Chapter 81: Another Weasley Christmas
“Happy Christmas,” Ginny whispered.
Snow fell outside dusting the ground white. The wind swirled giving the affect of a baker sprinkling powder on his goods, if one could make it out in the darkness. The weather was perfect for an early winter morning in December otherwise known as Christmas.
“Wha—“ Harry yawned. “What time is it?” He reached for his glasses off the bedside table.
“Just practicing for when our kid’s here.”
“I don’t think it’s going to wake us up at 5 AM to open presents next year.”
“I’m just joking. Couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking about how next year we will have a child, plus the baby’s moving a lot. You do know, we’ll give him or her gifts. It’s not just us anymore.”
Harry’s mood brightened.
“No, you’re right. It’s not just us. We’re a family. A mummy, daddy, and baby.” He patted Ginny’s stomach lightly.
The scent of sausage cooking filled the air along with the sound of someone walking outside the door. Turning over in bed, Harry almost fell out. He immediately opened his eyes and reached for his glasses which had ended up back on the bedside table. He didn’t remember falling back asleep, but obviously he must have.
“Good morning, sleepy head,” Ginny greeted him from her old desk chair.
Harry sat up noticing the presents at the foot of the bed. What really had him curious were the footsteps outside just a moment ago. The only ones here were him, Ginny, and her parents. Her brothers were all spending the holiday with their in-laws, except Charlie, who had no in-laws. He was staying in Romania with his dragons. Though Ginny’s bedroom was on the second floor, Harry didn’t really think anyone would be outside her room, especially if Mrs. Weasley was cooking downstairs.
“Percy’s here,” Ginny said as if she could read Harry’s thoughts. “He and Audrey had a fight. She’s at her parents with Molly and he’s here.”
Harry was not happy to hear that. Normal Percy was hard enough take. He glanced longingly at the gifts.
“Mum’s cooking breakfast. We can open presents later.”
Apparently, Ginny didn’t get the hint.
Percy munched on a sausage link while Mr. Weasley sipped a mug of tea when the two entered the kitchen. Mr. Weasley looked up, but Percy kept on chewing.
“Happy Christmas,” Mrs. Weasley sat two plates of pancakes and sausage on the table and with a flick of her wand two glasses of tea appeared. “Don’t bother Percy,” she whispered.
“Poor fragile Percy,” he said sarcastically.
Harry sat down paying attention to nothing but his food.
“She’s the one who got upset. She’s the one who suggested I spend the day here alone.”
Harry remained in his food.
“Percy, Dear, you will give our gift to Molly later?” Mrs. Weasley asked.
“Yes, Mum. Harry, how’s the Rutilius Diabolus going?”
Pancake caught in his throat. As he coughed, Ginny whacked him in the back.
“Sorry, er, it’s fine.”
Returning from his leave, Harry had been placed on light duty in regards to the Rutilius Diabolus case. He was still involved, but mostly did parchment work and research. Robards thought he was getting too involved and letting it affect other aspects of his life. He did not want Harry to burn out too soon.
“Kingsley says you’re close to capturing them.”
“Iva and Ron have been watching the gang on the southwestern coast. I’m not sure how close they are to actually making a capture.” He stuck a forkful of pancake in his mouth. This was not what he wanted to talk about.
“How are things at work with you, Dear?” Mrs. Weasley asked her third oldest son.
“Fine. So, Gin, you’re not returning to Quidditch once the baby’s born?”
“No, not exactly.” She glanced over at her mother who sipped her tea and tried not to look irritated.
“What do you mean?”
“I haven’t decided.”
“Audrey works full-time. Molly stays with a baby-sitter. It’s a fine decision if you want to go back.”
Ginny glowered at Mrs. Weasley.
“Wouldn’t she rather stay home with Molly?”
“She needs the break. Do you know what it’s like at home all day with a baby?”
“Do I? Who do you think raised the seven of you? House-elves? If we could be so lucky!”
Harry quickly stuffed the remainder of his pancake in his mouth. He could not get out of that room soon enough.
“It’s okay if she spends all her time at work, but not me.”
“Is that what your fight was about?” Mr. Weasley joined in. “Your mum and I used to fight about that. Working in the Muggle Artifacts office you don’t know when you will be called in.”
“I don’t work with the misusing of Muggle artifacts, Dad. I am senior undersecretary to the Minister of Magic. I have a highly important job and have to stay late many nights. I don’t see what’s so hard to understand about that.”
“He acts like senior undersecretary is the most important job in the world,” Ginny complained while unwrapping gifts later that morning.
“Sounds like someone else I know,” Harry muttered.
He put down his box and locked eyes with her.
“Umbridge!” They shouted simultaneously.
“Oy, I hope he’s not like Umbridge.” Harry rubbed the scar on his hand.
“I—I didn’t mean that. I—“
“I know. He just takes his job way too seriously.”
“It is an important job.”
“But not the end-all be-all.”
“This is so beautiful.”
Ginny held up a silver picture frame with the word “Baby” at the bottom.
“It’s for the baby, well, when the baby’s born I thought his or her first picture would be with you and then we put it in the frame.”
“I love it.” She kissed him on the cheek. “You can be in the picture, too.”
The rest of the day went by quietly. Hermione and Ron had given Harry two books: Dark Wizards in History: Our Account and How to Be a Good Dad: A Wizard’s Guide to Raising a Child. The first book was a short book on accounts from former Aurors on capturing dark wizards. The second book, as it was appropriately named, was about raising a child from a dad’s perspective. Harry spent most of the day looking at the books.
“Spending too much time with Hermione?” Ginny asked Harry as she draped herself over the couch. She had been going through some baby things Fleur and Audrey had given her as well as gifts from Hermione and Angelina.
Harry closed his book and looked at wife who placed her feet in his lap and rubbed her 5 month belly.
“Excited?” Percy asked.
Ginny almost fell off the couch. Her brother had been sitting in one of the arm chairs working on something she couldn’t make out. He was so quiet Harry had forgotten he was there.
“Yes,” she replied. “It’ll be such a change.”
“Of course, but it’s worth it.”
“What is it like for you?”
Harry turned from looking at Ginny to watching Percy. He didn’t spend much time with him and was really curious as to how he found fatherhood, being the uptight workaholic that he was.
“I find working at the Ministry loads easier. But, late at night, when Molly looks up at me with content in her eyes, I know all the stress and worry is worth it. It’s unexplainable, but I’m most sure you will understand the first time you look into your child’s eyes.” His gaze went over Harry’s head, out the window.
“First Christmas,” Ginny whispered.
Right, yes,” Percy responded almost as quietly, but loud enough for Harry to pick up.
The three of them sat in silence for a good moment. Ginny patted Harry’s legs with her feet and he started rubbing them. Her feet, not his legs. Percy just sat there, staring out the window. Shortly thereafter, Mrs. Weasley called them to dinner. Upon fighting over the turkey leg, which Percy won, there was a commotion at the floo.
“Audrey?” Percy dropped the turkey leg splattering mashed potatoes.
“Dumla,” Molly gurgled.
Brushing soot off her robes Audrey placed her daughter in her husband’s lap.
“Would you care to go in the other room?”
“No, that’s all right. You don’t mind?”
“No,” he hesitated. “If this is what you want.”
“Percy, I’m sorry.”
“I shouldn’t have been angry with you on Christmas.”
“Ye-no. No, that’s not it. That’s just the start. I love you. I love you and we got married too soon and I don’t know. We’re going to make this work. We are. I am.”
“Audrey, you’re scaring me.”
Everyone stopped eating and watched the conversation.
“We’ve been—you’ve been—I—I shouldn’t have been upset with you for working all the time. You have an important job, of one I should be proud. I am proud.”
Molly reached for Percy’s horn-rimmed glasses. He absent-mindedly swatted her arm away.
“I know you really love your job. I’ve known since the first time I met you. You’re a passionate person. If you like something, think it’s worth your time, you throw yourself into it.”
“You told me yesterday that I cared more about my job than our family.”
“I was upset, tired, stressed out. I’m working a full-time job and a mother. I was angry you felt you could spend extra time at work, but I had to rush home and be mother and wife.”
“I know how important your job is.”
“I know you love me and Molly.”
“No, I don’t.”
“I never knew this was bothering you before you blew up at me yesterday.”
“That’s because you’re never home. When you are home you’re tired and only want to talk about work. I’m afraid to mention anything for fear you’ll get upset.”
“Who wants desert? I made treacle tart,” Mrs. Weasley interrupted.
“Molly, we just started dinner,” Arthur answered.
“I can’t know that something’s wrong if you don’t tell me.”
“I don’t want to make you mad.”
This was a smart argument. Harry shared a look with Ginny. She smirked at him.
“Risk it. I can’t fix things if I don’t know there’s something to fix.”
“I’m upset you stay late at work, working late into the night some days, leaving me alone with Molly. I have to rush home at 5 to relieve the babysitter no matter what. I want to see more of you. I want you to spend more time with your daughter. I want you to care about your family as much as it appears you care about work. I want some days for you to rush home at 5 while I consider staying late to finish up work if I have to.”
“I work late because my job is very important and doesn’t conform to typical work hours. As long as the Minister is there I have to be there, too. I don’t mean to leave you alone with Molly, but that gives you good bonding time. You can always let my mum watch her. She wouldn’t mind if you are late. I do care about my family. I love both of you with all my heart. I’ll see if Kingsley will let me leave early this coming week just for you.”
“You don’t have to be so condescending about it.”
Percy heaved a huge sigh.
“What do you want?”
“I just want you to care.”
“I do care! I care a lot. I love you. I love Molly. I would love to spend all day with just the two of you. We could have done that today if you didn’t blow up at me yesterday.”
“Oh please, you would not. It would take you away from your precious work!”
Audrey stormed out of the room.
“I’m sorry about this.”
Percy followed her handing Molly to his mother.
“He’s always been into the Ministry.”
“What, Mum, he has! Before he started Hogwarts all he talked about was one day working at the Ministry.”
“You were six.”
“Yes, but I remember him with that stupid book. What was it called? Ministry something.”
“It doesn’t matter, Ginny,” Mr. Weasley said.
“You don’t think they’ll get a divorce?” Ginny asked.
The thought hadn’t crossed Harry’s mind. He remembered Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia fighting loudly when he was a child. They were still together.
“All couples fight,” he said. “Look at Ron and Hermione.”
Startled at the sound of a loud crash, the four at the table ran into the living room to find Percy and Audrey lying on the floor laughing with a broken vase next to them.
“Are you all right?” Mrs. Weasley asked as Mr. Weasley repaired the vase.
“We’re fine,” Percy replied trying to catch his breath.
Molly had a worried look on her face like she was going to break into tears, but surprising everyone she giggled and threw her arms into the air. Audrey jumped up and took her from her namesake.
“Daddy and Mummy are fine. No more fighting.”
“Let me get a look at your belly,” Audrey said to Ginny.
The younger five sat around in the sitting room later that evening after finishing dinner, enjoying delicious treacle tart, and exchanging gifts with Percy, Audrey, and Molly.
Reluctantly, Ginny raised her robes to reveal her 19 week stomach to her sister-in-law.
“You’re so little.”
“Bullocks. I feel like a water balloon about to bust.”
“Just wait. The feeling gets worse.”
“Oy,” Harry said, rubbing his head.
Ginny sat back down on the couch leaning her body into Harry’s.
“Hey, I’m the pregnant one, not you.”
“You can’t get out of this one,” Percy said.
“What?” Audrey sent him a look.
“What?” Ginny asked.
“Nothing,” Harry said quickly.
“That’s right, nothing.”
“Men,” Audrey smirked.
“Babloosh,” Molly added.
“Right, men are babloosh.”
Chapter 82: They're Back
The February wind blew the freshly fallen snow around. It was no longer snowing, but the effect of the wind made it harder to see than when it was. Ron bundled his jacket tighter around, pulling his scarf snug. He rubbed his mittened hands together.
“This is possibly the worst weather to do this,” Iva muttered.
Her scars looked red and painful but she always acted as if they were not there.
“Do we really have to do this?”
“Yes! They don’t take a day off so we can’t take a day off.”
Ron sighed. They had been out in the frigid weather for seven days straight. He wanted to go home and warm himself up. He wanted to lay in his own bed and snuggle with Hermione. He even wanted to see Crookshanks, Hermione’s cat. But, more importantly he wanted to finish this case. That meant staying in the snow.
“Can we at least go back to the tent?”
“Girl.” Iva shook her head. “You’ve been able to sustain the last seven days, I think you can handle one more. Shhh,” she ordered.
Through the clearing footsteps could be heard. Green cloth flashed through the trees.
“I think the boat has arrived,” she whispered pulling out her camera.
Beyond the trees Rutilius Diabolus put up shelter. They had claimed the spot for their southern illegal importing/exporting ring. All week long the two watched the group transport boxes to and from their hideout, but they came up with no significant evidence to arrest anyone at the moment.
Ron pulled out his omnioculars and went to the ground on his stomach. He almost shouted in surprise at the feeling of the cold, wet snow, but fortunately was able to keep his mouth shut so as not to attract attention to him and his partner.
“This is the last of ‘em.”
“That’s them,” Iva exclaimed in a whisper. She moved closer to the trees.
“The ship hasn’t docked, yet,” Ron announced.
“I know,” Iva hissed. “Hush!”
For a good ten minutes silence rang out between the two. Ron laid there and watched the going-ons through the ‘oculars. The ship docked. Men got off. Men got on.
“Nothing exciting,” he said once they were in the safety of the tent.
“Once I develop the pictures we’ll see if we can find anything interesting.”
“You’ll find nothing.”
They sat at the round table drinking hot tea. Iva slammed her mug down spilling tea all over the place.
“Damn it, Ron, what is your problem?”
“My problem? I think this is a waste of time.”
“You’ve been on other missions before?”
“And they went exactly like this?”
“And were they wastes of time?”
“Why are you such a pill?”
“Right, I’m going to delevop the film and then we are going to examine.”
Iva went into the other room with her camera.
Ron flopped onto his bed. He wanted to write to Hermione, tell her what was up, and just let her know he was okay, but they were not allowed to have owls flying to and from their hideout.
“Ron!” Iva shouted.
Blinking, Ron re-entered the world. He had been lost in a daydream while his partner developed the photos.
She placed the stack on the table and began filing through them.
“See this man?” She asked as Ron walked toward the table. “I haven’t seen him before.”
“The man in gray?”
“He’s not been here this entire week and he appears today.”
“Well, this could mean they are recruiting new members.”
“Or they’re switching them with the gang on the other side of the country.”
“Ah, didn’t think of that.”
“Maybe they’re playing an elaborate hoax on us and they’re going to slowly switch members from each side until we’re crazy.”
“Ron! I don’t think…Merlin,” she paused holding up a photograph. “Watch him move his arm.”
“Yes, the Dark Mark.”
“A Death Eater?”
“I thought we captured all the Death Eaters.”
“We can never be sure, but yeah, I was under that impression, too.”
“This isn’t going to go down well at the office.”
“Especially with Harry.”
“He has to know.”
“This is going to cause ripples.”
“So, I think we’re done here. Robards has to know this.”
Iva shook her head.
“You just want to get back home.”
“Of course, not that I didn’t have fun this week.”
“Right.” She gave him a sarcastic look. “Well, we can’t just go to them with this picture. It doesn’t really prove anything. It’s just one man. We need more than that.”
“More photos with more Death Eaters? Iva, this shows that there are more Death Eaters out there.”
“Does it? Maybe he wasn’t active anymore.”
“No one just quits being a Death Eater.”
“True, but he could have strategically moved himself down the ranks so he was given less attention by You-Know-Who until he was forgotten about.”
“You don’t believe that.”
“Let’s just get this news to Robards.”
“What do we have here?” Robards said when Ron and Iva entered his office later that day after clearing camp earlier.
“Sir, Ron and I have been investigating the Rutilius Diabolous in Plymouth and we’ve uncovered this.” Iva pulled the photo out of her pocket and placed it on the desk directly in front of her boss. “That man,” she pointed to the figure in the right corner, “take a look at his arm.”
Robards lifted the photo his face.
“I thought we got rid of all of them,” he muttered.
“We thought so, too,” Iva said.
“We’re not sure if he is a member of the group or what his purpose is,” Ron added, “but that mark does show that he at one time was a Death Eater and you know no one stops being a Death Eater.”
“Thank you for finding this.”
“He may be a reformed Death Eater,” Iva said.
“Not if he’s with RD,” Robards said. “Now that we know this man is out there it makes me wonder just how many Death Eaters have escaped our watch.”
“We did capture the most important ones,” Ron noted.
“Yes, yes, but we can’t let the guilty go unpunished.”
“Guilty? Because he was a member of the group? There’s no proof he did anything.”
Ron turned to Iva.
“He’s a Death Eater! There’s no way he couldn’t have not done anything!”
“He’s right,” Robards added, “but to be fair, if we do get him he will get a fair trial.”
“That’s all I ask.”
That evening Hermione and Ron snuggled close on the couch in their sitting room. The wireless played WWN on low as Hermione engrossed herself in a book and Ron studied notes from work. Hermione gave out a contented sigh as she turned the page.
“Herms,” Ron began.
She raised an eyebrow. He knew she hated that name, but sometimes it just slipped out. Or so he liked to tell her.
“There’s a sale at Flourish and Blotts,” he finished quickly.
He looked at his notes. He had to tell her. He didn’t want to upset her and he knew how Robards felt about them discussing their cases, but she had a right to know.
“You have a right to know.”
“Yes, I am a frequent shopper.”
“Not that. Hermione.”
She sat up, closed her book, and looked him in the eyes.
“This is serious.”
“You know how we thought we captured all the Death Eaters?”
“There’s more out there.”
“We spotted a new member with the Dark Mark in one of Iva’s photos.”
“Does Harry know?”
She tossed her book onto the floor. She leaned closer to Ron and began examining the parchment in his hands. He could feel her breath on his neck.
“You don’t have to do this. This isn’t your department.”
“I know.” A hurt look appeared on her face. “I just—“
“Don’t you trust me?”
She pulled away from him.
“Of course I trust you. What are you going on about?”
“Do you not have faith I can work this case or do you need to clean up after me?”
“No, no, of course not! That’s not what I meant. We’ve been in this together since day one.”
“Day one of what? Hermione, you had the choice of working in the Auror department, but you chose differently.”
“I know, but this is important to me. These are Death Eaters, Ron.”
She frustrated him. He’d been an Auror for a few years. This wasn’t a new job. Before then he’d been fighting Death Eaters with Harry at Hogwarts. He could handle it. Couldn’t he?
“I know you know. This isn’t about you.”
“What is it about then?”
She sighed. He shook his head.
“It’s personal. You know that. I was with you at Hogwarts. This isn’t just about your job or mine.”
“But, this is my job. I have to do this. You don’t.”
Ron knew when he was licked.
Hermione pulled the parchment from Ron’s hands.
“So, the group is split on two coasts?” Before Ron could answer she continued. “You and Iva were watching the southwestern coast. You think there are more Death Eaters on the other side?”
“Maybe. Iva and I suspect they’re shipping men back and forth.”
“Right, that’s a possibility.”
Hermione chewed on the side of her lip.
“We don’t have to discuss this right now,” Ron said.
“No, we need to get to the bottom of this.”
Ron watched Hermione’s eyes dance back and forth. She was an intense reader. He remembered at Hogwarts he’d watch her study, either for school or for something to do with Harry. She’d get so into her work she didn’t notice him or at least made no mention of noticing. He knew if there was something in the parchment he brought home she’d find it.
“It says right here that they don’t actively recruit new members.” She tapped her finger on her chin. “How do they get new members? Oh,” her eyes brightened, “either through family or for those who come to them. Rutlius Diabolus isn’t a widely known group. “
“What do you suspect?”
“I’m going with the family member theory myself, but I could be wrong. Is there a list of members somewhere?”
“I’m not sure a list has ever been compiled. I can get Harry on it in the morning.”
“He was pulled from the field on this case and given a research role.”
“That’s not the best use of his talent.”
“No, I think it has something to do with the way he was acting earlier in November.”
“I dunno. Didn’t ask, but he was really out of it then.”
“Hm.” Hermione looked deep in thought for a moment. “I’ll need to talk to my boss, but I’d like to be placed on this case.”
Ron gave an awkward smile. She couldn’t just decide what to do whenever she wanted to. Her actions affected a lot more people now than when they were in school.
“I’ve to talk to Iva and Robards about this, maybe Harry, too.”
Sorry for it being almost a month since my last update. The last few weeks I've been kind of busy and this week I was dealing with allergies. I finally finished this chapter! Feedback!
Chapter 83: Hiding Out
“Dess Eaters,” Fleur sighed, sitting on the couch in her sitting room reading the Daily Prophet while her two daughters played together on the floor.
“What, Maman?” Victoire asked, looking up from the blocks the two girls were stacking.
“Non, Madamoiselle, juss reading ze newspaper.”
She didn’t normally like to read the Daily Prophet never having gained their trust after the way they treated the Triwizard champions and then Harry Potter during the war, but Bill subscribed to it and it was just lying around.
“Can you read it to me?”
Before Fleur could respond, thankfully, there was a tap on the window.
“I’ll get it!” Victoire ran to the window.
Fleur followed behind knowing her 4 year old would not actually be able to open it.
“It’s Tante Gabby’s owl!” Victoire squealed. Dominique echoed her having abandoned the blocks and followed the two to the window as well.
Quickly, Fleur threw open the window allowing the bird to fly inside, stick her leg out, and let Fleur untie the letter.
Tearing open the parchment, Fleur scanned the letter. Dominique squealed in delight when the owl landed on her head.
“Something wrong?” Victoire asked. “Tante Gabby?”
“Victoire, take your sisser and clean your rooms. Gabrielle will be visiting us soon.”
Fleur took the owl off Dominique’s head, allowing it to land on her shoulder. When the girls headed for the stairs, she made her way into the kitchen. After filling a small bowl with water, she sat down at the kitchen table, letting the owl walk onto the table and drink.
“Oh, Gabrielle,” she muttered in French. “What has happened?” She placed her head in her hands.
Fifteen minutes later, after clearing the kitchen with the aid of her wand she heard a pop. Spotting her kid sister’s blonde hair out the window, Fleur ran outside, wrapping her arms around Gabrielle, allowing her to weep into her shoulder.
“Let’s get inside and then we can talk about it,” Fleur said in French, leading her sister inside without waiting for a response.
Sitting down at the kitchen table so as to be out of earshot of the girls upstairs, Fleur got a good look at Gabrielle. She had a large cut under her left eye and a smaller one across her chin. A purple bruise formed across her forehead. Her eyes were swollen from crying, but no longer were the tears falling.
“Would you like a drink?”
Gabrielle slowly shook her head.
“Let me clean that up for you. ”
“I’m all right.” She wiped her eyes tenderly.
“No, you’re not.”
She glared at her older sister.
“I don’t want the girls to see you this way.”
“Have they not seen anyone hurt before?”
“They’ll ask questions. I’ll have to answer. They’re too young.”
“You don’t have to tell them the truth. They’re young. They won’t know any better. Honestly, Fleur. “
Fleur took a deep breath. This was her sister. She didn’t want to frighten her children, but she had to respect her sister’s wishes.
“You mind if I take a nap? ”
“Let me show you to your room. You did not bring any bags?”
“No, I did not have time to gather anything in the rush to get to the Ministry for my portkey.”
Fleur could not remember being more scared for her sister, not even when she was at the bottom of the Great Lake during the second task of the Triwizard Tournament.
“Does anyone know you’re here?” She asked as they entered the second landing.
“Not even mom and dad.”
