Chapter 4 : A Lovers' Morning
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Hortensia was a touch hard of hearing but she hadn't missed seeing that her clients were young, healthy, and wonderfully in love, the very conditions that lead to family. So, the hallways were wider, had twice as many lanterns, a Tergeo-washable floor and wainscoting. Toddler accidents could be vanished with the merest flick of a wand. The halls would survive balls bounced and thrown, food spilled and splashed, mud tracked and splattered, and even the inadvertent spells magical children unknowingly cast.
The landing where it met the stairs to the second floor was low, wide and two-sided for safe access and fewer collisions with babes on brooms. At the top of the stair turning left at the landing lead to the third floor stair; turning right to a Burrow-sized sitting room. The walls were full of wizarding photographs of their family life. Arthur and Molly, Ron and Hermione, all the Weasley brothers, Fleur and her family, Hermione's parents, Wendell and Monica, Australian Aurors Betty and McKenzie waved and smiled, laughed, or danced in these joyous photos.
A favorite wedding photo with Ron's arm over Harry's shoulder, Hermione and Ginny holding hands, had plenty of room beneath for the children, nieces and nephews who were sure to come. The couch and arm chairs were big, comfortable and furnished with hanging lanterns and end tables with lots of room for books, note pads, Muggle pens, coffee cups and the small, portable music players they learned to appreciate from the young Muggles they met at Y.I.P.I., the youth voluntary organization where they were volunteers.
Their expansive bedroom was on one side, a bathroom and WC on the other, both through translucent glass doors fitted in archways. The bath was huge, not ornate like the Hogwarts Prefect bathrooms, but not too much smaller. They got their idea for bathrooms from Betty and McKenzie's house in Gum Scrub Australia. The round, sunken tub had plenty of room for two and showers in different temperatures could be magicked on or off around its circumference. The double sinks were surrounded by a smooth rose-colored marble counter. There were mirrors by each sink. They reflected the grand shower and the wall beyond where there were portals for laundry and plenty of open shelving for everything from towels to the potions found in every wizarding household.
Ginny wasn't much for makeup, she could transfigure however she liked. Curious, she made a couple shopping trips with their Muggle friend Sophia. She had the basics down and had a supply of Muggle lotions, powders and creams in an inlaid wooden box next to her sink. More often than not it served as a stand for the pins and clips it took to manage her hair and the after-match Quidditch uniform.
Ginny knew she was beautiful and didn't pay much attention to her looks. Having been routinely teased by her brothers, and only rarely missing a second look from either boys or men, she didn't think about it. Appearance was to match the job, Quidditch, lounging around the house, work at ACS, or disguise on a surveillance mission.
The bedroom too was large, but much of the space was occupied by what looked more like a shop display than bedroom furniture, two rows of shelves along the perpendicular walls and a two-sided clothes rack down the center. This was Ginny's collection of Muggle garments for different ventures. If they were to get deep enough into Muggle culture to do what Kingsley needed them to do, they needed to look like the Muggles they were pretending to be. She was keeping elaborate notes for what she learned talking to Muggles and pursuing the occasional fashion magazine. Work dress wasn't much of a challenge, it seemed that the uniform in most technical professions was jeans, T-shirt, and trainers.
Their bed faced a wall of windows covered by light, white, semi-transparent cloth that diffused the light. Even on London's typically overcast days, this gave the room a sense of openness and lighted Ginny's hair and skin beautifully. Harry often wondered if Hortensia knew this when she transfigured the room. It was fascinatingly magical how well she sensed how they'd live. Did she know? Could she guess Ginny would use the soft light and gossamer curtains to undress for his pleasure?
The rooms upstairs were smaller but nonetheless generously spacious, sunny and airy. There were four bedrooms a WC and a large bath. Only one, a guest room, was fully furnished. It was where Hermione's parents stayed but they'd camp in the kitchen if they could. The great old magical stove was Monica's delight and Wendell could talk to Nessie all day.
The other three rooms waited for Harry and Ginny to satisfy friends, parents and family expecting grandchildren, a new niece or nephew. There were no overt queries, except from Mrs. Black and Molly, but Ginny and Harry were given many conversational opportunities to reveal their plans for family. Suggestions that such-and-such, mostly having to do with the joys of parenthood, were ever present in their friends' conversations. This was no less true of their Muggle friends who were seeing to it that Ginny learned the ins-and-outs of birthing in the Muggle world.
They spent the morning in the bath, in their bed, and on the couch in the sitting room between bed and bath. The couch was where they were now finishing their third serving of French-press coffee. The half-dozen croissants was already gone. They were both wearing dressing gowns, thick, warm, absorbent and easy to open for luxuriating in the twin warmths of the magical blue fire in the grate and the nearly-noon sun that flooded their couch from the well-placed skylight, a miniature Great Hall ceiling.
