridor. Malfoy was gone.
“Teddy,” Harry began, helping his wife to her feet. “Long time no see!” He laughed, greeting his godson with a warm pat on the back before sitting down to breakfast.
“What are you talking about, daddy? He was here for tea last night!” piped Lily from behind Ginny.
“Well, I had to come, didn’t I? Al’s first day and all.” Teddy grinned, making his way over to the only person in the house still to contribute to the morning’s pandemonium. With his piercing green eyes, Albus Potter had been staring fixedly into his porridge for the last fifteen minutes.
“Hi Teddy,” smiled Albus.
“Look, he smiles!” exclaimed Ginny, as she reloaded James’ possessions back into his trunk. “He hasn’t done that in days – thanks to James.” She rolled her eyes.
Teddy ruffled Albus’ hair playfully as he took a seat next to him at the table. “Don’t listen to a word he says, mate. James wouldn’t know manners if they bit him on the ar-”
“Thank you, Teddy.” Ginny chimed in warningly.
“Nose.” concluded Teddy quite solemnly, before he began heaping porridge into a bowl.
Albus allowed another smile and managed a couple more mouthfuls while Lily hoisted herself onto Teddy’s lap, much to his amusement.
“Teddy bear,” began Lily very seriously. “How old where you when you started Hogwarts?”
“Eleven. They wanted me much earlier, but your old man wouldn’t let them have me. He’d have missed me too much.”
“So you could have gone earlier?” Lily’s face lit up.
“I was just joking, Lily-pily. You have to be eleven, it’s the rule. Besides, Hogwarts kids don’t get to have tea with me three times a week, do they?” Teddy said, shoveling in another mouthful of porridge. This seemed consolation enough to ease Lily’s misgivings, and she contently slid off Teddy’s knee.
Ginny and Harry exchanged a grin.
“Merlin’s beard! Oh my goodness!”
The bedroom door was slammed shut. Ginny pulled herself out of Harry’s clutches and began furiously pacing. Harry threw his head back onto the pillow.
“That’s the third time she’s interrupted us this week! Enough is enough!” Ginny exclaimed. Harry just closed his eyes in anguish, running a hand through his messy hair, before starting to massage his temples.
“If she walks in one more time, I will have to stun her, Harry, I really will!” Ginny continued to pace.
“You can’t do that,” said Harry from behind his hands.
“The time has come.” Ginny concluded forcefully, falling onto the bed. She looked pointedly to Harry for support.
“It has?” asked Harry, meekly.
Ginny sprang onto her feet. “Harry, if I have to live under the threat of my mother walking in on us every time we, well… I’ll just have to make sure it doesn’t happen anymore!”
That was a serious threat. Harry sat up.
“Gin, she’s been so good to me. We can’t move out yet. She’d be devastated… I’d feel bad.”
Ginny sauntered over to him and gently lowered herself onto his lap. She leant into him, her face hardly an inch from his; “You’ll feel worse if we have to stay here much longer.” Ginny threatened darkly, abruptly springing up. “It’s up to you, Harry, but I’d do it quickly if I were you…” and with that she was halfway through the door.
“Okay!” Harry grimaced. “We’ll do it now, I guess…”
Spinning around, Ginny grinned and yanked Harry to his feet.
Since beginning at the Ministry, Harry had taken up residence in Percy’s bedroom. More than a year had passed and over the summer following Ginny’s seventh year, the pair had discussed at length their plan to move into Grimmauld Place. It would be secure and safe, big enough for the both of them, plus some and altogether quite ideal. It was strange to Harry that he felt so connected to the house after everything that had happened there. But his time at the Burrow had instilled in him a longing for his own home, for his own family. Yet as strong as this desire was, Harry felt something was holding him back – and that something was the look on Molly Weasley’s face as Harry he told her he was taking her only daughter away to live with him.
“Mum?” Ginny poked her head around the kitchen door. Through it Harry could see a distraught looking Molly hunched over a pot at the stove. Carrots and onions were flying through the air. It appeared that the poor woman sought refuge in her cooking; on every occasion, immediately after finding the couple in a compromising position, Harry had been able to find Molly at the stove. She had prepared a four course meal at eleven o’clock at night after stumbling upon them in the back garden a week prior.
“Hmm?” she looked up from the pot of boiling water, her frantic eyes darting from Harry to Ginny.
Ginny cleared her throat. “Harry and I have something to tell you.”
Molly’s eyes widened and she woefully clutched her bosom.
“You should sit down.” Harry mumbled sheepishly.
This only made the troubled woman’s eyes widen even more. As she lowered herself onto a chair she shook her head. “Oh, Ginny, you’re not, are you?”
Molly seemed to crumble as she began to sob. “My baby! You’re so young! I thought you’d wait, Ginny, I thought you’d at least wait ‘til you were married.”
Harry grimaced. There it was, the look on her face.
“You did?” Ginny asked, bemused.
“What- what is your- your f-f-father g-going to s-say?” Molly pulled out an ancient handkerchief to mop up her tears.
Ginny looked to Harry in confusion. “Actually, I thought he’d take it better than you would.”
Molly let out a wail. It went through Harry like ice. How could he do this to the woman who had taken him in like one of her own? “Molly, please, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you. Please, we’re only a floo away. We’ll be at Grimmauld Place, we’ll be fine, I promise.”
Molly bawled “And you’re-you’re m-m-m-moving out?”
The anguish etched on Harry’s face seemed to fall off. “Wait - what?” He looked to Ginny, but it had already clicked in her. She began to giggle.
“You didn’t think? No, really, mum? You didn’t really think?!” Ginny was hysterical.
Molly could only look to Harry for consolation. “So you’re not – you’re not?”
Now Harry’s eyes widened in horror, “Preg- no! Not at all! Not in the least!”
Ginny continued to laugh, while the very thought of it swam around Harry’s panicked brain. “Mum, we’re moving out!”
“Oh, well, I suppose that’s alright.” She sighed, dabbing her soggy cheeks with the handkerchief and pulling herself up out of her chair. “Well, when are you off?”
Author's Note: Yes, yes I do realise it's been 10 months since I updated. I apologize profusely! But here it is! The next chapter's already written and should be up soon too. Please review!
Chapter 3: Adult Ventures
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All Was Well
A flash of emerald momentarily illuminated the room as Ron Weasley hastily stepped out of the kitchen fire place. He made no effort to announce his appearance, marching straight over to the sideboard and ruffling through the usual scraps of parchment and knickknacks that cluttered the countertop.
“Don’t mind me, just looking for something.” Ron muttered from over his shoulder.
Harry smirked, “Anything I can help you with?”
“That bloody letter. From McGonagall. You know, the one about the train.” Ron continued his search persistently. Ginny rolled her eyes emphatically from the sink where she stood doing the dishes.
“What did you do with yours?” asked Harry, carrying a few plates and goblets over to his wife, quite bemused by Ron’s complete sense of panic.
“Did you lose it, Uncle Ron?” asked Lily from beside Teddy, who couldn’t tear himself away from his breakfast long enough to take any interest in the situation.
“You could say as much. But we won’t be telling Aunty Hermione that, will we? She seems to think the whole thing could’ve changed since our day. Wants proof. Like Hogwarts is using another platform! What, Platform eight and two thirds?” Grumbled Ron, who was now pulling open draws and scrambling through their contents – followed by something that sounded a lot like “women…”
“Ron,” said Harry, pulling out Al’s letter from his jeans pocket. “You can tell Hermione the train leaves at eleven from Platform 9 ¾ just as it has for – well, for as long as I can remember.”
Ron let out a relieved sigh and headed straight back to the fireplace. “Thanks for that. I’ll be off then. See you in a bit. I was never here!” With a flash, he was gone.
“I don’t know how Hermione can put up with that idiot.” Ginny muttered from the sink.
“We’re engaged!” Hermione beamed, thrusting the giant stone into Harry’s face with pride.
“You’re what?” Harry asked in bewilderment. He had to pry himself away from Ginny in order to jump up in surprise.
“Engaged,” said Ron nonchalantly, hands in pockets, but with a grin.
“What? When?” asked Ginny, rising from the armchair she had just been sharing with Harry to grab Hermione by the hands and drag her over to the couch. Only moments ago Harry, Ginny and Teddy had been spending their Sunday lazily sprawled across the couch when they had been greeted abruptly by Ron and Hermione’s appearance in their fireplace.
“Just then; we were having lunch with my parents when Ron asked my dad for permission, right in front of me!” Hermione gushed, giddily. “Of course Dad said yes, and then Ron got down on one knee and proposed!” Harry looked over at Ron, not sure how he would be feeling about being talked about in such a narrative fashion, but Ron merely continued to grin sheepishly.
“Congratulations, I guess!” offered Harry bemusedly, scooping up a green-haired Teddy from the rug on the floor. “Do you have a date yet?”
“Maybe in June? But we’ve got so much to organise. I don’t know when we’re going to have time to plan everything – there’s so much to do! Think of the catering, then there’s the guests, decorations, the cake! We haven’t even decided where we’ll have it, maybe the Burrow?” she paused reflectively, but Harry thought perhaps Hermione also was in dire need to draw breath. “Oh, but I’m so excited!” she squealed.
“Hermione, you’re an organisational mastermind. If anyone could possibly plan a wedding and lobby for the liberation of thousands of oppressed magical creatures, it’s you.” said Ginny, matter-of-factly. “Come on, we need to celebrate!” and she indicated for Hermione to follow her down to the kitchen, undoubtedly in search of some celebratory butterbeer, leaving Harry alone with Ron and his godson.
“So, you’re getting married?” asked Harry, still dumbfounded at the thought of his two best friends endeavouring on such an adult venture.
“Yeah…” said Ron, running a hand through his hair. “Just seemed right, you know? It was bound to happen sooner or later. Why not now?” he shrugged, falling into the recently vacated armchair.
“I guess so. It just seems so – bizarre – that’d you’re getting married.” Harry grimaced, starting to bob Teddy up and down on his hip.
“Said the man with the baby in his arms,” laughed Ron.
“I guess you’re right.” shrugged Harry, taking a seat on the couch and placing the three-year-old in his lap. “And you’re not a baby, are you?” he asked Teddy, who frowned.
“So what about you?” asked Ron.
“You and Gin?”
“What about me and Gin?” asked Harry, thoroughly confused.
“Do you think you’ll – you know, get married?”
Harry didn’t know what to say. Of course they would. Wasn’t that obvious? Harry couldn’t imagine his life without Ginny. But it was always going to be one day. That one day, when they were old enough. Harry just assumed that it was inevitable; not something to be dealt with in the present. Was that wrong of him, to make such an assumption? He wasn’t sure – but Harry was happy enough with things as they were; he had Ginny and Teddy, a great house and job. It was hard to imagine things could get better – as he presumed they would if he and Ginny were to get married.
“Well, yeah – I guess so.” said Harry weakly, confused by his conflicting feelings of confusion and resolution.
“What does that mean?” said Ron, with surprising annoyance. The look on his face reminded Harry of the one that had appeared there when Ron had confronted Harry after walking in on Ginny’s gift-giving on Harry’s seventeenth birthday.
“No, of course –” Ron appeared to relax. “It’s just – it’s not really something we’ve discussed.” said Harry awkwardly.
“You know, Mum’s not pleased you’re living together as it is…” said Ron warningly.
“Don’t tell me you’ve got a problem with our ‘living in sin’ too?” laughed Harry with a grin.
“Hey, I’d kill to be in your shoes. The sooner we get out of the Burrow, the better.” Ron smirked.
Harry was thankful when a distraction came in the form of Hermione and Ginny who re-entered the room chatting excitedly, arms laden with butterbeers.
Ron and Hermione stayed for about an hour, and while Ginny was more than happy to play hostess and entertain their guests, Harry was restless. What now? There was suddenly all this pressure. Did Ginny now expect him to propose? Why had they never discussed it properly? Maybe she didn’t want to get married...
Harry was only pulled out of his thoughts when Ron and Hermione waved a cheerful goodbye before flooing back to the burrow.
“So when are we getting married?” asked Ginny casually, sinking into the couch next to Harry.
Harry was dumbfounded. Did she really just ask that? Just when he was fretting about the stability of their relationship, Ginny comes out with a question like that. Merlin, he loved her.
“You want to?” Harry asked warily.
“Well, of course. We can’t keep living in sin much longer, can we?” she grinned. “Why? You don’t want to?” she asked sincerely, without a trace of anxiousness in her voice.
“No, I do.” said Harry earnestly.
“Good. But we can’t very well steal Ron and Hermione’s thunder. Ron would never forgive us.”
“So we’re getting married?” asked Harry coyly, snaking an arm around Ginny’s waist.
“I suppose we are.” said Ginny teasingly, planting a tender kiss on Harry’s lips before happily bounding off to clear up the empty butterbeer bottles.
Author's Note: Look at that, a month between chapters! Who would have thought, after the great writer's block of a whopping ten months between chapters 1 and 2. Thanks for all the reviews. Keep them coming!
UPDATE: Hi all! I lost a lot of reviews with the crash, even some in between the crash and confirmation that the site was up and running. In addition to that chapter three was validated, taken down and validated again. Thanks to all the reviewers, especially those who reviewed twice. You're fabulous! xx
Chapter 4: Something Old and Something New
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All Was Well
Something Old and Something New
“What am I doing?” asked a panicked Ron, staring in horrified amazement at his reflection in the mirror.
“You’re marrying the girl of your dreams.” replied Harry indifferently – for about the tenth time that hour. “You know the one. Brown hair, brown eyes, complete magical genius, you fell in love with her on a train...”
“I’ll ruin her life. Someone like her shouldn’t be marrying someone like me. Maybe she isn’t. Maybe I’m dreaming. Harry, pinch me.” Ron instructed, but seemed incapable of tearing himself away from his seemingly hideous reflection.
“I’d prefer to do worse.” muttered Harry darkly from Ron’s bed, where he had taken up residence to endure Ron’s self-destructive ranting.
At that moment Ginny, prettily made up for the occasion, stuck her head in the doorway. “Hurry up. You’ve got ten minutes.” Ron became so white that he could have easily been mistaken for the ghoul upstairs. With a smile and wink to Harry, she was gone.
“I can’t do this to her, Harry, I’m going to ruin her life. She can do so much better! Harry, tell me I’m right.” He pleaded, turning to Harry for the first time in what felt like an hour.
“You’re wrong.” said Harry indifferently, pulling himself up from the bed and straightening his dress robes. “Are you ready?”
“Ready?!” cried Ron. “Of course I’m not ready! Have you seen how many people are out there? What, three hundred people? Three hundred people are about to see me completely humiliated when Hermione either doesn’t show up, or says 'I don’t' or runs off or- or-”
“Please,” said Harry, rolling his eyes in Ginny-like fashion – and smiling inwardly at the thought of it. “This is ridiculous, Ron. She’s just as madly, deeply in love with you as you are with her. It's almost disgusting!”
“Right,” said Ron, shaking his head in an attempt to calm himself. “Sure. Right. She said yes, didn’t she? I didn’t make her say yes. Right. Sure.” He took a deep breath. “Bloody hell!”
Harry responded with another roll of the eyes, before shoving Ron out the door and halfway down the hallway before Ron miraculously recalled how to walk.
Outside, a marquee had been constructed out in the field that Harry and the Weasleys had used as a Quidditch pitch, while a pack of photographers and journalists from every wizarding media from Witch Weekly to Which Broomstick? were struggling to penetrate the Weasleys’ protego charm. Despite Hermione’s protests, Ron had insisted on using orange as the main decorating colour. Orange carpet lined the centre of the marquee, adorned with fragile silver chairs on either side and orange flowers garnished the white supporting poles. Surprisingly, the overall appearance was quite attractive, set off beautifully, Harry noticed, by the flowing silver dresses worn by the bridesmaids, Ginny and Luna, who were currently pacing around the entrance.
Standing at the front of the marquee, Harry had a clear view of the entire crowd of guests. At the very front, he could see Molly already in a fit of tears, trying in vain to mop up the wetness that came pouring out of her eyes while Arthur could only pat her lamely on the knee. Poor Andromeda was struggling to keep a hold on an appropriately orange-haired Teddy, who was straining to break free from her grasp, presumably to join Harry on the podium at the front. On Bill’s lap sat a serene blond baby who – quite unlike Teddy – was angelically still; beside him was Fleur struggling, like Andromeda, to keep the bouncing Dominique under control. Everyone was there; alumni from Hogwarts, including the entire Gryffindor Quidditch team, Ministry co-workers, all the remaining members of the Order of the Phoenix as well as the entire Weasley clan. But the sight that caught Harry’s eye was Ginny, positively radiant in her silver dress. So taken was he with Ginny’s appearance that it wasn’t until the music began to play that Harry realised the ceremony was beginning.
Harry sensed Ron tense up beside him, sure that Ron’s current shade of green had worsened at the sound of music. But much to his surprise with the appearance of Hermione, looking stunning in a simple white gown and on the arm of her father, Ron’s complexion had not only returned to normal, but Harry could not remember a time when Ron had looked better. The grin that appeared on Ron’s face was plastered like that for the remainder of the ceremony. Hermione likewise seemed incapable of removing the smile from her face.
The ceremony seemed brief, throughout which Mrs Weasley emitted endless audible sobs.
“Do you, Ronald Bilius take Hermione J-”
“I do!” Ron interrupted.
Harry leant over slightly to catch Ginny’s eye, wanting to share this happy moment with her, as well as the secret of their engagement.
“I now declare you bonded for life,” wheezed the little wizard celebrant, and with great effort, Hermione threw herself at Ron in a similar fashion to their first passionate kiss – before the pair realised they were in the presence of friends, family and former teachers and broke off their impassioned embrace.
At the reception that followed, both Harry and Ginny were dogged, as was usually the case. They had become quite the glamour couple, gracing the pages of every wizard publication – whether willingly or not. Harry rarely abided all the attention, but today in particular he resented all the questions and staring. Today was about Ron and Hermione.
Harry had managed to evade most of his unrelenting audience by taking up his place at the wedding party’s table and settling in to a lengthy discussion about the success of the Holyhead Harpies with George. No sooner had his sizeable piece of wedding cake materialized in front of him, when a flashing noise and plume of smoke drew him from his conversation.
“Harry, Harry, Harry - looking sublimely alive today, as usual!”
It was times like these that Harry wished Barny Weasley could make a reappearance.
Rita Skeeter, the picture of vulgarity, all blonde ringlets and gold teeth, leered happily at Harry. Bozo the photographer at her side, Rita had parchment and quill at the ready. Harry’s face dropped.
“Rita, get out.” Harry was sure there must be laws against this. In the muggle world, Rita would have been served with a restraining order by now, Harry was sure. The woman seemed to pop up everywhere Harry went, much to his displeasure. He didn't even pause to think how she could have infiltrated the wedding. The hag had her ways.
“Harry, my angel, I am simply doing my job.” Rita gave him a reptilian smile. “Every witch and wizard from here to Hogwarts was invited, sweet. This is a high profile event, the union of your two closest school friends, the greatest allies of the Boy Who Lived, the Chosen One. Does it bring a tear to your charming green eyes?” Her quill was poised threateningly at the ready.
Harry wanted to vomit.
“Ginny,” Harry called out, not tearing his eyes away from the vile witch who stood before him.
Ginny responded from down the table, where she sat to Hermione’s right. “Yeah?”
“Would you care to dance?” A smile broke out across his face - and with that, Harry stood up, took a grinning Ginny by the hand and made his way to the dance floor. All the while a bitter Rita looked on resentfully.
The couple swayed to the slow brassy music.
“Do you think she’ll ever leave us alone?” asked Harry.
“I don’t mind.” replied Ginny, nestling her head on his shoulder.
“Well, not if I get to dance with you like this every time she makes a move.” Ginny grinned up at Harry.
“It’s not a chore, I promise.” He wasn’t lying.
The gentle music played on and for just those few moments, Harry didn’t sense the presence of hundreds of onlookers. With a sudden drum solo, the tempo sped up and the music called for a much livelier dancing style. Ginny took the lead and spun out from Harry. For a moment, he stood quite paralysed in the middle of the dance floor, before reluctantly joining in. Lending Ginny a hand, he gave her a spin which she clumsily tried to reciprocate. Harry awkwardly turned, whirling around to face the marquee entrance when – to his complete surprise – he caught a glimpse of what he could have sworn to be the all too familiar sleeked-back hair and pointed face of one Draco Malfoy.
Author's Note: CLIFFHANGER!!!! I am dreading writing the next chapter, but it will be well worth the wait. Take a look on the forums too if you're interested about the next chapter, because I've got a topic going on the imminent Malfoy/Harry reunion. Also, I assure you that we will be going back to the future (as it were) so, don't fret, we will escape all the italics soon enough! Just have to get past this chapter of Harry's life before we get there, though. Again, thanks to reviewers! Thanks for reading! xx
Chapter 5: A Ghost and the Glow
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All Was Well
A Ghost and the Glow
Once again Harry stood paralysed in the middle of the dance floor. He must be seeing things; Malfoy hadn’t been seen in years. Working at the Ministry had its advantages; Harry knew all about how the Malfoy family had been completely cleared of any charges and vanished entirely.
Ginny placed a questioning hand on Harry’s shoulder. Turning around, he gave her hand a squeeze and strode through the crowd towards the entrance, all the while squinting to make out Malfoy’s silver blonde hair. Pushing through the last of the wedding guests, Harry came to the entrance. Nothing. He was flooded with a sense of disappointment and annoyance. He peered out into the darkness, unsatisfied. Taking a few steps out into the garden, he looked around determinedly. Then suddenly, amidst the black night there was a glint of silver, connected to it a shadowy figure.
“This was a mistake, I shouldn’t have come.” A deep but frail voice came from the shadows.
Malfoy partly came into the light streaming from the marquee. There were dark circles under his sunken eyes, his face more sallow than ever. Harry was taken aback, the man before him could easily have been mistaken for Lucius Malfoy circa his Azkaban imprisonment. He clenched his fists apprehensively, conscious of the tension that hung in the air. Harry shook his head, “Malfoy, what are you doing here?”
“Astoria, she – Granger, the ministry.” Malfoy muttered, still in shadow.
Harry didn’t know what that was supposed to mean, but he took it at face value. He was still trying to come to terms with the fact that he was standing before Draco Malfoy, his schoolboy enemy and wartime adversary. Still, their final parting had been so vague; and though Harry had replayed the events of that evening, there was so much that he was yet to make sense of. Indeed, part of that was the grounds he was now on with Malfoy. Were they still enemies? That seemed so childish given the outcome of the war, and the part the Malfoy family had played in the Battle. Indeed, Narcissa’s lie over Harry’s stone cold body had made all the difference.
Harry hadn’t seen Malfoy since that day at the Ministry, almost five years ago. Then, he had been so refreshed by his complete lack of interest in Malfoy and his life. But Harry being Harry, his curiosity had got the better of him and a significant part of the last five years had been spent stewing on these many questions. He couldn’t deny his interest now.
An awkward silence reigned. It took a moment before Harry recognised the unfamiliar tone with which Malfoy had spoken. It was altogether unpretentious. As this registered with Harry, Malfoy shook his head disquietly.
“Astoria, my-” Malfoy stopped short, shaking his head again. “She works at the Ministry. In Shacklebolt’s office. Looks like half the Ministry were invited.” He muttered dispassionately. He still hovered in the darkness, hands determinedly shoved in pockets, yet to meet Harry’s gaze.
“Malfoy,” Harry began.
“Look, I shouldn’t have come.” Malfoy spat. His piercing eyes darted to Harry’s for the first time. His eyes were filled with something that Harry couldn’t define; not remorse nor scorn. Harry was stunned at the vulnerability behind his hasty gaze. It was almost pleading. For understanding, forgiveness? Harry wasn’t sure. No sooner had the thought crossed his mind, the moment passed and Malfoy looked swiftly away.
“Another time,” mumbled Malfoy and he smirked in spite of himself.
Harry, too, couldn’t help but grimace – but with a faint pop Malfoy was gone. Harry stood dumbfounded, alone in the dark with his thoughts.
* * * * *
“This is the last of them!” Ginny exclaimed, stuffing the parchment into the envelope with great haste. Scooping the pile of cream envelopes into her arms, she rushed to the window and stuck her head out resolutely. “Where is she?”
Harry watched reverentially from the couch as Ginny paced around the living room bursting with excited energy. Within just a few hours, she’d be his to keep forever. He grinned.
“Babbity!” Ginny called out to their owl in frustration. The name was entirely her idea, inspired by the wizarding fairy tale, much to Ron’s horror and Harry’s bemusement. Her efforts had not been in vain; with a lazy feathered glide, Babbity landed with a soft thud on the mantle.
“Finally,” breathed Ginny, beaming. Babbity offered only a bored look in apology and resentfully lifted her leg.
“They won’t all fit, but it’s worth a try.” Ginny mumbled, hurriedly fastening the envelopes to the begrudging eagle owl’s leg. Once attached, Ginny relaxed and retreated slightly, letting out a happy sigh. “Off you go, you know where to go. All of us, Teddy, Hagrid, Neville, Luna. Go on!” After giving Babbity an affectionate stroke, Ginny gave the poor owl a soft shove and Babbity was off.
Once closing the window, Ginny pounced on Harry, triumphant. “Well, Mister Potter, we have a lot of work to do!” She grinned. She was right. Only an hour ago, Harry and Ginny had made the decision to get married today. The conversation had gone something along the lines of, “What a nice day it is,” on Harry’s part to which Ginny had replied, “A lovely day to get married.” And why not? They had decided long ago that announcing their engagement publicly would only draw even more unwanted attention from the Wizarding media. The weather was very pleasing – a perfect June day; sunny and still but not too warm. School was out, so Hogwarts (their chosen wedding venue) would be vacant. Ginny had picked up a dress months ago in preparation; a silky white number, knee length and quite informal. And now Babbity was off delivering the invitations to their very exclusive guests.
Ginny leapt up and galloped out of the room, presumably upstairs to their bedroom to get ready. Harry sat, amused and content on the couch. Was this really happening? Could he really be getting everything he wanted? A warmth spread across his chest, a happiness filling him up from the inside out. So he sat, paralysed by his own contentment. He wasn't sure how much time had passed when a green flash alerted him to a visitor in his fireplace.
“Harry, what is this all about? Are you mad?” Hermione dashed towards him. Harry was fearful for a moment that she might hit him, she seemed so panicked – but the tears streaming down her face dampening her giddy smile told him not to worry. “Today? Let me get this right; you’ve sent out invitations to your wedding today, when your wedding is today?” Harry grimaced guiltily. Hermione sounded uncharacteristically nonsensical. She walloped him playfully. “Today?” she repeated manically.
“Today.” Harry confirmed earnestly.
“But what am I going to wear?” Hermione was already back in the grate. She hastily wiped her wet cheeks with the palms of her hands. “You could have given me a bit of notice, Harry.” That sounded more like Hermione. Harry offered only a shrug in apology, swivelling back to stretch out along the couch, settling in to soak up all this happiness.
“And Harry?” Hermione almost whispered. “Congratulations!” She beamed and disappeared in a flash of green flame.
Four hours later, Harry was surprised to find himself sitting at the main bar of the Leaky Cauldron, Ginny’s hand tightly locked in his own. The afternoon had been a blur; a happy, shimmering haze. Bits and pieces of the ceremony were coming back to him now; standing under a sprawling oak tree along the banks of the lake, the small assembly of guests beaming back at him as he waited patiently for Ginny to make her way down the makeshift aisle. Ginny’s emergence, a white glow that dance towards him, blinding his view of every other person in the vicinity. Those joyous words ringing in his ears, “I do,” followed by her lips on his, holding her close and never wanting to let go.
And now here he sat, surrounded by friends and family – his new wife at his side – completely unaware of how he came to be there. In the corner, Hagrid and Molly appeared to be engrossed in a fierce battle of who could cry more. Arthur sat beside Molly, giving her hand a gentle pat as his eyes followed Ginny dotingly. Teddy and Victoire had taken up a game of chasey, Bill, a pregnant Fleur and an envious looking Dominique watching from a nearby table. Harry was impressed to see that Teddy was letting the angelic four-year-old win. Percy kept to himself, watching, like Harry, the scene before him. George was haggling with Hannah Abbott behind the bar, organising the next round of drinks while Hannah looked increasingly flustered and Neville looked on in pensive admiration. Across the room, Charlie and Luna seemed engaged in an intense discussion of Egyptian magical wildlife. Harry watched as Ron and Hermione sat before them, Ron’s hand never leaving the small of Hermione’s back as they chatted and drank.
“Are you still with us?” Ginny whispered in Harry’s ear. He could hear the grin on her face in her voice.
Harry kissed her cheek. “With who?” he asked, dazed.
Ginny ran her hand kindly through his hair. “Your family.”
Author's Note: I have about a thousand things to say. First of all, sorry about the delay updating. In short, I started reading Twilight. Second, I'm worried that this chapter might disappoint, after the cliffhanger in the last chapter. You tell me. I just couldn't give away all the Malfoy-ness in one chapter. Third, I really like using the word 'indeed.' Fourth, did we like the wedding? I didn't feel we needed yet another "do you take this man yadda yadda yadda" Did it disappoint? You tell me. Fifth, Babbity as an owl name? Six, check me out on the forums. I'll be posting a big response to all the questions/queries brought up in reviews. Finally, thank you so much for reading, reviewing and being wonderful. xx
Chapter 6: Surprise, Surprise
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All Was Well
“All right then, I best be off.” Teddy rose to his feet with a slight hesitance. “Things to do, people to see.” Harry noticed that Teddy’s cheeks blushed ever so slightly and he was quick to avert his eyes from those of everyone in the kitchen. Harry contained his knowing smirk; he knew exactly who Teddy had to see.
“You’re not coming with us?” Harry asked innocently.
“Where are you going, Teddy?” asked Lily, full of earnest concern.
“I’ll see you soon enough,” Teddy replied with a grin. He mussed her hair – Lily rolled her eyes in Ginny-like fashion – and headed over to Albus, still gloomily eyeing his breakfast.
“Don’t listen to James.” Teddy instructed sternly, placing a comforting arm on Albus’ shoulder. “He’s got as much sense as a troll.”
