Falling For Her by Kezzabear

Summary: When his children turn up from the future Harry doesn't know what to think but a pretty redhead or two soon helps him figure it out.

Rating: PG-13 starstarstarstarstar
Categories: Pre-OotP, Twin Travel Challenge (2008-3)
Characters: None
Genres: None
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Published: 2008.06.08
Updated: 2009.04.10

Falling For Her by Kezzabear
Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Author's Notes:

“I didn’t think it would turn my skin green,” whined George as Fred pointed to the spot on his neck that still glowed a sickly green hue.

“You definitely know what this means, don’t you?” said Ron solemnly. George shook his head.

“People are going to think you have a green hickey!” chortled Fred. Ron slapped him on the back of the head.

“No!” he said, exasperated. “Neville’s going to ask you if you guys can give him a green thumb!”

“He’s already got one,” argued George.

“That’s enough boys,” said Mr Weasley mildly. “It’s been very entertaining, but I think it’s time you helped your mother with the dishes and then we can all have dessert.” Amongst the clattering of plates and scraping of chairs Harry almost didn’t hear the popping noise from the living room.

“Shhhh!” he urged everyone, but Fred was still rubbing Ron’s chin and teasing him about shaving while Ginny continued gathering plates together. When they heard the second pop the entire room fell silent.

“What was that?” Charlie asked. The family cast worried looks around the table.

“We need to go and-”

“Shhhhh!” Mr Weasley waved his hand impatiently as they caught the faint voices of small children coming from the living room. He pulled out his wand as his sons and Harry all did the same. Mr Weasley silently motioned Fred and George out the back door for a look outside while beckoning Bill and Charlie to follow, as the remainder of the kitchen’s occupants trod carefully along behind, wands raised and at the ready.

Arthur pushed open the door to the sitting room with a creak. Harry peered under his arm and saw two small children in the room, a boy and a girl. The little girl looked like she belonged there. She had long red hair falling in curls almost to her waist and was dainty with tiny feet, clad in soft green robes. The little boy however, looked just like Harry remembered seeing himself in the mirror at about seven years old. His pale face was topped by messy black hair and his robes hung off him like a sack. As Harry watched the boy hitched his sleeves up and Harry realised that he was wearing adult robes.

“Dad is going to kill you for wearing his Auror robes,” the little girl smirked.

“He has to find us first!” the little boy crowed. “I used this special vanishing lumilatory oracle and now we are invisible to everyone!”

“You aren’t allowed to touch that!”

“Well,” smirked the little boy, “maybe they shouldn’t leave it lying around for little boys to find.”

“You are such a Slytherin,” said the little girl, poking out her tongue.

“Oh, I am not, I’m just smart,” the boy grinned and held aloft an oddly-shaped, dented pocket watch. He swung it back and forth for a moment before he pressed the button on the side to open it. It didn’t open. The two children gathered around the object in the little boy’s hands and pressed at it frantically.

“It doesn’t work anymore! You broke it!

“No I didn’t!”

“Yes you did!”

“Um, excuse me,” Mr Weasley cleared his throat. The two children spun to look at him.

“Grandpa! James did it. I was just watching to see what would happen.”

“Well, Lily told me to. I didn’t think it was working.”

“I told you not to touch it! You are going to be in so much trouble!”

At that moment Mrs Weasley pushed past Harry hurriedly and shouldered her husband aside. She reached blindly for a chair and slumped into it, staring at the two little visitors. The rest of the group pressed into the living room. The children were still arguing madly.

“I’m telling mum on you!” the little girl who was apparently called Lily screeched. She spun around and Harry caught a glimpse of her eyes. They sparkled green, just like his own.

“Well fine,” the boy called James retorted, “but I’ll tell her how you broke the crystal vase Auntie Muriel gave her for a wedding present.”

“She hated that anyway,” scoffed Lily. “I’m telling.” She scanned the occupants of the room and scampered over to Ginny who was hovering behind her father.

“MUM!” she shouted. “Guess what James did!”

“It wasn’t me!” bellowed the scruffy little boy, anxiously shedding the enormous robes. He too scanned the room; when his sparkling brown eyes alighted on Harry his face lit up.

“Dad!” he called as he capered over. “It was totally all her. She dared me! Some sister she is huh? She’s trying to get me into trouble.”

Ginny stared, horrified, at Lily, turned beet red and fled the room. The little girl burst into tears.

“You are such a cry-baby, Lily,” James jeered. The little girl sobbed harder as her brother smirked at her. Harry stood frozen, watching as the little boy danced around and pulled faces at the sobbing child.

“Stop teasing me, James!” she cried. “You are the worst brother in the world! You are so mean to me!”

“Stop teasing your sister,” Harry said automatically, watching Lily burst into a fresh flood of tears. James immediately stopped dancing about and shoved his hands in his pockets, staring at the floor.

“Sorry, Dad,” he said. Harry took a step back. The first time he could believe he imagined it. But that was definitely real.

“I want Mummy,” sobbed Lily. Harry looked helplessly at Hermione but it was Bill who came to the rescue. Crouching down in front of the child, he gently brushed her hair out of her face and spoke softly.

“I’m sure your mummy hasn’t gone far,” he said. “We’ll go look for her in a minute. Right now, would you like some ice cream?” Lily sniffed and nodded.

“I want some ice cream!” cried James.

“Uncle Bill?” Lily said urgently. “What happened to your face?” She reached out gentle hands and stroked his cheeks almost reverently.

“Nothing, sweetheart,” Bill replied, puzzled. “It’s fine, see?” He turned his head so Lily could see all of it.

“When did you get that wicked earring?” James bounded over, peering intently at Bill’s head and face.

“It’s a fang,” Lily wrinkled her nose. “Grandma told me you used to have one of those but Auntie Fleur hid it. I guess you found it again.” Bill’s face registered a measure of surprise.

“I guess I did,” he answered casually.

