Harry had been pacing around the sofa in the small living room for just under fifteen minutes, but it had seemed hours. Lying on the couch that he’d worn a path around, Ginny had one arm thrown over her eyes. Harry’s orbiting around her like a crazed satellite had begun making her dizzy.
“How much time is left, Gin? Are we supposed to check it yet?”
“For the five hundredth time, Harry, not yet! Please sit down. You are making me want to puke, again, and I really don’t have anything left. The next things that may come up are my trainers.”
The anxiety jolting through his veins kept him from sitting. He planted a kiss on her clammy forehead, and made another circuit around the room. Unable to be still, his eyes flitted to the fireplace mantle adorned with pictures of the Weasley clan, Hermione and Ron, their wedding, and Sirius. The spot where his parents’ picture usually sat stood empty. Harry had taken it to an artist in Greater Hangleton on his last field mission there. He’d heard that the man’s portrait work was amazing, and had commissioned him to create two small paintings of his parents. At this moment, the need to speak with them was overwhelming, and the thought that he would hear them as he could hear Dumbledore in the former Hogwarts headmaster’s old office portrait made him desperate for the artist to finish. Feeling her eyes on him, he turned to see her contemplating him with an unreadable stare.
“Why are you so nervous, Harry? Are you hoping that I am, or that I’m not?”
She surveyed him coolly as she asked; trying not to let her own fears and worry show through her careful mask. She wasn’t sure how she felt about it. Her career with the Holyhead Harpies would be over. After six years and three World Cups, it would be hard to leave behind. Studying her husband, she imagined giving him a child. That would definitely be worth giving up Quidditch. That was just a game. This man was her life. Then a terrible thought struck her. What if he didn’t want a baby? His childhood had been fraught with abuse and neglect. She shuddered remembering some of the stories he’d told her about his horrid aunt and uncle. Would he cherish the thought of becoming a father? He had never had one to teach him how, and they’d not really discussed it seriously. Occasionally, Molly or Arthur would make a veiled comment about the ‘pitter-patter of little feet’ when Bill and Fleur brought their children to visit, but they’d always laughed it off. A slight hysteria gripped her. Oh please, if I am pregnant, let him be happy!
Harry was facing the window, looking out at the sinking sun as it cast orange and purple hues across the clouds like a watercolor painting. Ginny stared hard at his lean, muscular back, rigid with tension. The nausea that had slightly abated returned as she waited for his response. Harry had only recently begun to make peace with his past. The guilt he’d carried for the lost lives during Tom Riddles’ campaign of nightmares haunted him for years after the final battle at Hogwarts. In the last two years, with Ginny’s support, he’d finally slipped that burden of responsibility from his shoulders. Watching Harry experience freedom from that soul-breaking weight had exhilarated Ginny. Would a child yoke him with the chains of responsibility again so soon?
Harry paused. He didn’t know which possibility frightened him more, Ginny being pregnant or her not being pregnant. An image of him and Ginny walking with a small child between them, holding their hands, circled in his mind. Finally having the family that had been stolen from him seemed too good to be imagined. A warm sensation filled him, and a wave of fierce joy like he’d never experienced crashed over him. He cast a furtive glance at Ginny’s still figure, curled up on the couch. If he answered honestly, and she did not want to have a baby, what would happen? She came from such a large family already, and there was her position on the team to think about. He lifted a shoulder in a noncommittal way, trying not to give away his true feelings. The last thing he wanted was to force his dreams on this woman. She deserved the desires of her heart, and if this wasn’t what she wanted he did not want to make her feel as though she should.
“I just want you to be happy. That’s all I’ve ever wanted. Is it time to check now?”