Before Fleur could respond a loud slap came from Victoire’s room followed by wails causing Gabrielle to flinch noticeably.
“Victoire Gabrielle Weasley!” Fleur stormed into her daughter’s room to see Dominique in tears and Victoire hovering over her.
“She’s making a mess, Maman!”
“I don’t care. You do not ‘it your sisser,” she replied in English. She bent down to comfort her two year old sitting amidst some doll clothes and a few books. “Iss okay, Bebe.”
Bracing herself, Fleur turned around to see Victoire run into the arms of her aunt.
“What is that on your face?”
“How did you get it?”
“I 'urt myself.”
“I hurt myself yesterday. I felled down outside and cutted my leg. Maman rubbed potion on it and it went away. Why did you not do that?”
“It ‘urts to tuss it.”
“The potion maked it feel better!”
Fleur rubbed Dominique’s forehead softly.
“Victoire, let Gabby settle in the guess room. You need to say in here alone and sink about not hitting Dom.”
Victoire pouted as Fleur pushed her toward her bed. She climbed up and sat cross-legged with folded arms. Dominique, who had been mostly tearless through the exchange, began to tear up again.
“Dom, you would like to take a ress wiss me?” Gabrielle asked.
Dominique looked at her with big eyes and very slowly nodded her head while softly saying, “No sleep!”
Fleur sat on the couch with her head buried in her hands when her husband walked into the sitting room later that afternoon having floo’d in from work at Gringott’s.
“Girls give you a rough day?” He sat down and patted her back.
She gave him a look to say she could handle anything.
“Right, er, I hope you don’t mind adding two extra plates for dinner. Ron and Hermione will be joining us.”
“Zey will?” He invited them without asking? How presumptuous.
“Yes. I’m sure you’ve heard about the discovery of new Death Eaters. Hermione informed me today that it’s in our best interest to put the house back under the fidelis charm. They’ll be over here tonight to do it. Is that a problem?”
“I—er—no, iss juss, Gabrielle’s here,” she said in a low voice.
“Your sister? Something’s wrong?” He moved his hand to her shoulder.
One look into his eyes and tears formed in hers.
“See was attacked by ‘er boyfriend and it was not ze firs time. See is upstairs sleeping wiss Dominique. Gabrielle ran away wisout telling anyone including Maman and Papa.”
“Attacked? Is she all right?”
“See is, I did not talk muss to ‘er. I do not know.”
“She’s welcome to stay here as long as she needs to.”
Bill wrapped his arms around Fleur and pulled her close to him.
“Zank you,” she said muffled into his shoulder.
Ron and Hermione did arrive later explaining that with the re-emergence of Death Eaters among Rutilious Diabolous, they’d found three, precautions needed to be put in place. They needed to be prepared when the Death Eaters found out the Ministry knew about them. All the important families from the Order and the second war needed to undertake these precautions. They came not to put the charm on the house as Bill could do it nor to be the Secret Keeper as Bill, Fleur, or Gabrielle could be that. They needed to share the information on Death Eaters to the family.
“Ziss will ‘elp keep Gabrielle safe as well,” Fleur whispered to Bill. “No one will be able to tuss ‘er as long as see is in ziss ‘ouse.”
Reluctantly before they arrived Fleur cleaned Gabrielle up. She couldn’t play the same game with them as she did with Victoire and Dominique. They wouldn’t buy the “It’s just a cut” theory.
“Spending the summer with your sister?” Ron asked her as Hermione showed Fleur and Bill some notes she had taken. Fortunately for her, her boss let her work with the Auror department on this case.
The family sat in the sitting room with Fleur, Victoire, Gabrielle, and Dominique taking up the couch and Bill, Hermione, and Ron filling up two overstuffed arm chairs.
“Oui,” Gabrielle replied with a slight blush. “Fleur sought it would be good for me to spend some time in England wiss ‘er, Bill, and my, what are zey called, nieces.”
“Internasional relasions,” Fleur added with a wink.
“I hope you enjoy your stay.”
“He’s married,” Fleur demanded in French when Ron turned back to Bill and Hermione.
“I know,” Gabrielle hissed back. She looked down at the girl in her lap.
“Uncle Ron is Aunt Hermione’s husband,” Victoire said. She knew a bit of French and Fleur figured she caught on to the word married.
“I can’t believe they actually ended up together.”
“It would have been a shame had they not.”
“Maman! Tante Gabby! I can’t understand you!” Victoire whined.
“Maman, Tante!” Dominique echoed.
“Maman just loves to talk in French, doesn’t she, Vicky?” Bill asked his daughter. Hermione rolled her eyes dramatically at the name Vicky. Fleur giggled. “What?”
“What’s so funny?” Victoire asked.
“Bill, Vicky iz what Ron calls Viktor Krum to annoy ‘Ermione.”
“Vicky,” Dominique said with a giggle.
“Victoire,” her sister corrected.
“I married you, Ron!” Hermione insisted.
“Jealous of Krum, huh?”
Ron made a face.
“Are you all right?” Fleur asked her sister in French. Gabrielle had tightened up and hung back from the conversation.
Gabrielle shrugged. Fleur wrapped an arm around her pulling her close to her body.
“I love you and I’ll make sure nothing happens to you.”
Chapter 84: Moony
Sitting in his lap, she laughed. He bent down to sniff her hair which was bright pink. He smiled. She kept laughing.
“Mum, Dad, I wish you we-re he-re today,” Teddy said making sure to enunciate his Rs. He was working hard to get past the speech impediment. Picking up the photo he thought of wearing pink hair in honor of his mother, but decided to go with his more common turquoise. He was a boy and pink was a girl color.
He had received the photo for Christmas from his gran. Along with it came the story of his parents’ love, his birth, and their deaths.
Climbing out of bed, he put the photo back on his bedside table, picked up his stuffed werewolf that had fallen on the floor in the middle of the night, and glanced over at the broomstick in the corner. He hadn’t ridden it in years, ever since Ginny’s accident. He thought of getting rid of it, but it was a present from his godfather and he didn’t want to hurt his feelings.
“Just two feet off the ground,” he said to himself. He shook his head and walked out of his bedroom.
“Happy Birthday,” Andromeda greeted him as she set a plate of bacon and eggs in front of him.
“Thank you,” he replied stuffing a long strip of greasy bacon in his mouth.
“I can’t believe you’re seven. I remember when you were just a baby. Your mum was so in love with you. She wouldn’t let you out of her sight for a second.” Andromeda sat down across from Teddy with a mug of hot tea.
Then why did she leave me? He kept it to himself not wanting to upset his grandmother. It upset him. He never got to know his parents. He was like his godfather, Harry, but he knew Harry had a year with his parents. He had barely a month. He had heard the story of the evilest wizard in history, Voldemort. He hated Voldemort with every fiber of his being. He was dead, but he was still causing pain in young Teddy’s heart.
“What’s wrong?” Gran asked with a worried look.
“Nothing,” he replied quickly not realizing he was scrunching his brow. “Just thinking.”
“Looking forward to Harry and Ginny coming later?”
“Yes, ma’am. Harry said he has a su-prise for me.”
Upon finishing his eggs, Teddy hurried to his room to get dressed. After putting on a black t-shirt similar to the one his mother wore in the photo he stared at his broom. He couldn’t take his eyes off of it. He knew his mother didn’t play Quidditch, but she did like to fly on a broom or a hippogriff or anything that would take her into the air. She had a bit of a wild streak in her and wasn’t afraid of anything. That’s why she was an Auror and fought against the most evil wizard in history.
She wouldn’t be afraid of a broom, he thought.
Slowly, he reached for the broom, bringing it to a hover in front of him. Nothing scary there. He picked up his leg as if to mount the broom but slowly put it back down.
“So-rry,” he said as he put the broom back in the corner.
“Gran!” He whined as she conjured up a brush and combed his hair. He had left his room and was now standing in the sitting room being examined by his grandmother.
“Don’t you want to look good for your birthday?” She stood back. “Handsome.”
His hands reached for his hair.
“Don’t touch it.”
Teddy turned his attention to the commotion at the fireplace. Out stepped Ginny followed by Harry both dusting the soot off their robes.
“Happy birthday,” Ginny greeted him.
He ran over to give them a hug, but hung back when he spotted Ginny’s stomach. It was huge and round.
“Your little brother or sister’s in there.” Harry patted Ginny’s belly.
“My what?” How? What?
“Confused? We talked about how you’re going to have a sibling soon.” Harry bent down to Teddy’s level.
“But—but, you’re not my pa-rents.”
Harry laughed causing Teddy to scowl.
“I’m your godfather, so technically it’ll be your godsibling, but we don’t have to think about the god part. The baby is inside Ginny growing until he or she is ready to come out and face the world.”
“Did she eat it?”
“No, no.” She eased herself onto the couch and patted a spot for Teddy. Harry pushed him toward her and nervously he sat down next to her. “You see, when a man and a woman get married they decide it’s time to have a baby. They do some things and then a baby begins to form inside the mummy’s tummy. As the baby grows mummy’s tummy expands. Once the tummy is really big, bigger than it is right now,” she sighed, “the baby is done he or she comes out.”
Teddy’s eyes were wider than saucers.
“How do they get the baby out?”
Ginny smiled politely.
“Would you like to feel the baby?”
She placed his hand gently on her stomach. He giggled lightly when he felt the small ripple.
“Is that it?”
“That’s the baby kicking.”
“Does it hu-rt?”
“It’s not the most comfortable thing, but no, it doesn’t hurt. It lets me know the baby’s alive in there.”
Teddy kept his hand on Ginny’s stomach and stared at it. He could not imagine a living being inside. He didn’t know it was possible. It all seemed so weird. But, he felt the ripple again. It had to be true no matter how odd he found it.
“Ted,” Harry sat down next to him and ruffled his hair causing Teddy to grin at his gran, “we need to get going so I can show you your surprise.”
He hopped off the couch but stopped when he noticed Ginny not getting up.
“Awe you coming with us?”
She shook her head.
“No, I’ll just get in the way with my big belly. Besides, I need to stay here and help your grandmother set up for the party.”
They were standing inside a telephone booth. Was this the surprise? What a crummy surprise if it was. Harry picked up the phone and dialed some numbers. A lady with a cool voice answered.
“Yes, this is Harry Potter with a visitor to the Ministry, Teddy Lupin.”
Once Harry put the phone back a badge appeared out of the slot at the bottom. He picked it up and pinned it on Teddy.
“The Minist-ry?” Teddy asked not understanding what it was.
“The Ministry of Magic, where I work.”
The door to the booth opened revealing a loud bustling atrium. Teddy looked around wide-eyed. The place was so shiny. Witches and wizards hurried through, entering from fireplaces and exiting into ones on the opposite side. In the middle he noticed a huge box. Before he could say anything Harry pulled him over to it.
“This is a memorial.” He tapped it lightly with his wand to indicate what he was talking about.
“Ma-ma-ma-rlene McKin-non,” Teddy read slowly. His grandmother was teaching him to read and he was slowly getting the hang of it. “Who is she?”
Harry cleared his throat.
“She was, er, is a member of the Order of the Phoenix, the same as my parents and the same as yours. The Order was a group formed to fight against Voldemort.”
“Voldemo-rt,” Teddy repeated. He looked back at the box and picked out another name. “Ke-d-ric—“
“Cedric,” Harry interrupted.
“He was just seventeen when he died. Innocent, he was. No reason for him to die.” Harry stood silent for a minute.
He then tapped the corner of the box with his wand sending the names into the air.
“These are all the people who died in the first and second wars. See there’s Fabian Prewett and Gideon Prewett. You know Molly Weasley, Ron and Ginny’s mother? They are her brothers. James Harry Potter and Lily Evans Potter. Those are my parents. They died protecting me. Sirius Black, my godfather. Fredrick Gideon Weasley, that’s Ron and Ginny’s brother George’s twin. Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, he was the headmaster of Hogwarts, the founder of the Order, the only person Voldemort feared, and my mentor. Remus John Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks Lupin.”
“My parents.” Teddy rubbed his fingers across their names. Tears formed in his eyes. Quickly, he jammed his palms into them.
“It’s okay to cry,” Harry whispered.
“I’m not crying,” Teddy insisted. “Is that the su-prise?”
“This allows us to remember those who died for our freedom. So many lost loved ones but they got to keep their lives. No, this isn’t the surprise; I just thought you’d like to see it since we’re here.”
Teddy followed Harry to the lifts.
“Can we see your office?” he asked once the door closed.
“We can, but I have something better to show you first.”
“Level Four, Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures incorporating beast, being, and spirit divisions; Goblin Liason Office, and Pest Advisory Board,” the now familiar cool female voice spoke.
Outside the window in the middle of the hall it rained. Confused, Teddy stared out as he passed by wondering how it could be sunny one second and raining the next.
“We’re underground,” Harry said.
That left Teddy even more confused.
“Magic,” Harry informed him. “Magical Maintenance is upset at not getting their pay raise so they’ve been making it rain for two weeks.”
“Good morning, Potter,” a man passed by reaching out to shake Harry’s hand.
“Good morning, Proudfoot,” Harry responded.
“Thought you had the day off.”
“Yes, sir. I’ve a surprise for Teddy for his birthday. You know Teddy? Teddy this is a fellow Auror with me, Mr. Proudfoot. Sir, this is my godson, Tonks’s son, Teddy Lupin.”
Proudfoot stared at him for a few seconds rubbing his chin.
“Yes, yes, he does look just like Tonks. With that hair I would have recognized him anywhere. You know you have a very brave mother, would have given her life for anybody. I reckon she did,” he finished with a chuckle. “Happy Birthday, Teddy. How old are you today?”
“Has it been seven years? Nice to meet you, Teddy.”
“Nice to meet you, Misterr P-roudfoot.”
Proudfoot walked in the opposite direction and Teddy and Harry continued on their way.
“A-mos Digg-o-ry,” Teddy read when they stopped in front of a wooden door.
Harry knocked once and after hearing someone call out “come in” entered.
“Voldemo-rt killed my pa-rents, too,” Teddy stated matter-of-factly.
Harry gripped Teddy’s arm, but Teddy shrugged it off. Mr. Diggory looked at the boy with tears forming in his eyes, but immediately beckoned Teddy forward.
“He didn’t really kill them,” Teddy continued, “but it is his fault.”
“I know. He was a bad bad man, but thanks to Harry we don’t have to worry about him anymore.”
“I’m so-rry he killed your son.”
Mr. Diggory nodded.
“You’re here for the surprise?”
“It’s my birrthday.”
“Happy Birthday, son. How old are you?”
“Seven.” He didn’t like being called son. He wasn’t anyone’s son. Well, he was Andromeda’s grandson and Harry’s godson, but his parents were dead so he was no one’s son son.
Mr. Diggory led the two into a room connected to his office. It appeared to be a meeting room with a large table and many chairs in it. Teddy followed Mr. Diggory to a box lying against the wall his office shared with the room.
“Puppies!” Teddy exclaimed looking at the small animals sleeping peacefully wrapped around each other.
“They’re crups. A few weeks ago we found them abandoned in Hogsmeade. There are five crup puppies. We’ve already removed their tails; you will not have to deal with that. We’re still looking for potential owners. With you turning seven, Harry felt you were the right candidate. Do you think you can be the owner of a crup?”
Teddy grinned at him, nodding his head.
“There are special rules regarding crup care. They’ll eat anything so you need to train your puppy what is food and what is not. You don’t want to come home finding out your favorite sweater has been devoured by the crup. “
Teddy nodded, curious.
“If you have Muggle visitors you need to lock the crup up, perhaps in a bedroom or loo. Crups do not get along with Muggles.”
“I don’t know any Muggles,” he admitted.
“You know Hermione—“ Harry began.
“She’s not a Muggle, is she?”
“No, but her parents are.”
“Ooh, can I meet them?”
“You know your grandfather’s parents were Muggles. You can’t just look at someone and know they’re Muggle.”
“I don’t know my grandfatherr’s pa-rents.”
“My relatives are Muggles.”
“Enough about Muggles. Teddy, can you take care of a crup? You promise to teach it what is food and what is not food? You promise to be careful around Muggles? You promise to feed it twice a day and take it outside to do its business? You promise to bath it once a week? You promise to love it and care for it? You promise not to abandon it?”
Teddy peered in the box. Two of the puppies were waking up. One yawned, stretching it’s body as far as he could.
“You get to pick which one you’d like to take.”
Teddy watched the puppies for a moment. The other puppies remained asleep. The yawning puppy began to whine.
“I want that one.” He pointed to the whining puppy. For some reason, he felt sorry for it.
Mr. Diggory picked up the puppy and examined it.
“You got yourself a boy.”
He handed the puppy to Teddy. The puppy started licking Teddy’s hands.
“He likes me.”
“Yes, he does.” Mr. Diggory patted Teddy’s head.
“Thank you, Amos,” Harry said.
“Thanks, Misterr Diggo-ry,” Teddy followed.
“You’ll need to come back in a month to take your test.”
“Test?” Teddy stopped.
“Yes, we have to make sure you can take care of the crup in Muggle areas. If you pass the test you will receive your license and if you don’t…well, that’s not going to happen, is it?”
Teddy followed Harry all the way to the lift holding on tight to his crup. He was going to pass the test. He was going to get his Crup Owner’s License and he was going to keep his pet.
“Where a-re we going now?”
“The Auror Department.”
Excitedly, he joined his godfather on the lift. He would get to see where Harry worked and where his mother used to work.
“Your mother was an Auror.”
“She was a great one. I never worked with her. I was in school at the time, but from what I hear she was amazing at concealment and disguise. I reckon that’s something you could have a skill in.”
Stepping into the Auror department Teddy was in awe. This was where Harry spent his time. This was a place his mother had been important. He wished she was here to enjoy the moment.
“Which desk was my mum’s?”
Harry led him to the third cubicle in the third row.
Fingering the desk, Teddy walked up to the chair. He sat down. He imagined his mother sitting there looking at the picture of him. No, wait. There really was a picture of him. It stood next to the picture of Ginny and one of Ron and Hermione.
“Is this yourr desk?”
“Not my mum’s?”
“It’s your mum’s, too. Coincidence, I got the same cubicle.”
“Hermione?” Harry poked his head around the cubicle and then turned to Teddy. “Come.”
Teddy jumped off the chair with his crup still in his arms and followed his godfather to the cubicle behind him.
Ron and Hermione sat opposite each other at the desk with a huge map unfolded before them. A quill and scribbled parchment lay in front of
“Happy birthday!” Hermione greeted him.
“I see you received your gift from Harry,” Ron said.
“What’s his name?” Hermione asked.
Teddy looked at the crup nestled in the crook of his arm.
“Afterr my dad. His nickname. Ha-rry’s dad was Pa—I mean Prrongs.”
Hermione petted Moony’s head.
“He’s a cute crup.”
Ron handed Teddy a small package.
“Happy birthday. This is from me and Hermione.”
After placing Moony on the floor, Teddy tore into the package revealing a book.
“So You Wan—want to own a Crr-crrup,” Teddy read.
“A book on crup care,” Hermione said. “So you can raise a good crup and pass your test. I hear you have to take a test in a month to officially be able to own your crup.”
“I’m sorry we can’t come to your party today,” Hermione continued. “Some of us don’t get to take your birthday off from work.”
“Harry’s special,” Ron pretended to growl.
“This is your new home, Moony,” Teddy said after he side-along Apparated with Harry to the front yard of his house. “You’re going to like it here.”
He placed the crup on the grass, watching him sniff around finally choosing a spot against a small tree, lifted his leg, and tinkled. Teddy giggled.
“I’d say he likes it here,” Harry said with a smile. “Come on.” He lightly pushed Teddy toward the door.
“Moony!” Teddy called. The crup ran to the door after his new owner.
Teddy smiled. He knew the party would be ready by the time he got back, but he didn’t know his guests would all be here. He looked around spotting Ginny sitting on the couch with Dominique. Gabrielle sat next to her. At the kitchen table admiring the cake was Victoire and a boy Teddy only knew as the son of his mother’s friend from Hogwarts. Sitting next to the boy was his mother. His grandmother, Fleur, and Mrs. Weasley, stood next to the table.
“What’s that?” The boy cried. “He doesn’t have a tail!” He added with a laugh.
“They had to take it off,” Teddy responded picking his crup up. “His name is Moony.”
“That’s a stupid name.”
Tears pricked at Teddy’s eyes.
“Take that back!”
“No way, it’s stupid!”
“Jeremy, we don’t use that word,” his mother said. “Apologize to Teddy or you don’t get any cake.”
“Sorry,” he said sounding like he didn’t mean it.
“Did you get a dog?” Victoire asked.
“No, a crrup. Would you like to pet it?”
“Don’t do it. You’ll get cooties,” Jeremy said.
Victoire abandoned the table and walked over to Teddy. Timidly, she rubbed the crup’s back.
“I think he likes it.”
“Yeah, he’s cute.”
“Thanks. His name’s Moony.”
“What’s that mean?”
“I dunno, but it was my dad’s nickname.”
Harry bent down to the two of them.
“You know Teddy’s dad was a werewolf? The full moon caused him to turn into one, therefore, his friends called him Moony because he was affected by the moon.”
“That si—“ Victoire began but stopped herself. “That’s neat.”
“Why was you’ dad called Prrongs?”
“His Animagus, that is, he could transfigure himself into an animal, was a stag, a male deer. Stags have antlers. His friends jokingly called them prongs and you get his nickname.”
That night Teddy laid in his bed ready to fall asleep after a fun day of birthdaying. He made a mental note to tell his gran in the morning never to invite Jeremy to another party of his ever again. Hearing a scratching noise he peered over the side of his bed. On the floor he had placed a soft pillow for Moony to sleep on, but the crup had other ideas. Picking him up, Teddy placed him in bed and snuggled around him.
“I love you, Moony.”
He glanced at the picture of the happy couple on his bedside table.
“I love you, Mum and Dad.”
Chapter 85: It's Time
A tap dancing spider.
That’s what it felt like. A tap dancing spider trapped in her stomach.
She watched the bumping in her stomach. With every kick, a little spot went up and down, it was so cute.
Until the baby kicked her ribs. She rubbed the spot gingerly.
“Ginny?” Harry asked alarmed.
“Baby kicking my ribs,” she replied.
“Oh,” he mumbled falling back asleep.
Ginny carefully turned over to look at him. He was so lucky to be able to fall asleep so fast. Being so far into her pregnancy, she was having a hard time getting comfortable enough to find sleep. Glancing at the clock she noticed Harry would have to get up in thirty minutes for work. Instead of trying to fall back to sleep she decided to get up herself.
Okay, maybe he didn’t fall asleep so fast.
“I’m fine. I just can’t get comfortable. I’ll have some tea or something. You go back to sleep. You’ve still thirty minutes.”
Downstairs in the kitchen she was lucky to find Kreacher already brewing a pot of tea. He politely filled her a mug. She moved to the sitting room to enjoy it in the cozy arm chair. Sipping the hot liquid she rubbed her belly. The baby would be here in a few weeks. They finished decorating the nursery last week. Ron and Hermione spent the day with them putting up the finishing touches. Ron suggested a Quidditch theme. It was more of a boy theme, but she was a Quidditch player herself so it didn’t have to be just for a boy in case they had a girl. They decided in the end for a baby animal theme. They painted the walls light green, a color for either a boy or a girl. The cot, a nice dark brown, had a liner with baby hippogriffs, dragons, tadfoals (baby hippocampuses), and fwoopers. The same theme of animals was carried on throughout the room on the changing table, and rocker.
Startled, she opened her eyes. Her mug had been moved to the side table.
“I’m leaving for work now,” Harry said.
