Chapter 13 : Fred's Secret
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They glanced at one another once George’s head had disappeared and went together into the fireplace. When they arrived they saw everyone was there, despite it being a Wednesday, even Charlie and Katarina were there and Ron and Hermione had just walked in the door, Angelina was sitting on George’s lap looking concerned.
“What’s going on?” Asked Harry dubiously as he saw worried expressions on everyone’s faces but they all shrugged.
“Right, well, I was waiting for everyone to get here before I told you… so now you’re here I have a bit of a, er, development to tell you about,” began George, looking around at his family, “It’s a bit of a difficult situation but I think it’ll be fine.”
They all looked at him as he paused for a bit too long and Ron harried him, “Go on, George, stop building suspense!”
“Oh, yeah, so basically there’s a bit of a story,” he said, glancing at his mother nervously, “Well, before Fred died he was dating a muggle girl called Anna, it was a couple of months after he and Alicia had broken up. I only met her once since they’d always go for dates in muggle London. He never brought her back to our place since, well, obviously there was so much magic everywhere. Anyway, they weren’t serious and a couple of months before the battle he said that they’d broken up because she’d realised he was hiding a lot from her and he knew he was putting her in danger and he was spending so much time doing Order work. After he died I didn’t even think about her, never even considered contacting her to tell her since I’d pretty much forgotten about her. Well, I was walking along Kingsway in London this morning and I hear someone calling after me, yelling ‘Fred! Fred!’ and it turns out it’s Anna. She starts screaming at me for never calling her back or whatever, and then I explain that I’m actually George – I had to show her my ear. I told her that Fred was killed and that I was sorry I didn’t get in touch because I’d had no idea they were still communicating,” George took a deep breath and continued, “She’s had no way of getting in touch since it was always Fred calling her and she had no idea where we lived. The thing is, well, she was pregnant with Fred’s child a couple of months before the battle and didn’t realise until after he’d stopped contacting her.”
There was uproar in the kitchen with a chorus of ‘oh gods’ and ‘merlins’ and ‘bloody hells’ before Mr Weasley shushed them and signalled for George to continue, “Anyway, in December she had a little girl called Lyla,” he smiled softly for a moment, “She showed me a picture and this kid already is the spitting image of Fred with his smile and eyes but dark hair. She’s lovely. Thing is, Anna is having a pretty tough time on her own. She’s an art student and her dad tries to help but I think it’s pretty hard for her. I told her that we’d help however we could,” he looked around at his family and they all nodded vigorously in agreement, “And I gave her a couple of hundred pounds just then so she’d be alright. I gave her the Granger’s phone number – I hope that’s alright,” he looked towards Hermione’s parents and they nodded, “- and told her to get in touch if she needed anything. I have her number and I think we really need to do something. I mean, she needs help just paying for food and I can do that. But chances are Lyla’s magical and we’re going to have to explain that to Anna, and I think we also can help her out by giving her some time off – you know taking Lyla on weekends or whatever – I mean Anna’s barely more than a kid herself. And we’re a big family, I think it’d be great to bring Anna in and let Lyla have that family too. With Ginny and Fleur pregnant, and little Freddy already here, and, actually now we’re talking about it, Angelina is as well, there will be other magical kids for her to grow up with.”
Once he stopped there was another huge uproar as everyone congratulated Angelina and George and then started talking at once about what to do about Lyla and her poor mother who had been trying to raise her alone.
Finally Mr Weasley regained order in the kitchen and spoke to the assembled clan, “It’s pretty clear to me that we have a responsibility to this little girl and her mother. Above that, I think it will be lovely to have part of Fred still alive with us. Anna sounds like the same tough, good spirit that would fit in with us so I think we should talk to her as soon as possible. Do you have her address, George?” He nodded and Mr Weasley continued, “I think then that you, Harry and Ginny should go around there now and see her. I’m sure it’s been a terrible shock to her and I hate to think of her alone. Maybe Hermione should go too, is that alright?”
Hermione nodded and the four of them stood to leave, “I think it’s going to be tough for her to understand, but, well, mum and dad coped with it, didn’t you?”
They nodded and glanced at each other, “It’s hard, though, to come to terms with at first. But she is younger and maybe has a better inkling that something was going on,” said Mr Granger.
The four of them bid goodbye to the rest of the family, who were going to wait at the Burrow for news, and floo’d to the shop in Diagon Alley. From there they walked to Charing Cross and took a black cab to a dingy looking street near King’s Cross. The address took them to a grubby, sad looking building. On the second floor they rang the doorbell and looked nervously at each other as they awaited a response.