“You’re very handsome,” said Lily, patting his cheek gently before sliding her arms around his neck and practically climbing into his lap. Bill clasped the little girl carefully and struggled to stand up.

“Where were we?” he said. “Ice cream?” Both children nodded vigorously.

“To the kitchen!” Lily cried, flinging an arm out. Bill strode out of the room, Lily clinging to his neck and James trotting obediently after him. Harry just stared.

“Come on, mate,” Ron prodded him. “Bill’s getting ice cream.” Hermione sighed loudly.

“I think he meant that for the children,” she said exasperatedly.

“Do I look like an adult?” Ron asked smugly. He bounded out of the room after his brother.

“Harry,” Mr Weasley’s said softly, gently from his wife’s side. “Could you ah, check on Ginny, please?”

“Me?” Harry squeaked. Mr Weasley nodded.

“Please?” he asked and turned back to Mrs Weasley. “Charlie, help me get your mother upstairs. I think she might need a good lie down.” Harry watched dimly as Charlie and Mr Weasley led Mrs Weasley up the stairs. Suddenly he felt Hermione poke him in the back.

“I’m going to find out who those children are,” she announced. “I think you need to go and talk to Ginny, don’t you?”

“Oh, I think it’s pretty obvious who they are,” Harry whispered frantically. “He kept calling me ‘Dad’!”

“Well, clearly something has gone wrong somewhere or some when, because last time I looked, you had not fathered any children,” said Hermione briskly, propelling him towards the stairs peering at him. “You haven’t, have you?”

“Hermione!” Harry gasped. “I only turned fifteen two weeks ago!”

“That is true. Although sometimes you think you know someone …” Hermione mused absently, pushing him onto the bottom step. “I have a lot of questions for them …”

“Hermione,” Harry warned, still blushing furiously. “You’ll scare them!”

“I just want to find out a couple of things,” Hermione insisted, pulling a quill out of her pocket. “I’ll just get some parchment and we’ll set up an interview and then we’d probably best call Professor Dumbledore-” Harry cut her off mid-thought.

“No,” he said, moving off the bottom step and standing between her and the kitchen door. “Leave them alone.”

“But, Harry-”

“No, Hermione,” Harry insisted. “They are just little kids. They’re with Bill — they seem to know Bill, they like him. Leave them alone.”

“We need to fix this!”

“Yes, Hermione,” Harry agreed, “and don’t you think their parents get a say in this?”

“Well of course they do but-”

“Then I say no,” said Harry with authority, as he crossed his arms over his chest and smirked. Hermione opened and closed her mouth a few times before she snapped her jaw shut and nodded stiffly, putting her quill away.

“But Harry, if they are your kids …”

“They shouldn’t be here, I know,” Harry said. “But they are, and we’ll figure it out, I promise. But they are just little kids. I don’t want to frighten them.” Harry padded the few steps to the kitchen door, pushed it open and peered in.

Lily and James were seated at the kitchen table, a huge bowl of ice cream in front of each of them. Ron was busy helping them decorate the ice cream with chocolate sauce, crushed nuts and coloured sprinkles.

“You can’t put it all on,” Lily wrinkled her nose at Ron.

“You always tell him that,” James rolled his eyes and reached for the sauce. “Uncle Ronnie always has everything in his bowl.”

“That’s right, Uncle Ronnie does,” said Ron, sitting down next to James and reaching for a spoon.

“Where’s your beard?” Lily asked suddenly. She peered intently at Ron who shifted uncomfortably. Harry pulled away from the door and covered his mouth, trying not to laugh.

“I didn’t think Ron shaved yet?” Hermione said with a smile on her face.

“He doesn’t,” sputtered Harry. “Fred and George have been teasing him about peach fuzz for the last couple weeks!”

“Fred and George!” gasped Hermione. “They must still be outside!”

“You go get them,” said Harry. “I’d better go and see Ginny.” He looked upwards glumly.

“You’ll be fine,” Hermione said softly. “She was just embarrassed.”

“And I am supposed to fix that?” asked Harry incredulously. Hermione shrugged.

“You’ll think of something,” she patted him on the arm and swept through into the kitchen. Harry sighed and began to trudge up the stairs.

Lily had called Ginny ‘Mum’, Harry thought; and if he was ‘Dad’ … he gulped. They had to be from the future … unless Dudley’s science fiction shows were real and there really were alternate dimensions. Harry turned the ideas over in his mind as he mechanically placed his feet on the steps one after the other. Did he even like Ginny like that? He didn’t think so. He knew she liked him like that but to have had kids, well they must have … his face heated at the thought. All he could conclude was that Ginny Weasley must have grown up to look a lot prettier than she did right now.

He arrived on the landing and hovered outside Ginny’s door for a moment before knocking timidly. There was no answer so he pushed the door open gently and peered around. The room was only half lit and long shadows adorned the walls along with Quidditch posters. A slight figure with long, red hair sat near the window, staring out.

“Ginny?” Harry said quietly, almost hoping she wouldn’t hear him. She didn’t turn around.

“How’re the kids?” she asked him sarcastically. Harry flinched at her tone.

“Um … Bill and Ron are feeding them ice cream,” he said.

“Well, it’s a good thing it’s after dinner then, isn’t it?” she said. “We wouldn’t want them to spoil their meal.”

“I suppose not,” Harry stammered, taken aback at her vitriol. Suddenly she spun around, her face twisted in an angry grimace.

“Were you in on this?” she demanded. “Did you know what they were going to do?”

“Erm …”

“Because it’s just mean,” Ginny got up and stalked over to him until they were nose-to-nose. Well, she was nose to neck, really. Harry hadn’t really noticed how much shorter she was than him before. Nor had he noticed exactly how lovely her hair smelled. He was startled and fought the urge to take a step back when she abruptly turned her face up to his.

“I, um, don’t know what you mean,” he stammered. “Sorry.”

“Are you in on this?” she demanded again, her eyes glittering with tears he suddenly realised she was barely holding back. Harry shook his head slowly, watching her nostrils flare as she inhaled sharply.