Ginny kept her promise. The croissants were warm and their post-coital bliss was as close to heaven as humans knew.
She let him know her thoughts since T&T, “Harry, we need to get pregnant in Spring, April maybe.”
“April? Why April?”
“School, of course. You don't want him to have one of those birthdays where his friends and cousins – just a couple months older – get to go to school but he has to wait. Then, when he get's there, they're second years with new friends. But, you don't want him to be the youngest in his class either. It's no good. So, if we start in April, he'll get a good birthday even if it takes a couple of months.”
“He? Dear, what do you know?”
“Silly boy, I don't know anything . . . just feels that way.”
“Well, it wouldn't be the first time you've been prescient. Who knows, but I think it'll happen the first time you don't bring your wand to bed.”
Ginny set down her coffee, feigned surprise and affected an exaggerated brogue, “Why, Mr. Potter, you gonna knock-me-up in the first round are ya!”
“I don't think that's quite the way to say it.”
Ginny was laughing, enjoying her tease, “That's what Hermione's friend Rachel said about that girl at her office.”
“Well, however Muggles say it, I don't think it'll take long. It's felt like our kids have been waiting for us to get settled for a while now. ”
Harry and Ginny were mildly aware that their relationship was unusual. Beyond Ron and Harry getting together on their Mad Eye project, or Hermione and Ginny out for lunch or a talk about ACS, the company Harry started, they functioned as a couple. They were accommodated to the Muggle world and were in every obvious way no different than any other mid-twenties young marrieds. Legally and financially, on paper and in the depths of the databases the Muggle bureaucracy kept in secure locations, they were indistinguishable from real Muggles.
The more they saw, the more they knew about Muggle lives, the more they realized how various theirs were. Ahmed and Sophia, their closest Muggle friends, were openly affectionate, fully shared their home and their child, but followed totally separate careers. Harry and Ron's help with Ginny's career wasn't that common in Quidditch but family members helping one another wasn't rare in the wizarding world. Married Muggles, on the other hand, were often isolated from their families. Muggle husbands and wives often kept elaborate hierarchies of friends who rarely knew their spouse beyond “hello” and “goodbye,” if that.
Among their wizarding family the merger of their lives was not so different, as Dumbledore termed it, “just intense.” While each was a distinctive person, all the clan's couples could realistically be thought of as a single being. Arthur and Molly, Wendell and Monica, Ron and Hermione, Charlie and Carlos, Bill and Fleur, shared lives every bit as close as theirs. Wendell and Monica did everything together and now that The Burrow was uncomfortably quiet, Molly helping Arthur at the Ministry was essentially routine.
Ginny lived with family all her life. Harry craved it all of his. Neither wanted to live without it. The decision to have children was surprising only in that they had resisted Nessie, Molly, Mrs. Black and their own desires at all. In retrospect, family was assured the night the war ended, but it takes time to feel secure when you've lived a life that could end at any moment. Finishing Auror training, getting enough professional Quidditch on your broom, or custom-magicking your house might not be strictly necessary to start a family, but they made life steady enough to feel ready.
Today, life would be pleasantly mundane. They were to help with Hermione's “Just Desserts” party that afternoon. Because Sophia had volunteered to make gizzards, a coconut tart from their native Jamaica, and Ahmed had offered to perform, schedule was key. Needing just a chair and a stand for his guitar, Ahmed would come later with their young daughter after her music lesson. Sophia needed the kitchen so she meant to come earlier. There was too much to do without magic, so they'd need to get all the magic done before Sophia arrived, when the evening would need to proceed by Muggle rules.
Harry was sure Ginny had a plan. “So, when do we need to be there?”
“It starts at six-thirty, so people will arrive at seven to seven-thirty. Sophia's coming at six-thirty to make her Jamaican treat. Honeydukes in Diagon Alley is magicking Muggle-style cookies and ice creams over at five-thirty. Ron bought beers and wines, had the place in the village deliver last week. That's set already. He's got loads of Muggle sodas and a big tub he can magic full of ice to keep it all cold behind the ice cream counter he's transformed from the dinning room table. Hermione conjured him a shopkeepers hat and apron and they're dressing up the dinning room like an ice cream parlor. Of course, it's Ron's image magic all over the place. So, I suppose we should get there before Honeydukes arrives. We definitely don't want to do it without magic. . .” She stopped as she gathered her hair into a bun. “. . . something around four seems about right. That way we've got almost three hours to be ready for the party.”
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