Bound by YelloWitchGrl



Summary: The battle is over, there is life to be lived, peace to be enjoyed and trouble following close at their heels.

Ginny hasn't seen Harry since the dust settled from the battles with Voldemort, but when an unexpected piece of news draws them together will they be driven apart or become bound?

Follows Canon to the best of my knowledge.

The warnings are just to be safe. I don't know that they're all needed, but I'm putting them up just to cover my bases. If you have any questions or concerns, please message me.
Rating: R starstarstarstarstar
Categories: Alternate Universe, Post-DH/AB
Characters: None
Genres: None
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: Connections
Published: 2014.07.08
Updated: 2014.12.14


Index

Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
Chapter 8: Chapter 8
Chapter 9: Chapter 9
Chapter 10: Chapter 10
Chapter 11: Chapter 11
Chapter 12: Chapter 12
Chapter 13: Chapter 13
Chapter 14: Chapter 14
Chapter 15: Chapter 15
Chapter 16: Chapter 16
Chapter 17: Chapter 17
Chapter 18: Chapter 18
Chapter 19: Chapter 19
Chapter 20: Chapter 20
Chapter 21: Chapter 21
Chapter 22: Chapter 22
Chapter 23: Chapter 23
Chapter 24: Epilogue


Chapter 1: Chapter 1

Author's Notes: I thought long and hard before I posted this. I'm actually 16 chapters in already at this moment that I'm now posting chapter 1 because I wasn't sure how this was going to go. I will post chapters about once a week.

I'm following canon with what we *know* for sure to the best of my ability. That means that for those who can do the math, you know how this story is going to end. Quit while you're ahead if that bothers you and you don't like where I'm going.

I'm writing for me, to help me cope with what has happened in my life. I think it can help others as well, but this is not going to be a completely happy story. You've been warned.
Thank you to ParadoxHoax for being my sounding board!
~ywg


Thursday May 28th, 1998

Ginny spit her coffee all over the newspaper. Really, this was just the limit. “Mum, you have got to see the latest rubbish Rita has put out!” Ginny called, laughing as she slapped the paper onto the table. “This is unbelievable. She’s gone too far this time.”

Her mother came over to the kitchen table and Ginny glanced up to see her tired, lined face. The grief showed constantly in the crinkles around her eyes and mouth ever since the last battle. Molly looked down at the headlines and her mouth dropped open. “What-”

“Yes, apparently I’m having Harry’s baby,” Ginny said rolling her eyes. “Never mind the fact that we aren’t together and I haven’t been alone with him in almost a year.”

Her mother looked at her, too dumbfounded to speak.

Ginny stood up quickly, alarmed at the pallor of her mother’s skin. She had to grab the back of her chair to steady herself as the room spun momentarily. Forcing herself to focus, she stepped towards her mother. “Mum? Mum!”

“Ginny- what… I…” her mother stuttered. “How…”

“Mum, this is Rita Skeeter we’re talking about,” Ginny reminded her quietly. “All she does is lie all day. Here sit down,” she said, guiding her into a chair. “Let me pour you some tea. Honestly, I thought you’d find it as ludicrous as I did.”

That was when the first owl arrived at their window. It stuck out its leg and Ginny untied the note. In writing she recognized as her father’s, she unwrapped it quickly. “I will be home as soon as I can,” she read aloud. “From Dad.”

Then the next owl arrived, this one was a howler. “Oh bloody hell,” Ginny swore softly. “Cover your ears, Mum.” Her mother didn’t move or even flinch as Ginny opened it and stuffed her fingers in her ears.

“SLUT! WHORE! YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF!” and on and on it went. Ginny was starting to wonder whether it was ever going to end.

Then the next owl arrived and Ginny didn’t even bother taking it from the owl’s leg. She told the poor bird to clear off and she slammed the window shut.

“MUM!” Ginny shouted, getting into her mother’s face. “Mum, I am not pregnant! NOT! I’ve never been with anyone before. It’s just not possible.”

Finally her mother’s eyes cleared of their haze and she focused on Ginny’s face. “You’re… you’re sure?”

“Mum,” she sighed exasperatedly. “I’d know if I’d been with a boy and frankly I haven’t been out of your company in several months. It just isn’t possible.” She turned sideways and pulled up her shirt, showing off her flat stomach. “Last time I was alone with a boy was March. I’d be out to here by now if I was pregnant,” she told her, holding her hand out away from her stomach to demonstrate. “I’ve not even seen Harry since that attack at Snape’s funeral. He was out of St. Mungo’s before me and I was barely awake when he said goodbye.”

An owl crashed into the window but Ginny ignored it.

“Ginny… it’s just, this is serious. If it’s in the paper-” but her mother was cut off by the whoosh of the floo as her father got home.

“Ginny, did you see the paper?” he asked, looked alarmed.

“Yes, we saw it,” Ginny sighed. “Dad, it isn’t true. You can test me! I’ve never been with a boy!” This time her faced turned scarlet. It was harder telling her dad than her mum, but as it was the truth it needed to be said.

Her mother shook her head. “No Ginny, no we believe you and you’re right. Except for that night in St. Mungo’s when you were unconscious you haven’t been out of my sight since the battle at Hogwarts. I don’t know what woman is playing at, but we’ll sort it out.”

Ginny grinned in relief. “Thank you for believing me. I-” she jumped when another owl hit the window. She went over to look and saw about 50 owls circling, all trying to get in. “This is going to be a nightmare,” she groaned. How on earth were they going to sort this out?

The fireplace sprang to life and Harry tumbled out of floo, looking pale and shaken. Her heart leapt when she saw him, as it always did. “Did you see-” but he stopped at her nod. Harry turned quickly to her parents. “We haven’t! We have not been together, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley I swear!”

“We believe you, son,” Arthur reassured him. “We’ll get this sorted out with the press.”

“I got a summons at work,” Harry told him, holding out an official looking piece of parchment to her dad. “Told me I was to bring Ginny along to a hearing today at 11am.”

Her mother shot out of her seat in alarm and her father staggered a bit as he read the note. “But… but…”

“What does that mean?” Ginny asked, looking between her parents with concern.

“It means,” her dad said slowly, looking older and more tired than she had ever seen him look. “That the ministry knows you are pregnant and there will be a trial to decide what to do with you.”

“But I’m NOT pregnant!” Ginny practically shouted it at her parents, fighting back tears of frustration. “Wouldn’t they have discovered it when I was in the hospital 2 weeks ago?”

“They might not have checked,” her mother said, trying to inflict a note of calm into her voice. “After all, you and Harry were there for being blasted by that curse.” A sob broke into her mum’s words and Ginny knew why. No one expected an attack at Snape’s funeral and if Harry hadn’t dived in and taken half the curse, she’d have been dead. Another inch to the right and it would have been Harry who’d died. It made her blood run cold to think about losing him, even though he’d barely spoken to her in the last 3 weeks. The fact that they each only got half of blast is what saved both of their lives. “But usually a pregnancy is not detectable until at least 4 weeks after the woman’s last cycle.”

“Why would there be a trial?” Harry asked cautiously. “I don’t understand that part.”

“There is this very old law that forbids out of wedlock pregnancies,” her father explained wearily. “About 20 years ago we were able to work in a clause that made allowances for muggleborns because they weren’t raised in wizarding tradition but we weren’t successful in getting the law repealed completely. Too many wizards are still extremely narrow-minded.” His expression turned thoughtful. “We might be able to work that angle, Molly. We can argue that Harry was raised by muggles. They might not force them to marry.”

“Marry?!” Harry squeaked.

Ginny stomped her foot. “I am NOT PREGNANT! Why is no one listening to me?!”

Tears started to leak from her mother’s eyes. “You have to be. The ministry-”

“Bugger the ministry, Mum!” Ginny shouted. “You check me!” She yelled, pointing at her in righteous indignation. “You check!”

Molly hesitated for only a moment. It was a mark of just how stressed she was that she didn’t even reproach Ginny for her language. She jerked her head and said, “Fine. Go lie down and lift your shirt a bit.”

Ginny hurried over to the sofa and lay down, doing what she was told. Her mum pointed her wand at her stomach and said shakily, “conceptum revelio.”

Ginny looked down to see a small, very bright light appear on her lower abdomen. Her mother let out a sob and her father seemed to fall into one of the arm chairs. “What does that mean?” Ginny asked, afraid she already knew the answer. She was too scared to look up at Harry.

“You’re pregnant,” her father whispered, his head in his hands.

“I can’t be pregnant,” Ginny denied, now wondering if this was a dream.

Harry cleared his throat. “Ginny and I haven’t been together,” he told them. “Why would the ministry think that I’m the father?”

“They have ways of detecting,” her dad answered simply. “It’s a lot like the trace. They know who the parents are if the parents are magical.”

“I can prove it,” her mother told him hoarsely. “Come here Harry.”

She heard all of it, but there was a sharp ringing in her ears and she couldn’t completely focus. Ginny finally looked up into Harry’s face as he drew near but his expression was blank.

“Put your hand right here,” Molly said softly, laying her hand over the spot where a moment before the light had shown. Ginny felt numb as his warm hand rested on her lower abdomen. “If the light comes through your hand, then you are the father,” her mum explained. “Pater conceptum revelio.”

Harry’s breath was forced out of him as though he’d been hit in the stomach as the light shown clearly through the back of his hand. His eyes flashed up to Ginny’s but she couldn’t speak. “We haven’t! Give me Veritaserum and I’ll prove it! We haven’t!”

Ginny suddenly felt like she was going to be sick. She lurched up and held her head in her hands, trying to breathe in enough to keep down her breakfast. “I can’t be a virgin and be pregnant, Mum! I can’t! How did this happen?” Oh merlin, she thought wildly, I’m 16 and pregnant and I have no idea how I got this way!

She felt a strong arm come around her shoulders and with a gentle tug Harry pulled her back into his arms. It might have been cowardly, not wanting to face her parents but she buried her face into his shoulder and took the easy way out. She couldn’t be pregnant! She inhaled Harry’s scent, a smell she’d missed this last year like she missed the air she breathed. It was comfort in a way she could never explain.

“How did this happen,” Harry said, repeating what she’d asked. “We haven’t. We haven’t been alone at all together except at St. Mungo’s…” his voice cut off when she stiffened and sat up as a memory came back to her.

“Ginny?” Her father asked, sounding alarmed.

Ginny swallowed hard. “I… I had a dream when I was in the hospital. I mean, I thought it was a dream, you know but with all those pain potions and everything.” She pulled her legs up, curling around them, unconsciously trying to make herself smaller. “I woke up and there was a woman. It was all dark and I felt this really sharp pain in my stomach and… and… I…” she held back a sob, but it was close. How on earth had her world so completely turned upside down in such a short time? “I know I said something, or cried out and the woman gave me a potion to drink and then everything went dark again.”

Her parents didn’t say anything until she looked up and met their stricken eyes. “Why didn’t I stay with you?” Her mother wailed, tears falling freely down her cheeks. “I wanted to stay! The Healers t-told me to go and we’d just buried Fred the day before and I w-was so tired,” she stuttered and her husband came and pulled her into his arms. “This is all my fault!”

“It isn’t your fault!” Her dad growled, sounding uncharacteristically harsh. “There was an Auror on duty, guarding them! That was the point in having them in rooms next to each other.”

A cold sweat washed over Ginny. “Can you get pregnant with magic?” she asked, her voice felt as cold as she did.

“Yes, in special circumstances,” her dad told her. “If a couple is having trouble then a midwife Healer can help a couple along. Do you remember anything, Harry?”

Harry shook his head. “I don’t remember anything until I woke up the next morning and saw Ron sitting next to my bed and he’d only been there for a few minutes. Why would someone do this?” He asked, still sounding stunned. “What is the point?”

Her father let out a long, drawn out sigh. “I don’t know, but we don’t have time to figure that out now. We need to decide what we’re going to do at the ministry. I’m going to send a message to the boys to warn them and tell them to keep their mouths shut until we can talk in person. I’ll be right back.” He walked heavily from the room.

Ginny stared down at the floor and found an old burn hole from something her brothers had once blown up. She focused on it, trying not to think. She couldn’t think.

“So... so the ministry is going to want Ginny and I to get married?” Harry asked haltingly.

“Yes dear,” Molly said and Ginny could still hear the tears in her words. “They will insist on it. If you don’t marry, there will be heavy penalties to you and the family.”

“What sort of penalties?” he asked, shifting a bit so he could run his hand up and down her back. Ginny kept her gazed fixed on the burn.

Molly blew her nose into a handkerchief. “You will lose your job. Arthur will lose his, as will Ron and probably Bill. The ministry might levy fines against other family members or seize assets like George’s shop. You would become outcasts in our society and your child would no longer be eligible to attend Hogwarts.”