“I came down here to find you asleep with a full mug in your hand. I know you’re having a hard time sleeping so I left you be. I couldn’t leave without saying goodbye. What are your plans for the day?”
She smiled. Harry could be so sweet sometimes.
“I’m meeting Sian for lunch. I haven’t seen her in so long.”
“Ah, a girl’s day out.”
“Yeah, something like that.”
“Have fun while I’m slaving away at the office. You know with you due in a few weeks I’m stuck doing parchment work. Something about me being reachable or I don’t know. I’ve got Hermione for company as we’re still working on the Death Eaters.”
“I’m sorry, but you do have Hermione.”
He kissed her.
“I’ve to go. Owl me if you need anything.”
She watched him leave through the floo as a ripple went through her stomach.
“You’re so big!”
“Hannah,” Ginny laughed, “you just saw me last week.”
“I know, but you’re bigger every time I see you! Getting closer, huh?”
Ginny really wanted to sit down, but after flooing into the Leaky Cauldron, Hannah had managed, like she always did, to find her.
“I’ll let you go. We have a special on the chicken sandwich.”
Ginny groaned softly feeling green. She’d had an aversion to chicken since her mother’s roasted chicken made her sick a month ago. Actually, she thought it was the mashed potatoes, but ever since she couldn’t stand the smell of chicken.
She quickly, well as quick as she could, turned around to see Sian not too far away.
“It’s been too long.” Sian embraced Ginny in a hug. “Merlin, look at you! When are you due?”
“So soon. Are you nervous?”
Sian sat back down at the round table. Slowly, Ginny chose the seat across from her.
“A bit, yeah, to be honest. I’ve never really taken care of a baby before. I’m the youngest of my siblings so I’ve no experience there. Harry’s all the experience with Teddy. I’ve read the books, but I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve taken care of Dominique and Victoire maybe once or twice and none with Molly.”
“Oh, well I’m sure you’ll be great. I’ve heard once the baby’s born it all just kicks in. Think of it like Quidditch. When you flew on that broom for the first time I’m sure you didn’t know what you’re doing, but now you’re a professional.”
“Yeah…” she sighed. Talking of Quidditch made her miss it all the more. “But I had years to get good. I don’t have that kind of time with a baby.”
“You’re being too hard on yourself.”
At that point, Hannah came over to take their order. Sian seriously considered the chicken sandwich, but fortunately, Ginny talked her out of it.
“Oh, I’m sorry I couldn’t make your baby shower. How could you honestly schedule it at the same time as our match against Kenmare?”
“Mum’s idea, sorry.”
“Anyway, I got you a gift.” She handed Ginny a box.
She tore open the box to reveal a set of three onesies. The first was a soft green, like the color of the nursery walls, with snitches all over it. The second was a soft plain yellow. The third was white with the Holyhead Harpies logo on it.
“I figure with all the Quidditch players in your family as well as you, your baby will be a natural.”
“It’d be nutters not to. Or Percy.”
After their food arrived and they were well into it Sian restarted the conversation.
“I have some news you might find good.”
“No, I’m not even married.”
“To whom? Why don’t you just let me tell you?”
“Now, the word isn’t out yet, so I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t tell anyone, but I have to tell you. There is real consideration to let Ingles go.”
“Oh yeah. But, guess what else? If they let her go, they want to name me captain!”
“Merlin no! That’s great. You deserve it!”
“Oh thanks. I think you should be captain.”
“Me? But, I’m not even playing. You’ve been on the team much longer than me.”
“You are returning, right?”
Ginny paused with her fork halfway to her mouth. This question had plagued her thoughts day and night, when she wasn’t thinking about the baby or Harry’s dangerous job with Death Eaters.
“You know you have a spot on the team, especially if I am captain.”
Ginny nodded with a nervous smile.
“You do want to return?”
“I—“ she paused. “I’m not sure.”
“Don’t you miss it? High up in the air, wind blowing your hair, a Quaffle in your hand, approaching the hoops…”
“Of course I do!”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“I don’t know. Every time I think about returning, a tiny part of my brain tells me I shouldn’t. I don’t know what to listen to.”
“Listen to your heart. I’m not captain, yet, and you can’t even play right now in your condition anyway. Wait until the baby’s born and see how you feel then. I hate calling the baby it. Do you know if it’s a boy or girl?”
“Harry wants to wait. I told him we’d have an easier time with names if we knew, but he said he already had them picked out. James Arthur if it’s a boy, Lily Molly if it’s a girl. I respect his decision to name the kid after one of his parents, but really, mine? Percy named his daughter after Mum and Bill’s got Dad’s name as his middle. Oy, I’ve got Mum’s name as my middle. He doesn’t really need to do that to be fair or equal.”
That night at dinner Ginny lightly picked at her food. Kreacher had made some type of noodle dish and while it looked delicious she just wasn’t feeling it. Harry droned on about something at work, something Hermione found out about the Death Eaters or something like that.
“We don’t have to name the baby after my parents,” she blurted.
Harry gave her a weird look.
“You’re fine with James and Lily?”
“Yes, of course. My parents aren’t dead, Harry. We don’t need to honor them this way. They’ll understand.”
“Right. You all right? You haven’t touched your food?”
“I think my lunch just isn’t agreeing with me. I’m going to lie down.”
“How ‘bout a massage?”
“Oh, that’d be heaven.”
Once they were in the bedroom, Ginny changed into her pajamas, and lying on the bed, Harry began rubbing her back muscles. She closed her eyes letting the feeling overtake her. She loved his touch. Even now it could send tingles up her spine. She still couldn’t believe she’d snagged her hero, that he loved her as much as she loved him.
“Can you not talk, please?” She asked. He was again going on about work and it was killing the mood.
“Sorry, you really all right?”
“Yes! Just a funny feeling in my stomach from lunch, honest.”
“You sure? You didn’t eat anything odd today? Where did you meet Sian?”
“The Leaky Cauldron. I had a salad. You try carrying this baby and see how you feel.”
“I worry about you and the baby.”
A dull knife was being pressured into her back from the inside or rather that’s what it felt like at half past 2 in the morning. Lying on her side sent the pain to her ribcage. Turning over just sent it to the other side. Sitting up sent the pain down her spine. The pain lessened but did not disappear when she stood up. She hurried to the bathroom, another consequence of standing up.
“You’re not all right,” Harry said the second she stepped back into the dark room.
She sighed, rubbing her belly. She didn’t want to wake him up.
“Baby’s pressing on my bladder. I’m fine.”
“Oh, well then, come back to bed.”
“I just want to walk around for a bit. You go back to sleep. You’ve work in the morning.”
Vaguely seeing Harry turn over and figuring he was going back to sleep, she quietly stepped out into the hall, stopping when she felt her stomach twinge. Trying not to think about it she continued down the stairs and into the sitting room. The ache in her back remained, but like her stomach, she tried ignoring it. She sat down in the arm chair and summoned over an ottoman to stretch her legs out. The pain in her back subdued, but did not totally go away.
“Harry?” Ginny awoke to the sound of whistling.
“Kreacher is sorry for waking up Mistress. Kreacher is not expecting her to sleep down stairs.”
She turned her head to see Kreacher carry a load of clothes toward the stairs.
“Kreacher, what time is it?”
“Quarter past six. Master Harry is waking up soon and Kreacher is not having breakfast ready,” he grumbled.
6:15. At least she was able to get some sleep. Almost four hours. Not bad. She closed her eyes, hoping to get more. She could hear Kreacher walk up the steps and then walk back down them. She then heard him messing around in the kitchen. This was not going to get her to sleep. Neither was the pain in her back which seemed to have intensified while she slept. She didn’t feel like getting up, but she also didn’t feel like living with the pain.
The house-elf walked in from the kitchen.
“Can you get me a pain potion?”
“Is Mistress allowing having one?”
“Am I allowed to have one?”
“Master Harry said Kreacher is not giving you potion if healers not allowing it.”
“Yes, Kreacher, I am allowed.”
She heard the house-elf tut-tut as he walked back into the kitchen. Five minutes later he came back with a half-full flask.
“This is all Kreacher is allowing.”
Wanting to strangle Kreacher, she quickly drank the potion, and handed back the flask. She watched him walk back into the kitchen. The pain in her back did not disappear, but it did lessen. She was thankful for that.
“How do you feel this morning?” Harry asked a few minutes later.
“Good morning, Harry.” She leaned in for a kiss, but a cramp in her stomach prevented her. He leaned in closer and they kissed good morning.
“Kreacher gave me a pain potion,” she admitted.
“You’ve been lying to me?”
“No, I told you about my stomach.”
“I didn’t think it was this bad. You sure you don’t need to visit St. Mungo’s?”
“Harry, I took a potion. I’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”
“I do worry. I love you and our baby. I don’t want anything to happen to either of you. I don’t know what I’d do.”
“I know.” She closed her eyes hoping nothing showed on her face as her she experienced a slight spasm.
When she opened her eyes Harry was no longer in front of her. She rubbed her head as it was also starting to ache.
“Honey, have you had breakfast?”
What was her mother doing here? She looked around the room. Yes, this was her house. No, it was not the Burrow.
“What are you doing here?”
“Harry contacted me. He said you’re not feeling well and need me to watch you. Are you ill?”
“I’m fine,” she lied. She knew she wasn’t, but she didn’t want anyone to bother. She could handle herself.
“Harry said you aren’t sleeping well. You’re getting into the final stage of your pregnancy. You’re not going to be comfortable. He said Kreacher gave you a pain potion. What hurts?” Mrs. Weasley appeared in the sitting room and sat down on the couch near the chair. She began to rub her daughter’s hand.
“My back,” she admitted.
Mrs. Weasley nodded knowingly.
“Harry also said you didn’t eat last night. You really need to eat. The baby needs you to eat.” Mrs. Weasley stood up. “Let me get you some tea.”
Ginny let a small smile appear on her face. Having her mother here was a good thing.
When her mother returned with the tea, Ginny felt her stomach lurch. She tried to hide it from her mum, but she almost spilled the tea as she reached for it.
“Baby’s making me clumsy.”
The two sat together spending the rest of the morning talking. They both knitted during their conversation. Ginny was almost halfway through knitting a blanket for the baby. Mrs. Weasley had knitted booties and was now working on a hat. Ginny kept having to stop to either go to the bathroom or because she felt pain in her stomach. It was getting annoying, but she was doing a good job of hiding it.
“Seven minutes,” Mrs. Weasley said putting down her knitting needles.
“What?” Ginny had placed her hand on her enormous belly as it spasmed again, hard this time, but she didn’t think that meant anything.
“I’ve been timing you. Seven minutes between contractions.”
OK, maybe she wasn’t good at hiding it.
“Con-contractions?” Ginny questioned nervously. “No, no, they’re false.”
“Dear, don’t be scared. I think it’s time to contact your midwitch.”
“No, I’m fine, Mum.”
Mrs. Weasley rubbed Ginny’s hands softly.
“I’m right here. It will be all right. This is natural.”
Tears formed in Ginny’s eyes, but she tried to blink them away. She was brave. She could do this. Instead of being able to blink them away, one fell down her cheek. Mrs. Weasley jumped up and pulled her daughter toward her chest.
“You’re going to be all right. This is what’s supposed to happen. It’s time.”
Ginny drew up her face as she felt another spasm rip through her stomach. This one was worse than before.
“Six and a half…you’re speeding up. Yes, we will notify your midwitch.” She pulled out her wand. “What’s your midwitch’s name?”
Half a minute later two silver robins flew away.
“Who’s the other one going to?”
Right, Harry. Of course he should know.
“Ginny! Ginny! Are you all right? Ginny!” Harry tore through the sitting room practically falling over his own feet. He knelt down at the arm chair and grabbed Ginny’s hands. It wasn’t but five minutes between the Patronus leaving and him arriving.
“You look like you need a drink,” Ginny replied. She adjusted his glasses which had gone askew in his excitement.
“You’re really having the baby?”
Biting her lip she looked into his green eyes. She loved those green eyes. Today, they were filled with worry and anticipation.
“I think so,” she said after another contraction.
“Did that hurt?”
“I’m sorry.” He rubbed her hand which she felt would become raw from everyone rubbing it to comfort her.
She almost replied “It’s not your fault” when she realized he was partly to blame.
Having experienced two contractions, each stronger than the one before, Ginny was now situated in her bed, ten minutes after Midwitch Shaw arrived.
“You’re five centimeters along. Just relax. We could be here all day.”
“Relax?” asked Harry, wiping his eyes, after Midwitch Shaw left the room.
Ginny was about to respond when she was filled with pain.
She could barely nod as she gripped Harry’s hand. This was the worst one yet.
“Aagghh,” she screamed.
“You’re—you’re—ow,” Harry managed.
“Sorry,” she took a deep breath.
“That bad, huh?”
“You wouldn’t last five seconds.”
“Don’t be so loud.”
“Oh, it’s not like they’re resting.”
“You should still have some respect.”
Ginny and Harry looked at each other as if to say Ron and Hermione.
“Had the baby yet?” Ron asked as the two entered the room.
“Of course she hasn’t!” Hermione followed.
Hermione had been there when Harry received the notice and she obviously told Ron.
“Your boss, Harry, let us go early,” Hermione explained. “We want to be here when the baby’s born!”
They each gave Ginny a hug in turn.
“How long is it going to take?” Ron asked.
“The book says it could be up to 24 hours,” Harry answered.
“Twen-twenty-four hours?” Ginny exclaimed.
“On average, a first birth can take 12-13 hours,” Hermione added.
“Twelve-thirt-teen!” Ginny gasped. She collapsed against her pillow. “I can’t do this!”
“Yes, you can,” Ron said. “You’re my brave kid sister. You can do anything.”
“All right, Mrs. Potter,” Midwitch Shaw entered the room, “please take this potion.” She handed her a flask.
Ginny sat up and downed the potion in one motion as her midwitch waved her wand up and down her body.
“That will relieve you of the pain of your contractions. I’ll be able to monitor you with the charm placed on your body. I can tell when you’re having a contraction and when it’s time to push. You’re still only dilated five centimeters. It looks like it will be a while yet. Would you care for any ice chips?”
“I recommend resting until it’s time for the dirty work. It would be good to get your energy up.” Midwitch Shaw exited the room again.
Every hour the midwitch returned to perform a checkup. Ginny was progressing slowly barely averaging half a centimeter an hour. Four hours later she was at seven centimeters.
“You’re doing fine,” Shaw said to an exasperated Ginny. “The baby will come out in time.”
Ron and Hermione had left to get food. Ginny had told Harry he could join them, but he did not want to leave her side.
“When will this bloody baby come out?” Ginny wailed when she and Harry were alone.
Harry sat on the bed, brushing her hair out of her eyes.
“Don’t get worked up,” he said softly.
“Worked up? Worked up? I want to see how worked up you get when you’re in labor!”
“Fortunately, that’ll never happen,” he muttered.
“What was that?”
“I love you.”
A few hours later, Ginny found herself woken by a knock on the door.
“Come in,” she grumbled with a yawn. “Dad!”
“Your mum told me you’re having the baby.”
She sat up and her dad joined her on the bed, giving her a hug.
“How are you?”
“Scared,” she admitted.
“I remember when your brother Bill was born. Your mum and I, younger than you and Harry, had no clue what we were doing, but we made it through. You will, too, and you have your mum and me if you need any help.”
“Thanks, Dad.” She grimaced. She was starting to feel her contractions again. “Where’s Harry?”
“He’s downstairs with Ron, Hermione, and your mum.”
“Do you mind getting him?”
“That’s fine. I’m so proud of you.” He kissed her forehead. “I love you.”
“I love you, too, Dad.”
“Arthur said you wanted to see me?” Harry entered the room a few minutes later.
Before Ginny could respond Midwitch Shaw, having followed Harry into the room, spoke up.
“T-time?” Ginny mustered through another contraction.
“Your contractions are right on top of each other and they’re stronger, right?”
Harry went over and reached for Ginny’s hand.
“I’m going to break your water and then we’ll begin pushing.”
Midwitch Shaw did a funny wand movement over Ginny’s lower abdomen and a release of water gushed out of her causing Ginny to feel funny. Good thing the bed was covered by a plastic sheet.
“You’re 10 centimeters, spread your legs, honey.”
Ginny did as she was told gripping Harry’s hand harder.
“Daddy, would you like to catch the baby when it comes out?”
“C-c-catch?” Harry sputtered. “I’ll be fine right here.”
“You better stay here and hOLD my hAND!” she managed feeling the pain of another contraction.
“All right, Mummy, let’s push!”
Ginny screamed louder than she ever had before as she pushed harder than she ever had before.
“You’re doing well,” the midwitch complimented when she was done with the first round.
Ginny collapsed against the pillow. Harry brushed hair out of her face. She felt she would pop a blood vessel.
“Here comes another one. You’re progressing faster than I originally thought.”
Ginny wanted to tell her to shut-up, but between the pushing and screaming she didn’t have the energy.
“Oh, I see the head. Your baby’s crowning. Push harder. You can do it. One more. One big push. Push as if your life depends on it. Come on! You got it! Here we go. All done.”
No longer could she hear Midwitch Shaw. The only thing catching her attention was the wail of a little baby. Shaw threw a blanket on Ginny’s stomach, cleaned the baby off, and laid it on top of the blanket.
“It’s a boy,” she announced.
A boy. She had a son. She and Harry had created a son. As exhausted as she was, she couldn’t stop smiling and gently rubbing the boy’s head. She wanted to wrap him up and lay him on her chest, but she was afraid to move.
Ten minutes later, Ginny had released the afterbirth; Harry cut the umbilical cord with a severing charm; Midwitch Shaw completely cleaned up the baby and put a diaper on him; and the bed had been cleaned. Harry sat next to his wife and son.
“Isn’t he the most precious thing?” Ginny asked Harry, kissing the top of her son’s head, which was covered by a slight dusting of red hair. He was now lying on her chest, asleep.
“You mind if we come in?” Hermione asked, knocking on the door as she entered with Ron and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley behind her.
“Hey,” Ginny said.
“It’s a boy,” Harry announced.
“My first grandson!” Mrs. Weasley exclaimed softly, clapping her hands together. “Arthur, it’s a boy!”
“So I heard.” He smiled.
“He’s adorable,” Hermione cooed.
“He’s got the Weasley red hair,” Ron said. “Still a go with James Arthur?”
Ginny shared a look with Harry.
“No,” she spoke, “James Sirius.”
“Serious?” Harry asked.
“Yes, Sirius. Your godfather, Harry.”
Harry looked thoughtful.
“I can’t believe I didn’t think of that. Yes. James Sirius Potter. My son.”
Later that evening Ginny awoke after a not so refreshing nap. She didn’t know what time it was, but she knew she was definitely hungry having not eaten since lunch the day before. Not feeling the weight of her son on her chest she wondered where he was. She felt odd. He had been a part of her for nine months and now he wasn’t.
Turning her head, she saw Harry sitting in a chair holding James and staring silently. He sat there with his son in front of him and surprisingly, little James was looking back at him. Newborns can’t really focus on anything, but his eyes were open and he was looking in Harry’s direction. She felt she was intruding on a private moment, but she couldn’t leave and she couldn’t tear her eyes away. She couldn’t imagine what Harry must be thinking. He lost his own father and mother at such a young age. She smiled. She was very happy to have been able to provide him with a son.
Chapter 86: No One More Perfect
I’m your father.
Harry sat in a chair holding his son in front of him. He looked into his blue eyes. This was his son.
He was going to make sure his son grew up with a father…and a mother, of course. He would be there to answer any questions his son had. He would provide his son with more siblings and lots of stories of his childhood. He would not, under any circumstances, and there would never be a circumstance that called for it, let him live with nasty relatives, not that he had any nasty relatives apart from the Dursleys.
He had a family. He had a beautiful wife and a beautiful son. This was what he longed for most in the world. He was with people who loved him unconditionally.
His son closed his eyes and yawned. Mesmerized, Harry could not take his eyes off James. This was what he had longed for. A few hours old, the little boy already stole his heart.
“I love you,” he said quietly.
James’s answer was to wail. Such a little guy, he could be very loud.
“Oh, James!” Harry exclaimed noticing what made James upset.
Holding the crying baby at arms length, Harry nervously stood up. He had to do something he had never done before. Change a stinky nappy. James had soiled his nappy before, but Ginny changed it. Now, she was asleep and left Harry to do the task.
After conjuring up all the items he assumed he’d need Harry slowly and carefully laid James on the burp cloth. He thought back to before Teddy was potty-trained. Kreacher and Ginny were the ones changing his nappy when he stayed with Harry. As much as Ginny talked about not being the one who took care of Teddy, there was an awful lot of stuff she did for him, leaving Harry with no knowledge of how to change a nappy.
“I’m sorry, son.” He looked at the items he conjured up: baby wipes, baby powder, lotion, and of course, the nappy.
James wailed louder as Harry unbuttoned the white onesie.
“Sh, you’ll wake Mummy.”
He lifted James’s legs as he unwrapped the nappy around him.
“I’m already awake.”
Startled, Harry dropped James’s legs, causing him to cry harder. Harry rubbed his stomach hoping to calm him.
“Why don’t you take over? You’ve much more experience.”
Ginny smiled sweetly.
“It’s your turn to learn.”
Taking a deep breath Harry plunged in. He had already begun to unwrap the nappy so he went back to it. He wiped the poo off James’s back end with the baby wipes and then stared at the powder and lotion. When did these come in? What was their importance? Did James need them?
“The only time you’re going to need that stuff is if his behind is red,” Ginny spoke up.
Taking her advice, Harry checked his bottom, then slid the cotton nappy under and began wrapping it around the baby.
“Not too tight.”
Harry rewrapped the nappy not as tight.
“Not too loose.”
“Do you want to do this?”
“You need to learn.”
Rolling his eyes, he unwrapped the nappy. He then carefully rewrapped it around James. He didn’t look at Ginny. Once the nappy was secure, James’s wails died down to a whimper.
“Congratulations,” Ginny mocked.
Harry crawled onto the bed, placing James in Ginny’s arms. His whimpering quieted once he was there.
“He loves his mummy.” Harry kissed Ginny’s cheek.
“And his mummy loves him.” Instead of kissing Harry, Ginny kissed James’s forehead.
“Hey, what about me?”
“Another man has stolen my heart.”
“Must be the father of the baby.”
Ginny shook her head.
He grumbled into the pillow as Ginny shook him awake. He didn’t need to open his eyes to know it was still dark out.
“Sleeping,” he muttered.
“Did you hear that?”
He opened an eye halfway. How could he hear anything with her calling for him?
“Is James breathing okay?”
Harry opened both eyes. Ginny sat up in bed with a worried expression on her face. James slept not a few feet away in the small cot near Ginny’s side of the bed.
“He’s breathing fine.”
“Will you check? Please?”
“Can you do it?”
“I want your opinion. You love your son, don’t you?”
He climbed out of bed and made for the cot in the dark managing to miss hitting his toes on the foot of the bed. Lying on his back, James slept peacefully. Harry placed a hand softly on the baby’s tummy. It rose slowly up and down, nothing abnormal. The feel of the baby’s stomach relaxed Harry. If he just closed his eyes…
“He’s fine,” he said crawling back into bed and patting Ginny on the knee. “Just motherly paranoia. Your first night with him, it’s to be expected.”
“I am not paranoid.”
“Avada Ka—waaaaahhh!” Voldemort’s sudden cry caused Harry to sit bolt right up in bed. The sun crept in behind the curtains. Next to him, Ginny opened an eye.
“I’ll get him,” she said into her pillow.
“You sleep,” Harry urged her as he grabbed his glasses of the bedside table. She had already woken twice with the baby, once to feed him and the other to change his nappy.
