Chapter 1 : I. Mommies and Babies
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The Joys of Motherhood
Ginny Potter had faced many challenges in her life. Even though she was just fresh out of her second decade, she had seen war and had fought in a resistance, managed to turn her school girl crush into a happy and healthy relationship and marriage and last but not least, had given birth to a child.
This last challenge she had been presented with was by far her greatest achievement. The moment she held James Sirius Potter for the first time, her heart filled with a love so strong, she felt for a moment that she wouldn’t be able to bear it. Looking into his perfect round face, a cross between her features and those of her husband, she understood for the first time the raw power that surged through her mother when she defended her against Bellatrix Lestrange. She understood and was amazed, by the lengths her instincts told her she was willing to go, to protect this little human from any harm ever coming to him.
Her motherly love only deepened as time passed, his first words and first steps forever etched across her heart. She didn’t regret a thing. Not leaving the Hollyhead Harpies, changing careers, not even the fact that she had not waited to get pregnant, like some women in her family had advised her.
Ginny Potter knew that she could handle it, raising a child, educating them and opening their eyes into this world. It was only a few days ago that she and Harry had discussed the possibility of expanding their little family and she was very much looking forward to it.
It was, after all, a time of change. Her brother Bill already had his first child, a daughter and Fleur was once again expecting. Even Percy seemed to have settled down with a girl named Audrey and were planning their wedding. George and Angelina had just celebrated their first wedding anniversary and Charlie… Well, Charlie’s loves always were and will always be the dragons. It had taken her parents many years to accept the fact that he would never give them grandchildren, but in the end I was decided that if Charlie was content with just the position of favorite uncle, they would all be too. Out of all her siblings, she had always had a special bond with Fred and George. But after the war and in its aftermath, she and Ron had grown closer than ever, mainly due to the fact that she was dating his best friend and he was marrying hers.
A smile appeared on her face as she thought of Hermione Granger Weasley. It had taken Ron a long time to realize she was the one for him, but when it happened everything fell into place, just as it was supposed to. A few weeks ago Hermione had announced she was expecting their first child, news that made Ron happier than she had ever seen him.
Ginny was changing James into his play clothes as these thoughts ran through her head and picked the little boy up to take him into the living room. Right on cue, he started kicking his tiny legs and tried to get her to release him. He had recently taken up walking and was very excited to do it on his own every chance he got.
“Momma, I want down!” the 18 months old toddler informed her, a serious look on his face.
“Okay sweetheart, down you go! Let’s go play.” she told him and put him down, taking his small hand into her own. His little feet started carrying him towards the play area and just as they settled on the floor with their blocks, a head popped into the fire place, looking around.
“Ginny, oi! You there?” she heard Ronald Weasley’s yells.
“Yeah, hello to you too.” she greeted him sarcastically. “What’s the matter?”
“It’s ‘Mione, it’s like she’s been Imperiused or something!” he exclaimed, his face wide with worry.
“Imperiused? Don’t be silly, who would do that? Tell me what’s wrong.” she demanded, pulling a block from James’s mouth.
“She’s been yelling at me all morning, more than usual that is, now she’s locked herself in the bathroom and won’t come out and she doesn’t want to tell me what’s wrong.” he nearly shrieked, his nervousness making Ginny smile.
“If you want, I can come by later when Harry gets home to talk to her. Right now I promised James he could play and he’s going to go mental if we leave.” she said and motioned towards the boy who was now building a small tower.
“I can play with him.” he said bluntly. “I can come over right now. I don’t think I’ll make it until later.” he whispered, his eyes now searching the room, as if scared that his wife would suddenly leap out from a corner and strangle him. Moments later, the flames in the fireplace turned green and Ron stepped out, dusting his jumper off. The man’s appearance made James squeal with delight. Wizards and their powers were still something new for him, but his parents expected him to start showing signs of early magic any day now.
"Are you sure you can do this, Ron?” Ginny asked as he sat down with his nephew on the floor. “If anything goes wrong, you Floo me right away. There’s apple and biscuits all ready for him in the fridge, just keep him busy and you’ll be fine.” she instructed as her brother nodded, taking in the information. Ginny put her cloak on and made her way towards the fire place. She took a pinch of powder from the jar but before she threw it in, she turned to Ron one more time.
“Oh and Ron, whatever you do, do not let anything happen to the pink shirt.” she warned and with a flash of green she was gone. Ron stood there; looking at the tiny pink shirt his nephew was wearing and shrugged. What could possibly happen in an hour?