Harry swore softly. “That is insane! What kind of backwards law is this?”

“A very old, outdated one, I’m afraid,” Arthur said as he came back into the room. “It was set up to keep there from being bastard children in the wizarding world. Like I said, we might be able to get you two out of the marriage because you were raised by muggles but because they called a hearing I am not confident of that. It might be that since both of you were not raised by muggles that the law does not apply.”

“Surely Kingsley will help us,” Harry began but Arthur interrupted him.

“He can’t break the law, Harry,” he reminded him softly. “Not even for you.”

“But if they let us off, will things be okay?” Harry asked.

Her father’s voice trembled and finally Ginny managed to look up at him. “No. You might not lose your job, and I might not, but Ginny will never be allowed to get paid work in any job that’s ministry sponsored. She’ll never be allowed to marry a wizard, you’d never be allowed to marry another witch and the child will be stigmatized. It is not a good situation.”

Ginny shivered. She felt dirty; tainted. “I can leave the country.” They all turned to stare at her. “I can move to America or something. They don’t have the same laws there. I… I can start over there, raise… raise the baby there.” She turned to Harry, feeling completely sick at heart. “I’d need some money to go, but then you wouldn’t have to marry me and I could get a job there.”

Harry’s jaw set. “Don’t be stupid, Ginny. You’re not leaving. We’re getting married.”

Her heart felt like it was being squeezed by a giant fist. “I’m not being stupid! You haven’t done anything to deserve this!”

“Neither have you,” he reminded her firmly. “Neither of us asked for this. You shouldn’t be sent away like you did something wrong.” The sofa’s old springs squeaked as he stood up and strode across the room to stare into the fireplace.

“Ginny,” her mother said softly, brown eyes meeting brown eyes. “You can’t leave. If you leave, you leave Harry to the mercy of the press because they will crucify him if you don’t get married. You know what a stain this puts on a person. And you can’t take my grandchild from me. You can’t take Harry’s child from him. It isn’t right.”

It hit her like nothing else had. Harry’s child. She was having Harry’s child. It seemed to have hit Harry too, because he spun around to stare intently at her. “Okay,” she agreed. “Okay, you’re right. I wasn’t thinking like that. I just feel,” she paused, holding her hands up to her chest. “I feel really bloody awful right now.”

“I think the best course of action would be for you two to walk into the ministry, smiling sheepishly, and say that things happened and of course you’ll be getting married in a few days’ time,” Arthur explained. “We can then explain to Kingsley what happened and start a quiet investigation into what really happened.”

“Why-”

Her father held up a hand, silencing her question. He knew what she was going to ask. “It doesn’t matter to us how this baby got here. The baby exists and we need to deal with that in a way that will cause the least amount of damage. Do we want your child to know that he was conceived because of someone messing with you? Do you want your child to think about not being wanted? No, of course not! If the world at large finds out, that will be all anyone ever tells this poor child, that he wasn’t wanted and his parents were forced to marry because of him! We keep this quiet and do the best we can to protect you and the baby. Someone did this for a reason and I shudder to even imagine what that might be.”

Ginny nodded, hating that he was right but knowing that he was speaking the truth.

“Can I have a minute alone with Ginny before we go to the ministry?” Harry asked softly. Her parents nodded and left the room. Harry came and knelt before her, forcing her to look right into his brilliant green eyes. “Ginny, we have to do this.”

“I know,” she whispered. “I just never… and we…” she stopped and swiped at the tear that fell traitorously down her cheek. “I’m 16. I can’t even legally get married without my parents say so! When I pictured getting married I expected love and romance and to be of age! And you,” she said, remorse filling her. “Are you ever going to get to have a normal life?”

The ghost of a smile flitted across his face. “We’ll make a normal life for ourselves. It isn’t like being married to you is going to be some awful chore. ”

Ginny tried to read his face, a face she knew so well. His expression was not one she’d ever seen before. “You haven’t been around. You barely talked to me. I thought that, you know, maybe you didn’t have feelings for me anymore and didn’t know how to tell me. It’s been a year and-”

He stopped her by leaning in to kiss her. Warmth shot through her as it always did when they kissed. Merlin, she’d missed this. “I haven’t been around because it’s been hell at the ministry and I didn’t want to start something again when I had no time to be with you. We have been grieving over everyone and it didn’t seem like the right time. I figured we had time to sort everything out now that Voldemort is dead.” Harry’s gaze was direct and open. “Do you still have feelings for me?”

“Yes,” she said honestly. “I never stopped.”

“I didn’t either,” he assured her. “You were always on my mind last year. We can make this about love and romance.”

She nodded and he stood. She got to her feet and the room spun in earnest. If he hadn’t caught her arm, she’d have fallen to the thread bare carpet. Keeping her eyes closed, she pressed her face into his chest and let out a ragged breath. “Ginny!” Harry exclaimed, holding her tight.

Her parents rushed back in. “What happened?” Arthur asked sharply.

“She nearly fell over when she stood.”

Ginny’s ears were buzzing and lights were dancing across her closed eye lids. “I think I’m going to faint,” she managed to say, and felt Harry swing her up into his arms before her vision went completely black.

Back to index


Chapter 2: Chapter 2

Author's Notes: I actually finished this story tonight, so it's all done! But it's still in editing and I think it will still be posted on a weekly basis.

Thanks James for all your help!
Thank you also to my ridiculously patient and understanding husband. :) I wrote 234 pages in 28 days and he picked up a lot of the slack around the house so I could do it.


Thursday May 28th

Harry hovered in the door of Ginny’s room as Mrs. Weasley wiped a damp, cool cloth on Ginny’s pale face. “Why hasn’t she woken?” At Mrs. Weasley’s insistence Harry had carried her upstairs when she’d passed out while Mr. Weasley had gone to fetch the midwife.

“I don’t know, Harry.” Mrs. Weasley said her anxiety in her voice. “Fainting isn’t unheard of in pregnancy but it does tend to be short lived and she’s been out for almost 10 minutes.” Harry moved in and sat at the end of the bed, taking Ginny’s limp hand.

They heard a clatter from downstairs and Mr. Weasley’s voice. Two people swiftly climbed the stair. A very sturdy woman with spectacles and thick short iron gray hair marched into the room with a small bag. “I’m here, Molly.”

“Oh Martha, I’m so glad! I can’t wake her,” Molly told her, moving aside. Harry nearly stood to make room for her to sit but Mrs. Weasley touched his shoulder and he knew she wanted him to stay with Ginny.

“I’m the midwife,” Martha said glancing at him once. “Martha Sterling. You must be the dad.”

“Yeah,” Harry said, the word nearly stuck in his throat as he watched her pull a small vial from her bag. The dad. Holy hell, he was the dad! He watched as she waved the vial under Ginny’s nose. Nothing happened. “What’s wrong with her?”

“I don’t know, yet,” she answered automatically, completely unruffled by the panic in his voice. Her calm seemed to seep through the room and Harry felt slightly better. He wondered vaguely how she managed that. “Let me check on the little one and see how the baby is doing.” She moved Ginny’s shirt up and pulled her pants down a bit. Harry had to work hard not to blush, having caught sight of her underpants. The midwife waved her wand, muttering. The light glowed again, this time pulsing and changing shape and colors. Harry couldn’t pull his eyes away from the beautiful light and he unconsciously squeezed Ginny’s hand. That was their baby making that light.

He’d imagined marrying Ginny. He’s thought about it more than once on those long, lonely nights last year. He’d thought about coming home to her, getting to kiss her any time he wanted. He’d even thought about kids once before pushing it out of his mind as something to be thought about someday if he lived long enough to ever see her again. Now because of some unknown person he and Ginny were being forced into a situation that he wasn’t sure he anywhere near ready for, no matter what he’d told Ginny. “Is the baby okay?” he finally asked, after the midwife withdrew her wand.

“Yes, the baby is looking great,” Martha told him smiling. “That’s how I like to see my babies, especially when I’m the one who delivered their mum.” She put a hand on Ginny’s cheek. “She’s clammy.”

There was a bang downstairs and a loud shout of “Mum!”

Harry recognized Ron’s voice so he didn’t get up as he watched Mr. Weasley go to intercept his youngest son.

The midwife didn’t seem to even notice, she was totally focused on Ginny. She waved her wand down Ginny’s torso as Ron and Hermione burst into the room.

“What the hell happened?!” Ron shouted, completely panicked.

“Quiet Ron,” Mrs. Weasley told him. “We’ll explain what happened later. Right now we need to figure out what’s wrong with Ginny.”

“But Dad’s message said-”

“Ron,” Hermione reproached him softly. “Later.”

Martha glanced up, and around for the first time. “What am I missing?” No one spoke. “Molly,” she said, turning to face Mrs. Weasley. “I need to know everything.”

Molly hesitated for a moment, looking between Arthur and Harry. She absent mindedly ran her hand along Ginny’s dresser, before lacing her fingers together. “We… well the kids have sworn that they haven’t been intimate and Ginny thought that she might have had something happen to her when she was in St. Mungo’s two weeks ago. She had been cursed by a blood boiling hex. While she was there she said she dreamed that a woman came into her room in the middle of the night-”

The midwife held up her hand. “Wait- wait a minute. While I normally don’t believe teenagers who say they didn’t do anything, if you’re telling me that someone might have magically impregnated her then I need to know that.”

“That’s... that’s what we are thinking,” Mr. Weasley confirmed. “Ginny hasn’t been out of our sight in months, except for that night in St. Mungo’s and she was definitely too ill to be up to anything.”

Martha let out a long breath. “Okay… then I think I know what’s wrong. I also imagine that it was very stressful for her, learning about being pregnant?”

“To say the least,” Harry muttered.

Martha turned to him; her eyes were kind and her smile sad. “I imagine for you as well. You’re in for a rough road young man. I hope you’re up for the challenge.”

He straightened and frowned. “I am up for it.” He thought of Teddy, his tiny godson who was not yet 2 months old. How he’d only had his father for a few short weeks and his resolve firmed. “I can do this.”

She nodded. “I would be inclined to believe that if anyone could be it would be you. When you were born you were so sturdy and calm. I told your mum that you were just about the mellowest baby I had ever seen.” Harry was startled but Martha didn’t pause so he could ask a question. “Alright, back to Ginny. Magical methods of impregnating are incredibly hard on the body. We will often see this happen to those mothers who have sought help to conceive a child. Let me see,” she said, rummaging in her bag. She pulled out another, larger vial. She tilted Ginny’s head back and began to slowly pour the liquid down her throat.

Within second Ginny’s eyes fluttered open. She drank the rest of the potion and tried to sit up, but Martha put a restraining hand on her shoulder. “You just stay there young lady. You’re in bed for the rest of today.”

“What happened?” Ginny asked groggily.

“You fainted,” Harry told her, watching her beautiful but ashen face.

Realization dawned over her features and she closed her eyes. “It wasn’t a dream, then?”

“I’m afraid, not,” her mother told her gently.

Ginny’s eyes met his and he could feel her fear as if it were his own. Maybe it was his own? He didn’t stop to think about what he was doing, or who was in the room with him. Ginny needed him and he needed her. He crawled up behind her on the narrow bed and lay down with her, pulling her into his arms. She turned and curled in and he felt her hot tears as they leaked into his shirt. “It will be okay,” he murmured into her hair, inhaling the flowery fragrance that haunted his dreams. He stroked a hand through her silky hair, trying to comfort while soaking in the enormity of what was happening. He continued to whisper comfort into her ear and eventually her breathing slowed as the sobs subsided into occasional hiccups.

No one else spoke, giving them this moment together.

Ginny finally looked around at Martha. “Why did I faint?”

“Being magically impregnated makes a witch very vulnerable physically. Healers typically prepare the woman for months with strengthening solutions before even attempting to impregnate her with magic. It’s very dangerous, especially because the women attempting it are often much older. You are young, normally healthy, but I imagine the blood boiling hex sapped you of some of your reserves. It’s lucky you even survived it to be frank. Combine that with the huge shock and all of the stress of finding out, and your body simply shut down. I’m not surprised you fainted.” For the first time Harry saw concern in the midwife’s face. “You will need to be extremely careful. You will not be allowed to do anything physically strenuous. You will need to eat properly and take potions hourly for a few weeks.”

He felt Ginny nod. “I will be careful. I’ll do what I need to do.”

“Harry,” Mr. Weasley interjected, putting his hands in his pockets. “We need to leave for the ministry in about 10 minutes. The hearing will be starting soon.”