After a few moments the door opened a little and someone peered out, when she saw George she opened the door fully. Standing there was a thin girl who couldn’t have been more than twenty with big brown eyes, olive skin and long dark hair. In one arm she was holding an eight month old baby and they saw George’s description had been right, she was a spitting image of Fred apart from the dark hair and generally darker skin; she was beautiful.
Anna had a tissue in one hand and it was obvious she’d been crying. George stepped forward and hugged her slightly before stepping back, “And here’s my beautiful niece!” He exclaimed and Anna smiled a little, “Nice to meet you Lyla, darling,” he said and took her in his arms, “You’re lovely.”
Anna was looking nervously at Harry, Ginny and Hermione who were smiling at her and Lyla. George realised that he hadn’t explained, “Sorry, Anna, this is my little sister Ginny and her husband Harry, and this is my youngest brother’s girlfriend, Hermione. We’ve come to explain everything that’s happened and hopefully you’ll let us help you out. We feel just awful about this.”
She spoke for the first time and said quietly, “Nice to meet you, you should come in. It isn’t much, I hope you don’t mind.”
“’Course we don’t mind,” smiled Ginny kindly, “We understand this must have been terribly hard on you.”
Anna led them into a small and sparse, but immaculately clean, flat. The bed was in the living room and there was a little cot there too. George sat with Lyla on his lap on the end of the bed next to Anna while Harry and Ginny sat together on the threadbare couch and Hermione took a chair from under the table.
“We want to tell you everything that’s happened, but first could you tell us how much you knew about Fred,” said George kindly.
Anna was still a bit weepy and they let her be for a few moments before she started speaking, “I feel so awful; this whole time I’ve been hating Fred for leaving me like this and he died before I could tell him.”
“Don’t, Anna, don’t feel bad about it. It was a horrible thing for you, you had every right to think those things,” said Hermione kindly before Anna continued.
“Fred and I were going out for three months from January to March. We were in love, I think, but he was always a bit jumpy and nervous. Every time we were out in public he’d be looking over his shoulder, every time there was a loud sound he’d throw us to the ground and sometimes I saw him reach for something in his jacket; I reckoned it was a gun, but he was a good guy and I didn’t mention it.” She said sadly, looking down at her tiny daughter, “In March we were able to see each other less and less, he always had something secret to do and it always seemed dangerous because every time we said goodbye he’d act like he might never see me again. One day at the end of March he came over, he looked tired and, I think, injured, he told me he loved me but he needed to go away for a bit to do something and that he had to protect me. He made me promise never to mention him to any strangers and he promised that he’d come back and we’d be together and he’d explain everything to me. I always thought he was a spy or something. I never saw him again,” She paused for a moment and bit her lip, thinking, “One strange thing was that after he left I looked out of the window and I could see him at the bottom of the building I used to live in waving something and muttering under his breath.”
Ginny and Hermione were in tears and Harry had his head in hands while George gazed out of the window with his shoulders slumped.
“He was putting up wards, he was protecting you,” said Ginny brushing tears from her eyes, “Oh Merlin, I’m so sorry Anna, he really loved you and he was trying to look after you. This is awful.”
“I don’t understand, what from?” Asked Anna, confused by Ginny’s words.
“Fred wasn’t a spy,” said George sadly, “But he was keeping a big secret from you. Because he had to. If he said he was going to tell you though, he would have done. So I think we should tell you. Especially since it’s most likely going to affect Lyla.”
Anna looked genuinely frightened now that they’d mentioned Lyla and she urged them to continue so Harry spoke up, “My whole life up until I was ten I thought I was a pretty normal child. I was an orphan after my parents died but I thought I was just like everyone else. But there is something very different about us. It’s hard for you to believe, but we’re magical people. Witches and wizards.”
Anna frowned, “You mean, like, magic wands and broomsticks?” She asked incredulously.
Hermione smiled, “Exactly, although there’s a little more to it than that.”
“I’m meant to believe that?” She said looking unimpressed.
“No, but we can show you,” said George, removing his wand and transfiguring an empty glass by the bed into a little bird that flew around in anxious circles, twittering, until he returned it to his original form.
Anna looked completely shocked, “Fred was a wizard? He could do that stuff?”
