Chapter 27 : Chapter 26: Back to Where it All Began
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Back to where it all began
I grabbed another butterbeer from the table, and walked over to where James and Harry were sitting on the edge of the patio. This is quite a set up they have here. Who knew that Harry was enough of a golf man that living on the edge of a golf course would be something that he'd get excited about. He and James had been out earlier today, they kept wanting me to go with them, but really, hitting a ball with a stick and then walking around...definitely not a way that I'd want to spend my afternoon. I could at least enjoy rugby when I went with Anwen, golf was far too slow. “This is some place you've built for yourself, Harry. I'm impressed.”
“Thanks,” he replied. “After living in the Manor and Grimmauld Place, I needed someplace larger. I liked the flat we had near Holyhead, but Ginny and I were tripping over each other there. This is our place, our home,” he explained. He had been promoted to deputy head of the Auror department under Anwen at the first of the year. He had no idea that within three years, he would be promoted to be Head Auror. Anwen was going to tell him next spring.
“You could have stayed at Grimmauld. It was certainly large enough for you and Ginny,” I told him but he was shaking his head.
“Okay, secret here, Ginny hated that place. Said that it reminded her of a tomb. When Mum and Aunt Winnie needed a place for the school, I was more than happy to let them have it. Ginny was over the moon about it, and a happy wife makes for a happy home.” I laughed, he'd learned the lesson already, and only four years in.
“That is true. So, how many bedrooms does the house have?” I asked.
“Nine, we wanted to have enough room for family to come and visit, and we both have a ton of family,” he replied.
I settled down and watched some of the golfers on the course, taking advantage of the last vestiges of summer sun, and when I really stopped to look at them, I couldn't believe what they were wearing. The colors were...loud and the patterns were...louder. These Muggles dressed like...I don't even know.
“Harry, when you go out there on the field,” I asked, but he interrupted me.
“Links, Uncle Sirius, you golf on a course of links.”
“Right, when you're out there on that grass, do you dress like them? I always had better hope for you there boy, you have a bike and everything,” I would really be disgusted if he dressed like that.
“Hey, I have some rather swell clothes for when I golf,” James piped up and I just stared at him.
“Swell, did you just use the word swell, Prongs? Honestly?” I looked at my best friend and felt ill at the fact that he was, well, old. “Please tell me that I'm not as old as you.”
“Actually, Padfoot, you're older. You've got a good two months on me,” he responded.
“Okay, chronologically, I'm older, but you're, man, you're a...when did you get old?”
“He's not old,” Lily called as the women exited the house, “he's well aged, like some good wine.” She sat down on the arm on his chair and wrapped an arm around him. I was about to say something when Anwen plopped herself down in my lap.
“Neither of you are old,” she said, “you just show your age in different ways. However, we should face it, none of us are getting any younger. My baby is leaving for Hogwarts tomorrow,” she reminded us and I could see her bottom lip quivering.
“I know, love, but we've still got five more at home that need you,” I reminded her as I kissed her cheek. As if on cue, the Potter children and ours came tearing around from the side of the house.
“Harry, can we get our brooms out?” Evan asked his older brother.
“Sure,” he replied. “I'll go and set the privacy charms.” All of the kids, even Jamie, went into the house to get their brooms. Ginny remained seated, which I thought was odd; what was even odder was her response when Lily asked her if she was excited to be headed back to Holyhead for training.
“You know, I'm weighing my options right now.”
I could see Lily considering asking her another question, when Molly and Arthur came through the house, and out onto the porch.
“I left the tart you asked me to make on the sideboard dear,” Molly told her daughter. “I like the color that you painted the downstairs loo as well, glad that you didn't go with that yellow you had talked about, it was rather garish.”
“Thanks, Mum. That was Luna's choice, not mine. I got the sample home and put it up to the wall, and I knew that it was all wrong. I like the blue, it's much more calming,” Ginny replied. Several of Ginny's brothers and their wives came through, Bill and Fleur brought their two little girls and Percy brought his. You know, for a family that made such a big deal out of having a girl when Ginny was born, they certainly seem to have enough of them now.
Dinner was a huge and pleasant affair. Ginny, Molly, Lily and Anwen had all cooked, and many of the wives had brought other dishes along as well. I really think that my wife's statement that I was like a cat, keep me well fed and out of heat and I was happy, was most definitely true.
I watched as Hermione tried to corner Anwen about something from work, but she very deftly was able to maneuver around it.