“Right, the hearing,” Martha said, looking thoughtful. “Ginny is on bed rest. Tell Garsteur I’m not letting her out of the house any time soon and he can contact me to verify.” She stood and faced Ginny’s parents. “I don’t know why this happened, and normally I would want to send Ginny to St. Mungo’s but under the circumstances that is not an option. I will be checking in daily and I want to know if anything else happens, including her being sick more than twice in an hour. I’ll be back with her potions as soon as I can. Molly, Arthur, why don’t you show me out?”

She left the four teenagers alone in Ginny’s room. Hermione finally broke the uncomfortable silence. “You’re really pregnant?”

Ginny nodded and Ron swore, striding around the small room angrily.

“Ron,” Harry said, getting up carefully from the bed. “Ron, we didn’t do anything!”

Ron turned and his face was a mixture of anger and sorrow. “I believe you. Bloody hell, Harry I believe you.”

“I believe you too,” Hermione confirmed quietly. She went and sat next to Ginny, who was still lying down. “Who would do this to you and why? What are you going to do?”

“We’re going to get married,” Harry told her, “probably in the next few days.” He then briefly explained about the law and the hearing he was going to attend shortly.

Hermione was struck speechless.

Ron ran his hands through his hair, nearly pulling it all out in frustration. “This is just so unbelievably unfair.”

Harry saw Ginny try to sit up, but what little color she had regained drain from her face and she flopped back onto her pillow. He rushed over to kneel at her side. “Ginny?”

“No, I’m okay,” she assured him. “I just got dizzy again.”

“You stay still,” he told her gently, running a hand over her cheek. “Maybe you and Hermione can try to figure out what to do about a wedding while I’m at the ministry.”

She nodded but kept her eyes closed. “Okay.”

He kissed her gently and stood, hesitating. “I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

“We’ll be fine,” Hermione said. “I’ll stay with her.”

Harry put a grateful hand on Hermione’s shoulder, motioned to Ron that he should go with him and they went downstairs to find Mr. and Mrs. Weasley sitting at the kitchen table, the ruined, coffee splattered newspaper still on the table.

Mr. Weasley got up and wordlessly they went to the fireplace and floo’ed to the ministry.

They arrived into chaos. Reporters were everywhere through the atrium and Harry had to fight to get through with Mr. Weasley. Harry hadn’t noticed Ron at first, but was thankful to have his tall friend there to help push through all of the fired off questions.

They made their way to the lift and headed towards the Magical Law Enforcement’s office.

Harry felt a weird numbness settle over him, as though his limbs has been dumped in ice water that made the noise around him sound as if it was coming through cotton balls. In the space of a few hours he’d gone from 17 year old Auror in training to a father.

A father. The thought was at once more terrifying and more amazing than anything he had ever felt before. Very shortly he’d add husband to that list. As the doors clanged open a roiling nausea swept over him. Would he make a good husband? Could he be a good dad? He looked over to Mr. Weasley who was leading them down to the correct office and wondered if he’d ever be half as good of a dad as Mr. Weasley was. The thought was daunting.

They entered Gavin Garsteur’s office and found the man waiting for them. He invited them to have a seat and finally Harry’s hearing seemed to turn back on as Mr. Weasley explained why Ginny wasn’t there.

“No, no trouble at all!” Mr. Garsteur said genially. “I quite understand and I have a lot of respect for Martha Sterling. She delivered all of my children. If she says bed rest, then bed rest it shall be for the mother. Now, about our little problem here…”

Harry thought that a very odd way of referring to the baby but didn’t comment on that. “Ginny and I are going to get married.”

Mr. Garsteur smiled happily. “Wonderful! I was hoping to hear that. Because you are not a flight risk and your family is well established, Arthur, I will grant you the full 10 days to get married. We will, of course, waive the paperwork needed since Ginevra is still underage at this point and ensure that someone will be available for the soul bonding. That should give you enough time to throw together a decent ceremony.”

They murmured their thanks and Mr. Weasley asked, “what about the press downstairs?”

“I will be releasing a statement about your impending nuptials,” Mr. Garsteur told them. “I was thinking to say that you two are getting married shortly and that you are very happy and ask the press for privacy at this time. Would that do?”

“Yes,” Harry said curtly. He was itching to get out of this office and speak to Kingsley and then get back to Ginny. She’d looked so pale and small in her bed.

“Fine, fine,” Mr. Garsteur said, standing up and they shook hands all around.

Ron hadn’t said anything and Garsteur hadn’t asked why he was there. Finally he spoke up. “Does this happen often? These hearings?”

“Oh no,” Mr. Garsteur told them genially. “We sometimes have couples who marry in a muggle ceremony and that might register since their souls aren’t bonded, but we do recognize the muggle ceremony as valid. No, we typically only have a case once every 3 or 4 years.”

“How do you know?” Ron asked.

Garsteur shrugged. “I’m not at liberty to share the full mechanics of it. What I can say is that the system was created well over 300 years ago and that both parents must be magical for us to detect the pregnancy and it is only detected when the souls aren’t bonded.”

“Do you know how the press found out?” Harry asked him.

Mr. Garsteur shook his head. “I’m afraid I don’t. I’m the only one with access to the list and I didn’t tell a soul. I was quite shocked to see the papers today. I only found out this morning so someone must have tipped The Daily Prophet off last night in order for them to make this morning’s addition.” He smiled apologetically at Harry. “We don’t want a scene, especially if the couple has agreed to marry. We try to keep things quiet so as not to further embarrass the couple. I’m going to be investigating to see if someone has been in my office.”

“Thank you, Gavin,” Mr. Weasley said and they made their way from his office and back to the lift to head up to Kingsley’s office. “I sent him a message,” he told Harry and Ron once they were alone in the lift. “I told him we needed a few minutes of his time. This is a serious breech not only in St. Mungo’s but also in the Auror department.”

They arrived at Kingsley’s posh office and waited about 5 minutes before his secretary told them they could go in. Mr. Weasley closed the door softly behind them and Harry fell heavily into one of the chairs in front of his desk, barely noticing any of the ornate details that littered the Minister’s office.

“Your message was very cryptic, Arthur,” Kingsley began. “What happened?”

Mr. Weasley sat down next to Harry, Ron sat on his other side, his hands folded between his knees. “The paper came out this morning and we were all shocked. I got home to find Ginny saying adamantly that she couldn’t be pregnant and we could test her. Harry arrived and I saw the ministry summons for them. We knew it had to be true, but didn’t know how. Molly tested her and saw that she’s pretty early on, tested that Harry is the father. He swore they hadn’t; offered to take Veritaserum.”

“I still will,” Harry said, sitting up. “We haven’t done anything.”

“We believe you,” Mr. Weasley told him gently. “Anyway, Ginny remembered something happening when she was in the hospital a few weeks ago after Snape’s funeral.” The Minister nodded, acknowledging that he remembered the fight that had landed them there. “She said that she woke up because her stomach hurt and saw a woman who gave her a potion that made her fall back to sleep. Harry doesn’t remember anything from when they were there. When we got ready to leave for the ministry Ginny fainted.”

Alarm crossed Kingsley’s face. “Is she alright?”

“Martha Sterling has had a look at her and it isn’t the best situation,” Arthur told him. “She and the baby are okay for now, but she bears all the signs of having been impregnated magically.”

“Who would do this?” Ron asked.

Kingsley steepled his fingers and sat in silence for a full minute. “We do still have a few rouge Death Eaters on the loose. I can’t see the point in forcing Harry into marriage, but putting Ginny’s life in danger and tying Harry to that could have something to do with it.”

Harry sat up fully, alarmed. “Hang on! Ginny’s life is in danger?” Ron also looked startled.

Mr. Weasley sighed heavily. “I’m afraid so, Harry. Martha didn’t want to alarm Ginny, but the magic done on her is very dangerous at this point because of the blood boiling hex. She is stable for now but there is still a chance that Ginny will become so ill that she loses the baby or loses her own life. If we hadn’t discovered so early on that she was magically impregnated it might have been too late to save either of them.”

Harry’s heart froze in his chest. Ginny’s life was in danger. She might lose the baby. This baby that he didn’t know existed yesterday but today he was completely changing his life to keep safe.

“Possibly they were hoping for just that thing to happen. If someone knew that you and Ginny had previously had a relationship, they might have hoped that we wouldn’t believe that you have not been intimate and she might not have received treatment.” Kingsley told him.

Harry frowned. “How did you know she and I had had a relationship?”

“There is little about your personal life that we didn’t know,” Kingsley told him wryly. “We had to watch you closely.”

Harry’s face flushed, but he chose to ignore the embarrassment. “What are the odds that Ginny is going to be okay?”

“If she takes care of herself, takes it easy,” Mr. Weasley told him, “then we have a good shot of saving herself and hopefully the baby. She’s got to take care of herself, though, and that’s going to be a challenge. She isn’t very good at staying still and we can’t trust St. Mungo’s enough to check her in there.”

“What about hiring a private nurse?” Harry asked him.

“That is something to look into,” Kingsley said. “I will be checking with the Aurors to see what happened that night. I will look into it with Robards so we can do this quietly. She’s going to be vulnerable to attack right now, so she shouldn’t be left on her own. Harry, I want you to take a day or two off from training, spend time with Ginny. I’m sure this has been an unbelievable shock to both of you. If you need more time you can have it. I’ll speak to Robards about it.”

“I can deliver a message,” Ron told him. “I need to get back to my training.”

Kingsley nodded in appreciation and scribbled a note, handing it to Ron. Ron clapped Harry on the back and said, “I’ll see you later.”

Kingsley rose and they followed suit. He clasped Harry’s hand and held on. “We will figure this out. We’ll figure out how to keep her safe.”

They thanked him and left the office. In the lift, which was thankfully empty again, Harry voiced one of the fears that was clawing at him. “How are we going to keep her safe?”

“We’ll figure out a way. We have to. In the meantime I want you to move in to the Burrow. It is better to have more protection at the house and you can’t help while at Grimmald Place.”

Harry stared hard at the closed doors, but not really seeing them. “I will tonight.”

The atrium was blessedly free of press. Several security warlocks stood around, clearly keeping them out and Harry and Mr. Weasley nodded in thanks as they went to the floo to go back to the Burrow.

They arrived to find Mrs. Weasley about to take a tray upstairs. “Oh good, you’re back! Here Harry, take this up and get her to eat.” She pushed the tray on him and he dutifully took it up to Ginny’s bedroom.

He could tell instantly that she’d been crying. Hermione stood when she saw him and said, “I’ll just leave you two alone for a bit,” and left, closing the door behind her.

Harry set the tray on her dresser and sat down next to her on her bed. She put out a shaking hand and feebly tugged on him. He knew instinctively that she wanted him to lay down with her so he obliged. “What’s wrong?” he asked, cradling her to his side.

“I can’t stand up,” she told him. “I feel like I’ve had the flu or something. I can’t move without feeling horribly sick!”

He knew how that must frustrate and scare her. She was such an active person, constantly on the go, and here she was, stuck in her bed. “You will be feeling better soon,” he assured her, stroking a hand down her back and hoping what he said was true. “You just had a massive shock and everything’s piled on. You’ll be okay in a day or two.” Ginny, his Ginny, was one of the strongest people he’d ever known. She was a rock for him and it was shocking to see just how low she’d been brought.

“I hate you seeing me like this,” she whispered into his chest.

Harry’s heart lurched at the pain in her words. “Don’t… don’t feel like that. We’ll be married in a few days. I’m pretty sure the vows go something along the lines of ‘in sickness and in health’, yeah?”

“Most of the time people who are making those vows actually want to get married.”

It was such a simple statement but it opened up the window to all the insecurities she must be feeling. He had to admit he was feeling them himself. “Would you do the same for me? Would you want to marry me even if I was sick?”

“Of course I would!” she said, surprised.

“Well then, what’s the difference? You’d do it because you care about me and I care about you. That hasn’t changed.” He leaned over her, careful not to put any weight on her and kissed her. Harry had to breathe in, remember not to rush her and that she was not up for any heavy snogging but it was difficult. She always set his blood on fire. “I’ve dreamed about marrying you. I’ve pictured you in a wedding dress and I’ve wanted that for us. Never think I didn’t want this at some point- that I don’t want you. I do.”

Ginny nodded and he could see in her gaze that she believed him, that he’d set her fears to rest. Her chocolate brown eyes were swimming with unshed tears. “I’m trying not to cry.”

Harry lay back down and kissed her temple. “It’s been a rough few hours and you’re pregnant. I think I remember something about pregnant women being very emotional.”

She gave a watery giggle. “I’m going to try not to be too emotional.” He saw her hand flit down to her stomach, almost hesitantly before landing to rest on her lower abdomen. “It still seems like a dream, like there can’t be a teeny person in there who has completely turned our lives upside down.”