James’s scrunched up face made Harry’s heart ache. He shouldn’t be hungry as he had eaten a few hours earlier. He shouldn’t need his nappy changed as that came an hour after eating. Harry leaned over and sniffed it just to make sure.
“I wish you could tell me what’s wrong.” Harry slowly lifted James out of the cot and brought him to his chest, carefully supporting his head. “I don’t have much experience with a baby. I didn’t spend much time with Teddy until he was a year,” Harry spoke as he left the room. “Perhaps I should have for his sake and for experience. You won’t blame me, though, will you? You know, not having much experience and not knowing what to do?”
As Harry made his way down the stairs, James’s tears continued. Harry jiggled him lightly in his arms as he had read to do, but that did nothing.
“This is the sitting room.” Harry waved a free arm around. He noticed unfinished knitting littering the couch and arm chair. “Your mum and gran must’ve been knitting yesterday before you made your unexpected arrival. I’m sure you’ll enjoy whatever it is when they finish. Gran’s always knitting for us, sweaters mostly.”
Stepping into the kitchen he almost tripped over Kreacher who appeared to be looking for him.
“Master James?” The house-elf asked with his arms out. “Kreacher is experienced in taking care of babies.”
“You helped raise Sirius and Regulus?”
“What were your duties?”
“Mistress is giving all duties to Kreacher for her babies.”
“She didn’t take care of them at all?”
“Mistress is being too busy and is trusting Kreacher.”
“But Sirius never liked you.”
“Nor Kreacher is liking Sirius. He is not being like Master Regulus,” Kreacher’s voice ended dreamily. “You is needing Kreacher to caring for James?”
Harry shook his head.
“James is not being happy with you,” Kreacher pointed out.
Kreacher began to speak, but Harry cut him off.
“He’s just fussy.”
Grumbling, Kreacher walked away. Catching a bit of the sunlight Harry spotted the fake locket he had given him eight years ago.
After the bouncing got tired, Harry collapsed on the couch with a big yawn. Tears were still falling down James’s cheeks, but he was no longer being noisy about it. His head had found a comfortable spot on Harry’s shoulder. Softly, Harry rubbed circles on James’s back.
“Tea for Master Harry.” A few minutes later Kreacher brought in a steaming mug of hot tea.
“Thanks.” Harry let him place it on the table. He could feel James’s breathing relax and he didn’t want to disturb him.
“How is he?” Ginny yawned entering the room in her dressing gown. With dark circles under her eyes and extremely messy bed hair she looked a sight.
“I think he’s calming down,” Harry whispered. “How are you?”
Ginny sat down on the couch next to Harry and took a sip from his mug.
“Couldn’t go back to sleep.”
Ginny rubbed James’s legs.
Harry heard a knock at the front door, the padding of Kreacher’s feet, and the creak of the door opening.
“I hope we’re not bothering you,” Andromeda Tonks said making her way to the empty arm chair in the sitting room. “Teddy hasn’t stopped asking to visit as soon as he learned of the baby’s birth. Last night was too late for visitors. This morning he woke up and begged me to come.”
Ginny tried to hide her yawn, but was unsuccessful.
“Oh dear, I know you’re tired. You must be. We won’t stay long.”
“No, it’s fine. I’m sure you know what it’s like to have a newborn.”
“Yes. Surprisingly, Teddy was much easier to take care of than his mother,” she sighed wistfully. “That might be because for the first few weeks it was Dora and Remus doing most of the work.”
Teddy who had been unnaturally quiet stepped over to the new family.
“I’ve this for James.” He handed Ginny a small brown teddy bear.
“It’s lovely. I’m sure he’ll love it.”
“Would you like to hold him?” Harry asked.
Teddy’s eyes grew wide.
“Sit right here.” Ginny scooted over and patted the spot on the couch between her and Harry.
After sitting down, she showed Teddy how to hold his arms. Harry placed James in them.
“Hello,” Teddy said softly. “You’re my brother. You’re my god-brother, but Harry, that’s your dad, said we can forget the god part.” He smiled up at Harry who patted his head.
“Let me get the camera.”
Ginny disappeared into the kitchen, reappearing a few minutes later. The moment she set the camera to take the picture James spit up and Teddy made an ugly face.
“Of course you were upset,” Ginny took her son from Teddy, “your tummy hurt.”
“Let’s go clean you off,” Harry suggested.
He took Teddy to the bathroom and began cleaning off his neck where some spit-up landed.
“He doesn’t like me,” Teddy cried.
“What? Of course he does.”
“No, he doesn’t! He threw up on me!”
“It was just spit-up and it was only because his stomach hurt. He didn’t do it on purpose.” Harry bent down to Teddy’s eye level. “He didn’t cry in your arms. He’s been crying all morning, fussy, really, and when I placed James in your arms he stopped.”
“I don’t know.”
“I do. He loves you. You’re his big brother and you’re going to do big brother things with him, right?”
“Right,” he repeated timidly.
“You’re not the only one who’s scared.”
“You’re scared, too?” Teddy looked at him with his big turquoise eyes.
“I’m his father. His life depends on me. What if I screw up?”
“You think you’re screwing up with me?”
“I—no, of course not. Unless you think that.”
Teddy looked pensive.
“Just joking! You’re the best godfather in the world.”
Harry wrapped his arms around his godson.
Watching his wife’s chest rise up and down as she slept on the couch later in the afternoon, Harry wrapped a soft warm blanket around her. A few feet away he had brought down the cot for his son. It was better for Ginny to not go up and down the stairs to take care of him.
“He’s so cute.”
Harry nearly jumped out of his skin at the sound of Hermione’s voice. He remembered giving her and Ron permission to visit after work.
“Don’t you think he’s cute, Ron?” She asked.
Instead of answering he elbowed her and pointed to his sister.
“Oh,” Hermione whispered. “Is this a bad time?”
No time would be the best time.
Harry glanced at Ginny and back at Ron and Hermione ushering them into the kitchen. Carefully, Hermione lifted the sleeping baby out of the cot and followed him.
Standing at the stove, Kreacher cocked his head to watch the three converge at the table. Hermione’s eyes met his causing him to turn away.
“I don’t think he appreciates me not letting him ‘nanny’ James,” Harry said in a low voice.
He watched his son snuggle in Hermione’s arms, comfortable.
“Ginny and I have something important to ask you two,” he continued. “You, Ron and Hermione, are my best friends. We’ve been through everything together.”
“You’re not dying, are you, mate?”
“No! Hermione, you’re pretty close with Ginny.”
“What is it?” She urged him.
“We’ve discussed this and we want you two to be James’s godparents.”
Hermione’s eyes teared up as she looked at the baby in her arms.
Ron cleared his throat obviously trying to hide anything that could be construed as emotional.
Hermione looked at Ron. He nodded.
“Yes,” she answered. “Of course! Thank you!”
“I imagined you would’ve chosen someone older like Bill or Robards or somebody.”
“Robards? Seriously? Ron, you’re my best mate. There are no two people more perfect for the role of my son’s godparents than you two. Robards,” Harry chuckled causing Ron’s cheeks to turn pink.
Chapter 87: Locked In
Angelina rubbed at the robes at the base of her neck. She knew the weather was getting warmer, but mid-May was beginning to feel like mid-July in the joke shop. Her greatest desire at the moment was to strip off her magenta robes and run around in a camisole and underpants. However, scaring off customers was not high on her list. She was glad she was on the floor stocking Wonder Witch products. The smell of the snackboxes had been giving her a headache.
“I’m off to pick up Matthew from Clyde’s parents,” Verity announced after the last customer left with a full bag.
No sooner had the words left her mouth than the door opened allowing two built wizards donning Ministry robes to enter. A scream could be heard in the distance.
“No intention of scaring anyone,” the taller, older-looking, brown-haired wizard said, “but we must order you to not leave the shop.”
“Wha—bu—I—“ Verity stumbled.
“Ma’am, it is for your safety. Aurors are on it and you have no need to worry,” the blond wizard spoke.
“Aurors?” George spoke up from the back. “What is going on?”
“None of your concern,” the blond continued.
“If I’m held hostage in my shop it is my concern.” George stepped closer to the wizards.
The two Ministry employees exchanged glances.
“You’re George Weasley, aren’t you?” The brown haired asked.
“I’ll tell you once you tell me what’s going on.”
“I have to get my son.”
“Aurors are on the case and you’ve nothing to worry about,” spoke the blond.
“It seems if Aurors are on the case we do have something to worry about.” George peered around the Ministry employees out the glass front door. “Fighting? They’re fighting! Who? Let me at them!”
“George!” Angelina exclaimed.
“What? They’re fighting. I’m experienced. I helped fight off Death Eaters.”
One of the Ministry men coughed.
George’s eyes grew wide.
“Death Eaters? Let me at them!” He lunged for the door, but before he could make it the brown haired Ministry employee grabbed him. “Let me at ‘em. They killed my brother!”
“George, will you please release the anti-Apparition charm?” Verity asked.
“Let me go! I see Harry out there. He’s my brother-in-law. He’ll vouch for me.”
“George, I need to pick up Matthew!”
“We can’t let you out there.”
“Death Eaters don’t deserve to live! They killed my brother! They killed Fred!”
“Aurors are on it, son, you don’t have to worry.”
“They killed my brother and I’m not your son!”
Angelina stepped over to George and wrapped her arms around him.
“Harry’s out there. He’ll do the best he can. He’s trained for this kind of thing. We already lost Fred. I don’t know what I’d do if I lost you, too.”
“You won’t lose me, too.”
“We’ve put up a charm around Diagon Alley. You are not able to leave the building. Have a good day.” The blond wizard followed the brown haired outside.
“Damn!” George reached for the door, but it wouldn’t budge. He picked up a can from his updated Snackbox collection and tossed it at the glass. It bounced back, rolling to a stop at his feet. “We’re stuck.”
“Release the anti-Apparition charm,” Verity asked again.
George sat down on the floor of shop with Angelina slowly following. The sound of silence was eerie, not something she was used to. Either the noise came from customers, from her and Verity’s work, or George just being George.
“He’s my brother. They killed him. I can’t sit around and do nothing.”
Angelina couldn’t believe Death Eaters were still out there. Last she heard, Aurors had taken care of them. That was a while ago.
“Release the damn charm, then,” Verity demanded.
Angelina shook her head at her.
“Don’t shake your head.”
She wasn’t used to Verity acting this way. She was usually calm, quiet, and a bit shy.
“Don’t you think I would have done it if I could? I don’t want to be stuck in here any more than you do, but I don’t have the power to release the charm. It’s an anti-breaking and entering charm, not your standard anti-Apparition charm,” George responded. “Besides, those blokes probably took care of it anyway.”
Angelina rubbed at the collar of her robes again. The longer she stayed in the hotter it seemed to get, causing a rumbling in her stomach. She looked at George hoping he couldn’t tell how she felt.
“You don’t want to be here either?” He asked.
“I—“ she started before throwing up the entire contents of her stomach on her husband.
“I’m so sorry!” She exclaimed immediately, reaching for her wand, which she kept stowed in her front pocket, her left hand covering her mouth.
“You’re not ill, are you?” George placed a hand on her.
“I—“ she paused, not sure if she should tell him the reason for her upset stomach. She didn’t realize that could be the reason for her feeling so hot. “No, I’m not sick.”
“Why don’t we all go upstairs? If they haven’t cut off access to the flat.” Waving his wand, George changed the Open sign to Closed.
Arriving upstairs, George made for the bathroom and Angelina quickly stripped herself of her robes allowing the coolness of her naked arms and legs to envelope her. Sighing she slumped onto the couch and adjusted her shorts and t-shirt as Verity made her way to the window.
“Three Death Eaters against three Aurors,” she announced. “You should watch.”
She waved her off. She was in no mood to watch the fight.
“Do you have an owl?”
“Uh, no. We usually use the post owls.”
Verity dejectedly went back to the window.
Angelina closed her eyes. Sitting in the flat felt good. She’d been on her feet much too long, she decided.
“Still not feeling well?”
Opening her eyes she saw George standing in front of her wearing a white t-shirt, black shorts with his red hair wet.
She glanced back and forth between him and Verity whose attention had turned to them when George spoke. She couldn’t keep this from him any longer. He deserved to know.
George stumbled back a few steps.
“No? I am.”
“I’m not. It’s true. I am pregnant.”
“Congratulations!” Verity exclaimed. “Another baby!”
“Yes, George, that’s what pregnant means.”
“When are you due?” Verity asked.
“You’re not pregnant.”
“I am, George.”
“No, you can’t be.”
“I took the potion and then had an appointment with a healer. We confirmed everything.”
“It’s not true.”
“Shut up.” She stormed off the couch and into their bedroom, slamming the door.
When she heard the news she was afraid. They hadn’t planned on a baby. They hadn’t talked about it at all, honestly. They were still dealing with Fred’s death. The idea of bringing another person into the world was a hard one. She’d seen his siblings do it: Bill, Percy, and Ginny. Each birth was hard on George, she knew. His own child would be even tougher.
But, truth could not be denied. It was happening. She was pregnant and they were going to have a baby. Nothing could change that. Not even George’s attitude.
A tear slipped down her cheek as she sat on the bed. Instead of wiping it away she grabbed the nearest pillow and threw it against the wall almost knocking over a lamp. She wasn’t going to be upset over this. George was being selfish and she wasn’t going to let it hurt her.
Falling back against the mattress, she heard some muffled words from the other side of the door and what sounded like something being slammed down. She took a deep breath. George’s anger was not what she wanted to deal with. It wasn’t fair for him to put that on her.
He could definitely be selfish at times and she guessed so could she. It was how they worked well together. They knew how to deal with each other. Maybe she wasn’t being fair. He did have to deal with his twin dying. It may have been seven years ago, but it was his twin. That kind of pain may never go away.
Leaving the room she saw George pocked his wand.
“Sent a message to Clyde’s parents,” Verity said. “I didn’t know you could use your Patronus to send a message.”
Angelina nodded. It was something George had learned from his parents. She wasn’t sure where they learned it or where it originated.
“I’m happy you’re having a baby,” she continued. “He or she will grow up with Matthew. Maybe they’ll be friends and attend Hogwarts together!” she clapped her hands in excitement.
“Yeah.” She looked at George. No emotion registered on his face. Was it possible he didn’t want the baby?
“I—“ he cleared his throat. “I’m sorry.”
She stepped closer to him.
“I wasn’t expecting that news from you.”
She took another step closer.
“We’ve never discussed a baby.”
She shook her head.
“I don’t know how we’re going to raise a baby in this world, one still full of evil and danger.”
“Our parents did it.”
George’s eyes clouded over. She knew he was thinking of Fred.
“I miss him, too.”
“We don’t deserve this. We don’t deserve to have a baby when Fred can’t.”
She calmly sat down next to him and took his hand.
“He wouldn’t want that. He would want us to have a family. He doesn’t want us to stop living.”
“I’d rather bring Fred back to life then bring a new person to life.”
She gave him a funny look.
“Why did Fred have to die? Why did I have to live? It should have been me. I should have been there.”
“What about me, George?”
“You’d be with Fred, like it’s supposed to be.”
\ “Supposed to be? What’s that mean? You want Fred to go through the misery you’re going through? You want Fred to have to deal with all this pain? Is that fair to Fred?”
“Is this fair to me?”
“No, but the honest truth is it happened. You can either learn to live with it or not live at all. I love you and I hate seeing you this way.”
“Don’t look at me, then.”
She sighed loudly.
“You’re pitiful, completely pitiful.” As soon as the words left her mouth, the building shook terribly causing a bout of nausea to rise in her stomach. She leaned forward, closing her eyes, as Verity rushed to the window. George rubbed her back.
“A spell hit the building knocking loose a few bricks,” Verity announced. “I think we should be okay as long as we’re—“ before she could finish the building shook again. “Not hit again. It’s all right, they’re moving away from us.”
George continued rubbing her back as the nausea subsided. Angelina didn’t feel like raising her head or opening her eyes.
“We’re having a baby,” George said softly.
“Yes,” she replied just as softly.
“We’re having a baby,” he repeated.
Yea, yea, yea! A new chapter! When I read chapters from fanfic authors who haven’t sent an update in a long time I always think they don’t need to apologize. No need to apologize. But, now I’m in that position and I feel I need to apologize. I am sorry for taking so long. Two months. That’s terrible. I was busy and it had me physically and mentally spent where I didn’t have the energy to write or edit. My first niece was born in August. My birthday was in August. Family stuff, church stuff, me stuff. I don’t think being busy is a good excuse. I just have to say there were times when I could have written, but I didn’t want to. The one thing that never changed was my love for this story. I still thought about it. I still planned things. I still dreamed about it. I was still here, just not on the written page or the updated page. But, I’m back and I hope to devote more time. I hope to update much quicker. I hope to never go through this long of a break again. I hope you all remember and still love my story!
Chapter 88: Another Mission
“Get some sleep. We need to be up early,” Robards ordered as he turned out the light.
Harry turned over pulling the comforter to his chin. Closing his eyes would be the best thing to help him fall asleep, but he didn’t feel like it. Instead, he looked around the room at what he could make out in the dark, which was practically nothing without his glasses. His mind drifted to the night before when he awoke to James’s wails. Not wanting to wake Ginny he tried to make it to the baby in the dark. They had yet to put him in his cot so James still slept in their room. Unsuccessfully he rammed his foot into one leg of the cradle causing himself to howl and James to get even louder. Needless to say, Ginny woke up.
James. His son was almost a month old. Time sure flew when he was having fun. He felt bad about having to leave him and Ginny to go on this mission. He could still recall the moment when he told her the news.
“Another mission?” She cried, sitting on the couch feeding James.
“I don’t want to go, but this is my case and according to Robards no one’s more qualified.”
“Of course,” she harrumphed causing James to squirm.
“I tried to get out of it.”
“Honest, I did. I don’t want to leave you and James as much as you don’t want me to.”
“This is how it’s going to be, huh?”
Her shoulders shook startling James. She shoved the now crying baby into Harry’s arms and left the room while buttoning her shirt.
He cradled James to his chest trying to get him to stop crying.
“Bounce him,” she muttered.
After a short bit of the bouncing James let out a convincing burp. He looked up at Harry and gave what could qualify as a smile. Harry hurried up the stairs to his bedroom, pushing open the partially closed door. He laid James in his bed and sat down next to his wife.
“Are you mad?”
“Mad? Why would I be mad?” She sighed. “I’m not mad at you. I’m frustrated and tired,” she added.
“I’ll try to get out of this.”
“No, Harry, no, I’m being selfish.” She rubbed her face. “I’m just tired.”
“You said that.”
“It’s true. Taking care of James is a full time job. You get out and see people at work. I’m here. With James. And Kreacher.”
“And your mum.”
“You don’t enjoy taking care of James?”
“I love taking care of James. I love him. I wouldn’t give him up for anything.” She quickly jammed her palms into her wet eyes. “I’m not ready for you to be on a long mission.”
“You won’t be alone. You have Kreacher and your mum and dad and Bill and Fleur and Percy and Audrey and even Ron and Hermione.” He paused. “I’ll try to get out of this. I’ll tell Robards I can’t go on any overnight missions until James is older.”
He knew she didn’t want him to do that. She tried her best to appear strong. But, he knew being a new mother was hard for her. It was hard being a new father, but he knew that was nothing compared to being the mother at home.
Harry wrapped his arms around Ginny, bringing her head to his chest, and rubbed her back. Not even a few seconds later he could feel the rise and fall of her chest indicating she had fallen asleep.
“Thanks anyway.” Robards returned to the table with two beers.
“No news?” Harry asked.
“Haven’t spotted anyone fitting his description.”
Harry took a swig of his beer. He wasn’t fond of the Muggle concoction, but he would drink it anyway. The trail of the missing Death Eater brought the two to a Muggle pub in West Sussex.
“From what we’ve gathered it seems he stops here every evening.”
Harry nodded. He leaned back in his chair and thought back to yesterday.
Arriving home from work early, he rushed around looking for Ginny.
“Sh, Missus is sleeping.” Kreacher stood up from hovering over the desk he was dusting and pointed towards the stairs.
Quietly, Harry made his way up the stairs unbuttoning his robes in the process. He slowly opened the door to the bedroom he shared with his wife. Seeing her laying peacefully over the made bed, he stepped towards her and as he leaned down to give her a kiss he spotted the tiny sleeping James beside her.
He watched his son’s chest rise and fall with each breath, so calm and relaxed. He was wearing a light blue onesie with a white cat on the front. Harry watched the cat move up and down to the rhythm of James’s breath, tiny breath coming out of his tiny nose, his mother’s nose. He was glad he had his mother’s nose for his mother’s nose was a very cute nose.
“Harry!” Ginny suddenly whispered loudly opening her eyes. “Your breath tickles.” She swatted at his nose. “I didn’t mean to fall asleep. James was so restless today, I decided to lie in bed to calm him. I reckon we both calmed down.”
“I talked to Robards.”
Ginny sat up an expectant look in her eyes.
“I can’t get out of this.”
“I expected as much.” She rubbed James’s stomach. “I have to get used to this. You’re an Auror, one of the best, though I may be a tad biased, and well, I can’t keep you from your job.”
“For James,” Harry said softly. “I couldn’t live with myself if I let the bad guys go just because I want to spend more time with him. I love him and it’s not fair for him to deal with the same stuff I did.”
Harry picked up his son who stirred in his sleep.
“I’m going to miss him.” He sniffed his hair. “I’m going to miss the baby smell!” He snuggled the boy to his chest. “Can I take him with me?”
“You think I’m kidding? Being away from him will be so hard.”
“What about me?”
“You know I’ll miss you, but this is James!”
Thinking of James brought back the smell. He took a deep breath. He missed his son.
“What?” Robards asked putting down his almost empty mug.
“That’s my cousin.” He pointed to a husky blond man entering the bar with a chunky brunette on his arm. He didn’t know what made him do it, but he waved to him, causing Dudley to walk toward them. He wasn’t expecting to see his cousin in West Sussex with the family home located in Little Whinging, Surrey. It was hard to imagine Dudley on his own, but he was an adult just like Harry.
“Hello, Harry.” He offered his pudgy hand for a shake.
Standing before Harry was his formerly obese cousin. Well, he was still fat, but he had trimmed down and put on a bit of muscle.
“This is my fiancée, Zinnia.”
Harry looked at the face of the young brunette woman. He never imagined Dudley with a woman, not that he thought he was interested in anything else.
“This is my cousin, Harry. He saved my life.”
“I wouldn’t put it like that.”
Harry thought back to that night when the Dementors attacked Little Whinging. He never talked with Dudley about it, but he knew it had a profound impact on him.
“I would. So, how are things with you?” Dudley asked.
Harry pulled a photo out of his pocket.
“That’s my son, James Sirius, just a month old.”
Dudley stared at it for what seemed like a good long time.
“It better not be moving,” Robards whispered.
“He knows about us.”
“He looks a lot like you,” Dudley responded handing back the picture.
“How are your parents?” Harry choked out. He didn’t really care, but he thought it was polite to ask.
“Dad had a heart attack last year, but he’s doing much better now.”
“Sorry to hear that.”
“Yeah, Mum tried putting him on that diet she had me on when we were, I think, fourteen. I don’t know how you survived that summer.”
“My friends snuck me some snacks and such. I don’t know how you survived.”
“The same, of course. Well, it’s been nice talking to you. I never told you, but thank you for saving my life that night. I don’t think you know the impact you had.”
“Before you go, have you seen a rather burly man with graying brown hair down over his ears, though he may have had a hair cut with a pointy nose and a mole on his left cheek around here?”
Harry wished he had a photo to show him.
“I don’t think so, sorry.”