Albus only grimaced. Fortunately, Teddy knew exactly what it took to cheer up a Potter child. In a blink, Teddy’s handsome face had morphed into that of an oafish looking troll, and he even let out a crude grunt to seal the deal.
Albus allowed a small smile which grew quickly into a broad grin. He was soon chuckling, along with the rest of his family. Job done, Teddy morphed back; the look on his face was all-too-pleased with himself.
“What’s so funny?” James traipsed lazily into the room, running a hand through his haphazard hair and collapsing into a chair.
“Teddy says you’ve got as much sense as a troll.” Lily piped matter-of-factly.
“Oi!” James protested angrily, half-heartedly rounding on Teddy – who only shrugged in response.
“Stop picking on your brother!” And with a quick grin to Harry and Ginny and a soft pop, Teddy was gone.
James didn’t seem too perturbed as he dug into his porridge heartily.
Harry made his way cautiously down the Burrow’s rarely used driveway as the snow began to fall. For some reason completely unknown to him, Ginny had insisted that they drove to her parents’ house tonight and being the dutiful husband he was, Harry had obliged. The seldom used car spent most of its time parked out the front of numbers 11 and 13 Grimmauld Place, hidden from the Muggle world by a simple disillusionment charm. But tonight of all nights, Ginny had muttered something about seeing the countryside and the pair had set off in the late afternoon to reach Ottery St Catchpole by nightfall.
Pulling up, Harry cast a suspicious look over a Ginny, who stared ahead with a mixed look of concern and apprehension – hardly appropriate for Christmas night. She had been oddly quiet on the long drive up. Seeing Ginny upset always evoked a similar sense of unease in Harry. Grimacing, he climbed out of the car and together the pair made their way to the door.
Raucous chaos ensued inside. Of course, using Muggle transportation meant that they were the last to arrive and as such the Burrow was already full to the brim with family members and friends. Weasleys and guests alike were dispersed throughout the ramshackle Burrow while Celestina Warbeck's warbling rang out from the wireless. Through the archway, in amongst a rustic-looking Christmas tree and its copious presents, Harry could see Bill, Percy and Ron cheerily talking while George and Arthur took in a somewhat heated game of Wizard’s chess. The kitchen was filled with everyone else, by the looks of it, all chattering merrily. In the corner, Hagrid and Charlie were arm in arm, crooning an old ditty about a Dragon called Doris. At the table, Hermione and a pink-cheeked Molly fussed over the little bundle in Fleur’s poised arms – the newest Weasley, Louis – while angelic Dominique proudly looked on. Meanwhile, Teddy and Victoire came flying into view, racing towards Harry and Ginny.
“They’re here!” squealed Victoire, gleefully.
“Merry Christmas!” Harry beamingly greeted them, kneeling down to take the little pair in his arms. Out of the corner of his eye, Harry could see the reserved gaze of Andromeda resting on him. Andromeda was a fixture at these sort of gatherings, but to Harry her presence was always felt. Like he had once been, she was an outsider amongst this busy brood – yet Andromeda stoically made an appearance time and time again for Teddy’s sake. Harry supposed this was the closest thing she had to family now, too. Smiling at the thought of his unconventional family, Harry released the kids from his grasp. Victoire was soon clinging to Ginny’s leg as Teddy allowed Ginny to kiss him on the cheek.
“Finally we can eat!” Teddy exclaimed.
Molly managed to tear herself away from Fleur and tiny Louis to greet Harry and Ginny with the usual kisses on the cheek and bone-crushing hugs. “Ginny, don’t you look lovely!” she cried, much to Ginny’s confusion. Harry, too, was taken aback – Ginny always looked lovely in his eyes, but he thought Molly might have noticed the anxious scowl plastered all over Ginny’s face. He wasn’t surprised, however, when Molly chastised, “Harry Potter, in Merlin’s name, eat something! You’re skin and bones, for goodness’ sake.”
But the surprises continued when Ginny made a bee-line over to Fleur’s side. Harry followed her suspiciously with his eyes; Fleur was hardly Ginny’s favourite person by any account but this behaviour was all too bizarre. However, before Harry could dwell, Ron had thrust a butterbeer into Harry’s empty hand and led him over to the living room where the topic of conversation was – unsurprisingly – Quidditch. Teddy was hot on his heels.
It wasn’t long until Molly had holly-adorned plates and platters whizzing onto the specially elongated table, the flying turkey and potatoes through the air adding to the general sense of chaos. Chairs were being summoned from all over the place as the kitchen filled up with guests. Taking their places at the table, Harry was able to catch Ginny’s eye momentarily and a silent exchange ensued. Harry sent an imploring look that he hoped would resemble “What’s wrong?” to which Ginny responded with an apologetic wince and a shake of the head. She began to pick at her food with her fork distractedly, looking up every so often to gaze pointedly at Fleur. From beside her, Hermione looked on in great confusion.
“So, Harry, how’s the Ministry treating you?” Bill asked from across the table, while Fleur struggled to help Victoire with the hat from her Christmas cracker – without much success, Victoire was much too distracted by Teddy who sat across them beside Harry.
“Not too bad, we’ve been pretty quiet of late.” Harry replied. “You?”
“Heading off to South America next month.” Bill shot a wary look at Fleur; from the look on her face, it appeared she wasn’t too pleased about being left to singlehandedly look after three small children. “Peru.” Bill continued. “Looks like we’ve bled Egypt dry of its gold – well, at least for now.” He added with a grin. “Still, the Peruvian Quidditch team are supposed to be picking up pace. I hear they’re the hot pick for the Latin Cup this year.”
“Oi, that reminds me.” George called from further down the table. “Gin, is it true what I read in the Prophet the other day? You’re not thinking of leaving the Harpies, are you? Angelina was saying…”
But Harry wasn’t to hear what it was that Angelina was saying; beside him Ginny had gone exceptionally pale. Her mouth hung open in a horrified stupor. She turned to Harry in one swift movement.
“Harry, I think I’m pregnant.”
Author's Note: I know, I know, this chapter is short - but fear not, I'm well on my way to finishing the next one. So what did you think of this chapter? See, I'm not a legilimens, so you're going to have to leave a review to let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!
UPDATE: Argh, I have edited the guts out of this chapter, due to some of the feedback I was getting. I didn’t like it to begin with. Christmases are hard to write, there are so many people! Please tell me what you think. Your feedback makes all the difference!
Chapter 7: Knots
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All Was Well
Harry was paralysed by panic. A hot, bubbling feeling pulsated in his belly while at the same time, his ribcage felt light and full of lively butterflies. His was sure his cheeks were flushed, fully aware of the fact that every pair of eyes in the room was glued to his immobile, shocked figure. Ginny, in all her wisdom, had made a mad-dash to the bathroom – leaving Harry alone to face the pats on the back and heartfelt congratulations on his own. He was only partially aware of Hermione’s squeezing of his hand and Molly’s hysterical, elated sobbing. All the noise was merging into one buzzing haze. Harry was all too eager to be free from all this attention. He had to get out of there. He had to find Ginny.
Harry made a concerted effort to free himself from the grasp of some faceless well-wisher and broke away. He raced upstairs stealthily to find Ginny, his stomach still in knots.
Ginny’s voice came from above. “You just surprised me, that’s all.”
Through the crack in the half-open door, Harry could see Ginny sitting on the toilet, seat-down, with both hands carefully on her seemingly flat stomach.
“It isn’t your fault, Bean.” She murmured, giving her belly a rub.
“We are not calling our child Bean.” Harry said lightly, cautiously pushing open the rickety bathroom door. He was momentarily taken aback by how naturally the words ‘our child’ came to him. His stomach gave a turn.
Ginny gave a lopsided smile. “I know. I just imagine that’s how big it is, isn’t it? As big as a bean? I don’t know much about that sort of thing.” She frowned.
Harry shrugged and made his way over to Ginny, leaning against the bath and taking her hands in his. She studied his face intently.
“You’re not upset, are you?” Ginny asked, half whispering.
“No!” Harry responded, shocked. There was no doubting that the happy butterflies were winning out over the nervous throbbing in his guts. “I think it’s brilliant.” A wide grin broke out across his face. “I was surprised, not upset. Why should I be upset?”
“I should’ve told you sooner. But I didn’t know for sure.” Ginny muttered, fidgeting. She guiltily averted his eyes.
“The car…?” Harry enquired, catching her gaze.
“I was being cautious. I couldn’t apparate; every witch knows that. We could’ve floo-ed, I guess – but I do like driving…” she smiled in spite of herself. “But, Harry, when George asked about Quidditch, Merlin, I could’ve fainted. All this time, I’ve been flying. I’ve been flying with bludgers coming at me left, right and centre – and little Bean in there all the time.” She rubbed her belly tenderly, eyes full of concern. “Bloody Joey Jenkins, in that last match against Chudley...” She muttered darkly, “Can you check him out? He’s absolutely ferocious. He calls himself a beater…” She trailed off, and Harry was sure he heard the words ‘Death Eater’ leave her mouth.
“I think it’s brilliant too, by the way.” Ginny mumbled with a sly grin. She gave Harry’s hand a tight squeeze, to which he replied with the best smile he could muster, in light of the pounding going on his is abdomen. Perhaps he was letting his anxiety show a little more than he had hoped, because Ginny asked, “Harry, are you sure you’re alright?”
Harry bit his lip tentatively. “It’s just – I don’t know what I’m doing, Gin.” He caught her eye bravely. “What have I got to work with? It’s not like I’ve had much of a role model to go by…”
Ginny rolled her eyes in a fashion only she could. “You can be so thick sometimes.” The expression on Harry’s face indicated she would need to clarify. “What do you call my dad? Your dad? Sirius? Bill?” Harry was unconvinced. “Besides, you’ve had plenty of experience.” Ginny continued, “Are you forgetting Teddy?” Her eyes had fallen on the doorframe and she instantly beamed.
As if on cue, Teddy’s little head had appeared in the doorframe as he peeped through. He grinned sheepishly. Ginny motioned for him to come and sit on her lap. He was all too happy to oblige.
Teddy sighed, very serious. “Are you really having a baby?” He asked, sceptically.
“Really.” Ginny replied, her face full of faux seriousness.
Teddy looked to Harry for confirmation.
“Really truly.” Harry nodded, smiling.
Teddy’s anxious face lit up. “Can I see it?”
* * * * *
A short time later, having explained to Teddy that the baby wasn’t quite ready to come out yet, the three of them emerged from the bathroom ready to face the onslaught. Naturally, Molly was first in line.
“You didn’t tell your own mother?”
“I didn’t know for sure.” Grumbled Ginny. “Merlin, give it a rest!”
“But still, your own mother!”
Molly continued to chastise Ginny through her happy tears, while everyone took their turn to congratulate the couple. Arthur was content to stand by, eyes sparkling, occasionally patting Harry on the back proudly. Bill and Fleur were more than eager to share their wisdom, Fleur being a self-confessed expert in childrearing – much to the eye-rolling and tut-tutting of Molly and Hermione.
Ron, having offered his most sincere congratulations, became consumed with avoiding Hermione at all costs. Ron could not be found within ten yards of his wife, much to her confusion and frustration. At one point, when Hermione surreptitiously joined a conversation between Ron and his father, Ron hastily made an impassioned offer to feed the chickens, despite it being eleven o’clock at night.
Exhausted, Harry was all too eager to break away from all the celebrations – albeit momentarily. He was more than pleased when he found himself in between conversations and took the opportunity to sink into a welcoming armchair.
Perhaps it was exhaustion, but Harry failed to see Hagrid taking up the entire couch in front of the fireplace. He was gazing contentedly at the fire, a beaker of Firewhiskey in one hand. Harry felt a stab of guilt as he realised he’d barely spoken a word to Hagrid all night.
“Hi Hagrid.” Harry sighed.
“Harry,” Hagrid whispered, his voice close to breaking. He immediately erupted in a fit of happy tears. “Yer mum and dad’d be so ‘appy. Yeh’ll do ‘em proud, fer sure.” Hagrid pulled a tablecloth sized handkerchief from his coat pocket and mopped his sodden face.
There it was, the stabbing pain in Harry’s stomach. He grimaced, offering Hagrid his own handkerchief. “Thanks, Hagrid.” He wondered whether or not taking a swig of Hagrid’s Firewhiskey would have any effect on the stomach knot...
“We need to leave. Now.” Ginny declared, coming to rest on the arm of Harry’s chair.
“What’s the matter?” Harry asked, instantly concerned.
“Dad got Hermione started on Muggle births. What’s an epid-ural? It sounds horrid. I think I’m going to vomit.” She made a disgusted face.
Harry laughed, taking her hand and wearily hauling himself up from the armchair. Taking advantage of this moment of peace, Ginny pulled herself into him, Harry wrapping his arms around her. He could feel her lips against his chest as they formed a smile on her contented face. Oblivious to this, Hagrid continued to sniff and dab away at his tears.
“I’ll go grab our coats,” Ginny offered, reluctantly breaking away and heading towards the hall.
Harry made his way over to the couch where Teddy, Victoire and Dominique had fallen asleep, exhausted after spending the entire night taking turns on Teddy’s brand new miniature broomstick. Teddy was to spend the night at Grimmauld Place as a special Christmas treat. No sooner had he bent down to lift Teddy up into his arms, Harry could sense those ever-reserved eyes boring into the back of his head. Sure enough, Andromeda was watching him from the doorframe.
She cleared her throat quietly, while Harry arranged a snoozing Teddy in his arms.
“I believe congratulations are in order,” Andromeda whispered, unmoving from her position in the doorway. A small smile appeared on her pursed lips.
“Thanks,” Harry murmured awkwardly, shifting Teddy’s weight.
Andromeda stepped towards him and as she approached, Harry saw for the first time in her a resemblance to her daughter. Her eyes, though always kinder than those of her sinister sisters, had never looked so warm. Well, not to him, anyway.
Andromeda continued, “The pair of you will make wonderful parents.” Her eyes fell long and hard on the child in Harry’s arms, her face unreadable, before she gave Teddy a loving rub on the back. She whispered a farewell and turned on her heel, leaving Harry to ponder Andromeda’s permanent state of subtle hostility.
Laden with leftover Christmas pudding, too many presents (including an assortment of knitted goods courtesy of Molly) and with the promise of baby booties to be delivered within the week, Harry, Ginny and Teddy headed home. Driving back to London, Harry made the most of some of the more customised features of his car – the ones Arthur Weasley did not and would not ever know about. Unbeknownst to the surrounding Muggle motorists, Harry sped through the Christmas traffic unseen and unheard, making it home in half and hour.
Pulling up outside numbers 11 and 13, Ginny helped a bleary-eyed Teddy out of the backseat while Harry momentarily let his home address cross his mind. In an instant the house had appeared and Harry had taken Teddy in his arms, the trio heading upstairs to the closest bedroom to put Teddy down to sleep. Ginny pulled the sheets back while Harry softly placed the boy into bed, before yanking off his shoes.
“Harry,” Teddy mumbled, struggling to pry his eyes open.
“Yes, mate?” Harry replied, sinking down onto the bed.
“I’m glad…” Teddy slurred, his head falling to the pillow. “Ginny and you’ll have a kid all the time,” He failed to stifle a yawn. “Not just sometimes like me.”
“Thanks, Ted.” Harry and Ginny exchanged a glance for a moment, before Ginny gave Teddy a tender kiss on the forehead and the little boy surrendered to sleep.
Author's Note: This chapter was written and good to go about a month ago, when I accidentally deleted it. My computer should feel very fortunate that it's still in one piece - the urge to throw it against a wall was very hard to control. Anyway, I like this chapter (not as much as I liked it the first time round...) so I would love to hear what you think! I have to give shoutouts to momotwins, ngayonatkailanman, FriendofMolly, Mrs Roonil Waslib for being such wonderful reviewers. Your reviews really make my day. And just a heads up, chapter 8 may take a while because I'm off to the US for a month (!!!!) on holiday. xx
Chapter 8: Family Reunion
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All Was Well
“I have an idea!”
Ginny looked up from the copy of The Daily Prophet she had rested on her bump. Her little Bean, having already evolved to Strawberry and Potato, had recently reached Pumpkin status.
The couple were spending their Sunday morning in bed, reading the papers and concentrating very hard on doing as little as possible. Harry had been flicking through The Quibbler, to which he subscribed out of loyalty to Luna. He had come across an interestingly ludicrous article on walruses being taught to tap-dance by a batty-looking witch named Eugenia Hesselthwaite in Iceland when the idea came to him.
Fat, befuddled looking walruses…
Harry didn’t like the idea but at this stage, he was willing to go to any lengths to suppress the nasty knot in his stomach. He had mustered all of his Gryffindor courage to concede to Ginny the extent of his anxiety, but doing so hadn’t eased it in the least – instead, he began to feel concerned about feeling anxious all the time.
It wasn’t going to be pleasant, he was sure of that. Harry didn’t really like the idea of involving Ginny, but he was certain that she would have to play some part. No, it was a risk he was willing to take. Anything – even that – to get rid of that bloody knot.
“We have to pay the Dursleys a visit.”
“What?” Ginny struggled to sit up in shock. Her face was riddled with a mix of disgust and confusion. “What do they have to do with anything?”
Harry frowned. “They count as family, don’t they? Even if they’re horrible and worthless, they have to count.” The simplicity of it all didn’t seem to be registering with Ginny. “I’m just trying – trying to better understand. Trying to understand my family.” Harry concluded, attempting to make sense of it himself.
Harry hadn’t seen the Dursleys now for seven whole years. Following the war, he had written to Petunia informing her of the outcome and indifferently assuring her of their safety, as well as enclosing a return postal address. The only contact they had had since was the annual Christmas card, year after year reading the same three-lined message, Dear Harry,
From Petunia, Vernon and Dudley
Harry was yet to determine why they even bothered.
“I’ll know what not to do.” Harry continued. He felt like he was clutching at straws here, but he knew he was onto something. “Plus, you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting them.” He joked. Was he getting anywhere?
“No, I see.” Ginny murmured, deep in thought. “It’s a good idea.” She murmured, her brain visibly still whirring. “It can’t hurt, I suppose.”
“I can’t promise that.” Harry grimaced.
Harry decided that notifying the Dursleys of their imminent visit would only give them the opportunity to flee the country. Consequently, it was only a few short hours later when Harry and Ginny pulled up in the rarely-used car outside Number 4 Privet Drive.
Harry clenched his fists in an effort to brace himself for whatever was to come. Suddenly, this all seemed like a very bad idea. The knot was still throbbing away, only lightly, and he couldn’t keep himself from grinding his teeth.
“Harry, is that really necessary? You look positively homicidal.” Ginny remarked, laying a reassuring hand of Harry’s forearm.
Harry turned to Ginny, looking at her with the utmost sincerity. “You don’t know these people.”
“Well, that won’t change if you insist on sitting there and grinding your teeth into dust.” She undid her seat belt. “They can’t be that bad.”
Harry shot her a slightly ominous look. “Think Umbridge.” Ginny looked doubtful. “Crossed with trolls.”
Ginny just folded her arms, “Both of which you have defeated.”
With a sigh, Harry surrendered and dragged himself out of the car.
“Let’s not forget these people kept me in a cupboard for the first eleven years of my life…” Harry reminded Ginny as they made their way to the front door, Ginny waddling slightly.
“And look how nicely you turned out.” She countered wryly, taking his hand.
Harry reluctantly rang the doorbell; Greensleeves. He couldn’t suppress his urge to roll his eyes.
The door swung open and there stood Petunia, looking long-necked and frightfully Muggle in a pink floral apron. Her puckered face was plastered with a welcoming, neighbourly smile – which fell instantly as her narrow eyes darted from Harry to Ginny to Ginny’s swollen belly.
“Who is it?” an all-too-familiar voice called from inside. Harry imagined a walrus lounging on the Dursley’s pristine couch, watching the football on the television.
“Er… No-one, dear.” She called back to Vernon, fear-stricken. “Just charity collectors,” she shot Harry the darkest of looks.
“Well, give them a bob and send them on their way!”
“Of course, darling.” She replied sweetly, before turning back to Harry hastily and sharply whispering, “What are you doing here?” Her attempt at civility was half-hearted to say the least, but Harry was almost impressed that she hadn’t just slammed the door in their faces - as he had expected she would.
“Just stopping by to say hello,” Harry offered feebly. Petunia’s eyes were now scanning the street, presumably in an anxious search of potential witnesses to this most-unwanted of visitors. Harry went on, also attempting to keep his tone civil, “This is my wife, Ginny. Ginny, my aunt Petunia.” Petunia violently jerked her head in what Harry assumed was meant to be a polite nod. He continued, “Perhaps Dudley is home?” The last time Harry had been here, Dudley had been genuine in his goodbyes and almost decent.
Petunia looked torn; her gaze darted from the living room to the unwanted guests in her doorway. She seemed to have reached a decision as she pursed her lips, “Yes.” She squeaked. “I’ll fetch him,” From the apprehensive look on her face, she might as well have been leaving convicted burglars on her doorstep. “I’ll just fetch my purse!” she called loudly, in an unnaturally pleasant voice. Harry wasn’t sure if he was surprised by the lengths to which she was going to in order to maintain this ruse and keep Vernon in the dark.
A few moments later, Harry heard the heavy footsteps of Dudley coming from above - a walrus in combat boots traipsing down the hall. A moment later, Dudley’s piggish face, attached to his bulky body appeared on the staircase. He gaped, dumbfounded as he stumbled towards the door. A concerned Petunia gave him a slight nudge as she hastily shut the door. He hadn’t changed much, he was as huge and imposing as the last time Harry had seen him, though his piggish face had matured.
“Harry,” Dudley whispered, as if he were seeing a ghost. Harry half expected him to reach out and touch his face, to see if he was real.
Harry grimaced. “Good to see you, Dudley. This is Ginny. Ginny, Dudley.” Dudley’s eyes travelled from Harry to Ginny, to Ginny’s belly and back to Ginny.
“You’re pregnant.” Dudley asserted with some incredulity.
“Well spotted.” Ginny replied, not unkindly. She met Harry’s eyes with slight incredulity, too.
Harry steeled himself; they had come here with a purpose, albeit an ambiguous one, but now that he was back on Privet Drive with fretful Petunia and blobbish, obtuse Dudley, all the memories came flooding back to Harry and he was beginning to flounder. “Still living at home then?” He asked, feigning interest.
“It’s temporary…” Dudley replied, but the colour in his fat cheeks betrayed him. He hastily changed the subject, “What are you doing back? We haven’t heard from you in ages. Mum said you won that war thing.”
Harry didn’t dare look to Ginny after that comment; he could just imagine how her brain must have been whirring with all the possible imaginative retorts in regards to ‘that war thing’.
“Yeah,” Harry murmured, running a hand through his hair. The tension was unbearable. “It’s all behind us now, nothing to worry about...” Dudley appeared to heave a heavy sigh of relief. Harry caught Ginny’s eye; her face was plastered with a somewhat bemused expression. “Anyway,” Harry continued, “We were in the neighbourhood, thought we’d say hello, thought you should meet Ginny…”
Harry watched as Dudley processed this, “Right,” Dudley replied. “Well, I’m glad you didn’t get killed.”
Beside him, Ginny visibly tensed. She let out a restrained sigh, “How kind. It’s been lovely to meet you. I think I may just introduce myself to your uncle, Harry.” Her eyes were full of a suppressed rage. “One moment.” Before Harry could stop her, she was marching through the Dursley’s front door. Harry followed, Dudley plodding along behind him.
It was a most bizarre sight; Ginny was standing before the massive Vernon Dursley, overflowing from his recliner, her wand blatantly visible in her sundress pocket. She had her hands held in front of her in mock courtesy as she stared down a terrified Vernon. “If you’ll excuse me,” Ginny’s voice was venomous. “I’m collecting for orphans. Poor, impoverished children forced to live with neglectful and cruel family members who do nothing but torture their nieces and nephews, depriving them of a decent childhood. Can you spare any change?” Vernon began to splutter in fear and Petunia gave a whimper, while Dudley looked on in sheer awe. Ginny gave a lasting glare before turning on her heel, her red hair flying behind her, and marched out the door, Harry at her side.
As she ferociously put on her seatbelt, she remarked, “For some reason, I get the impression I won’t be welcome at your aunt and uncle’s house in the future.”
Author's Note: So where on earth did this come from? I know it might seem unexpected, but it was a scene I really wanted to write. Hopefully it wasn't too contrived. Please keep the reviews coming! P.S. More Malfoy action is on the way! Ginny is ready to pop in the next chapter. It's taken me a while to write, so please be patient! Thank you x
Chapter 9: Welcome
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All Was Well
Harry wearily pushed aside the map he had been studying. He was exhausted; fraught with nerves and filled with excitement caused by Ginny's quickly approaching due date, neither of them had slept in a week.
Leaning back in his desk chair, he let his eyes travel across the many moving photographs that littered his cubicle, both in frames and stuck haphazardly on the surrounding walls. There was Ron, Hermione and himself smiling and waving in front of Hagrid’s cabin in what must have been their first year, countless baby photographs of Teddy, an ancient picture of his parents and then - his stomach gave a lurch - in a delicate silver frame, a picture of Ginny, bearing a daisy chain around her head and lying in the grass at the Burrow.
No sooner had Harry’s eyes fallen on the photograph, a thunderous crash alerted him to the great oak doors that lead to the second floor corridor. Bursting through them galloped a magnificent, silvery horse. People dived out of the way, sending papers flying. Some Aurors brandished wands while other gaped in astonishment, watching as the shining, translucent horse hurtled down the aisle towards Harry’s desk.
But this Patronus was not unfamiliar to Harry. Indeed, what made his stomach plunge and his chest swell was that this shimmering steed belonged to his nine-month-pregnant wife.
Beside him, Ron’s head emerged above the wooden partition. “Is that what I think it is?” he asked slowly.
Turning a corner, the Patronus came to a steady halt before a dumbstruck, slightly panicked Harry. As the papers settled and the ruckus subdued, the eyes of the entire Auror Department fell upon Harry and the Patronus. It gave a whinny and tossed its gleaming head, before opening its mouth to communicate Ginny’s message. “Harry,” Ginny’s voice rang out around the silent office. Harry’s insides were clenched. The horse inhaled loudly, “It’s happening.” There was another dramatic breath. “I have,” breath, “Never wanted,” another strangled breath, “to kill you more in my life.”
Momentarily paralysed with panic, Harry was fully aware of the commotion that broke out as the horse disappeared in a wisp of smoke. Fortunately, something snapped inside him; in a second he had grabbed his cloak and begun his sprint to the Atrium. The nervous knots in his stomach throbbed away.
“I’ll be there soon!” Ron shouted after him. As Harry continued his sprint, Ron could be heard shouting down the corridors, “I’m an uncle! An uncle again!”
After what felt like an age stuck in the lift, Harry raced through the Atrium – garnering strange looks from everyone he passed – to the fireplaces along the right side. Without thinking, he found himself in the underground bathroom before apparating directly to the Burrow.
Arriving in the living room, Harry searched the room for a sign of his wife and mother-in-law, the long-standing plan being that Ginny would deliver here at the Burrow with the assistance of her highly-experienced mother. Hearing an agonized moan from above, Harry sprinted up the stairs. His heart pounding and his stomach clenched more so than ever, Harry bravely pushed open the door to Ginny’s old bedroom.
“You!” a distraught-looking Ginny shrieked, pointing an accusatory finger at Harry. Scowling, she attempted to rise without much success; a weary-looking Molly struggled to restrain her to the bed.
Harry hovered nervously in the door; the last thing he wanted to do was provoke the horror that was the wrath of Ginny Potter.
“Where’s my wand?” shouted Ginny, scanning the room manically with her eyes.
“You know very well you’re not allowed to have your wand, dear.” Molly replied patiently. She was obviously suppressing an excited and doting smile as she busied herself with towels and a basin on Ginny’s old bedside table. Harry took Molly’s distraction to rush forward but was quickly stopped in his tracks by the malevolent glower of his perspiring wife.
“But how am I going to KILL HIM without it?” Ginny hissed - without taking her eyes off Harry. But before her mother could answer, she cried out in pain and clutched her sides. A couple of books flew violently out of a bookshelf, hitting the opposite wall and landing with a thud.
Dodging them, Harry was at her side in a second. “Are you alright?” He asked in a panic.
“Of course I’m not alright, you buffoon,” Ginny groaned through gritted teeth. She began to sob. Harry had never seen her sob so pathetically in her life, but refrained from sharing this with her. He was fairly confident thinking such things made him a terrible person. But all this whining and weeping and carrying on was hardly characteristic of Ginny…
“How many minutes was that?” Molly gently asked from beside him, patting Ginny’s shoulder supportively.
“I don’t know, I haven’t been keeping track.” Ginny replied grumpily, sounding slightly more human.
“Settle in, dear,” Molly gave Harry a comforting smile as she headed for the door, “We’ve still got quite a while to go.” Smiling tearfully at Ginny, she was gone.
“Don’t say that,” Ginny whimpered.
Harry conjured up a chair. Sitting down, he brushed the hair out of her eyes and gave her hand a squeeze. He felt useless, but tried his best to sound reassuring, “You’ll be fine, it’ll be over soon.”
Obviously, he wasn’t very convincing.
“You’re not allowed to comment!” Ginny cried, squeezing his hand back with three times the force, not to mention digging her fingernails in for extra effect. Harry refused to let the pain he was feeling show on his face. So this was to be his job - he was Ginny’s pincushion. He would have to endure her widely-feared wrath. Harry steeled himself, he knew he could do that - hadn’t he endured Umbridge in fifth year? And it wasn’t like she was going to Crucio him…
“Never again. You’re never touching me ever again. You can have the couch, the floor, I don’t mind. Cuddle up to Kreacher, for all I care!” She twisted moodily away from him, woefully taking in ragged breaths.
Harry could hear steps on the creaky stairway, much too hasty to belong to Molly. Hermione swept in, vigorously searching through her beaded bag. She was so consumed with this task she failed to acknowledge the couple before her. “Where… is… aha!” She looked up triumphantly, breaking into an ecstatic grin on seeing Ginny. “Oh my goodness, it’s really happening!”
