Chapter 27 : Lily Potter
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“She looks like a doily,” Harry said dumbly as Ginny turned the baby to face him. “A fleshy doily.”
“She does not look like a doily,” Ginny snapped with a grin, knowing that Harry was only trying to provoke her. “Your daughter is beautiful and today she is one month old and she gets to wear a fancy dress.”
“That will be covered with spit-up before any guests even manage to hang their coats.”
“Ignore him, Lily,” Ginny cooed. “It’s the only thing that deflates your father’s fat head. Just ignore him.”
Harry laughed heartily and swatted his wife’s bottom lightly as he walked past her into the kitchen.
Seven years had gone by since the night Ron had spent in the hospital, seven years precisely. Lillian James Sirius Remus Albus Luna Draco Rubeus William Potter had been born at an obscenely early hour on the morning of February first, but most everyone knew her as ‘Mad-Eye.’
“Stop calling her that!” Ginny would protest, stamping her foot, whenever Ron or Harry encouraged it. “You’ll have people thinking that something’s wrong with her!”
But all of Wizarding Britain, if not all of the Wizarding world, knew that nothing was wrong with Lily Potter. A month ago there had been a rejoicing nearly as great as the Second Fall of the Dark Lord Voldemort. Even the Muggle television news programme had done a short spot on “Lily Potter: The Mystery Woman.” Harry was certain that had the Dursleys still been alive to witness it, each of them would have suffered a minor stroke.
Somewhere in the distance Harry heard a popping sound, and upon looking out the window, he saw Fred and George wending their way up the walk; an awkward, lumpy gift of stupendous size tipping precariously between them. “Twins are here!” Harry shouted. “Get the cottonball ready!”
“Shut it, you!” Ginny called back, but before Harry even had time to pour himself a cup of coffee she was there, Lily resting in her arms, swathed in white lace and taffeta, a tiny white bow in her remarkably unruly shock of ginger hair.
“Oi!” George yelled from outside. “Harry!”
“Help us with the door!” finished Fred with a dull thud that Harry assumed was a kick.
“Oh no,” Ginny said as Harry flung open the door merrily, eager to get a look at what the twins had in store for the party. “No, no, no, no, OUTSIDE!”
“Tch!” Fred scoffed. “Who ever thought a girl with a fluffy baby in her arms could inspire fear?”
“Anyone who met our mother, I suppose,” George finished.
“And what’s wrong with your mother?” Harry heard Mrs. Weasley call out, and a few seconds later she stepped through the door, stretching her arms eagerly towards her newest grandchild.
“Hello, Harry,” Mr. Weasley said, taking Harry’s hand to shake. “Boys, listen to your sister and leave the perambulancer outside!”
“Hello Mr. Weasley,” Harry grinned.
“You two bought a pram?” Tonks laughed, her hands on her hips as the twins wrestled the cumbersome package back outside. “Wotcher Harry, Gin!” she called over her shoulder, her long wavy hair a light shade of lavender now.
“Hello!” Harry responded, nodding to Charlie, who merely sidestepped the scene in the yard and ducked inside.
“We didn’t do anything of the sort,” George insisted heartily.
“’Course not. We MADE a pram,” Fred boasted, and Harry laughed.
“Do NOT, under any circumstances, put my niece in that thing!” Harry heard Ron shout up the garden path. “I saw them testing it with a sack of Snargaluff pods and it is not at all baby safe!”
“Nose out, Ronald,” Fred muttered.
“Besides, we’ve made modifications since then,” reasoned George.
Hermione stood at the doorway, a timid smile on her lips. “You’ve had the baby!” she gasped, rushing forward to where Ginny, Mrs. Weasley, and Lily were clustered.
Ginny smiled, grabbing Hermione’s hand and squeezing. “Yes,” she said patiently. “Her name is Lily and today she’s one month old!”
"Happy Birthday, mate," Harry nodded to Ron, who grinned back. “How is she?” he said in a low voice, inclining his head to Hermione.
Ron gave a little sigh. “Bit of a bad day. She couldn’t remember how to tie her shoes this morning.” Hermione’s memory seemed to come and go in spurts these days. Sometimes she would forget the simplest concepts, like how to brush her teeth properly, and the day they'd moved her things to her private room at St. Mungo's had sent Ron into a tailspin. She'd shouted him from the room, convinced a stranger was stealing her things, and white-knuckled he had clutched the R volume of her encyclopedia in the hall, waiting for Hermione to forget what had just happened. But last month she’d brewed a complex potion on her own, news which Ron had happily shared with Harry. “I’m not joking, she looks me dead in the eye and says ‘Really Ronald, if you aren’t going to pay attention then you’re of no help to me at all,’ and for a minute I felt like we were back at Hogwarts.”