“Hermione, child, I am more than happy to discuss this with you in two days, when I am in the office. Right now, I am at a family gathering, and I very much would like to be able to enjoy my family while I can. My son leaves for Hogwarts tomorrow, and I am not doing well with that thought,” she said calmly, and I could see the young witch figuring out what Anwen was saying.
“Sorry, um, Winnie. I didn't mean to take your time away from Ethan,” Hermione apologized.
“I know that you didn't. Now, how about if we plan on meeting when I'm in the office on the second? I will need a good distraction that day,” Anwen suggested.
“That would be fine.” Hermione went off to chase Ron away from the buffet table, and Anwen settled down on my lap again. She really was masking a great deal of apprehension and fear, but not really for Ethan's safety. The threat against him was long gone, I knew that she was simply fearful that our eldest son would no long need her.
Lily and Molly’s screeching and crying and hugging across the patio and smothering Ginny broke my concentration from trying to bolster Anwen's emotional state. Lily made eye contact with Anwen and nodded and I watched as my wife began to cry.
“Winnie, what's going on?”
“Ginny's pregnant. Lily and I have suspected for about a week, but we wanted her to tell us in her own time. When they invited us all over, I knew that it just wasn't to gloat about winning the family Quidditch match this year, again, but instead it probably had to do with this. Oh, Sirius, Harry is going to be a father,” she cooed.
“Okay, everyone,” Harry yelled as he climbed up on a chair. “Well, Ginny told the Mums, so I get to tell everyone else. We're going to have a baby, she's due in April. She's also not returning to Quidditch, which is why we've built our house here in Truro,” he announced, and there was great cheering among the family.
“I thought that it was just so you could be close to the greens,” Bill yelled back, and there was a few snickers in the crowd. The Weasley family descended upon Harry and Ginny, along with the Potter children and a few of ours as well. It was something to watch Prongs hug his son, knowing that his boy would become a father within a year.
“That's a pretty cool thing there, watching one generation move into another. He's not the baby anymore,” Anwen told me. “None of them are, our children or the Potters’. The Lupin's kids are the youngest in our generation, but they're soon going to be pushed aside by another whole new generation. Where did the time go love?”
“We lived it, Winnie love; and as our children grow up and move on, we get to move on to new things too. Please, sweetheart, don't be sad,” I asked her.
“You know, this means that you can start calling James grandpa,” she reminded me with a glint in her eyes. He had been teasing me mercilessly about the fact that Bastien was to become a father any day now, Laure was due at the beginning of September.
“Oh, you are so very right, I can indeed tease him. Hmm, perhaps a little prank might be in order?” I suggested, and Anwen shook her head.
“My love, my darling, just remember whatever you dish out, you're going to need to be able to take as well,” she muttered, and I knew that she was right. I still hate it when she's right.
Harry and Tonks were on patrol today, but it was my eyes that kept darting around. It wasn't that I was even worried that anything would happen today, it was just that I was putting my son on the train, and I knew that there were nine threats that had come into the office regarding doing something to the train. None of them were considered credible, but, they were there nonetheless. Sirius teased me that I knew too much, and it was freaking me out.
Ethan was pushing his trolley toward the train, Evan in front of him. The elder boy was excited that the younger was finally joining him. I hated to think about what would happen if Ethan wasn't in Gryffindor. His best friend and his father might disown him.
“I'm going to get my things onto the train, Mum,” Ethan said and sped off with Evan before I could even say anything. A slight sigh escaped me before I could stop it. Lily linked her arm through mine and Sirius wrapped his arm over my shoulder.
“It gets easier, Winnie. Every year it gets easier. I was able to let go of Harry, and now look, I'm going to be a grandmother. I know it's hard, but it's time for him to go,” she told me, knowing what I needed to hear. I started to cry because I knew that she was right. Lily wrapped her arms around me, and hugged me. “You know, thirty years ago today, I had to do the same thing with you. You were so tiny and looked so lost, and look at us now. We're married to the boys I begged you to stay away from, you're the Head Auror, I'm the Administrator of Grimmauld House and we're married to men who are pillars of society; well, James is anyway,” she joked and I could hear Sirius make a clucking noise with his tongue. I loved the way these two bantered back and forth. “Pretty good turn out for two girls who didn't know anything about this world before we stepped on that train.”
“You're right, and I can't believe just how different things seem now, it doesn't feel that long ago, and yet, it feels like another lifetime,” I told her.