“I swear I don’t know anything about it,” he assured her. Ginny whirled suddenly. The ends of her hair swished across his neck and face and he closed his eyes briefly as he smelt the sweet scent of flowers. Ginny had stalked back to her dressing table and picked up her hairbrush. Harry felt inexplicably bereft after she’d left his personal space and he fought an irrational urge to go after her. Instead he stood awkwardly near the door, his hands in his pockets watching her viciously attack her hair.

“I’m never going to forgive them for this,” she muttered. “I can’t believe they used two poor, little, innocent kids like that. They have obviously gotten better at glamours — that's for sure — but honestly, this is unethical even for them!”

“Um, Ginny,” Harry started, intending to ask her who she thought was behind all this, but he got no further as a terrified scream rent the air.

Ginny turned, the brush clattered to the floor as she stared wide eyed at the sound of a small girl screaming for her mother. Harry crossed her room hastily and grabbed her arm.

“Come on!” he urged, pulling an unresisting Ginny out onto the landing. They were almost bowled over by Mrs Weasley, who was frantically scrambling down the stairs, Mr Weasley and Charlie lumbering in her wake.

Harry and Ginny watched as her parents and brother burst into the kitchen. They peered around the older Weasleys to see James hiding behind Ron and Lily clinging to her brother, screaming loudly. Bill, Fred and George were standing near the back door.

“What’s going on?” Mr Weasley raised his voice over the caterwauling and Mrs Weasley rushed towards the small girl making shushing noises and lifting her into her arms. Lily twisted and writhed desperately, clawing at her brother until Mrs Weasley let her go.

“They’re not the real ones!” she sobbed hysterically. James put his arm around her protectively. His little face hardened as he eyed the people in the room one by one.

“I know,” he said to her. “Don’t worry Lily, Daddy will figure it out.”

“I want Mummy,” sobbed little Lily piteously. Hermione knelt down on the floor next to the terrified children.

“We can find Mummy,” she said soothingly. “But what do you mean ‘they’re not real’?” James looked at her carefully.

“You aren’t the real Aunt Hermione either,” he stated carefully. “We forgotted. We ate ice cream.”

“Forgot what?” Ron asked. Harry felt his voice dry up in his throat and was glad other people were asking the questions. A sudden movement next to him made him glance down and he saw Ginny shifting nervously.

“She wants her Mummy,” she whispered, barely audible. “D’you think I should go out there?” Harry shrugged. He had no idea what was best at this stage and he jumped when he realised Ginny had slipped a hand into his and was clinging to it tightly, her eyes riveted on the tableau in the kitchen.

“Constant Vigilance!” roared James suddenly. The assembled Weasleys jumped.

“Who taught you that?” asked Bill. “Moody?”

“The Auror?” questioned James, looking at Bill as if he had three heads. Bill nodded. “No, I’m only seven!” James rolled his eyes. Hermione rubbed her forehead tiredly, from James’s cryptic answers or Lilly’s incessant noise Harry couldn’t tell.

“So, who isn’t real and how can you tell?” Ron asked James.

“Well, I should have seen it before,” James said, suddenly sounding very wise. “But you bribed me with ice cream!”

“Seen what?” Bill asked. James turned to face him.

“Grandpa hasn’t got any hair,” he stated solemnly, “and your scar is missing and all the pictures of Auntie Fleur and Victoire are missing from the windowsill and those are the wrong curtains.”

“And Uncle Ronnie’s got a beard!” Lily cried, hiccupping. “Where is your beard?” she turned accusing eyes to Ron who glowered.

“Yeah Uncle Ronnie, where’s your beard?” taunted Fred. “Who is this sprog anyway and why is she calling you Uncle Ronnie?” Lily screamed again.

“Shush Lily,” James said impatiently. He drew himself up to his full height and pushed his sister behind him, puffing out his little chest as he faced the twins. “And you’re not supposed to be here.”

“I live here, you little brat,” Fred started; clearly affronted at being challenged in his own home by someone who barely made four feet tall.

“Hey!” protested Harry, shoving his way through the crowd in the kitchen doorway. He glared at Fred. Harry felt Ginny let go of his hand as he broke free of the group and stood in front of her father.

“What’s your name?” James asked him suspiciously.

“Harry Potter,” Harry answered. James peered up at him.

“You’re short,” he pronounced suddenly. Ron snorted and Hermione slapped him on the arm. Lily peered at Harry around her brother.

“My daddy’s name is Harry Potter,” she said. Harry swallowed.

“He’s too short,” James protested. Lily shook her head decisively and shuffled up to Harry. She tugged on his sleeve until Harry crouched down beside her. Harry waited while the little girl searched his eyes and then she reached out and traced the scar on his forehead.

“He feels like Daddy,” she whispered softly. James stood defiantly, his hands shoved deep into the pockets of the trousers he’d been wearing under the enormous Auror robes. Lily looked at Harry very seriously.

“I think we’re lost,” she said tearfully, “because nobody looks like they are supposed to.”

“What are we supposed to look like?” Hermione asked quietly. Lily regarded her for a moment before scanning the group.

“Daddy’s too short,” she said, “and Uncle Ronnie lost his beard. Uncle Bill has pretty cheeks and Uncle Charlie’s not fat enough.”

“Yeah,” chimed in James suddenly, “and Grandpa’s got too much hair and Grandma never wears that apron anymore. Daddy bought her a new one and she wears it all the time.” Lily reached out a hand and prodded Hermione’s waist experimentally with one forefinger.

“What happened to your squishy bits?” she asked. Hermione blushed but did not answer except to smack Ron on the arm when he snorted.

“Aunt Hermione?” James asked suddenly. “Why is there two of Uncle George? Did Uncle Fred come back from Uncle Sirius’s place?” The small boy looked fearfully over his shoulder at the twins who stared at him incredulously.