When Ginny offered only a glare in response, she looked to Harry, who could only muster a weak smile in return. Taken aback briefly, Hermione quickly got to work. Conjuring up her own chair, she began to ramble, “I came as quick as I could. I was at work. Ron’s here too, downstairs. He wanted to know if there was any blood yet.” She leant towards the open door before shouting out, “You can come up!”
She sounded an audible ‘tut-tut’ as she turned her attention back to Ginny’s sprawling body.
“What’s that?” Ginny asked suddenly, her eyes widening in alarm.
“Oh this? Hermione replied, holding up that which she had been scouring her beaded bag for, a vial of silvery liquid. “Draught of Peace, your mum asked me to make it up.” Hermione had obviously noticed Ginny’s wide-eyed horror, “Just in case!”
And Ginny snapped.
“No way! You can’t make me! I won’t have my baby come out scaly or three-legged or green!” She looked to Harry to back her up. He floundered before giving the eye to Hermione; surely she knew better to tempt her fate and challenge Ginny on this.
“But,” Hermione started. Harry let out a weary sigh. “Surely Molly wouldn’t ask me to prepare a potion that would cause you any harm. I’ve got all sorts of things in here,” There was a clink of glass as she lifted her bag. “Some dittany, a blood-replenishing potion-”
Harry was somewhat surprised by Ginny’s reaction. Instead of biting Hermione’s head off, she turned to Harry and said with unexpected serenity, “Don’t worry, Harry, I’m going to kill Hermione too.”
“Oi, no-one’s killing my wife today.” Ron had appeared in the doorway. Harry didn’t have to look at Ginny to imagine the vicious daggers she was shooting him. “Anyway, I thought you were supposed to be having a baby.” Ron remarked, almost disappointed.
“I’m trying.” Ginny spat sullenly.
Ron too took up a seat and the hours passes slowly. They managed to entertain themselves with a current copy of The Daily Prophet. Every seer in Britain had sent in their predictions about the already famous Potter baby – according to them, Harry and Ginny should expect an albino squib with early onset arthritis and a hunch.
Ginny continued to keel over in pain every so often. As the frequency of these outbursts increased, her former bedroom descended further and further into chaos; Albert the pigmypuff’s cage had shattered, pillows had torn themselves apart, a quaffle went flying around the room. The contractions were moments apart when Ron fled the room, fearing blood and for his own life as a lantern exploded. He joined the majority of the Weasley family who had assembled downstairs.
“Are you sure?” Hermione pleaded as Ginny began to wail from the pain. “This is ridiculous, you’re in pain!”
“NO POTIONS!” Ginny screeched, clutching to Harry’s arm for dear life, nearly breaking it in the process.
Harry felt helpless; he hadn’t a clue what was going on. Hermione looked ready to faint as her head darted from hysterical Ginny to Molly and back again. Fortunately, Molly was keeping a professional, level head - though she wasn’t able to contain her obvious joy. “Right, this is it!” she warned, beaming and tear-sodden, “Push!”
Harry was quite sure his heart was pounding so fast it would leap out of his chest at any given moment; he felt sick to his knotted stomach and had lost feeling in his fingers thanks to Ginny’s deathly grip.
“I-hate-you-so-much-right-now!” Ginny growled. To her left, Hermione was keeping a mantra of “Breathe, breathe, breathe…” but Harry got the impression this was more for her own benefit than Ginny’s.
Clutching Harry violently, Ginny let out a tortured scream, one that was immediately echoed by their newborn baby. The sound rang out and echoed in Harry’s ears.
Molly was weeping as she swaddled the infant in a blanket, her tergeo spell barely audible through her happy tears. Ginny collapsed onto the bed, exhausted as Hermione too broke down crying.
“A boy,” Molly managed through her tears as she cautiously passed the baby to a trembling Harry.
Harry’s chest, already close to exploding, seemed to expand tenfold. He too found himself crying as he gazed down at the tiny bundle in his arms. Unthinkingly, he found himself seated beside Ginny on the bed and the pair of them sat gaping at their little creation. So dazzled by him where they, they failed to notice both Molly and Hermione exit the room.
“James,” Ginny whispered, awestruck.
“James Sirius Potter,” Harry responded, leaning over to kiss his exhausted wife.
There wasn’t a knot in his stomach to be felt.
With breakfast over, Kreacher appeared from his den in the kitchen cupboard to help Ginny with the dishes. Appearances like these were the best one could hope when it came to Kreacher. Harry didn’t expect very much of him these days; Kreacher was weary in his old age and had retired into a state of general hibernation after a traumatic period in which Lily had used him for dressing-up purposes.
Harry didn’t think it best to subject his children to Kreacher’s less than friendly language and manner for much longer, either.
Harry headed upstairs to bring down Albus’ trunk. After the long trek to the third floor, Harry came to a halt at the doorway of Albus’ room.
Albus was thoughtfully collecting some of the photographs that were pinned to his noticeboard, along with Quidditch tickets and newspaper clippings. Harry noticed that his son had paused to look at an old photograph of his cousin Rose and himself on the shoulders of their fathers at their very first Quidditch match. A shadow of a smile crossed Albus’ face and he let out a nervous sigh.
There was a flicker of green flames and Hermione appeared in the kitchen fireplace, a determined yet exasperated look plastered across her face.
“You’re lucky to have Rose,” Harry remarked from the doorway.
Hermione didn’t pause to dust off her sooty robes. “I’m pregnant. Have you seen Ron?”
Author's Note: Well, that was fun! Harry cried! I didn't want to do it, but it fits - don't you think? I'm pretty happy with this chapter. What do you think? (*wink wink*, please review!) Sorry about the delay, I've had this written for ages but couldn't upload it because I had something else in validation (*wink wink* check that one out as well!) Thank you again for reading and reviewing. I reached 100 reviews with the last chapter and that made my day, week, month! And those people who review everytime are my absolute heroes. Thanks guys x
Chapter 10: Heart to Hearts
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All Was Well
Heart to Hearts
“Congratulations!” Harry responded enthusiastically.
“What do you mean, ‘have you seen Ron?’” Ginny replied, with the usual air of exasperation she used when speaking of her brother. Fortunately, Hermione’s announcement immediately hit her, “I mean, congratulations!”
Hermione fell into the closest chair at the table. With wet cheeks and wild hair, she looked very much on the verge of tears as she dropped her head into her hands.
“I- I- told him this morning and he- he was alright,” Hermione stuttered. “A little peaky, but alright.” She paused pensively, before shaking her head in distress. “We’ve discussed it; it’s what we wanted –” Harry was glad Hermione looked up to Ginny for an answer.
Ginny carefully passed James into Harry’s arms before dropping into the chair opposite Hermione. She clasped her hands together in a professional manner, cleared her throat and stated matter-of-factly, “You know just as well as I do that Ronald Weasley is absolutely hopeless.”
Hermione woefully let her head fall back onto her crossed arms now resting on the table.
“The miserable wart will be back, Hermione.”
“I know he will,” Hermione grumbled, without lifting her head, her voice muffled. “But-” She looked to Ginny, at a loss, tears welling in her eyes. “It’s not the best reaction, is it? He’s a grown man, for goodness' sake.” She slumped again, resting her chin on her arms.
Ginny sighed in resignation and looked pleadingly to Harry for help.
Seeing anyone upset always made Harry feel rather uncomfortable; he’d never been very skilled at offering comfort or advice. Duelling dark wizards, taking on magical creatures – that was a piece of cake in comparison. Tears were something else altogether…
But this was Hermione, Harry reminded himself, and the person causing all her suffering was Ron. The least he could do was try.
“When was the last time you saw him?” Harry asked, lowering James into his cradle. He gave it a tap with his wand and it began to swing of its own accord. James gave a happy gurgle.
“An hour ago, maybe two. I told him and he went pale as a ghost, almost green. ‘That’s brilliant,’” Hermione did a poor imitation of her husband’s voice, making him sound like an oafish baritone. “’It’s good’ he kept saying,” She shook her head. “He was okay – and then he muttered something about sorting out the Nargles or something and apparated.”
“Nargles?” Ginny asked, bemused.
“I let him go,” Hermione said glumly. “He wanted to go,”
Ginny watched Hermione sadly. She turned to Harry with half-hearted hope. “Any idea where he might be?”
Harry got up from the sideboard on which he had been leaning and picked up his coat decidedly. “A few.” He grimaced, pull his arms through the sleeves of his coat. He pecked Ginny on the cheek, gave James a pat in his cradle and smiled weakly to miserable Hermione, offering her a look he hoped she would recognise as meaning ‘I’ll sort this out.’
His first stop was The Hog’s Head. If Ron was looking for privacy, that would have to be the ideal hideout. But a quick scan of the grimy pub proved Ron wasn’t there. After a moment of enduring Aberforth’s usual complaints about Harry’s absence and the declining state of his business, Harry apparated to his second and nearest guess, The Three Broomsticks. Ron was not in sight there either. Too many Hermione-related memories, Harry assumed.
But then it occurred to Harry that perhaps Ron hadn’t opted to escape to a pub. For a moment, Harry thought himself a bad friend for just assuming that Ron would want to drown his sorrows. But the thought that Ron should be upset about Hermione’s pregnancy suddenly frustrated Harry immensely and he quickly realised that nicking off to a pub was exactly the sort of thing Ron would do, having found himself in a stressful situation – and Harry knew exactly where he would be able to find him.
The Leaky Cauldron would have to be the first pub to come to mind for any wizard. Sure enough, after apparating directly Harry had no problem finding Ron in amongst the numerous other patrons - his vibrant red hair drawing Harry’s attention immediately.
Ron was hunched over on his barstool, a Firewhiskey visible in his hand. Harry reluctantly offered a few nods and weak smiles to a couple of familiar faces, not to mention the countless unfamiliar ones - as was usually the case in public places, Harry being the celebrity that he was. The wizarding world would always idolise Harry, and no matter what the personal crisis was, Harry would always repay them their gratitude with polite friendliness and basic courtesies.
Feeling the eyes follow him through the pub, Harry made his way to the bar, falling onto the stool beside his best friend. Ron seemed to acknowledge Harry’s presence wordlessly, yet he failed to meet his eyes. He took a swig of Firewhiskey before finally addressing his friend.
“I’m a terrible person.” Ron mumbled, still avoiding Harry’s gaze.
“Probably,” Harry replied, at a loss. This is what he had anticipated, Ron’s usual self-deprecating rant. He’d let him go on for a bit, let him get it out of his system – before carefully and firmly telling him what a selfish, idiotic prat he was being.
“Hermione doesn’t deserve a git like me.” Ron continued morosely.
“True.” Harry responded. This was going to get boring very quickly.
“Don’t know why she ever put up with me in the first place.”
Fortunately, a flustered looking Hannah Abbott appeared behind the bar – saving Harry from Ron’s ramblings.
“Harry! Good to see you!” Hannah smiled distractedly, pouring an amber liquid into a number of goblets.
“You too,” Harry returned the smile, happy to find a distraction from Ron the Morose. “How’s business? Neville?”
“Not too bad on both accounts.” Hannah replied happily. “How’s Ginny and that beautiful baby of yours?” she asked, while dispersing the goblets to customers along the bar.
Ron visibly deflated at the mention of baby James. Harry glared at him momentarily, before replying cheerfully to Hannah, “Wonderful, thanks for asking.”
“What can I get you today then?”
Harry looked from Ron’s half-empty Firewhiskey bottle to Ron’s depressing, groggy figure dolefully. “Let’s make it a butterbeer, thanks.” He asked with a sheepish grin to Hannah.
A commotion by the entrance drew away her focus, a throng of rowdy-looking Quidditch fans, clad in the team of colours of Puddlemere United had just appeared. “If you’ll just excuse me,” she asked Harry apologetically, but not before placing a welcome butterbeer bottle on the bar for him.
Harry took a swig before turning on Ron. “Where were we? Oh right, you’re a terrible person.”
“She’s better off without me.”
Harry was filled with an unexpected spark of anger. “Don’t you ever say that,” He warned, surprised at the threatening tone of his own voice. “Not ever, but especially not now.” He glared darkly at Ron, who was altogether taken aback by Harry’s harsh stance.
“But-” Ron began weakly, ever so slightly intimidated by Harry’s reaction.
“No,” Harry stated resolutely, his calmness returning slowly. Ron was sounding a lot like Lupin had all those years ago – and without any justifiable excuse. At least Lupin was a werewolf, there was a war going on and he had wanted to keep his family safe. But Ron had no excuses. Ron was chickening out under the pressure - still caught up in his own ego-bashing ways.
“Under no circumstances is she better off without you.” Harry angrily pointed out, “It seems to me you’ve forgotten something in all of this. It’s not just about you and her anymore, there’s someone else involved; someone who doesn’t get a say. There’s no way I’m letting you walk away-”
“I wasn’t really going to-” Ron retorted hastily, visibly horrified by what Harry was suggesting.
Deep down, Harry knew this was true. Realistically, Ron wasn’t about to abandon Hermione. It was blatantly clear to everyone that he worshipped the ground she walked on. Emotionally stable or not, Ron loved his wife and there was nothing that stood between him and his family.
It slowly occurred to him that perhaps, he had over-reacted slightly. It wouldn’t be the first time… “Yeah, well, I should think so.” He muttered crossly, turning back to the bar.
By the looks of it, his rant seemed to have had some effect on Ron. Visibly shaken, he guiltily turned back to face the bar as well and the pair sat in a strained silence for a moment.
It was a while before either of them spoke. It was Ron who broke the silence. “I’m scared.” He conceded in a small voice, not meeting Harry’s eyes.
Harry turned slowly to face him and patiently waited for Ron to continue.
“I’m hopeless at everything, Harry.” Ron murmured sadly, “I’m bound to find some way to mess this up. The poor kid doesn’t stand a chance.”
“Ron, it’s only natural to feel that way.” Harry told him gently, “You think I wasn’t scared?” Harry asked incredulously, but not unkindly.
“But-” Ron argued weakly, staring into his empty glass.
“But what?” Harry asked wearily.
“You’re Harry Potter.” Ron muttered quietly. Harry sighed in frustration. “And I’m Ron Weasley. Hopeless Ron Weasley...”
Harry desperately tried to formulate some sort of response to this. It was all very well to plainly tell Ron to deal with his ridiculous insecurities and move on, but in the end it was up to Ron to take that step. Harry didn’t think there was anything he could say to make Ron see clearly just how capable a human being he was.
Then a different approach came to him, “Hermione’s an intelligent witch, isn’t she?” Harry asked unexpectedly. Ron looked puzzled, but Harry continued, “Nobody forced her into this, nobody backed her into a corner – which has to mean it’s what she wanted.” Ron was following, but only just. His brow was furrowed in concentration. “Hermione always knows what she’s doing.” Harry stated plainly. “Which says to me that she has nothing but absolute faith in you.”
Harry was relieved to see realisation finally dawn on Ron’s blank face. “Now all we need is for you to stop being a prat and do the same.”
They sat in contemplative silence, Harry finishing off his drink. He could see the cogs turning in Ron’s head as he thought it all over. Eventually, a smile began to appear on his lips, growing gradually into a contented grin.
Ron turned abruptly towards Harry, “How old does a kid have to be to fly a broom?”
* * * * *
“I want another one.”
Harry snaked his arms around Ginny from behind. She had just come in from putting James down to sleep.
“Another one?” Ginny exclaimed, taken aback. Nevertheless, she hugged his arms with her own.
“I like them.”
“Alright,” Ginny turned around to face him, wrapping her arms around him. “We can always try,” She teased, adding with a wicked grin, “You won’t get any complaints from me.”
Author's Note: Wow, I am getting through them quick lately! I really like this chapter, I'm about 95% happy with it. It was long too! Usually, I don't like posting a new chapter until I've made a reasonable dent on the next one, but due to high demand, I thought I'd put it out there sooner rather than later.
Five points to Skateblinder for guessing the plot to this chapter exactly right out of nowhere. Nice divination skillz!
Next chapter shouldn't be too far off, I'm feeling especially creative these days... Feel free to hit me up on my Meet the Author page or leave a review if you have anything at all to say. Tell me your favourite chapter so far or your favourite colour, anything, I don't mind. I love it all. Thanks guys! And keep reviewing! x
PS. It's Chapter 4 and green for me. :-)
PPS. Almost 10,000 views - OMG! *dies just a little bit*
Chapter 11: Announcements and Apologies
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All Was WellChapter 11
Announcements and Apologies
An unexpected warmth spread over Harry’s back; light pooling, he presumed, from the open window. Of course, he was far too groggy to open his eyes to check. It was a Saturday morning; there was no need to exert himself.
As he reluctantly succumbed to consciousness, Harry noticed his arm was not draped over Ginny as was usually the case, but resting where she should have been lying. The place was still warm, so she couldn’t be far off. The quiet sound of a door clicking closed suggested she was in the bathroom.
Harry basked in the moment’s peace. Thankfully, James was an unnaturally fervent fan of sleeping. In his semi-conscious state, Harry both thanked his lucky stars that this provided him with the occasional sleep-in and hoped that this would not become a distinguishing characteristic of his son. Harry Potter’s son, the narcoleptic…
Who knows how long Harry’s bleary mind had been wandering, when he heard the bathroom door swing open.
Ginny’s voice sounded loud. Not angry, just loud. It had been so peaceful...
What was she talking about? What was she late for? They had planned to take Teddy and James to the Quidditch that afternoon, but the game didn’t start until three, and it could hardly have been later than nine – maybe ten o’clock at the very latest.
Harry could only offer a grunt of confusion. He immediately felt Ginny sink down onto the bed beside him. She had picked up his absent hand and placed it on her tummy.
A grin spread feverishly over his face as realisation speedily hit him. Suddenly filled with energy that seemed to have come from nowhere, he rose, clumsily searching for his glasses.
The wry, wicked smile plastered on Ginny’s face came into clear view. “Nicely done, Mr and Mrs Potter.” Harry remarked, before wiping that smirk off her face the best way her knew how - with a kiss.
* * * * *
“You look awful,” Ginny remarked, her tone dripping with disgust. She had reason to be disgusted; Ron was covered in oozing pustules from head to toe, his nose bright red from excessive sneezing and he squirmed compulsively from the incessant pins and needles. This was Hermione’s handy work. It was hardly surprising to anyone that knew the couple that despite being wandless during childbirth, Hermione had cursed Ron into all but oblivion.
Ron let out a pitiful moan in response to Ginny’s comment, while a petite Healer fussed with a chart.
“Stop whining,” Ginny chastised, “It’s not like you haven’t had worse.”
“It’s not that,” Ron grumbled. “I want to see my baby.” He couldn’t help but smile, despite his injuries. This only distorted his already gruesome appearance. “Did you see her, Harry? Isn’t she the prettiest baby you ever saw?” He continued to gush through gritted teeth, “I mean, every dad thinks their baby’s the best, but my baby really is. No offence, mate,” In between squirms he gestured half-heartedly to James, asleep in Harry’s arms. Ginny rolled her eyes. “And red hair! A true Weasley!”
“What are you trying to say?” Ginny responded crossly, “James is less of a Weasley because he has black hair? Really, Ron!”
Harry thought this family row would make a good excuse for a discreet exit. Already, they’d been at St Mungo’s an hour, waiting to be seen – since Ron’s ailments were hardly life threatening. Ron's pustules were starting to make him feel sick.
Harry shifted James’ weight in his arms, before gently cutting in; Ginny was saying something about Ron’s brains seeping out of his open wounds when Harry interjected, “Maybe I’ll go get some drinks. Tea?”
Ginny nodded half-heartedly, fully absorbed in the argument.
Harry breathed a sigh of relief upon leaving the bustling ward, happy to be away from the dispute. James resting on his should, he meandered lazily down the corridor, in the direction of the lifts. What with the tumultuous events of his school days, Ginny's Quidditch career and his own work-related injuries, Harry knew the place like a back of his hand. Consequently, he frequented the tearooms on the top floor quite regularly and was on first-name terms with all of the elderly ladies who worked there.
Fortunately, it was quite late at night by now, so the shadowy hallways were deserted for the most part. Harry only had to smile politely to two passing Healers, both overjoyed to have been so lucky as to have caught a glimpse of the Harry Potter.
So deserted were the corridors that Harry was surprised on turning a corner, to see a figure not dressed in the Healer’s dark green robes. Lurking in the shadows, the figure was leaning against the wall, obviously upset. As Harry approached, he inwardly decided to see if he could offer any assistance. But there was something familiar about this person, with blonde slicked-back hair…
“Malfoy?” Harry had to make a concerted effort not to drop James, he was so shocked.
“Potter?” Malfoy whispered in disbelief. He looked up from where he had been leaning against the wall as if caught in the act. He immediately tried to steel himself, shaking his head and straightening up.
Harry studied Malfoy’s face. They were still a good yard off; for a moment Harry’s Auror training got the better of him and his caution took hold. But on scanning Malfoy’s pointed face, the red, panic-stricken eyes immediately alerted Harry to some kind of problem.
“It’s been – years.” Harry began, still observing Malfoy carefully as he moved forwards.
“Don’t sound too pleased to see me,” Malfoy drawled, those his voice was choked. Harry noticed his teary eyes were resting in suspicion on James’ back.
“What are you doing here?” Harry asked, completely bemused at the sheer chance of running into Draco Malfoy of all people on this of all trips to St Mungo’s.
Malfoy was covering his mouth with his hand in contemplation. Harry imagined that Malfoy, too, was completely taken aback by the chance meeting. Malfoy reluctantly pulled his hand away from his face, wrapping it around his torso protectively. “It’s – It’s my wife,” He muttered, not meeting Harry’s eyes and slinking back into shadow to lean against the wall. “She just had a baby. My son.” The was a glimmer of a smile, a hint of a laugh though he was obviously shaken. “She’s fine, we think… but there were… complications.”
“And your son?” Harry wouldn’t wish that kind of experience on anyone, not even Malfoy.
“Fine, fine. Wonderful...” Malfoy allowed himself a smile this time, and even met Harry’s eyes before his gaze fell on James again. “But Astoria – well, she hasn’t woken up yet. Mother – she was panicked… she went a little overboard with the Draught, it was an accident…” Malfoy looked up suddenly to Harry, his face twisted in disdain. “Why am I telling you this?”
“You tell me,” Harry replied with a shrug.
Malfoy glowered at the floor moodily, scuffing it with his impeccable dragon-hide boots. There was a brief silence, while both men struggled with conversation. What was there to be said?
“What are you doing here?” Malfoy asked eventually, more as an afterthought than a genuine question.
“Hermione cursed the life out of Ron.” Harry replied curtly, cautious to give away too much information. It struck him as odd that he still felt so uncomfortable in Malfoy’s presence, but he figured that old habits died hard. He’d spent years hating and distrusting the man. But so much time had past and Malfoy had been at least civil the last time they had met at Ron and Hermione’s wedding – Harry felt slightly ashamed that he hadn’t been able to let his guard down, especially since Malfoy was being so uncharacteristically open.
Malfoy nodded solemnly, suppressing a smirk and pursing his lips as though he was trying his best to keep from commenting. Something about being poor or the Mudblood, no doubt…
Harry shrugged, seeing no point in furthering this bizarre meeting. “Well…” he began, but noticed Malfoy’s eyes once again on James’ back. Surprisingly, the look in Malfoy’s eyes was not disgust, as Harry had anticipated, but mild interest.
“This is James, by the way.” Harry told him casually, catching his eye.
Malfoy grimaced, as if caught out once again. He shoved his hands in his pockets, “Scorpius,” He muttered in response. “My son is called Scorpius.”
Was this a peace offering, sharing this with him? Harry was quite shocked; they weren’t, for once, biting each other’s heads off. There had barely been a jibe, an insult to be heard. Stunned, Harry thought this would be a good place to leave it and with a nod, made towards the end of the deserted, darkened hallway.
“Sorry- Thank you-” Malfoy called out to him.
Harry stopped dead in his tracks, not believing his ears. He turned around slowly. Malfoy was wearing a pained expression, his hands clutching at his forehead in regret or frustration, Harry wasn’t sure.
“Sorry thank you?” Harry asked, incredulous.
Malfoy’s hands fell from his forehead and he again clasped his mouth, daring not to speak. He begrudgingly pulled them away, and purposely met Harry’s eyes “For being a prat and saving my life…” He was barely audible, but his words rang in Harry’s ears.
Harry held his gaze for a long moment, daring to search for some semblance of sincerity there. Malfoy matched it, unwaveringly. He meant it.
Harry gulped, savouring the moment before considering his response. “I appreciate that.” He replied earnestly.
James began to stir and wriggled in his arms. Warily, Harry began to back away.
As he continued down the hallway, Harry’s only thoughts were of the future; the day when his children and Scorpius Malfoy would be at Hogwarts together. He solemnly prayed that James would never know the kind of petty, cruel rivalry that he had shared with Malfoy, nor the terrors that Harry had experienced during his years at school.
Author's Note: First of all, 11,000+ reads? Are you kidding me? That absolutely makes my day, week, month. Second, so much drama in my world right now, God knows how I managed to write this; I moved interstate, I had no internet and then my computer died - but has since come back to life! Very fitting for this time of year... Third, this took me two days to write. That's an all time record for me. I hope it was okay, it feels ever so slightly rushed... you tell me. It's shorter than the last chapter, which was my longest ever! Fourth, MALFOY! I told you he was coming back! What do you think? Not sure if he'll make another appearance, I think all that needed to be said has been said.
So maybe you could review?
Chapter 12: Bravery
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All Was Well
Excitement hung in the already heavy, humid Greek air. They were surrounded by a sea of people, the tent city a hub for eager Quidditch fans.
It seemed the spectators were once again split quite equally; half the mass bedecked in the home side’s team colours of royal blue and white the other half opted for Ireland’s green and orange.
Harry wearily hammered the last of the tent’s pegs into the ground. Wiping his sweaty brow with the back of his hand, he stood back to admire his handy work before turning around to take in the spectacular views of the sparkling sea and clear blue skies. It was an ideal location for this year’s World Cup, even if the heat was sweltering.
With a drained sigh, he ventured inside the tent. It was his latest toy, much bigger than the infamous tent from his year on the run had been, and twice as flashy. Ginny called the tent his ‘indulgence’; he’d had it custom made in scarlet and gold with three bedrooms and a spacious living area which was at present occupied by the rest of their party.
“Ron,” Hermione chided from the kitchenette where she was preparing lunch, “I told you to help Harry with the pegs.”
Ron was sprawled out across one of the sofa with baby Rose resting on his chest. He was a picture of holiday sluggishness, dressed in shorts, singlet and sunglasses. “Huh?” He grunted in response, shaking his head groggily, “Well, looks like he’s finished now,” Ron replied with a nonplussed shrug.
Harry glared at him half heartedly, scooping up James from where he had been playing on the floor. He fell onto the other sofa where a heavily pregnant Ginny was struggling to remain upright in order to engage in a game of Gobstones with Teddy.
“I’m going to win,” Teddy confessed gravely as Ginny took her turn.
“He is,” Ginny sighed. “Looks like I’ve lost the knack. I used to be good at this.” She leant her head against Harry, trailing off, “I used to be able to see my toes as well...”
Teddy knocked the last Gobstone out of the ring with a guilty smile.
“Champion!” Harry congratulated Teddy, clapping him on the back.
“Right, well I might as well be useful.” Ginny groaned as she pulled herself up from the sofa. “Hermione, do you need any hel-”
Ginny buckled over, crying out in agony.
“Something is wrong.” She whispered.
Harry was already at her side, looking for some indication of what was causing Ginny this pain.
“Labour,” Ginny murmured, breathless.
“But,” Hermione protested from close beside them. “It’s much too early, a month too early.”
“There has to be a Mediwizard around here somewhere!” Ron cried, verging on hysterical. Rose began to cry.
“No, Ron. Didn’t you read any of the books I gave you?” Hermione demanded in exasperation, taking the screaming child from Ron.
“Yes – some!” Ron replied shortly, affronted.
Hermione rolled her eyes, bobbing Rose up and down to calm her as Ron and Harry took either of Ginny’s arms and lifted her back onto the sofa. “Labour for witches is bad at the best of times,” She explained. “But in premature cases, the anxiety and trauma of it all only aggravates the situation. The severity of Uncontrollable Magical Projections doubles!” Ginny stared at her in horror. “You need to get to St Mungo’s. Now.”
Harry’s heart was racing. It wasn’t right, it was too soon, and they were so far away from Britain. Would it be alright, coming this early? And how on earth were they going to get to St Mungo’s?
Harry looked from Ron to Hermione in search of answers, when his eyes fell on Teddy who had been holding a struggling James since Harry had rushed to Ginny’s aid. Terrified, the eight-year-old’s bottom lip quivered in fear.
Harry swallowed hard, making a decision; he managed to tear himself away from Ginny’s side to search for an official, someone who would know something about Portkeys. They were all the way out here Greece, there was no way they would be able to apparate with Ginny in such a condition, and there wasn’t a fireplace for miles…
Barely a second had passed before Harry caught sight of a Cup official in magenta robes embroidered with the international Quidditch league’s emblem a few tents away. Harry fought through the crowed with Ron at his heel, ignoring the gasping and pointing, until he reached the squat official.
“I need a Portkey!”
“I’m sorry, sir, the returning Portkeys won’t be available until after the match.” The official replied, with infuriating bureaucratic politeness.
“But there’s an emergency!” Harry exclaimed, his voice rising in aggravation.
“I’m sorry, but the Portkey service has been organised to run on a strict schedule-”
“We need to get to St Mungo’s!” Ron shouted, livid. He looked very much on the verge of punching the man.
“Why not apparate?” The official asked bemusedly, unaffected by Ron’s intimidating glare.
“My sister’s gone into labour!” Ron cried, “We need a Healer!”
Harry’s frustration was reaching greater and greater heights. “Merlin, don’t you know who I am?”
Gradual recognition dawned on the little man. “Of- of course I do!” He suddenly looked flustered and extremely embarrassed, as the realisation that their heated conversation had drawn the attention of the crowd at large. “Well- well, I’ll- I’ll have Timmins work something out. Give me a second!” He scurried off into the crowd.
Harry and Ron raced back to the tent. Inside, they found a stony-faced Hermione, Rose in tow, tending to Ginny who was distraught with panic. Across from them, Teddy hadn’t moved an inch.