Harry took his larger, calloused hand and covered hers, right over the place where there baby was growing. “It’s amazing,” he agreed, his voice sounded raw. Teddy flashed into his mind. When he’d held his godson for the first time, his tiny warm body was a solid reminder of just how helpless the baby was. Now his baby was growing inside of Ginny and there was the very real danger that he was going to lose them both. A fierce wave of emotion washed over him and he silently vowed to do everything he could to protect them. “I know we didn’t do anything to create this baby, but…” he paused, trying to think up the right way to say it. “But the baby is really the innocent one in this.”

Ginny looked at him thoughtfully. “What do you mean?”

“Well… it’s just that…” His heart gave a lurch. “I’m the reason this happened.”

“You’re not the reason,” she said, putting a comforting hand on his chest. “Some nutter did this to mess with you.”

He swallowed as guilt gnawed on him. He took her hand in his and entwining them. “But it comes to the same thing. You’re pregnant with my kid and it isn’t just our lives anymore.”

Ginny closed her eyes and he saw a tear fight its way from her eyes. “We have more than you and me to worry about.”

“Yeah,” Harry said. “I can’t help but think that we’re at least grown but the baby doesn’t have any way of standing up for itself or… or protecting itself.” He shrugged self-consciously. “It’s… I dunno, it just feels like that’s maybe our job.”

She nodded but didn’t speak and didn’t open her eyes. More tears began to leak out.

Harry felt the weight of that come down upon him. His kid was growing inside of Ginny. It was on him to keep them safe. “I don’t know much about babies. I’ve held Teddy a few times, and I’ve even changed his nappy once but that’s it.”

“I can teach you, and Mum will help.” She sounded tired, but for the first time through this whole mess, he looked down saw a shy smile come over her face. “You’re going to an amazing Dad, Harry. I’ve seen you with Teddy. You can do this.”

“I hope so. I’m going to try.” He brought her hand up to his mouth, kissing her fair skin lightly. “But that’s just half the battle- I also have to be a really good husband too.”

“You’re already doing a good job,” she assured him. “Harry?”

“Hm?” He asked as his thumb gently stroked her hand.

“Where are we going to live?”

Oh, he hadn’t thought of that. “Do you want to stay here?”

“Not… not really,” she told him.

“I guess we can move into Grimmauld Place, but I’m not sure that’s the best place to raise a baby.” Harry stared up at the ceiling thoughtfully. “I always wanted a big, messy yard to play in. The Dursley’s were a pain about having to have everything just so. I wasn’t allowed to run around out back. Maybe we should buy a different house, although I’m not sure Kreacher is going to like the idea. Still, a new house could mean we can set up new wards, make sure the place is completely safe.”

When she didn’t say anything, he turned to see her studying him. “You want to buy a house?” Ginny asked him, her voice forcibly neutral.

“Well, it’s an option,” he told her noncommittally. Did she want to live at Grimmauld Place?

“It’s an option,” Ginny parroted with a half laugh, half sigh. “Oh Harry, for most 17 year olds, buying a house isn’t an option! Especially when they already have a house they couldn’t possibly sell!”

Seeing where she was going, Harry grinned sheepishly. “I have a lot of money. It turned out that killing Voldemort was rather lucrative. The Ministry insisted on compensating me for it.”

Ginny bit her lip, and finally said, “If you want to buy a house, well then let’s buy a house. I’ll leave that up to you.”

“It’s your house too, though,” he reminded her.

“I’m not picky,” she promised. “A yard to fly in would be nice, and a kitchen big enough for family dinners would be lovely, but I honestly don’t have any idea what I’d want in a house. I’ve never really thought about it.” She fell silent and then laughed. “Imagine that, talking about family dinners.”

Harry turned more onto his side and kissed her. “I’ll ask your dad and Bill about how I do this, and maybe we can get you pictures and you can pick a place. It will probably take a while to set up wards so we can move in. I imagine Hermione will help with furnishings and whatnot since you’re going to be taking it easy.”

She eyed him, frowning. “I’m not going to like this bit about pregnancy.”

“It’s just this pregnancy,” he reminded her. “This time you have to take it easy to keep you and the baby healthy.”

Ginny quirked an eyebrow, “Are you already planning for more kids?”

Harry flushed but grinned sheepishly when he realized what he’d said. Her stomach gave a loud rumble and Harry got up to get the tray. “You need to eat this or your mum is going to have kittens.”

“Harry?” Ginny said, picking up a slice of bread.

“Yeah,” he asked, gazing into her amazing eyes.

“I’m glad it’s you,” she said. “I don’t think I could do this, could make it through if it was anyone else but you with me.”

Back to index


Chapter 3: Chapter 3

Author's Notes: I'm busy at work with edits for this, working on a sequel which is coming along nicely, and with an original novel. Lots of things from me that are (hopefully!) fun in the future.

Thank you James for all your help!

I hope you like this chapter and I'll be interested to hear your thoughts.


Thursday May 28th

Ginny awoke slowly, and found that her eyes didn’t want to open. She was so exhausted that every breath was an effort.

“Ginny,” her mother said softly. “I just need you to take your potion and then you can go back to sleep.”

She drank and felt warmth seep into her skin. “Where’s Harry?” she croaked out.

“He’s with your father, settling some details. No need to fuss. Are you hungry?”

“Mmm,” she said, not sure if she was agreeing or not. It didn’t matter, sleep swamped over her again.

She didn’t know how long it was before she heard the voices. They were low, clearly trying not to wake her.

“She looks really pale,” the one voice said. “I’m not used to seeing her like this. She’s never sick.”

“She’ll be okay, Ron,” another one said. She thought it might be Hermione. “She just needs to build her strength back up.”

There was a long pause. “Why is this happening?”

“I don’t know, but they’re handling it well. I’m not sure what I’d do if I suddenly found out I was pregnant.” A low chime beeped. “Hang on; I need to give her more potion.”

Ginny felt something pressed to her lips and she drank automatically.

“Good, you can sleep some more until supper. We’ll bring you up a tray.”

The next time she woke she felt someone sitting next to her on the bed. “Ginny, you have to wake up and eat.”

Was that George? “Wuz up?” She asked groggily.

“I’m here to get you to eat something Smidge. Mum says to eat or else, here,” and he put something up to her lips. Soup.

She sipped at the soup and pried her eyes open. It was dim in her room, and she could see that it was dark outside. She’d slept through the whole day. “Why are you here?”

“Well baby sis it turns out this family is in a bit of crisis mode. Family meeting was called and everyone is downstairs discussing what is going to happen.”

“Can you get the light?” Then she squinted as he flicked his wand and the lights came on. “Thanks.”

He spooned up some more for her and she ate obediently. George’s face was so serious, even for how he’d been since Fred’s death. “Aw Ginny, you look… dreadful.”

Ginny grinned and took another bite. “I’ll be the most beautiful bride ever, right?”

He smiled back and gently kissed her forehead. “Definitely! You’ll make Fleur look like a cow.”

“My life is complete, then. So what all are they discussing?”

“Well,” George said, spooning in another bite. She wished she could sit up but she also didn’t mind this one on one with her brother. “They’ve decided on a wedding a week from Saturday. You’ll have to make a few decisions on what you want and we’re hoping you’re up from bed by then. Also Bill is pulling some strings to get you two a house in short order, although it is unlikely that it will be ready by the wedding. Still, if anyone can make that happen Harry can.”

“What about Charlie?”

“He’ll be here, don’t you worry,” George assured her. “Dad used a ministry connection to get a message to him and we’ve already heard back that he’s arriving on Friday.”

“George?”

“Yeah Smidge?”

Ginny paused, not sure how to ask what she really wanted to know, and knowing that if anyone would tell her the truth, it would be George. “Am I going to be okay?”

He considered her a moment and she knew he was trying to think up what to say. That in itself worried her more than anything. “I think so, Ginny, but you are going to have to do exactly what the midwife says. It might be touch and go.”

Ginny nodded and something chimed. What was doing that? She looked to see her brother touch a timer with his wand and grab a potion vial. “I don’t want that, it makes me fall asleep.”

George rolled his eyes. “So much for doing what the midwife says. Open up.”

“Wait, two more bites of soup.” After which she took the potion and dropped back off.

She watched Hagrid, fat tears flowing down his dirty face, as he carried Harry’s limp body out from the forest. Voldemort shouting “He is dead!”

“No!!” Ginny cried and felt her mother trying to calm her. “No Harry don’t be dead!”

“Shhh, Ginny it’s okay! Harry is fine darling! Shhh, hush now.”

Her mother’s arms came around her and Ginny awoke enough to realize she’d been dreaming. She let out a sob. “Where’s Harry?”

“He’s sleeping up in-”

“I want Harry!” Ginny insisted feeling like a hole was being ripped into her chest.

“It’s time for your potion.”

“No! I want Harry!”

“Ginny, please calm down. You can’t get excited like this.”

She heard footsteps and Harry’s voice. “I’m here Ginny.”

“Harry!” She sobbed and felt him lay down beside her, gathering her into his arms cradling her. “You were dead.”

“No, it was just a dream. I’m okay.” He crooned, softly stroking her hair. “I’m fine.”

“She needs her potion,” she heard her mother say.

“Ginny, you need to drink this. You and the baby need it.”

She sniffed back the tears. “Don’t go.”

“No, I’ll stay right here. Drink the potion.”

She opened her mouth obediently.

~*~

Friday May 29th, 1998

The next time she fully came awake, the first rays of the sun were peaking in her window and she found that there was an arm around her waist. She looked over to see Harry asleep, his face peaceful and relaxed. Snatches from the night before started to filter back into her consciousness. She also noticed that her bed was larger than it had been the previous day. When has that happened?

A chime went off.

Without looking, Harry reached up for a vial and brought it over to her. She reached over and took it from his hand. His eyes popped open and he smiled. “Hey,” he said hoarsely. “You’re awake.”

She pulled off the top of the vial and drank. “For now. This stuff knocks me out.”

“It might not today,” he told her. “Martha said it would do that only when you really need sleep. That fact that you can lift your arm and take it yourself is a good sign.”

Ginny looked at him carefully. He looked exhausted. “You didn’t sleep.”

The corner of his mouth twitched up. “I have my beautiful fiancé in bed with me. It’s a little hard to fall to sleep.”

Ginny rolled her eyes, but smiled at the compliment. “Come on, Harry. I can see you’re worried.”

He shrugged and stretched. “Yeah, well yesterday was a rough day. You had us all worried there for a bit.”

“I’m sorry you had to sleep with me. I don’t know what came over me,” she admitted sheepishly. “All of the sudden I just needed you here and nothing but you was going to fix it.”

Harry looked at her, studying her face. “You don’t have to apologize for that. If you need me I’m going to be here.”

“You can’t always be here. You’ve got work and training.”

“Not until Monday,” he told her. “We have a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it. George said he filled you in some.”

“Yeah, he told me that the wedding is in a week.”

He grinned at her and sat up. “The more we talk about, the more I’m looking forward to it which is weird because a week ago I had no plans on getting married any time soon. Do you know what you want for your wedding? Here in the garden or something?”

Ginny hesitated. She had an idea, but she wasn’t sure they could make it happen.

“What?” Harry prompted.

“The beach,” she told him, feeling her cheeks flush. “When I was little I saw this magazine. The couple was barefoot on the beach, their family and friends around them and she was in this long, flowing dress holding these beautiful flowers and it just stuck with me. I thought if I ever got married that’s what I want.”

A slow smile spread over Harry’s face. “I like it.”

“Really? You’re not just saying that because I’m absolutely pathetic right now?”

He laughed. “No, I really like it. We can probably set something up at Bill and Fleur’s as long as you’re up and about. Who do you want for bridesmaids?”

“Hermione and Luna,” she said without having to think it over.

“Ron for me,” he told her. “Do you care what color they’re wearing?”

Ginny thought for a moment and then shrugged. “Not pink.” She shifted on the bed and groaned.

“What’s wrong?” Harry asked concerned.

“I need to use the loo,” she told him, trying not to blush.

Harry took in her measure, studying her before answering. “I can get your Mum and she can take care of things like she did yesterday, or I can try to help you walk to the bathroom.”

She thought it over for a second before answering. “Walk.”

He stood up and helped her sit up which left her slightly dizzy, but not ready to pass out. Improvement was good. Harry got her to her feet and walked her to the loo. She gripped the sink and he went out and mostly closed the door. After she was finished he opened the door, took one look at her and scooped her into his arms. She wanted to protest, wanted to say that she could do it on her own but when she couldn’t even lift an arm to put it around his neck she gave it up as a bad job.