“And how come they have both of their ears?” Lily asked. Both Fred and George reached up and gingerly felt for their ears.

“What on earth is Fred doing at Grimmauld Place?” muttered Arthur. Harry shook his head. He thought perhaps he was just as confused as these poor kids. Lily looked at him sorrowfully.

“Where’s Mummy?” she asked him. “I want Mummy.” Harry thought his heart might break at the sound of this scared little girl asking for her mother. He didn’t know what to say to her at all and as a lone tear rolled down her cheek he heard a rustling sound behind him as Ginny pushed her way past her parents.

“It’s okay,” she said softly. “I’m right here, don’t cry.” The little girl launched herself at Ginny who had knelt down and opened her arms to give the child a hug.

“I was so scared,” Lily wailed into Ginny’s shoulder, “until I found Daddy.”

“Everything will be just fine,” Ginny whispered. The little girl raised her head and studied Ginny carefully for a moment. She touched a finger to the corners of Ginny’s eyes.

“What happened to your laugh crinkles?” she asked. Harry heard Mrs Weasley stifle laughter and saw Hermione raise her hand warningly above Ron’s arm.

“Well, I guess, like lots of things today they went missing,” Ginny said. “I’m sure we’ll find them again soon.” Harry looked up at James. The tension had slowly been disappearing from the room and he expected to find a slightly less horrified character than the one he was now facing.

“What’s wrong, James?” Harry asked. James shook his head staring between Harry and Ginny.

“Don’t worry about her eyes, Lily!” he exclaimed in a horrified voice. “Where did her tummy go?” Lily sat up abruptly and peered down at Ginny’s lap before experimentally putting a hand out and patting her tummy.

“Oh!” she said, looking up at Harry and Ginny, her eyes sparkling. “That’s where you must have been. I guess you went to get the cabbage.”

“Erm …” Ginny looked helplessly at the child. Mrs Weasley knelt down beside her daughter and reached a tentative hand out to the small child sitting on Ginny’s lap.

“Is your Mummy going to have a baby, dear?” she asked her. Lily nodded her head vigorously.

“Cos her and Daddy love each other very much,” she nodded sagely. “Teddy told me that the stork brings babies but I know he’s lyin’. Aunt Hermione never said anything about any storks when she had Rosie and I haven’t ever seen one and I know lots of babies.” She nodded her head wisely.

“Oh, well, yes you’re absolutely right,” Mrs Weasley agreed.

“Anyway I know how the baby gets there,” Lily said proudly. Mrs Weasley nodded faintly. “Cos Uncle Ronnie had to explanation it one day when James and I had a sleepover. Daddy taught him lots of locking spells after that but I don’t know why because Aunt Hermione already knows all the spells in the world and she can lock the doors when they want to make a baby.”

Harry rather thought he heard Ron choke.

“So then,” James picked up the story, “Uncle George made sure we knew how Mummy had to go and see the cabbage patch cos what you do is you take the cabbage that you been growing in your tummy and you put it out there in the ground and then a couple days later you can go find a baby under there and bring it home.”

Harry heard Mr Weasley snort.

“I see dear,” Mrs Weasley nodded.

“When do you think the baby will be ready, Mummy?” Lily asked Ginny, turning her little face upwards expectantly.

“Um …”

“I’m sure he’ll be along when he’s good and ready,” Mrs Weasley said, patting the little girl on the arm. “Why don’t we go and find you two some toothbrushes and a pair of pyjamas and tuck you into bed.”

“Oh boy!” cried James excitedly. “Can we sleep over? Can we sleep in the Canons room?”

“I don’t want to sleep in the Canons room! I want to sleep in the Harpies room!” Lily suddenly turned to Ginny.

“You and Daddy can go home and cuddle now,” she announced. “Grandma said it’s okay to stay over. And she’s not wearing the new apron but I like her.” Ginny blushed a spectacular shade of red.

“Come on then,” Mr Weasley said briskly, “let’s get you off to bed. Say goodnight.”

James and Lily skipped around the room saying goodnight. When they got to Fred both children seemed to hesitate. Eventually Lily reached out a tentative finger and prodded him on the kneecap.

“You’re real,” she whispered in awe. She tugged gently on his sleeve until he bent down to be level with her. She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him on the cheek. Fred flushed a delicate shade of pink but the moment was broken when James, who had been saying goodnight to George, suddenly yanked hard on his ears.

“Ouch!” yelped George, holding his ears and glaring at James. “Why you little-”

“George!” both Harry and Ginny yelled simultaneously.

“You look funny with both ears,” James announced. “And Auntie Angie said you have to stop calling me a little brat or she’ll box your other ear.”

“Auntie Angie?” muttered Fred, glaring viciously at George, who shrugged his shoulders and winked at his twin. “You’d better hope you meet another witch with the same name or I’ll chop off your other ear.”

The two children soon left with Mr and Mrs Weasley and an uneasy silence settled over the kitchen.

“Well,” said George suddenly, “that was interesting.”

“Do you suppose they are actually from the future?” Fred mused. Harry looked up at Hermione who was still glowing a faint pink.

“I think that is almost certain,” she said primly, carefully not looking at Ron.

“If they are,” said Bill slowly, beginning to pace, “how did they get here?”

“And how are we going to get them home?” added Charlie. He stopped suddenly and peered into the mirror hanging over the sideboard. “I wonder what made me put on weight?”

“Never mind that!” exclaimed Fred. “I think Bill’s married to Fleur!” Bill turned a deep shade of red but didn’t comment.

“Oh ho!” cried George. “I think we might have just discovered the reason she moved to England and got a job at Gringotts to ‘eemprove er Eengleesh’!”

“That can’t be true, I heard she got a job there to seduce Bill!” chortled Charlie.

“Never mind those two,” dismissed George, turning to the youngest four occupants of the room. He eyed them carefully. Harry squirmed. Fred turned his attention their way as well. Out of the corner of his eye Harry noticed Ginny stiffen.

“Very illuminating,” Fred leered.