Harry rushed over to his wife, kneeling down beside her. “They’re sending someone. Organising a Portkey. It’s okay.”
“How?” Ginny asked through gritted teeth, wincing.
“No one turns down Harry Potter.” Ron replied from Hermione’s side.
“You pulled the Harry Potter card!?” Ginny cried.
Faster than they could have ever expected, the short official burst into the tent accompanied by another magenta-clad wizard, presumably Timmins.
“Mr Potter, sir, we have a Portkey to St Mungo’s, sir.” Wiry Timmins eyed Harry and Ginny with a mix of adoration and tremendous fear while the other, annoying official lingered in the background. “It leaves in-” Timmins checked his prominent golden watch momentarily, “Fifty seven seconds.” He thrust forward the rusted tin can in his hands and smiled sheepishly.
Harry took hold of the Portkey appreciatively, muttered some thanks and set to work orchestrating this task as he would any Auror mission. “Ron, Hermione, stay here with the kids,”
“But-” Ron began, but was immediately cut off by Harry.
“Come as soon as you can.” Harry continued forcefully, before locking eyes with Teddy, who was still bravely holding James. “It’s going to be okay, Ted.” Harry told him emphatically, willing himself to believe his own words. Teddy nodded solemnly, frowning.
“You have ten-” Timmins began to count down, “Nine-”
Ginny was already holding onto the mangy can. “It’s going to be alright,” Harry repeated gravely, before they were whisked away by the Portkey, Ginny letting out a pained moan.
They landed softly in the St Mungo’s waiting room.
Harry raced to the welcome desk, leaving Ginny to fall into the closest chair. Wide-eyed and open-mouthed, the Welcome Witch behind the counter listened to Harry’s brief, panicked account of their situation. Anticipating the worst, she called for a Mediwitch to escort them up to Spell Damage on Level 4.
“I’m sorry, Mr Potter, but you’ll have to stay here.” The doe-eyed Mediwitch informed Harry reluctantly on approaching an intimidating set of large oak doors. She spoke to him in that half-reverent, half-fearful manner that was beginning to drive Harry quite mad. “You’ll be allowed to come in once the situation is under control.”
Harry barely had time to give Ginny’s hand a tight squeeze, meeting her anxious eyes with what he hoped looked like stoic reassurance, before the Mediwitch pushed her wheelchair through the doors and out of sight.
Twenty minutes passed, but it felt to Harry like it had been a torturous hour. The brassy, arm-laden clock on the wall ticked cruelly on, mocking Harry’s agony with every one of its ceaseless ticks.
Harry, sitting in the chair closest to the doors, tried to practice Legilimency on Healers that came and went through the doors. His attempts were in vain; a combination of their minds being a tangled web of images and his own troubled state of mind made it altogether impossible to see clearly.
The Healers were providing him little information, insisting over and over that he calm down, that the situation was under control. Harry was very, very close to throttling the lot of them.
Feeling completely helpless, Harry had begun to pace when Ron and Hermione came racing down the corridor. “What’s going on?” Ron asked, somewhat short of breath. Hermione placed a reproachful hand on his arm, looking to Harry with thoughtful enquiry.
Harry muttered an explanation, bemoaning his frustration at the lack of information and sank into the nearest chair.
“Neville arrived just after you left.” Hermione explained, falling into the vacant chair beside him.” He’s packed up the tent. Hannah’s taking the kids to Andromeda’s.”
Harry felt the slightest tinge of relief, that the kids were okay and that perhaps he hadn’t scarred Teddy for life with this frightening ordeal – the look on Teddy’s face had been enough to convince him that this was a possibility. Harry mumbled some thanks that he hoped sounded heartfelt, rubbing his eyes in frustration.
They sat in edgy silence.
“What are you three doing here?”
Harry looked up, drawn from the buzzing jumble of words that were currently making up his thoughts. He wasn’t sure how long the three of them had been sitting there. He was altogether surprised to see Katie Bell, clad in her dark green Healer robes, approaching them from down the hall.
Harry jadedly got to his feet. “Katie,” he greeted her, manners failing him at this time. “Ginny’s gone into labour – prematurely.”
His anguish must have been written all over his face, because Katie grimaced solemnly before placing a reassuring hand on his arm. She seemed to switch to professional mode, “Happens all the time,” She said with a gentle smile. “Really, she’ll be fine. Most likely, they’ll give her something to subdue the magic for a bit, fill her up with nutrients and the like and she’ll be done in no time.” Harry’s heartbeat slowed ever so slightly in relief. “Magic works wonders…” She concluded.
Hermione burst into full fact-finding action, finally having a brain to pick. “Why did it happen? She’s a month early.”
“Stress,” Katie suggested, “Heat, exertion,”
“We were at the World Cup, in Greece,” Ron interjected ardently, eager to help.
“Maybe you’ve got a keen Quidditch fan on your hands!” Katie joked to Harry, who permitted a small smile. “Anyway, I must get going - seems everyone goes a little mad with the Cup game approaching.”
“Thank you,” Harry said sincerely.
“I’m glad I could help,” Katie replied with a smile, continuing on down the hallway.
“Mr Potter! Mr Potter!” The same childlike Mediwitch from earlier came bursting through the dreaded oak doors, clutching something made of bright orange fabric in her hands. “She’s about to deliver! You’ll need to put this on,” She instructed, thrusting the phosphorescent cloak into his hands. He recognised the emblem on the tag, it was a shield cloak designed and manufactured by none other than Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.
“How is she? Is she alright?” Harry demanded, tugging the cloak on over his shorts and t-shirt.
“She’s doing fine!” The Mediwitch chirped, evidently pleased with herself at the opportunity to provide the Harry Potter with good news. “Please hurry, sir!”
With encouraging smiles from Ron and Hermione, Harry followed her through the doors into the operating chamber. Like the rest of the St Mungo’s building, the stone walls were covered in a sterile whitewash; Ginny, with her cheeks just as red as her flaming hair stood out from where she was lying on a bed in the centre of the room. It became very apparent that the room had a very efficient silencing charm in place, as the cries that were being issued by Ginny had gone altogether unheard from the corridors.
But Harry wasn’t disturbed by this, enthused rather, as the scene reminded him so very much of James’ birth. The trauma of getting there, of the excruciating waiting seemed like a distant memory; Harry’s anxiety abandoned him, all traces of stress going out the window.
Everything happened very fast; no sooner had Harry reached Ginny’s side, the Healer was instructing Ginny to push. The blissful howls of their newborn baby rang out around the room.
Someone thrust a goblet of tonic into Ginny’s hands and she drank as a Healer took to the baby with a wand, taking a few measurements and checking for any problems.
It was a few moments before the faceless Healer brought their son over to them. Ginny took him in her arms, and the couple sat in awed silence for a minute. The poor thing was tiny, but already it was clear he was the spitting image of Harry.
Ginny gently stroked his fragile cheek. “You’ve been so brave.” She murmured weakly.
“Brave,” Harry concurred, thinking. Then it struck him. “Albus…?” he suggested.
Ginny gave a questioning smile, wrinkling her nose. “Albus,” She agreed, grinning. “Albus Severus,” She continued matter-of-factly, before meeting Harry’s eye pointedly.
Harry completed her thought for her, “The bravest men I ever knew.”
Author's Note: LONGEST CHAPTER EVER! I'm in awe of those authors who can pump out massive chapters, so for me 2000+ words is a big deal. Not much else from me, I'm going through a big writing phase at the moment and loving writing this story. Thanks so much to all the wonderful people who review, especially those super awesome reviewers who leave a review for every chapter. Please keep them coming! xx
Chapter 13: Professional Development
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All Was Well
“You’re going to have the best time,” Harry remarked, joining his son over by his desk. The look on Albus’ face told Harry he needed to elaborate; Albus was in the habit of wrinkling his nose when he was doubtful - an all-too frequent occurrence. It wasn’t that he was an anxious or suspicious child; he had simply inherited his father’s knack for taking things very seriously.
Harry sighed, shoving his hands into his pockets. “Listen, you’ve got Rose. I’d have killed for a ready-made best friend getting onto that train for the first time…” Harry recalled nostalgically.
“Why?” Albus asked, eyes widening slightly in alarm.
“Well…” Harry struggled to find a way of phrasing his thoughts that was least likely to instil any more anxiety in his son. “Well, I was new to magic, I didn’t know what to expect.” Albus seemed to relax the tiniest bit. “Besides, you already know plenty of kids, plenty of people to show you around. Hagrid and Neville – Professor Longbottom to you now,” Harry corrected himself with a smile. “Then all your cousins; apart from Rose, there’s Lou, Dom, Molly-” Harry ran through his mental list of nieces and nephews, “And Victoire’s a prefect, she’ll look after you.”
Albus squirmed at the thought of being ‘looked after’.
“And of course there’s Jame-”
“Don’t say James!” Albus protested, visibly disgusted at the very thought of his big brother helping him out. “He’s the worst part.”
“Nonsense,” Harry scoffed, picking up some stray socks and scarf and lazily tossing them into Albus’ trunk. “Besides, he picks on you and all we need is an anonymous owl informing us of as much and he’ll spend Christmas in his bedroom.” He added with a smirk.
Albus grinned, throwing the last few of his knick-knacks and photos into the trunk.
Ruffling his son’s hair affectionately, Harry made for the door, adding as he left, “If your mother asks, I folded those socks…”
It was a Tuesday – Ginny’s favourite day of the week. People had stopped asking her about the previous weekend’s Quidditch results and she didn’t have to start making any formal predictions for the coming weekend’s match until Friday.
Harry mentally applauded his own diplomatic skills as he began down the stairs. No wonder he was so good at his job…
Consequently, she was in an abnormally cheerful mood for this time of day as she scooped mashed banana into Albus’ mouth. Across the table from them, James appeared to studying the banana’s cleaning properties – going to great lengths to rub it into the ancient tabletop.
Hastily throwing on his cloak, Harry considered the look on Mrs Black’s face – or rather the sound of her eardrum-piercing protests – had she been able to see James desecrate her beloved family heirlooms in such a manner. He didn’t take long to ponder this though; he’d overslept as it was and had only got out of bed very reluctantly, it being a Tuesday and all…
“I am so late…” Harry murmured, rushing to grab an apple from the fruit bowl. Shoving it in his pocket, he gave his boys an affectionate squeeze, avoiding the banana, and bent down to kiss Ginny goodbye.
“You’re Harry Potter, they’ll forgive you.” She replied with a smirk - to which Harry responded with a sly scowl. She was right; he could get away with murder just for being Harry-bloody-Potter. It drove him insane and she knew it.
Shaking his head, he gave her one last peck before apparating directly to the Ministry workers’ bathroom entrance.
Arriving in the Atrium, Harry briskly marched towards the lifts, weaving his way through the busy crowd. He was either too distracted by his tardiness or moving so fast that for once, Harry didn’t notice any of the usual awed looks or eager smiles of his co-workers.
Harry reached the lift just as the doors were closing. He suddenly found himself facing a lift full of Ministry employees all displaying the usual awed looks and eager smiles. Harry smiled sheepishly back, shuffling were he stood.
Strangely though, they continued to goofily stare on in reverent silence before one man, a warlock with a handlebar moustache, struck up the courage to speak. “Congratulations, sir. A real honour.” He said with a slight bow. A few of the other passengers muttered some words of support and best wishes as well.
Completely taken aback, Harry surveyed him sceptically for a moment, before murmuring some thanks in return.
Reaching the Second Floor, Harry proceeded down the corridor, now fully aware of every passerby’s nonsensical grinning. He found all this grinning rather irksome; it reminded him of his early days at the Ministry soon after the Final Battle, when every single Ministry official had felt the need to personally thank him, praise him or generally bask in his heroic presence. Grimacing solemnly at this strange and unsettling phenomenon, Harry pushed through the great doors to the Auror headquarters.
He was immediately inundated by well-wishing Aurors, Hit-Wizards, Ministry officials, clerks, Wizengamot members – and somewhere in the crowd a flash of red hair told him, Ron.
“Congratulations, Mr Potter!”
“We all knew it’d be you!”
“I’ve been saying it for years!”
“You’ll do wonders!”
Harry awkwardly pushed his way through the crowd, smiling bemusedly in response to the congratulations. His eyes fixed on his cubicle, where the same flash of red could still be seen amongst the crowd, Harry continued to nod and smile as he was patted on the back by Merlin-knows-who.
Eventually he reached his cubicle where Ron was leaning against his desk, arms folded, with a lazy grin playing on his mouth.
“You might have told me, mate!”
“Told you what?” Harry exclaimed in exasperation, throwing down his cloak and falling into his chair. His fans seemed to fall away, returning to their work, Harry noticed appreciatively.
“What do you think?” Ron asked, incredulous. Harry could only respond with the blankest of looks. Ron gaped. “You don’t know? Don’t you read the paper?”
Not this morning, he hadn’t. In fact, reading the paper was hardly a leisurely endeavour. Granted, as an Auror it was important to be up to date with news and current affairs – but at the same time the Prophet was filled with so much tripe and drivel about Harry’s personal life that some days, the headline alone put him off reading the paper all together.
He laughed it off for the most part; he had no secrets and Ginny knew it. She hadn’t been upset at all by the headline, ‘Potter’s Romantic Rendez-Vous with Mystery Blonde’ - the Mystery Blonde had turned out to be Luna, the ‘exclusive pictures’ showing the pair sharing a sandwich in the park across from the visitors’ entrance to the Ministry on one of Luna’s rare visits home.
But the press were relentless; Rita Skeeter had managed to slip through the cracks during the War and was now more or less at large, spreading gossip like wildfire. So it was no surprise to Harry that the entire wizarding world would know about whatever supposed achievement of his before he did.
“You really don’t know,” Ron uttered, bewildered. “Harry, you’ve been made-”
But before Harry could discover what it was that he’d been made, the oak doors burst open and Ginny - Albus on one hip and James at her heels - came racing down the passageway between cubicles, dodging startled Ministry workers like only a Quidditch player could. Harry’s heart swelled with pride to see James making progress with similar agility, the two-year-old keeping up easily with his nimble mother.
Harry barely managed a confused sideways glance at Ron before Ginny, grinning from ear to ear, tackled Harry in his chair, embracing him tightly while James clung to his leg.
“My husband, Head Auror!” She cried ecstatically.
“What?” Harry spluttered, his heart nearly stopping from the overwhelming combination of confusion and immense joy. “How?”
Ron picked up a copy of the Daily Prophet from his own desk and studied it nonchalantly, “According to our friend Rita, Robards is retiring – says he’d like to spend his old age in one piece.” He shrugged, as if this was somehoe debatably justifiable.
“And Kingsley’s appointed you,” Ginny beamed from where she still perched, Albus in her arms, on Harry’s knee. As usual she was oblivious to the attention she and her conspicuous entrance had claimed.
“Yeah,” Ron continued, reading from the paper, “‘During a late night meeting with retiring Auror Department Head Gawain Robards,’ – which the insect no doubt gatecrashed – ‘Shacklebolt praised Potter’s ongoing contribution to both the department and the area of defence against the Dark Arts as a whole. No doubt the new appointment will mean a hefty pay-rise for the already affluent Mr Potter…’ – and then she goes on to talk about the Italian made dragon hide boots Gin was seen wearing at the Canons game on the Saturday.”
“The closest those boots have come to Italy is when you spilt spaghetti on them, Ron.” Ginny piped, “They were yours, I’ve had them for years.”
Harry was only faintly listening, he was so overwhelmed with the prospect of such a significant promotion. What an opportunity, he mused, to bring about real change, real results. He thought ecstatically of his first briefing with Kingsley, of the information he would learn – and then all his excitement came crashing down thunderously around him as his heart sank.
All of this was speculation, he reminded himself bitterly. No-one had informed him personally of the promotion. To add to that, going by his own personal knowledge of Rita Skeeter’s record, he knew that she was possibly the least reliable source there was. He had every reason to believe she was making the whole thing up.
“I have to speak to Kingsley,” Harry murmured to himself, pensively. “No-one’s told me anything about this, why should I believe anything that vile witch has to say?”
Ginny had observed Harry’s absence from conversation and subsequent zone-out She studied him pointedly while prying fanged paper clips from James’ prying hands. “Don’t doubt yourself, Harry Potter,” she chided seriously. “Whether it comes from Rita Skeeter’s lips or not, you’re the best thing that ever happened to this department.”
“Oi, what does that make me? Dragon dung?” Ron bleated, offended. “Anyway, Harry, you can ask him yourself,” he said with a nod to the doorway, “Kingsley, he just came in.”
Harry looked down the passageway; indeed, Kingsley and a band of assistants were marching towards Harry’s cubicle.
“Listen, mate, I’ll leave you to it – but don’t go thinking this means I’ll be bringing you cups of tea or anything,” Ron added with serious warning. He disappeared behind the partition.
“Ginny, what a lovely surprise!”
Kingsley and his team, all scribbling away at notepads and ardently scrutinising watches, had rounded the corner.
“Good to see you, Kingsley.” Ginny replied happily, completely unperturbed to be seen perched on her husband’s knee before the Minister of Magic.
“Harry,” Kingsley greeted him with a knowing smile. “I believe congratulations are in order.” He raised his eyebrows jovially.
Harry dared himself to take this to be a confirmation of Rita’s proclamation. A broad grin spread across his face. “Is it true, sir?”
“I couldn’t think of a better person for the job,” Kingsley’s deep voice boomed and he beamed proudly, clapping Harry on the shoulder.
Ginny got up to retrieve James from underneath another Auror’s desk, allowing Harry to rise to Kingsley’s level. The warm, buzzing feeling was slowly but surely seeping back into Harry’s blood stream as he was overcome with joy. He shook his head, organising his thoughts. “And Rita-”
“I don’t know how she does it,” Kingsley sighed, with a half-hearted wave of his hand. “Well, I do-” He shrugged, “But she always manages to find her scoop anyway. But never mind, Harry. I look forward to working with you.” He added finally, extending a hand.
Harry shook it eagerly in response. “Same to you, Kingsley.”
Author's Note: Meh, that wasn't spectacular. It had to be written. I tried. Nevertheless, this chapter marked the 100th reader to favourite this story. I have to admit, I did a little happy dance when I saw that. I also have to give major, major props to Harry and Ginny, FriendofMolly, Phoenix Flames, siledubhghlase, kittikatlova, pottyandweezlbe89 and all of my super faithful, wonderful, amazing reviewers. (Sorry if you fill that category and I've forgotten you :-P) Keep them coming! x
Chapter 14: Next Generation
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All Was Well
Stepping out onto the third floor landing, Harry was accosted by Lily’s no-nonsense grimace of determination. She stood, hands on hips, clearly on a mission.
“No, you’re too young to go to Hogwarts.” Harry said automatically.
“Daddy,” Lily began with the utmost gravity, “Can Snuffles come to the station?”
Harry let out a weary sigh, “Can Snuffles come to the station, please?” He corrected her.
Taking this as a positive response, Lily’s plan of attack changed altogether. She instantly went into puppy-dog eyes mode. “Can Snuffles come to the station, please?” She asked sweetly.
“No.” Harry ignored Lily’s moan of annoyance. “Lily, you know what happened last time.”
“Yes,” she grumbled, with a Ginny-esque roll of the eyes.
Harry recalled all too well the disastrous consequences of taking Snuffles to Kings Cross last year; it involved a great deal of running, numerous apologies and ten quid in remuneration to the owner of the coffee cart that the mutt had overturned during the chase.
Harry could still remember that fateful day when they first brought the dog into their home. Harry had taken the children to play in the square across the road from Number 12. Someone had left a cardboard box on a park bench. Harry to this day could not remember what it was that made him go over to investigate the contents of the box, but he had consequently discovered a litter of regretfully adorable puppies.
Naturally, the children were overjoyed; but it was a three-year-old Lily who could not be parted from one in particular. She named him Snuffles, after the heroic character in Harry’s stories. Lily had refused to permit Harry from calling Sirius by anything but Snuffles when he told her tales of his past, Lily telling him quite sincerely that Snuffles was a much nicer name.
Snuffles the dog was a mutt in every sense of the word, but cute nonetheless; smallish with a wiry, short brown coat. To say he was a handful would be an understatement. Not only did he have a deep-seated aversion to owls - making life very difficult in a wizarding household - he was, in short, a nightmare. Consequently, he was confined for the most part to Lily’s bedroom, the little girl having some inexplicable control over the dog.
Harry let out a frustrated groan. “Are you sure we have to do this?”
“He’s not coming, sweetheart.” Harry told his daughter as she retreated dolefully back into her room, edging through a crack in the door to keep Snuffles from making his escape.
“Absolutely,” Ginny replied, heaving Albus onto her hip and trudging upstairs. Harry followed reluctantly, shuffling up behind her. “We have to tell them at some point,” Ginny continued. “Teddy’s growing up; he’s bound to start asking questions sooner rather than later.”
“That’s what I’m worried about…” Harry muttered miserably, as they entered the living room where Teddy was entertaining James with the fort he’d constructed with sofa cushions and Teddy's toy knight collection. Teddy’s hair was transformed jet-black; something he had been doing since Albus had come along with jet-black hair of his own. Getting in on the trend, Teddy had adopted black hair whenever he visited Harry, making him look well and truly like a Potter and James like his miniature. Together, they struggled to keep the pint-sized knights under control. They were new, a present for Teddy’s ninth birthday, and the blasted things were full of boundless energy, the charms that enchanted them to come to life freshly cast.
“Boys,” Ginny began, gently placing Albus on the couch before both she and Harry took their places on the coffee table across from them. “We have something to tell you,”
Teddy cast them a suspicious look, but helped James to his feet and brought him over to the couch, the knights falling unanimated without someone to play with them. He continued to eye Harry and Ginny apprehensively as the couple engaged in a wordless exchange of expressive looks.
Harry cleared his throat, “Boys–” he began weakly. “Mummy has something to tell you.”
Ginny shot him a glare before rolling her eyes. Harry was sure he saw her muttering the word ‘pathetic’ under her breath as she straightened up the face the children before her. “I’m going to have another baby.”
Harry hadn’t known what to anticipate; he’d dreaded telling them for no other reason that the three of them had gotten so big, he knew they’d have some sort of opinion on the matter. He was relieved when James beamed and started to clap. Albus, on the other hand, didn’t seem fazed in the slightest, more interested with pulling at the button on the sofa cushion. It was Teddy who seemed the most affected.
“Another one?” Teddy remarked bemusedly. “Are you going to have any more?”
“Any more and I’ll have well and truly turned into my mother.” Ginny replied darkly.
“Where’s the baby?” James asked, pulling himself up from the coach and toddling over to his mother.
“It’s in her tummy,” Teddy piped, obviously pleased with himself for being able to share his wealth of knowledge on the subject. Apparently the immediate shock of it all had worn off. He continued matter-of-factly, “When a mummy and a daddy love each other-”
“Thank you, Teddy!” Harry managed to stop Teddy before he could do any more damage, but mentally thanked his lucky stars that Andromeda had spared him the horror of having to have that conversation with Teddy.
“Is it going be a boy or girl?” Teddy asked, genuinely interested.
“A girl, I think.” Ginny replied. “I can feel it in my waters.” She shuddered at her choice of words, “Merlin, I really have turned into my mother.”
* * * * *
Ron was sat hunched over in one of the guest chairs in Harry’s office. It wasn’t Ron’s presence that made this sight abnormal - he was practically a permanent fixture now that Harry was Head of the Auror Department - rather, it was the striking shade of green that clearly tinged his face.
Harry sank into his chair with his freshly made cup of tea and a Cauldron Cake.
“What’s your problem?” He asked indifferently, taking a bite from his cake.
“I think Hermione’s pregnant.” Ron whispered despairingly.
“She’s been puking her guts out every morning for the last week.”
“Have you asked her?” Harry asked in exasperation, the question blaringly obvious to him.
“’Course.” Ron grunted.
“And she said?”
“‘Perhaps’?” Harry repeated in disbelief, brow furrowed, “How can she not know? Hermione always knows everything.”
“That’s what I said.” Ron muttered glumly.
“Well, what’s so bad about that?” Harry asked, not seeing where the dilemma – and subsequent need for Ron’s pallor – lay.
“Harry, I barely made it through her last pregnancy!” Ron cried. “She put me in St Mungo’s for goodness sake!” He dropped his head to his hands at a loss.
“Right…” Harry mused. He was still caught up with Hermione’s response of ‘perhaps’. It was very unlikely that Hermione wouldn’t know something like that for sure. “So you’re not pleased at all?”
“It’s brilliant.” Ron mumbled, unmoving. “And bloody terrifying.”
“’Perhaps’…?” Harry repeated more to himself than Ron, still thinking of Hermione. “Alright then, some of us have work to do.” He reminded him with a nod to the door.
As lunchtime approached, Harry came up with a half-hearted plan to call Hermione up on her elusiveness. He’d make some excuse to Ron about skipping lunch for today and headed over to Hermione’s office up on the fourth floor.
Having endured the smiles from every passerby from floor to floor, Harry was glad to retreat into the safety of Hermione’s impeccably neat office - only to find she wasn’t there. A passing Ministry worker informed him that could be found in the archive room down the hall.
Obediently, Harry made his way over to archives. He searched for Hermione amidst the countless rows of floor to ceiling shelving. Eventually he found her down an aisle marked ‘Elf Relations 1789 - Present’ some distance away from the entrance.
As he moved towards her, passing ancient boxes full of yellowing documents, he found the sight of Hermione, sitting crossed-legged on the floor and surrounded by mountains paper, dwarfed by the towering shelves to be quite a dismal one. She looked up abruptly when she heard Harry approaching.
“Harry!” She greeted him obviously surprised. “What on earth are you doing here?”
Nearing her, Harry came to the conclusion that it was probably best to come straight out with it; “Hermione, tell me the truth, are you pregnant?”
Hermione flushed and she opened her mouth to speak, only to close it again swiftly. She repeated this a couple of times, causing her to resemble some sort of fish. “I… I can’t see how… how that can possibly - possibly be any of your business…” She stammered pathetically.
Harry attempted to suppress the smile that was spreading across his face. “So that’s a yes?” He dared ask.
“Absolutely not!” Hermione replied, hastily closing the book in her lap. She pulled herself up off the ground and started to march briskly down the aisle.
Harry followed suit. “Hermione, what’s going on?” He asked, just as Hermione came to an abrupt halt before a non-descript shelf. She began scrutinising the shelf’s contents, not paying Harry the least bit of attention.
“Research, Harry.” She replied shortly, frowning in concentration.
“Come on, you’re pregnant.” He teased, smilingly.
She spun around to face him, the frown still very much in place. “Don’t you dare going saying that to anyone,” She whispered harshly, brandishing a pointed finger threateningly.
Harry said nothing, raising his hands in surrender.
“Do you have any idea how close I am to bringing about real, significant change for the elves?” Hermione cried dramatically, turning back to the shelf and pulling out seemingly indiscriminate documents and books and piling them into her arms. “My presentation to the Wizengamot is in February, I won’t let anything stop me from presenting. All my hard work-”
“But why does this have to affect that at all?” Harry asked, crossing his arms.
“Harry, have you met Ron?”
Harry stared at her blankly.
“Did you see what he was like last time?”
“Yeah and I saw you curse him half to death during labour,” Harry laughed, recalling the memories of a pustule-covered Ron fondly.
“Collateral damage,” Hermione replied curtly, continuing, “He was a mess from day one, not to mention completely out of control. He had me bedridden from five months!”
“You’re exaggerating,” Harry reproached her.
“Hardly – the man’s insane, Harry. He had me on maternity leave before I was even showing!” Hermione exclaimed, arms flailing – nearly dropping all of her documents in the process. She shook her head solemnly, turning on her heel and heading further down the aisle, “No, Harry. This is too important. No one can know.”
Harry relented, wandering after her patiently. “You have to tell him at some point, you know.”
“I know,” She sighed, softening. She came to a stop again and leant against the shelf.
“If it makes you feel any better, Ron thinks it’s brilliant.” Harry offered meekly.
“He used that word exactly?” Hermione asked dubiously.
“Amongst others,” Harry replied with a smile.
“It is exciting, isn’t it?” Hermione said sheepishly, as if seeking Harry’s approval to be pleased with the situation.
“Of course it is,” Harry replied happily, taking the bundle of papers from Hermione’s arms and draping a comforting arm around her shoulder, “And hey, you’re giving our kid a friend at Hogwarts. Merlin, good luck Hogwarts…”
Author's Note: I'm pumping them out as fast as I can! I have to admit, I like this chapter. I'm a bit of a Lily fan, I love Ron meltdowns and Hermione makes me laugh. Voila, this chapter happened. Don't ask what was going in my brain when I came up with Snuffles, I really don't know. Hopefully, it wasn't entirely disastrous. I just came up with a stack of ideas for this story and I'm super excited to see them come to fruition. Thank you so much for the reviews - you really make my day.
Chapter 15: The Saviour of House Elves
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All Was Well
The Saviour of House Elves
“To Hermione Weasley, the saviour of house-elves around the world, the cleverest witch there ever was and my very lovely wife!” Ron exclaimed triumphantly, visibly swelling with pride as he raised a glass in toast of Hermione
The collection of family and friends around the table raised their goblets in the air as they toasted in unison, “To Hermione!”
Hermione smiled sheepishly, her cheeks tinged with pink. She had well and truly done it; all of her proposed laws and reforms had been passed by the Wizengamot. Ron, bursting with husbandly pride, had insisted on celebrating with a spur of the moment dinner party – much to Hermione’s horror. Harry and Ginny had arrived just in time to witness Hermione’s minor panic attack at the prospect of a dozen guests arriving within the hour having only just returned home from work herself. Nevertheless, with Ginny’s help and a number of small miracles, they had managed to pull it off.
By the time all of their guests had arrived, Ron and Hermione’s country house was full to the brim. The two-storey cottage, nestled in amongst a small forest of sturdy oak trees, wasn’t used to so many visitors, despite its moderate size. The evening had turned out to be a reunion of sorts; Luna, seemingly permanently abroad in search of new, potentially imaginary discoveries, had managed to find her way back to England in order to celebrate Hermione’s success. Likewise, Professor McGonagall and Hagrid made the trek down to Kent for the party. As for Molly and Arthur, though they were naturally overjoyed for Hermione, it could safely be assumed that they would make an appearance wherever they could find grandchildren to coddle.