“Well, yes,” said Ginny, “When you saw him outside your flat he was casting a spell on the building to protect you.”
“From what?” She whispered, eyes wide.
“Well,” said Hermione, “There is a lot more to magic than the trick George showed you. We can do some incredibly complex, dangerous stuff if we want to. We can kill with a single spell. More than that we can play with the deepest laws of science and nature. At the time Fred left you we were in the midst of a magical war that could have destroyed everything in our world, and maybe even yours. A dark wizard, called Lord Voldemort, had raised an army and they were killing thousands of people trying to take over the magical world, doing awful things. It looked for a long time like we were going to lose everything. He had killed most of our most powerful leaders and nearly everyone was too terrified to resist.”
“What happened?” She asked.
“There was a small resistance,” said George, “There weren’t that many of us, but most of us were pretty extraordinary wizards, very powerful, and willing to risk our lives to end it. My whole family was part of it and many others. Then there’s Harry,” he said nodding to where Harry sat, “He was the only person able to destroy Voldemort so he, my brother Ron and Hermione spent months fighting to get close to him. Finally they were ready to fight at the wizarding school, Hogwarts, and the call for fighters went out and we all turned up for the final battle. A lot of people were killed, little kids some of them, and among them was Fred. He was fighting to save our world, to save yours as well. Eventually Harry defeated Voldemort and that was the end of it really. But Fred died and we’ve all been grieving, but recently things are getting easier. It’s been over a year since his death.”
“Oh god,” sobbed Anna, “I thought he’d run out on me, found someone else, forgotten, and I was blaming him…”
George put a comforting arm around her and Ginny took Lyla, who was fussing, from her brother.
“Anna, the thing is, chances are that Lyla’s a witch and we can help you deal with that,” said Harry gently, “It sounds crazy but it’s really amazing and once you’re used to the idea it can be fun.”
“And even if she’s not a witch, you will always be part of our family now. We want to help you in whatever way we can,” said Ginny, “Our family is big, until Fred died there were seven siblings, now it’s only six. But it’s growing still; my brother Bill has a baby son and another baby coming, George’s girlfriend is pregnant and so am I. Plus there’s Harry’s godson, Teddy, who’s parents died in the war. It’s a bit of a mad house sometimes but we’re loving and would welcome you into the family in a moment. There’s going to be a lot of kids for Lyla to play with and my mum will adore having you two around. We know you study in London but we can set up a magical connection for you to come round whenever you want and if you need a break for a few hours or days there’s always someone willing to look after Lyla.”
“It sounds a bit scary, I know,” said Harry gently, “A big close knit family, but I turned up when I was twelve, shy and never having had a family, and they have looked after and loved me ever since.”
“It sounds lovely,” said Anna quietly, “Are you sure they’d want me?”
“Of course!” They all exclaimed and Hermione asked, “Why would you think they wouldn’t?”
“Fred never told them about me, and Lyla’s illegitimate and I’m not a witch,” she whispered, sounding frightened.
“Fred never told us because it was such a dangerous time, they would have yelled at him for putting you in danger. My family loves non-magical people, Hermione’s parents aren’t magical and they’re over at our house nearly every day. And nobody cares whether you and Fred were married or not; all we care about is that there is a little girl and her mother who are a part of our family,” smiled Ginny, reaching out to touch Anna’s shaking knee.
“We’re not a particularly rich family, though we’re not doing badly,” said George, “But Fred and I started a joke shop business and it’s done really well. Half of that is Lyla’s now so you won’t be so hard up. If you want you’re welcome to live at our old flat. Angelina and I are moving in together but I think we’re going to buy a new place. The flat is in a magical district but it’s pretty close to your college.”
“Wow, this is a lot,” shook Anna, “I don’t even know how to react.”
“You have a lot to think about,” said Hermione gently, “If you’d like to come with us now we can introduce you to everyone.”
“Yeah, yeah, I’ll come with you,” she said, “You’re going to need to help me with this magic thing, though.”
“Of course, it takes a long time to get used to,” said Ginny, “But we’ll help you.”
“Um, I’m going to get changed,” she said indicating the sweats she was wearing and her stained tank top, “I’ll just go into the bathroom.”
She gathered what were obviously her nicest clothes and went into the bathroom. While she was in there Ginny rocked Lyla to sleep and Harry said, “Well that went better than expected.”
“She definitely was aware something was up with Fred, I think that helped,” sighed George rubbing the back of his neck, “I can’t believe what she’s had to go through,” he stood up kicked the door, “Fuck!” He raged.
