Chapter 7 : Sorting Her Priorities
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Ginny stood, red-faced and sweating, surveying the piles of boxes stacked around the room. Throughout most of the morning, she and Harry had scurried around putting things into piles and conjuring cartons to place them in. Now, lunch loomed ahead, and only half of the little cottage was packed.
Hermione entered from the kitchen, wand aloft, several cartons floating ahead of her to join the pile nearest the door.
“Ron will be here in a moment to help us get the rest and take it over to the new house. He had a few last minute reports to finish before leaving yesterday, so of course he left them until this morning. But, I expect he’ll arrive soon. It’s nearly lunch.” She rolled her eyes, but smiled in a way the let the whole world see the affection she had for the man. He may be a lunkhead, but he was her lunkhead.
“Oh, joy. Rapture. I cannot wait,” Ginny deadpanned. Since the night of her announcement, Ron continued to give his sister an icy reception each time they met. Hermione had tried, in vain mind you, to reconcile the two but had no success. Her wedding edged ever nearer, and the matron of honor and groom refused to speak to each other. She wasn’t sure she would make it to the altar without committing murder on the way.
“You know, Ginny, I wouldn’t be surprised if an Ill-tempered Lolliphant had gotten hold of Ron,” Luna chimed as she strolled carelessly from the bedroom carrying an armload of sheets. “He’s so disagreeable lately; there really isn’t a better explanation.”
Ginny, so used to her friend’s oddities by now, snorted. “Luna, dear, of course there is a better explanation. He’s a Weasley. And he’s a man. The record for holding a grudge in my family is about seven years, I think. One of my dad’s brothers went a bit mental and believed his friend had charmed his socks into biting his toes. Nobody could convince him otherwise until, ages later, he found that the socks were a Zonko’s gift from my father. Ron’s little temper tantrum is a drop in the bucket in my family. No, Ron is just a prat, no Lobbiplant or whatever is going to change that.”
Harry snickered. Watching his bride meticulously scour the little rooms of her beloved cottage, belly preceding her largely, he couldn’t help but picture the little round bumblebees that hovered over the flowers in the garden. Not that he would ever mention that little image to her. In recent days, Ginny’s sensitivity to her growing girth had expanded to insane proportions. However many times Harry told her how beautiful he thought she was, she didn’t quite believe him. Honestly, Harry could not remember Ginny being lovelier, except maybe on their wedding night. The glow that radiated from her lit the whole room whenever she entered. In all truth, Harry sometimes forgot to breathe when the sight of his expecting wife came into view. Ginny, however, didn’t believe that for a moment.
Luna, helping her friends while home between research expeditions for the Quibbler, set the sheets down and idly picked up a book from the teetering pile on the floor.
“Still, he might be infested. You never know. I believe I saw a tribe of wizards in Africa that hosted a whole nest of them. They were quite rude to us.” Apparently, it had never crossed Luna’s mind that the African tribesmen simply didn’t like her.
Ginny smiled. Luna still emitted that dreamy, goofy quality that inspired her Hogwarts nickname, “Looney Lovegood”. Ginny had to admit, being loony had its advantages at times. Luna could say whatever came to mind, and didn’t mind if people looked at her as if she’d just arrived from another planet. Ginny, on the other hand, felt as if she truly had gone mad lately. After losing her wand for the millionth time, she complained to her mother that she believed babies were created from their mother’s brain cells. As her child grew in her womb, her brain shrunk in her head!
A knock at the door provided the desperately needed distraction from Luna’s conversation, and Hermione went open the door for Ron. Grabbing her around the waist, he pulled Hermione into a passionate embrace before greeting the rest of the room. Both of their eyes twinkled with the excitement that only two people whose wedding is a week away could possess.
Stepping over some of the boxes, Ron surveyed the room.
“Is this all you’ve gotten done without me? It’s lunchtime for God’s sake, and you haven’t packed anything but the kitchen and half of the things from in here! What have you people been doing?”
Ginny stooped to lift a carton out of the door way, grumbling quite loudly about how rude ‘some people’ can be. Harry appeared at her elbow to take it from her; she had been doing too much, in his opinion. Usually Ginny protested, but with a sharp intake of breath she handed him her burden and put her hand to her abdomen.
“What? You alright, Gin? What’s the matter?” Ron immediately dropped the cool attitude and hurdled over the back of the couch to get to his sister as she reached out to steady herself on a chair.
“I…I’m not sure. All of the sudden, it hurts right here,” she said, pressing her hand into her lower belly. Then, the friends faces went pale when Ginny moaned loudly and began to fall. Harry, still occupied with her box, tossed it aside in a cacophony of breaking glass as Ron stretched out his long arms and caught her.
“Ginny, I do believe you’re bleeding. Is that normal? I’ve never known anyone who’s been pregnant before.” Luna’s calm voice cut through the mayhem, and Harry noticed that Ginny was indeed bleeding. Her jeans were beginning to soak through. His vision went a little blurry, and he could feel the panic begin to spiral like a whirlpool, threatening to pull him under. A strong voice shook him.