The grandchildren themselves enjoyed both the attention and the company; Albus and Rose were inseparable and James was just pleased to have willing subordinates to boss around.
Teddy had been overjoyed to see Neville and Hannah walk through the door. From a young age, Teddy had found a special kinship with Neville, who in many ways saw a lot of himself in the little boy, both having been raised by their respective grandmothers. For years now, Teddy eagerly awaited any visit from Neville, as well as the token of Herbology he usually brought with him. Tonight was no exception; Teddy’s face lit up to see the Mimbulus Mimbletonia seedling in Neville’s hands.
The real surprise of the night so far had been the arrival of George with Angelina Johnson in tow. With the hosts thoroughly occupied, Harry had answered the door. George had shuffled inside with unusual aloofness, leaving Angelina to follow on awkwardly, permitting an uncomfortable smile to Harry as she passed.
Angelina’s presence was in no way unwanted by the dinner-partygoers, Ginny in particular was thrilled to see her former team-mate and friend, but surprised nonetheless. Indeed, George’s close friendship with Angelina had been ongoing since their Hogwarts days, but it soon became apparent that Angelina’s appearance tonight was a sign of their budding relationship – well, at least that was what Harry could hear Molly, Ginny and Hermione whispering about when George had briefly visited the bathroom.
With the first toast of the night out of the way, the guests dug in, conversation blossoming amongst friends.
“Your parents couldn’t make it?” Angelina asked Hermione from across the table.
“They had a dental conference in Manchester” Hermione replied casually. “Anyway, I get the impression they can be easily overwhelmed by too many wizards, all the magic and such – especially when Ron sends something flying through the air or sets something on fire…”
“That was one time!” Ron barked in response, visibly affronted.
“So, Hermione, I hate to sound ignorant, but what is it you’ve actually done?” Hannah asked, sharing a smile with a grateful Hermione, who obviously appreciated a change in subject.
“Well, the treatment of house-elves for the most part has been entirely inhumane for far too long.” Hermione began; it was quite clear she was settling in for quite the lecture, the way she put down her knife and fork and heaved a solemn sigh, “You can’t imagine the horrific way in which elves have been treated. Most people wouldn’t treat a dog the way some cretins have treated their elves…
“I proposed we create new framework in order to deal with house-elf related issues. Of course, I’m speaking of their liberation from slavery.” Hermione paused, “Generally,” she continued, with the slightest tinge of resentment, “it’s in their nature to accept their lifestyle and sense of duty to their jobs, but I felt it was important that we at least gave elves the option of seeking emancipation.” Hermione looked around at her audience, who appeared to be rather perplexed. Ron had obviously never heard the word ‘emancipation’ before; his mouth hung open a bit, giving him a slack-jacked appearance. Hermione continued, explaining, “Quite simply, the laws passed today enable elves to overcome any enchantments or spells their masters might put in place to prevent them from seeking our help.”
Awed murmurs of “Marvelous,” and “Wonderful,” came from the direction of Arthur and Hagrid.
“We’ve also passed a law prohibiting the deliberate mistreatment of elves in any way, including by means of self-infliction, in the same way causing serious harm to witches and wizards is illegal.”
Hermione blushed profusely on seeing the reverential and very impressed looks on the faces of all at the table. “That’s it, really…” She murmured sheepishly in conclusion.
“Bloody brilliant,” Ron was practically glowing with pride as he clasped Hermione’s shoulder in delight.
The most sincere congratulations were offered by all. As dinner progressed, the conversation moved onto other Ministry happenings, Quidditch (hardly surprising in light of the number of Quidditch players and avid fans present) and developments at Hogwarts; Professor McGonagall making the sober announcement that the following year would be her last at Hogwarts.
With the children sleeping soundly, all piled into Rose’s bed, the adults sipped on the last dregs of their post-dinner tea and coffee. Only family remained; Hagrid, McGonagall and Neville and Hannah had headed off for an early night with school in the morning. Arthur and Molly had both started dozing off the minute the children had been put to bed, consequently heading home soon after. Hermione had indulged Ron and vowed to go on maternity leave the moment her proposals were passed, thus quelling Ron’s panic over her ‘fragile state’. This left only Ron with an early start scheduled; George very much his own boss and Harry head of his department. Fortunately, Ron had friends in high places.
“Well, I believe there are dishes to be done,” Hermione proposed and looking pointedly at her husband.
Ron, a little dumbstruck with annoyance, floundered momentarily.
“Look for a big hole in the counter, silver thing. It’s called a sink.” George joked from across the table, derisively raising a teacup to his brother with eyebrows perched.
His playful smirk was quickly wiped away by Angelina’s sharp elbow to the ribs. “You’ve got a wand, you can help.” She smiled conspiratorially to Hermione, who smiled back contentedly.
Both Weasley men groaned, before begrudgingly trudging towards the kitchen, cups and saucers flying through the air behind them.
The moment the door had closed behind them, Ginny bounced into action, scooting three seats over to pounce on Angelina. “Tell us everything.”
Harry watched on in utter bemusement as both Ginny and Hermione deployed full interrogation mode. They sat either side of Angelina, who was understandably completely taken aback. “I don’t know what you mean,” She replied, a little shocked.
“You and George! Since when?” Ginny demanded, her excitement blatantly visible.
“Me and George? I don’t know, since – a little while? I thought you all knew!” Angelina cried.
“We didn’t know anything!” Hermione exclaimed a little too loudly. Ginny shushed her, frowning. Harry suppressed a snicker, internally laughing at the severity with which Ginny and Hermione were employing in their interrogation.
Angelina, obviously bemused by her cross-examination, shrugged helplessly.
“We need information!” Ginny whispered compellingly.
“Fine, fine!” Angelina relented, smiling. “Mind the wands!” From his place across the table from the women, Harry hadn’t been able to see Ginny and Hermione brandishing their wands in their laps. This time Harry couldn’t suppress his snort, earning him half-hearted glares from the interrogators. “He started showing up at Quidditch, before the game, at practice.” Angelina began, “Soon he was just everywhere I went. I dunno, we’ve always been friends, but it sort of grew…”
Ginny and Hermione let out a simultaneous dreamy sigh. Harry rolled his eyes and groaned loudly.
“I think it’s romantic!” Hermione responded defensively.
“Since when is stalking romantic? I would have thought George could do better than that - it’s hardly creative or spontaneous.” Harry replied matter-of-factly.
Angelina grimaced, “Yeah, well he’s hardly been the same since…” She trailed off the moment she caught Ginny’s eye. Fred’s death was not something one wanted to bring up around a Weasley. The wound was just as deep ten years on; Fred’s absence was felt by every one of the Weasleys on a daily basis.
“Well, I’m very happy for you.” Hermione gushed with forced cheerfulness, eager to break the momentary tension. “I’m so glad George has found someone so lovely to be with.” Angelina beamed at her.
“Yeah, if only Percy could have followed suit…” Ginny grumbled.
“Audrey’s not that bad…” Hermione chided unconvincingly, the effort involved in speaking highly of her sister-in-law evident in her voice.
“Audrey’s terrible.” Ginny replied shortly. “I’ve never met a bigger bore in my life. She could be marketed as a remedy to insomnia. She walks in the room and I’ve drifted off before she can even open her mouth.” Harry and Hermione chuckled. “Why couldn’t he have married Katie Bell or Alicia Spinett or… or Luna?” Ginny proposed weakly.
Hermione frowned, replying quite simply, “Because we don’t hate Luna.”
Author's Note: So many reads, so many reviews, I really don't know what to do with myself. It feels like forever since I've updated, so I apologise - being employed sucks sometimes. Working like a crazy woman at the moment. Lucy's Fun Fact of the Day: This was originally a CRAZY long chapter, but I've split it :-) Just a heads up that the next chapter will most likely be tiny, but (hopefully) great! And you will *die* when you read chapter 20 - can't wait to hear your reactions to that chapter! Thanks guys! Keep reading! [Reviews are pretty neat-o, don't you agree?]
Chapter 16: By the Sea
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All Was Well
By the Sea
With a last glance a Lily's closed door, Harry trudged down the stairs. There was still the matter of organising the boys’ owls, Lancelot and Octavius. The two snowy owls would need to be packed into their cages along with enough food and water for the journey to Hogwarts. Ginny would be able to find them, she had a sixth sense when it came to finding lost things, owls included.
Harry had lost his wife.
Finally reaching the kitchen, Harry was surprised to find the long room entirely vacant.
“Have you seen Ginny?” Harry asked Bill, who was making his way over to the outdoor setting, his arms full with a tray of pumpkin juice and glasses. At his feet, four-year-old Louis was untiringly chasing his cousin James, but without much luck. Harry had become all too familiar with the three-year-old’s impressive agility – bathtime in the Potter household had become a virtual nightmare the minute James had discovered how to run.
“No, sorry mate,” Bill replied, artfully dodging the children at his feet as he set down his tray and rearranged the plates of food, making way for the enormous pink birthday cake - a Molly Weasley original - that would shortly be brought out to take pride of place on the table. “Maybe ask Fleur?” He suggested, with a nod towards the front door of Shell Cottage.
Harry looked around again in search of his wife. Weasleys of all ages were strewn around the garden and out on the beach, taking full advantage of the lovely weather - a still, warm day. Summer was fast approaching, being mid-May; Victoire had for years celebrated her birthday on another day than May 2; that day had come to be reserved for remembrance.
Unfortunately for Harry, the number of heads sporting all-too-common red hair was making it difficult for him to spot Ginny amongst the crowd assembled for Victoire’s eighth birthday party. He momentarily felt grateful that his boys had inherited his black hair and pondered whether or not their latest addition would follow suit.
Hermione’s brown locks caught his attention in amongst the redheads and Harry decided to venture over and enquire about Ginny. Hermione was seated over on a boulder at the edge of the grassy area, a tiny baby in her arms. This was Hugo’s first full-scale Weasley outing, with all of the numerous aunts, uncles and cousins coming together for Victoire’s birthday. The little thing was already displaying a tuft of Weasley hair, the same dark reddish colour as Rose sported.
“Oh good, Harry, you’re here.” Hermione greeted him quietly, distractedly fussing over a sleeping Hugo. “I feel like I spend my life asking this, but have you seen Ron?”
“Actually, I was going to ask you the same thing,” said Harry with a laugh. “Ginny, have you seen her?”
“No, not for a while.” Hermione whispered.
“Where’s Ron disappeared to then?” Harry asked, lowering his own voice.
“No idea, probably teaching Rose to dune surf or Merlin knows what…” Hermione muttered darkly. “Anyway, I need him to bring me Hugo’s bottle. I don’t want to wake my little man.” Hermione murmured, smiling down at the precious bundle.
“Sure,” Harry replied happily, turning to set off on his search for missing Weasleys. He was immediately halted by an onslaught of small children running up from the shore, namely Teddy and Victoire, looking every bit the fairy princess in a baby blue party dress, with Dominique close at their heels.
“Harry! Will you play Pin the Tail on the Dragon with us?” Teddy implored enthusiastically.
“Sorry, mate, maybe in a moment.” Harry replied, grimacing, “I’m looking for Ginny, have you seen her?”
A little disappointed, Teddy shrugged.
“Vic?” Harry asked, turning to his cherubic niece.
“No,” Victoire replied quietly, though it was evident from the way she danced on the spot, she was eager to be on her way and start her game.
Harry finally turned to six-year-old Dominique. While Victoire was Fleur in miniature, Dominique was a Weasley through and through. Almost permanently covered in mud or food and constantly finding herself in trouble, even her hair hinted at her paternal heritage, strawberry blonde in comparison to Victoire’s silvery locks. She shuffled where she stood, smiling bashfully and not meeting Harry’s eyes.
“I’m going to take that as a ‘no’,” Harry responded with a raised eyebrow. “I’ll come play as soon as I’ve found Gin, okay?”
The children seeming to be satisfied, Harry passed them and headed down the tidy pebble path that led down to the short stretch of beach below. As Harry began to feel sand underfoot, he caught sight of two tiny figures a short distance away, hovering very close to the ground, supervised by a towering red-headed man. Ron was quite visibly enjoying himself, enthusiastically propping Albus and Rose back up onto their brooms whenever they overbalanced and fell, tumbling barely a foot to the ground.
“Hermione has no idea what you’re doing down here, I assume,” said Harry with a grin as he approached them.
“Blimey, Harry, what kind of fool do you take me for?” asked Ron, gasping in mock horror. “Of course not!” He cried, diving to catch Rose as she plummeted to the ground. “She seems to think these things are dangerous,” Ron scoffed, with a disbelieving frown that displayed just how preposterous he found this accusation. Kneeling, he steadied the tiny broom and helped a beaming Rose back onto it gently. Meanwhile, Harry watched with pride as Albus crudely steered his broom around Harry’s ankles, letting out a squeal of enjoyment.
“And how do you plan to explain the bruises?” asked Harry as Rose took another nosedive, Ron hurrying after her.
Ron blanched a little, slightly panicked. He immediately hoisted Rose from her broom and began busily inspecting her arms and legs.
“Magic?” Harry suggested lamely, enjoying watching Ron flound under the prospect of suffering Hermione’s wrath. “Anyway, you haven’t seen Gin, have you?”
“Haven’t seen her since Mum brought out the pumpkin pasties,” Ron said reflectively. Apparently satisfied with his inspection of Rose’s not-yet-visible bruises, he returned her to her broom, much to her delight. “She mentioned something about bringing Al and James’ brooms along, but then I had a pasty and well… got distracted.”
“I’m sure you did,” Harry replied with a smirk. He bent down to scruff Al’s already messy jet-black hair and turned to leave, remembering to tell Ron about Hugo’s bottle as he trudged up the pebble path.
Scouring the rest of the garden, Harry noticed a group of people over by the cliff’s edge. He recognised them immediately to be George and Angelina accompanied by Percy and Audrey, their daughters Molly and Lucy in tow. Harry’s instinctive reaction to seeing Audrey amongst them was to make a beeline to the front door, avoiding his sister-in-law at all costs; even from this distance Harry could see the utter boredom emanating from George and Angelina. Percy was a pain at the best of times, but teamed with Audrey - the world’s least interesting person - it was enough to drive anyone to tears.
Harry passed clumps of other guests, presumably friends of Bill and Fleur - unknown to Harry but who quite obviously knew him - as he made his way to the house. Just as he approached the front door, he felt the ground shudder underfoot; rounding the corner of the house was Hagrid, who beamed and outstretched his arms at the sight of Harry.
Harry happily greeted Hagrid with a hug. “Hagrid, good to see you; it’s been a while.”
“Not since Christmas, I reckon.” Hagrid replied, clapping Harry on the shoulder with the friendliest of intentions, but undoubtedly causing some serious bruising. Harry politely restrained his wincing. “Yeh’ll have to come up and see me at school, yeh will. Bin busy with the-” Hagrid had stopped stock-still, his eyes fixed on something in the distance. Harry followed his gaze, only to discover that none other than Madame Maxime, Headmistress of Beauxbatons and Hagrid’s former flame, had also arrived, Fleur’s sister Gabrielle at her side.
The handsome, enormous woman gasped. “Rubeus!”
“Olympe!” Hagrid cried.
The visibly love-struck pair staggered towards each other, leaving Harry to find himself stuck, rather regrettably, between them. Harry suddenly felt incredibly awkward, sharing a grimace with the equally disturbed Gabrielle. Hagrid and Maxime continued to gape, wide-eyed.
“How are you, Gabrielle?” Harry offered feebly, hoping to break the unendurable tension.
“Fine, thank you. Beauxbatons eez treating me very well.” said Gabrielle, with a charming smile. Suddenly, her appearance with Madame Maxime made sense; Gabrielle worked as the Charms professor at the French school. She looked around momentarily, before coyly asking, “But ‘Arry, wherever is your lovely wife?”
Harry failed to suppress a shudder. Gabrielle had harboured a deep-set crush on Harry for years now, never quelled by his marriage to Ginny. It was borderline pathetic.
Harry avoided her smouldering eyes as he attempted to make drastic change in subject, turning back to the otherwise-consumed lovebirds, “Er… I take it you’ve come for Victoire’s birthday, then, Madame.”
“But of course,” Madame replied, suddenly returning to reality and looking down from her great height to Harry. “Leetle Victoire is my god-daughter. Eet eez only natural zat I should attend her party.” She added haughtily, before turning back to Hagrid, to bat her giant eyelashes.
“Ain’t that kind of yeh,” said Hagrid adoringly. Harry felt a little queasy. Fortunately, neither Hagrid nor Madame Maxime noticed in the slightest as he began to back away slowly; he had much more pressing things to do than standing around bear witness to half-giant romances. Ginny was still missing.
In the kitchen, Harry found the grandparents. Apolline and Louis Delacour had travelled over for the occasion and were busily assisting Molly and Arthur with party preparations, while Fleur delegated with graceful military precision. His unease about Ginny’s disappearance steadily increasing, Harry wasted no time asking his question, “Anyone seen Ginny?”
“Oh,” Molly replied with a frown, taking a pause in the middle of filling a flagon with pumpkin juice, leaving the bottle suspended in mid-air. She looked to Arthur momentarily, before shaking her head and turning back to Harry. “She went into the bathroom a little while ago, dear – but now I think of it, I haven’t seen her come out yet.”
“How long ago was that?” Harry replied, becoming worried.
“Well, maybe… fifteen minutes or so.”
Harry was off down the corridor before she had even finished.
“Ginny?” Harry asked, concern growing by the second as he knocked on the door, “Ginny, are you in there?”
The door opened slowly, revealing a trembling Ginny, buckled over and grimacing. “My water just broke.”
Author's Note: Fill, fill, pad, pad. Such a nothing chapter, hardly spectacular (which, course, is what I aim for!) rather short and even the title sucks. But I wanted a cliffie here and desperate desires for literary devices calls for desperate measures! Nevermind, I'm updating crazy fast so hopefully that should count for something. A couple of things, 1) please forgive the obviously unforgiveable mistakes in the last chapter - seriously unforgiveable! Five points to anyone who picked up on them! I've edited it now, so don't worry :-) 2) I used the word 'blimey' in this chapter, which made me very happy. 3) Awesome chapter of excitement is now 20, not 18. Be excited! You will never guess what is going to happen! 4) I became aware of how much I use the word 'as' writing this chapter. Very bizarre. Thoughts? 5) PLEASE REVIEW! 6) Thanks so much for reading! I'm *this close* to 20,000 views. OMG. Thanks again!
Chapter 17: Blossom
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All Was Well
She was perfect. A beautiful nose, a beautiful chin, beautiful little ears and already, the trace of her mother’s beautiful brown eyes. Harry had thought he couldn’t possibly love a girl as much as he loved Ginny, but here she was, more perfect and more wonderful than he could have ever expected.
Ginny gave an exhausted yawn. Harry shifted his weight over a bit, careful not to wake the dozing princess in his arms, allowing his wife a fraction more room on the cramped hospital bed. After the last two traumatic births, it was only natural for Ginny to come to St Mungo’s directly, rather than risk so many people’s safety with her wayward magic.
“I s’pose we should let them in.” Ginny suggested with a weak laugh, letting her head fall onto Harry’s shoulder. “They’ve been out there long enough.”
But Harry wasn’t quite ready to give up this moment of silent bliss; he was wise enough to know it would be their last chance for a few seconds of peace and quiet for quite a while. “Do we have to?”
“Fine.” Ginny replied gravely. “But if my mother collapses under the stress of it all, I’m holding you personally responsible.”
Harry permitted a crooked smile before reaching for his wand. “Ready?” he asked, with a dubious look to Ginny. She shrugged wearily in response and watched as he opened the door with a flick of the wrist.
The room was instantly flooded with red-heads as a stampede of Weasleys entered. Molly was inconsolable as she flung herself towards the bed, Arthur dutifully at her side, his face plastered with a soggy smile.
“Two visitors at a time!” A distraught Healer called from in amongst the group, somewhere behind George. “Two visitors!” she cried. George simply smirked, unabashedly tossing something into the air and out the door. Before anyone could say anything, the poor Healer was off investigating the source of a small explosion in the hallway.
“Oh, Ginny, she’s beautiful,” Hermione cooed adoringly, stroking Lily’s rosy cheek with her free hand, Rose slung around one hip.
“Looks just like you, Gin.” Ron said in hushed tones as he leant down to meet his niece. “Red hair and everything, just like a real Weas-” But before he could finish, Ron was forcefully silenced by Ginny’s menacing glare.
Both grandparents, George, Angelina, Percy and Audrey had all taken their turn before Harry noted the absence of whom he considered to be the most important visitors of all. “Where are the boys?” He asked, showing only a hint of concern.
“B- b- b-” Molly stuttered through her happy tears.
Fortunately Arthur came to her rescue, “Bill’s out there trying to – er, catch them…” He admitted regretfully.
As soon as the words had left Arthur’s lips, Bill marched in grinning, a Potter boy arduously suspended under each arm. Fleur and the small barrage of their children were at his heels, Victoire looking particularly peeved; it was quite obvious that the little girl would forever hold tiny Lily personally responsible for interrupting her birthday party.
Teddy took up the rear, shaking his head in exasperation. “I tried, Harry,” bemoaned Teddy, “I told them to be good.”
Harry grinned in response, before something triggered the responsible-parent part in his brain, “Andromeda knows he’s here?” he asked Bill, who gave a reassuring nod, dropping James and Albus at Harry’s knees with a sigh of relief, while Teddy cautiously climbed up to sit at the foot of the bed. Bill then, quite considerately, made to usher his more immediate family out the door. The rest of the Weasleys followed suit, whispering words of congratulations as they went, though in Molly’s case, these words were mostly slurred through her hiccoughing.
“Been wreaking havoc have we?” Harry suggested once the room had emptied out, smiling at the toddlers' cheeky grins, noting how Albus, at least, had the decency to look guilty.
“Boys,” Ginny began throatily, “Meet your sister Lily.”
Harry watched contentedly as James and Albus leant forward to inspect the bundle in Ginny’s arms with the utmost interest.
“Baby,” Albus remarked excitedly, bouncing on the spot and pointing at his little sister like she was his very own personal discovery.
“She’s little,” James added, brow furrowed in concern.
“Don’t worry, Jamesy,” Ginny said with a laugh, “She’ll get bigger.”
“What do you think Ted?” Harry asked his godson innocently. Teddy’s distance had not gone unnoticed; it was very clear to Harry that the child had purposefully hung back to let the little boys meet their sister first. Sheepishly, Teddy crawled carefully closer to the rest of them. Harry watched, his heart swelling with pride, as Teddy gazed down at Lily in awe, visibly besotted by the little girl.
“She’s – she’s -” Teddy stammered, bewildered and excited, “She’s got red hair!”
Harry shook his head in surprise. Of all the observations Teddy could make, he was impressed by her hair?
“Just like Gin,” Harry replied, bemused. “My mum had red hair too.”
But it appeared Teddy was barely listening; he immediately pulled a face, wrinkling his nose in concentration as he turned his Potter-esque jet black hair to a fierce shade of Weasley red, exactly the same colour as Lily’s small tuft. He grinned, ecstatic, before asking with outstretched arms, “Can I please hold her, Ginny?”
A short while later, after a brief bonding-session, Harry bid farewell to the remaining family members, namely Hermione and Molly, in order to get the boys home to bed. Albus was already asleep in Harry’s arms by the time they had reached the lift, while Teddy gave a sleepy James a piggy-back ride all the way down to the fireplaces on the first floor, much to the three-year-old’s delight.
Stepping out of the grate at Grimmauld Place, Harry and Teddy both set off up the stairs to collaboratively put the boys to bed.
Having put the already-dozing Albus down, an exhausted Harry crossed the hall to check in on Teddy’s progress only to find the ten-year-old had James all changed and ready for bed. Together, they tucked him in and kissed him goodnight; James beginning to emit audible snores before they had even shut the door behind them.
Harry surveyed his godson pensively as they crossed the landing, feeling a surge of pride. He wearily mussed Teddy’s ginger hair as they made their way down the stairs to Teddy’s makeshift bedroom, before wrapping an arm around the boy’s shoulders and bringing him in for a side-on hug as they walked.
Harry released him on reaching the guest-room and Teddy busily began searching a wardrobe for the pair of pyjamas he kept at Grimmauld Place for such occasions. Harry crossed his arms, surveying Teddy again for a moment. “Alright then, spill.” Harry surrendered; he was too worn out to beat around the bush, “What’s with the red hair?”
Teddy stopped his rummaging and grinned at his godfather. “What’s wrong with red hair?” he asked innocently.
“Ted Lupin, for the ten long years I’ve known you, you’ve sported black hair every time you’ve visited. What’s my Lily done to you to change that?”
Teddy gave a crooked smile and fell onto the bed. He hesitated for a moment, and Harry could tell the boy was wrestling with making some sort of confession.
“Hey,” Harry said gently, coming over to plant himself beside Teddy on the bed. “You know you can tell me anything,”
“I really like her,” Teddy said in an undertone, smiling and staring at his hands. “Lily, she’s really cool and…” he trailed off.
“And she’s got red hair. She’s different.” Teddy added feebly, continuing to focus on his hands.
Harry nodded in comprehension. “Different like you.” He suggested kindly.
“Yeah…” Teddy replied with a noncommittal shrug, frowning.
They sank into an easy silence, while Harry mulled over what it was he wanted to express.
“You know, you don’t need black hair to be a Potter.” Harry began.
Teddy made no sound and continued to stare at his hands, but Harry could tell he was listening.
“You don’t even need the last name Potter to be a Potter - just like I never needed the last name Weasley or red hair and freckles to feel like Weasley.” Harry let that sink in for a moment, patiently watching Teddy grimace, before continuing, “You know, the best thing your dad ever did for me was make me your godfather. He did lots more for me as well - and so did your mum, like you know – but Ted, you’re the best bit.”
Teddy permitted himself a quick peek at Harry and even went so far to allow a bashful smile, before turning back to stare at his hands.
“But I could never replace your dad and Gin can’t replace your mum. We wouldn’t want to. We’d be doing you a disservice by pretending we could.”
“But they’re not here,” Teddy protested soberly, “They never will be…”
“But Ted, we’d be denying you the knowledge of how wonderful your parents were. For the first eleven years of my life, I didn’t know a thing about my parents, about their legacy. My aunt and uncle told me they died in a car crash and that was it. Don’t you think that’s unfair?” Again, Teddy shrugged noncommittally. “They gave their lives for me, just like your parents did for you, they made a sacrifice so you could have a better life-”
Teddy visibly slumped at this; he’d heard this speech too many times.
Harry changed his angle, “What I mean to say is that Ginny and I - while we’re not your parents, and we won’t pretend we are, we love you just as much as they ever could. You’re just as much a part of this family as James or Al or Lily.”
“As much as Lily?” Teddy asked, inadvertently letting his eagerness show.
“Just as much.” Harry grinned. He mussed his godson’s hair, planted a brief kiss on the top of his head – much to Teddy’s disgust – and made his way over to the door. “Sleep tight, Ted.”
Heaving a sigh, Harry turned on his heel to trudge up the stairs to find Ginny, making sure he checked the clock on the wall on his way up. It was quarter to ten, which gave them just about fifteen minutes to find the ruddy birds, pack the car and be on the road to make it to Kings Cross in time.
“Ginny,” Harry called up the stairs from the ground floor hallway.
“Yes?” Came a voice from above.
“Where are the owls?”
“I’ve got Lance, Dad,” Shouted James, presumably from his bedroom up on the fourth floor floor.
“Al,” Harry yelled as he started to climb the stairs.
“Yes?” Albus bellowed down to his father.
“Can you call Octavius?” Harry asked loudly, reaching the first floor landing and continuing up.
“Okay!” came Albus’s cry in response. There was a split second of silence before, “OCTAVIUS! WHERE ARE YOU?”
“Albus Potter, you know that’s not what he meant!” Ginny called to her son, her voice sounding much louder as Harry approached the second floor. She emerged from the study, Hogwarts student supply list in hand as Harry reached the landing.
“It’s fine now, he just came in the window!” cried Albus, obviously pleased. Harry and Ginny shared a weary smile, the latter rolling her eyes in exasperation.
A floor above them, Snuffles let out a bark of approval and a door could be heard opening. “Why are you all shouting?” Lily demanded heatedly, but as soon as the words had left her mouth, she immediately let out a quiet “Oops!” as Snuffles came tearing out of her bedroom and down the stairs, jumping up on Harry momentarily before speeding off down the stairs again, knocking a potted plant over on the way.
Surely enough, the house had yet again submitted to chaos.
Author's Note: Goodness me, it feels like forever since I've posted! But here we are! Chapter 17! How time flies when your having fun... I like this chapter. Maybe it's the Teddy, maybe it's the Lily - who knows. Maybe you do? Maybe you could tell me by leaving a review? That would be super! Thanks again to reviewers, readers, favouriters, you are the bomb.com x
Chapter 18: Haunted
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All Was Well
Harry was running for his life. Dodging tree after tree, he panted heavily as he raced further into the darkness. He must have left the tent for only a moment – Ron and Hermione, would they be safe? The image of their faces swam around his mind as he ran deeper into the thick forest that was unrecognisable to him in the shards of moonlight that shone through the vast expanse of willowy branches above.
For reasons unknown to Harry, he willed himself to glance back at his gruesome pursuers. Grey and decaying, the Inferi hobbled toward him with alarming speed, rotting limbs flailing in front of them. Harry, desperate and terrified, continued deeper into the forest. In a horror-stricken moment, he realised he couldn’t feel his wand in his pocket.
His heart racing in panic, Harry sprinted further and further into the darkness.
All of a sudden the air itself seemed to freeze. Harry was filled with an overwhelming sense of hopelessness, the prospect of imminent death hitting him like a ton of bricks. Unwillingly, he began to slacken his pace, slowing down as fear and despair entered his body from every pore.
Again, for reasons he could not explain, Harry turned to face the Inferi. They were definitely gaining on him – but as they approached, Harry could clearly make out disturbingly familiar faces on the corpses. A decomposing Tonks, purple hair lank and greasy, and Lupin, covered in gashes, were in the front; Fred, Colin, Mad-Eye were among countless others lost in battle, even Dobby, now emaciated to the point of skeletal in appearance. The most horrifying by far, though, was none other Dumbledore, the tallest of the group, whose gaunt face and sunken eyes were nothing compared to his withered skin, rotting fingernails and contorted limbs.
