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Chapter 1 : FAKE
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Harry crouched beside his two sons as they looked at Ginny’s trophy cabinet. Pride of place went to the medal and the miniature of the Quidditch World Cup that Ginny had won playing for England seven years before.
“What’s that one for Daddy?” asked James, pointing at a cup.
“That’s for the league championship Jimmy, see there are three others just the same. That’s because Mummy’s team won for four years, one after the other.” Albus joined in,
“This one Daddy?”
“Mummy won that four years ago, all the other players in the league voted her as the best player in that year. She was a really great player your Mum, she retired because she wanted another baby so she doesn’t play any more.”
“When is the baby coming?” James asked. Harry’s heart broke.
“I don’t think it is coming Jimmy, you see Mummy doesn’t love me anymore.”
“Or me.” said Albus plaintively, a sad little tear on his cheek. “That’s why she left us.” Harry couldn’t stop the tears. He hugged his boys to him, they hugged him back.
“No Albie, that’s not true. Mummy loves you and Jimmy very much. It’s just me that she doesn’t love.”
“When did I tell you that?” asked Ginny. Nobody had heard her arrive. The boys ran to embrace her. Harry stood and dried his eyes before turning to face his wife. “I’ve never said that I don’t love you.”
“I suppose packing your bags and walking out of the front door a nearly a year ago was a sort of clue. What else was I supposed to think?” Ginny crouched down in front of her boys. She hugged them as though her life depended on it.
“You two go upstairs; clean your teeth and get ready for bed, and then Daddy and I will come and tuck you in.”
“And read us a story?” said Albie excitedly.
“Babbity Rabbity!” the boys exclaimed together.
“OK, Babbity Rabbity it is. Now get ready.” said Harry, the boys crouched as if to start a race. “Three,” said Harry. “Two.” Albus shot out of the living room closely followed by James and the two of them sped up the stairs. “One, go.” Harry finished with a laugh. Ginny was smiling too.
“They seem happy enough.” she said.
“No! They’re bloody well not!” Harry snapped at her. “Their mother walked out on them! Remember!?”
“Yes I do remember!” she snapped back, “Do you remember why!?”
“I remember the excuse she used, which is no more valid now than it was then.”
“For Gods sake, Harry! A photo in the Wizard Enquirer of you in your office with your trousers round your ankles shagging your secretary. That’s not a valid reason? The picture was even declared genuine by your mates in the Auror Office.”
“I’ve told you countless times, Ginny, it’s not true. Jenny has told you it’s not true. We’ve both volunteered to take Veritaserum, but the Ministry won’t let us. It’s only to be used in criminal cases. The sooner that Kingsley gets that stupid rule changed the better. Whoever it is in that photo, it is not me and Jenny.”
“You forgot the Polyjuice theory, or were you just coming to that?”
“Would it do any good to say it again? Would it make you believe me? You know what; I’m beginning to think you don’t want to believe me. I don’t think you want to come back to us. Well swallow this Ginny; I’m not sure now that I want you back. One way or another I will prove my innocence, and when I do I never want to see you again.”
“Harry, I do want to come back. Of course I do. I miss the boys desperately, and you.”
“So desperately that this is only your fifth visit in ten months. What are you doing the rest of the time Ginny. Who are you shagging? Got any pictures?”
“Stop trying to hurt me even more Harry. I can’t keep visiting because it tears me apart when I have to leave. It’s killing me being away from you all. If you would just apologise… say you’re sorry.”
“For something I haven’t done… fat chance.” They were interrupted by Jimmy’s voice calling,
“Mummy, Daddy, we’re ready.”
“Coming Jimbo,” he called back. Looking at Ginny, he said, “Sweetness and light until we get them settled, and then you can be on your way because quite honestly aftertwenty minutes, I’m sick of the sight of you.”
They told their sons the bedtime story as they used to do, by reading alternate pages. Half an hour later Ginny leaned against the doorframe and watched Harry tell James he loved him as he tucked the bedclothes around him. They were both asleep. She went to do the same for Albus, but Harry stopped her with a brusque whisper,
“I’ll do that thank you.” she turned and tears flowed freely down her cheeks as she hurried downstairs. Then it was Harry in the doorway looking at Ginny with her face in her hands and her shoulders shaking. For a moment his resolve faltered. ‘I wish to God I didn’t love you so much, I wish I didn’t love you at all.’ he thought, ‘It would make this so much easier. But I do love you and I can’t help it.’ Her voice brought him back.