“You could ask her today, you know. See how she is with Lily?” asked Harry, jarring Ron from his daydreams. But today was the fifth time that Hermione had been introduced to the new baby and while she was indeed very calm and gentle with Lily, it would take months, maybe even a year before she would remember her name. Hermione had been released from St. Mungo’s two years ago and had her own small flat now, four doors down from Ron’s. Ron still had the ring, and whenever Harry suggested that it couldn’t hurt to ask, like today, Ron would smile ruefully and shake his head.
“I can’t ask her to commit her whole life to me when some days she can’t remember my name, or even her own. I’ll wait. I can wait.” He sipped the coffee Harry had handed him and watched his family happily.
“Don’t wait too long, little bro, or she’ll find someone else,” Tonks muttered, poking Ron in the arm and leaning her head on Charlie’s shoulder.
“She’s right, you know,” Charlie said with a grin, tossing his arm around his wife.
“You have to say that, you married her,” quipped Ron, Tonks snorted into her mug of tea.
“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” Charlie winked.
“Everyone to the table!” Ginny called as she and Mrs. Weasley led the group into the dining room. The table was laid with a spread of food that could rival the Hogwarts kitchens. Even though most days Hermione could not tell you what S.P.E.W was, everyone had gone above and beyond in the last five years to get the fledgling organization off the ground. An ecstatic Dobby served as poster elf for S.P.E.W., going on trips to promote his cause and speak about how well his new family, the Potters, treated him and how happy he was to serve the Great Conqueror. Of course, he had quite outdone himself this time and was now cheerfully bowing to everyone in turn, pulling out chairs and helping Ginny into her seat. Gently, he cradled Lily in his arms as Ginny passed her to him. “I think she’s about ready for a nap, Dobby, if you wouldn’t mind.”
“Of course ma’am,” Dobby squeaked, beaming at his mistress and hustling off to the nursery.
“Dad, will you say something?” Ginny asked, looking around the table at the faces of her loved ones.
“Er, of course dear.” Arthur flushed a little, but nodded. “Well, it’s good of everyone to make it today,” he began, but Dobby interrupted.
“Excuse Dobby please, ma’ams and sirs, but there is one more!” he squeaked, and a very uncomfortable looking Percy Weasley stepped inside.
“Hello,” he said awkwardly, twisting his coat in his hands.
“Hi Percy,” Harry grinned, conjuring another chair. “Sit down, we’re just about to eat. Where’s Penelope?”
“Her mother is ill,” Percy said, battling a frown and a smile as he sat.
“Sorry to hear it,” Arthur nodded. “But we’re glad you’re here. I was just saying how good it was of everyone to come and meet Mad-Eye, er, Lily,” he corrected, with a shifty look at Ginny. “Your mother and I were talking this morning about what a blessing it is to have each of you, even if she wishes that you all still lived at home.” Molly blushed but nodded vehemently. “We couldn’t have asked for better children, nor could we have asked for better people to love them.” He nodded to Tonks, Harry, and with conviction, to Hermione, who also blushed. “And the gift of our first grandchild, a beautiful baby girl, leaves us wanting for only one thing; those who we have lost over the years. Now, I don’t want Lily to fill that gap, because it is a gap that we all hold near and dear to our hearts. We all wish that Bill was at this table,” he squeezed Molly’s hand, “and everyone else as well. We miss Remus and the real Mad-Eye, and we miss Sirius and Hagrid and Albus. We miss Luna and Draco who died far before their time. And perhaps more than all others we miss Lily and James Potter, who I am certain would be just as proud today as I am.” Arthur beamed, his eyes starting to sparkle with the beginning of tears. “None of our friends are forgotten today, but we are all too happy to add another number to them. To Lily Potter,” he finished, raising his glass.
“To Lily Potter,” the table chorused, and Mrs. Weasley and Ginny dabbed at their eyes with their napkins.