Harry set her down carefully, pulling the covers up. Ginny’s stomach rumbled but sleep was overtaking her. “Maybe no more walking to the loo today,” he commented.

She didn’t have the strength to reply.

The sun was streaming fully into her room when she next opened her eyes. Hermione was sitting next to her bed flipping through a magazine. “Oh good,” she said cheerfully. “I’ve been keeping some breakfast warm for you and you’ve got another 20 minutes before your next potion dose.”

Ginny reached over for the fork, and rolling onto her side awkwardly started to eat her eggs. “How long have I been out?”

“Not long I’ve only been here for a few minutes,” Hermione assured her, going back to her magazine, crossing her legs to better prop the shiny pages up. “I spent the night at my parents’ house again, trying to put everything in order and get rid of the rest of the dust. I was able to pick up some magazines at a muggle stand before heading back over this morning.”

Ginny dropped the fork. “You were supposed to leave last night for Australia! I forgot!”

Her friend shrugged, pushing her curly brown hair away from her face. “It isn’t a problem. We were able to put off the portkey for another few weeks. I can’t leave you and Harry right now.”

“Hermione…” Ginny felt awful. “You’ve been looking forward to getting your parents back.”

She didn’t even look up from her magazine. “They don’t remember me, and I don’t fancy bringing them back when we don’t know why someone did this to you and Harry. It can wait. Besides, your mum has agreed that Ron can go with me for extra protection but obviously he can’t leave before the wedding and I don’t want to either.”

Ginny nearly choked on her bacon. “Excuse me? How did you get her to agree to him coming with you?”

Hermione bit her lip. “Unfortunately it’s because of you two. She says I’m sensible enough to see that acting without thinking could land me in a position I do not want to be in, so she’s trusting in your example to keep me on the straight and narrow.”

Ginny raised her eyebrow, swallowed a bite of eggs and asked, “Is that going to work?”

“Yes!” Hermione spluttered. “You have no idea just how much of an uproar all of this has caused since you’ve been sleeping through it. Your mail has to be sorted by the ministry, and the press has been trying to track you down and oh the story the Prophet came out with today! I’m not nearly as famous as Harry but I am sure I would not be treated kindly by Rita Skeeter. I want to finish my seventh year at Hogwarts. I can’t do that if I’m married. If Ron even hinted at wanting to go further I’d be sorely tempted to shrink his balls.”

If there had been anything in her mouth, Ginny would have gagged on it. All sorts of unthinkable images started to flash through her mind. “At least something has come from this. I didn’t fancy you going to get them alone.”

“No, I didn’t either. Are you finished?”

“I’m not sure I’ll ever want to eat again. You put a horrible imagine in my mind,” Ginny joked as she ate the last bit of bacon.

“Oh, ha-ha,” Hermione rolled her eyes and moved the tray aside. “While you’re still awake we have a few details to discuss for the wedding.”

Ginny finally took a look at the magazine that Hermione was holding up and saw that it was a bridal magazine. “Oh, I don’t know… anything is really fine with me.”

“That answer means I have to think up all the details, or your mum does,” she reminded her sternly. “Now, about flowers,” she started to flip through the pages.

Ginny silently looked as Hermione flipped and finally said, “That one! That’s it exactly, flowing down like that.”

Hermione marked the page. “White lilies; very fitting. Do you want them just like this?”

“Yes, just like that or as close to that as possible,” Ginny decided. “I like the look. Just smaller bunches for you and Luna.”

“About our dresses, do you really not care what we pick?” Hermione looked skeptical.

“I really don’t care; something good for a beach wedding, and not pink.” Ginny turned onto her side completely, stretching out her cramped up legs. Lying in bed all day was starting to be painful.

“That’s fine, then. I’ve arranged to meet Luna later today and we’re going to pick out dresses together,” Hermione grinned mischievously. “I’ll make sure it isn’t too eye-wateringly bright.”

“I appreciate that,” Ginny said, giggling.

“What about your hair?”

Ginny didn’t even have to think about that one. “Down with a few curls at the bottom. Nothing fancy.” For the first time Ginny noticed that Hermione had her mum’s clip board and was making notations on it.

Hermione nodded and she wrote it out before she picked up another magazine. “About your dress…” and just like the flowers, Hermione flipped pages.

Ginny didn’t like any of them. They were all too fussy and formal. She wanted something simple and flowing. She was about to give up when the very last picture was the one. “That!”

Hermione beamed. “You will look beautiful in that. I’m not sure I’ll be able to find that exact dress, but now I have an idea to show Madame Malkins tomorrow. I’m going to try to get her to come here for a private fitting. I think she’ll do it.”

Ginny frowned. “Isn’t that going to be expensive?”

Hermione shrugged. “I’ve been told by Harry to spend whatever it takes to make this happen.”

“But-”

“It’s his wedding too, you know. He wants something nice and he’s got loads of gold, Ginny. The wedding isn’t even going to make a dent.” Hermione started laughing. “They just moved Harry down to Bellatrix’s old vault.”

“Excuse me?” Ginny blinked, dumbfounded. “I thought the goblins were hacked off at Harry.”

“Oh they are, but the ministry confiscated all of the Lestrange’s assets and gave most of it to the goblins for repairs. This became public this morning.” Hermione could barely contain herself to keep talking. “Harry’s gold had completely outgrown his old vault with all of the reward money so they sent him an owl last night saying they were moving him down into the high security vaults.”

“Well,” Ginny said slowly, trying to take this in. “Bellatrix must be turning over in her grave right now.”

“At the very least,” Hermione agreed mischievously. “How does it feel to be rich?”

The thought was as startling as it was unsettling. “I… I don’t know. I’ve never had any real money.”

“If you could buy one thing, what would it be?” Hermione prodded.

Ginny quirked an eyebrow, sensing a trap, “I don’t think so. I’m not making it easy for Harry to buy me a present.”

“Ah well, can’t say I didn’t try. So back to weddings! Your timer has only got another few minutes.” She pulled out yet another magazine. “Now you need to help me the wedding bands.”

“Plain bands are fine.”

“Gold or platinum?”

“Uhm,” Ginny floundered and Hermione showed her a photo of two different types. “Probably the platinum?”

Hermione made another notation. “Engagement ring?”

“None,” Ginny said firmly.

Hermione smiled knowingly. “Harry really, really wants to get one for you. He’s going to get one whether you want it or not. You might as well give me an idea of what you like so I’m not stuck at the jewelers stuttering as he gazes at me pathetically, asking for guidance.”

Ginny sighed and again they played the magazine game. Finally Ginny saw a simple diamond solitaire that she really liked. “That one.”

Hermione marked it down just as the timer went off. “Here is your potion. Harry should be back by the next time you wake up. You’re very compliant when we come in for more potions, so thank you for that.”

Before she gave in to the waves up fatigue that the potion was trying to suck her down in to, she grabbed her friend’s hand. “Thank you for doing all this, Hermione.”

“Any time.”

She fell heavily into sleep a minute later.

Something was tickling her stomach. Ginny managed to pry an eye open and her heart simply melted. Harry was whispering to her belly- to their baby.

She watched, not wanting him to know she was awake but within seconds he glanced up and saw her observing him. A sheepish expression stole over his face. “I was just… uhm, having a chat with the baby.”

“Can you give the baby a kiss for me?” She didn’t know why that popped out, but when he leaned down and kissed her belly, lingering for a moment her heart gave a lurch, turned over and she just knew. This was the moment; the moment she knew that no matter what she was going to love this man for the rest of her life. Any man who could stand by her this way, who could roll with the punches, who was so full of love even after all he’d been through in the last few years- it amazed her it had taken her this long to realize just how deep her feelings really ran. Her heart was so full that nothing else mattered. “I love you, Harry.”

He glanced up at her, completely startled. “W-what?”

“I love you,” she told him, smiling. “I don’t want to hear it back, especially if you’re not sure. For right now this is enough and you need to know that I love you.”

To her utter shock she saw tears spring into his eyes. He didn’t look away, just came up to lie next to her and pull her into his arms. She ran a hand up into his hair and just held onto him as he composed himself. It was her turn to comfort and to sooth in a way that only she could. She kissed his cheek and whispered, “I love you and we’ll make it through this.”

He swiped at his red rimmed eyes, momentarily knocking glasses askew. “I don’t know what to say.”

His eyes, normally shockingly green, were absolutely vivid with the moisture still clinging to his lashes. Ginny traced a finger along his brow and smiled a smile that was so utterly content and so sure. “You don’t have to say anything. Your actions tell me everything I need to know. You are strong, selfless, loving, and brave.” She cupped his chin leaned in to kiss him. “When I’m awake and thinking about the baby I’ve been knocked over sideways, knowing I already love this baby who I didn’t want or plan for and I will do anything I can to keep it safe and make sure that it is loved. Just now, you showed me that you’re going to do the same and I just knew.”

“I…” he hesitated, the uncertainty written all over his face. “I’m really scared I’m not going to be a good dad.”

Just the admission, the fact that he’d opened up about it, meant that it was weighing on him like a stone around his neck. Ginny reached up and brushed back the hair from his scar. “A lot of parenting is learning as you go. Mum has told me more than once that I won’t know what it is to be a parent until I am one.” She held his gaze, willing him to really hear her. “You can learn to change nappies, give baths, and you already know how to tie your shoes and ride a broom so you can teach those. But the thing you can’t learn, the thing that sets good parents apart is that they love their children more than they love themselves and they will do whatever it takes for them. You know how to show them how to be a good person because you are a good person. You have showed me everything I need to know.”

“How do you mean?” He asked, looking so lost.

“Yesterday, when you went to the ministry, Hermione asked about me having an abortion,” Ginny told him softly.

Harry reeled back. “What?!”

“Don’t get upset, she just asked if I had one what would the ministry do. She didn’t know that they aren’t legal for witches, that we can’t ‘spill magical blood’.” Ginny explained. “I asked her about them and found out that that they are common in the muggle world, which means you’re aware of that.”

He frowned, the scar on forehead standing out intensely. “Well, yeah, but-”

“You never suggested it.” Ginny said simply. “You never once said ‘why don’t we just end the pregnancy?’”

“Of course I didn’t! That’s- that’s my kid!” His outrage made her heart flip flop all over again and she couldn’t stop herself from beaming at him.

“That is why I love you, Harry. We didn’t even have sex, so the possibility was never on either of our minds that we might be having a baby.” Ginny sobered and the words came more slowly now. “You get this note saying you’re going to be a dad and you find out that while you were unconscious someone used you to impregnate me magically. You didn’t run, you didn’t hide, and you didn’t scream ‘no’ or try to find a way out of becoming a dad. You accepted in minutes that I was having your baby, that you were going to have to get married at the age of seventeen and that your wife is going to be useless for the next several weeks if there is any hope of saving that baby’s life. The enormity of all of this should have made anyone stagger back, and you looked at me and said ‘we have to do this’.”

Harry stared at her for several long moments, putting what she’d said into place in his head. “You did the same thing, though. You accepted that you’re going to be a mum that someone forced you into it, and you’re not backing down either.”

“Yes, but as the baby is inside of me so it isn’t like I could run away and…” she tried to gather her thoughts, but it was so difficult with him staring at her like this. “And once I accepted that this was real, that it was really happening, I started to fall in love.” She put her hand on her stomach. “I couldn’t not love our baby.”

Harry swallowed hard. “I think that I do love you. I’ve not had a lightning bolt moment or anything, but I think it has been there for a long time.”

She nodded, understanding him completely. “I’ve felt like you’re feeling for a long time too. It’s okay that you aren’t sure. I think that you will know someday and it’s okay to wait. You’ve been my rock, Harry. The last twenty four hours have been so hard and you’ve been giving me strength.”

He seemed to have no words. Harry kissed her tenderly.

Back to index


Chapter 4: Chapter 4

Author's Notes: I know a few of you have been wondering when they're going after the bad guy. Be patient, the story unfolds how it unfolds and the bad guy will be sought.

Two thanks- one you definitely need to join in for- I drowned my laptop which had this story on it. My husband managed to save it thankfully by pulling my hard drive from my fried computer.
Next thanks JPx for the support and beta work!


Ginny loved him! Harry kissed her gently; trying to show her with the words he did not yet have that she meant everything to him. It was extraordinary to think that this amazing girl, this woman, loved him. Feeling flooded him and for a few minutes the world just slipped away.

The timer chimed.

Harry grinned against her lips and she grinned back. “As soon as I know, Ginny, I’ll tell you.”

“I know you will,” she said and he could hear her love for him in her voice.

He reached up for a vial and she took it obediently. “Your mum should be up with some lunch shortly. You slept through Martha’s visit and she says you’ve lost 2lbs since yesterday.”

“I what? How did I do that?” Ginny blinked in surprise.