His vague answer worried her, and the way he seemed to be battling some inner turmoil, but she glanced at her watch. Fifteen minutes had passed. As much as she wanted to rise and walk to the bathroom, her body wouldn’t respond. She was not afraid of the results, but of her husband’s reaction. Her expression answered his question, and Harry strode purposefully toward the bathroom. Seeing his eagerness, she finally rose from the leather cushions and followed him. As he reached the entry, he froze with his hand on the door. He looked over his shoulder at her face, which was still rather pale.
“Do you want to look, or do you want me to?”
“Scared, Harry? I’ll do it, then. Move over, chicken.”
Covering her nerves with their familiar teasing, she made a weak attempt to playfully push him out of her way. Her anxiety betrayed her, and she grabbed a handful of his shirt to steady herself as she passed. Harry caught her elbow, but instead of allowing her to enter the bathroom he pulled her to him. Wrapping his arms around her, he embraced her tightly, breathing in the heavenly scent of her long, silky hair.
“Whatever it says, Ginevra Potter, I love you. I always will.”
Ginny gave him a fragile smile, and tottered forward on wobbly knees. Her heart thundered in her ears, and sweat glazed her face. Harry opened the door for her, looking strikingly pale and sweaty, too. The cup still sat on the stone tile of the counter, looking much more formidable than a simple container of liquid. She couldn’t see the contents from where she stood, so she took a deep breath and stepped further into the little room. Peeking into the bottom of the cup, Ginny gasped.
"What? What? Is it green? What does it say?”
Harry came in and stood eagerly looking over her shoulder. Looking up at his reflection behind her own in the gilded mirror, Ginny noted the look of wild anticipation in those brilliant green eyes. In that moment, she understood his feelings. Smiling in relief, she turned to face him and wound her arms around his neck.
“It says you’re a daddy, Harry Potter. What do you think of that?”
There was a loud thud, and the little house shook. Ginny Potter’s husband, the man who had fought dragons and Dementors before freeing the wizarding world of Voldemort’s terror, had passed out cold.
A week later, still taking every opportunity to tease Harry about fainting, Ginny invited her brother and Hermione to their little cottage on the hill. Ron and Hermione were due to arrive any moment, expecting to join Harry and Ginny for the dinner they had missed the previous weekend. Ginny rushed around the kitchen putting finishing touches on the meal, with Harry shadowing her every move in the small space. After reviving from his embarrassing little ‘incident’, he hadn’t left her side except to go to work. His constant tending had been sweet, at first. Ginny had begun to feel a little irritated with him after he’d cut up her steak at dinner last Tuesday (to prevent choking, of course), forbidden her to even look at a broom (flying is dangerous!), and started escorting her up and down the front steps of their small home like a toddler. She turned to tell him off, once and for all, but caught the look in his eyes as he followed her. His face displayed such tenderness that the words died on her lips. Maybe this treatment would get old, and when he discovered that pregnancy wasn’t a terminal illness he’d give it up.
“You’re sure you haven’t let this slip to Ron, then?”
Ginny questioned him, curious as to how he’d managed to keep her brother in the dark all week. Then again, unless Harry entered the Auror office with a large parchment sign embossed with the message ‘My Wife is Pregnant’, Ron would miss it. Without Hermione around, it’s a wonder he found his trousers in the morning. The luckiest thing to have occurred this last week was Hermione’s absence from the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. She’d been in France, shopping for a wedding gown with Mrs. Weasley. After what seemed like an endless engagement, the couple who’d been in love since they were eleven was finally getting married. They’d been planning for weeks, and Molly was in her element with all the arrangements to be made. The removal of both the intuitive, nosy women insured that this announcement would indeed be a surprise.
“Ron is so preoccupied with the wedding, he wouldn’t have noticed if I was pregnant. Do you need help with that? Why don’t you go sit down and rest?”
Harry swiftly moved to take the platter of Cornish hens from her, but she shifted it to her other arm and placed a firm hand on his chest. She’d had enough, tenderness be damned.