Ginny arrived in the Granger - Weasley house and if she didn’t know that Hermione was hiding in the bathroom she would’ve thought nobody was home. Soft sounds were coming from the bathroom and as she approached the door she recognized them as sobs. She knocked on the door, trying to push it open at the same time.
“Go away Ronald, I told you I want to be left alone!” she shrieked, making Ginny wince. Her sister-in-law was truly scary when she was mad.
“Hermione, it’s Ginny. Open up, sweetie and tell me what’s wrong.” she said quietly, using the same tone she used to sooth her crying baby. Maybe her motherly instincts were better than she thought because the door clicked seconds later and a red faced Hermione stepped out of the room.
“You shouldn’t have come, he shouldn’t have bothered you.” she told Ginny as she wiped her face with a tissue. “It’s nothing really.”
“He was worried about you, you know that he just can’t handle you when you’re like this. He never could.” Ginny chuckled. Her words made Hermione’s eyes fill with tears again so she took the crying woman by the hand and led her into the kitchen, where she placed a glass of water in front of her.
“I’m sorry you had to see me like this, Ginny.” she sniffled and pulled a fresh tissue from the pocket of her robes.
“Nonsense, Hermione. We’re sisters, that’s what we do. Now tell me, what’s wrong?” Ginny comforted her, registering in the back of her mind that she started turning into her mother. Not that it was a bad thing. The woman raised six boys, so she was a force to be reckoned with.
“Well, ever since I told Ron about the baby, he’s been acting like I’m made of glass and I might shatter at any moment. It’s really no fun when you want to have a quiet evening with your husband and he treats you like you have the Dragon Pox1” she exclaimed, throwing her hands up in frustration. Ginny nodded in understanding, allowing Hermione to continue venting.
“It’s bad enough I’m worried about the baby, about what I could do to make sure they are born safe and healthy and I have all this reading to do,” she motioned towards a pile of books stacked in the corner. At first glance Ginny could count as many as fifteen to twenty. “And those are just the Muggle ones, the magical ones I keep upstairs, in case I need to look up something in the middle of the night!” she finished and leaned back into her chair, draining the glass of water.
“Hermione, you need to take it easy. Witches have been having babies since before we could write a book and they’ve been fine and the babies were okay. As for my brother, leave him be, it’s what all men do when they are expecting their first child.” Ginny told her, refilling her glass and getting one for herself.
“I don’t remember Harry being this overbearing with you.” Hermione argued and wiped her nose.
“Oh, you don’t know half of it. He was a nightmare. The Healers told me I could keep on playing Quidditch until I started showing, because then, of course, I wouldn’t be able to hold my balance as well in the air, provided I’m extra careful with the Bludgers. It was off season for the Harpies and Harry would come and stay in the stands every practice and scream at me to come down whenever he thought I wasn’t looking so well. It didn’t matter to him that the Beaters had instructions not to aim any Bludgers at me and one of them was always on the look out for them behind me. Oh no, Harry always had to be there.” Ginny recalled, an expression of annoyance on her face. Hermione started laughing at the story as Ginny continued.
“At home he was even worse. I couldn’t even get myself a glass of water without him breathing down my neck, making sure I don’t do any heavy lifting or hurt myself in any way.” Hermione had tears in her eyes, this time from the peals of laughter that were escaping her throat. Finally, she managed to get herself together.
“And how did you make him stop doing it?” Hermione inquired. “I might have to use the same technique on Ronald.”
“One night I was taking a bath and I accidentally knocked over a bottle of shampoo. He came in running, wand in his hand, yelling “Unhand my wife and child!”. It would’ve been very funny if I wasn’t standing there in my birthday suit, freezing, waiting for him to close the door. So I told him that if he doesn’t stop with this act, I would be moving into the guest bedroom until I had the baby. Naturally, he didn’t like the prospect of spending 7 months alone in the master bedroom so he let it go. It took him a while not to jump up at every little sound I made, but we got there eventually.” Ginny concluded, now laughing herself at the memory.
“I guess Ron wouldn’t enjoy spending time by himself. I should try that sometime. It’s just, there are some scary things in those books, about sickness and tenderness and wild mood swings. I don’t want to turn into some hysterical maniac for the next 8 or 9 months.” Hermione sighed, now placing a hand on her flat belly, in a gesture that made Ginny smile.