Tearing himself away from the haunting sight of Inferi, Harry found himself facing a far more terrifying foe. Off in the distance, the evil emanating from Lord Voldemort’s scaly, pallid skin illuminated his snakelike figure as he strode towards the clearing where Harry had stopped, paralysed with fear.
Filling with despair by the second, Harry did not need to look up to know that a pack of Dementors were swarming above him, no less than a dozen by the sinking feeling of terror Harry was feeling in every organ in his body.
Now cornered by three separate dangers, Harry’s only thoughts were for his family and their safety. With power he did not think he could possibly have possessed at that moment in time, Harry hurtled himself through a gap in the trees in the direction of Godric’s Hollow, of home.
Before he knew it, he was racing up the stairs of the house, screaming for Ginny to arm herself. Throwing open the door he somehow knew to be James and Albus’ room, he scooped both boys into his arms. Ginny, shocked and visibly shaking with fear took the bleary eyed children into her own arms as Harry retrieved his baby girl from her cot in the nursery. His precious little Lily, only one year old...
There was an agonising crunch as the front door came crashing down. Harry thrust Lily into Ginny’s already full arms, stroke her tear-stained face and called to her as he raced down the stairs, “Ginny, take them and go! It’s him! Go! Run! I’ll hold him off!"
And there was an overpowering flash of green light.
Harry woke with a start, drenched in a cold sweat and shaking uncontrollably. He could barely make out Ginny beside him, feeling delirious as she swiftly reached across him to grab his glasses from the bedside table. She placed them on him with the utmost care as Harry struggled to catch his breath, leaving her hands cupping his face tenderly.
Now that she came clearly into view, Harry could see the concern etched in her eyes and face. Exhausted and feeling as though his ribcage had shattered underneath his skin, he collapsed into her, wrapping his arms tightly around Ginny in a tight embrace.
They sat like that for a long moment, allowing Harry to get his breathing under control. Slowly but surely his heartbeat relaxed as well, until he felt almost normal.
It felt odd to Harry that they should so easily be able to fall back into this routine; where on waking from one of his terrifying nightmares, Ginny would cling to him for dear life, hoping to hug away the horrors from his past. In the year or so following the war, Harry was relentlessly haunted by grisly and gruesome images of death, his enemies taunting him with jeers about the blood on his own hands. Ginny had been his salvation, the solitary person who could return him to safety – to sanity. It wasn’t until they left the Burrow to move into Grimmauld Place as a couple, sharing a bed every night, that Harry was finally free of his nightly terrors.
But this dream seemed worse than anything he’d ever dreamt before. Perhaps the first dreams were gorier and more painful, but for this dream to come now, when Harry’s world was more stable and safe and wonderful than he could ever remember it being, it cut him apart. He’d never had so much to lose. Harry shuddered at the thought.
Ginny had her hands wrapped around Harry’s neck as she finally drew away. His trembling subsided, though his breathing was shallow and erratic. She inspected every inch of his face – and Harry knew, despite the fact he refused to meet her gaze, that she was willing him to look at her, to talk it out, to let her in.
Harry felt ashamed. After all these years, Voldemort was still there in his mind. Harry’s insides squirmed at the thought of it. It was the ultimate betrayal; shouldn’t Ginny’s love be enough? Shouldn’t his boys and his precious baby girl be enough to drive away the bad thoughts, the doubts he had about the stability of their lives? But the truth of the matter was that it was because of them, because of their love, their perfection that it all felt surreally unstable, as though it could be taken away at any time, by anyone…
Harry mustered up the courage to look his wife in the eyes. “I’m sorry…” he croaked.
“Shh…” Ginny whispered, stroking his face with a soft hand. “Don’t be sorry.”
“But I am. They should have gone away…”
“Tell me,” Ginny pleaded, as Harry’s gaze fell away from her and fixated sullenly on a nondescript patch of quilt.
So he did, without leaving out any of the horrors, he told her his dream, voice dripping with disgust and fear, all the while Ginny stroking the back of his neck comfortingly.
“I – I don’t know – why now?” Harry despaired in conclusion, shaking his head.
“It’s Lily’s birthday tomorrow – today…” Ginny corrected herself after a glance at the clock on the bedside table. “She’s one, remember?" she added with a crooked smile. "Just like you were when...”
Harry chuckled bleakly, burying his face in hands before running them through his hair in exhaustion and annoyance. “It’s stupid.” He muttered. “I know he’s not coming back, I know the world is a different place… I know I’m not my father.” He added soberly, turning to Ginny. “I just wish I could protect you, all of you, from everything.”
“Harry, there’s nothing to protect us from,” Ginny replied gently.
“I wish I knew that for sure.” Harry murmured. “I wish it was true…”
“You’d be wasting a wish.” Ginny said pointedly, but not unkindly. “There’ll always be Dementors and ghosts and enemies, things that are scary. But you’ve got us, and that’s supposed to make it better.”
“It only makes it worse!” Harry moaned. “I don’t know what I’d do if something where to happen to you or James or Al or Lily. I couldn’t bear to lose you, I can’t live like that again – watching people die…”
“You don’t have to…”
“You don’t know that!” He cried. “There’ll always be dark wizards too! Mad people who want to take you away from me…”
“Harry, this is foolishness.”
Harry slumped in surrender. She was right. She was always right.
“Nobody ever knows anything for sure.” Ginny said, quietly resolute. “Actually, that’s not true. I know that I love you very much, that your children love you very much and that we trust you to protect from every evil thing in the world. Harry, you’re not a child anymore. Then, you were barely an adult taking on the worst evil this world has ever known.” She sighed, whether at the recollection of this time or at her own frustration at Harry’s petulance remained to be seen. “You’re not your father, you survived.”
And again she was right. He survived; survived to have the life his father deserved, the happiness his father deserved – and Harry was suddenly hit with a wave of gratitude for that.
“Bloody evil dog…” Ginny muttered murderously as she went around the hall flicking her wand at all the damage Snuffles had created in his wake.
“He didn’t mean it, Mummy, he just got excited.” Said Lily, from where she knelt defensively beside Snuffles.
Hands on hips, Ginny shot her a half-hearted sinister look, before heaving a sigh and steering Lily up stairs. “Back to your room with him then,”
Harry was already half way up the stairs when he began to call out to the boys, “Come on, we need to get a move on. I need to pack the owls and trunks. It’s ten to ten.”
“It’s ten to ten!?” Albus squeaked, as he poked he blanching face out of his bedroom door.
“Hurry up! We’re going to be late!”
“Last time I checked, yes, and if you lot don’t hurry up, you’ll miss the train.”
“Teddy, slow down!”
A small crowd bounded down a busy platform in Kings Cross station. Ginny dragged James along by the hand while pushing baby Lily in her pram as Harry lugged Albus on one hip, pushing the trolley carrying Teddy’s trunk and owl cage with the other.
A good yard ahead of them sped Teddy, today sporting his natural mop of sandy brown locks. The eleven-year-old was clearly on a mission, but fortunately came to a sudden halt in front of a non-descript partition. Spinning around, he beamed ecstatically back at his pursuers.
Andromeda had thoughtfully allowed Harry to escort Teddy to Platform 9 ¾, enabling Teddy to spend his last night before leaving for Hogwarts at Grimmauld Place with the Potters. She would, of course, be meeting them on the Platform to say her goodbyes; consequently, Harry felt it would probably not do to lose Teddy at this stage. Harry got the distinct impression Andromeda felt like hexing him to oblivion at the best of times; he didn't want to tempt fate.
Catching up with Teddy, Harry and Ginny heaved a few sighs of relief, trying to catch their breath, all the while grinning down at the irrepressible smile on Teddy’s face.
“This is it, isn’t it?” Teddy asked eagerly, not really requiring an answer. He bounced on the balls of his feet.
“Sure is,” Harry replied, making a few sideways glances to be sure the coast was clear. “Should we go then?” He teased, making Teddy’s eyes widen with excitement.
Throwing caution to the wind, Teddy ran full pelt into the partition, disappearing instantly.
“Mental,” Ginny remarked fondly. “Absolutely mental. I wonder where he gets it…”
Harry rolled his eyes at the obvious dig, and motioned for Ginny to go first with Lily’s pram and James. Harry followed immediately with Albus and the trolley, but as he emerged on the other side, he found Teddy, in all his eagerness, already had one foot on board the Hogwarts Express.
Harry called out to him, incredulous, “TEDDY WAIT!”
Author's Note: TO BE CONTINUED... I can't even explain what was going on in my brain when I came up with this nightmare idea. Was it scary? I hope so! It scared me writing it, so hopefully it shows... I got all philosophic too. I'm sleep deprived, what can I say? You may have noticed I am mildly obsessed with Teddy. What are your thoughts? Too little Teddy? Too much Teddy? (As if that were possible...) So there's not long to go with this story :-( BUT! I have a Rose/Scorpius in the works, so keep your eyes peeled! P.S. I got a Mac recently and it doesn't agree with this site sadly, so sorry if my layout is a bit all over the place. Blame Apple. Thanks guys! Please keep the reviews coming!
Chapter 19: Raising Children and Eyebrows
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All Was Well
Raising Children and Eyebrows
“Teddy Remus Lupin, you get back here this instant!”
Andromeda was marching purposefully towards them, looking as livid as her well-defined notions of correct public etiquette permitted. When Teddy slumped and began to trudge back to the small huddle, she turned her pointed gaze on Harry.
“I would hope you weren’t going to let him go just like that,” said Andromeda thickly, carefully flicking a stray lock of greying brown hair into place.
“Of course not, Andromeda,” Harry insisted affably – at least, trying his best to be affable. The way she stared him down made him want to shudder. She was an intimidating woman at the best of times, but on the regular occasions when Harry slipped up, he had no qualms admitting he found her entirely terrifying.
“Gran,” groaned Teddy, “I wasn’t really going to go without saying goodbye. I just wanted to see inside the train.”
She gave him an appraising look, cocking an eyebrow. “Well,” Teddy looked up beseechingly while she fingered a gold pocket watch. Taking her time to stow it away amongst her sapphire robes, she clasped her hands gravely and said, “I suppose you may have a brief look around.”
Teddy bounded onto the train in three great leaps.
This left Harry and his small family alone with Andromeda. The elderly woman permitted a curt smile down at the children before politely greeting Ginny.
“Hi Andromeda,” Ginny replied, obviously choosing to ignore the awkwardness entirely. “Sad to be seeing him off?”
Andromeda frowned momentarily, as if considering her words, before answering, “I imagine it won’t be quite the same without him around.”
That was for sure. Harry, on the other hand, had been dreading this day for months now. He was going to miss Ted more than he liked to admit. Teddy had become a staple in Harry’s day-to-day life; not a weekend had passed in eleven years without a visit from his beloved godson. These days, Teddy made sure he got to see Harry at least three times a week, with or without his grandmother’s permission. Now Harry wouldn’t get to see him until Christmas…
But Harry wasn’t the only one who would feel Teddy’s absence; Ginny would miss having her favourite big kid around, the boys would miss their favourite entertainer – and Lily would no doubt be completely inconsolable. No one had more time for Lily than Teddy. On top of this, unlike James and Albus, Teddy did not see Lily as an indispensable toy, the target of a magical experiment or bait for a good session of gnome hunting, causing Teddy to be raised to hero status in Lily’s eyes. The fifteen-month-old was so enamoured with Teddy that he had easily become her absolute favourite person - naturally excluding her parents - and had been Lily’s third word, after the predictable ‘mama’ and ‘dada’.
“I imagine you’ll miss him?” Andromeda asked politely.
“Hardly,” Harry joked. The tension was getting to him.
Andromeda immediately frowned.
“Joking! Of course, I’ll miss him a lot.”
“We’ll all miss him,” added Ginny.
“He’s going to Hogwarts!” piped James, informatively. “But he’ll back at Christmas!”
“Ted!” Squealed Lily, “Ted, Ted, Ted!”
Indeed, Teddy came bounding towards them, a short redheaded boy with square glasses at his heels. “Harry! Harry!” Teddy called, panting.
“Yes, mate?” asked Harry, briefly meeting Andromeda’s eyes in confusion.
Teddy nodded towards his new acquaintance, “This is Wilfred – Wiggins?”
“Wilkins,” the boy corrected him, pushing his glasses further up his the bridge of his nose.
“He knows who you are!” beamed Teddy, clearly awe-struck.
“Are you really Harry Potter?” demanded Wilfred sceptically.
“Last time I checked.” Harry laughed.
“Wow,” Wilfred murmured, reverently gazing up at Harry.
“Willy,” called a man who approached them. From the ginger moustache, Harry assumed this would have to be Wilfred’s father. “Not even going to say goodbye to your old dad?”
“Hello,” Harry greeted him.
“Merlin’s beard, you’re Harry Potter!”
“Unfortunately.” Harry grimaced.
“Well, I never… Imagine that! Enid, look it’s Harry Potter!”
“Is it really?” Blonde Mrs Wilkins cooed as she approached.
“It’s very nice to meet you,” said Harry with all the manners he could muster.
“This here’s not your lad, is it?” asked Mr Wilkins.
Teddy beamed jubilantly as Harry placed a proud hand on his shoulder.
“Well, Jupiter must be in my third house today!” squawked Mrs Wilkins, waving an absent hand, her blonde ringlets bobbing.
“Come along, Enid, let’s leave Mr Potter here in peace. Wonderful to meet you, sir, a real honour. Willy, come on!”
With the Wilkins’ departure, Harry and Teddy turned the attention back to the group. Harry grimaced uncomfortably. Andromeda was once again sporting a cocked eyebrow.
Trying to block out Andromeda’s hawklike stare, Harry crouched down to Teddy’s level. “Well, almost eleven now.” He offered a weak smile. “Not nervous?”
Teddy looked back at him with a look of complete incredulity. “Nervous?” he laughed. “Hogwarts’ll be a piece of cake.”
“I should think not, young man.” Barked Andromeda stiffly. “Not in my experience, anyway. Hard work and discipline, that’s what you can expect at Hogwarts,”
Teddy nodded but the instant he turned back to Harry he could no longer suppress a good roll of the eyes. Ginny had obviously been a bad influence.
“I’m gonna miss you, mate, a lot.” Admitted Harry, pulling Teddy into a tight hug – which, surprisingly, was returned.
“Me too,” added Ginny, smiling down at Teddy, who surrendered another hug.
The boys then found it prudent to attack Teddy in a similar fashion, clinging to his knees with pure determination.
A Potter boy attached to either leg, Teddy stumbled over to Lily’s pram and scooped her up, cuddled her close and planted a raspberry on her forehead. Harry watched with pride, one arm around Ginny as Lily squealed with joy, “Ted, Ted, Ted!”
Carefully placing Lily back in her pram, Teddy straightened up, managed to shake the little boys from his ankles and marched over to his stoic grandmother. Pursing her lips, Andromeda took Teddy’s face in her hands, smiling down at him with rare public display of warmth, and kissed the top of his head. “Be good, or else.”
Now that his formal goodbyes were done, Teddy bounced on the spot, waiting the final signal that he could board the train.
“See you soon, Ted.” Said Harry, more mournfully than he had hoped. Teddy grinned from ear to ear, through himself at Harry and Ginny, giving them a brief final hug before speeding off and disappearing into the train.
Harry and Ginny regrouped, Lily in her pram beside them and the boys at their feet, and waited for the train to start its departure.
As the last students ran for the train, Andromeda heaved a heavy sigh. She stared disinterestedly at the train. “We’ve done a good job, wouldn’t you say?”
Harry gaped at her, disbelieving. Did Andromeda really just use the word ‘we’? Was this praise coming from Andromeda Tonks? In eleven years, Harry was sure he had only ever received cocked eyebrows and quiet tut-tuts. He felt positively lightheaded, too dumbstruck to offer more than a nod.
Ginny gave his hand a squeeze as the train spurted a great cloud of steam.
As the Hogwarts Express chugged away into the distance, Harry had to remind himself that this was the beginning, not the end, of another great adventure.
* * * * *
“And that was when I got the memo about a meeting with Kingsley,” Hermione admitted, barely above a whisper. The room was almost quiet, except for the sizeable din coming from the children’s table in the adjacent family room. All of the family members and guests seated around the magically enlarged kitchen table leaned forward over their Christmas pudding with bated breath.
Hermione cleared her throat, preparing herself for this announcement. Ron harrumphed in eager frustration, but couldn’t hold back the enormous grin on his face. “Well, we had the meeting.” Hermione continued, very aware of her somewhat large audience. “Kingsley congratulated me on my work with the House Elves, and my new campaign for goblin diplomacy strategies… and, well,” Smiling, she caught Ron’s eye. “As of the New Year, I’ll be taking over as Chief Magical Creatures Officer for the Department of Magical Law Enforcement – and,” she said in a rush, hardly able to contain her excitement, “I’ve been invited to join the Wizengamot!”
The table erupted with congratulations. Molly immediately burst into a fit of tears; Ron maintained a joyous mantra of “My wife! That’s my wife!” and Ginny heartily scolded Hermione for not telling her sooner.
At the other end of the table, Percy went to no lengths to disguise his obvious envy, objecting, “But you’re barely thirty!”
“Sod off, Perce,” cried Ron, jubilantly. “Just because some of us are still wiping the mud off Kingsley’s boots…”
“I’m an adviser to the Minister of Magic, Ron!” protested Percy indignantly.
Ron happily ignored him, choosing to take another sip of mead.
“Hermione, that’s just fantastic.” Harry congratulated her. He himself had been made an honorary member of the Wizengamot soon after the end of the war. The position had been one of the few rewards and prizes awarded to him that he relished; an Order of Merlin, First Class was all well and good, but a place on the Wizengamot gave him a real opportunity to do good. Knowing the calibre of wizards and witches that made up the Wizengamot, Harry understood better than anyone the great honour that was being bestowed on Hermione and couldn’t think of anyone more deserving.
With the excitement over Hermione’s promotion and Molly’s tears subsiding, Arthur clapped his hands together. “I believe the time has come for presents!”
A tremendous roar of “PRESENTS!” sounded from the living room – no doubt someone had discovered a stray pair of extendable or ears, or else they were all simply paying close attention to the conversation, biding their time before it was indeed time for presents.
There was a mass migration into the living room. The space had never felt so crowded – Harry was almost thankful that Hagrid had decided to spend Christmas with Grawp this year.
Harry sank comfortably into the couch, Ginny beside him, but soon found himself decidedly squashed as Hermione planted herself on Ginny’s other side, Rose on her lap. Albus and Lily followed Rose’s lead, climbing onto Harry and Ginny’s respective laps while Ron wisely took up a seat on the arm of the couch on Hermione’s side.
Molly and Arthur were lucky enough to claim the other couch, which they shared with Andromeda, leaving Bill and Fleur to share the remaining armchair. The others were left to their own devices; Charlie, George and Angelina had no problem with sitting on the floor with their numerous eager nieces and nephews, while Percy huffed and puffed and summoned chairs from the kitchen for Audrey and himself.
Harry watched contentedly as the children tore open their presents. For the most part, the gifts were not extravagant or expensive – there were far too many children, grandchildren and spouses to allow that – but the presents were all thoughtful. George and Angelina, unsurprisingly, provided everyone with new Weasley Wizarding Wheezes products – much to the children’s excitement, while Molly had obviously been knitting for months, presenting every single family member some form of knitwear. Arthur was obviously attempting to share his love of Muggles, giving everyone an undoubtedly prized piece of his plug collection. Harry received an extension cord.
Harry’s kids seemed to be pleased with their loot; James and Albus could not be torn from the enchanted dragon figurines Charlie had given them; James’ Norwegian Ridgeback was spouting fire as Albus’ Welsh Green darted the flames, flying overhead. Lily was doing her best to mother her brand new doll – complete with wand and witch’s hat, her gift from Bill and Fleur – unlike Molly, who was crying because she wanted a Pygmy Puff like the one George and Angelina had given to Victoire and Dominique.
Teddy, on the other hand, was alarmingly solemn. Harry was not fooled by the small smile on Teddy’s face as he played with his new Exploding Snap game with Victoire. Something had been up since he’d arrived home from Hogwarts...
Andromeda had brought Teddy, still in pyjamas - as was tradition - over to Grimmauld Place early that morning to open his presents with James, Albus and Lily; the strange thing being that his excitement was altogether contained. For Teddy Lupin to not be bouncing off the walls on Christmas morning was highly unusual, but to add to that the lingering, pensive looks he randomly shot Harry – no, something was definitely up.
Harry looked for an opportunity to confront Teddy on his odd behaviour. Fortunately, all presents now properly distributed to their rightful recipient, the guests dispersed throughout the Burrow – some in search of chairs.
Ginny, Hermione, Fleur and Molly had resumed the conversation that currently dominated family get-togethers – education.
Fleur took up her usual stance on the matter, “But, you see, eet eez a muzzer’s duty to provide ze lessons for ‘er children. My muzzer-”
“Yes, dear,” Molly sighed, growing quickly frustrated with her daughter-in-law, as per usual. “But you can’t condemn Ginny and Hermione for wanting to pursue a career,”
It was usually at this point that Hermione would commence a steady descent into tears.
Harry was grateful when he saw Teddy rise from the rug on which he was playing with Victoire, a glass in hand, and retreat into the empty kitchen. Excusing himself from the dreaded education conversation, he followed Teddy.
“Hey,” Harry alerted Teddy, who was pouring himself a glass of pumpkin juice, to his presence. He did his best to attempt nonchalance, hoping to disguise the interrogational nature of this ambush.
“Hi,” replied Teddy, concentrating with unnatural effort on the distribution of his juice.
“So how’s school?” asked Harry, leaning against the table and doing what he considered to a pretty fair job at nonchalance.
“Teddy, no one comes back from Hogwarts for the first time and says ‘fine’.”
Teddy gave Harry a crooked smile. “It’s amazing!” He grinned, quickly launching into a rambling spiel describing his teachers, the ghosts, his dormitory in Gryffindor tower, his class mates (it turned out Wilfred Wilkins was the biggest dork ever and liked to follow Teddy around, despite being a Hufflepuff) and his favourite subjects. But the moment he concluded his speech, the wide grin fell from his face.
“But?” prompted Harry.
Teddy grimaced. “You’re really famous, Harry.” He confessed. “Like, really famous. Everyone knows who you are. You’re a hero. Why didn’t you ever tell me you were a hero?” asked Teddy, looking a little hurt.
It had never occurred to Harry to tell his godson expressly that he was deemed a hero by majority of the Wizarding world. Teddy had accompanied Harry to all sorts of places - Diagon Alley, Quidditch games and such - where Harry had been accosted by well-wishers and press. Teddy being Teddy, forever amiable, had taken it all in his stride. No doubt he assumed everyone’s godfather talked to strangers on the street and constantly had their photo in the paper.
“Teddy,” said Harry, considering his response, “I didn’t think I had to tell you, I mean, it’s not what I am.”
Teddy rolled his eyes in Ginny-like fashion. “Harry, you don’t have to pretend. I heard all about it at school – the truth. You defeated Voldemort. Just you.”
“I never said any different!” replied Harry.
“Yeah, but what you said was-” Teddy opted to lower his voice in a poor yet comical impression of Harry, “‘There was a war. There was a bad wizard. There was a battle at Hogwarts. Good people died fighting. Voldemort was defeated. The end.’”
“That is the truth!”
“You never said you defeated him! Like a hero!”
Now it was Harry's turn to roll his eyes. “Are you serious? Do you really think I’d go about bragging about something like that?” Harry changed his tone. “That was a horrible, dark time in my life. It’s not something I like to talk about, least of all glorify. I’m not a hero, I just did what I thought was right.”
“If other people want to call me a hero, so be it. I can’t stop them. But Ted, it shouldn’t make a difference. Not to you.”
“But it does! You’re a celebrity! All my friends at school think it’s really cool I’ve got Harry Potter as my godfather.”
“I don’t want to be ‘Harry Potter’ to you, I want to be ‘Teddy’s cool godfather who lets him stay up late’ with you.”
Teddy thought about that for a moment. “Cool?” he asked eventually with dubious look.
Now it was Harry’s turn to play impersonator, “‘All my friends at school think Harry Potter’s really cool!’” He squeaked an imitation of Teddy’s voice.
Hands on hips, a woman clearly on a mission, Ginny had assembled all family members and their relevant belongings before the front door.
“Do we have trunks?”
“Do we have owls in cages?”
“Have we packed socks?”
Albus and James had quickly lost interest in this checklist game. They were now slumping, grumpily eager to get going.
“Is Lily’s door closed?”
Lily looked to the ceiling, considering this, before scampering down the corridor and racing up the stairs. “YES!” she cried, already on her way back down again.
Harry checked his watch – ten o’clock, on the dot.
Ginny turned her attention back to her sons as Lily appeared in the corridor again. “And do we have wands?”
Funnily enough, both boys went to roll their eyes, before quickly realising neither of them could find their wands in either of their jeans pockets.
Ginny just raised her eyebrows.
“And you expect to do magic how?”
Author's Note: Oh my giddy aunt, that was long. Please don't come to expect such length from me, that was monolithic! I simply couldn't cut it up, so here you are, a special end of Summer/Winter-back-to-school treat. Just a whole bunch of Teddy to make your day (hopefully!) Quite a delay, I know, I'm sorry! Please address complaints to Block, Writer's c/o Lucy's Brain. Next chapter (the chapter of jaw dropping 'oh no she di'nt') is written but needs a bit of a tweak, so shouldn't be too much of a wait! So now I'm going to pass out, after writing that ridiculous chapter - so enjoy and please leave a review!
Chapter 20: A Funeral
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All Was Well
Wands carefully stowed in jeans pockets (Harry was hardly a student of Mad-Eye’s school of thinking when it came to proper wand storage), the boys helped Harry load their school things into the car.
“Lily, get a move on!” Ginny called from the doorstep. Lily’s bladder always had to be taken into account before any and all family excursions.
Soon enough the car was packed and the children clambered into the surprisingly spacious back seat. Unbeknownst to Arthur Weasley, the back seat could fit the three children plus Teddy without fellow Muggle drivers any the wiser.
“Good bye, house!” cried Albus.
James rolled his eyes and elbowed Albus in the ribs.
“Mum!” Albus protested.
“How do Muggles do it?” Ginny asked Harry, ignoring the ruckus in the back.
“Drive anywhere with children? On a daily basis?”
Harry neatly pulled up in front of the dreary, brown brick funeral parlour. Already a few clusters of mourners were gathering, all dressed in black and looking appropriately sombre. Harry found the sight of all these Muggles in their dark suits and coats rather ridiculous in light of the insufferably sticky July day. He twisted around, nevertheless, in his own Muggle suit to face the children in the back seat of the car.
“Now, we mustn’t forget these people are Muggles.”
“Like Mrs Ali!” piped Lily from her car seat.
“Exactly like Mrs Ali,” said Harry with a smile. “So we’re not going to talk about magic in front of them, just like we don’t talk about magic in front of Mrs Ali,” Harry looked rather pointedly at Lily. The four-year-old continued to get in trouble for mentioning magical phenomena in front of the kindly old lady who ran the local green grocer. Fortunately, Mrs Ali assumed Lily had an over-active imagination, rambling about unicorns and pixie dust and daddy’s work, the Ministry of Magic…
“James, no ‘accidents’,” chimed Ginny from beside Harry. “No magic,”
James rolled his eyes sullenly. He’s seven; Harry thought bleakly, they could certainly look forward to a spectacular adolescence with him…
Harry shot them all a meaningful look, which he hoped read ‘I am being serious’. He really didn’t feel like confunding Muggles on his weekend, let alone at a funeral.
As usual, Albus dutifully nodded like the well-behaved child he was, but grimaced. “Dad,” he asked, “Do we have to see the dead body?”
“I don’t think so, not if you don’t want to. I mean, the coffin might be closed. Merlin, I wonder where they found a coffin big enough…”
Ginny shot him a reproachful look.
“What?” said Harry, affronted. “Don’t pretend you liked him!”
Suppressing a smirk, Ginny turned back to Albus. “He’s not magic, Al. There’s no ghosts or anything. Nothing to be afraid of.”
Al heaved a quiet sigh of relief.
With a final warning of “Be good”, Harry and Ginny unloaded the car of the children and made their way towards the entrance, all five of them sweltering in their Sunday bests. Lily had been the only one pleased with the dress code; she got to wear a party dress that had been charmed black.
Only a few people looked vaguely familiar to Harry; it seemed like a lifetime ago that he had lived amongst them, day in and day out. He wasn’t entirely sure how he was supposed to feel about this; the truth of the matter was that he was full with a combination of dread and apathy - hardly the right emotions for such a setting.
There were only two people Harry had come to see, and he reluctantly searched the drab funeral parlour foyer for them. It was a dismal place, smelling stale and dusty and decorated with fading plastic flowers. Unable to make either of them out amongst the crowd, he focused instead on steeling himself for the encounter. He had no idea what to expect; would they begrudge him making an appearance?
The small horde of mourners began to clamber through the double doors into the musty chapel. Following suit, Harry led Ginny and the children inside. They discreetly took their seats toward the back of the hall, Harry still unsure of how his presence would be received.
A balding, heavy-lidded celebrant took to the podium, wheezing, before noisily clearing his throat and beginning, “Family, friends, we are here today to celebrate the great life of Vernon Dursley.”
A shrill howl rang out from the front of the congregation.
“Tragically, Vernon Dursley’s life was cut short.” The celebrant continued to waffle, “To pass on at such a young age, in the prime of his life is truly awful – especially in the case of Mr Dursley, who was such a generous and kind man, a wonderful husband and proud father, a man who – out of nothing but Christian goodness – brought into his own home his troubled nephew…”
Harry felt the bile rise in his throat. Ginny thoughtfully yanked Harry’s hand away from the pew seat, preventing him from digging his fingernails even further into the wood.
Sensing her father’s unease the way only a child can, Lily clambered into Harry’s lap and attempted to feign interest in the service. Albus and James, however, occupied themselves with the Exploding Snap cards they had smuggled in, only to be promptly silently scolded by Ginny and the cards confiscated before any real havoc could be unleashed.