“Harry, I love you, but I am going to kill you. Pregnancy is not a disease, you know. As endearing as it is, your constant hovering is driving me mad. If I promise not to go into labor this very second, will you back off? We do have about seven more months to go, and this child really does need a father that is still alive and a mum that is not in Azkaban for his murder.”
Harry grinned sheepishly. He couldn’t help it. His desire to protect Ginny, and now a baby (A BABY!) from harm had become almost an obsession over the last week. Gazing into his wife’s face now, he knew he’d have to be a little more covert about it. He had no intention of backing off, and he’d noticed her fiery temper seemed to be a little more unpredictable lately. Twice she’d burst into fits of temper over ridiculous things, not that he’d even breathe the word ‘ridiculous’ in her presence. Kreacher had decided to clean the floors on Tuesday, instead of his usual Friday, due to the large amount of dirt the Harpies had tracked in during their team meeting Monday evening. Ginny, already on edge after having to tell the team she was sitting out Wednesday’s game due to ‘illness’, had thrown a fit, screaming something about having a routine and sticking to it. Harry had only made it worse by calling her irrational. THAT had definitely been the wrong thing to say. Later, when he mentioned working late on Friday, the tirade that followed nearly scorched his eyebrows. Normally, Ginny used that time to read or go visit George in Diagon Alley. Now, she took it as a personal affront. Harry’s head had spun, and he’d resolved do a little research on hormonal pregnant women as soon as possible. He wished Hermione was already in on this secret. It was likely that she’d find doing that research a lovely pastime, and fill in Harry with the details later. Just like the good old days, he smirked.
His eyes followed Ginny around the room as she laid the food out on the little table Harry had conjured in the place where their sofa usually sat. Being just the two of them in their cozy little starter house, they didn’t have a large eating area. Most nights, they sat on the floor and ate by candlelight as they discussed the events of the day. Sometimes Ginny clambered up and sat upon the kitchen’s old yellow Formica countertop while Harry perched on a wooden stool beside her. Meals had never been a big affair in the Potter household. Harry’s thoughts turned to family dinners at the Burrow, and all the Weasley children gathered at the long, wooden table as Mrs. Weasley bustled around feeding her brood. It suddenly dawned on him that, while the little house had been perfect for a newlywed couple just starting out, their cottage didn’t have the space necessary for a family of three. Moving was on the horizon.
Careful to simply watch the red hair flying around the room lighting candles from a safe place without interfering, Harry wondered how to broach the subject. Ginny adored this home that they’d made together. She had been the one to convince him to buy it, even though it was tiny and they could afford a much bigger place. Growing up with so little, Ginny still struggled with the knowledge that she now had so much. Harry had been reasonably wealthy when they’d married, and adding her salary from the Harpies had only insured that they would be able to have the things they wanted along with basic needs. After a lifetime of second-hand and handed down items, Ginny found it was her nature to make do with old items and watch their Gringott’s account like a hawk. While Harry never went for any ostentatious displays of wealth, he spent a little more freely than his wife. He decided that their next home would be a large, beautiful place filled with all the creature comforts. Nothing but the best would suffice for his family. Family. Even the word made that joy bubble up in him again.
Ginny heard a soft popping noise, followed by a knock at the door. Before rushing to answer, she took one last swig of the potion she’d mixed to prevent the morning sickness that had seemed to prefer to stick around all day.
“Morning sickness, my arse. I haven’t been able to look a meal in the eye since Saturday. What intelligent prat invented that term? I’m sure it was a man. Ruddy morons.”
Ginny had grumbled as she’d looked through potion books to find a suitable mixture to help her hang on to those trainers.
Harry joined her at the door, placing an arm around her waist as she swung it open to reveal her brother and his fiancée’. Hermione rushed in, bushy hair flying, and grabbed Ginny in a ferocious hug. For a moment, Harry panicked, thinking his genius best friend had taken one look at his glowing wife and deduced the situation instantly. Robbing Ginny of a dramatic announcement would devastate her! Instead, Hermione pulled out a copy of Witchy Weddings and thrust it under Ginny’s nose.