“I can’t believe you two,” Ginny said suddenly. “I can’t believe you would bewitch two innocent children like that just to tease!” She scrambled to her feet.

“Hey, Gin,” protested George, his hands held aloft. “We didn’t do anything.”

“Prove it!” Her face was flushed and she glared at her brothers, her hands on her hips.

“Ginny-” Bill started in a conciliatory tone but she turned on him swiftly.

“Don’t you take their side!” she screeched at him. “I know you all think it’s a big joke that I like Harry; but this is low, really low, and now you’ve dragged Ron and Hermione into it!” She indicated her brother and Hermione with a sweep of her arm.

“Hang on, I didn’t have anything to do with this!” protested Bill. “I would never make fun of you.”

“I think they’re really from the future, Ginny,” said Hermione softly.

“Yeah, I swear it wasn’t us,” Fred said, unusually serious.

“We were only planning to stick you and Harry together for a day with this new paste,” added George, pulling a small tub out of his pocket. Ron hid a smirk and Charlie covered a chuckle with a cough. Ginny’s face crumpled and she fled the room, tears streaming down her face.

“I’ll go talk to her,” Hermione said quietly. She scuttled out of the room and Harry thought she rather looked as if she couldn’t wait to remove herself from Ron’s presence.

Harry found himself alone in the kitchen with Ginny’s brothers. He glanced around uneasily. He had absolutely no idea how they felt about these revelations that apparently, in the future, he was together with their sister. He knew that since her first year all of the Weasley boys had become more protective of their baby sister and he wasn’t entirely sure that they would welcome any bloke, even him, should he ever find Ginny Weasley attractive, making advances on her. Harry certainly couldn’t see what he might see in Ginny Weasley of all people. He shifted restlessly.

“Blimey … that was … um …” Ron stared at Harry for a moment. Charlie shook his head.

“Looks like she eventually wore you down,” he said with a grin.

“I’ll say!” George chuckled. “Well done, Harry.”

“Indeed,” Fred smirked, “you obviously managed to knock her up twice!”

“Three times actually,” said a new, female voice as the back door banged open, making Fred jump.

She wasn’t very tall and didn’t seem to command attention, but Harry felt like the breath had been sucked from his body. Her red hair fell in waves just past her shoulders and her brown eyes sparkled as she removed her lightweight summer cloak to reveal a set of shimmering blue evening robes. As she turned to drape the cloak over the back of a chair Harry noticed the swelling beneath the shimmery folds. She looked like she might tip forward at any moment but Harry had never seen anyone move more gracefully. When she spoke next her voice was soft and gentle and quite possibly the most beautiful voice Harry had ever heard.

“Little Albus is still back with the babysitter,” she said gazing at Fred. She suddenly launched herself at him, wrapping her arms around him. Fred looked startled. “It’s wonderful to see you, Fred.”

“Um, good to see you too,” Fred muttered.

“So, who are you?” George interjected, twirling the jar of paste in his hands.

“I cannot believe you don’t recognise your own sister,” she shook her head and plucked the jar of paste from George’s hands. “You will regret ever inventing that.” She tucked it in a pocket on her cloak.

“Ginny?” Bill asked. The woman nodded.

“Now where did Hermione get to?”

“She went … um … she went after Gin — er, you … that is …” Ron looked confused.

“Oh don’t be silly, Ron,” the woman called Ginny rolled her eyes. “I mean the one I brought with me.” The back door swung open and another finely-dressed witch bustled in, shrugging off a deep emerald cloak and clutching a handful of foliage that she set on the table.

“Sorry Ginny,” she said breathlessly. “I thought I’d just grab a cutting of that blue, biting rose bush that was lost during the battle after Bill’s wedding. Neville will be able to propagate it. Your mum’s always mourned the loss of that particular bush. I figured if we have to come here to fix the result of these irresponsible idiots-” She stopped short as the woman called Ginny jerked her head to where Ron and Harry were staring at the two of them.

“Hermione?” asked Ron weakly. She looked like Hermione, thought Harry but she had more curves than their Hermione had, her hair was twisted up into an elaborate knot on the back of her head and she moved with a different assurance, as if she knew exactly who she was. The woman, Hermione, looked at her companion.

“Do you know how much they know? Are they here?”

“I walked in just as they were congratulating Harry on his virility,” Ginny nodded and rolled her eyes expressively. “Do you think the boys made it into the living room?”

“Well they got in the front door, the key worked,” Hermione nodded briskly. “Now, we should be able to bring everybody into the same room without risking a rip in time and we can figure out how to get the children without alerting either Molly and Arthur or Dumbledore.”

“Hermione, what happened?” Bill asked. “I mean, I think we figured out what happened. We probably all know more than we should but …” Bill trailed off helplessly. The woman who was Hermione turned to Bill and assumed a lecturing mode with which Harry was very familiar.

“Well,” she said, “we knew the children had left because right in the middle of the Ministry Ball I went sort of woozy and I would have fallen over if I wasn’t dancing with Viktor.” Ron made a disgusted face.

“Still dancing with Vicky then,” he muttered. The Hermione woman gazed at him for a moment before she turned back to Bill.

“He helped me to a chair and it wasn’t long before we all found each other …” she trailed off before taking a deep breath and started again. “We all had two sets of memories and knew we had to come and get them.”

“We?” questioned Charlie.

“Everyone in this room,” Ginny said, her gaze flicking to Fred briefly.

“Ministry Ball?” asked Bill.

“Two memories?” George stared.

“Yes,” said Hermione briskly. “We all suddenly had two sets of memories. It took us a few minutes to sort them out, but we had to get here quickly before too much changed. It can’t have changed too much because none of us imploded and the memories merged back again … it’s hard to explain … but we remembered James and Lily and this meeting. So you three stayed and made sure Mum and Dad and the Minister didn’t get suspicious while we came here, so we left without getting changed and well, we have to act quickly.”

“Hermione,” complained Ron, “you are confusing me.”

