Chapter 15 : Chapter 15
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On the first anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts, the mood in the Weasley household was subdued, the sadness clear to see on all their faces. After breakfast they picked flowers, such as they were, from the garden, produced a few better ones from their wands. Just before lunch they went to the corner of the garden where, one year before, they had buried Fred.
As they approached the grave Harry let go of Ginny’s hand and put his arm around her shoulders. Her eyes were filling with tears and her chin was quivering as they laid their flowers. The small picture of Fred on the headstone made them smile by adopting various poses. “That makes me smile every time I come here,” said Molly as she looked around at the others, she slid her arm around Arthur’s waist, “we are truly blessed with our family Arthur,” she looked at Harry and Hermione “and our friends.” she finished. She visited Fred at least twice a week. They turned to go back to the house and stopped as a silvery white figure of a wolf materialised in front of them. The wolf spoke with the voice of their eldest son Bill.
“Fleur is in labour, the healers are here. Should have some news for you soon.”
The figure of Bill’s Patronus dissolved and the family chattered excitedly all the way back to the house. Molly kept herself calm by preparing lunch as she would normally do. Hermione and Ginny took over and stopped the washing up brush trying to peel the potatoes; they took the kettle out of the oven and prevented the carving knife chopping lumps out of the wall.
“Sit down Mum. It will be better if we did this.” said Ginny, “For some reason you’re not concentrating.” They ate a short time later. Ginny designated Harry and Ron to clear up when they had finished. The next hours were weird with Molly and Arthur unable to settle to anything. They went for a stroll but only got as far as the garden gate.
“What is the matter with them?” asked Ron, “Fleur’s only having a baby for goodness sake.” Hermione found the perfect response.
“Ron… Shut up!” Ginny looked at Harry laughing at his best mate.
“And you can do the same.” she stated firmly.
“Me? I didn’t say anything.” protested Harry.
“Well shut up anyway.” Ginny said with a grin.
“Come on Ron, let’s get our brooms and go flying.” said Harry.
“Beats sitting around here.” he muttered, “Someone has a baby and the whole place goes mental.” Even Hermione was persuaded to get on a broom, but only after insisting that the others practised the Cushioning Charm first. They returned an hour later to get some refreshment and shortly thereafter Bill’s Patronus re-appeared.
“It’s a girl! It’s a girl!” Harry had never seen a Patronus so excited. “She is beautiful, and she has red hair. Fleur and our daughter are both well. We haven’t decided on a name yet. Come to Shell cottage tomorrow. We can’t wait for you all to meet her.” Molly was in tears. Ginny, Hermione and Arthur were chattering excitedly. Harry was delighted for all of them, it felt so good to see the Weasleys smiling and laughing, even if it was the first anniversary of Fred’s loss. It had been a long time since they’d had good news of such magnitude. Ron was feigning indifference, but Harry could sense his happiness bubbling under the surface.
It was with a great sense of anticipation that they apparated to Shell Cottage the just after lunch the next day. They had spent the morning in Diagon Alley looking for gifts to take with them. A collection of various stuffed toys and colourful mobiles accompanied them as they arrived.
Molly and Arthur were the first into the large sunlit bedroom. Fleur was sitting up in her bed holding her newborn daughter. They went to the bed and looked at the bundle that Fleur held out to them. Molly took the baby and gazed through tearful eyes at her first grandchild. “Oh she is so beautiful, look Arthur.” Arthur was speechless. Bill ushered the rest of them into the room. Hermione and Harry hung back but Bill called them forward,
“Come on you two, you are practically family.” He took the baby from his mother, “We have decided to call her Victoire. So Victoire, this is your Aunty Ginevra and these two gormless objects are your Uncle George and Uncle Ron.” Ginny took the baby from her brother; Bill took his camera and started snapping.
“Oh she is so lovely.” Ginny whispered, staring at the chubby little face. The baby gave a little whimper. Harry looked at the picture in his eyes and his heart swelled. In his mind’s eye the picture was not Ginny holding her niece, but his wife holding his daughter. He snapped back to the present. Ginny passed the child to Ron, and the whimper became a full-blown cry. Everybody except Ron laughed. Ron just passed the baby to George who tickled her nose with a finger. Victoire stopped crying and tried to capture the finger to suck on. George smiled triumphantly at Ron.
“You ain’t got the touch Ron. Best leave this sort of thing to Hermione.”
“George don’t say things like that.” said Molly. It was too late, Hermione was already blushing furiously. She took the baby and held her for Harry to see. Harry looked into the pink round face and dark eyes. She was gorgeous he decided, he glanced at Ginny and was surprised to see a troubled look pass briefly across her features. Bill took the baby and gave her back to Fleur.
“I ‘ave to feed ‘er now, so pleeze you mus’ pardonnez moi for some minutes.” They all trooped out and went down to the garden. Bill joined them a few minutes later, carrying a tray of Butterbeer, Firewhisky and Fine Champagne, sent by Fleur’s parents who would be arriving later that day.
Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione walked slowly away from the house to a small mound now grown over with grass that Bill obviously kept well tended. Hermione laid flowers on the mound and they all stared at the engraving that Harry had put on the rock at the top of the mound. It read simply “HERE LIES DOBBY. A FREE ELF.” ‘It looks better now that it’s weathered a bit’, he thought. Memories of Dobby passed through his mind. A floating cake at the Dursleys, a rogue bludger and one of Harry’s socks at Hogwarts and many more, Harry smiled and finally spoke.
“Dobby you were a royal pain in the neck at times but without you I don’t know where we would be now. You saved our lives at Malfoy Manor, and we’ll always be grateful for that. Thanks mate.” They made their way back to Molly and Arthur where Bill was explaining the choice of the baby’s name.
“She was born on the first anniversary of Voldemort’s downfall. Victoire simply means victory.” Fleur came out of the house shielding Victoire’s eyes from the bright sunshine. Arthur took out a camera and began snapping away. Once again Victoire was passed around like a parcel, photographed from every angle, with various pairs of her relatives. Harry and Ginny posed for their turn in front of the camera. Ginny was ooohing and aaahing, speaking the gobbledegook that passed for baby talk.
“Here Ron,” she said, “have another try.” Ron cradled Victoire and once satisfied that she wasn’t going to cry, leaned close to kiss her forehead. He stopped suddenly and called Bill.
“Here take her; I would never have thought that something so lovely could smell like that.” he said. Ginny laughed,
“That’s what Hermione said about you once.”
“She didn’t know me when I was a baby.” Ron was indignant.
“She only said it two weeks ago.”
“Oh, Ha bloody ha, that’s not very funny.” Ron’s problem was that all the others thought it was.
They spent a couple of joyful hours with Victoire and her parents, before collecting their things and getting ready to leave. The familiar noise of someone apparating announced the arrival of the Delacourts. Fleur went to her family, her mother, father and younger sister Gabrielle, who by now was herself a very attractive young woman, and hugged them all. With greetings exchanged all round the Weasley’s began to depart. Back at the Burrow that evening the conversation was, of course, all about the baby. Ron and George drifted away for a game of chess. Ginny volunteered to make some coffee and Harry went to help her. “Did you have a problem this afternoon when they took that picture of me and Hermione with the baby?”
“Was it noticeable? It was just a fleeting moment really. I saw you and a girl with a baby, the problem was that it wasn’t me.”
“When I saw you with Victoire, I didn’t see you and your niece but you and our child.”
“One day it will be me Harry, one day, but not just yet.”
In Molly’s mind she had just had a perfect day.
The summer progressed slowly and peacefully. The two young couples spending many happy hours just strolling the country fields and lanes. Talking about the future and, surprisingly perhaps, the past. On one particularly hot weekend they had gone to the beach where Ginny and Ron had bathed in the sea for the first time. Hermione had been a bit miffed by Harry and Ron arguing as to whether Ginny’s bikini was fantastic or disgraceful. Hermione thought there was more material in her handkerchief, than what Ginny was wearing. The two boys never seemed to notice her in her one piece swimsuit. They knew that this was probably the last summer that they would be able to enjoy such an idyllic time. Jobs, school and careers were closing in fast.
It was mid afternoon when the four young people turned into a small field and sat in the sunshine under a small tree. They had wandered for three or four miles from the Burrow through country lanes, laughing and joking all the way. Ron opened the small bag he was carrying, emblazoned with the emblem of his favourite Quidditch team, the Chudliegh Cannons. He pulled out four bottles of Butterbeer and passed them round. Hermione lay down with her head in Ron’s lap,
“You know, I just feel great, so relaxed. Do you think we’ll always be this happy?” she asked the others.
“Long may it continue.” said Harry, leaning back against the tree trunk with his arm around Ginny’s shoulders. Slyly checking that Ron and Hermione couldn’t see, he let his hand drop casually to her breast. He only managed one gentle caress before Ginny stung the back of his hand with a slap. He looked at her as if to say ‘can’t blame me for trying’. She poked her tongue out in reply. Hermione looked up at the sky,
“Oh look, a cloud.” she murmered, “Haven’t seen many of them for a week or two” They continued in the same vein, with happiness oozing from every pore. It was about half an hour later when they had finished their drinks, that Ginny said,
“I think it’s going to rain, all of a sudden there’s a lot more black cloud around. Shall we head back?” They dropped their empty bottles in Ron’s bag and set off.
A figure cloaked in black crouched and looked through a gap in the hedge at the Burrow about two hundred yards away. His eyes took in every detail of the building. They were lucky, he thought, he had not come to destroy but to frighten. He was going to scare them so badly that they would know that it wasn’t over. They may have killed the Dark Lord but they would know that some of his followers were still alive, and about to become active again. He raised his wand and…
The youngsters were still half a mile or so from the Burrow climbing a small hill. The clouds were darker now and the temperature was dropping quickly. Ron and Hermione were perhaps fifty yards in front of Harry and Ginny, who were idling along with their arms around each other. Harry stopped and pulled her into an embrace, it was as they kissed that Hermione screamed. They broke apart and stared at the two in front disappearing over the brow of the hill. Hermione turned and called to Harry, pointing into the distance where Harry knew the Burrow lay sheltered in a small vale, and also that Molly was all alone there.
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