“What?” Asked Hermione, a little shocked.
“Just before the battle Fred took me to the side and said ‘In case something happens, in case I don’t make it…’ I never let him finish, I told him we were both going to make it out. If I’d let him say it we would have known to at least get in touch with her and she could have been able to tell us and not had to go though all this alone,” he said angrily before yelling again, “Ahhhh FUCK!” He kicked the door again, “What the fuck have I done to her?”
“This isn’t your fault, George! There was no way you could have known,” said Ginny, passing the sleeping baby to Harry and walking over to comfort her brother.
“I think it was the dark wizard’s fault,” came a small voice from the bathroom door, “Not yours.”
They all turned to see Anna, who was now wearing a pair of jeans with a top and jacket and Harry said, “She’s right, George.”
George, however, looked on the verge of tears and he grabbed Anna and hugged her, “I’m so, so sorry Anna.”
She looked a bit frightened but patted him on the back nevertheless, “Not your fault George.”
“Let’s go back to the Burrow,” declared Ginny, “Is there anything you need for Lyla?”
“There’s nappies under the cot and a blanket that she likes inside it.”
“Anything else she might need we can get at the Burrow, or at ours,” said Harry, “Merlin knows we have enough for ten children.”
They gathered up the things and took a cab back to Charing Cross where they led Anna through the Leaky Cauldron, which she could barely see, and into Diagon Alley.
She gasped as she gazed around her at all the magic, Harry grinned and said, “My reaction was exactly the same, first time I came here.”
“Mine, too,” smiled Hermione, taking Anna’s hand in hers. They all walked along to the shop, occasionally stopping to greet friends and acquaintances.
Even Anna couldn’t fail to notice the attention Harry was receiving, especially as he was carrying the baby, “You’re famous,” she said.
“Unfortunately,” grimaced Harry as he ducked his head. He pulled Ginny close to him and covered Lyla’s head slightly with the blanket when a photographer appeared.
They bobbed into the Weasley shop and George nodded a grim greeting to the shop assistant, and walked through to the back, “If you want it, there’s a flat upstairs, but we can discuss that later,” he said to Anna, “First we need to floo over to the Burrow. Harry, you are NOT taking that child with you since you’re bloody terrible at it.”
Harry grumbled and handed the baby to George while Hermione turned to Anna, “It’s really pretty simple,” she explained and picked up the floo powder, “You just take a little bit of this powder and toss it into the fire and say very clearly ‘The Burrow’ and it’ll take you straight there. You’ll come out of the fireplace. Harry can go first so you can see how it works.”
Harry stepped forward and threw the green powder in and went off to the Burrow. He stumbled as he came in but kept his feet. As soon as he had entered everyone stood up and looked expectantly at him, “She’s coming,” he told them, “She’s really nervous, as well as upset about Fred, but otherwise excited to meet you all.”
He moved out of the way as Ginny stumbled out and Harry caught her, “She’s coming next,” she said and moments later Anna fell out of the fireplace and Charlie lunged forward to catch her.
“You’re alright,” he said soothingly, “It’s horrible but you’re fine now.”
Ginny moved over to her and said, “Everybody, this is Anna, Anna this is the whole lot of us.”
She smiled weakly and waved but then everyone ran forward to her and hugged her in turn. Mrs Weasley held her last and longest, and sobbed weakly into her hair, “Oh Merlin, you poor thing, we’re here for you now.”
A minute later Hermione emerged from the fire and walked over to sit on Ron’s knee and watch. Next came George with Lyla, he smiled at his family and passed the little girl to her mother.
“Oh she is just as beautiful as you,” exclaimed Mrs Weasley.
“She eez lovely,” smiled Fleur, standing to stroke the baby’s cheek, she then bent and whispered to Anna, “Don’t worry zey are lovely, it eez strange at first but zey love you already.”
Anna smiled gratefully as Mr Weasley introduced himself, hugged her and took his granddaughter from her, “Yes, she looks a lot like Fred, and you, Anna,” He said with a sad smile, “You are both most welcome here, Anna, you always will be.”
Everyone filed forward to introduce themselves to an overwhelmed and tearful Anna, “Now, dear, you must sit down and eat something. You look very thin,” bustled Mrs Weasley conjuring a big bowl of broth and a loaf of bread over from the stove.