The rest of the meal was lively and entertaining, as Weasley family dinners were always bound to be. Everyone was talking, the twins gesturing wildly as they spoke about their plans to expand the business to America next year and Tonks laughing water out of her nose when Fred grew a pair of exceptionally large and floppy ears. Harry smiled to himself as he watched Ron awkwardly shoveling food on his fork with his left hand, the fingers of his right hand interlaced with Hermione’s, who was whispering something to Ginny. Here was the thing that Harry had wanted all his life. He had a family. Of course, the Weasleys had been his family since he’d arrived at Hogwarts really, but today seemed to cement Harry’s happiness. They were all together now, and Lily was the glue that was bonding them.
Harry felt a tug on his shirtsleeve and looked down at Dobby. “Sir,” he whispered. “Miss Lily is quite fussy, Harry Sir. Perhaps you or Ginny Ma’am would want –”
“I’ll go,” Harry smiled, excusing himself from the table and following Dobby down the hall to the nursery, where indeed a very healthy and loud Lily was wailing.
“Hey,” Harry sighed, reaching into the crib. “Hey, what’s the matter?”
“I have tried it all, Harry Sir,” Dobby insisted above the racket. “Miss Lily is not needing a diaper change, she is not hungry or needing burping Sir.”
“Its okay, Dobby,” Harry laughed. “She just wants to make some noise. Why don’t you go sit down with the family and have some lunch?”
Dobby nodded and bolted from the room, his hands clapped over his ears.
“Hey now,” Harry said, his voice full but gentle as he propped his daughter on his shoulder and patted her on the back, walking around the room and stopping near the window. “Okay, I’m going to tell you a good story, Lily, so you should listen to me, because… well, I’m your dad. So, once upon a time it was Halloween night. Everyone in all of the Wizarding World was terrified, because there was a very very bad man on the loose, not even a man anymore but maybe not yet a monster. And this guy, this Voldemort, he was supposed to be attacking everyone on Halloween with all of his bad guy friends.” Lily’s cries slowly began to subside into hiccoughs. “And he snuck into your grandparents’ house, into your dad’s house when he was a baby just like you, and he was really angry and afraid and he killed your granddad and grandmum, and then he did a really stupid thing. He put a piece of himself into your dad! See, he thought that your dad was the only person who was strong enough to kill him – not that he wasn’t right – but he made a mistake too. He thought that your dad would have to kill himself before he could take on Voldemort. And it turns out that there was a person who was supposed to save your dad, and it was your mum and it was because they loved each other so much that this love, this really powerful love, kept him alive. And then together your mum and dad took on Voldemort and they won and then a while later they had you and it was the best thing ever. And,” Harry said, his voice almost a whisper now, “I think you’ve drifted back to sleep.” He could feel puffy deep breaths on his shoulder but didn’t dare shift her.
“That’s not a very good story for a baby,” a voice whispered behind Harry, and he turned slowly to look. Ginny was smiling at him from the doorway, her hands folded unconsciously over her heart.
“I think it’s a really good one,” he whispered back, grinning. “I think she should know it now, when she’s a baby, and that way she won’t be scared.” Ginny nodded, crossing the room and kissing her husband lightly.
“Good idea,” she murmured. “This just came for you. I didn’t know the owl.” Ginny held out a folded letter, a green wax seal with ‘LV’ on the back and his name on the front in matching green spindly handwriting. Ginny reached up and lifted Lily from Harry’s shoulder, turning her over carefully and settling her back in the crib.
Harry stared at the letter, a frown creasing his brow.
“What is it?” Ginny asked, peering around his shoulder to read.
‘Come out now, Harry… time to come out and play,’ was all it said, but Harry felt his stomach twist and a subtle pain throb in his forehead; instinctively pressing his fingers to where he had once been the bearer of a rather funny shaped scar.
A/N: It was a real pleasure to write this story. Thanks are owed to my betas Janet and Liz, for they did an outstanding job the whole ten months! I can't believe it's been that long... Also, thank you's to Sarah and Eric and Deb who pushed me through little rough spots and gave me encouragement and ego boosts. :) Thank you to Jo Rowling, because without her wonderful series none of this would make much sense! Thanks for inspiring children and adults all across the world to read again, and even to write - we are in awe of your talents! Lastly, thanks to you! To the readers! You have left me kind reviews (and sometimes urgent and occasionally angry ones) and I'm absolutely thrilled with the response to my little imaginative version of what the last book might be like. Now we just have to wait for the real thing!!