“Bloody hell! Alright, I’ve got you, Gin. Harry! Harry! Stay with me, mate! We’ve got to get her to the hospital. She can’t Apparate now, how do we get her there?” Ron’s blue eyes pierced Harry’s, and it gave him the anchor he needed to focus on helping his wife.
“There is an emergency Floo into the Maternity Ward of St. Mungo’s. The powder is there on the mantel.” Ron was moving before Harry finished getting the words out of his mouth. Hermione grabbed a handful, ready to throw it the moment Ron entered the fireplace. He threw a look over his shoulder at Harry, who stood trembling in the center of the room.
“You better be right behind me!” Then Hermione tossed the Floo powder and Ron shouted his destination, disappearing with Harry’s whole world in a flash of emerald flames.
Hermione grabbed another handful. “Let’s go, Harry! For God’s sake, get your arse over here!”
Luna suddenly pushed him toward the fire, rolling her eyes. “You know, maybe it isn’t a Lolliphant lurking around here. Maybe it’s a Wrackspurt, after all. You’re suddenly acting as if you have no sense! I’m going to Apparate to the Burrow to tell Mrs. Weasley. You’d better follow Ginny, Harry. Go on, then.” She turned on the spot and disappeared with an audible pop. Harry finally gathered his wits and ran to join Hermione at the grate. She took his hand, smiled tremulously, and said, “It’ll be alright, Harry. Let’s go.”
Seconds later, Harry found himself running down the hall of the Maternity Ward in St. Mungo’s, following the blaring voice of Ronald Weasley. He could hear shouting, and came upon a scene of utter chaos.
Ron stood at the nurse’s station, Ginny unconscious and clutched to his chest, bellowing at each medi-witch within hearing distance to find Astoria Malfoy before he hexed them all into oblivion. Harry arrived just in time to hear the blond assistant that had helped them during their first visit inform Ron that Astoria had not come in to work, as she had been up all night delivering twins. At that announcement, the panic that had threatened to overtake him reared up and wholly swallowed him.
“What? She has to be here! We need her! Something’s wrong with Ginny, she’s bleeding and I don’t know what to do! Somebody has to help us!” The last statement found him leaning over the registry counter and grabbing the poor nurse by her robes. Eyes flashing wildly, he froze as an unsuspecting Draco Malfoy rounded the corner and stopped dead as he encountered the crazy scene before him.
“Where the bloody hell is your wife, Draco?” Harry rounded on him, all sanity gone in his fear of losing the very things he’d fought for seven years ago. Draco’s eyes widened. Taking in the limp form in Ron’s arms and the desperation of the group, he assessed the situation calmly. He’d left Astoria, exhausted and bleary-eyed, curled up on the couch moments earlier. As much as he hated to make her stir herself again, he imagined she’d be angrier if he didn’t. If that woman was anything, it was dedicated. Decision made, he straightened himself and focused his steel gray eyes on Harry.
“She’s home, sleeping. I was bringing in these reports for her on my way to the bank. I would say I would go and fetch her, but I don’t know that there’s time for that. You’ll have to come with me, Potter.” Turning on his heel, he began marching toward the fireplace again. Dumbfounded, Harry turned to Ron and Hermione.
“What the bloody hell are you idiots waiting for, an invitation? Follow the man!” Hermione shouted, and took off after Malfoy.
Malfoy entered the fireplace at the end of the hall, tossed the green powder into the grate and clearly stated, “New Moon Manor”. Ron stepped in after him, followed once again by Harry and Hermione.
Not taking any time to look around at the new environment, Harry stumbled after Draco, Ron, and his precious Ginny until they entered a large room where Astoria Malfoy lay sleeping on the large leather sofa. Draco touched her gently, knowing she would wake instantly upon feeling his hand. At once, Astoria jumped up, all traces of sleep vanishing from her countenance.
“Harry! What’s happened?” She didn’t question why they had tramped into her living room on her day off, just turned and grabbed her wand and guided Ginny to the sofa she’d vacated. Ron reluctantly released his baby sister. The professionalism Astoria displayed comforted him. She had already performed a Seeing Spell on Ginny, revealing images of her womb and the baby within as she spoke.
“Ginny started hurting, and then the bleeding started. She said the pain was down low.” Harry could hear the desperation in his voice, but he didn’t care. Ron’s hand gripped his shoulder as they watched Astoria work. A dark shadow appeared in the images, and Astoria frowned.
“Aha. Here’s the problem. She’s pulled the placenta away from the uterine wall right here. It’s bleeding pretty well there. What the hell has she been doing today, weightlifting?” Harry paled, guilt pouncing on him as he pictured Ginny moving boxes all morning. Without waiting for a reply Astoria began muttering an incantation, drawing her wand over the area until a pale yellow light engulfed Ginny’s belly. Turning, she motioned to Draco, who’d been standing against the wall observing his wife work with a quiet admiration.
“Love, my bag is in the hall by the entry. Could you grab it for me? I need a few potions from it.” With a brief nod, he exited the room, only to return moments later with a large leather satchel. She flipped open the top and rummaged through, setting aside glass bottles until her hands fell on a small phial of purple liquid. She set it in front of her and searched again, pulling out a larger container of green fluid this time.