“I don’t know,” Harry shrugged, noticing the shadows under her eyes were even deeper than yesterday. “She checked the baby and everything is good there but after she waved her wand down your body she shook her head and said you’ve lost 2lbs.”

“All I’ve been doing is eating and sleeping,” she huffed, disgruntled.

She looked adorable and she’d probably want to hex him if he told her that. “You’re also growing a baby and it takes a lot to do that,” he said, parroting what Martha had told him earlier.

“I thought I was supposed to gain a lot of weight,” Ginny sighed.

Grasping for anything to say to make her feel better, he blurted out, “I’m sure you’ll be huge soon enough.” Ginny’s eyebrow rose slowly as she stared at him. His face started to burn. “I didn’t mean it like that!”

Rolling her eyes she waved it off. “I probably will be huge soon, so I best get used to it now. Only ‘huge’ might not be the best word for referring to me.”

He grinned sheepishly. “Right.”

“Lunch, dear,” Harry looked over to see Mrs. Weasley with a tray.

He stood and took it from her. She looked so tired around the eyes, but she had a bright smile on her face that looked as if it was painful to maintain. Harry didn’t think. “Kreacher?”

With a loud crack the house elf appeared before him. “Yes, master Harry?”

Harry set the tray down for Ginny who instantly reached for a sandwich. He turned back to the elf and realized he needed to say this carefully. “We’ve had a lot of work going on around here and we could really use some help. Would you be okay helping with some of the cooking and cleaning here at the Burrow?”

“Oh now Harry-” Mrs. Weasley began but Harry shot her a look and willed her to keep silent in front of Ginny. She faltered and recovered with, “that’s really nice of you. Kreacher, it’s lovely to see you again. I would be ever so grateful if you could help me out for a few days.”

Kreacher looked between Harry and Mrs. Weasley and then said. “I would be pleased to help master out in any way I can.”

“Thanks, Kreacher. Ginny and I are going to be getting married in about a week so there is a lot to do and Ginny needs to stay in bed,” Harry said, not sure how to explain what on earth happened.

Kreacher nodded. “Mistress Black was always very ill when she was carrying the new masters.”

There was a stunned silence. “How did you know?’ Harry finally asked.

Kreacher looked at him curiously. “I know my masters.”

Harry realized he had to accept this was just a part of elf magic and he wasn’t likely to get a better answer so he simply nodded.

Kreacher turned to Mrs. Weasley. “What would you like me to do first?” and out they went.

“Hermione is going to kill me,” Harry groaned. When he turned back to Ginny he was relieved to see that she had made it through her sandwich and was now on to eating his. He decided not to mention that he’d actually planned to have lunch with her. If she was that hungry she could have his and he’d eat later.

“No she won’t,” Ginny promised between bites. “It was really nice of you to get help for Mum. She’s looking exhausted. You do too come to that.”

“We’re looking for a private nurse but we’re not having any luck getting anyone through the Auror’s screening process.” Harry smiled and shook his head. “I’m not as tired as you are and compared to last year, this isn’t all that bad. At least I get to be with you and I’m not running from the ministry and Death Eaters constantly.” He pulled over her desk chair and sat down. “Hermione said you got a lot of the wedding details ironed out.”

She nodded as polished off her second sandwich. “It was a lot easier than Fleur and Bill’s wedding.”

“I was going over the guest list with your dad and I wanted to see if you had anyone you wanted to add,” he pulled a list from his pocket and started to read. “Your mum and dad, brothers and Fleur, Hermione, Hagrid, Andromeda and Teddy, Kingsley, Professor McGonagall, Luna, and Neville. Anyone else?”

Ginny’s eyebrow rose questioningly. “No Aunt Muriel?”

“You want her there?” Harry asked, surprised. “I didn’t think you liked her.”

“I don’t mind her really. She did shelter us for months and we’ll never hear the end of it if we don’t invite her.”

Harry shrugged agreeably. “Well, she’ll get an invitation.”

“I have one more,” Ginny said, downing her glass of pumpkin juice. “Kreacher. He should be invited and if he is, Auntie Muriel will be completely affronted. She’ll probably come, though. She wants to meet you.”

Harry sighed. “Her and everyone else.”

“She’s going to go on and on about me being knocked up before the wedding,” she regarded him thoughtfully. “Best not to let me have my wand at the ceremony.”

Harry grinned; a clear picture of her hexing anyone who dared insult them sprang into being in his imagination. “We know the truth and that’s all that matters.”

“Agreed and really, who cares what anyone thinks?” Ginny laid back and started counting. “It’s less than twenty people right now. That’s not so bad.”

“Nope,” he agreed and removed the tray. After placing it on her dresser he came back to lay down with her again. “In just over a week we’re going to be married and sometime around the end of January we’re going to be parents.” At her questioning look, he told her, “Martha said you’re due around January 30th.”

“It’s surreal,” she said, turning in to him. “What else do you have to do today?”

“I am still working on getting a house and sorting out some other details. I should be back by dinner time. Hermione and I are going shopping tomorrow.”

Ginny sighed. “Yes, about the engagement ring-”

Harry scowled. “She was just supposed to get an idea about what you wanted, not tell you anything.”

She rolled her eyes and brushed that off. “I don’t need an engagement ring! We’re only going to be engaged for just over a week. There’s no point-”

He touched her lips with his finger and she fell silent. “I want to get one for you.”

“But I don’t-”

“I know, Ginny, but I want to anyway. You said I should have a normal life. A normal life includes a girlfriend demanding a big diamond,” he told her trying to hold back his grin at her consternation.

Finally she heaved a sigh. “I don’t know what to do with you.”

“Love me?” He suggested cheekily and she grinned. “So did you find a picture of the big diamond you want?”

“I don’t want anything too big. If you haven’t noticed, I’m rather titchy,” Ginny said ruefully.

A shot of warmth spread through him as he studied her body. He kissed her, letting the warmth fill every crevice of his body. “I have noticed, actually. Small but mighty.”

“That’s me,” Ginny agreed. She yawned hugely. “Sorry!”

“No, that’s okay. I was expecting you to be asleep long before this, actually.” He made to get up but stopped when he felt her hand on his arm.

“Will you stay until I fall asleep?”

Harry settled back in, and pulled her into his arms; “Absolutely.”

It was only seconds before she dropped off but he continued to watch her as he face became peaceful.

He still couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact that she loved him. Happiness like he hadn’t known was warring with the fear that he could lose them both and he still had no idea why anyone would have done this to them. Kill him, sure. Hex him, of course- force him to get married and have a baby? That was a bit much. He didn’t know how to keep them safe and he couldn’t will Ginny’s body to get stronger.

Martha had been concerned at Ginny’s weight loss and adamant that they keep Ginny calm because stress was going to make it more difficult for her body to heal and keep the baby alive.

This morning Ron had mentioned that they might end up getting married for nothing, that the baby might not live. Harry had wanted to hit Ron. ‘It wouldn’t be for nothing, Ron. I’ll still have Ginny.’ But he didn’t want the baby to die. A fist was clenched tightly in his chest. He couldn’t lose them. It might not be as automatic for him but he was also falling in love with their baby. It was like she’d said to him. He couldn’t not love their baby.

There was a light knock at the door and Harry saw Bill standing there. “I have some information.”

Harry nodded and carefully extracted himself from Ginny’s bed. He followed his soon to be brother-in-law downstairs. “Any houses?”

“Actually, we do have one. It is owned by a married couple who are both muggleborns. They abandoned the house and fled to Brazil last summer so it’s been a little neglected.” Bill pulled out a file and spread it on the table. “They have decided they don’t want to come back. The estate agent got in touch with them, told them they had a buyer with gold on hand who wanted a quick sale and they’re willing to sell it to you for a great price, and they will let you rent it until the sale goes through. You can move in pretty much as soon as the ink is dry on the contract.”

Bill handed over the folder and Harry opened it to find pictures of a large white house, partially covered in ivy. “How big is the property?”

“It has 16 acres including a stream and a pond,” Bill told him grinning. “Honestly, I saw this and I just knew Ginny was going to love it. There is plenty of room to fly without anyone being able to spot you. Take a look at the kitchen.”

Harry flipped through the pictures and found the big, airy kitchen. Light streamed in through many windows. “Does it look out onto the back?”

“It does,” Bill told him. “It has 5 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms plus a large finished attic.”

Harry grinned as he went through the rest of the pictures. “It’s perfect. Or it will be if Ginny likes it.”

Mrs. Weasley came in from the scullery, a dish towel in her hand. “Harry dear, thank you so much for asking Kreacher to come help! He’s already helping me catch up with so much around here.” Harry’s stomach gave a loud rumble and she started. “Didn’t you eat lunch?”

“Ginny ate both of our sandwiches,” Harry chuckled. “I didn’t have the heart to tell her.”

Mrs. Weasley smiled in relief. “I’m so glad to hear that. I’ll just knock something up for you then.”

“I can do it,” Harry said. “You take a look at the house Bill found.”

He went over and made himself a sandwich while Molly cooed over the house. “It’s just beautiful! It definitely needs a cleaning and the grounds are so overgrown but the garden out back is absolutely charming and oh! Look at that bridge over the stream and the little benches! It’s just wonderful.” Her eyes went all misty as she looked at Harry. “You are…” words seem to fail her as she walked over to hug him hard. “When I thought about a husband for Ginny, I couldn’t have ever dreamt up someone half as wonderful as you. Another man might have just walked away, left her to deal on her own especially under the circumstances but I never doubted you for a second. I never thought you’d run. I don’t know what will happen, but I do know that I can count on you to take care of my daughter and my grandchild.”

Harry’s throat felt tight as he fought back emotion. He held on to his surrogate mother and let her cry. “Mrs. Weasley-”

“Molly or Mum if you like,” she sniffed and pulled back to look up at him. “You’re going to be my son-in-law in a week. You’ve been a son in my heart for years.”

It felt a little weird changing his name for her, but he gave it a go to start getting used to it. He would have to work up to using Mum. “Molly then… Ginny is amazing. I’m really lucky in all of this.”

Bill cleared his throat. “I agree. Ginny is a very special girl. You need to take good care of her.” He thought for a second before adding. “Without letting her know you’re taking care of her, of course.”

Harry and Molly laughed. “When Ginny gets up again I’ll see if she likes the house. If she does we can get that settled tomorrow and start setting up the wards as soon as the rental contract is signed. Wait,” Harry turned fully to Bill. “The current owners do know that we would be completely warding the property if we’re going to rent it, right?”

Bill nodded. “It was made very clear. The estate agent told the owners that the person buying is high profile and needs to be protected but she assured the current owners that everything would be on the up and up and offered a large advance retainer if they felt like they needed it.”

Harry nodded and the back door opened. Hermione came in, holding a large garment bag followed close on her heels by Luna. “Hi everyone. We just finished with the dresses and I’ve found a temporary nurse to help with the night time potions.”

Everyone looked at her expectantly and Luna piped in. “Me. I’m a bit of a night owl anyway.” She blinked her large eyes slowly and Harry had to wonder if she didn’t do that on purpose.

Molly looked slightly taken aback but also glad for the help. Harry was as well. With Luna in the mix that made 4 people to make sure Ginny got her potions through the night and it meant that they could get more sleep. “Are you sure, Luna?”

Luna’s smile was dreamy as always. “Of course I am. Ginny is one of my best friends. I want to help. She would do the same for me.”

Harry believed that she would.

Luna was installed in Fred and George’s old room with Hermione and Harry moved down from Ron’s room to Percy’s old room which was right across the hall so that they were closest to Ginny’s room on the first floor. Harry wanted be closer if she needed him in the middle of the night again.

Molly bit her lip as she looked around the sleeping arrangements. “I should just tell you to sleep in there with her, but I do want you to get some actual sleep. Hermione has charmed these timers to go off on alternating intervals so that between the four of us we’ll only be up every 4 hours.” She grinned suddenly. “It will be good preparations for when you have a newborn.”

He hadn’t thought of it quite that way but she was right, of course. By then, hopefully, Ginny would be healthy enough to help but if not they’d still manage. “I don’t know how to prepare bottles or anything. I’m going to need a crash course in baby care.”

Molly grinned, very amused. “Dear, I’m quite certain you won’t need to prepare bottles. Ginny is likely going to want to breastfeed.”

“Oh,” Harry said, his cheeks turning slightly pink. “Oh, right.”

He heard Ginny’s faint voice calling for him. He went down the stairs and found her looking through the pictures of the house that he’d left next to her while she slept. Ginny glanced up and her eyes were huge. “Is… is this the house you were looking at?”

“Yeah,” he said sitting down next to her on the bed. “Bill thinks you’re going to love it, your mum loves it, but if you don’t we can look for something else.”