“Did you mean it?”
“Are you really sick of the sight of me? Do you really want a divorce?” Part of him wanted to say ‘yes, get out, just go away.’ But that wasn’t the truth. He wanted nothing more than to hold her in his arms and never let go. He wasn’t going to lie to her.
“No Ginny. I could never feel that way about you. I love you and want you as much as I ever did. It kills me too that I can’t convince you that the picture is a lie and I’ve done nothing wrong. My conscience is clear, as is Jenny’s, which is why it’s impossible for me to apologise. I can’t explain that picture. I’ve even thought about breaking into the Ministry labs to steal some Veritaserum. I don’t know what else I can do.”
“I was right though wasn’t I? You’ve never heard me say that I don’t love you, have you?”
“No, I haven’t. You’re right.”
“That’s because I do love you. I love you so much Harry. I wish I could get rid of all these horrible doubts I have. I’ve got the image of that picture burned into my brain and I can’t get it out. God knows I’ve tried. Help me, Harry, please help me. I don’t know what to do either.” He went to her and took her hands in his as she stood up.
“If neither of us knows what to do, perhaps we should do it together.”
“What do you mean, Harry?”
“Come home Ginny, please. We stand more chance of working this out together than apart. Let’s at least try. Please.”
“I’ll… I’ll sleep in the spare room if that’s what you’re worried about.”
“How is that being ‘together’? It’s got to be all or nothing Harry. All or nothing.”
“In that case I choose ‘all’. How about you?” Two minutes of silence followed. Two minutes during which his eyes never left her face. She was looking straight ahead, his blue shirted chest filling her field of vision. She knew, only too well, that if she looked into his eyes at a moment like this she was lost. ‘Green as a fresh pickled toad.’ She smiled inwardly at the memory. She couldn’t help herself and her eyes slowly lifted. If he would help her, she had nothing more to lose by trying. Their eyes met. A brief pause….
“OK ‘all’. Harry please kiss….” She never got to finish her sentence
Early next morning Albus climbed out of bed and as usual stumbled his way, bleary eyed, to his Dad’s room. As it always was, the door was slightly ajar. He opened it enough to go in and went to the bed. He stopped, stared, rubbed his disbelieving eyes and looked again. He turned around and scampered back to his bedroom. He shook his brother. “Jimmy, Jimmy wake up. Come and see, wake up.” He dragged his brother with him and they stood and looked at their Mum and Dad. They beamed huge smiles at each other and leapt onto the sleeping couple. Harry yelled, Ginny squealed.
“I forgot to tell you about this part. Sorry.” said Harry with a grin. They grabbed their sons and a huge fight broke out. Laughing and shouting, the three guys turned on Ginny, tickling fiercely until her face was purple and she was gasping for breath. Then it was Harry’s turn. He had one boy in each arm when Ginny slid her hand under the covers and into his boxers.
“No fair, Ginny, no fair. I can’t defend myself. Stop it.”
“That’s not what you said last night,” she whispered in his ear, ‘if I remember rightly you were talking to God. For a moment I thought I was at a prayer meeting.”
“Mummy, why was Daddy talking to God?” asked James. Ginny laughed quietly. She had forgotten how close he was to Harry’s ear.
“I think he was just saying thank you, Jimmy.”
Harry answered his eldest son. “For this Jimbo, for the four of us being all together again.” James struggled free and straddled his mother.
“Does that mean you’re staying with us again, Mummy? Do you love us again?”
“I always loved you James,” she groped for Harry’s free hand, “all of you. Yes, I’m staying. Always.” Harry looked at her; he could see her eyes beginning to moisten.
“Always?” he asked in a guarded tone, “we still have….”
“Always, Harry. This is just a start,” she kissed James, “a wonderful, beautiful start. I’m in bed with the three men I love most in the whole world. I won’t let this go again.” They didn’t know about little Lily who had, just a few hours ago, taken up residence inside Ginny.
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