“Thank you,” she said softly as Charlie and Katarina vacated a seat for her. Everyone was squeezed into the kitchen, some on seats, some, like Harry and Ginny, were sitting on the floor by the fire.
Anna repeated what she had told the others earlier and everyone hung their heads and some sobbed as they realised what she had been through and how deeply Fred had obviously cared for her. Mrs Weasley embraced her again and it was obvious that Anna relished someone looking after her for once and she sunk into Mrs Weasley’s bosom.
Finally Mrs Weasley said, “You must tell us about yourself Anna.”
“Well, I’m twenty, I just finished my second year as an art student at St Martin’s College in London. My dad is Brazilian and my mum was Welsh, she died when I was little. I grew up in Leeds and moved to London for college when I was eighteen. I met Fred last January,” she explained, “My dad tries to look after me but he doesn’t have much and he is disappointed I got pregnant when I was so young. And without getting married.”
“Oh you poor dear,” said Mrs Weasley, “Well we don’t think anything like that. We’re just glad that we found you. Wizarding families usually have kids a lot younger. Ginny’s only just eighteen and she’s having a baby so we really are quite used to it.”
“How will I know if Lyla is magical?” She asked.
“Well at some point she’ll probably display some kind of magic. It can be as early as a few months old but some, especially more docile children, won’t demonstrate until they’re eight or nine. Percy didn’t until he was eight and he’s a great wizard. You usually see it when they’re most upset or angry and they won’t have any control over it,” explained Mr Weasley, “Have you noticed anything?”
“Well, yeah, actually,” said Anna, looking away in embarrassment, “Sometimes I didn’t have enough to feed her and I couldn’t afford formula and she’d scream and the whole room would shake.”
“Oh merlin!” Said Charlie, shaking his head sadly.
Mrs Weasley let out a sob and hugged Anna again, “You will never have to go through that again, dear, you’re staying with us until we can sort things out.”
“Oh, I couldn’t possibly…” started Anna.
“Nonsense, Anna!” Said Mr Weasley, “You’re grieving for Fred, you are obviously not eating enough, you’re exhausted and we need to help you understand the wizarding world. You can stay with us until you go back to college, when is that?”
“Five weeks, but I don’t think…” said Anna.
“There’s no question, dear, you need some TLC and we want to get to know you and little Lyla,” said Mrs Weasley.
“When you go back to uni, we’ll have the flat above the shop set up and we can figure out the stuff to do with the business,” said George calmly.
“What’s her full name by the way?” Asked Percy.
“Lyla Freda Ribeirao Weasley,” she said, “I always hoped Fred would come back…”
Mrs Weasley sobbed again and said, “That’s lovely,” before adding, “Boys, set up the table outside, there’s too many of us. Girls you all stay here and relax. Three of you pregnant and two grandchildren, we’re expanding fast!” She shook her head fondly as the girls took seats around the table and started gossiping, and fussing over Frederic and Lyla, then she called to Percy, “Percy, dear, why don’t you ask Penny over? Go and floo her to come for dinner. And while you’re at it get Andromeda and Teddy over.”
Percy shook his head and shoved his head in the fire to do as his mother asked him. Before long Anna was being introduced to Penny, Andromeda and Teddy and she was being made to feel well and truly part of a family, albeit a huge and crazy one.
“It’s wonderful,” said Mrs Weasley as she cheerfully prepared a feast, turning down any offer of help, “Teddy will be first to go to Hogwarts, then Freddy and Lyla, then your three,” she beamed at Fleur, Angelina and Ginny.
“I never thought of it, the place is going to be overrun with Weasleys and almost Weasley’s,” laughed Ginny, “And you lot haven’t even started yet,” she smiled at Penny, Katarina and Hermione who all blushed ferociously.
Once the table had been set up for twenty people, most of the boys started a game of quidditch which Anna watched in utter fascination. Harry flew down to Ginny and bent down to kiss her tiny three and a half month old bump, “D’you want to come for a turn around the pitch?”
She nodded and climbed on in front of Harry, who zoomed high into the air and sped around the pitch, “I think we’re having a big baby,” he laughed and placed his hand on the tiny swell on her belly.
Ginny groaned, “That’s going to hurt.”
Harry chuckled and kissed her neck, “I got you a present.”
“Really?” She asked intrigued bending her neck back to look at Harry.
“Mmmm, I was in Gringotts the other day, having a snoop around the vault and I found one of my mum’s old necklaces,” he said pulled the delicate chain out of his pocket and fastened it around her neck.