“It’s not all that bad, the sickness goes away by the end of the first trimester and you can always take a Potion for it, I’ll ask mom to show you. And the mood swings, well, they’re not so bad and you get used to them after a while. By the time you actually start showing you’ll be so preoccupied with check-ups and getting things in order for the baby’s arrival that you won’t notice the tenderness or the back pains. And again, for that you can always get a Potion or a massage.” Ginny explained, smiling at the way Hermione was drinking in her every word. She knew her sister-in-law quite well and the woman was making mental notes of everything Ginny was saying.
“I’m not saying that it doesn’t cause a certain amount of discomfort, but the day the little one starts kicking, it’ll all be worth it.” Hermione’s face broke into the largest smile at these last words, rubbing her belly and looking at it fondly.
“What’s breastfeeding like?” she finally asked, looking up at Ginny again. Ginny shook her head and cringed a little at the memory.
“It hurts a lot at first, when they start latching on and drinking. But as I said, you get used to it. It’s a strange sensation, I’ve got nothing to compare it to.” Ginny admitted, shrugging a little. “But then they smile at you and they say their first words and it’s something that just makes your insides swell, seeing the tiny life that you’ve created growing up and learning. It’s what motherhood is all about. Then they start developing little personalities and getting little phases and they’re so funny.”
“James is a very bright child.” Hermione complimented Ginny and just as she expected, Ginny’s face broke into the largest of grins.
“He is, isn’t he?” she said fondly. “Since he started walking he insists on going everywhere on his feet. And now he’s starting to have a word in what clothes he wears. He’s been obsessing with this pink shirt he found in the back of his closet one day.”
“A pink shirt. Why would he have a pink shirt?” Hermione asked, bewildered. “I don’t think Harry would buy that for his son.”
“He wouldn’t, it was a gift from Percy, back when we didn’t know the sex of the child. Not only was it pink, but it was also freakishly large for a newborn, it’s fairly large now and he’s 18 months old. But if he likes it, I’ll just let it run its course. I once told him it had disappeared and he cried for three hours straight, it was a nightmare.” Ginny shuddered at the thought and glanced at the clock hanging from the kitchen wall. “It’s almost lunch time, why don’t you come over? You can play with James while I fix something to eat.” she suggested and Hermione seemed very pleased by the idea.
“That sounds lovely, I’ll go get my bag and we’ll be off.” she grinned and a few minutes later the two women were stepping out of the fireplace in the Potter’s house. The only problem was, the house looked nothing like when Ginny had left, only an hour ago.
The pillows on the couch lay pilled up in a corner, an abandoned attempt at a fort of some sort, the kitchen door was opened against the wall. Ginny could see bits of mashed apple sliding down from it and on the kitchen floor there was a large puddle of what she suspected was grape juice.
“Ron Weasley!” she bellowed, anger rising up inside her. “Where are you and where is my son?”
“I’m in the laundry room, Ginny! James is in his play room, I’ve put him in the cot!” answered Ron’s muffled voice.
“What in the name of Merlin is going on here?” Ginny demanded, her face red and her eyes narrowed.
“We’ve had a bit of an incident with the snack. Apparently, James doesn’t like grape juice.” the voice replied. Ginny marched across the room and threw open the door to the laundry room, that was next to the kitchen.
“I’ll let it pass that you gave my infant son grape juice, why did you let him throw food around the place? And why are you holding on to that ugly rag?” Ginny shrieked, making Ron raise his hands in a gesture of surrender. Behind her, Hermione was looking with wide eyes at her husband, shaking her head.
“It’s just that… he started throwing it and then I might’ve, thrown it back, you know. To teach him that it’s not nice to throw food at people. Do onto others as you would them do onto you and all of that? And I think he was a little young for that lesson, cause he started throwing more food around the room and then the grape juice spilled. And I wanted to change him but he wouldn’t wear anything else so I left him without a shirt and came to clean it. But I’ve always been rubbish at cleaning spells and I saw that you had this Muggle potion thingy that ‘Mione uses to get stains out and I sort of put the shirt in it…” he explained breathlessly, looking at his wife for help.
“Ron, you used bleach on a pink shirt?” Hermione asked slowly, giving him time to consider his answer.
“Yes, bleach, that what it’s called! “ he replied triumphantly. “Though I reckon I shouldn’t have…” he concluded, handing his sister the rag he had been holding, which she now recognized as her son’s beloved shirt.
Before either of the women had time to react in any way, a look of horror on both their faces, a voice bellowed from across the house, more forceful than any of them expected.
“I WANT MY PINK SHIRT BACK!”
All Ginny could so was glare at her brother.
“Ronald, I believe you’re babysitting for the rest of the day.”