“This is getting us nowhere,” Robards grumbled when the two left. “We’ll need to backtrack our steps and start over.”
“Sir, we haven’t been here long enough. Why don’t we try interviewing people?”
“Yes, that is a good idea. Should’ve thought of that one myself.”
Harry could not believe the level of pessimism he heard in his boss’s voice. He had heard rumors of Robards contemplating retirement. He didn’t want to believe them, but maybe he should start.
Chapter 89: Is This Love
He took a deep breath and exhaled. This year had been harder on him than he could have imagined. Of course, it was his first year as professor of Herbology at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but he didn’t expect it to be much different than being Professor Sprout’s assistant. He took another deep breath. After cleaning up the greenhouse used for first years, he made made his way to his office.
Sitting down at his desk he glanced at the empty spot where a picture used to sit, a photo of Hannah smiling up at him. He removed it almost immediately after their breakup, the sight of her too much for his heart to bear.
He hadn’t been to the Leaky Cauldron since their breakup. He barely visited Diagon Alley. The thought made his stomach hurt.
“Professor Longbottom?” A small soft voice spoke timidly.
He loved Hannah, even now. She knew how to make him feel normal. After the battle at Hogwarts, the defeat of Voldemort, Neville had become sort of a hero. He never imagined he was anything like Harry Potter, but to all the students attending Hogwarts as well as those who came to fight, he was a hero. The attention was rather overwhelming. Hannah’s gentle touch made him feel like Neville Longbottom again and there was no one else who made him feel that way.
“Professor, are you all right?”
Neville blinked back the tears to look into the face of a fifth year. Embarrassed, he tried wiping away the tears he hadn’t known he’d been crying.
“Some of the plants getting to me,” he lied. “What can I do for you, Miss Fawcett?”
“As you know, I’m not doing well in class and with O.W.L.s coming up I was wondering if you could help me find a tutor? I’m working on a study schedule and I’d like to get things going as soon as possible.”
Neville smiled. The girl reminded him an awful lot of Hermione Granger, make that Hermione Weasley. His smile grew as he thought about two of his good friends back in their quarrelling Hogwarts days. Everyone knew they would end up together. The only surprise was for Hermione and Ron.
“Professor?” She asked bringing Neville back to the present.
“Right, sorry. You are currently carrying an E in my class. What makes you think you are not doing well?”
“An O! The highest grade is an O.”
“You don’t need a tutor. You could be a tutor.”
“These are the O.W.L.s!”
“All right, I’ll see what I can do.”
Neville rubbed his face as the student left his office. He didn’t understand how a student could not be happy with an E. It was the second highest grade. He only required an E to be in his N.E.W.T. level class. Of course, he pulled Os in Herbology.
Opening the top drawer of his desk to file away the parchment to grade he spotted the backside of the picture frame. He knew exactly what he must do.
Standing outside the familiar brick building, Neville found himself once again taking a deep breath. Slowly, he reached for the door handle, but something stopped his hand. He couldn’t do it.
“Neville Longbottom,” he thought, “you are a Gryffindor. You can do this.”
Upon entering the pub he heard the female voice. He sighed, letting go of the breath he didn’t he’d been holding since he entered.
“Have a seat,” Ginny offered. She sat at a small round table near the middle of the pub.
Pulling out a chair facing the wall, Neville sat down. Opposite him was a baby carrier.
“Would you like to hold James?”
Ginny carefully placed the baby in his arms. He looked down into the brown eyes. His friends were growing up. He was growing up. They weren’t the same people they were at Hogwarts.
“He likes you,” Ginny said. “He doesn’t just let anyone hold him. He can be quite fussy.”
Looking at back at Ginny, he noticed motherhood taking its toll. Her red hair was finding its way out of the ponytail, dark circles under her eyes, and spit up on her robes.
“Harry’s been gone for a week on this mission,” she muttered.
“Oh, how’s that going?”
Neville looked up at the blond hair piled messily on her head, the beautiful pink cheeks, the faded blue Appleby Arrows t-shirt, the white apron, the dark blue jeans, and the white trainers instead of her usual dark colored robes. She nearly spilled Ginny’s strawberry drink when she locked eyes with Neville. He quickly looked away.
“Can I get you anything?” She said monotonously.
“Oh, er, butterbeer.”
She didn’t nod. She didn’t say anything. She just turned and walked away.
“What was that all about?”
Neville shrugged. That wasn’t his Hannah.
“You still love her,” Ginny stated matter-of-factly after she took a quick swig of her drink.
“It’s written all over your face.”
Hannah looked the same, the way he remembered, the way he loved her.
“It’s okay if you still have feelings for her. When Harry ‘nobly’ put an end to our relationship in fifth year I was a mess. I never stopped loving him and see what happened?”
He had looked at her, long enough to have her image stuck in his head. He smiled slowly fingering the box in his pocket.
“How’s your first year at Hogwarts going?” Ginny asked loudly when Hannah returned with Neville’s butterbeer.
“I, er, fine,” he responded, caught off guard by the question. “Harder than I expected, but I’m enjoying it.”
“Herbology professor. Can you believe it, Hannah?”
“Uh, yeah. It’s always been his thing.” She made to hurry off before turning around. “Would you care for anything else?” She asked quickly.
He wanted to say no to just get her going on her way, but his stomach reminded him he was missing lunch.
“See that? She’s still interested in you.”
“Oh, how could you tell?”
“I just can. She knows that Herbology is your thing. She listened to your answer.”
“Ask her when she comes back.”
“What? No, I can’t do that.”
“Fine, I’ll do it.”
“Hannah,” Ginny said when she returned with a plate of turkey sandwich and chips. “Neville has something important to talk to you about.”
Neville couldn’t miss the movement of Hannah’s eyebrows when Ginny said that, but still he said, “no, I don’t.”
“He says he doesn’t,” Hannah said.
Neville squirmed when he felt something warm in his arms. Looking down, he watched James’s face scrunch up. Realization hit.
“Give him here,” Ginny urged.
Gladly, Neville handed the baby over.
“Jamesy needs a nappy change. I promised George we’d visit the shop, so after I change James we’ll head over there. Good seeing you again, Neville. See you later, Hannah.”
“Why are you avoiding me?” Neville blurted once Ginny was gone.
“You broke up with me!” Hannah exclaimed.
“No, you broke up with me.”
“No, you did. You couldn’t put up with me being in danger by working in such a hot spot.”
“No,” He looked down at the wooden floor of the pub. “I said I didn’t want you to end up like my parents. I still don’t.”
“I know. I know what you’re going through. My mum was murdered by You-Know-Who’s minions. At least yours is still alive.”
“Still alive? She’s in St. Mungo’s! She doesn’t remember who I am! She doesn’t remember giving birth to me. We never get to have special mother-son moments. She’ll never get to celebrate the joy of having grandchildren, our wedding, nothing!”
“Bellatrix Lestrange tortured my parents into insanity!”
“No, you said ‘our wedding.’ You think about that?”
His cheeks turned red.
“Even though we’re not together?”
“Yeah…” He looked into her face. “I can’t see myself marrying anyone else. I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
“You’re the most beautiful girl in the world. There’s no one I feel more comfortable with. You make me feel like me. Of course, I wanna marry you.”
She replied in a soft voice, “I wanna marry you, too.”
“I need to do this right.”
Neville slid out of his feet and got down on one knee. He wasn’t nervous and that made him sure this was the absolute right thing to do. He was sure with anyone else he would have been nervous. He pulled a small white box out of his pocket, took the lid off, and lifted a gold diamond ring out.
“Hannah Abott, will you marry me?”
“And you want to even though I just bought The Leaky Cauldron?”
“I started moving in upstairs this morning. This is all mine.”
“Wow,” he breathed. “Yes, I still want to marry you.”
“I do, too. Yes, Neville, yes, I will marry you.”
Standing up, he slid the ring on Hannah’s left ring finger.
“So, you had this ring in your pocket all this time? When did you buy it?”
“It’s my mum’s. They’re not allowed jewelry in their ward.”
“Oh, wow. It’s even more beautiful.”
She wrapped her arms around Neville and embraced in a deep kiss.
“I love you,” she said once they broke apart.
“You look happy.”
Neville stopped whistling. He hadn’t realized he’d been doing it. Arriving back to Hogwarts a few minutes ago, he was on his way to his office near the greenhouses.
“I am,” he said proudly. “I am. Hannah and I are getting married!” He loved the way the words tasted on his tongue. Married. Hannah. He and Hannah. Nothing felt more right.
“Congratulations. Two of my former students. I know you will be happy for the rest of your life.”
“Thank you, Prof, er, Minerva.” They had been colleagues for a couple of years now, but he still had a hard time thinking of her as his equal.
“I just love watching students grow up.”
It's been so long and I apologize for that. I really really want to get chapters up faster. I do! Feedback!
Last edited by leah49; December 17th, 2010 at 8:05 pm.
Chapter 90: Why?
Sitting at his desk in the storage room, George listened to one of his favorite sounds, a busy shop. He swung his legs off his desk, stood up, and headed to the door. He didn’t want to just listen to the sound. He wanted to experience it. Fortunately, the moment he chose to leave his office/storage room his sister entered the shop with a baby carrier in hand.
“There’s my favorite nephew,” George greeted the two.
“He’s your only nephew,” Ginny replied with a sly smile placing the carrier on the counter.
“Still my favorite.”
Unbuckling James, George snuggled him in his arms. His big round eyes were darkening. He wouldn’t call them brown just yet, but they were definitely on their way. According to a book Angelina had already bought a baby’s eyes were usually blue for the first few months of their life no matter what color they were to be. He hoped his baby had blue eyes, like his brother Ron’s, though he wouldn’t tell him that, or the same shade of brown as Angelina.
He looked up, feeling a tap on his shoulder.
“Ginny’s asking you a question,” Verity said.
“He is mesmerizing, isn’t he? Anyway, I was asking where’s Angelina? It’s not her day off, is it?”
“No, not her day off. She’s upstairs. Her stomach was feeling funny earlier. I expected her to be down by now though.”
“I’ll see to her. Watch James for me, you don’t mind?” She was already on her way towards the back stairs.
“Of course not. He needs to get acquainted with his favorite uncle.”
“He already knows Ron!” She called back.
“Git,” George responded. “That’s right,” he said to James, “your mum is a git.”
“Don’t teach him that!” Verity scolded.
“Don’t mind her. What I will teach you is the fine art of joke shop running. When you and my son, well, I hope it’s a son, could be a daughter, are old enough you’ll take over after I’ve made my millions.” He shifted the baby in his arms as he began walking around the room. “I could teach it to my nieces, but Victoire is too girly, Dominique doesn’t seem interested, and Molly’ll probably grow up like her parents.” He mimicked pushing glasses up on his nose. “Right, it’s not fair to make fun of her just because of her parents. She can’t help Percy being her father.”
Looking up, George watched two young adults play with the collection of fake wands. As one wand turned into a bouquet of daisies and orchids, two things happened, neither actually caused by the wand. A customer knocked the baby carrier off the counter, causing a huge commotion and a cracked carrier. From up the stairs, Ginny shouted for her brother.
Almost instantaneously, George pushed his now crying nephew into Verity’s arms and as fast as he could made his way to the stairs.
He burst into his flat, almost running into Ginny.
“Hey, calm down.” She readjusted herself and pointed to the closed door of the bathroom.
“George?” Angelina’s panicky voice called out.
“I’m bleeding,” she stated.
“Bleeding? You need some dittany?” He leaned against the doorframe nervous.
“N-no, not that kind of bleeding.”
He opened the door to see Angelina doubled over on the toilet.
“Are you all right?”
“No.” Her face contorted into a grimace.
Without thinking, he scooped her off the toilet.
He stopped in front of the door.
“I’m not decent.”
He put Angelina down on her feet and helped her pull her underpants up under her maroon work robes. After opening the door, he scooped her back up, ran down the stairs, and headed out the back door. Before turning on the spot he turned to Ginny who had followed them.
“Help Verity in the shop.”
He slammed his fist down on the pile of magazines on the table next to him. This wasn’t fair. The model witch smiled up at him. Pulling out his wand he slashed the magazine in half. He couldn’t stand to see anyone happy at the moment.
Upon arriving at St. Mungo’s Angelina had been given a bed, curtain drawn, a healer, and an assistant healer on the second floor. George had been ushered into the waiting area and told as soon as they knew something someone would let him know. He had been waiting an eternity. That’s what it felt like, but it was more like half an hour.
“Who’s helping Verity?”
Ginny sat down in the seat next to George and rubbed his shoulder.
“Sam, I think that’s his name. You know your part-time assistant? Mum’s watching James. Don’t worry.”
George shook his head.
“Why is it you get a son and I don’t?”
“What? Wha—oh! Is Angelina preg—oh no. Oh George! I’m so sorry.”
“What do you know? You haven’t lost anything.”
He buried his face in his hands. This wasn’t happening. His world wasn’t crumbling around him once again.
He looked into the wrinkled face of the assistant healer as she knelt to his eye-level. He did not want her to tell him anything. If she never told him it wouldn’t be true.
“I’m sorry,” she began. “It seems the baby has already passed. There’s nothing we can do.”
“Nothing?” Ginny asked for her brother.
“Unfortunately, no. If the embryo is still present we do what we can to save it. Most of the time we are lucky. But, in this case, there was no embryo present. The mother most likely passed it out of her system during the bleeding.”
“Angelina,” George choked out.
“She’s resting. You can visit her, but keep everything quiet. She’s not in any more physical pain, but we would like to keep her for a few more hours, maybe overnight, to keep an eye on her.” She patted George’s knees before standing up. “I’m terribly sorry.”
George stood up ready to throw his wand as hard as he could against the wall behind him, but Ginny put her hand on his arm to stop him. One glance in her eyes brought him to tears. She immediately wrapped her arms around him letting him cry.
Sliding through a barely open slit in the curtains, George stepped towards Angelina’s bed. She lay on her side with her eyes closed. The closer he got the more he could see the stains of her tears on her cheeks. He didn’t know what to say to her. He couldn’t imagine how it hurt her. It hurt him more than he could put in words.
“I’m awake,” she said softly not opening her eyes.
Not knowing if he should get any closer George stood still. He watched her in the bed, on her right side. It wasn’t fair. Life wasn’t fair.
“You know you did nothing wrong,” she said calmly opening her eyes. “It happens. There’s nothing we could have done to prevent it,” her voice shook at the end. A tear rolled down her cheek.
George stepped closer and reached out his hand. Slowly, she took hold of it and pulled him to the bed. He wanted to say something, but he didn’t know what to say or where to begin. Another tear followed the first. He wanted to wipe it away, but he was afraid to touch her.
“Why us?” He croaked.
She shook her head, silencing him, and rubbed his hands.
George awoke with a start at the child’s voice ringing in his ears. Feeling the breath of Angelina next to him, the memory of the day came flooding back to him. The two sat together in silence before George snuggled up next to her and they fell asleep. It wasn’t a relaxing sleep, but it was sleep nonetheless. Feeling Angelina shift, he sat up.
“You’re awake,” she said quietly.
“So are you.”
“Didn’t really get any sleep. My mind kept rolling. Why did this happen to us? We’re good people.”
“I don’t know. I think sometimes things can’t be explained. Why did Fred die? He was a good person. He did play jokes on others sometimes, but it was never malicious. He fought on the side of good. He was fighting for the freedom of everyone so we wouldn’t have to live under the rule of a tyrant like You-Know-Who. If he deserved to die, so do I.”
“Don’t say that. You don’t deserve to die. Sometimes people die who don’t deserve it. Fred was—is a hero. He gave his life so others wouldn’t have to. We can’t reason why it was his time to go, but it was, just as it was,” she swallowed, “this baby.”
“There we go.” George stood up after patting down the dirt surrounding the cross.
A few hours earlier, Angelina had been released from St. Mungo’s. Her levels appeared normal and they gave her a prescription for a pain relieving potion she could pick up at the apothecary. Upon release, she came up with the idea for a small grave marker for the unborn baby next to Fred’s. George found some unused wood in the shop and fashioned a cross.
“Baby Weasley,” Angelina carved with her wand. Staring at it, the words started to blur. George blinked his eyes willing the tears not to fall. He was a man, gosh darn it. Underneath the name, Angelina carved in the date.
Closing his eyes, George imagined what Fred would say.
You have to be a man. Angelina’s going to need you now more than ever. Don’t fail to be there for her. Make her smile. Make her laugh. Make her happy. I know you miss your unborn child, but you mustn’t let that get in the way of your duty as a husband. You can do it, George. I have faith in you.
Turning away from Fred’s grave he almost knocked into Angelina who had fallen to her knees, her eyes closed, and tears slowly flowing down. He knew eventually she would need him, but at the moment she needed to be alone.
“Daddy!” The child’s voice called out again.
George saw himself standing alone in a grassy area. What was he doing there and why was he watching himself? Was he having some kind of out-of-body experience? Was he dead?
He realized it was Fred he was watching when he saw he had a complete set of ears. Fred turned around with a bright smile on his freckled face. Oh how George wanted to speak to him, run up to him, hug him, and play pranks with him.
“Fred,” he called out, but either he couldn’t hear him or he ignored him because he did not respond.
George raised an eyebrow. He’d never been called that by his twin brother. But, any response was good.
Fred got down on his knees and opened his arms wide. A little girl of about seven or eight with long dark auburn hair, tan skin, and freckles ran into the arms. He scooped her up, both laughing, and spun her around in a circle.
“I’m so glad you’re here.”
“Me, too, Daddy.”
He kissed her on the forehead.
“I love you, Georgie.”
“I love you, too, Daddy.”
“Angelina,” George whispered nudging her. She was lying on her back in bed with her right arm over her head and a slight line of drool escaping her mouth. When she didn’t respond George shook her harder.
“Stop,” she mumbled.
“What?” She whined and pulling the covers higher.
“We had a daughter.”
“I had a dream. Fred was there. He was in a field and a little girl with tan skin and red hair ran to him and called him Daddy.”
“Are you sure he didn’t father any children before he died?”
“Pretty positive. Ange, it was our daughter. We had a girl. She was going to be our daughter.” He leaned over causing her to open her eyes. “Today, in hospital, when I fell asleep, I heard a voice call out ‘Daddy’ and in my dream just now she said it again in that same voice. I think Fred’s telling me that we had a daughter and he’s going to take care of her for us.”
“Mm-hm,” she mumbled falling back asleep.
“George!” She mocked. “Let me sleep. I need to get through this without thinking about what might have been. Can’t you see that?”
“Ugh.” He turned over, pulling his side of the covers to his chin.
The next morning after opening the shop George left Verity and Sam, who was taking Angelina’s place as she didn’t feel up to joining the real world at the moment, to take his mid-morning break. Verity told him he didn’t have to come in. She could handle running the shop. She understood. He’d told her what had happened the evening before. They were all fortunate Sam was available to come in last minute yesterday and today. George couldn’t count on it every day and he’d have to talk to Ron about picking up more hours until Angelina felt like working again. He wasn’t going to pressure her, but he might start pressuring his brother. He had thought about getting Lee to pick up a few hours if need be, but he was so engrossed in working at WWN that he wasn’t sure he would be available.
His venture out led him to the gravesites. George hadn’t meant to visit them, but he also had been sort of in a daze when he left the shop so he must have subconsciously wanted to be there. He didn’t even remember Apparating, but he must have done that as walking would have taken ages. As he approached the headstone and cross he thought back to why they placed Fred there. It wasn’t a cemetery. Wizards didn’t really have cemeteries. Some ended up being placed in Muggle cemeteries. Fred was placed on the edge of the Burrow property near the Quidditch Pitch since that was a place he and George spent a lot of time, but it wasn’t too near it so that George or anyone would have a reason to not fly around the pitch again.
He kneeled down facing the headstone, hoping no one was at home or that if they were no one would see him. If it was anyone it would be his mum and he definitely didn’t want to talk to her. He opened his mouth to speak out loud to Fred when he spotted the cross.
“Georgie Weasley,” he said to himself. He was sure of it. Yesterday, Angelina had carved Baby Weasley, but now it read Georgie. “Thanks, Fred.”
Shocked to see an update? I know I promised and then didn't come through. I am working on that. I'm trying to work a schedule so it becomes habit to write every day. I want to do that. I just also have a habit of unintentionally procrastinating. I do love this story so don't think I'm going to be abandoning it!
Chapter 91: Expelliarmus!
Harry stood outside a white Victorian mansion with his boss, Gawain Robards. The two had been away from home for roughly two weeks and it was taking its toll on Harry. He hoped this was their last destination before they returned home. He missed the taste of Ginny’s lips on his and the baby smell of his son, James, well, when it wasn’t mixed with the scent of a dirty nappy. He missed Ginny’s fiery red hair and her attitude. He missed—
“This is it, Potter. If we’re correct, he’s inside that mansion.”
He was Gifford Baddock the Death Eater turned Rutilius Diabolis member Ron and Iva discovered.
Upon arriving at the building, Robards had pushed Harry behind a bush, so as not to be seen, he said, but now he made steps out into the open.
“You don’t think we can just walk in the front door, do you?” Harry asked.
Ignoring Harry, Robards made for the front door.
“You can’t just knock.”
“Give me some credit.” Robards jiggled the handle. Locked. Pulling out his wand, he tried a few spells including Alohomora. Locked.
“We aren’t going to—“
“No, Potter. Think!” He paused for a moment. “We need to take him by surprise. We don’t know if he’s alone. He could be working with the power of numbers and the only way we’ll have any kind of advantage is surprise.”
Turning to the big window to his left, Robards, using a non-verbal spell, cut a rather large hole. Glass shattered inside.
That will alert someone, Harry thought.
Once inside what appeared to be a sitting room or a study, Robards pushed Harry behind a couch. Thunderous steps could be heard coming down a flight of steps.
“What have I told you about coming down those steps like a pack of hippogriffs?”
“That’s him!” Robards whispered loudly.
“Sorry,” a French accent replied. Slowly, the door to the room creaked open and a pale female face peaked in.
The maid muttered under her breath in French.
“Coming! I shall deal with this later.”
The maid disappeared, closing the door behind her.
“That was close,” Harry whispered.
“She wanted to clean up the glass before he saw. There has to be a reason for that.”
“You think she knows we’re here?”
“She doesn’t want him to find out? Perhaps she’s not on his side. Why wouldn’t she be on his side?”
“This isn’t his house. This isn’t his mansion. He doesn’t live here. A friend is letting him stay here, Potter. She’s not his maid. She’s the friend’s maid. It’s apparent she doesn’t get along with him.”
“You reckon she’s okay with us being here, if she knew we were here. She’s on our side?”
“I wouldn’t go so far as to say that, but I do not think she is on his side.”
Harry was about to speak when he heard footsteps outside the door. The door opened. All Harry could see were brown dress shoes stepping across the floor and stopping in front of the broken glass. Bending down, all of Baddock was now visible examining the glass.
“Found me, didn’t you?”
Harry almost gasped, but he caught himself in time.
Harry’s wand flew from his hand where he had been unknowingly clutching it for dear life.
“You! Harry Potter! The-Chosen-One. The-Boy-Who-Lived. I know the names. I also know another one. The-Boy-Who-Murdered-The-Dark-Lord. Do you know what I do to someone like that?”
Before Harry had time to think he felt an excruciating pain course through his body. The Cruciatus Curse! That had to be it. He’d thrown the spell off once before. If only he could think he could do it again. Think? How could he think among all the pain. Stop! It had to stop! He couldn’t take it anymore! If it continued he’d go mad. He knew he would. He knew—
Almost instantly the pain stopped.