“Sorry,” she apologised. “Did you feed them ice cream yet?” Ron looked at her startled and nodded.

“Damn,” swore Ginny. “Quick, go get Ron and Harry before James and Lily come charging down.” Hermione hurried out of the room. Harry stared at Ginny as she lowered herself into a chair.

“I don’t know who thought it was a good idea for me to go to this stupid Ball in this condition,” she grumbled. “I feel like I’m about to pop.”

“You’re not going to, are you?” Ron asked, looking alarmed. Ginny rolled her eyes at him.

“No,” she sighed exasperatedly. “I would love a drink though.” Bill straightened up but Harry moved as if beckoned by some new and unfamiliar force.

“I’ll get you some juice if you like,” he said softly and he padded over to the table with a clean glass from the sideboard. He grabbed the pitcher of pumpkin juice and poured a glassful and handed it shyly to the Ginny who sat in the Burrow’s kitchen.

“Thank you, Harry,” she smiled at him and Harry found himself staring again. The older Ginny raised the glass to her lips, holding his gaze until Harry raised the corners of his mouth in a small smile. He tore his gaze from hers when he heard a commotion on the stairs. At that moment a very much larger and bearded Ron burst through the kitchen door from the corridor.

“Holy …” the younger Ron trailed off, staring open-mouthed.

“Harry!” the large man barked. “Stop making eyes at her and get out here!” He took one large step into the kitchen and reached out one long arm to pull Harry out of the kitchen.

As his eyes adjusted to the dim lighting in the corridor Harry heard a disgruntled voice grumbling about his subtlety.

“You were never subtle about it, mate,” the large Ron chuckled. Harry recognised that tone. It was the one Ron reserved for taking the mickey out of Harry.

“Yeah, whatever,” the disgruntled voice mumbled. Harry peered upwards to the source of the voice to see a man about a head taller than himself who looked just like him, down to the scar on his forehead. He could hear the children on the stairs.

“We have to go and get them, Harry,” the real Ginny said. The young girl was standing next to his older self and he noticed that Hermione, the one he knew, was looking back and forth between the two of them, a shrewd look on her face.

“If you don’t and Mum and Dad come down here and see us …” the other Harry trailed off and gestured to himself and Ron and Hermione.

“It could be disastrous,” the two Hermiones chimed in simultaneously. Ron shook his head.

“Why?” Harry asked.

“Well, I’m not one hundred percent sure,” the older Hermione started, “as there’s not exactly been any recorded time travelling of this … distance before but since they didn’t see us before and given our physical reactions to the moment James and Lily saw you … well I don’t want to risk anything else changing; especially not to Ginny. Who knows what it could do to the baby.”

“She shouldn’t have come,” grumbled Harry’s older self. “We should have brought George.”

“You know how he felt about coming,” Ron said softly. His large size was in congruence to the gentleness with which he spoke. “He couldn’t face it and Ginny wouldn’t stay behind. You wouldn’t, so why would you expect her to?”

“I know,” Harry watched himself sigh heavily and rub a hand over his weary face.

“Besides,” Hermione said, “you had already seen yourselves … ourselves … the four of us, so it would be a whole new complication that you don’t need.”

“Exactly,” the older Hermione beamed at her the way Aunt Petunia did whenever Dudley moved. “It would have caused the same complications as if Mum and Dad were to see us now. We simply don’t know enough about this to predict anything.”

“I just don’t want her in danger,” the adult Harry said. He was gazing at Ginny as he said it and she was blushing furiously. Ron rolled his eyes.

“We know, we know,” said the bearded man. “You are like a broken record, you know that. I’m amazed you ever let her be a-”

“Ron,” his wife warned him.

“Honestly, Ron,” huffed the teenaged Hermione. “I think we already have more than enough information about the future.”

“What do you mean he let me be something?” Ginny’s eyes flashed as she glared at her very much older brother.

“Well, a bloke’s got rights-” Ron started. The two teenage girls turned on him.

“Oh really?” asked Hermione, eyebrow raised.

“You sexist pig,” exclaimed Ginny. She wore a look that Harry never, ever wanted to see directed at him and he figured he knew exactly why his future self never stopped her doing things she was determined to accomplish. “You are so lucky right now that I am not allowed to use magic outside of school!”

“All right, all right!” said the other Harry as he stepped between them and faced Ron. Harry noted glumly that he was still shorter than Ron. “Last thing we need right now is for you two to get into an argument. Ron, honestly what on earth are you thinking? Let her? I should hex you for that!” He shook his head incredulously.

“You always take her side,” Ron grumbled, sounding very much younger than he looked.

“Yeah,” the adult Harry said forcefully. “That’s what I do.”

Harry watched as he saw himself defend Ginny — his wife — and realised that he did it for a far different look on Ginny’s face than he had first thought. Ginny was staring up at the grown up version of Harry, her face glowed as a small smile spread across her features. It wasn’t the same sort of silly, soppy look he usually saw on the faces of teenage girls. He caught a glimpse of something he couldn’t quite put a finger on and then Ginny turned to look at him and it vanished as she turned tomato red. Harry wanted Ginny to look at him with that glowing smile because there was something about that look that made him feel like he could do anything. His thoughts were interrupted by the older version of Hermione.

“If you two have finished dispensing testosterone?” she said, tapping her foot impatiently. The two men glowered at her for a moment.

“I hate it when she uses long Muggle words,” Ron grumbled.

“Just … will you go get the children, please?” the older Harry pleaded. Harry just nodded resolutely and took a hesitant step towards the stairs.

“Maybe you should go up?” he said hopefully, turning back to his adult self. “You’re their dad, not me-”

“We’re the same person, Lily recognised you.”

“Harry,” said the Hermione with the soft face and new curves. “We can’t risk revealing to Molly and Arthur that we are here.”

“Those kids are hyper,” the elder Ron grimaced as a particularly loud giggle echoed down the stairs. “They aren’t going to bed for anyone. Your kids …” He turned to the man in Harry’s body and shook his head.