She glance down and saw it was a long, fragile silver chain. On it were three tiny filigree charms, the first was a golden snitch, the second was a tiny outline of a doe and the third was a loop with a tiny emerald sitting in the middle, “It’s lovely, Harry,” she said.
“I’m glad you like it,” he grinned, “There’s lots of special things in there I want to give you. But I need an occasion for each one.”
“What’s today’s occasion?” She asked quizzically.
“Mmmm, no occasion today. Just I love you,” he breathed into her neck.
“Good… I love you too,” smiled Ginny, “Now I think you should take me down before you accidentally manage to vanish more of my clothes.”
“Kingsley wasn’t much help, was he?” Grumbled Harry, thinking of the response that it was a natural thing for powerful wizards to occasionally perform feats of wandless magic and there wasn’t really much to be done about it.
“Nope, now take me down and teach Anna how to ride a broomstick,” said Ginny.
“Okay, okay, though you should know I can’t wait to take you home…” He grinned.
“Stop seducing me!”
“Is it working?” He asked hopefully.
“Take me back to earth, Harry Potter, this instant!” She demanded and he laughed as he took them to rest next to Anna.
“You want to have a go?” He asked Anna as Ginny clambered off and kissed his cheek.
Anna looked a little nervous, “I don’t know, it looks really fast. Would I even be able to do it?”
“Should be,” he said taking his wand out, “Hang on,” He accio’d an old clean sweep from the shed, “This one’s pretty slow and won’t take you high.”
“What do I do?” She asked looking sceptically at the tattered old broom on the ground.
“Just say ‘up’,” explained Harry, illustrating with his Firebolt, “Command it. I reckon you should be able to persuade it.”
After a few tries the broom leapt into her hand, “Right, now climb on,” he said, following his own instructions on the firebolt, “And kick off from the ground hard.”
She did it and was soon hovering a few feet off the ground, “Oh my god!” She screamed and everyone in the garden turned to see her and started clapping her on.
“Okay let’s go slowly, do a circuit of the pitch,” he said and moved slowly along with Anna as she flew carefully. The other men in the air flew down to cheer her on as she got the hang of it. Harry laughed, “Well done, you’re doing brilliantly.”
He glanced over and saw Teddy sitting with Andromeda and said, “I’ll see you in a minute,” he sped off, doing a loop the loop on the way to show off to his godson. When he reached Andromeda and Ted he kissed her on the cheek and grabbed Teddy in an embrace, “Come on, kid, let’s go get your training broom.”
He threw Ted over his shoulders and summoned the broom, walking over to where Ginny was sitting watching the flying, “Gin! Look who it is… our favourite godson!”
Ginny looked up and smiled, holding her arms out to Teddy who threw his arms around her and smothered her in wet kisses, “I missed you too, Teddy!” She laughed and, spying the training broom, said “Are you going to show me how well you can fly?”
He nodded and Harry helped him onto the little broom, holding his hands out to make sure he didn’t fall. Teddy was laughing and zooming around Harry’s legs while Ginny looked on in amusement. All of a sudden Teddy called out, “Grammum!” And zoomed away towards Andromeda with Harry chasing after him at top speed.
Ginny was in fits of laughter as she saw Harry finally grab the boy off the hurtling broomstick and collapse into the grass with him. Ginny pulled herself up and walked over to where they were lying in the grass. Harry beckoned to her and she lay down next to him. Teddy was lying across Harry’s chest with a mischievous grin and he reached out to touch Ginny’s round stomach.
“That’s your new brother or sister in there, Teddy,” smiled Harry happily as he leaned over to kiss Ginny as Ted made disgusted noises. George walked over and grabbed Teddy off Harry.
“Come on, kid, we’ll leave them to it,” smiled George, “I’ve got to teach you this brilliant trick anyway…”
Harry looked concerned for a moment and shrugged before rolling onto one side and leaning his head on his hand. He used his free hand to pull Ginny’s shirt back to reveal the stretched, smooth skin on her belly. He made patterns on it with his fingers and moved down to kiss it gently. He rested his cheek against the warmth for a moment before speaking, “Hey, you know you’re my baby in there,” he said in his deep, soothing voice, “That’s right, I’m your dad and I can’t wait to meet you. Try not to hurt your mum too much, ‘cause it’ll be me who gets in trouble for that,” he flashed a wry grin at Ginny who smacked him lightly over the head, “I love you already, kid, and we’re going to spend our lives doing just that, me and your mum.”