“It’s so big,” she whispered, a little breathless. “It’s beautiful but-”

Harry needed to interrupt her. “Do you like it? Could you happily live there?”

“Yes, but-”

“Do you want me to find something different?” he probed, trying to see whether her reservations were the house itself or what it cost.

“No! But-”

Harry swooped in to kiss her. “Then it’s settled. We can move in as soon as we get the wards set up.”

“But Harry…” Ginny’s voice cracked and fat tears began to roll down her cheeks.

Heart constricted at the tears, Harry moved aside the papers and lay down to take her into his arms. “Shh, what’s wrong?”

“I d-don’t know!” She sobbed. “I d-do love the house and the garden i-is exactly what I always w-wanted. Exactly! The stream and the pond and the bridge and all those amazing old t-trees and the big kitchen but…” Ginny sniffed and Harry swiped at a trail of tears with his thumb. “I’m a little overwhelmed.”

Harry understood. He’d been more than a little overwhelmed himself over the last few days. So many things had to happen and if he didn’t have the family helping him he had no idea how they’d all get done. “A lot of things have changed.”

Ginny reached up near her pillow for a handkerchief to dry her eyes. “You don’t understand. I have wanted to marry you for over two years now.”

Slightly taken aback, Harry blinked at her. “Really?”

She sighed and a red flush stained her cheeks, but she didn’t look away. “I might as well tell you all of this embarrassing nonsense now and just get it out of the way. Try not to laugh, all right?”

Harry kissed her forehead. “I promise not to laugh too much.”

She giggled as he hoped she would and her expression became self-deprecating. “My fourth year, so the year we had Umbridge, I watched you struggle under so much and then you saved dad and you holed yourself up, not wanting to talk to us- you came down and we talked about whether you were possessed or not. You’d totally put it out of your mind that I’d been possessed. It didn’t matter to you. You were going to be my friend no matter what and when I snapped at you about forgetting, do you remember what you said?”

Harry thought back. “I think I apologized.”

“Yeah,” she said quietly. “You apologized. I’d been dating Michael for a while at that point and no matter what, he never apologized. He was always right in his mind. It sunk in that night, when I was trying to fall to sleep that I wanted to marry a man who was able to admit he was wrong. What I realized later is that it was the whole package of you that I was looking for. But your integrity and humility were just two of the things that drew me to you.”

He nodded. “I wish I hadn’t been so dense. You have made me happier than I have ever been in my life. I wish we could have had more time while we were still in school.” Harry kissed her again, breathing in her amazing smell. When he looked back into her eyes, he saw hesitation. “Was that everything?”

“No,” she sighed. “I found you in the library around Easter to give you your chocolate eggs and you were just so down, so upset and wanting to talk to Sirius. I thought you were hung up on Cho which hurt, but I was trying to be supportive.”

“I told you what was bothering me,” Harry said. “I couldn’t even tell Ron or Hermione.”

“You had this huge weight on your shoulders. You had Voldemort trying to kill you, the ministry against you, you’d lost all the things you loved at school and on top of it you really wanted to just talk to your godfather.” Ginny studied him for a moment before continuing. “I couldn’t help but feel awed that you actually opened up to me. I just wanted to make you feel better, to make it not hurt. I didn’t ever imagine I’d really be able to help but then I did. You aren’t perfect, Harry, but it hit me that you just might be perfect for me.”

“But you still went out with Dean that next year,” Harry groaned. “I wanted to rip him limb from limb.”

Ginny laughed. “Well I didn’t ever expect you to want to marry me back! I had to try to move on and I liked Dean. I just couldn’t ever love him because he wasn’t you.”

Something clicked in his brain. Was that the heart of it? “So you are getting to marry me, which you’ve wanted for a while, and now this house which you really like-”

“Love,” she interrupted. “I love the house.”

Amused, but pleased, he went on. “You love the house and it just suddenly feels like you’re getting everything you ever wanted and it’s overwhelming?”

She stared at him and then nodded ruefully. “That’s about it,” Ginny agreed, snuggling closer into his shoulder. She fit so beautifully there, almost like his shoulder was made her head. “For someone so thick about girls, you do seem to understand me.”

“You’re easier to understand. I get the way your mind works, probably because of all of your brothers.” His fingers played through her silky hair. “I love your hair.”

“Thanks,” she said, a little hesitantly.

Harry took the end of her hair and used it to gently brush along her cheek. “You know what I always wanted and didn’t know if I’d ever get?”

She looked up into his eyes. “What?”

“A family.” He said it simply, knowing it didn’t need any elaboration and that she’d understand perfectly.

“Oh Harry,” Ginny sighed, almost a whisper. “Well, you’re getting a ready-made family.”

He nodded. “It used to be that I thought a family would be with me as the child but at Dumbledore’s funeral I realized that I wouldn’t ever have the shelter of a parent again and I needed to stand on my own two feet and not let anyone protect me. Your mum and dad still try to protect me, of course,” he added. “But for me to have a family now it means that I’m the father and I do the protecting and…” Harry paused; wanting to make sure he said this right. “I would really love to have a little girl with your hair and eyes. I hope she’s as beautiful as you are.”

More tears began to pour from her eyes but she didn’t look away. “You keep making me cry!”

“I think it’s the baby that’s making you cry,” Harry grinned and she gave a watery chuckle in acknowledgement.

Ginny bit her lip, drying her tears again. “I didn’t know if you’d ever think I was pretty or anything. I’m glad you do.”

“I definitely do,” he assured her, bending down to kiss her. She sunk her hand into his hair and held on when he tried to pull back. Ginny deepened the kiss and wiggled up against him trying to get to a better angle. Harry groaned at how amazing it felt and the sound gave her pause.

She broke the kiss. “I’m just tormenting the both us, aren’t I?”

“It’s a good kind of torture,” he assured her, resting his forehead against hers. “You’re not physically up for anything more, though.”

“No,” she agreed. “We will have to be together once shortly after the wedding.”

Harry froze, staring at her. “I thought we’d want to wait until you’re stronger.”

“Ideally I’m sure that’s the best way, but after our souls are bonded we have to seal that within the first 24 hours.” Ginny’s eyes perfectly reflected his own fear and anticipation.

“Ginny…” he said hesitating. “I don’t want to hurt you or the baby.”

“I know. We’ll just have to be careful. I trust you,” she assured him, her eyes never wavering. “I know you’ll be gentle.”

Her trust in him was awe inspiring and terrifying. Did he really deserve her faith in him especially when all he had was Seamus’ version of how sex was supposed to go and he’d only heard it second hand from Seamus’ cousin? But when he looked into her deep brown eyes he knew that he would because he couldn’t do anything to hurt her. “I, uh, okay. So,” Harry cleared his throat. “I didn’t know that was, uh, part of it.”

“Mum told me last year. She gave Hermione and I the talk right before Bill and Fleur’s wedding and let us know what happens in a magical marriage.” Ginny grimaced. “It was unbelievably embarrassing. I thought Hermione was going to sink through the floor. We already knew most of it from other girls at school, but the part about soul bonding was new. The couple is bonded by magic but coming together physically is what seals the bond.”

He nodded in understanding and resigned himself to having to ask his surrogate father about sex. It was going to be the most uncomfortable conversation he’d ever taken part in. Ginny’s timer went off and he grabbed a vial for her. She drank it in one go and before he could even mention dinner she’d fallen asleep.

Harry kissed her cheek and touched her belly lightly, feeling a small jolt go through his fingers thinking yet again that his son or daughter was growing in her belly. He got up carefully and made his way back downstairs.

Back to index


Chapter 5: Chapter 5

Author's Notes: I appreciate all the reviews everyone! I'm responding as soon as I can. I hope you enjoy this chapter and I start to weave in some of the intrigue. I know it's been a bit hidden, and in some chapters there won't be a lot to mention, but the bad stuff, the bad guy... it's coming. Let me know what you think! Good or bad. ~Sarah

Thanks to JPx for the support and beta service.


When he reached the kitchen he saw Mr. Weasley was sitting at the table with Bill and Ron while Mrs. Weasley worked with Kreacher to make supper. “She’s asleep again,” he told them, standing awkwardly in the room. Mr. Weasley was regarding him curiously.

“Poor lamb,” Mrs. Weasley clucked. “We’ll have to wake her for dinner but that won’t be for a bit. Did she like the house?”

“Yes,” Harry said. “Very much, so we can move on that.”

Bill grinned. “I will get the quaffle rolling tomorrow, then.”

“Where are Hermione and Luna?”

“Gone to get Luna’s things. They should be back by dinner.” Molly told him.

Harry took a deep breath, steeling himself. “Mr. Weasley-”

“Arthur,” Mr. Weasley corrected.

“Arthur, uh can I have a word with you outside?” Harry stood there, trying not to fidget.

He didn’t glance at his wife who was looking between them, but kept his eyes on Harry. “Yes, of course son. Ron, why don’t you come too?”

“Me?” Ron said, clearly confused.

“Yes,” Arthur said, getting to his feet. “This is a conversation we all need to have.”

Bill’s face dawned in comprehension. “I think I’ll come as well. I can help.”

Then to Harry’s horror, Molly cottoned on to what he wanted. Before she could say anything, Harry hurried out the back door. He wanted to stick his hands in his pockets and stare at the ground, but he needed to face this.

Arthur wandered over to a large tree and conjured four chairs for them to sit down. Harry sat, his hands clasped between his knees. When he looked up he saw two expectant faces and Ron’s totally bewildered one. “Ginny told me about what we have to do after the wedding.”

Arthur nodded. “I thought she might. I had intended on talking to you sometime this week in any case.”

“What-” Ron began but then stopped and understanding crossed his face and he turned red. “I do not want to hear about my sister’s sex life.”

“Shut up, Ron,” Bill said. “You’ll need to know this for when you get married.”

Harry ran a distracted hand through his hair. “I didn’t realize we’d have to be together so soon! I thought we’d wait until she was stronger, until she and the baby are past the danger point.” Misery filled him as his thoughts raced. “I know it’s supposed to hurt for girls the first time and she’s so sick right now and I don’t know what the hell I’m doing! I don’t know how to do this and not hurt her.”

Arthur’s face was a mixture of relief and compassion. “The first step is going to be for you and Ginny to have a talk with Martha about what would be safest. She will have an idea and she knows this is coming.” He reached out a hand and grasped Harry’s shoulder. “The fact that you’re worried means you’re going to be okay. Do you know the mechanics of everything?”

Harry nodded, feeling warmth flood his face. “One of our dorm mates gave us a blow by blow of his cousin’s exploits but it definitely involved things that I’m not going to do with my fragile pregnant wife.”

Ron looked like he was going to choke. He held it together, though. “I am pretty sure that most of what his cousin told him was a load of dragon dung. I, uh, ran some of it by Fred and George who thought the whole thing was really funny.”

Arthur nodded and looked to his oldest son. “You’re the most recently married, Bill. What are your tips for that first night?”

Bill’s scarred face twisted as he thought. “We took everything really slowly. It wasn’t easy. We’d just been interrogated by the death eaters and everyone from the wedding had run, but the rules are to consummate within the first 24 hours. Fleur was a mess. She was really upset and crying most of that night, so we waited until the morning. We talked through it, I made sure that she was very ready and I held back as much as I could. It…” Bill’s adam’s apple bobbed as if he was swallowing something hard. “It was pretty intense the first time. I felt amazing but I could tell she was hurting so it made the experience very disconcerting. Dad and I had talked about it a few years before and it always stuck in my head that he told me to go really slowly.”

Arthur nodded. “It gets easier; after that first time you don’t have to be quite as careful. I’m sure Martha is going to tell you to abstain after the first time, though.”

“I figured as much.” Harry felt himself relaxing a bit. He could do this. “There isn’t any way to make it easier the first time?”

Arthur hesitated for only a split second. “There is… there is a cream. Unfortunately it is not for use by pregnant women.”

“Fleur didn’t want to use it,” Bill told them. “She said she wanted the experience for what it was. I’m sure she’ll be the same when we eventually have children. She’ll want to experience labor even though it hurts.”

Harry had a flash of Ginny in a lot of pain just like he’d seen on television, as she gave birth and his face paled. “Is there a way to make labor not hurt?”

Arthur smiled sympathetically. “Yes, but I doubt Ginny will want to use it either. She doesn’t run from pain. Molly wouldn’t use any form of pain relief, no matter how much I begged. It was awful listening to her scream and cry but she felt good about it and I was really proud of her each time.”

Ron asked another question but Harry was only half listening. He was picturing Ginny with a huge belly, trying to push out their baby. He could see her screaming in pain and his stomach clenched.