You gave them the ice cream and the chocolate topping and the extra sugary sprinkles,” he retorted. “Don’t blame this all on my genes.”

“Just get them down here,” hissed Hermione, tugging on her husband with one hand and pushing her younger self in the direction of the kitchen. “And hurry up!” Harry looked doubtfully at the stairs and then back at young Ginny and his older self. Ginny sighed heavily.

“Come on, Potter,” she said determinedly, striding past him. She stopped a step or two above him and Harry looked up at her. There was something about her eyes he decided. She had nice eyes. He started as a soft warm hand slipped into his own. Harry looked back at himself.

“Don’t fight her,” the older Harry whispered as he slipped into the kitchen. He winked. “You won’t win.” Harry swallowed and turned back to Ginny. She had turned around and he followed her obediently as she tugged him up the stairs.

They found Lily and James bounding up and down the stairs between Ginny’s landing and Ron’s. Mrs Weasley was standing in Ginny’s doorway while her husband suddenly appeared brandishing a book.

“Who wants a nice, calm story?” he asked. At that moment James fell down the last few steps, tumbling onto the landing and started crying. Mrs Weasley rushed to his side but Ginny got there first.

“Hey, it’s all right,” she crooned, pulling the small boy into her lap. Lily bounded up to Harry.

“Daddy!” she cried and practically jumped onto him. Harry stumbled and banged his elbow on the wall. The little girl giggled. “Sorry! I forgotted you were short now.”

“I think they react badly to sugar,” Mr Weasley said faintly.

“Well, why don’t you go relax,” Ginny said, struggling to her feet and pulling James with her. “We’ll just take these two down and give the some warm milk and get Ron and Bill to calm them down, since they gave them the ice cream.”

“Are you sure, dear?” Mrs Weasley peered concernedly at Ginny, who nodded vigorously.

“We’ll be fine,” she reassured her mother. “They like us.” She smirked at Harry mischievously.

“Yeah, no problem,” said Harry, attempting to look more confident than he felt.

“Well, we can help,” Mr Weasley looked dubiously at them.

“No, really, Mum, we’ll be fine,” Ginny steered James towards the stairs.

“Okay then, sing out if you need a hand,” Mrs Weasley said. Harry grabbed Lily’s hand and followed her down the stairs hastily before Mrs Weasley could change her mind.

The two of them managed to get down the remaining steps and to the kitchen door without further incident, but Ginny stopped suddenly at the door.

“Why don’t you two go and get Daddy’s Auror robes from in there,” she said to James and Lily, gesturing to the living room. The two children bounded off to do as they were told. Ginny turned to Harry, a worried look on her face.

“What’s wrong?”

“I hope they will be all right seeing them … us like this,” she said concerned. Harry smirked at her.

“They’ll be fine,” he said. “They like them … us.” Ginny pulled a face at him and Harry laughed softly. Ginny pushed the door open and stopped abruptly. Harry peered over her shoulder.

Standing in the middle of the kitchen were the older Harry and Ginny. He was looking down at her and rubbed her belly gently before kissing her on the forehead. Ginny looked troubled but when she felt the gentle touch to her forehead she looked up at her husband and smiled. Harry leaned down to whisper something in her ear and pulled her closer.

“He really loves her,” Ginny whispered from his side as if she couldn’t quite believe it. Harry glanced at her. She was staring at the couple in the kitchen; her hair, which had been pulled back into a pony tail, was escaping and curled in tendrils around her face and her cheeks were a little flushed. There was a sprinkling of freckles across her nose and Harry suddenly felt an inexplicable urge to stroke her hair or touch her in some way. As if she felt his eyes on her she turned her face up to him and Harry couldn’t look away. He just stared at her for a while before he moved ever so slightly closer. He wanted to kiss her but he didn’t know where the urge was coming from. He definitely hadn’t ever wanted to kiss Ginny Weasley before. Cho Chang — definitely, Ginny Weasley — never; she was off limits.

“Yeah, I reckon he does,” Harry whispered. He leaned closer, his eyes dropped to her lips before they flickered back up to her eyes. Her eyelids had fluttered shut. Harry reached out a hand to stroke her cheek and Ginny turned her head to lean into his caress. Suddenly feeling brave, Harry dipped his head then reeled backwards as a small force pelted between them and hurled itself into the kitchen with the energy of a miniature tornado.

“Daddy!” two voices screeched in unison as they hurled themselves at the Harry in the kitchen. He knelt down and pulled them close as they clung to his neck.

“I was getting used to that being me,” Harry said softly, watching the two children with their father as he kissed their little faces. Harry felt a small hand slide into his own, squeezing gently.

“It can be,” Ginny said, “one day.” She let go of his hand and sidled into the kitchen. Harry followed her and saw the older Ginny look up at them. She smirked at them slightly and Harry felt his face heat up.

“So,” the adult Harry said suddenly, looking sternly at his children. “What on earth made you play with that watch?” James looked down at his feet, twisting the end of the Auror’s robes in his hands relentlessly.

“He started it!” Lily said.

“Did not!”

“Did too!”

“Enough,” said their father authoritatively. “I don’t care who started it.”

“It was Uncle Ronnie,” James said so softly he could hardly be heard. “He said it was a magic watch and that it had magic inside.” Both Harrys turned to look at the bearded Ron who stopped, a guilty look on his face and a leftover bread roll half-way to his mouth.

“Ron?” the elder Ginny raised her eyebrow at him, her hands on her blue silk clad hips.

“He asked me what it was!” he defended himself. “I’m not gunna lie!”

“You could have told him it was top-secret, dangerous magic!” Ginny bellowed suddenly, her blue robes billowing s she took a step towards her brother.

“Well I didn’t know it was going to do this!” Ron exclaimed, waving the bread roll wildly. “So how can it be my fault?”

“Because just like giving them ice cream … you don’t think,” Ginny sighed wearily and rubbed her belly.