“What are those?” Ron asked warily. Now that the panic had worn off, he had become quite aware of his location, and his company. Eying Draco uncomfortably, he worried for the safety of his sister.
Draco started, anger written in his eyes, but Astoria gave a slight shake of her head. He resumed his position against the wall, scowling slightly. She tipped each potion into Ginny’s mouth, and then turned to answer Ron. “The purple is a potion for healing in the womb. It should keep things healthy for the mother and child until the time of delivery. The green is a Blood Replenishing potion, as I can tell Ginny has lost quite a bit. We need to replace it quickly, before it has any detrimental effects on the baby. After administering these, I recommend Ginny go to complete bed rest for the next two weeks to ensure no further damage. No walking, except to the bathroom, and no moving about. Other than that, I think she’ll be fine.”
Harry nodded his head, relief washing over him until his knees almost buckled. “Thank you so much, Astoria. I don’t know what I would have done if anything….” he trailed off, staring intently at Ginny’s pale face. Astoria patted his arm and moved to repack her bag.
Ron sat completely motionless for a moment, grasping Hermione’s hand. His eyes darted from Ginny to Draco and back several times. Suddenly, he stood to his feet and crossed the room to stand directly in front of his teenage adversary. Hermione sucked in her breath and held it, afraid of what Ron might say. Draco pushed away from the wall and squared his shoulders. Astoria glanced at them, rolled her eyes, and continued to place bottles back into her satchel.
For a second, neither man made any move. Finally, Ron stuck out his hand to take Draco’s. “Thank you for helping us today. If you had not brought us here, she may not have made it. So, thanks.”
Draco cocked an eyebrow in surprise, but reached out to take Ron’s hand. “You’re welcome.”
Hermione let the air out of her lungs with a whoosh, but she didn’t miss the small smile playing on Astoria’s lips as she bent to place her bag on the floor.
Harry knelt beside Ginny, stroking her hair and silently counting every blessing he had that she was whole, here, and still carrying a healthy child. With every fiber of his being, he belonged to this woman. Without her, he knew he could never survive. Her eyes began to flutter, and she opened them to see the anxiety-drawn face of her husband.
“What happened? Oh, is the baby all right?” Her hands flew protectively to the child within her, fear etching itself across her face. Harry placed his hands over hers and smiled, unable to speak for the sheer relief flowing through him.
Astoria perched on the couch beside her and relayed all the information about her condition and treatment. When she ended with the instructions for bed rest, Ginny’s mouth dropped.
“Oh, no! I can’t be on bed rest now! I’m supposed to be in Ron and Hermione’s wedding on Saturday!”
Ron crouched down to look her directly in the eyes. “What’s more important, you and this baby, or some ceremony? I’ve been an idiot these last weeks, Gin. I’m so sorry. While I hate that you can’t be a part of our special day, we need you around for your own!” He smiled and took her hand. “Can you forgive me for being such a prat?”
Ginny chuckled and shook her head. “Don’t I always? But Hermione,” she glanced over at her friend, “who will take my place as bridesmaid with Luna? You’ve got to have someone to walk the aisle with George.”
A slow, sly smile spread over Harry’s face. “I’ve got an idea. Hermione, we’re going to take Ginny back to the cottage. I’m sure Molly is there having a hippogriff wondering what is going on. Then, I think I have the perfect person to stand in for Ginny. Let’s get Ginny settled, we’ll finish the move after the wedding, and then I’ll fill you in.”
After thanking Astoria and Draco both profusely, the group levitated Ginny to the fireplace and made the sooty trip back to the little cottage on the hill just as the sun dipped below the edge of the horizon. Of course, Molly awaited them, in a frenzy without knowing what had happened. Luna’s version of the incident had left her confused and worried, unable to decipher exactly what the emergency was.
“Lesson one,” Ron muttered, “never send Luna to tell anyone anything important.”
Hermione turned an inquisitive stare to him. “And what is lesson two?”
Ron shrugged. “You can’t let a person’s past affect how you treat them in the present. Draco really helped us out today, you have to admit. And I don’t know how he convinced Astoria to marry him, but he landed a really fantastic girl. That’s lesson two, I guess.”
Harry helped get Ginny to bed, mouthing his apologies for leaving her with her mother hovering over her. After ensuring she wanted for nothing, he waved Ron and Hermione into the next room.
“Okay, mate, come with me. I know where to find someone to walk the aisle with George on Saturday.” He led them out the front door, took hold of their arms, and twisted in place.
Upon opening his eyes, Harry reached out and knocked on the familiar door. They could hear a muffled conversation within, and Ron and Hermione cast questioning looks at each other.
“Harry, why are we here?” Hermione asked the door swung open to reveal a grinning red haired man.
“Well, to what do I owe the pleasure?” George beamed at them, standing so that his body blocked their view of the hallway in his flat. Harry nonchalantly pushed past his brother-in-law.
“Actually, we’re not here to see you,” Harry smiled, and then turned to walk toward the bedroom. George nervously watched as Harry stopped outside his door. Knocking loudly, he shouted, “Hey! Angelina! C’mon out! We’ve got a proposition for you!”
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