Robards had tried to stupefy him, but Baddock was able to deflect the spell with a protection charm. Fortunately, it took his mind off the spell on Harry.
“Would you rather I deal with you?” He sent a red light in Robards direction, but Robards was able to dodge it and send one of his own which grazed Baddock’s shoulder. Without having any attention on himself at the moment Harry crawled toward the middle of the room.
“Expelliarmus!” Yes, it was Harry’s signature spell. Yes, he had been told not to use it too much. But, he was catching Baddock off guard. Baddock’s concentration was on Robards.
His wand flew from his hand and landed a few inches from Harry.
Robards conjured up rope and wrapped it tightly around the Death Eater.
“You’re under arrest for the deaths of Muggles, Muggle-borns, Half-Bloods, and Pure-blood witches and wizards as well as other crimes becoming of a Death Eater. You will be taken back to the Ministry of Magic where you will undergo a trial with a jury of your peers. Anything you say now can be used in trial.”
“You got nothin’.”
Brushing off soot, Harry glanced around his kitchen. Everything was quiet. He didn’t know what to expect when he came home, but the silence felt eerie. After catching Baddock Harry and Robards had returned to the office to process the parchment work. Robards let Harry leave early and he immediately floo’d home. He was anxious to see his two greatest loves, but now he had a feeling they weren’t home. He took his one small bag and headed upstairs.
Upon hearing noises outside his bedroom he rushed in hoping to find his wife, but instead he found Kreacher digging through the wardrobe.
“Master likes to scare poor Kreacher.”
Kreacher stood up holding five dirty socks of Ginny’s.
“Missus is not here.”
“I came to that conclusion.”
“She is not expecting you tonight.”
“I didn’t tell her when I was coming home. I didn’t know until today and I wanted to surprise her.”
“She is not here.”
“You said that.”
“She is taking James to the Burrow.”
“The Burrow? Thanks!”
“I don’t know, Mum.”
Harry stopped. As he stepped out of the fireplace he heard the sound of his wife’s voice, a sound he hadn’t heard in two weeks, and he couldn’t move. He wanted to run into her arms. He wanted to surprise her. But, for a second, he wanted to relish in the moment of seeing her again for the first time.
Mrs. Weasley parted her lips to speak when she spotted Harry. Giving him a wink, she said nothing. Harry quietly stepped to the sofa and sat down next to Ginny. She was looking at her mother and did not notice him.
“Hey, Harr—Harry!” She squealed wrapping her arms around him and planting a kiss on his lips. “You’re back!”
“That I am.”
“So, did you—can you—how’d it go?”
“Yes, not really, and we caught the guy so it went as we were hoping.”
“You caught him! That’s all the Death Eaters?”
“Death Eaters?” Mrs. Weasley asked.
Harry gave Ginny a look.
“Sorry,” she replied sheepishly.
“Well, Mrs. Weas—“
“Well, Molly,” he repeated with emphasis though he was uncomfortable saying her first name, “we have all the Death Eaters on record, but we don’t know if that is all of them.”
“I thought this whole thing would be over. I thought it was over.”
“It’s as over as it can be, which is to say, nothing is ever over, unfortunately.” Harry sighed. “But, the mission is complete and I’m home now.”
Harry leaned back with his left arm casually draped across Ginny’s shoulders.
“Will he be put in Azkaban?” Ginny asked worriedly.
“We have to take him to trial. It’s the new law. I believe with every fiber of my being that he’s guilty and will be found guilty.”
“Now,” Harry swept the room with his eyes, “the most important thing. Where’s my son?”
Ginny playfully slapped Harry on the knee.
“Asleep. If I’d known you were coming home I’d have made sure he was awake.”
“No matter. Boy needs his sleep.”
Harry stood up and headed towards the stairs.
“If you wake him up, you’re dealing with him, Harry Potter! You know how hard it is to get him to sleep! Or did you forget when you were gone for two weeks? Do I need to remind you you were gone for two weeks and need to make up your parenting duties?”
Letting Ginny’s shouts drown into nothing, Harry headed to the second landing and into Ginny’s old bedroom where Mrs. Weasley set up the cot. Opening the door, the baby smell engulfed him. A smile spread across his face as he made his way to the cot.
With an arm draped carelessly over his head and his knees bent to his chest, James slept peacefully on his back.
“He’s gotten bigger,” Harry thought to himself. “Two weeks and my boy isn’t anything like when I left. I can’t leave again. I can’t let time with him pass us by.” He rubbed the baby’s stomach. “You forgive me?” He asked out loud.
James’s fists balled up against his chin, his face scrunched up, and he let out a loud wail.
“It’s your daddy, James. I’m here. You’re all right.”
James continued crying.
“He might need a change.”
James had been crying so loud Harry hadn’t heard Ginny enter the room.
“You haven’t forgotten?”
“No, I haven’t forgotten.” Harry cradled his crying son in his arms. “We’ll show your mother I haven’t forgotten. I’m sorry,” he said to Ginny as he placed James on the changing table. “I didn’t mean to wake him.”
“He’s been asleep for an hour, needs a nappy change, and his daddy’s home,” she smiled. “It’s fine.”
“It’s fine.” She waved her hand. “Spend some time with your son.”
After waving his wand to produce material needed to change the nappy, Harry watched Ginny exit the room.
“Ever since our return home I’ve been thinking long and hard,” Robards began. He looked at the two men sitting across from him, Harry Potter and Stamford Savage. “This last mission was particularly tough and it took an awful lot out of me. We didn’t have much to go on, but we managed in the end. I believe I was partly to blame.”
“Robards—“ Harry began.
Having been home for only three days Harry and Robards had been bogged down in parchment work building up a case against Gifford Baddock. He wasn’t surprised when Robards called him into his office for a meeting, but he was surprised to find Savage in the room.
“Ah ah, Potter, no no. I saw my mistakes right in front of me, plain as day. I’ve been an Auror for an extremely long time, most of my life, it feels. My instincts are usually right or they have been in the past. Savage, you’ve been here most of my time, am I correct?”
“Yes, sir. What are you trying—“
“I believe it is my time to step down. I’ve done what I can do and before I become a harm to the cause I need to know when my time is over.”
“Are you quitting?”
“Quitting? No. Retiring. I need to step down and put a more able body in my position.”
“Retiring?” Harry tried to say in a mature voice, but it came out as a squeak.
“This is why I brought you two here. After Baddock’s case, I will no longer be the Head of the Auror Department. I will be available on a case by case basis, but I will not be full-time in the department anymore. I have recommended you two as my replacements—Savage as Head, and Potter as your assistant, the position you, Savage, currently hold.”
“But, I, what, you’re not,” Harry stumbled.
“You deserve it, Potter,” Robards responded.
“This isn’t because I’m Harry Potter? There are Aurors who’ve been here loads longer. Proudfoot, Dawlish—“
“You’re not seriously thinking I should assign Dawlish as Assistant Head?”
“No, I just mean he’s been here longer, loads longer than me. In comparison I’m relatively new. You might as well just give the position to that new bloke Iva is training.”
“Stephen Youdle? You came in far more advanced as a trainee than he’ll ever be.”
“Potter, you deserve this position,” Savage added. “There is no one more qualified. I enjoy working with Proudfoot and Dawlish, but they don’t have your skill, your intuition, your experience.”
“Experience? I had a nastily dark wizard after me ever since I entered this world. I only did what I had to do. It’s not like I was actually an Auror all that time.”
Or knew what I was doing, he thought.
“Stop discounting yourself. I will not take no for an answer and I presume neither will Minister Shacklebolt.”
Harry sighed. He was honored to be given the position and knew he could probably handle it better than anyone else; he just didn’t like the feeling of once again getting something because of who he was rather than what he was.
Chapter 92: Career Choices
Three years ago you wrote articles for the Daily Prophet under a short serial titled “Inside the Quidditch World Cup” receiving wonderful reviews from our readers and ended up becoming one of our more popular columns. We are currently looking for talented writers to join our understaffed sports department and hope you will consider an interview. We understand you may be thinking of returning to playing Quidditch, but if you are not we think you may enjoy being part of the staff. If you are interested please owl me back at The Daily Prophet, Diagon Alley. Thank you for your time and hope to hear from you soon.
Head Sports Editor
“The Daily Prophet?” Ginny said to herself. “What do you think, Jamesy? I know, they’ve done horrible things to Harry and us in the past, but they were nice when I wrote articles for the Quidditch World Cup.” She looked at James’s dark brown eyes and back at the letter. “It can’t hurt to apply. Mummy needs this.”
The letter had arrived by owl almost immediately upon Ginny situating herself in the sitting room to feed her son his breakfast. He was unhappy about her taking the time to retrieve the letter from the owl, but once she got back on the sofa, he drank away as she contemplated the note.
“Does this mean I’m giving up playing Quidditch?” She softly rubbed the back of her son’s cheek with her right hand. “I don’t know. I always thought I would return. I wanted to. You’re my son now and it’s…I don’t know…different now that you’re here. I want to protect you.” She sighed. “I love playing, but maybe my carefree playing days are over. I’m not getting any younger and I need to be here for you.”
James yawned and continued to suck.
“Boring you, am I? You don’t care that your mum is an old Quidditch player. ‘Whatever, Mum, as long as I get my milk.’” She smiled. “This doesn’t have to mean I’m giving up playing, just taking a break. If I return, I return, and if I don’t, I don’t.”
“The Daily Prophet.”
“The Daily Prophet?”
Ginny moved her fork around her shepherd’s pie. Earlier that day she had received an owl congratulating her on the new job. It had been two weeks since her interview with the newspaper and two weeks since she first received the invitation for interview.
Over dinner, she had planned on breaking the news to her husband. He had worked late keeping her waiting, but now they were finally sitting at the table with James lying in his carrier. Slightly past his bedtime Ginny had decided to wait until Harry came home to put him to bed.
“The Daily Prophet. I appreciate how you feel about them, but I’ve worked with them in the past.”
“The Daily Prophet.”
“Yes! They want to hire me as an entry level sports writer. I had an interview with them a couple of weeks ago and they like me.”
“An interview and you didn’t tell me?”
“I didn’t want to get my hopes up.”
“Your hopes? You didn’t think they’d like you?”
“I just—it doesn’t matter. Anyway, I can do some of my work from home. I only have to go in the office once or twice a week. I still get to stay home with James. Harry, you can’t imagine how bored I am around here. Taking care of a baby is a busy job, but Kreacher helps out so I’m not left with much to do except watch James.” Ginny took a deep breath. She hadn’t realized how fast she’d been talking until she stopped.
“What does an entry level sports writer do?” He sipped his water appearing eager for an answer.
“Gobstone matches. I’m serious,” she added after seeing the look on Harry’s face. “There’s a semi-professional Gobstone league in the country but since I’m only part-time…”
“Yes, so I can do most of my work at home, only have to be in the office once a week, and only attend one Quidditch match a month.”
“You’ll get to write about Quidditch?”
“Instead of playing?”
“Yes! Before I had James I seriously thought I wanted to return. I still do, but I also don’t want to get hurt. I want to be here for James. I need to put him first. Maybe my playing days are over.”
“Your accident was a freak one in a million chance.”
“I’m not afraid. I want to be here for James. It’s—“ she paused, “it’s a different feeling, being a mum. I love playing and I still want to, I just—“
“You’re going to give up professional Quidditch to be a sports writer?”
“No. I’m giving it up to be the best mother I can be. I’m becoming a sports writer because I still love Quidditch and I need something to do. You’re busy all the time with work. James eats, sleeps, and poops. I need something for me. My mum was satisfied being a stay at home mother, but I’m not my mum.”
“When do you start?”
Ginny broke into a grin.
“Were you afraid I wouldn’t be happy?”
“I don’t know…”
“Gin, if this is what you really want I support you. You know that. The Daily Prophet can be unscrupulous, but you’re not. Change comes from within and perhaps someone like you is just what that paper needs.”
Harry jumped up to give his wife a hug when a noise at the window stopped him. A small tawny owl impatiently knocked on the window. After opening the window he released the letter from the owl’s leg. The letter was addressed to Ginny and Harry Potter.
“It’s Charlie,” he turned the parchment over in his hand. “He was in an accident at work.”
There’s been a lot of Harry Potter excitement this week and there will be more with the final movie releasing in a few weeks. I hope you enjoyed this chapter. I’m really really sorry it took me so long to get out. I have been working on it this entire time. I didn’t want to send out rubbish. Ginny says that she doesn’t want to be her mom. She doesn’t want to be a completely stay at home mother. I want everyone to know I’m not against stay at home mothers. My mother was a stay at home mom and it was the best thing for my family. I know tons of mothers who work and they can be amazing mothers as well. There is no best option. Whatever works for whatever family. Stay at home mother or working mother as long as the children don’t lose.
I promise (and you know how I keep promises) to get this story on a better schedule! I love writing and I love hearing from you guys (but if you don’t want to send feedback or review then don’t feel obligated, only if you want to!). I love this story and I love Harry Potter! I’m not quitting on you, yet, or ever! Please stick with me. I promise (and this is one I can keep) things are going to get better!
Last edited by leah49; June 24th, 2011 at 7:49 pm.
Chapter 93: Rest, Relax, Heal
Opening his eyes memories from last night as well as a monster pain in his head flooding back to Charlie. He'd been burned before but never this bad. He'd had a reputation for being able to handle the toughest dragons, but now...he wasn't sure what kind of rep he had.
"How do you feel?" Samantha asked, leaning forward in her chair.
Charlie tried to smile, but the pain in his face was too much.
"She's been here all night waiting for you to wake up," a gray haired healer said.
Samantha was one of Charlie's oldest, well longest, friends at the reserve. One point they had even tried dating but both realized they loved dragons and their relationship too much to let it be affected romantically.
Still, Charlie was intrigued that she waited all night for him.
"No bigheaded ideas. Someone had to make sure you're okay," she chided in her thick Australian accent.
"How bad is it?" Charlie asked struggling to sit up. Samantha repositioned his pillow and helped him to a comfortable spot.
"You've seen better days, "she answered. "No one will give me exact details but you are healing nicely they say."
Charlie sighed painfully. He remembered the incident. How could he not? He'd been injured by dragons before, but nothing like this.
Yesterday they received two young dragons from Peru—male and female. The male easily moved into his new habitat. Five wizards worked with the female including Charlie's boss, Ion.
"Maybe she's laid eggs," Charlie suggested as they tried luring the dragon out of her crate. He ducked as a fireball flew by his head.
"A full health examination was done on both dragons before they left Peru."
Females were harder to deal with than males. That was common knowledge among dragon trainers. That they had to use five people to get the dragon out of the crate wasn’t unusual. That it was taking more than an hour just to get the dragon out wasn’t unusual either.
“Charlie,” the gray haired healer interrupted his thoughts. She waved her wand over his body. “Take a deep breath.”
He closed his eyes and tried hiding the pain as he did so.
“Yes, just what I thought. You broke two ribs. We thought we had them fully healed, but if it still hurts to take a deep breath, well, apparently not.” She pulled a small flask out of her robes. “That means more potion.” She continued the wand up and down. “Your skin is healing quite nicely. I believe you will have very minimal scarring at worst.”
It was the most intense pain he’d ever felt in his life.
Charlie was on the left side of the crate when Ion opened the gate. All five of them held on tight to ropes around her neck. The dragon twisted and turned trying to break. The more she twisted the harder Charlie dug his heels into the ground. He imagined the rope burn he would experience if he was not wearing his dragon skin gloves.
“Watch out!” Falk ducked, lost his grip on the rope, and fell backwards into Charlie, knocking him sideways.
“Hey!” Charlie exclaimed regaining his grip on the rope. He tried ignoring the pain in his ankle after it twisted during the accident.
“Watch out!” Taavi repeated.
Charlie ducked at the same time as Falk rose to his feet causing them to knock into each other. The dragon continued sending flames in his direction.
He remembered the dragon coming towards him. All he could feel was the heat from the fire. He didn’t have time to get to his feet. In more than a split second the dragon was on top of him. Charlie was wearing flame resistant clothing. He lost his breath and was slowly losing consciousness. The last thing he remembered was being completely engulfed in the dragon’s fire. His clothing was flame resistant. It could not burn. He would not burn underneath it. But, the exposed skin? And he did have exposed skin—his neck, face, ankles, they were trapped.
“Charlie Weasley—former Dragon trainer.”
“Not so loud. We have healing patients in here.”
“You heard her. You’re so loud, Creep.”
“I was just kidding about the former part. Charlie may have only barely escaped with his life, but he’s still on staff.”
“That’s not something you joke about with someone who was in an accident with the dragon.”
Charlie knew the last voice was Samantha. The first and third voice was Yuan in his slight Chinese accent and the fifth voice was the American, Luke. The second and fourth voice was a healer, that much he surmised, but since he wasn’t looking at her he didn’t know who she was.
“Aw, look, he’s asleep,” Yuan said giving him a slight punch on the leg.
“You know, he injured that leg,” Samantha reprimanded.
“I’m not asleep.” Charlie opened his eyes to see three of his best mates hovering over him.
“How are you? That was some accident last night,” Sakda, Charlie’s roommate from Thailand said.
Charlie sighed. He wasn’t in the mood to talk about it.
“If I had been there I’d’ve let Falk have it,” Luke commented. “You don’t know how lucky you are. They’re thinking of putting the dragon down.”
“What?” That wasn’t what Charlie wanted to hear. It was an accident. “It wasn’t her fault. She just did what comes naturally.”
“She attacked a trainer.”
“No, she didn’t.”
“Oh no, he’s got amses—whatever you call it in English when someone forgets their memory,” Yuan said.
“She got loose. She didn’t ‘attack’ me.”
“No use worrying about it,” Samantha spoke up. “Upper management is having a meeting this morning and deciding her fate.”
“It’s not her fault!”
“Mate, she attacked you!” Yaun exclaimed.
“And I said she didn’t! Does my word not count for anything?”
“Let’s go. You’re just making him angry.” Sakda tried ushering the group out of the room.
“Stay. You’re not making me angry. And besides, it’s boring here.”
“Hey!” Samantha exclaimed.
“I’m thinking of going home,” Charlie stated.
“You’ve the month off to recover. It might be best,” Samantha agreed. She patted his leg.
“I should be released from here tomorrow, but Ion wants me to take some weeks off to get well.”
“You barely take time off, Charlie. You need the rest.”
He sighed. Time off. Aside from visiting his family over Christmas he didn’t take any. He buried himself in the dragons. It allowed him to forget.
“I know it’s been seven years, but I’m not sure you’ve properly dealt with the situation.”
“What are you on about?”
“You know what I’m on about.”
Fred. But, he didn’t want to say it out loud.
“It’s okay, Charlie.”
“How would you know? Have you ever lost your brother?”
“Well, no, I am an only child.”
“He’s been gone seven years. Seven years, Sam. I should be used to it.”
“You go home for Christmas and that’s it. How can you be used to it? Your brother was never a part of your life here, so you escape. You act as if nothing’s changed.”
“Nothing has changed here.”
“Exactly. You hide here.”
“I’m needed here.”
“Yeah, sure, we need you, but you can take a day off here and there and visit your family.”
Charlie shook his head. She was an only child. She didn’t know what it was like. Going home was…different. Christmas covered up the fact that he was minus one brother, George was minus a twin, his parents were minus a son. His siblings’ friends came over to cover up the hole as well.
“Go home. Rest. Relax. Heal.”
Sorry for the delay! I’ve been working hard on this chapter, trying to get a good ending as well as transitions. It’s not very long, I know, but I think it’ll do.
Chapter 94: Quidditch Assignment
The Falmouth Falcons verse The Appleby Arrows. Ginny's first Quidditch assignment as a reporter for The Daily Prophet. She'd been with the paper for two weeks but the most she'd done was two Gobstone matches and some minor fact checking. This was her first big assignment. She had written a set of articles during the Quidditch World cup, but that was less about her writing and more about her. She could have written like a six year old and they would have lapped it up simply because she was Ginny Weasley, 3rd string chaser on the English National Team. She didn't have that luxury this time. Ginny Potter, The Daily Prophet reporter had to prove herself.
"James, "she turned from the desk in the sitting room where she'd been staring at the assignment sheet "I can do this, you reckon?"
Sitting in his baby carrier, he gurgled.
"Mummy can do this."
"Harry, your husband's name is Harry." He kissed her on the top of the head and then removed his son from the carrier.
"I received my first Quidditch assignment for this Saturday, Falmouth vs. Appleby."
"You should take Charlie. You've hardly spent any time with him since he's come home."
"I've had work for the paper and taking care of James."
"Not avoiding him, are you?"
"Why would I do that? So he's got burn scars on his face and arms..."
"He doesn't look bad, honestly Just a redder version of himself, which is saying something considering he's a Weasley."
Ginny smiled. Red-headed Weasleys. It's what they were known for.
"What will you do while we're at the match?"
"Hangout with James. Father/son day. Not had one of those yet."
Again, Ginny smiled. She loved seeing Harry and James cuddling on the couch together.
"Why are you looking at me like that?"
"Like what?" Ginny snapped back to reality.
"Dream-like. Like Luna."
"Luna? I wonder how she's doing."
"You'll see her soon. She's to be one of Hannah's bridesmaids."
"I didn't know they wore close."
"She and Neville are. She's putting Luna in her party and Neville's asking Ernie to be in his."
Ginny straightened her shirt for the tenth time. She didn't know why she was so nervous. It was only her brother.
James sighed contentedly in his carrier,
"I wish I was as relaxed as you, baby." She picked up his carrier and stepped toward the floo in the Kitchen. "Ready to see Grandma?"
She took a deep breath wishing Harry was here. Unfortunately, he had to spend the day at the office." I'm not scared, "she muttered to herself.
With the diaper bag perched on her shoulder, Ginny grabbed a pinch of floo powder, threw it into the fire, and went on her way.
“How's my ickle Jamesy?” Mrs. Weasley took the carrier from Ginny before she had a chance to step out of the floo and sat it on the counter immediately removing her grandson." Are you feeding him right? He's so tiny. We need to get some meat on those bones." She tickled his stomach.
"Yes, Mum. He eats on schedule and the healer says he's at a good weight for his age."
"Never had a problem getting any of you kids to eat."
"James takes after us. He loves feeding time. I dare say he looks forward to it."
The footsteps caused her to stop. She knew he had entered from the sitting room but she couldn't turn around. She didn't want--
"Charlie, meet your nephew." Mrs. Weasley handed her grandson off to her second born.
His hair was shorter. Much shorter. Charlie's hair had never been as long as Bill's but it used to at least reach the collar of his shirt or robes. The last time she saw his hair even remotely this short was Bill and Fleur's wedding and then he made it grow longer the very next day.
The sight of his skin caught Ginny off guard. It was red, wrinkled, sore, and most of his freckles were missing. His hands however, were pale white and freckly. Everything else looked like it hurt.
James appeared undisturbed. Charlie carefully held him in the crook of his arms. James took one look at his uncle, yawned, and went back to sleep.
"Gonna be a redhead, this one," he remarked. "You and Harry did great." He walked over and kissed Ginny on the head with his crusty lips. "I'm proud of you."
This was Charlie. Her second oldest brother. He was recovering from third degree burns, but he was still Charlie.
After lunch, with James napping in Ginny's old bedroom, Charlie, Ginny, and Mrs. Weasley found themselves in the sitting room. Mrs. Weasley was doing her customary knitting while her two children caught up on old times.
"I heard you've become a reporter for The Daily Prophet," Charlie brought up.
"Yes, sports reporter. I’ve got my first big assignment for this weekend. Falmouth vs. Appleby. As a member of the press I can have one person accompany me and I’d like that to be you.”
Charlie smiled softly.
“I’d love to.”