Ginny smiled softly and he moved to kiss her lips gently, “Oh my goodness,” she exclaimed suddenly, “I think the baby just moved. I felt the tiniest movement.”
“Really?” Asked Harry, full of excitement as he placed his hand again on her stomach.
“It was deep inside, I don’t know if you’d feel it,” she said and Harry looked disappointed, “Don’t be sad! Our baby recognised his dad’s voice!”
Harry grinned and kissed Ginny again, moving his hand around her waist to pull her closer to him, “This is perfect,” he said against her lips before returning to kissing them hard.
“Eugh, you two, get a room,” called George, “I can’t get away from your snogging!”
“Well if you wouldn’t floo into the living room without asking first, you wouldn’t have seen it this morning,” complained Harry.
“Leave them alone,” scolded Mrs Weasley, “They’re newlyweds, they’re meant to be like this. Although, actually, dinner is ready and we’d rather you joined us than continued this little performance.”
George hooted in triumph as Harry blushed ferociously and stood up, brushed himself down and reached down to pull Ginny to her feet. They walked over and sat together with Penelope on Harry’s right and Mr Weasley on Ginny’s left. Opposite them were Angelina, George and Anna; George was rubbing Angelina’s stomach and whispering her ear while Anna talked to Percy.
“So, Anna,” interrupted Harry, “How’s your day been?”
“Mmmm, strange, sad, good,” she said with a hint of sadness in her voice, “I mean it’s been great to meet all of you, you already feel like family and it’s nice to know I’m going to have some support. But at the same time I found out Fred’s dead and, even though I knew he was gone long ago, it’s hard for it to be official. So final.”
Harry nodded solemnly and Percy placed a brotherly hand on hers while George put his arm around her shoulder and Angelina leaned around to reach Anna’s free hand.
Mr Weasley placed an arm around his daughter’s shoulders and she looked up at him, “Are you happy, darling?”
“Very happy, dad,” she smiled contentedly as Harry squeezed her hand lightly.
Mrs Weasley served a spectacular dinner and they all tucked in eagerly. Fleur turned to Anna, “You must come to Hogwarts and see ze memorial and ze gardens, zer is a wonderful leetle remembrance for Fred.”
“That’s a lovely idea,” added Mrs Weasley, “I think it would be nice for you. He’s buried in the grounds as well. All those who died fighting Voldemort there are.”
“Yeah, I’d like that,” said Anna quietly.
“Well, Fleur, Freddy and I go back on the first of September,” said Bill, “You could come up a couple of weeks after that, the beginning of term’s a bit hectic. You can bring Lyla and take her to visit Fred. He’ll like that.”
“Will he know?” Asked Anna, amazed.
“Yeah, he will,” smiled Harry, “They always know.”
Everyone was looking at him with puzzled expressions and, after looking around to see who was sitting there, and noticing Penelope and Katarina were up in the kitchen, he responded, “My mum and dad, and Sirius and Remus walked with me to meet Voldemort. When I died I was with Dumbledore. They know, they’re happy. My mum and dad are still together in death, with the marauders. Tonks and Remus are with each other. They’re all waiting for us. Fred’s there, having fun, too, I bet.”
The rest of the table sat silently for a few moments before Mr Weasley said softly, “Thank you, Harry.”
Anna looked at Percy next to her mouthed, “He was dead?” so everyone could here. They all laughed and Mrs Weasley said, “It’s a long story and it’s too sad for this table, I’ll tell you tomorrow.”
Ginny smiled at Harry, “So we’ll be together? Even when we die?” She whispered so only he could here.
He leaned and kissed her head and said into her ear, “Always.”
After dinner Ginny took Anna’s hand and they walked with Lyla back into the house, “You can have my room,” she said and led her up to the small room that had been hers for nearly eighteen years, “It’s not massive but it’s got a comfy bed and a lovely view.”
“Thanks,” said Anna weakly and she sat on the end of the bed cradling Lyla.
“This must be a massive shock for you,” said Ginny kindly as she rummaged through the drawers, Anna nodded and Ginny pulled some things from the chest, “You can take anything you need from in here,” she passed a pair of pyjamas, “It should all fit you, you’re about the same size I was before I got pregnant. You’re taller but most of the stuff will be fine.”
“Thank you,” said Anna again.