Harry could barely bring himself to concentrate. Not only was half the dribble coming out of the celebrant’s mouth complete and utter rubbish, but also it seemed Aunt Petunia would be the only speaker. It would appear that people who were able to feel enough goodwill towards Uncle Vernon to make some sort of speech in his honour were hard to come by.
Harry was all too relieved when the service came to an end.
Feeling the sweat trickle down his back, Harry pulled himself to his feet and followed Ginny and the boys back into the foyer, Lily holding his hand. He half-heartedly scanned the room again for a glimpse of his aunt or cousin, hoping to give his condolences and be on his way.
All of a sudden there was a wail of grief behind him. He didn’t need to turn around to know who had made the awful noise.
Bony hands grabbed Harry’s shoulders and spun him around. Harry came to face to face with a distraught looking Aunt Petunia, dressed entirely in black and sporting a ridiculous netted veil.
“A tragedy,” she whispered, searching his face frantically, the bobbing of her head in combination with her already comically long neck giving her an ostrich-like appearance. “My poor, beloved Vernon taken away. Taken before his time. It was so sudden; he was so young… Who would ever have thought?”
Harry willed himself to maintain a stony expression. The man was seriously obese and died of a heart attack. No, no one could have possibly seen it coming…
“I’m very sorry for your loss, Petunia.” Ginny replied soberly when Harry made no comment. Thank goodness for Ginny. Petunia merely sniffed; clearly, Ginny’s first impression had been a lasting one.
Having returned to his senses, Harry was about to introduce Petunia to his children, who were all waiting with uncharacteristic patience behind him, when a blond head appeared from behind her.
“Dudley - it’s been a while.”
Dudley didn’t seem nearly half as distraught at his mother, as he pulled Harry into an awkward, bone-crushing hug. It reminded Harry somewhat of hugging Hagrid; Dudley could only have gotten bigger, though the stupid, slack-jawed look on his face remained ever the same.
“Harry, I have to introduce you!” Dudley cried eagerly, before clomping off into the crowd, presumably in search of whomever it was he wanted to introduce.
Petunia watched him sadly, snuffling, as he bounded away. “Obviously, he’s not dealing with the trauma.” She remarked stiffly. She had not even given the children a second glance.
The boys fidgeted with their long sleeve shirts. Harry was sure Aunt Petunia would have been horrified by the lack of formal jackets had she not been entirely pre-occupied with her snuffling and snorting.
Dudley returned shortly, grinning, with a very petite woman in tow. She was rakishly thin with lank, mousy hair. “This is Cecilia, my wife.” Cecilia nodded her greeting, not meeting Harry’s eyes and squeaked a quiet ‘hello’.
“Nice to meet you,” said Harry, extending a hand. She took it so meekly that he was sure he could have ripped her arm off if he’d used a fraction more force. “This is my wife Ginny,” Having seen the feebleness herself, Ginny gently shook hands with the woman.
“Dudley, these are our kids, James, Al and Lily.”
The three of them stared up at Dudley hardly able to help themselves from gaping.
“Hello.” Dudley greeted them jovially. With a small smile, Cecilia gave a little ‘humph’ which Harry assumed was meant as a ‘hello’. “You lot can play with my boys – where are they Cee?” Dudley asked his timid wife. Wide-eyed she glanced around the room, emitting a soft “Oh,” as her eyes came to rest on a small disturbance in the corner of the foyer.
Two toddlers – roughly three-years-old – were heavily involved in a wrestling match. Dudley beamed proudly as he bounded over to the grappling boys and picked them up by their collars, separating them. He marched them over to Harry and his family. Visibly bothered at having their fight cut short, the boys frowned, their little hands balled into fists. Harry caught a glimpse of Lily’s face; she was horrified.
“Bradley and Travis.” Dudley introduced, bursting with fatherly pride. Even Cecilia managed a smile as she gazed down at her the little terrors.
Cecilia’s already wide eyes suddenly widened, as though she had forgotten something. “Daisy,” she said in what was barely a whisper.
“Ah, Daisy.” Dudley replied somewhat darkly. He whipped around and called out over the crowd, “Daisy!”
Through the assembly of mourners, Harry could make out a waifish girl sitting by herself on a chair by the foyer wall. She was the spitting image of the equally waifish Cecilia, with lank hair, blonde like Dudley, and a scrawny frame. She looked up, doe-eyed, and slowly traipsed towards her parents.
“Harry, I was wondering,” whispered Dudley, obviously meaning for only Harry to hear this, but failing. “Daisy, she’s a bit different. I was thinking, maybe she’s a bit different – like you?”
Harry studied Dudley’s piggish face for a moment, daring him to confess the joke. But it very quickly became apparent that Dudley wasn’t joking. “Maybe you can have a chat with her, see if she is – like you?” Harry could hardly believe his ears. Dudley thought he had a magical child?
Beside Dudley, Cecilia had quite clearly drifted off into her own world.
Harry shot Ginny a disbelieving glance. “Sure, Dud…” Harry agreed as tiny Daisy came to stand beside her brothers, who had resumed their wrestling. She could be no older than Albus, but she was barely bigger than Lily.
Harry knelt down before the little girl. Lily, who had been hiding somewhat behind his legs, immediately clung to his arm and Harry scooped her in front of him – perhaps she would make a good interrogation tool.
“Hey Daisy, I’m Harry, your dad’s cousin. Can we have a chat?”
Daisy looked warily from Harry to her vacant mother then to Lily in Harry’s arms. She nodded in consent, but stared off into the distance. Dudley was right, she was different.
Lily still in his arms, Harry led Daisy over to the chair by the wall, where he had first seen her. Taking a seat, he planted Lily in his lap.
“So, Daisy, how old are you?”
“Five.” She answered, her voice quiet and feeble. She stared with great interest at Lily.
“I’m four.” Lily divulged, like it was a very exciting secret, holding out four fingers proudly.
“How old are your brothers?”
“Three.” Daisy answered, disinterestedly.
“And do you like your brothers?”
Harry gulped; he would have to come right out with it. “Hey Daisy, do you sometimes make strange things happen?”
Daisy frowned, staring Harry down with a strangely piercing gaze.
“Sometimes, when you’re happy or sad or angry?” Harry added feebly.
“I do!” Lily piped, bouncing in Harry’s lap.
“No, I don’t think so,” said Daisy, her voice barely above a whisper. She grimaced as though this troubled her.
“Are you sure?” asked Harry, but only tamely. It was clear to him that the poor kid was just a bit odd – and not surprisingly, either – having Dudley Dursley for a father would have to have some sort of effect. “Well, thanks for the chat.” He concluded, rising.
Lily in one arm and Daisy drifting along at his heels, he returned to where Ginny was struggling to maintain pleasant conversation with her in-laws. Petunia had given up entirely, preferring the company of Aunt Marge, who thankfully didn’t recognise Harry or chose not to notice him. As Harry approached, Dudley appeared to be enthralling Ginny with a drill industry related anecdote. Ginny was doing a very good job at feigning interest.
“But it wasn’t a Phillips Head at all!” boomed Dudley. The likeness to Vernon was disturbing. Cecilia returned from her reverie to offer a weak laugh. Ginny grimaced.
“You’re back!” she called, blatantly relieved beyond words. Harry might has well have been gone a year; she clung to him as soon as he was at arm’s length.
Harry leaned forward and whispered so that only Dudley could hear, “There is absolutely nothing wrong with her.”
Dudley looked immensely relieved. Beside him, waifish Daisy tugged on her mother’s dress.
“Can Lily please come for a visit one day?” pleaded Daisy.
Cecilia looked dutifully to Dudley for an answer.
“I don’t see why not!” Dudley replied, with a stupid smile.
Harry suppressed a groan.
Author's note: So there you have it. I killed off Vernon Dursley. It had to be done. Was it 'Oh no she di'nt' worthy? I hope so. I do worry I' built it up to be more of a shock, but really, when the idea came to me, I immediately thought 'well, people certainly won't expect that'. As for the Baby Dursleys, I like the idea of Dudley having little terrors and I kept in mind Jo saying she considered having Dudley on Platform 9 3/4 in the Epilogue with a magical kid, but then deciding that there was no way any magical DNA could get through Vernon's genetic makeup - resulting in Daisy. Do we like it?! Please let me know!
Chapter 21: Love for a Lovegood
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All Was Well
Love for a Lovegood
Harry gave Lily’s hand a small squeeze as he let the familiar tugging sensation in his navel drag him into the location for Luna and Rolf’s wedding. Landing softly enough, Harry looked around to inspect his surroundings, the details of which had been kept secret until now, creating the need for a Portkey to transport the guests to the location.
They appeared to be in some sort of field. The sky was a clear blue above them, the green grass high and the scene not unlike the area around Ottery St Catchpole, where both Luna’s house and the Burrow resided. A short distance away, a number of chairs had been set up facing a lattice archway bedecked in colourful wildflowers. Already, a number of guests, presumably on earlier Portkeys, were milling around, chatting excitedly.
Teddy landed uneasily beside him, but managed to stay upright – quite an achievement for a fourteen-year-old with little Portkey experience. Harry recalled he hadn’t managed quite so well on his first try at the same age.
“Daddy! A unicorn!” squealed Lily, releasing Harry’s hand and racing towards a solitary oak tree, beside which two yellow tents had been set up. Indeed, a beautiful pearly unicorn also sporting wildflowers was tethered to the tree with a golden rope bridle. Teddy dutifully followed her to supervise – though whether he was supervising for Lily or the unicorn’s sake remained to be seen.
An audible thump alerted Harry to his sons’ landing and he turned around to find James and Albus noisily picking themselves up off the ground.
“Ouch! Al gerroffme!”
“You get off me!”
The boys eventually managed to disentangle themselves and stumbled over through the high grass to where Harry had been contentedly watching them struggle.
“Portkeys suck.” Albus wisely noted as they followed Lily over to the unicorn. On closer inspection, its shining mane still looked quite silvery, so Harry assumed it was young enough not to take offence to his boys.
No sooner had they reached the tree did a fold in the fabric of the tents open to reveal Ginny, hair all up and wearing a full-length yellow bridesmaid’s dress. She had left hours before the rest of them in order to fulfil her duties as Matron of Honour, a title she fiercely disliked – “Since when does ‘married’ ultimately equal ‘matronly’?” she had been protesting for weeks, “I don’t want to be matronly!”
“What are you lot doing here?” Ginny asked with a look of surprise, “Shouldn’t you be taking your seats?”
“Unicorn,” Harry replied simply, snaking an arm around his especially made-up wife. “You look nice.”
Ginny rolled her eyes and smiled, poking Harry’s dress robes playfully. “You don’t look too shabby yourself.” She leant up on tip-toes to kiss him tenderly, until-
“Gross!” James shrieked, pointing at his parents. “That’s disgusting!”
Thankfully, a grinning Teddy grabbed James by the collar and gave him a good-natured shove in the direction of the assembled guests, taking Lily’s hand as he went. Albus followed close behind.
“I knew we kept Ted around for a reason,” murmured Harry, leaning in for another kiss.
“I don’t think it’s disgusting. I think it’s lovely,” came a dreamy voice from inside the tent.
Harry and Ginny turned to find Luna gliding towards them happily. She bore flowers in her long blonde hair and wore a floaty white gown, adorned with even more flowers, violet, marigold and roses. In her hands she carried a bouquet laced with butterbeer corks – one would assume to keep the Nargles at bay.
Ginny begrudgingly detached herself from her husband. “All ready?” she asked enthusiastically, going over to Luna to fiddle with her veil.
“Yes, I think so.” Luna looked up to the sky, inspecting the sun. “I do hope the ceremony finishes before sundown. I would hate for our vows to be drowned out by moon frogs.”
Ginny took a moment to swallow a laugh that threatened to leave her lips, before instructing Harry, “You best get going, we’re not far off now.”
“Alright,” said Harry, thrusting his hands in his pockets. “Good luck, Luna! You look lovely.”
“Thank you, that was very nice of you to say.” Luna beamed serenely. “And thank you for the luck, but I’m wearing doxy wings in my shoes for that.”
Harry strolled through the high grass, shading his eyes with his hand to soften the bright glare of the setting sun and ambling over to the assembled guests. He was greeted by a whole host of friends and family; he spotted Bill and Fleur chatting away with George, Angelina and wriggly baby Fred over by the modest sugar-flower covered cake. Neville and Hannah had just been met by Dean, and were shouting over Xenophilius Lovegood who had picked up an enormous multi-trumpeted instrument that let out an atrocious bag-pipe-like wail the second he saw Harry approaching.
The children meanwhile were entertaining themselves by running through the rows of chairs - all but Teddy and Victoire, who would both resent being labelled a ‘child’. The pair was discussing Hogwarts with Ron and Hermione as Harry joined them.
“She’s nice enough. Strict, though.” Teddy was saying.
“And not at all hard on the eyes…” added Victoire teasingly, rather ironically – this coming from the cherubic part-Veela girl.
“Who’s this?” asked Harry, suddenly interested, eyeing Teddy suspiciously with a burst of paternal pride.
“Professor Circinus, our Astronomy teacher.” Teddy explained hastily, going a little pink in the cheeks, eager to brush off Victoire’s jibe.
“She took over from Professor Sinistra when she became Headmistress.” Hermione added, regarding Teddy smilingly.
“Weird,” mused Ron. “Hogwarts without McGonagall. Who’s keeping everyone in line?”
“I like to think I do a fair job of it,” said Neville with a laugh, coming up to join them and patting Teddy and Victoire – two of his own Gryffindors – on the back. “Well, folks, I think we’re about to start. Xenophilius wanted me to come over and tell you. Can’t imagine why, but it seems he’s not too fond of you, Harry…”
Harry laughed, glancing over to old Xenophilius who, on catching Harry’s eye, dropped his instrument directly onto his unsuspecting foot and proceeded to hop around in circles, all the while distinctly avoiding Harry’s gaze. Xenophilius then hastily handed his instrument to an equally batty-looking friend, a wizened old wizard with a greying goatee and tie-dyed dress robes, before dashing up to Luna’s tent by the oak tree.
Harry managed to wrangle his children and have them seated on the bride’s side by the time the groom’s party had arrived at the archway. With wiry bronze hair and horn-rimmed glasses, the ever-affable and obliging Rolf Scamander beamed, ecstatic. Just as he took his place, his brother Felix at his heels, he spotted Harry in the second row and grinned broadly, bounding over.
Harry rose, shuffling, to greet Rolf with bemused incredulity – the man was seconds away from getting married and he thought now would be a good time for a chat? Of course, Harry and Rolf got on quite well – there wasn’t a lot to dislike about Luna’s fiancé – but it did seem like an odd time to pop over and say ‘hello’…
“Harry!” greeted Rolf, shaking Harry’s hand with exuberance.
“Rolf, good to see you. Nervous?”
“Good grief, Harry! Why would I be nervous?” Rolf asked in earnest, truly puzzled.
“You’re about to get married.” Harry reminded him.
“Heavens! Why on earth should I be nervous? It’s terribly exciting!”
Harry just smiled, bemused at Rolf’s ceaseless contentment. “So, how was Africa?” he asked.
“Hot!” Rolf exclaimed. “We were in Ghana, primarily. Wonderful place. Made plenty of progress with our Runespoor research; cataloguing, critical analysis… Did you know, the common West African Runespoor has an average slithering speed of-”
“Er, Rolf,” interrupted Felix, the slightly more on-this-planet brother of Rolf, “We’re about to start.”
“Right-O!” chimed Rolf, clapping his hands together. “Lovely chatting to you, Harry. No doubt we can continue this conversation later!”
Xenophilius’ goatee-sporting friend began to blow zealously into the mouthpiece of the odd instrument, without producing a sound any more pleasing to the ear than Xenophilius had. The guests all turned their heads in the direction of the yellow tents to discover Luna perched on the back of the young unicorn, being led over to the congregation by her beaming father and followed closely by Ginny.
“Oh, I want a unicorn at my wedding!” whispered Lily as the bridal party approached them, tightly hugging Harry’s arm.
“When you’re fifty,” Harry reminded her playfully, speaking of their long-standing agreement.
“When I’m fifty,” confirmed Lily, nodding in earnest.
It seemed the bride and groom had specially designed their wedding to suit their unique personalities. Rolf’s vows included a lengthy poem in which he rhymed ‘wrackspurt’ with ‘lacks hurt’, while Luna opted to express her joy at their imminent union with a short improvised interpretive dance piece, accompanied by her father on the atrocious brassy instrument.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Rolf’s parents and Xenophilius vanished the guests’ seating and speedily conjured up a dance floor and a number of tables and chairs. With the sun now setting, dozens of candles were suspended mid air, hovering over the party Hogwarts-style. Platefuls of food came zooming out of the tents and the guests set about enjoying the reception.
Hermione had somehow conned Ron in dancing with her and Lily had done the same to poor Hugo, who hopelessly obliged. He gazed longingly at the wedding cake as Lily dragged him around the dance floor and twisted his arms around to accommodate a great number of showy spins that made her party dress fly out around her.
Harry was quite content to share a nice slow dance with his wife, now that Xenophilius and his friend had abandoned their multi-horned instrument earlier on in the festivities. They swayed to the music making slow circles - Harry was hardly a master dancer and this concept of shuffling to the music suited him well.
Ginny sighed and rested her head on his shoulder. “Not too long ‘til we’ll be dancing at their wedding…” She murmured.
Harry frowned in confusion. “Who?”
“Ted and Vic. Look at them,” she whispered, gesturing with a small nod of her head out into the darkening field where the figures of Teddy and Victoire could be seen strolling over towards the creek in the valley. Harry smiled as he watched the pair laugh while they walked, Victoire skipping ahead.
“Please," Harry beseeched, "you’ll make me feel like an old man.”
Harry weaved his way through the busy London traffic.
James was explaining the intricacies of the inter-house Quidditch season to Albus when a car swerved into Harry's lane.
"Goodness," gasped Ginny, clinging to her seat. "That could be Ron, for all we know."
"That's right," Harry remembered. "Wonder if he passed his test..."
"For the sake of our lovely niece and nephew, I do hope not. I can't believe Hermione would value their lives so little as to let Ronald Weasley behind the wheel..."
Author's Note: MEH. What an appalling chapter. I apologise profusely. This chapter has more padding than a push up bra. Hopefully you, my beloved readers, will forgive me. On top of that, it's taken forever to write as well! I should be on my knees here, begging! I've hit a kind of end-of-story crisis, sort of like a mid-life crisis, but no, nothing like that at all (I'm trying to be all AVPM here and failing it would appear...) It's just that I know what to write, but not how to write it. It's incredibly frustrating! Not to worry, I only have about five chapters to go so it shouldn't be too hard. What did you think of this awful chapter? Do you agree? Disagree? Do we like Rolf? Want to see more Teddy/Victoire loving? Wish you could have witnessed Luna's mad interpretive dance skillz (with a 'z') for yourself? To answer any of these quality questions and learn so much more, please leave a review! Remember, it's absolutely free! Imaginary cyber cookies to the first ten reviewers! Tell a friend and receive 10% off your next review! ... wait, that makes absolutely no sense. Oh well. :-)
Chapter 22: Excursion
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All Was Well
“Why do you have to be eleven?”
“… we lost to them once last year, but we’ll probably beat you all the time WHEN YOU’RE IN SLYTHERIN!”
“JAMES, ENOUGH!” cried Ginny.
“What was that, Lily?” called Harry.
“Why do you have to be eleven!?”
The trip to the station was proving to be yet another pleasant family drive, complete with shouting matches and back seat scuffles.
“You have to be eleven because that’s the rule,” Harry explained, for what felt like the thousandth time.
“But, why?” whined Lily.
“Because, according to Hogwarts, that’s when you’re mature enough.” Ginny explained, her exasperation showing.
“But I am mature! I’m nine!”
“Please, Harry,” pleaded Ginny, while simultaneously buttering a piece of toast for Lily and mussing Albus’ hair with her free hand in an attempt to make his fringe lie flat. “My article was due yesterday. I could curse Glenda Harkin for quitting like that! With a month ‘til finals season! The English side’s decimated - Summerby’s not up to scratch, nowhere near where he should be by now to take over for Harkin. Harkin’s a machine – we were in with a chance for the world cup this year-” Ginny realised she was rambling and calmly put down the butter knife she had been flailing around while she spoke. “It’s really put me out.”
“No, I understand.” Harry assured her. Lily sat beside him at the kitchen table, her feet in his lap while he did up her bootlaces. “It’s fine, he can come to work with me. We can’t lump him on your mum when he’s sick like this, she’s already got enough on her plate.”
“Hmm…” Ginny agreed distractedly, dropping the toast in front of Lily, flicking her wand at Albus’ dirty plates, sending them flying into the sink and planting a brief kiss on the boy’s head. With one foot on the stairs, she called to Harry, “I’ve really got to get to started. James is upstairs, dressed and ready. You don’t mind dropping them…?” she asked, with such an anguished look on her face, Harry felt compelled to stand up to kiss her goodbye and assure her everything was under control. She promptly raced up to her office, an audible thud as she shut the door reaching the ears of Harry, Albus and Lily all the way down in the kitchen.
“Alright then, we best be off.” Harry informed the healthier two of his three children. “We’ll go as soon as James is ready.”
Marching upstairs, courteously tiptoeing past Ginny’s office, Harry came to James’ room on the fourth floor. After the obligatory knock, he cracked the door to find James fully dressed, lying on the bed.
“Ready to go?” Harry asked as he approached. On closer inspection, James appeared quite pale. His little brown eyes - Ginny’s eyes - looked dolefully up at Harry as he nodded.
“Let me have look, then.”
James opened his mouth wide. Inside, his throat was red and the tonsils clearly inflamed. Harry always felt a little hopeless in situations like these, when his kids would cough through the night or vomit or ooze mucous like it was going out of fashion. Give him battle wounds in the field any day – he was an old hand at counter curses and antidotes these days. It was the common cold that really put the fear of God in him.
Harry cocked an eyebrow at his sick son. “Does this mean some peace and quiet for this poor old house for a bit?”
“It doesn’t hurt to talk.” James insisted throatily, but grinning.
Ten minutes later, the four of them found themselves stepping out of the Burrow’s fireplace.
Molly spotted them from the kitchen and bustled over to greet them, assaulting them with kisses. “Good morning, good morning!”
Albus and Lily raced past her at the earliest opportunity to meet Rose and Hugo in the kitchen. All five children had come to the Burrow for lessons with Molly since the age of five. With Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione all working full-time, it made for a perfect solution to have Molly, who had single-handedly educated seven children until the age of eleven, teach the children reading, writing and arithmetic. Arthur helped out sometimes too, but he was wise enough to leave it to the expert most of the time.
Molly spotted James’ ailment within seconds. “James, sweetheart, you look pale.”
“He’s not well, Molly. Throat infection.” Harry informed her.
“Easily fixed!” She exclaimed, “You dear, lie down there on the couch. I’ve got just the thing to sort you out,” before disappearing into the kitchen.
“That’s fine.” Harry called out to her, “Gin’s got a story to do. I was going to take him into work with me. I don’t want him to be a bother here.”
“No bother!” Molly protested as she reappeared, spoon and vial in hand. “Now, open wide – uh huh – that should help with the inflammation, but he needs to rest…”
James spluttered, making a face. “I- I should go with Dad.” He croaked.
“Nonsense, dear. You’ll do fine here, napping on the couch. Just a nice, quiet day.”
James grimaced dubiously. “Nana, when am I ever nice and quiet?”
Harry laughed, “He’s right, Molly. It’s probably best if I take him off your hands. He’ll be a nuisance here, I’m sure.”
James nodded solemnly in agreement.
“Alright then, if you insist.” She surrendered, though it obviously pained her; sick children were even more fun to coddle than healthy ones.
Arms laden with vials of medicinal concoctions, Harry and James managed to edge their way into the fireplace. With a quick goodbye to the others, they stepped into the green flames and flooed over to the Ministry’s atrium.
Marching through the atrium, James traipsed close beside Harry.
“I was just wondering…” James croaked. “Maybe you can give me a tour? Maybe at lunch time, when you’re not busy…”
“You’ve been here before, haven’t you? Lots of times.”
“Yeah,” the little boy agreed in his throaty little voice, looking up to his father with big, pleading eyes. “But not everywhere. I’ve never seen the Department of Mysteries…”
That made Harry’s ears prick up. If he didn’t look so thoroughly unwell, Harry might have considered that there was something suspect about James wanting to see the Department of Mysteries of all places.
“We’ll see what we can do.”
Arriving on the second floor, Harry pushed open the great wooden doors to Auror Headquarters. James had to jog to keep up as Harry was bombarded with dozens of Aurors, secretaries and clerks, all thrusting parchment or maps or photographs into the hands of their fearless leader and spouting information about appointment times or raid dates. Harry placed a careful hand on James’ shoulder, keeping him close as he steered him into his office at the end of the chamber.
“That’s mad, dad.” James whispered, awestruck, falling into one of the chairs that faced Harry’s desk.
“You’re not wrong,” Harry replied with a grin. “Hey, why don’t we set you up a cot? You’re supposed to be resting, remember?” With a flick of his wand, Harry conjured up an army cot not dissimilar to the one he had occupied when staying at the Burrow as a teenager. With another swish, he had the cot up against the wall adjacent to his desk where he could keep a close eye on the boy.
Harry’s day carried on in the usual fashion, full of meetings, report reading and frequent interruptions from Ron, who took it upon himself to keep James thoroughly occupied with a number of trips to the Ministry cafeteria in search of snacks. The pair of them had together demolished the Auror department’s biscuit supply before the clock had struck ten. James was kept entertained in the mean time with his copy of Seeker Weekly and the strenuous task of sending paper plane memos to any and all family members who worked within the Ministry.
As lunchtime approached, James appeared from his makeshift cot at the edge of Harry’s desk.
“Yes?” Harry asked with a lopsided grin, not looking up from his paperwork.
Harry’s grin widened; James obviously wanted something – he was known in the past to have punched Albus in the belly for daring to use the word ‘mummy’.
“Can we maybe go for a tour now?”
Harry checked his watch before looking up at his son. The doe-eyes had returned. Harry cocked an eyebrow, sceptical. “Why the sudden interest in my work?”
“No reason.” James very quickly replied, shuffling ever so slightly where he stood. He gave a small cough, a reminder of his ailment, as if this proved the innocent nature of his request.
“Alright then,” Harry surrendered, rising from his desk chair and pulling on his robes over his shirt and tie. James grinned at this, perhaps a little too enthusiastically – and noting this, immediately distinguished all signs of excitement in his face, adding another throaty cough for good measure.
A minute later, after informing his secretary Beatrice of his short absence, Harry led a beaming James down the second floor corridor.
“So what exactly is it you want to see?”
“Oh, nothing in particular…” James replied coolly, decidedly nonchalant.
Harry studied him, grinning as they ambled down the hall. “Well, this level is Magical Law Enforcement…” he explained, gesturing to the busy hallway. “Aunt Hermione works down here, should we go and say hello?”
James gave a noncommittal shrug, which Harry chose to ignore, instead leading his son through an archway marked ‘Wizengamot Administration Services’
Hermione greeted her visitors warmly, giving her begrudging nephew a kiss on the head on hearing of his illness. Harry was wise enough to keep their visit brief and Hermione was soon bidding them a friendly goodbye as she ushered a disgruntled looking goblin into her office.
“So, where to now?”
“Um… I don’t know. Where do you want to go?”
“Didn’t you mention wanting to see the Department of Mysteries?”
“Oh, did I? I can’t remember.” Replied James, doing a rather spectacular job at maintaining disinterest. Harry considered as they walked through the busy hallway how James would be quite suited to the stage – but despite his master skills of manipulation, acting would probably require some level of discipline. Perhaps a career in the theatre wasn’t in James’ future…
Stepping into the lift, Harry nodded warmly to a number of familiar faces. As they descended lower and lower into the depths of the Ministry, James’ impressive mask of indifference began to slip with every passing level.
“Now you know I won’t be able to show you much. The Department of Mysteries is a very secretive place and there’s lots of security. In fact, I don’t know if I can show you anything. It’s a bit spooky, so you’ll have to stick close. Promise?”
“Promise,” James vowed solemnly, fighting off the grin that taunted his lips.
“Level nine, Department of Mysteries,” came a cool female voice as the golden lift doors slip open.
The Department of Mysteries hadn’t changed much since Harry had last been there. He had only returned twice since that fateful day during his fifth year on Auror business early on in his career, before he was made Head of the Auror Office. It wasn’t much of a sight to see, now that he came to think of it. At the end of the corridor they stood in was the door that led to the Entrance Chamber, where they would be met by the disorienting reality of twelve handleless doors. They had no special permission to enter any Department sub-division and consequently no authorization to make it through any of the doors.
Just as Harry was about to explain the situation to his mesmerized son, the door leading to the Entrance Chamber swung open. Harry could barely believe his eyes when he instantly recognised the figure that now marched towards them.
Author's Note: TO BE CONTINUED! OKAY, sorry for crazy delay - writer's block, busyness etc. Sorry for the little emo moment in last chapter's AN, I really wasn't fishing for compliments, I was just seriously frus-to-the-trated. Thanks to all of you who were so incredibly kind with your reviews. So the little transitional now-to-then in this chapter might not seem so obvious now but it will with the next, I promise. Who's behind the door? Is Jamesikins for reals? What is the go with his weird DoM obsession? All this and more in the next chapter! Three to go!
Chapter 23: Familiar Faces
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All Was Well
Silver blonde hair slicked characteristically back, a swagger in his step and a small sneer on his pointed face, Draco Malfoy was physically the spitting image of his father twenty years previous. But there was something different about this Malfoy and it seemed to emanate from his very skin the way his father had oozed a sense of superiority and pride; there was something altogether pedestrian about this Malfoy. Perhaps it was the hastiness with which he walked, the slightly hunched over way he held himself or the passiveness of his sneer, but there were no airs and graces about this man.
It took him a few strides before he recognised Harry awkwardly hovering at the golden lift doorway.
“Potter?” he enquired curiously as he approached. With a small, but not unfriendly smirk, he observed, “Smaller Potter?” on noticing James, now only a few feet away.