James finally caught up with us, bringing the girls in tow. We had left them behind in the Muggle station, as they were looking at Muggle teen magazines at the newsstand. They wanted to see everything, since they would be going next year. I watched them pointing to things and giggling. Our youngest four and Hope were at our house with Ginny and Patty. School for the rest of them would start in a few days.
“Look at them, Lil, they go next year, and then John and Jamie after that, and then Hope and Edmund and then Teddy and Stella and...where did the time go?” I muttered, but no one felt the need to answer.
Harry stepped off the train and then walked over to me. “You want the report, or are you too emotional?”
“Watch it Little Man, I'm still your boss,” I reminded him and he shook his head at me.
“I told you, I've hated that nickname since I was like eight; and how do you get off calling me little? I'm like a foot taller than you are.”
“You will always be my little man, the sweet boy that I rocked to sleep when it felt like my world was falling apart,” I told him, the melancholy overtaking me, “and now, you're going to be a father.”
“Sweet Merlin, Mum, give her a cheering charm, please. Honestly, Ethan is going to be so embarrassed if you cry all over him. Get it together, and then go home and weep all over my godfather here,” Harry suggested, taking out his wand and doing the charm on me himself.
“Thank you,” I said wiping my eyes.
“Okay, the train is empty, and there were only about 200 contraband items on it, but since it's Hogwarts rules that they're breaking, not Ministry ones, I let it all slide,” he told me.
“You still just don't like Filtch, huh?” Sirius asked him.
“Actually, it's the cat that always creeped me out. Weirdest thing I ever met. Let him deal with the stuff, most of it was Weasley stuff anyway, not like I'm cutting into that business,” He told me and I smiled.
“Why yes, how much do you make from every item again?”
“Oh, only about 15% now, they keep buying back my ownership, and giving it to the wives as the brothers get married. I figure that I'll keep this part, and sign it over to Ginny, still reap the benefits, but it will be her part of the family business that way,” he told us.
“You've run the scans over the platform, correct?” I asked him, reminding myself that I had a job to do here, even if I wasn't technically on duty today.
“There's nothing, Ma'am,” Harry replied, knowing that I hated it when he called me ma'am, it made me feel so old. Tonks walked over to us, and Lily wrapped an arm around her. “Good to see you today, we missed you last night. How are the kids feeling today?”
“They're getting better, the vomiting has stopped, but they've still got the big purple and blue spots, but my mother promises that it will go down in another two days. I think that they're wearing their dad down,” Tonks told us. All three of her children had gotten the Dragon Pox at the same time. A vaccine had been created for it, by none other that Ewan duChamp, but it didn't work quite right for the Lupin children, and they had all gotten the disease a little over a week ago. Ewan had returned to try and figure out why it hadn't worked for them, and believed that it might have to do with the small traces of Lycanthropy that were present in the children's bloodstreams, it somehow made the vaccination ineffective. Remus, Tonks and Andromeda had their hands full with Teddy, Lara and Andie all sick at once.
“I wonder where Bastien is?” Sirius muttered, “He promised Ethan that he'd be here to see him off.”
“Laure is nine months pregnant, dear. He's got other things on his mind than Ethan,” I reminded him and he made some odd scrunch of his face. Ethan and Evan came back off the train, and came back over to us.
“Dad, it's so cool on there, I got my trunk put away and Evan introduced me to the guys he plays Quidditch with and everything. I wish I could bring my broom,” our son complained.
“You know the rules, next year son, then you can take your broom,” Sirius said loudly, and then he bent down to whisper to him, “we'll even go and get you a new one, just like the one Harry uses.” I shook my head at him, Sirius was perpetually about the spoiling of our children.
The train let off one whistle, letting us know that they had five minutes before it would depart. Harry and Tonks went to check the train and the platform one more time, and I wrapped my arms around my son.
“Aw, Mum, would you stop crying?” Ethan complained as I hugged him. “You're like a leaky faucet.” I released him, but put my hands on his face.
“I have never been prouder of you, my boy. I was never a mother, until you came into my life. You are the best thing that I will ever do, loving you and your brothers and sisters. Work hard, have fun, TRY to obey the rules and no matter what anyone says or does, be true to who you are,” I told him and then hugged him again.
“Let him go, Anwen,” Sirius whispered in my ear, and I nodded and released my son.
“Give that new owl a work out, Ethan, you're Mum is going to need to know how things are going, and if you need anything, just let us know, okay?” Sirius told him, and Ethan nodded at his dad.