“It’s all right, isn’t it? I mean, you’re—your injury and all.”
“It’s fine. I’ve some balm I need to rub on my burns and wear a hat, but other than that I should be fine.”
“You be a good boy today.” Ginny kissed James on the forehead. “Are you sure you can do this?”
“Yes,” Harry sighed. He turned James to face him. “We’re going to have a good time today. First, we’re going to the Leaky Cauldron and enjoying a few Firewhiskies—“
“Harry!” Ginny giggled.
“All right, Butterbeer for the boy.”
“Harry! This is the first time I’m really leaving him alone. Maybe I shouldn’t go. I can just call the paper and tell them I’m sick or I quit or…you know, I took him to the Gobstone matches. He behaved very well. It is a good thing they’re a relatively short and quiet affair. There was only two. The first time I couldn’t get Mum or Fleur or anyone to watch him and I was running late for the second one I didn’t have time to find a sitter. Oh, but you already know that. Maybe I can take him with me? He’d like the Quidditch Match wouldn’t he? No, that’s not a good idea, spending all that time in the sun and who knows how long the match will actually last. He’ll need to be home for his kip and bed time and feeding and…”
“Slow down, Gin. Everything’s going to be fine. James is going to be with his daddy. I’ve taken care of him before.”
“Not by yourself.”
“There was that time you rushed over to the Burrow to ask your mum something.”
“Right, forgot about that one…well, it only lasted fifteen minutes. This is—an all day event.”
“And I’m more than prepared to take care of our son. Gin, you’ve nothing to worry about. Your parents are just a floo call away if I have any trouble. Didn’t she watch him when you had the interview?”
“It was only an hour?” Harry suggested.
“I know, I know,” she sighed. “I’m a paranoid mother. I can’t help it.” She rubbed James’s head. “He’s my baby.”
“And I’m his father. Go on, have fun.” He kissed her on the cheek when Ginny quickly turned her head.
“Sorry, I just remembered I need my notebook.”
“I seriously forgot it.”
An hour later Ginny sat in the press box, located in the very middle of the home team’s side, of Appleby Arena with her brother. Busy jotting things down she didn’t notice anyone sit next to her.
“Ginny Weasley? I’ve heard so much about you.”
She almost jumped out of the box at the voice.
“And your brother, Charlie?”
“Yes,” he replied tentatively.
“Katherine Deline for Quidditch Weekly. Nice to meet you.” She put her hand out for a shake.
Ginny nudged Charlie to get him to return the shake.
“It’s a terrible shame you didn’t continue on to professional Quidditch. You’d have been a bigger star than your sister.”
“So I’ve been told.”
“How have you been keeping busy since you left Hogwarts?”
Before Charlie could reply a dark haired man sat down next to Katherine, wrapping his arm around her. He whispered something in her ear causing her to break out in a fit of giggles. She smiled seductively to Charlie before returning her attention to the man.
“You don’t think I should have played professional Quidditch, do you?”
“Do you wish you had?”
“Well, no, but everyone tells me I should have.”
“Who cares what other people think so long as you’re doing what makes you happy. You do like working with dragons, right?”
He closed his eyes.
“Watching a dragon go from a baby to a full-fledged adult who can fly, is…” he opened his eyes. “Indescribable.” He sat silent for a minute. “But, when I’m there, I’m away from family. So much is going on I can’t be a part of.”
“We haven’t forgotten you.”
“I know you haven't. I feel like I’m missing out on so much. No, I don’t feel it, I know it. Look at everything going on in your life.”
“You’re not thinking of quitting are you?”
“I don’t know.”
Feedback! Don't have a stroke. I really did update.
Chapter 95: Auror Down
“Mate, ready?” Harry peeked into the cubicle on a late Tuesday evening.
Ron glanced up from his pile of parchment. Noticing his best friend, he put down his quill, leaned back in his chair, and rubbed his face.
“All this work is getting to me.”
“Let’s go home, then.”
“I’d like to go to The Leaky Cauldron and get a Firewhiskey, but Hermione’d have my hide if she knew I went without her.”
“I don’t have the energy for a night at the Cauldron.”
“Once you have a baby waking you up in the middle of the night we’ll see what kind of wimp you are.”
“Oh, using the baby excuse, yeah? Waking you up just so you can tap Ginny on the shoulder and go back to sleep.”
“I do my part.”
Ron grabbed his cloak and followed Harry toward the door when a silver leopard stopped in front of them.
“Need help. Aurors down. Assemble team. Savage.”
“Another late night at the office?”
“Actually,” Ron began.
“I know. I’m sorry. James has been fussy all day and,” Ginny sighed.
“That’s why we’re here,” Hermione said.
“You’re going to take care of my fussy baby while I have a kip?”
“Well, we did come over to keep you company while you wait for Harry.”
“I’m a bit worried myself,” Ron added.
“She doesn’t need to hear that,” Hermione hissed.
“I’m just joking. I mean a kip would be great, but you’re not here for that. I’ve a hard time sleeping when Harry’s on a mission as it is.”
As soon as Harry received Savage’s message he ordered Ron to go home. He insisted that it wasn’t necessary for both of them to be at the office. From Harry’s tone Ron knew something was up. As soon as he floo’d home he grabbed Hermione and took the network to his sister’s place.
“Not a problem for James,” Ron pointed out the baby sleeping in his carrier on the table.
“Finally!” Ginny sighed. “He’s been murder all day. I didn’t think he’d ever fall asleep. I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle this tomorrow. I’ve a Gobstone match to attend. I’m not sure I’ll have the energy. What was I thinking I could handle a new baby and a new job?” She collapsed in a kitchen chair. “Now, Harry’s gone.”
“We’re here,” Hermione assured her.
“You have to work tomorrow. Fortunately, Charlie’s watching him. He’s taken a real liking to him. James to Charlie, that is.”
“Yeah, you took him to that Quidditch match last Saturday,” Ron remarked. “How was it?”
“Good, yeah. Came home to a sleeping son and husband. Nothing better,” Ginny smirked. “The house was in shambles, though.”
Kreacher, standing over the stove, snorted.
“I didn’t leave it all for you!”
“You shouldn’t have left it at all. It’s your house, not his,” said Hermione.
“Here we go again.”
Hermione playfully slapped Ron on the shoulder.
“No, she’s right. I shouldn’t take advantage of poor Kreacher. He’s not as young as he used to be.”
Kreacher coughed for emphasis, but said, “Kreacher is liking working for Mr. and Mrs.”
Late in the night or rather early in the morning, Ron sat on the sofa with Ginny asleep leaning her head on his shoulder. Hermione lay draped over an armchair. She had been in the middle of a book, but sleep found her instead. Ron, flipping lazily through a magazine his eyes at half-mast, smiled at the sight of the book on her chest.
A silver wisp galloped into the sitting room causing Ron to drop the magazine.
“St. Mungo’s,” the stag panted and disappeared.
“What was that?” Hermione came to life, knocking her book on the floor.
She rubbed her eyes and stretched her arms.
“He’s at St. Mungo’s, isn’t he?”
Ginny squirmed, but she didn’t wake.
“Honestly, how dangerous was this mission?”
“I don’t know.”
“We need to get to St. Mungo’s.”
Ron gently shook Ginny’s shoulder.
“Not now, Harry.” She swatted at Ron’s hand.
“Harry’s at St. Mungo’s,” Ron said matter-of-factly.
“St. Mungo’s!” Ginny sat up sharply. “I—I—“ She stood up. “Let’s go.”
“Someone needs to stay with James,” Hermione smartly said.
“Take him with us,” Ginny replied. “You decide.” She stepped to the fireplace, pinched a spot of powder from the bowl, and after throwing it into the fire, stepped inside calling out, “St. Mungo’s.”
Ron and Hermione looked at each other.
“I’ll go,” Ron spoke up. “If it’s major I’ll contact you.” He leaned over to his wife. “You know, she didn’t put on any shoes.”
Upon entrance into hospital, Ron flew down the hallway of the fourth floor where the beds were situated, stopping short when he saw Harry and Ginny sitting upright on the bed.
“What the hell, mate?”
“He’s not hurt,” Ginny replied.
“I can see that. What’s up with the message?”
“Sorry ‘bout that. Didn’t mean to alarm you.”
“Didn’t mean to alarm me? Or Ginny? Or Hermione?”
“Hermione? Where is she?”
“With James.” Ron glared at Ginny.
“Harry’s my husband. When I receive a message like that I deserve to come down here and see how he is.”
“You’re right. Only it isn’t as bad as we thought.” Ron changed his glare to Harry.
“’M sorry. Didn’t mean to alarm you. It was all I could do to get that message out before I collapsed on this bed.”
“Once they got liquids in him, he was fine,” Ginny explained.
“Yes,” Harry’s eyes fell to the floor. “There’s something you need to see.” He pointed to the bed next to his, which somehow Ron had not noticed.
An older woman held the hand of an older man laying on the bed. Her eyes closed, she had her head on his chest.
Harry nodded his head slowly.
Chapter 96: All Work and No Play
“Again? That’s the fourth night this week!”
Harry kissed Ginny on the lips.
“And you think that’s going to make up for it?”
“I am sorry.”
“I bet you are.”
“It’s been total chaos since Savage’s death.”
Harry slumped onto the couch next to Ginny.
“I know I’m not being very nice to you. You’ve loads on your plate with your promotion and all.”
Harry laid his head on her shoulder. She politely rubbed his head.
“You’re hardly home. You don’t spend time with James. He’s only this age once.”
“I know,” Harry yawned. “If I could be home, I would.”
“It’s not going to be like this forever?”
“I hope not.”
Harry closed his eyes. His entire body ached for sleep. It had been three weeks since Savage was killed in action, three weeks since Harry was promoted to Head Auror. It was something of an honor being the youngest Head, but the hours at work were slowly killing him. He had to stay late most nights to get all the parchment work done. He had to take care of the trial, his promotion, new trainees, and partners. Groups had to be rearranged as well as getting trainers ready for the trainees. He also had minor missions to go on himself. He couldn’t forget about that part of the job.
“Harry, honey.” He felt Ginny gently shaking his shoulder. “Let’s go to bed.”
“They’re always going to be a thorn in our side,” Proudfoot said. “We get him in Azkaban and another man takes his place.”
“Yes,” Harry sighed. “But we mustn’t stop.”
“What do you propose we do?”
“I’m not sure.” Harry tapped his wand against his desk. “This is new to me.”
“You’ve been an Auror for…” Proudfoot paused looking pensive, “a good while.”
“Yes, but that’s not what I meant! This,” he waved his hand indicating his desk and all the parchment strewn about it, “being in charge—“
“Right, sir, but if anyone can handle it, it’s you.”
Harry sighed, rubbing his face with his hands. He never realized how much work the head of the department did.
“Why don’t you go home early tonight?” Proudfoot suggested.
“I can’t. I’ve too much to do. Parchment work…on the trial…more cases to overlook…”
“Taking a few extra hours away isn’t going to hurt much. As long as I’ve known you you’ve always thrown yourself into your work giving more than asked, intended, than you should give.”
“Someone has to.”
Proudfoot shook his head.
“Good luck, Potter.”
Proudfoot exited the office, closing the door behind him.
Harry gazed at the door after Proudfoot closed it. He needed a good night’s sleep. He knew it. He also needed to spend time with James. He was only this age once. His eyes went to the piles of parchment littering his desk. He couldn’t abandon the work in front of him. Leaving early meant so much more work to be done later, to be behind.
But, leaving early meant spending time with James.
His work or his son?
Harry sighed. He had made a decision.
Stepping out of the floo he did not expect the empty silence. He checked his watch. It was three in the afternoon.
“Ginny?” Harry called out.
It was strange, the quietness. It didn’t even sound like Kreacher was around. He was usually here during the day cleaning the house, doing laundry, and preparing that night’s dinner. Where was he?
Suddenly, Kreacher appeared in front of Harry causing him to stumble back a few steps.
“Master is calling Kreacher. Kreacher is not expecting master. Misses Ginny is giving Kreacher the afternoon off.”
“The Gobstones match! I completely forgot.”
Harry reentered the floo and traveled to one of his favorite places, The Burrow. Strange, it was just as quiet as his house. The seven kids didn’t live there anymore, but Harry couldn’t remember a time when it wasn’t bustling with activity. He climbed the stairs not sure what he’d find, but hoping to find something. It was odd how it seemed everyone had disappeared. At the end of the hall on the third floor he saw light streaming out the door.
Quietly stepping towards the door, he peeked in. Charlie leaned against the headboard of the bed with a sleeping James in the crook of his arm. In his other hand was a book, Harry wasn’t sure the topic, but he was sure it had to do with dragons.
“Hey,” Charlie greeted him turning his head slightly. “Wasn’t expecting you.”
“I’m the Head, I can let myself go early if I need to.”
“Need to or want to?”
Harry shook his head.
“James has been really fussy today, but I finally got him to calm down and take his kip by showing pictures,” Charlie explained. “Ginny said she’d be back in two hours.” He carefully slipped his arm from behind James.
“Turning him into a dragon lover?” Harry carefully scooped his sleeping son into his arms.
“If he’s falling asleep I don’t know how much he loves it.”
“He’s probably dreaming about them right now,” Charlie suggested.
Carefully, Harry carried his son to Ginny’s old bedroom where the cot had been set up. He placed him inside and watched him sleep. He hadn’t had many opportunities to do that lately being so busy at work.
“What a surprise to see you here,” a soft gentle voice spoke as a hand was placed on Harry’s shoulder.
Harry turned and kissed her.
“What was that for?”
“I love you.”
“I love you, too. You didn’t come home early to prepare for a surprise mission?” A worried look spread across Ginny’s face.
“Can’t a man just surprise his wife in the middle of the day?”
“That’s not like you.”
“It is today. I needed a break so I took it. How was the match?” Harry changed the subject. “Fine. Are you all right?”
“Tired. And I missed my wife and son.”
“I like having you here.” She pecked him on the lips. “Don’t mind staying here until James wakes up from his kip?”
Harry pulled Ginny onto the bed and ran his hands through her red hair.
“Not with James in the room!” She exclaimed barely above a whisper.
“He’s sleeping.” He kissed her freckled neck.
“He’ll wake up.”
Harry placed his lips on hers to get her to stop talking.
“I’m serious,” she managed right before Harry’s tongue slid between her teeth. She may have been serious but she didn’t stop it.
Ginny almost knocked Harry on the floor when a noise came from the cot. Both turned their heads to see James turn a little bit and sigh.
“He’s still asleep,” Harry assured regaining his position on top of his wife.
“All right. All right.”
Harry kissed Ginny passionately.
“I love you.”
Yes, that's an update from me! I hope my faithful readers haven't forgotten about this story! Feedback!
Chapter 97: House Elf Liberation...Pact
“Great work. I’m impressed.” Quigley closed the meeting.
Hermione gathered her materials hoping to get out of the office quickly. Ron had a rare early night off and she wanted to spend it with him.
“We should go over your proposal sometime.” Richards followed from the meeting hall to Hermione’s private office. “Free for dinner?”
“I’m married.” Hermione practically threw her folders on her desk and grabbed her bag.
“Your husband’s an Auror. You probably spend most nights alone. You need company and we need to work on H.E.L.P.”
“I’ve plenty of family and friends. Think I’m some lonely girl, do you?” She ushered him out of the room and waved her wand to lock the door.
“No, no, not at all,” Richards backtracked. “I reckon since your husband, what’s his name, is gone loads you wouldn’t mind having a business dinner with me—strictly business.”
“We can talk about this some other time. Ron, my husband, is waiting for me at home.”
“You lie,” he muttered.
Hermione wanted to punch him in the gut or send a nasty hex his way, but refrained from doing anything that could potentially get her fired.
“You will be available tomorrow for lunch?”
Quickly making her way to the lift, she ignored him. Hermione could not believe Quigley wanted her to work on her special project with him.
After Apparating home Hermione threw her bag on the kitchen table and huffed into the sitting room.
“What’s got your knickers in a twist?” Ron asked.
“Ugh!” Hermione responded.
“Yes, all right.” Ron had been sitting in their armchair going over some notes from work.
“Oh, nothing,” Hermione said.
Ron looked at her.
“I said nothing, Ron!”
“I know. I heard.”
“Why do you have that look on your face?”
“I don’t have a look on my face.”
“Yes you do. It’s saying ‘You had a bad day at work and should talk about it.’ I don’t want to talk about it.”
Hermione rolled her eyes.
“Why are you being so unreasonable?” She called out as she stomped down the hall.
“Let’s get this over with,” Hermione muttered.
The next day she found herself in a small conference room at the Ministry with no one but Richards and her H.E.L.P. notes. She had done extensive work on the subject on her own and she had been hoping to continue it on her own. However, her boss did not see it the same way.
Before meeting with Richards, Hermione had a meeting with Quigley. She told him she did not want to compromise her work by doing it with someone else, but he felt this project was too big for just one person, even if she was the most talented witch her age and maybe of any age. She was either going to work on it with Richards or not work on it at all. The subject matter was much too great for Hermione to not work on it. As she felt, it was her life’s work.
“You’re looking pretty today,” Richards said scooting his chair closer to Hermione. “Have a good time with your husband last night?” She had wanted to sit across from each other, but Richards had chosen the chair next to her instead. Actually, he sat down first and she sat down across from him, but he got up like he was going to go through some stuff on the table and made his way to the other side. Not wanting to cause a fight, Hermione said nothing, but she let it be known by the look on her face she was not happy.
“Let’s go over your notes.” Richards picked up a pile of parchment in front of him and casually looked through it. “Some house elfs want payment for their work,” he read. “Is this true?”
Hermione raised an eyebrow.
“Of course it’s true! Do you think I’d make something like that up?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never talked to a house-elf.”
“Never talked to a house-elf? How do you expect to work on this if you’ve never talked to a house-elf?”
“I don’t have to talk to them to know what they’re about.”
“Oh really?” She raised her eyebrow again. “Do tell.”
“A house-elf is a creature owned by a family, essentially a house, to do their work. It is their mission to obey their master and/or mistress. They live for this.”
“They live for this? Where did you come up with such rubbish? Have you ever met a house-elf? Of course not. You’ve never talked to one how can I expect you to have met one?”
“Unlike you, I grew up in this world. There are some things every witch and wizard just knows.”
“Just knows? What, are you born with the knowledge house-elfs love being servants for witches and wizards? Does that even sound sane to you?”
“What do you know?”
“What do I know? What do I know? A hell of a lot more than you, that’s for sure!”
“How can you? You’re just, you’re just a—“
Without saying another word, Hermione stormed out of the room. She couldn’t believe it. Prejudice right here in her own office. The tears threatened to fall, but she wouldn’t allow it. She wasn’t going to cry over this git. He was just a git, a stupid, uninformed git who didn’t know the first thing about house-elfs.
Ignoring him, she continued walking in the direction of her office. She wasn’t sure where she wanted to go, but that’s where her feet were taking her.
She quickened her pace. He could follow her, but he wouldn’t catch up to her.
She continued walking. She wasn’t going to let anyone stop her.
He took hold of her wrists.
“Hey, are you all right?”
She stopped and looked into the emerald green eyes.
“Granger!” Richards continued, catching up with them.
Without saying a word, Harry pulled Hermione to her office, which was fairly close at that point. He closed the door and led her to her desk chair.
“Calm down, take a deep breath,” he recommended. “I’ve been in my office pouring over parchment and wanted to see if you’d join me for lunch.”
Hermione didn’t say anything.
“What did he do to you?”
“I can’t work like this, Harry,” she blurted.
“Like what? What’s the problem?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.” She wiped her wet eyes with the back of her hands.
“Join me for lunch, then, will you?”
“I’m not hungry.”
“Just keep me company.” He gave her sweet sincere smile. “Please?”
Hermione looked into his pleading eyes. He was her best friend.
Once situated at a table in The Leaky Cauldron, Harry tried again.
“That bloke, Richards is it, he’s giving you trouble?”
“Something like that.”
“I think it’s all like that.”
“What do you know?” Hermione bit back.
“I’m not the enemy, Hermione.”
“Sorry,” she muttered.
“Ron said you’re working on your House Elf Liberation…Pact, is it?”
Hermione’s eyebrows rose.
“That’s a good one.”
“You’re working on this with Richards.”
“Richards knows nothing about house-elfs. He’s never met one. He’s never talked to one. He has no idea what they’re about! And Quigley is making me work with him. This was my idea. I’ve been working on this since fourth year, really. Richards knows nothing about it and I have to work with him!” She sighed. “He’s a creep, Harry.”
“You talked to Quigley about this?”
“I’ve talked to him about working on this on my own, yeah, and he things it would be best if we work together. I feel he’s dumping Richards on me. You caught me running out on Richards when I found out he has no house-elf knowledge, feels he’s superior to every witch and wizard, and oh yeah, called me a mudblood.” She spit the words out as if they tasted of rotting garbage.
“Don’t let what he says get to you.”
“I have to work with him, Harry. I have to work with a bigoted, egotistical…” she paused not knowing what else to add to the list of adjectives. “This is my life’s work and it might not even get off the ground because of him.” A tear escaped her eye.
“Don’t cry, Hermione.”
“I’m—I’m not.” She looked away.
“This is important to you. You’re stuck with Richards it appears so you need to talk to him. You need to let him know how you feel,” he finished before she had a chance to butt in. “He needs to know how passionate you are about this.”
“I am that.” A faint smile spread on her face.
“You are that.” Harry patted her hand. “You changed Ron’s opinion on house-elfs, perhaps you can change this Richards. You’re Hermione. The Hermione I know doesn’t give up.”
Chapter 98: Returning Home
“Everyone’s going to love you.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because I love you.”
“You’re Luna Lovegood.”
“And you’re Rolf Scamander?”
“People aren’t as trusting as you. That’s one reason I love you so much. You look inside a person deeper than most, deeper than anyone else I know. You find the true person inside. Most people don’t look much past the outer layer of skin.”
“There’s nothing wrong with you for them to not like.” Luna scowled.
Luna knew about Rolf’s insecurities. It was one reason he bonded so well with animals. They didn’t judge the way humans did. Luna knew of Rolf’s time at Hogwarts. He was picked on for his love of animals, creatures, and beings, something he gained from his great-grandfather, Newt Scamander. He was a bit eccentric, but Luna had no room to judge on that front, besides, she loved his eccentricities.
“Are you sure you’re ready to introduce me to your father and your friends?” Rolf asked.
“Yes, of course,” she assured him.
The two had been sitting in the sitting room of his flat reading the latest edition of The Quibbler when Rolf brought up his worry of meeting Luna’s friends. The two had arrived into town the night before after spending months traveling through Scandinavia in search of the Crumpled Horn Snorkack. Well, that’s why Luna was there. Rolf was there to update some entries in Fantastic Beasts. He was successful. Luna was not.
Not having found the Snorkack, Luna did not want to come home, but her good friend, Neville Longbottom, was getting married soon, and as a member of the wedding party, a bridesmaid, she needed to be there for final preparations. Tonight they were meeting with her father for dinner and tomorrow they were meeting with Hannah the Bride, Susan Bones the Maid of Honor, and Hermione the Bridesmatron to finalize things on the dresses. Luna had been away for all of it, so this would be her first time seeing her dress.
Tomorrow evening she had plans for dinner with the bride and groom. This would be her first time introducing Rolf to Neville. She loved Neville, probably more than she loved anyone aside from her father, and hoped he approved of Rolf. She knew he would. Everything would be fine.
She had kept her friends up-to-date on her life through letters, so they did know about Rolf. They were happy for her and said they approved, but would it be different when they met him face-to-face? Rolf wasn’t a people person. He shied away from people like the plague. Luna desperately wanted him and her friends to get along. She wanted him to be comfortable with them.