“Malfoy,” Harry greeted him soberly. After their many uneasy meetings in the recent past, Harry still had absolutely no idea on what grounds they now stood. “What are you doing here?”
“I work here.” Malfoy replied automatically. Harry was intrigued to find there was no hint of malice or superiority in Malfoy’s tone as he said this, just boredom.
“You’re an unspeakable?”
“Twelve years this November,” Malfoy replied with a small sigh.
“Twelve years? I haven't seen you once." remarked Harry.
"Yes, well," muttered Malfoy, looking rather uncomfortable. "I do my best to keep out of everyone's way." he added, catching Harry's eye in a pointedly dark manner.
"And before that?” Harry asked before he could stop himself. His curiosity got the better of him. “Where exactly did you disappear to?”
“Merlin, Potter, what’s with all the questions?” Malfoy retorted, only slightly defensively. “You haven’t become a reporter for the Daily Prophet, have you? No, I’m sure I’d have read all about that…” he added bitterly.
When Harry failed to reply, Malfoy surrendered, “Russia, St Petersburg to be exact. We have a house there. Father thought it prudent to… you know, keep out of everyone’s way – for a while.” He confessed, wincing as he did so as though making such a confession was putting him in great jeopardy.
He seemed to steel himself after making this admission, as though determined not to give away any more family secrets. “I should be asking the same of you,” he continued eventually, raising a sceptical eyebrow.
“What are you doing down here with Potter Junior?”
James looked up at them with interested, wide brown eyes.
“I was giving James a bit of a tour, though why he’s so interested in this place I’m not so sure.” Harry explained.
Malfoy met Harry’s eyes darkly. Of course, now they both knew of the sinister secrets of this mysterious place, though it signified danger and an uncertain time in their lives for entirely different reasons.
“I want to see the veil.” James piped up, with more courage than Harry could have ever mustered in the same situation at James’ age.
“The veil?” Harry cried, rounding on his son as he finally cottoned on. “Is that what this is all about?”
James stared guiltily down at his boots. “Well, I wanted to see for myself – after what you told me on Friday night…”
Friday night indeed; Teddy had come around for dinner and someone at some point had made mention of Harry being a godfather, which led to discussion of Sirius which ultimately led to a curious nine-year-old boy asking his father how Sirius Black had died.
Harry did not like to reminisce about such things at all. He didn’t go in for harping on about the War, about his supposed great adventures and escapades – for the simple reason that majority of said adventures led to the death or demise of a loved one. To add to that, Harry considered nine years old very young; far too young to have one’s head filled with thoughts of Death Eaters and passageways to the afterlife. Ginny, on the other hand thought James could handle it. He was looking forward to informing her how right he’d been.
“The Veil, eh?” Malfoy drawled, considering James curiously. “You don’t want to see the Veil, kid. Not much to be seen, really – and I’m afraid I can’t show you anyway. Ministry rule.”
James visibly deflated. Harry shot him a pointed ‘we’ll talk about this later’ glare before turning back to Malfoy, frowning. “Thank you anyway,”
Malfoy brushed past him and pushed the ‘up’ button for the lift before digging his hands into his pocket and attempting to create an aura of casualness, as though this encounter with his former foe hadn’t unsettled him in the least. Really, thought Harry, at this rate Malfoy and James could start a club for people who liked faking nonchalance.
The rattling gates opened and Malfoy remained stationary, an expectant look plastered on his pointed face. “You’re not sticking around here unsupervised,” He told them. “Not on my watch.”
A little taken aback, Harry and James shuffled into the open lift. Harry tapped the button for the second floor, the golden gates shut tight and they were propelled upwards.
An awkward silence ensued as they rose higher and higher. Feeling a little protective, Harry held James close by placing a careful hand over his chest. James looked up at him with curious, questioning eyes to which Harry responded with a cocked eyebrow and yet another pointed ‘later’ look.
On level seven, a brief distraction came in the form of a pungent hag entering the compartment, only to make no form of communication, ensuring the silence. When she departed on the sixth floor, one level up, the silence becoming unbearable, Harry cleared his throat. “How’s your son doing, then?”
Malfoy grimaced, and for the slightest second, Harry thought he spotted a shadow of a smile. “Very well, thank you.” He glanced down pensively at James for a brief moment as the gates opened again. He nodded curtly, meeting Harry’s eyes and marched swift from the lift.
“So is he your friend, dad?” James asked, watching Malfoy striding down the corridor with a confused, slightly disgusted look on his face.
Harry could only shake his head from side to side as he watched Malfoy stride down the hallway through the closing gate.
“Good. He was a bit of a prat, if you ask me.”
“But I didn’t, did I?” laughed Harry, mussing James hair playfully. “We went to school together.”
But before Harry could call James up on his motives for taking this ‘tour’, the lift filled up again with a pair of young Aurors who bombarded Harry with questions all the way up to the second floor.
The doors shuffling open, Harry called out to his son who lagged behind, “Come on, then. We’ll find Ron and have some lunch.” He looked back to see James racing to catch up with him, a shiny paper something slipping from his trouser pocket. “James, you’ve dropped something.”
“Oh,” remarked James, spinning around to see what it was. By this time, however, Harry had walked over to pick it up for him. He turned the glossy fuchsia wrapper over in his hand. In bold silver lettering, ‘Tonsiliscious’ was emblazoned, in smaller script below, ‘Be bedridden by breakfast!’ There could be no doubt as to where James could stumble across this. Harry would have to have a word with his dear brother-in-law.
“Really?” he demanded half-heartedly, a smile on his face as he stared down his shamefaced son. “Impressive measures, James, but you could have just asked.”
“What’s the time?” asked Albus, poking his head between his parent’s seats from the backseat. “We’re not going to be late, are we?” he fell back into the middle seat with an anguished sigh before rounding on his little sister, “If we’re late, I’m going to get you!”
“Albus!” scolded Ginny, spinning around in her seat to stare down her usually mild mannered son.
Albus simply scowled. “I’ll… I’ll…” he stammered in hushed tones, the minute his mother had turned back around. “I’ll send Snuffles a bone covered in poison!”
“I heard that!” cried Ginny again, though this time she couldn’t bring herself to turn around in her seat, for what would no doubt feel like the thousandth time this car ride.
“I thought he was supposed to be our good child,” Harry muttered to Ginny under his breath.
“I’m a good child!” piped Lily, not one to be intimidated by her older brother’s half-hearted threats.
“Yeah, me too!” protested James, affronted.
Harry sighed as he manoeuvred the car into an available parking spot. “Yes, yes, you’re all equally wonderful.”
Harry ambled down the twilit hallway, the last rays of sunshine filtering through the open castle windows. Taking his time to bask in the peace and quiet, he meandered contentedly through the corridor and up a flight of stairs. His destination: the Headmistress’ office – not that he had any intention to see the Headmistress.
It was the last day of the school term. With the final lessons and exams blissfully complete, the schools’ pupils and staff were now enjoying themselves at the End of Term Feast, giving Harry the perfect opportunity to pay a visit to an old friend – with Professor Sinatra’s complete permission, of course.
Harry had returned to Hogwarts, as he had done many times now, to give the graduating Defence Against the Dark Arts pupils a lecture, both as a reward for their hard work and as inspiration as they entered into their professional careers. This year’s speech had been of particular interest to Harry, however, as the graduating class contained his very own godson.
Teddy Lupin, Hogwarts graduate. It blew Harry’s mind to think of it. Teddy Lupin – the tiny blue-haired squirt he’d held in his arms, Harry a hopeless mess of a teenager at the time – all grown up. Hadn’t only yesterday Harry chased him around Grimmauld Place, on one of the many occasions Teddy evaded him on his miniature broomstick? Wasn’t it only weeks, months ago, Harry had witnessed Teddy’s first sign of magical ability, sending books and sofa cushions flying as a four-year-old when Harry and Ginny refused to let him call them mum and dad? How he’d scooped the distraught little boy up into his arms and squeezed him so tight, bursting with pride himself… Then introducing him to James, then Albus, the Lily…
And now, here he was, a young man with a promising future; top of his Transfiguration class, set to commence a successful career in Healing. One of these days, he and Victoire would sort themselves out, come to their senses and in no time, there would be another blue-haired squirt wriggling in his arms.
Harry stopped himself at the thought of that, shook his head disapprovingly at his own ridiculous sensibility and sense of nostalgia, took a deep breath and continued down the corridor.
Reaching the gargoyle guarding the entrance, Harry smiled broadly at the sheer excitement of his imminent meeting. Digging around in his robes pocket, he eventually found the scrap of parchment on which he had scribbled Sinistra’s astronomy themed password.
“That’ll do,” grumbled the gargoyle before turning and permitting Harry entrance.
Part of Harry always anticipated the Headmistress’ office would look just as it had during his sixth year and he was always a little alarmed when it wasn’t entirely the same as he had imagined. But surprisingly, the chamber was relatively unchanged in the time since Dumbledore’s death. Thick tomes still filled the many bookshelves and where there once sat silver, intricate instruments, shining telescopes and solar system models were now displayed.
Before Harry could address the person - or portrait, rather - he had come specifically to see, another silver-haired former school head greeted him. "Good afternoon, Harry." said Professor McGonagall in her portrait. It was quite bizarre to be speaking to this Professor McGonagall, when he had very recently spoken to the real Professor McGonagall, the Professor McGonagall who had retired to a small Scottish fishing village and not the Professor McGonagall who still monitored the Hogwarts hallways through the school's network of portraits. "How lovely to see you," She continued, smiling warmly. "You'll be wanting a private word with Albus, I presume. Come along, Severus."
"Thanks, Minerva," Harry replied, before turning grimly to Snape's portrait beside her. "Severus," Harry greeted him respectfully. Frowning, Snape heaved a sigh and nodded solemnly in response, before slipping out of frame.
Finally, Harry turned his attention to the portrait directly above the Headmistress’ desk. A beaming face shone down at Harry, his piercing blue eyes full of glee. In his portrait, Albus Dumbledore sat up in his chair and brought his hands together, pensive, under his chin.
“Harry Potter, to what do I owe the immense pleasure of your company?”
“No reason, sir,” Harry grinned, grinning up at Dumbledore. “Just in the neighbourhood.”
“Is that so?” said Dumbledore. “It’s been a while, Harry. I trust whatever has kept you from visiting your old school teacher is of the upmost importance.” He mused sincerely. “How are you, Harry? The lovely Mrs Potter?”
“Fantastic, on both accounts.” Harry fell into the familiar chair across from the desk. How natural and wonderful it was to sit in this old chair - the very chair he had occupied when first hearing of prophecies and Horcuxes – now discussing a contented life he could never have imagined in his wildest dreams as a Hogwarts student.
“The children?” asked Dumbledore, Harry lighting up like a jack-o’-lantern on Halloween at the mention of his absolute favourite subject.
“James starts here next term. September,”” Harry replied before gasping in realisation, “Three months…” The thought of it was a small stab in the chest, but he pushed aside his minor anguish. “I’m sure you’ll see plenty of him, he’ll give Sinistra a run for her money.”
“And my delightful namesake?” asked Dumbledore, his shining blue eyes a twinkle.
“He’s wonderful. They all are. Lily’s doing great; I can’t believe how big she’s getting. It’s scary even. She’ll be here soon enough, breaking hearts – Merlin forbid. She’s like that, cheeky and very pretty – she takes after Gin there… And Al, he’s just such a good kid. He’s a brilliant chess player. He’s given up taking on me, Ron’s the only one in with a chance to beat him.”
Dumbledore considered Harry for a pondering moment, “Nothing gives me more pleasure, Harry, than to see you bask in the glow that is familial love.”
Harry grinned a little sheepishly. “And Ted,” he added, “all grown up…”
“A remarkable young man, I might add,” Dumbledore agreed. “He has served his school as Head Boy with tremendous success.” Harry nodded, smiling. “You should be very proud.”
“More than you could ever know.” Harry replied.
Dumbledore had no words for that, but the glint in his eye spoke volumes.
Author's Note: Bah, I really cannot bring myself to give this a proper proof read, so for now, this'll have to do. I apologise if it's atrociously mistake-ridden! This'll be the last update for a bit, I imagine, since I am clearly deranged and have signed myself up for NaNoWriMo! Even if I crack - which is quite likely - and drop out of NaNo, I have so much craziness going on in November I'm thinking that the next update won't be up until December at the earliest. So good news I guess for those of you bemoaning the end of this here story! Credit to datbenik513, writergirl8 and FannyPrice for correctly deducing who was behind the door! Five points awarded to your respective houses. Nicely played. That is, quite sadly, the end of the road for our dear friend Mr Malfoy in this story. Isn't it nice that HP and the Malfster can be civil? You're awesome readers, I think you're swell, adios 'til December! x
Chapter 24: Silent Nights
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All Was Well
“Good night, James.” Ginny leaned over to place a tender kiss on her first born son’s forehead, smoothing his untidy dark hair as she withdrew. She cast Harry an expectant look before ambling out the door, stopping to scoop up a yawning Lily from the open doorway into her arms as she did so.
“Sleep tight, mate.” Harry grinned, squeezing James’ shoulder before rising too and heading towards the door.
James, completely unaffected by his parents’ well-planned and heartfelt goodnights, grinned happily and pulled up his covers to his chin before contentedly shutting his eyes.
Puzzled, Harry stared at his son for a moment. Tomorrow, James would leave for Hogwarts. This was the last night in his family home until December. Harry couldn’t think of a time when his son had spent the night away from family – and while there were plenty of sleepovers at the Burrow or Shell Cottage or Ron and Hermione’s, James had always been surrounded by family. It made no sense for him to be so thoroughly nonchalant about the whole thing.
Resolving to put this odd behaviour down to James being the mystery that he was, Harry quietly shut the door behind him and trudged up the stairs to say goodnight to Lily. Albus, being Albus, was already asleep, having been the first to be put to bed.
Harry gently pushed open the door to Lily’s room. Over time, he had grown immune to the initial shock of pale pink; every surface in the room was decorated in some way with pink, the walls were a pale shade, the bed covered with a handmade pink and white patchwork quilt, even the dark hardwood floors were adorned with Lily’s pink clothes strewn throughout.
Ginny was sitting on the bed beside Lily, Snuffles curled up at their feet and the family’s well-worn copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard in her hands. She continued to read Lily’s absolute favourite story, the Fountain of Fair Fortune, as Harry crossed the room to give his little girl a tight squeeze, his awful dog a good scratch and his lovely wife a kiss on the cheek.
Breathing a mixed sigh of relief and exhaustion, Harry wandered downstairs, to the kitchen, cracked open two butterbeers and turned on the wireless, switching from the WWN to NQN, or the National Quidditch Network. Being a Thursday night, the weekend Quidditch matches were fast approaching and Ginny needed to tune into an interview with Aidan Lynch, seeker and captain of the Irish team, for an article she was putting together for Saturday’s Prophet.
Harry fell into the cushy leather sofa and kicked his feet up on the coffee table. Exhausted, he took a sip of his butterbeer and waited for Ginny, all the while tuning in occasionally to the buzzing voices of the wireless. It didn’t take long for Ginny to appear, tapping the wireless with her wand so as to save the interview to replay later, when it came time to prepare her article.
She traipsed over to Harry languidly, sinking into the couch, curling up against his side and coming to rest her head on his shoulder.
“Bit odd, don’t you think?” mused Harry out loud.
“Hmm?” asked Ginny. Her eyes were shut; apparently it was taking a lot of effort to remain conscious.
“He doesn’t seem remotely upset.”
“It’s hardly something-” Ginny let out a great yawn, “-to get upset about.”
“You know what I mean, it’s a big deal. He doesn’t seem to be anxious in the least. He’s not at all – I don’t know – affected, you know?”
The deep, authoritative voice being emitted from the wireless “And now, joining us live in our studio is star seeker and Irish national team captain, Aidan Lynch…”
Harry and Ginny settled in to listen to the interview, which took up the better part of a half hour. Turns out, Lynch had agreed to the interview in order to clear up some gossip circulating about rumoured tension within the Irish team and as it was, to announce his retirement. After such a significant broadcast, Ginny’s department would be in complete pandemonium come the morning – but with James’ departure tomorrow, Ginny made sure to push aside all thoughts of the impending nightmare and set her priorities in order. Consequently, it wasn’t long before Harry switched off the wireless, tapped the lights off and put out the fire, following Ginny up the lengthy staircase and up to bed.
Five minutes later, Harry removed his glasses wearily and leant back into his pillow as Ginny closed the bathroom door behind her and slipped into bed, switching off the bedside lamp as she went.
Harry was contentedly drifting off into a blissful state of semi-consciousness, when he heard the bedroom door clicking open. Perhaps Ginny was going downstairs to fetch a glass of water. Awoken, Harry turned over in bed, to find Ginny sleeping soundly beside him.
Harry squinted into the darkness, making out a small figure in the partially opened doorway.
“Lily, is that you?” whispered Harry, hoisting himself onto his elbows. Beside him, Ginny stirred and turned over where she lay.
The shadowed figure tentatively crept over to the bed. It took until the little person had come right up to the side of the bed before Harry could make out which of his children had come to visit. His discovery took him completely by surprise.
Harry tapped the bedside lamp into use and felt around for his glasses. A very forlorn looking boy was standing before him, his pleading brown eyes full of melancholy as he tugged on blue striped pyjamas absently.
“Can – can I get in bed with you?”
Harry exchanged a look with a very bleary-eyed Ginny, who was leaning on Harry’s side to make out James better in the dim light.
“Just for a bit,” James insisted, a little wobble in his voice.
Neither Ginny nor Harry said anything in response, Ginny simply grabbing at James’ pyjamas and hoisting him into bed with them. Grimacing, James clambered into the space between him while Ginny lit her own lamp.
When both Harry and Ginny came to inspect their son, he looked shamefaced indeed. Still grimacing, he gazed desolately at the scarlet duvet, resting his head on his arms.
Ginny began to play affectionately with his messy, jet-black hair.
“You’re not going to tell Al I was here, are you?” James muttered defensively.
“I don’t see any reason to,” chuckled Harry, leaning on his elbows.
“What’s the matter, love?” pried Ginny, gently.
James looked apprehensively from his mother to his father before sighing dramatically and confessing, with significant gravity, “I think – I think I’m going to miss you.”
Harry caught Ginny’s eye and they shared a private smile.
“A lot.” James concluded. Apparently making such a confession was quite significant to the eleven year old; he heaved a sigh of relief that he had managed to get the words out.
“It’s a big deal, going off on your own like this. Most Muggles don’t desert their parents at age eleven to go to school miles and miles away from home.” Ginny reminded him. “But you mustn’t forget that really, that’s not the case. You’re not on your own at all because you’ve got so many family and friends looking out for you - all sorts of people, teachers and students and prefects. You’re a very lucky duck.”
James scoffed, wrinkling his nose at his mother’s dated choice of words. All the while, Harry watched his wife contentedly as she worked her magic on their son; James had definitely relaxed, even managing to tear his attention away from the velveteen bedspread in order to meet Ginny’s matching brown eyes.
“You know we’ll miss you very much,” Ginny pressed on, giving him a poke in the belly. “Please don’t forget it, young man.”
James resigned himself to his mother’s comforting words and leaned into to let her squeeze him tightly. Harry too, was permitted to hug his son. He planted a kiss atop of James’ messy mop of hair, so very like his own, realising he had barely offered a word of advice himself, before the boy had clambered off the bed and tip toed over to the door.
“Love you Mum, love you Dad.” James whispered, smiling.
“Love you James,” Harry and Ginny chimed in unison.
James slid out the door, shutting it behind him, leaving Harry and Ginny alone to share a long, ‘isn’t our son wonderful’ look. Unfortunately, it was their wonderful son who interrupted the tender moment; James peeking his head through the door once more and reminding them, in a rushed, emphatic tone, “Don’t tell Al!”
“Oi, where do you think you’re going?” Harry demanded, as he noticed James was already half way down the packed car park’s pedestrian strip.
“I’ve got a train to catch!” James called back.
“Don’t yell at your father!” Ginny cried after him. “Come back and help with these trunks!”
While James dawdled back to the car, Harry’s attention fell on his two other less-than-pleased looking children. Albus in particular was looking rather pale, staring gravely at the large clock face atop the station’s central tower. On the other hand, Harry could tell a quiet storm was brewing inside Lily. It looked like she wasn’t going to give up on her plans for early admission to Hogwarts that easily.
The trunks and cages now all unpacked, Harry sent James off to fetch a trolley.
“Dad, do you think Teddy will be here by now?” Albus asked, watching James’ back disinterestedly.
“He will be here, though, won’t he?”
“Sure he will,” said Harry with a grin, catching Ginny’s eye. “He just had some other business to attend to.”
Silence; a sound seldom heard outside the blissful hours in which James, Albus and Lily Potter slept. Consequently, Harry relished every single second of such moments and this silence was quite a treat. Ginny had taken the boys into Diagon Alley to fetch school supplies and Lily, not one to miss out on anything, had tagged along. Harry would be going in to meet them for dinner at the Leaky Cauldron at seven, but until then, he had the house quite delightfully all to himself. Even Snuffles was dozing soundlessly, sprawled out in front of the fireplace hearth in the kitchen.
The peace and quiet made for perfect working conditions, which came in handy as regretfully, Harry had quite a fair bit of work to do; the Wizengamot was scheduled to sit in the morning and Harry had barely glanced at the briefing materials his assistant, Millicent, had put together about tomorrow’s sessions.
Harry dawdled into the study - primarily Ginny’s domain as she worked from home – and fell into the large, cushiony leather desk chair. Outside the sun was beginning to set on the hot, sticky late July day.
Stretching, Harry put his hands behind his head and let his eyes wander over the briefing files, trying to commit names and crucial policy points to memory. He was relieved when he heard a distraction coming, in the form of heavy footfalls on the stairs. Lazily, Harry - happy to welcome any form of distraction – looked up from his work and eyed the open doorway expectantly, considering who could be visiting him. Number twelve’s fireplaces were strictly connected to the homes of family and friends alone, everybody else had to apparate onto the street. His best guess was Ron or Hermione, one of them coming to complain about the other. Otherwise Teddy, who popped in on almost a daily basis – but he was accompanying Victoire and her family on a visit to her grandparent’s house in France.
Harry didn’t have long to ponder this, however, when his guest appeared unceremoniously in the doorway.
Panting, Teddy leaned into the doorframe as he came to a halt. It was quite clear he was in a state of serious distress, his mousey brown hair more wild than its usual shaggy appearance and his gaze unfocused, unseeing.
“Ted,” Harry greeted him, brow furrowed in concern as he rose from his seat. “What’s wrong?”
“Everything’s-” Teddy wheezed, breathless. “It’s wrong.” He met Harry’s gaze solemnly, frowning, before Harry ushered him into one of the chairs across from the desk, Harry perching himself on the desk’s edge. Teddy hunched over, resting his elbows on his knees and dropping his head to his hands. “I’ve ruined everything, Harry. Everything - it’s all wrong.”
“Teddy, slow down. What’s wrong? What have you ruined?”
Teddy straightened up and took a breath. “You know, I’ve spent the last nineteen years trying to push my way into your family-”
“Ted-” Harry began to protest.
“No, it’s the truth.” Teddy rebutted. He was working himself out, his words spilling out in a frustrated burst of emotion. “I’m not a Potter, and I’m definitely not a Weasley. It’s all I ever wanted to be, to be yours, to be part of your family. I’ve tried so hard, you can’t ever know how hard, to blend in. I love the Weasleys, all of them; I only ever wanted to make them happy, after how kind they’ve all been towards me. And now, now I’ve gone and messed it all up…”
Harry’s patience was waning. “Teddy, what are you talking about?” he demanded.
“I’m in love with Victoire.”
Author's Note: And there we have a completely unnecessary cliffhanger - it was that or end the story right here and now, and really we can't have that. One chapter to go and that's it, folks! Quite sad, I know. In other news, NaNo was a bit of debacle but some good did come from it - I have the better part of a nice little Teddy/Victoire up my sleeve that with A LOT of editing could shape up to be okay. Torn as to whether I should post that or my only partially written Rose/Scorpius first. Both are major fluff/drama/romance, the usual for me. Thoughts? I just want to say thank you so very, very much for all your support throughout this story, I really don't have the words to express how much all your reviews have meant to me. Truth be told, I write just as much for you guys as I do for myself. Keep the lovely feedback coming and I'll keep writing and writing and writing - like the Energizer Bunny, but more HP :-)
Chapter 25: The Beginning
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All Was Well
Harry couldn’t suppress the wide grin that spread across his lips. “Is that what this is about?”
Teddy was visibly affronted at Harry’s reaction. “Yes, that’s what this is about!” he barked back, moodily.
“Merlin, Ted. That’s fantastic news!”
“No, it’s not.” Teddy persisted, sullenly. The pout that played on his lips was highly reminiscent of the one Harry had seen in the same place when Teddy was a toddler.
Harry crossed his arms. “You couldn’t be more wrong about what this means, Ted. Your being with Victoire can only bring you closer to this family, not that you could possibly get closer.” Harry let out a frustrated sigh, “You are family, Ted. I don’t know how many times, I have to-”
“You’re wrong. What if – what if it didn’t work out? Then I’d be out forever.”
“Can you really see that happening?” Harry asked, cynical.
“What? Breaking up with her? Harry, we’re barely even dating.”
“I know, I know - but I get the impression not a day goes by when you don’t think about her.” Harry suggested, almost teasingly. “I’d even go so far as to say you couldn’t bring yourself to imagine a life without her…”
“Well, no – but, hold on a minute; how do you know any of this? I’ve never told anyone about liking Victoire, no one, not even you. I’ve kept it myself this whole time-”
“Teddy, I think you’ll find there isn’t an adult member of this family who doesn’t suspect there’s something going on between you and Vic. Merlin, George and I’ve been taking bets on when you lot would figure it out for yourselves since you were seven.”
Teddy let out a tortured sigh and hunched over again. “Alright then,” he surrendered. “What am I supposed to do?”
“Why are you asking me?” Harry laughed.
“I always ask you.”
“Well, where on earth have you come from? You just burst in here, have some sort of nervous breakdown and expect me to come up with the goods?”
Teddy gave a crooked smile. “Well, yes. Obviously.” When Harry only cocked an eyebrow, Teddy spilled. “We’re together, I think. And then we came home from France and Bill was there, and I freaked and now I’m here.”
Harry was grinning. “And you love her?”
Teddy wrinkled his nose in gentle embarrassment and twiddled his thumbs, “I think I do,” he replied, grinning.
“Then what in Merlin’s name are you doing sitting in my study?” Harry barked jovially. “Sod off! And give Vic my love.”
Teddy rose, bashful, but seemingly filled with new energy and crossed to the door. With a fleeting wave to his godfather, he yanked open the door to find standing in front of him, none other than Victoire herself. Both stood paralysed, staring at each other for a long moment, before Victoire launched herself at Teddy.
Grinning to himself, Harry ambled over to the door and gently closed it with a quiet click. He promptly crossed to the desk, fetched some parchment from a side drawer and called out for Babbity. He had a letter to write – and a hundred Galleons coming his way.
Lily’s small hand found its way into Harry’s own hand as James and Albus led the family through the open station doors. She still possessed a small scowl upon her pretty face and Harry mentally prepared himself for the impending onslaught of protestation to come. He inwardly prayed Teddy would be able to placate his daughter, should he manage to pry himself away from the other business he had to attend to.
Always sensible, Albus had slowed down and was now strolling comfortably in line with his mother. Harry contentedly watched the pair, so alike in the subtlest ways. Infinitely proud, permanently curious and stubborn to boot; it took a trained eye to spot such traits in the quiet Albus, a skill really only Harry possessed. The differences were certainly there; Ginny was very much a force to be reckoned with – fierce and opinionated, casual in the extreme. Albus, on the other hand was the opposite in so many ways; happily quiet and peaceful, though incessantly curious and deeply concerned about the state of anything and everything, from the Harpies’ place on the Quidditch ladder to the treatment of owls.
As the family made their way through the bustling corridors of Kings Cross Station, Harry stewed on his thoughts of his middle son. Albus was so unlike James, who had coasted through his first year. James made starting Hogwarts look so easy, completely unaffected by everything school life threw at him. Harry knew Albus would never be so blasé in his approach to anything. James wasn’t about to make it easy on the poor kid, Harry was sure.
They were approaching Platform 9 ¾ now, crossing a footbridge over the busy platforms below. With a mournful smile, Harry realised he was losing his miniature Quidditch companion for the next nine months. With Al starting school, Lily was now the only child at home – and she was about as interested in Quidditch as James was in behaving. Within two years, Lily would be off as well, and Grimmauld Place would be all but empty, with only Harry and Ginny to occupy its aging walls.
Despite his concerns, Harry relished the knowledge that in fact, this wasn’t the end at all, but the beginning. Just as with James last year, as with Teddy - Merlin, as with himself – Albus was commencing what would be the greatest adventure of his life. Whether he ended up a Slytherin or a Gryffindor, Quidditch Captain or in the choir, Albus would be alright. In fact, he’d be more than alright; he’d be brilliant, because he was the son of Harry and Ginny Potter – he was already brilliant to begin with.
Harry grinned, speeding up his pace to catch up to Ginny, who met his gaze with wary pride and took his free hand in hers. All three of their children excitedly sped off towards the barrier to Platform 9 ¾.
Maybe Albus would be in Slytherin, maybe James would fail his OWLS, maybe Lily would be Minister for Magic, at this point in time Harry couldn’t tell.
But of one thing Harry was certain; all would be well.
Author's Note: THE END! This is the first story I have ever finished - not that it truly is finished, I'll be going back to the beginning now that it's done and having a nice tidy up. I cannot express in words how much I have appreciated all of your support, namely from the divine WitnesstoitAll, FannyPrice, FuzzySlippers, FriendofMolly, Harry and Ginny, badger of doom, Ava Pearce, writergirl8, and really anyone who took the time to review each and every chapter, especially you lovelies who've stuck it out with me - especially during my epic dry spells. I couldn't have written this without you. Personally, I think you should read the sequel (of sorts) Trilogy - which picks up right where this leaves off and can be found on my author's page! Thank you again and long live canon!