“Yeah, I'll write. Evan says he writes home about once a week, so I'll do the same thing. I'll let you know what house I get into tonight,” he promised.
“You'll be in Gryffindor, I just know it,” Sirius said, but before Ethan could reply I added: “No matter what house you're in, we will be proud of you.”
“I know Mum, and I'll go and see Professor Babbling too, and get my work for Runes,” he told me and I started to ask him about his books, “I've got both my translation guides as well. Don't worry.”
“I won't. I know that you like your languages, son. Well, say goodbye to your sister, and your Aunt and Uncle and then...” I stopped, I didn't want to cry again.
Ethan hugged both Emma and Lilyan, and then James and Lily. He hugged his dad, and I could hear Sirius whisper something to his son, and Ethan nod in return. I wrapped my arms around my son again. “I love you, my sweet strong star.”
“I love you too, Mum. I'll write tonight.” Harry stepped back off the train, as Ethan and Evan turned to get on, and he hugged his brother, shook his cousin's hand and then the boys disappeared onto the train. I tried not to cry, but it was hard. Harry made his way over to us.
“He'll be fine, Aunt Winnie. They've got insurance that they won't get into trouble.”
“What do you mean?”
“I gave Evan the map last year, with the understanding that it has to be passed down to the oldest Potter, Black or Lupin child at Hogwarts. By the time little Andie is done, my kid will be ready to start. Wow, that sounds...odd; my kid.” Harry said and we all chuckled.
“The Marauders, the Next Generation,” I quipped.
“Oh, please don't say that,” Lily moaned. “I don't think I could handle children that were as difficult as these two.”
We watched the train pull out, and made plans for Lily and James and the kids to come over for dinner tonight. I didn't say much, I just watched the train fade away from sight. It was one of the hardest things I had ever done, I wanted to keep him with me, keep him little.
As we were leaving the station, we met up with Draco.
“Bastien is sorry that he couldn't make it, but Laure went into labor. They're at St. Mungo's and he wanted me to let you know,” he told Sirius. I smiled at the symmetry. Life continues to go on.
I was carrying two cups of warmed cider out to the media room for Anwen. We had been in Canada for Thanksgiving last week, and she had decided to take today off to make sure that things were finally put away correctly and to get a little extra sleep. She'd done three nights this week, for work, due to the department shutting down a smuggling ring of counterfeit potion making supplies. I handed her the mug and she smiled at me. We'd spent most of the morning in bed, I was most definitely hoping that we'd have a little more time before the kids returned home after school.
“Ethan have anything interesting to say in his letter?” I asked her, seeing the parchment in her hands. His handwriting is way too neat, he writes almost as well as his mum.
“Gryffindor won the match against Slytherin over the weekend, and he was impressed with how Evan was flying. He says that he's really strong, and quick. Sounds like another Beater I knew,” Anwen replied.
“Why, thank you dear,” I said as I sat down next to her. We'd been trying to watch a little telly, but honestly, there wasn't anything worth spending the time on. We cuddled together, and talked about what we might like to get the kids for Christmas, Anwen always liked to shop early. We also talked about Haf's upcoming wedding. He was marrying a witch that he had met while working at St. Mungo's. Nellie was a kind woman who worked as a Medi-Witch in the trauma department, Haf worked with Healer Orlaf, using his Muggle medical skills to help develop new treatments for difficult cases.
“You know, I think that this may have been one of the most pleasant days we've ever spent,” I whispered at her.
“That's because we were in bed most of the morning, and you're always happy when you're satiated,” she murmured back. I leaned down and kissed her, taking her mug from her hands and laying it on the floor, so that I could lay her down on the couch, when we heard a noise in the floo, and then the obvious wailing of a baby. Anwen pushed me off of her and sprung up; she greeted Laure in the doorway.
“What's wrong with Eva?” Anwen asked, her hand going to stroke the baby's head. Laure looked awful, her eyes had big bags under them and her skin had taken on a pallor and for someone who was always meticulous about her looks, her hair reminded me of Snape's.
“I don't know,” the young witch cried. “She's just screaming and I can't get her to take her bottle and my mama went back to France, and I don't know what to do with her. Help me, please,” she begged.
“Of course, Laure, you know you can come to us. Here, let me take her. Come on, Eva, come to Anwen,” my wife cooed as she took the screaming, almost seven–week old. Laure seemed happy to hand her daughter over. Anwen immediately put the little baby up on her shoulder and began to bounce, something that I had seen her do with our own children time and time again. “Now, little sweetheart, what seems to be your problem?”