“My Luna, you’ve returned home. My Luna,” Xenophilius Lovegood, Luna’s father, greeted her upon her arrival to his house that afternoon. “And who is this?”
“This is Rolf, Daddy. I wrote to you about him.”
“Rolf Scamander. The boy who stole my daughter’s heart.” Xenophilius looked him up and down. “Well, do come in. Do come in. I’ve made a pot of Bobotuber Soup. The extract aides in helping travelers recover from long trips.”
Once inside the house Luna put her arms around her father.
“I’ve missed you, Daddy.”
“I’ve missed you, Luna, oh you don’t know how much I missed you. It’s so quiet around here without you.”
“Oh, Daddy, I was never a noisy child.”
“No, but you were and are My Luna.” He kissed her cheek.
“Daddy, you should be used to me being away as I went every year to Hogwarts since I was eleven.”
“I would count the days until your return. Let’s not loiter around the foyer all night. The soup will get cold and Bobotuber Soup does not translate well cold.”
Luna followed her father into the kitchen with Rolf behind them. She was excited for the dinner. It had been a good long while since she’d enjoyed her father’s cooking and she needed a chance to refresh her spirits with the soup.
“Luna!” Ginny ran up to her sweeping her into a big hug.
“Hello, Ginny,” Luna was surprised to see her redheaded friend as she didn’t think she was part of the wedding party.
“Luna!” Hermione came up behind Ginny and wrapped her arms around the two of them.
“Hrrh, Hmmninnie,” Luna said smooshed into Ginny’s side.
“Your hair is so long!” Ginny commented when they broke apart. She pulled a strand of Luna’s dishwater blonde hair out.
“Yes, the kasvahar have been following me since I arrived in Sweden,” she replied matter-of-factly. “Congratulations, Hannah.” They had arrived at the table where the group waited.
“Thank you. Neville’s so looking forward to dinner this evening.”
“I want him to meet Rolf.”
“I’m sure they’ll get along famously,” Hannah responded.
“Rolf is unsure. He’s always unsure when it comes to human contact.”
“You love him, so of course we’ll love him,” Hermione said more as a way to reassure Luna than something she actually believed. “How are you?”
“Brilliant. Being among the magical creatures is…”she trailed off, her eyes losing focus. Slightly shaking her head she rejoined the present.
“You really enjoy it, don’t you?” Ginny asked.
Luna nodded with a smile. The serene peace she felt among nature, she couldn’t explain it for others to understand, but that didn’t matter as long as she enjoyed it. Coming back to England had felt…odd. She was reentering the human race, if you will.
“There’s the bride-to-be!” Madam Malkin exclaimed as the girls entered her shop. “I just finished your dress last night. Almost done with the bridesmaids’ dresses. Just a few finishing touches and everything will be perfect. Come, let’s try them on, especially you Miss Lovegood as you haven’t tried your dress on at all. Working with your measurements, I have. Working with a pattern, us robemakers do it, but it needs to be custom fit.”
Madam Malkin waved her wand and the rack holding the dresses rolled out from among a selection of Hogwarts robes.
“Who goes first?” Susan asked.
“Let’s put the bride in her dress since it’s finished,” Madam Malkin said. “Come up, Miss Abbott.”
Hannah stepped on the platform while Madam Malkin pulled out the wedding gown. It was a white strapless formal ball gown with fitted three quarter length tulle sleeves and a lined bodice. She held it up to Hannah’s body.
“It should be complete,” Madam Malkin said ushering Hannah into a changing room.
As soon as Hannah disappeared the robemaker pulled out one of the wine colored bridesmaid dresses.
“Miss Lovegood.” She motioned for the dishwater blonde to step up to the platform. “Yes, yes, it looks like it should be a perfect fit.” She held the dress up to Luna’s body. “I think, no, it should be…yes, it should be just fine.”
Luna wasn’t sure how she felt about the dress. It was a ball gown with three-quarter length sleeves to mimic the bride’s dress except these sleeves were satin, not tulle, like the rest of the dress. It was very conservative and not Luna’s style at all, but she wasn’t to complain as it was Hannah’s wedding, Hannah’s day.
“Rolf, did a wrackspurt fly by?” Luna asked her boyfriend that evening. The two stood together near the spot where they had planned to Disapparate to The Leaky Cauldron.
“I don’t recall,” he replied.
“Then why are you standing as if you were paralyzed?” Luna rubbed his arm. “Nervous, aren’t you? I told you have no reason to be. Neville is my best friend. I trust him completely. I know he will love you. And Hannah? If Neville loves her then I love her and if Neville loves her then she’ll love you.”
Rolf took a deep breath.
“Come. We’ll have fun. I promise.”
Luna was able to coax Rolf to their spot. She laced her fingers through his hand and turned on that spot determined to get to Hannah’s restaurant and inn in one piece.
“It’s so good to see you,” Neville stood up and hugged Luna when they arrived at the table where the happy couple sat.
“You remember Rolf,” Luna said. “I mean, I wrote to you about Rolf,” she paused and put her hand on her boyfriend’s shoulder. “This is Rolf. Rolf, this is Neville and Hannah.”
Rolf nodded shyly. Luna nudged him toward an empty chair.
“You’re a professor at Hogwarts, are you?” Luna asked, trying to make conversation, as she chose the seat next to Rolf.
“He’s the best,” Hannah answered proudly.
Neville’s cheeks turned pink.
“I don’t know about that.”
“I do.” Hannah waggled her eyebrows at him causing Rolf to squirm in his chair. Luna placed a hand on his leg to help calm his nerves.
“You like your job, taking the place of Professor Sprout?” Luna continued.
“I—yeah—I thought—I enjoy Herbology and—yeah—I love my job.”
Luna turned to Rolf.
“Neville’s passion in school aside from leading a group of rebellious students against the most evil wizard of our time was Herbology.
“Ah,” was all Rolf said.
“If you ever plan on putting together Fantastic Plants and Where to Find Them Neville’s your man,” Hannah said patting her man on the hand causing his cheeks to redden again.
“I—er—well, I just work with creatures,” Rolf replied.
The four of them had a nice dinner at The Leaky Cauldron. Rolf didn’t say much, but Luna spoke enough for the two of them that no one noticed. She told tales of their time in Scandinavia, how they met, and her time in South America. She kept the small group entertained.
“Thank you for coming,” Neville said privately to Luna as the two couples were off to separate for the night.
“I’m happy for you, Neville. Hannah’s a great girl. You couldn’t have found anyone better.”
“You,” he said so softly Luna wasn’t quite sure of what he said. He cleared his throat. “Thank you for being one of Hannah’s bridesmaids.”
“Anything, Neville. I’m proud to be part of your wedding.” She quickly kissed him on the cheek. “I love you.” She put her arms around him in a loose hug.
“Thanks,” was all Neville could reply.
Chapter 99: His Big Day
His head hurt. Someone was pounding on it with the force of a thousand Hippogriff feet. No, not Hippogriffs. Centaurs. Yes, Centaurs, a thousand Centaur hooves, running up and down his head. He pulled the pillow over his head and groaned. He needed a darker curtain to keep out the sunlight.
“G’way,” he mumbled at the knock on his door.
The door creaked open revealing his grandmother standing there holding a small flask.
“Hangover potion,” she said. “I’m not naïve to think you didn’t drink last night. After all, it was your stag party.”
Her voice bounced around his head like a Quaffle on caffeine. Without lifting the pillow he reached an arm out and took hold of the flask. As he sipped on it the pain in his head subsided and he was able to face the world.
“Today’s your big day,” Gran said, sitting on the edge of his bed. She patted his feet under the covers.
“The big—Oh, Merlin’s Beard!” Neville exclaimed remembering what the day was.
“Did the potion not help? You look a bit green. Perhaps it was expired.” She took the flask from Neville and examined it.
“No, no,” Neville took a deep breath. “It’s fine.” At the mention of his big day his stomached flipped, twice.
He was excited. Happy. He was marrying the love of his life today. He and
Hannah Abbott would forever link themselves together. That was what he wanted.
But, the thought also made him nauseous.
“We’ve a lot to do today,” Gran said. She patted his feet again. “Up and at ‘em.”
Neville groaned after she left the room. He was a Hogwarts professor and he still treated her like a little kid. Sitting up, he glanced at the picture on his bedside table.
“Mum, Dad, I wish you could be here, today. You’d really love…” He stopped. He didn’t need to talk to a photograph. “Hold on,” he said to it.
Half an hour later, he found himself standing in the Janus Thickney Ward of St. Mungo’s.
“Hello, Mum, Dad.”
The two people lying in the beds glanced in his direction. Neville wasn’t sure if they knew he was referring to them, but being that he was standing right next to their beds who else would he be talking to?
“I am, er, getting married today.” He nodded. “Yes, to a lovely woman named Hannah Abbott. I brought here once. D’you remember?” He scratched his head. “No, of course you don’t.” He sighed. “She’s a real lovely woman. I love her. She owns The Leaky Cauldron now. I’m a professor at Hogwarts and she’s the owner of a pub and inn. What a match, huh? She’s the same age as me…we were in the same year at Hogwarts, though she’s a Hufflepuff not a Gryffindor. Nothing wrong with that. Hufflepuff is a perfectly fine house.”
The woman, his mother, looked up at him and for a brief second Neville thought he saw a bit of recognition flash in her eyes, but as soon as it came, it was gone.
“I wish you two could be at the wedding, but I understand. No, I don’t.” A tear dripped down his cheek. “It’s been 24 years and I still don’t understand how a mad lunatic can want to torture you or anyone. They’re gone. I helped get rid of ‘em. They still linger in the pain they’ve caused.” He took a deep breath and wiped his eyes. “I’m not going to cry. Well, I might later. I should save the tears for Hannah. But, I do understand that you can’t come to the wedding. You’ll be there here.” He tapped his heart and then knelt down beside his mum’s bed.
“Luna Lovegood. She’s a good mate of mine. My best friend. But, she’s dating Rolf Scamander. Do you remember the author of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them? That’s his great-grandfather, Newt Scamander. They’re really good for each other and I’m happy she’s happy, but I sort of miss her. It’s not that I don’t want to marry Hannah, because I do. Not marrying her breaks my heart. I have conflicted feelings, I reckon.”
Alice reached her hand out and patted Neville’s. He grasped it with his other hand. This was more contact than he’d had with either of them in, he couldn’t remember how long. He smiled.
“I love you, Mum.” He looked at his dad in the other bed. “I love you, too, Dad. I love Luna and I love Hannah. I know Luna loves me, but perhaps not in that way. Perhaps I don’t either. Perhaps I love her like family and seeing her again, just, I don’t know. No, I don’t think I’m trying to rationalize this. How I feel for Hannah, I’ve never felt that way for anyone, not even Luna. It is just seeing her again after a long time away has got me all excited. That’s it. I promise.” He sighed. He hoped he was telling the truth. He thought he was. “Hannah and I are more suited for each other. Luna is off always out there,” he waves his arm, “looking for creatures that I don’t think exist, not that I would tell her that. I’m a professor. I can’t go traipsing around the world like that. She needs someone who can and that bloke is Rolf. Oh, I’m talking as if they’re getting married or something. They’re not. I am. To Hannah Abbott. The love of my life.” He wiped his face. He had been crying without knowing it.
“I’m such a mess. Let me start over. Mum, Dad, I’m getting married today to Hannah Abbott. I brought here once before, but I don’t reckon you remember it. My best man is Harry Potter. He’s a real swell guy. He got rid of Voldemort. Yeah. My groomsmen are Ron Weasley, another good friend of mine, and Ernie MacMillan, Hannah’s best friend. Her maid of honor is Susan Bones, her best female friend. Her bridesmaids are Hermione Granger, a good friend of mine and Ron’s wife. I believe she’s become quite friendly with Hannah as well. Her other bridesmaid is Luna Lovegood, my best friend. I haven’t seen her in quite some time and when she came back to town it stirred some feelings in me, but they’ve settled. She’s happily dating Rolf Scamander, the famous Newt Scamander’s great-grandson.”
He knelt there quietly for a few minutes. He did love Luna, but he could never see himself married to her. She was too free a spirit for someone like him. He needed a down-to-earth girl and that was Hannah. No, he wasn’t settling for Hannah. His heart belonged to her. He knew.
He stood up not sure if he should say anything else. He didn’t know what else to say. He wished for some reaction from his parents, but he knew that would never happen.
“I love you,” he whispered and headed toward the lift. As he turned, his mom took hold of his hand and held it for five seconds, a firm grasp.
Chapter 100: Her Big Day?
“You’re so beautiful,” Susan blubbered. She stood back and took a good look at Hannah. “You are the most beautiful bride in the entire world. Neville is so lucky.”
“Thanks.” A tear slid down Hannah’s cheek.
“Stop it! Stop it!” Susan exclaimed. “You’ll ruin your makeup!”
“I wish my mum was here.”
Susan nodded, understanding. While she still had her parents, she had lost a good chunk of family to Voldemort and the Death Eaters just as Hannah had lost her mum.
“You’ve me, and your dad, and Ernie and his parents, and Neville’s gran and…”
“Mrs. Weasley,” Hannah laughed.
Being Neville’s girlfriend, then fiancée, and soon to be wife, she had spent time with his friends which included the Weasleys. Mrs. Weasley always tried making everyone feel comfortable in her home. She truly embraced the mother role to anyone who walked through the door or flooed through the flames.
“She really could have been sorted into Hufflepuff,” she added.
Susan wrapped her arms around her best friend.
“I know you miss your mum. I believe she is here, watching you right now, happy and proud of who you are and what you’ve become.”
“And anyway, my mum is out there if you really need someone.” Susan waved her arm towards the door.
“I hope we’re not intruding,” Hermione said opening the door to Hannah’s bedroom. She walked in with Luna beside her.
“Come in, come in,” Hannah assured. “This is the place for the bridesmaids as well.”
The four girls pulled each other into hugs and squealed. Well, Susan and Hannah squealed with Hermione and Luna just bouncing around in the hug with them.
“I can’t believe I’m getting married today!”
The girls stopped squealing when there was a knock on the door.
“Have any of you seen the groom?” Ron asked.
Hermione sent him a look causing his ears to redden.
“Neville?” Hannah asked. “He’s—he’s not here?”
“No, no, Ron didn’t mean that,” Hermione interjected. She ran to the open door and began pushing Ron out of it.
“He’s somewhere,” Ron said quickly. “I don’t know where.”
“You don’t know where?” Hannah repeated.
“RON!” Hermione scolded. “Get out of here.” She followed him out the door, closing it behind her.
“Is Neville not here?” Hannah asked trying to sit on her childhood bed in her wedding gown which was no small feat.
“He’s not here in this room,” Luna said. “I haven’t seen him today, but I have not been in all the rooms of this house.”
“You’re just trying to spare my feelings.”
Susan sat on the bed and rubbed Hannah’s back.
“Don’t say anything,” Hannah said, she played with the edge of her left sleeve. “This is Neville. He’ll be here. He’s just late,” she sniffed.
Hannah looked up to see her father enter the room.
“I heard about Neville.” Mr. Abbott exchanged places with Susan on the bed.
“What? I’ve heard nothing.”
“Hannah, he left.”
“What?” She exclaimed. That wasn’t exactly the best thing for her father to say.
“I talked to Augusta. She said he left earlier this morning and she hasn’t seen him since.”
“What?!” Hannah jumped up ready to explode. “He ran away?” She turned to look at her friends. “Why?” Her face crumpled. “Was it me?”
The three quickly came to her side to assure that it was not her, but no one could calm her. No one could tell her anything for no one knew anything. They were as much in the dark as she was.
“I heard about Neville,” Ernie said, entering the room moments later after everyone else had left Hannah alone.
“I’m a fool.”
“He’s the fool if he’s trying to run out on his wedding day.” Ernie sat down next to Hannah. Hannah had flung her shoes off and curled herself into a ball on her bed not caring that she was crumpling and possibly ruining her wedding gown.
“Don’t call him a fool,” Hannah blubbered. “He’s the bloke I love.”
“But, he left you,” Ernie replied.
“But, I love him.”
Hannah nodded. She knew it was hard to explain. Neville was ruining the most important day of her life and she still loved him. Her heart hurt for him.
“This isn’t like him,” she said. “Something must be going on.”
“Really? You’re forgiving the fool?”
“He’s not a fool, Ernie. He’s my fiancé.”
A commotion up the stairs had them shut up.
“You can’t see her!” Hermione cried.
“I have to!”
Hannah’s eyes lit up.
“Not before you get married,” Hermione said.
“Tradition,” Ginny added.
“I don’t care.”
He opened the door.
“STOP!” Screeched Hermione slamming the door shut. She said something incoherently on the other side of the door and then quietly stepped into the room.
“Neville wants to speak with you, Hannah, if that’s all right.” Hermione rolled her wand between her hands.
“Yes, yes, that’s fine.”
“But, it’s tradition you can’t see each other until the actual wedding.”
Hermione pointed her wand at Hannah.
“Stand up. Disillusionment charm.”
Hannah nodded and as Hermione waved her wand, she felt a cold sensation trickle down her back. She had never been placed under a disillusionment charm before and didn’t know what to expect.
“I don’t know why you want to speak to the bloke who ran out on your wedding,” Ernie said walking out of the room.
“Neville, you can come in now.” Hermione quietly exited closing the door behind her.
“Are you there?” Hannah asked. “I can’t see you.”
“I’m here,” Neville replied. “I’m sorry.”
“Sorry?” Hannah hoped he didn’t mean what she thought he meant, but
since he had agreed to the disillusionment maybe he didn’t mean what she thought he meant.
“I love you, Hannah.”
“I love you, too.”
“I visited my parents this morning.”
“That’s why you’re late?” Hannah asked incredulously.
“A bit. I don’t think it’s right we get married before we talk.”
“Talk? About what?”
“Talking to my parents I came to some conclusions.”
“Con-conclusions? What kind of conclusions?”
“I love you.”
“Let me finish. This is hard.”
“You’re—you’re breaking up with me, right?”
“Hannah! You’re not making this easy. Allow me to talk.”
“All right, sorry.”
“My heart’s been a million different places this month.” He paused. Hannah hoped it wasn’t for her to say something because she couldn’t. She didn’t know what to say. This was scary. “My mind, my mind’s been a million different places, but my heart’s been right here.” She heard a tap that he must have pointed to his heart, but of course, she couldn’t see. “I didn’t know what to make of it all. Maybe I’m not making sense.” The bed creaked.
“Are you sitting on my bed?”
“Yeah, is that okay?”
“Fine. Continue, please.”
“Planning a wedding is hard work. Stressful work. Knowing I’m getting married is stressful. It’s a change of life. A big one. I have to make sure I’m making the right decision. I don’t want to be responsible for messing up someone’s life.”
“Do you think you’re making a mistake?” Hannah asked hesitantly, wishing she could see Neville’s face.
“No. I think I needed to think about it so I knew without a doubt I was not making a mistake.” The bed creaked again indicating he was probably standing up. “I love you, Hannah Abbott. I love you more than I’ve ever loved anyone. The thought of spending my life with someone other than you makes me sick. Hannah, I need you.”
“You don’t need me.”
“Yes, I need you. Hannah, I want to spend the rest of my life with you, not Luna, not another girl, not anyone. You.”
Tears bristled in her eyes. She was done crying. She wasn’t going to cry anymore. Her makeup was already pretty messed up. Oh, what the heck. She let the tears fall.
“Are you crying?” He asked.
“I can’t see you and I think if we touch the charm disappears or something, I don’t know. I don’t recall ever being under it before. What I’m trying to say is, I wish I could wipe your tears away.”
“Oh, Neville.” She smiled knowing he couldn’t see it. She looked out her window, which looked out onto the back garden where the wedding tent had been set up. Many of the guests were seated. She spotted Ginny trying to console her son, James. Maybe one day she’d have kids with Neville. They’d never talked about it. She didn’t know if he wanted any. She reckoned she did, but not any time too soon.
“What are you thinking?” Neville asked breaking up her thoughts.
“We need to get down there. They’re all waiting for us.”
“Looking like this?”
“How do you know how I look? I could be wearing the most fabulous gown you’ve ever seen with the most beautiful makeup and hair…you don’t know. You can’t see me.”
“True,” Neville sighed. “But, I do know about me. I look a mess. Last night was the stag party and I didn’t shower this morning. I look…”
“I don’t care.” Hannah interrupted. “I love all of you, even the disheveled, unshowered you.”
“I’m not wearing the proper robes.”
“Did you not hear me when I said ‘I don’t care’? I love you, Neville, and I want to marry you no matter what you’re wearing.”
Hannah flew out the bedroom and down the stairs with Neville, she hoped, following her. She thought she could hear his steps on the stairs, but she didn’t slow down to make certain.
“SUSAN!” She shouted when she spotted her maid of honor.
“Hannah?” Susan looked around bewildered.
“Over here.” She reached out a hand to touch her best friend.
“Neville?” Hermione exclaimed. She had been standing near Susan and “witnessed” the whole exchange. “The men are waiting for you.”
“I’m leaving now,” Neville said.
Hermione waited fifteen seconds, lifted her wand, and took off the charm.
“There you are. What’s going on?” Susan asked.
“Neville and I had a talk. He’s sorry he’s late. He had some things to sort out. Long story short, there’s no mistake, we’re getting married! Let’s go!”
Susan wrapped her arms around Hannah.
“I don’t care. I want to marry that man, now!”
“You look beautiful,” Luna whispered in her ear.
“Let me just,” Susan reached for her wand, but Hannah stopped her.
Mr. Abbott intertwined his arm with his daughter’s.
“More than I’ll ever be.” She smiled up at her dad.
“Your mom would be so proud of you.”
“Thank you.” She stood on tiptoes and kissed her dad on the cheek. “I love you.”
“I love you, too, Honey.”
“Dad, don’t cry.”
“I can’t help it.” He reached a hand up to wipe away the tear threatening to fall. “My baby girl is all grown up and getting married.”
Seeing the flash behind her, Hannah turned around to see Susan with a camera. She didn’t know where the camera came from as she hadn’t seen Susan with it before.
“Just getting some pictures of the bride and her father.”
“It’s time,” Augusta spoke up.
Hannah nodded. It was time. She went to the back of the line and watched everyone enter the aisle. She stood in such a way she couldn’t see the end and they couldn’t see her.
Augusta went down first, representing the families, wearing light peach robes and no funky hat. Hannah laughed silently at the thought. Neville had made sure he nixed the idea of her wearing any of her monstrosities.
After Augusta, Hermione, her hair half up with curls falling down, stepped down the aisle holding a small bouquet of baby’s breath. Luna, a dishwater blonde replica, followed.
Susan glanced back giving Hannah a smile before she stepped out onto the aisle. Her blonde curls bounced along as she stepped in time.
“Ready?” Hannah’s father asked her.
Unable to say anything she just nodded. She wrapped her right arm around her father’s left and took one step forward before she realized she was missing her bouquet and her shoes. The shoes she could deal with, but the flowers?
Her father looked at her empty hands.
“You don’t need them,” he whispered.
She smiled back. She didn’t need them, but now what was she going to do with her hands?
That thought immediately flew out of her mind the minute she laid eyes on Neville. His hair was a mess. It looked like someone had tried to brush it, but it still didn’t want to lie down. He was wearing a set of green robes that clashed with the rest of the party, but Hannah didn’t care. He was standing there. He wanted to marry her and she wanted to marry him. That was all that mattered. They loved each other.
This story is also posted at Fanfiction.net so you can find it now and when the site closes down. http://www.fanfiction.net/s/3723406/1/Aftermath
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