“Look! I found it! The most perfect gown ever! Your mother and I found it in this little boutique in Paris last week. By the way, did you know that your mother is impossible to shop with? I almost prefer Fleur’s drama to the way she checked the price tags before even looking at the dress. If left up to her, I would look like Aunt Muriel in old, yellowed frills up there at the altar.”
Ginny took the magazine in her hands and oohed and aahed appropriately. Harry and Ron shook hands, and then made their way into the kitchen for a drink.
“How did you do this, mate? If I have to discuss table settings or flower arrangements again, I will go mental. I mean it.”
Ron glanced toward Ginny and Hermione morosely, butterbeer in hand, and shook his head. Harry patted him on the shoulder. Thinking of the stack of magazines Ginny had purchased, all with titles like Magical Maternity and A Wizard’s Guide to Pregnancy, he commiserated with Ron.
“They do tend to get a little…..obsessed, don’t they? Anyway, how is your assignment with Warring coming along? It sounded like you were getting close to finding that nutter in Suffolk that’s behind that string of jinxed trees. I have to admit, although I’m sure it scared the shit out of the Muggles there, it actually made me laugh when I first heard about it. Trees reaching out and grabbing people that pass too closely? It reminded me of a Muggle movie I saw through a crack in Dudley’s door as a kid. Their version of a witch was totally insane, though. They had the robes and hat right, but she was green! I have never seen a green witch in my life, have you?”
Harry and Ron snickered, but the idea of a green witch reminded Harry forcibly of his wife’s misery with morning sickness. Maybe he had seen a green witch, after all. He laughed again, a little louder, causing Ron to look at him strangely before answering his question.
“We did end up finding the bloke behind it. It seems he was trying to make a statement about Global Heating, or something like that, to the Muggles. His trial is next week, but we aren’t pushing for anything serious. Probably community service will be assigned. What have you been doing this week? You haven’t spent a lot of time in the office, have you?”
Actually, Harry had spent as much time away from his friends at work this week as he possibly could. Fearing someone would notice the bounce in his step or the happy whistling he couldn’t seem to stop, he’d given himself all of the little scouting missions that had crossed his desk. Being the Junior Head of the Auror Department had its perks.
“It’s been a little busy. But mostly, I was just avoiding you.”
Harry grinned at the perplexed look on Ron’s face. His ginger-colored eyebrows had shot almost into his hair line. Just then, Ginny called them in to dinner. Still frowning at Harry, Ron followed him into the living room.
They sat at the table, Harry admiring the dancing candlelight sparkling in Ginny’s flame colored hair. Slightly pale and tired looking, she was still beautiful. Harry had heard about pregnant women having an outward glow, but he was sure his Ginny would outshine them all. Their eyes met, and Ginny’s irritations of the previous week dissolved. Hermione and Ron exchanged a questioning look across the table, and Hermione shrugged her shoulders. Harry raised his glass, and began a toast.
“Here’s to my two best friends as they prepare to begin their life together. May it be happy and….fruitful. Like mine and Ginny’s.”
Harry shot Ginny a mischievous grin that took her back to Hogwarts and the days of the D.A. He always got that glint in his eye when he was trying to put one over on someone, which was why he never could do it to her. She knew that look too well. He was planning something, and she was sure it wasn’t going to be a mushy “we’re having a baby!” type of announcement. Oh, well. She hadn’t been able to come up with a clever way to tell Ron and Hermione, anyway. Best to let him have his fun.
They raised their glasses in a toast. Ginny returned her drink to the table without sipping it, and Hermione’s keen eyes picked up that little detail. Harry’s toast had already gotten her wheels turning. She opened her mouth, but Ron interrupted her first.
“So why have you been avoiding me, Harry. What did I do this time?”