“I don’t know why you’re blaming me,” Ron said sullenly. He gestured to his wife. “If it wasn’t for her, this would never have happened.” Both Hermiones glowered at him.

“I didn’t expect you to put it in the mind of children to play with top-secret, Ministry artefacts,” the elder Hermione hissed. “Especially not that particular child.”

“Well,” sighed Ginny, waving at her husband, “he’s the one who left it in his work robes in the living room. Shouldn’t something like this be locked up?”

“I know, I know,” Harry said rubbing the bridge of his nose. “I should have taken it home and put it in the safe in my study. I just wanted to come here and spend some time with them before we had to leave them here for the night.” Harry watched as the adult Ginny gave him the same glowing smile he’d seen on the younger girl’s face out in the corridor. This woman gave it more freely than his Ginny and she didn’t try to hide it from him when he saw it.

“We’re very sorry,” the bearded Ron said solemnly, not looking sorry at all. His wife huffed at him and turned to Lily who was tugging on her robes.

“Aunt Hermione?” she asked and extended one pudgy finger towards Hermione’s middle. “Are your squishy bits back?” Both Hermiones looked startled.

“Sure are, squirt,” mumbled Ron through a mouthful of the bread roll. “Those are her best bits.” He reached out and Harry couldn’t see but he was pretty certain the older man grabbed her somewhere … delicate if her reaction was anything to go by. She whacked his arm and scolded him. Bill snorted.

“Some things never change,” Charlie said. Harry stole a look at his best mate, the one who didn’t yet shave. He was looking a bit flushed and carefully avoided looking at Hermione altogether.

“Just … please, James,” the other Harry pleaded with his son. “Stop looking for trouble. I’m not sure I can take much more of this sort of caper. I am not sure how Grandma Molly survived Fred and George.” James looked chastened.

“Oi! Watch it Potter!” Fred called out. The adult Harry started as if he’d seen a ghost before his face relaxed a little.

“I don’t go looking for trouble,” James whined. “It finds me.” Harry snorted helplessly and the older version of himself looked up at him and shrugged.

“We have to go,” the older Hermione said. She grasped the pocket watch in her left hand.

“Wait,” cried the fifteen year old Hermione. “What is it? What does it do?” The older witch looked at her regretfully.

“I can’t tell you,” she said, “but look at it this way — you’re bound to find out one day.” She gathered up her cloak and the cutting and glanced at Fred before giving him a swift hug and held out the pocket watch. Harry picked up his Auror robes and his children and moved closer to Hermione. Ginny gathered her own cloak and took her husband’s elbow in one hand and touched the Pocket watch with the other as the three of them looked to Ron.

“Honestly, Ron,” Ginny said. “There’ll be food at the Ball when we get back and if we don’t get there soon Charlie, Bill and George will find it very hard to cover for us.”

“Fine, fine,’ he grumbled, “but this is mum’s cooking.” The large, bearded man swallowed the rest of his fourth bread roll and strode to the others. He reached a hand out before withdrawing it.

“Wait,” he said gruffly and he turned swiftly and almost ran to Fred, engulfing him in a fierce hug before letting go and returning to the pocket watch. Harry, watching from near the doorway saw a lone tear slide down the man’s cheek and into his beard.

“Goodbye,” said the younger Hermione, looking at the group around the watch.

“Thanks for taking care of them,” the adult Ginny looked directly over at her younger self who shrugged.

“No problem,” Ginny said quietly. The older Hermione pried open the watch and a bright light spilled out of it. Harry had to shade his eyes and Ginny turned away and covered her face. Harry instinctively reached out an arm and pulled her to his chest to shield her.

He heard four distinct pops and then the light was gone abruptly. He looked back up and the kitchen was strangely empty. Mr and Mrs Weasley raced in.

“What was that?” Mrs Weasley asked frantically. “Is everything all right? Where are the children?”

“They went home,” said Ginny quietly. Harry belatedly realised that he still had his arm around her and blushed as all eyes in the room turned to look at her. An uneasy silence settled over the kitchen. Ginny laid her head on Harry’s shoulder and sighed. Harry stiffened slightly but then realised he didn’t feel uncomfortable about it at all. It felt … nice.

Gradually the occupants of the kitchen relaxed. Bill pulled out a chair and stared at the spot where the time-travellers had left and Charlie reached for the ice cream and searched the table for a spoon. Ron and Hermione were carefully avoiding each other’s gaze and. Harry shifted slightly when he realised Mrs Weasley was watching him and Ginny.

“I think I must have been dead,” Fred said abruptly. A few people gave him horrified looks. He shrugged and grabbed George’s arm. “Better make the most of it then! Come on brother! We’ve got lots of work to do!” The twins bounded out of the kitchen and Fred gave Harry a wink on the way.

“Well, that was exciting, wasn’t it dears?” Mrs Weasley said briskly. “Time to get this cleaned up. Harry, Ginny, you two go and take a walk or something. I’m sure this lot can help me fix things in here.”

“Real subtle, Mum,” muttered Ginny, so that only Harry could hear.

“Gets us out of kitchen duty,” he whispered. Ginny looked up at him, her eyes brimming with mischief.

“You’re smart, Potter,” she said. “I like that. Come on, it’s still light out, I’ll race you to the pond!” She took off, dodging the kitchen furniture and erupting out the back door. Harry glanced at Ron who shrugged and gave him a look that said, ‘if you must.’

Harry followed her out into the garden and down to the pond.

When Fred and George got back on the Hogwarts Express that year they had to take the journey standing up because someone had stuck them together, back to back, with a little something that mysteriously appeared on their dressing table one morning.

Ron and Hermione boarded the Express with shiny new Prefect badges and a determination not to look at each other at all. They spent the year stealing glances at each other when they thought nobody was looking. No one was fooled.

Harry and Ginny got back on the train holding hands and Cho Chang had a sour look on her face all year.

But Harry smiled.

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