I watched with a faint smile as Anwen moved the baby around, trying different positions to bring the child some comfort, all the while whispering sweet words in the baby's ear and gently rubbing her back. Nothing seemed to work for her. “Has she been like this before?”
“She's always cried a lot, but she seemed better with my mama here, I just don't know what to do for her,” my daughter-in-law cried and I put an arm around her. I was surprised when she collapsed into me, crying.
“I understand. Do you have a blanket for her, with you?” Laure shook her head, so Anwen raised her hand and one came flying down from the nursery that we had built on the third floor, in hopes that we could have little Eva come and stay with us. So far, she had not. I watched as Anwen draped the blanket over her shoulder, and then over Eva's face. The baby immediately quieted down. Anwen continued walking and comforting the baby, but I could feel Laure look up at my wife.
“What did you do?”
“She was over stimulated, it sometimes happens with babies, so if you take away some of their stimulus, they calm down; and I played a hunch. Both Ethan and Edmund were blanket babies, liked to have their faces covered while they rested. Not the safest thing, but I only did it when I was with them. Must be something about first names that start with “e”.”
“How did I not know that about her?”
“You might not have had to ever find it out, she's only just becoming aware of her surroundings. Now, one of the things that is stressing her out, is your being stressed out. Everything that you feel, she's going to feel,” Anwen explained as she settled down next to Laure on the couch. Laure sat up and peeked under the blanket at her daughter, now resting comfortably on my wife's shoulder.
“But, it's so hard. She's awake half the night, and I have a hard time burping her, and at least when my Mama was here, she knew what to do, and right now I feel like...” Laure stopped as her breath shuddered.
“You wish that she'd come with an instruction book?” Anwen suggested.
“Welcome to Motherhood. It does get easier, and you will get the hang of it.”
“Really? I don't feel like she's ever going to make sense to me.”
“Oh, she won't make sense,” I added, “but you will get better at reading your children. Anwen's an old pro here.”
“I guess you would be, with six children,” Laure seemed to remember.
“Six children, a step son, seven nieces and nephews on this side of the pond and four on the other; and I was the oldest of five. I could burp a baby before I was six years old; but experience is only part of it. You need to be able to trust yourself, and that's not going to happen when you're exhausted and overwhelmed. How about if you head home, and take a good long nap, and then come back before dinner? We'll keep Eva today, so that you can get some rest.”
“Really? I don't want to impose,” the girl said quietly, but her eyes told me that she was excited by the idea of uninterrupted sleep.
“We're sure, Anwen has been itching to take care of that baby, let her enjoy it,” I told her and she smiled.
“Let me go home and get her diaper bag, and a couple of bottles, if that's all right? Sleep and a shower sound so good right now,” she confessed and Anwen nodded at her.
“Go on, we'll be right here.” Laure quickly got up and went back to the floo, and I watched Anwen holding little Eva, rocking back and forth in her seat, beginning to hum to the baby.
“You're in heaven here, aren't you?”
“You need to ask? Sirius, I love babies, don't want more of my own anymore, but...I really wish that I was her grandmother. Of course, a grandmother at 41, um, maybe not,” she quipped.
“You're the hottest grandmother on the block, dear.”
“Thank you love, and you're the sexiest grandfather around; but I'm not her grandmother. Bastien has never thought of me that way, nor should he. He was very close to his mother, and I don't have any desire to replace her. He never knew you, so accepting you as his father was quite easy, but me, I will always be your wife, not anything other than that. Our children will have their children someday, and I will truly be a grandmother then. For right now, I'm more like an Aunt, I guess,” she said with some sadness.
“You're a generous woman, Anwen. I love you.”
“I love you too, darling.”
We spent the afternoon with little Eva, Anwen got her to take both of her bottles and she rested quite well for us. Bastien and Laure joined us for dinner, and she looked much better having had some sleep and a long soak in the tub. The girls enjoyed having their little niece with them and it was quite a pleasant family evening; only once did I catch Anwen looking at Ethan's empty seat at the table wistfully.
As the young couple were leaving, I watched Bastien lean down and kiss Anwen on the cheek, and then hug her lightly. “Our daughter is lucky to have such wonderful grandparents. Eva clearly loves her grandmum.” Anwen just nodded at him but I could see the elation on her face. After six years, he'd really accepted her and the love that she had always freely given him, and felt willing to return it and to let his daughter do so as well.
Grandparents in our early forties, not such a bad thing.
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