“Actually, it’s not what you did. It’s what I did. I wasn’t really sure how you’d take the news, so we waited until Hermione got back to tell you, seeing as how you tend to fly off the handle when it comes to your sister.”
Hermione, remembering how Ron’s overprotective ways had nearly been the end of Harry after catching him snogging Ginny behind a tapestry on the fourth floor during sixth year, caught on instantly. Eyes wide, she spun to look at a brilliantly red Ginny, who was struggling to keep from bursting with laughter as Harry continued to perplex her brother. Ron, however, was still clueless.
“I don’t get it, Harry. What have you done to my sister?” A thoroughly confused look adorned Ron’s face. Hermione sighed with exasperation at the density of her normally intelligent boyfriend. Harry reached under the table and squeezed Ginny’s knee. He put on an exaggerated shame faced expression and hung his head.
“Well, Ron, I’ve gone and knocked her up. There you have it, positive proof that I have, in fact, been shagging your little sister. Sorry, mate. It had to be done. Your sister is extremely fit, you know.” He raised his head and waggled his eyebrows comically. Ginny exploded with giggles, and Harry’s shoulders shook with suppressed mirth.
Ron spluttered and gaped, mouth opening and closing, giving him a striking resemblance to a fish. Hermione leapt from her chair and hugged Ginny, and then Harry.
“Oh, Ginny! How wonderful! A baby! When are you due, have you been to see a midwife yet? Who are you seeing? This is so brilliant! We are going to have to adjust your matron of honor dress, though. You will be pretty big in six months. Have you told your parents yet? Say something Ronald, you’re going to be an uncle again!”
Ron’s face had turned scarlet, and for a moment Harry was afraid that, married or not, he was going to die for having laid a hand on Ron’s sister. Instead, Ron grabbed Harry’s hand and pumped it until his arm was nearly wrenched from its socket. Apparently still unable to speak, he hugged Ginny, pushed her away to look her up and down, and then pulled her back into a tight squeeze. Finally, the four friends resettled at the table, enjoying dinner and glowing with good news and happiness all around.
“So, Gin, who are you using as your midwife? Mum said old Archibald Finch retired after Vicky, and she was his 7,000th baby. Get someone good. That’s not a decision to muck around with.” Ron sounded almost like Percy in his big brotherly advice, not that anyone would tell him that. He’d take that as the insult that it was.
Ginny’s face pinched slightly, nervous again. She had not exactly told Harry her choice for a midwife yet. Knowing him, he probably wasn’t going to like it. She’d only made the appointment today, after going back and forth for two days trying to make a decision.
“Well, I have found someone who is supposed to be the best. She started at St. Mungo’s a few years back after studying in France. Actually, her sister was in your year, and she was in Ravenclaw a bit behind me at Hogwarts.”
Upon this news, Hermione’s head jerked up.
“Ginny, tell me you didn’t.” Hermione pleaded. Ginny’s eyes blazed in fierce defiance. This was her decision, and she wasn’t about to be talked out of it.
“Yes, I did. I don’t really care what anyone thinks of her, she has the best record of any of the midwives at St. Mungo’s.”
Utterly bewildered, Harry and Ron looked from Hermione’s worried face to Ginny’s determinedly stubborn one.
“Well, who is it?” Harry questioned, now getting suspicious at the way Ginny was nervously fiddling with her hair.
Ginny turned a slightly apologetic face to Harry, and sighed. Hermione pinched the bridge of her nose with two fingers and closed her eyes.
“This ought to be fun, Ginny.” Hermione muttered. “Why do you stubborn Weasleys insist on doing everything the hard way?”
Leaning across the table, Ginny took Harry’s long, strong fingers in hers. Might as well get it over with, like ripping off a bandage.
“You don’t know her, but you may remember her husband from school. Her name is Astoria. Astoria Malfoy.”
*The "green witch" refers to Frank L. Baum's The Wizard of Oz, originally released in 1939.