Mr Weasley and Harry walked into the room, “We’re just going to pull the old cot out of the shed and put it together for you,” said Mr Weasley, “Let us know if there’s anything else you need, or anything you want from home and Harry can apparate over.”
Anna shook her head and thanked them before both men trooped back out of the room leaving the girls alone again, “Can I ask you something?”
“Anything,” smiled Ginny.
“How are you so… calm about all this?” Asked Anna shyly.
“Well… when I was pregnant with Lyla, I was terrified, I thought I was too young and I didn’t have a job,” said Anna, “And you’re even younger than I was… it isn’t really normal to be having a kid when you’re still a teenager.”
Ginny laughed softly, “It’s different for us. For people in our world,” she explained, “We get married and have kids younger… I think we generally have better instincts. Although, honestly, even magical people wait a bit longer, but the war was hard on us all – especially Harry – and we all grew up pretty fast. After everything that had happened it seemed natural for us to be together, to take advantage of everything we’d sacrificed for.”
Anna smiled sadly as she thought of Fred who had loved her and the life that was denied to him. Ginny put a gentle hand on Anna’s shoulder, before continuing, “We didn’t plan to have a baby so young, but we’re happy about it. We’re lucky, though; to be so sure of what we want, that Harry has enough money to support us, just to be alive and together.”
“You’re not scared?”
“Not really. We’re excited, mainly,” said Ginny and seeing the look on the other girl’s face, “I’m so sorry, Anna.”
“I wonder if me and Fred could have had that,” she said softly.
“Well, from what you said it sounds as if he really loved you,” said Ginny sadly, “I’m just sorry that we couldn’t have met you in better circumstances, but we’re going to help you now.”
Anna stared at the palms of her hands for a moment before she looked up and smiled softly, “I suppose there’s a lot to get used to. I’m scared I’ll wake up tomorrow and this will all have been a dream. A really bizarre dream. Magic!”
Ginny laughed and Harry and Mr Weasley entered the room with an old wooden cot. They placed it at the end of the bed and Mrs Weasley bustled in with clean sheets, “I’ve owled Kingsley and he’s going to come over tomorrow afternoon to talk to you. He’d like you to come to the ceremony and take Fred’s Order of Merlin, that’ll be something for Lyla to have when she’s older.”
“Thank you,” said Anna, it seemed to be all she was saying.
“Not at all, dear,” said Mrs Weasley, putting her hand Anna’s cheek for a moment before turning to Harry who had been joined by Ginny, “Are you two staying here tonight? We can put up the tent or, Ginny, you can sleep in the living room and Harry can squeeze in with Percy.”
Harry laughed, “Nah, you’re alright, thanks,” he said, “We’ll just floo home.”
“Oh,” said Mrs Weasley, sounding a little disappointed, “I suppose it makes more sense, though it is nice to have you here.”
“Mum! Much as it’s nice to be here, we’d rather go home to our own bed and get a decent night’s sleep. Besides all our things are there,” said Ginny in amusement.
“Yeah, we’ll see you all on Saturday night at the ministry,” said Harry, putting his arm around Ginny.
“Oh!” Said Ginny suddenly as they were about to leave Anna’s room, “You’ll need something to wear, it’s quite formal. I don’t think we have time to go shopping… if you come over to ours tomorrow though, you can have something of mine. I can’t fit into any of my old dresses anymore,” she said, thinking of how difficult it had been to find a nice maternity dress for the night.
Mrs Weasley nodded and promised to have Hermione floo over with Anna the next morning. Harry and Ginny bid them all a good night and tumbled out of the fireplace into their own living room.
“What a day!” Exclaimed Ginny as she went into the kitchen to boil water for tea.
“Tell me about it,” called Harry as he put out the fire and moved to the bathroom to change into his pyjama bottoms, “It’s great, though, isn’t it? In the end, I mean, it’s hard for her now, but we’ve still got a bit of Fred.”
“Mmm, yeah,” said Ginny, walking into the bedroom with a mug in each hand.
“Oh, thanks love,” said Harry, taking one from her while she set her own down on the bedside table so she could change into one of Harry’s old t-shirts and a pair of boxers, “Gin?”
“Mmmm?” She asked as she sat on the bed and sipped the hot tea.
Harry climbed over to sit behind her and massage her shoulders, “I think pregnancy suits you. You look more beautiful by the day.”
“Oh, you are definitely trying to seduce me, now,” she laughed as he wrapped his arms around her and shared the warmth of his bare chest with her.
“Yeah, I am,” he smiled softly.
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