“You know, I sort of thought I’d be the first one to have kids,” Bill said, leaning back in his chair. “I never thought it would be my baby sister.”

“It wouldn’t be if someone hadn’t done this to us,” Harry said, coming back to the conversation. “In the normal course of things I expect we’d have waited a few years. Ginny’s wanted to try out for the Harpies and play Quidditch professionally for years.”

“That’s not going to happen now,” Ron said bitterly. “I’d have loved having a professional Quidditch player in the family and she was the best of us hands down. So you really wanted to marry my sister even before all of this? You never said anything.”

Harry shrugged, the seat creaking under him as he shifted. “What was I going to say, Ron? I had a dangerous psychopath after me and I had to kill him. I didn’t expect to live or to get married. But…” he ran his hand through his hair again, “but when I thought about Ginny I have thought about having years with her, having forever.”

Bill grinned. “Well you’re getting forever and a tiny little bundle too.”

Harry couldn’t help but smile. “The more it sinks in, the more I really like the idea. It’s like it was always meant to be this way, just maybe a little sooner than I’d have imagined.”

“I think you’ll like being married,” Bill reminisced. “I can’t explain it, but having your soul bound to an amazing woman just makes you feel…” he look at his father.

“Like part of your heart is walking around outside of your body,” Arthur said smiling. “And you miss it like you’d miss a limb, but when you’re together it’s as if everything is more complete than when it was just you.”

Bill nodded. “Yes, exactly.”

Ron looked skeptical. “You actually want to feel like that?”

“The reward is worth it, Ron,” his dad promised before his face went serious again. “I need to commend you for how you’ve handled this…” Arthur added. “Harry… I know Molly has said something to you but I’m glad it’s you. I’m glad Ginny is going to marry you and not someone else who might not love her, or treat her like she deserves.”

Harry met his eyes and knew it needed to be said. “If it wasn’t for me she might not have ended up pregnant. Things tend to go wrong around me.”

“But that’s not your fault,” Mr. Weasley insisted. “You can’t control what other people do and you can’t keep us from being affected by it. What you can control is how you react to the situation and son, I am so proud of you. You’re shouldering this responsibility. You’re making the best of it, and you’re doing everything you can to make sure that Ginny is happy and healthy. I couldn’t have asked for anything more from you. Again and again you have exceeded my wildest expectations.”

Harry was too choked up to speak. He looked to Ron and Bill, but neither of them said anything to break the silence.

Arthur went on. “I am confident in saying that if your parents could see you now that they would be so pleased with the man you’ve become. What’s more you’re asking for help when you need it, which is extremely important. None of us can move through life on our own. Look at what happened to V-Voldemort.” He stuttered a bit at the name but plowed on. “You’ve told us that he was always a loner. Look at how twisted he became. You came to me to ask me about how to keep my little girl safe even though I’m sure this is not a conversation you ever wanted to have.”

Bill cleared his throat. “Ginny has been my favorite since she was a newborn- sorry Ron.” Ron shrugged and grinned at his brother, clearly this wasn’t a secret. “I used to carry her around showing her things and I’d sit holding her while she slept. She was the cutest little thing especially when she began to babble and toddle. She was so tiny! I went to Hogwarts right after she turned one and it was hardest leaving her.” He laughed at the memory. “I made Charlie promise to keep her safe from the twins. I never thought I’d say this, but… you’re good enough for her.” His face broke into a roguish grin. “Just barely, though.”

Harry chuckled. He was really touched. “Thanks. I’m going to do my best.”

He heard a pop and turned to see Fleur walking towards them. Bill got up to sweep his wife into a grand kiss. “I have missed you today.”

“I ‘ave missed you too,” she replied, wrapping her arms around his neck. After a moment she broke away and said. “I’m going to ‘elp your mother get dinner ready so zat you can continue talking.”

Bill gave her a kiss on the cheek. “No, we’re done I think.”

Arthur nodded and they all rose. He vanished the chairs and they headed back into the kitchen in time to hear Fleur ask, “ees there anything else I can ‘elp with for the wedding?”

“Hermione has most of it planned out,” Mrs. Weasley told her as she waved her wand at a pot. “That girl is so organized! We should have let her handle all the details for your wedding.”

Fleur laughed. “Eet might ‘ave been less stressful zat way. I ‘ave made arrangements to ‘ave the ceremony at our ‘ouse if Ginny is feeling up to eet.”

“Thanks, Fleur,” Harry said sincerely. “This is a huge thing to ask but I just want Ginny to get what she wants if she can.”

“Eet ees no trouble,” she assured him, patting his cheek. “I want to go up and check on ‘er. I ‘ave been so worried since we found out. Come, ‘Arry.” She walked out and Harry followed, unsure of what she was up to.

They stopped in the door and to his utter astonishment he saw tears pool in Fleur’s eyes. She silently made her way to the bed and gently brushed Ginny’s hair from her face. Ginny didn’t even stir. “She ees so pale, so thin,” she whispered. “She does not look like ‘erself. She ees normally so, ‘ow do you say eet… vibrant.” She looked up at Harry and he saw sadness and anger. “Wizards ‘ave been impregnating Veela for many years to trap them into marriage. Many ‘ave died because of eet.”

Harry’s eyes closed in horror. Why would anyone do this to an unwilling woman? His imagination filled with the images of all of the women who had died because men lusted after them. They had a better chance of Ginny surviving because they discovered early that she’d been impregnated and he needed to keep saying that to himself. He couldn’t lose her, not now. He felt arms go around him and he stiffened for a moment until he realized that Fleur must have stood to hug him. He hugged her back and she quickly let go. When he looked into her beautiful face he saw only compassion. “I don’t want to lose her or the baby,” he told her.

She studied him closely. “I know. I can see zat. We are all ‘oping zat they both live. She ‘as better care than many Veela do, so I think zat eet can be okay. You go back down. I will sit with ‘er for a bit.”

Harry nodded and met Luna on the stairs. “Hello, Harry. I’ve got my things.” She held up a bright green bag. “I’m just going to run them up before supper. Mrs. Weasley says it should be ready in a few minutes.”

“Thanks Luna,” Harry told her as he made his way down stairs. He found Hermione and Ron working side by side at the stove and Mrs. Weasley setting out plates. “Fleur is going to sit with Ginny for a bit.”

Mrs. Weasley nodded and put down the last plate. “We are just about ready. I think we’ll let Ginny sleep a bit longer and then you can wake her to make sure she eats.”

Harry nodded and made his way over to help.

~*~

Saturday May 30th, 1998

Ginny only fleetingly remembered eating supper. When she awoke next it was to find Martha sitting next to her with Harry as the sun streamed in dancing waves through her window.

“Well, good morning,” the midwife said smiling as she ran her wand over Ginny and down her torso. “I was hoping you’d wake up.” She consulted her wand, reading something that Ginny couldn’t see. “You’ve lost another 2lbs from yesterday.”

Ginny groaned. “I swear I’ve been eating!”

Martha put a comforting hand on her shoulder. “I believe you, but I’m going to need you to eat more often. If you start getting sick we’re going to be in trouble. You need a few more pounds on you since you were so small to begin with. Although it could also be that you’re losing muscle mass. I hear that you are an excellent Quidditch player.”

“Yes,” Ginny replied. She waited a beat. “How is the baby?”

“The baby looks great, a teensy bit bigger than yesterday which is what I want to see.” Her expression turned stern. “I don’t want to see you suffer, though.”

“I’ll eat more,” Ginny promised.

“Good,” Martha smiled. “Harry was asking me about the wedding night so it’s good you’re awake for the answer.”

Ginny glanced down to Harry who was looking decidedly embarrassed. “All right.”

“I was about to tell Harry that I don’t want you two to be intimate except for this first time and I would suggest waiting until you’ve had a good night’s rest to recover from the ceremony. There is a very real risk of inducing a miscarriage.” Her expression was grave and Ginny felt fear and dread wash through her. “However, that’s usually after repeated intercourse or if the mother has done too much. If I truly thought that once was going to cause a miscarriage I would be going to the Ministry to get an exemption and arrange for a muggle wedding ceremony which does not carry the same need to have sex within the first 24 hours.”

Slightly reassured, Ginny unclenched the fists she hadn’t noticed she’d clenched. “So…” she faltered. “I don’t even know what to ask.”

“That’s all right,” Martha said patting her hand. “This is an awkward situation that you didn’t put yourself in to. I myself have never had this particular circumstance crop up and I doubt I ever will again. When you are together, you need to be as relaxed as you can, Ginny. I don’t want this to be about wild passion, just a gentle coming together. Pick whatever position feels the best to you.” She looked over at Harry. “You need to check in with Ginny repeatedly to make sure that after the initial pain that nothing else is hurting or feeling wrong. If it does hurt stop, help her take a warm bath to relax, then try again.”

Harry nodded, looking a little better. “We can do that.”

“Good,” Martha said. “I’m glad to see you’re resting, Ginny, but I’m also concerned that you’re still sleeping so much. If you’re not awake most of the day towards the end of next week then I don’t think a beach wedding is going to be in your best interest.”

Ginny tried not to look disappointed, but it was difficult. “I understand,” and she really did.

“We have different plans in place depending on how Ginny is doing on Friday,” Harry told her.

“Excellent,” Martha said as she stood. “Ginny, keep resting and I will be back to see you tomorrow.”

Ginny watched her go before turning back to Harry who looked decidedly uncomfortable. “What?”

He shifted and hunched his shoulders. “I asked your dad for the talk last night.”

Ginny couldn’t help it. She broke out into a fit of giggles that left her eyes welling up with mirth. “I would give anything to have seen that! What did he say?”

Harry scowled for all of two second before giving in to her a sheepish grin. “Be gentle and go slow, same as Martha said. Ron was mortified; I was too. Bill told me some about his and Fleur’s experience so it helped to know I’m not alone in worrying over it.”

Luna came through the door with a tray. “Morning, Ginny. I have your breakfast and Harry, Hermione says she is ready to head to Diagon Alley.”

“Right,” Harry said. He bent to kiss her cheek. “I’ll be back in a couple of hours. Bill said he would have the contract for the house ready by 11am so I’m going to sign that so we can get started.”

“Oh, great,” Ginny said, surprised at how fast things were moving. “I’ll see you later, then.”

Harry grinned and waved as he walked out.

“Time to eat up,” Luna said happily, putting the tray down next to Ginny.

Ginny goggled at all of the food. “I can’t possibly eat all of this!” There were eggs, bacon, toast, kippers and fresh fruit. But she did. She managed to eat every bite by the time her timer went off and after drinking her potion, she fell straight back to sleep.

She awoke next to find her room empty and quiet. Ginny blinked away the sleep and looked around, taking in her posters and all of her school girls things like pictures of friends, Quidditch gloves and chocolate frog cards. This wasn’t her life anymore. Now her life revolved around taking potions, staying in bed, planning a wedding and trying to take in what it meant to have a baby. She gazed contemplatively at her poster of Gwenog Jones from the Holey Head Harpies and felt a twinge for what could never be. Then it was gone. There was no sense in dwelling in the past when there was a brilliant future ahead of her.

However, she really needed to use the loo. Ginny tentatively pushed herself up and while the room didn’t spin in circles, neither did it feel totally stable. She lay back down and called out, “Mum?”

Her mother was there shortly, taking care of her needs and helping her sit up a bit to eat another meal. Ginny watched her mother straighten her sheets and knew that none of this could be easy on her. “I love you, Mum.”

Her mother turned and put her hand on her cheek. “I love you too, darling. I think you’re starting to figure out just how much.” Molly’s eyes were over-bright as she continued. “I have never known you to be so compliant but when faced with your baby’s safety you’re doing exactly what a good mother should do.”

“I have the best Mum in the world,” Ginny said smiling. “I’m just doing what she always did and putting my child first.”

Her mother bent over to hug her gently and Ginny held on, soaking in the love that radiated off of her mother. “All right,” her mum said, sitting back up. “You eat. I expect Harry and Hermione to be back any minute now.”

Molly walked out while Ginny ate. When the timer went off, Ginny managed to reach up and grab a vial for herself. Feeling quite pleased she drank it just as Harry walked in. “Hey,” he said, coming over and kissing her. “You’re awake and reaching for things.”

“It’s a big improvement and I’m going to keep taking it easy so that I keep improving,” Ginny said. “Did you get everything done that you needed to?”

“Hermione went into the jewelry store with me under the cloak. She asked to meet the owner in the back room, and I took the invisibility cloak off after he closed the door.” Harry sat on the side of the bed and twined his fingers with her. “He said he’d keep quiet about us having been there since I told him I was likely to be a repeat customer.”

Ginny was amused. “I don’t really wear jewelry. Who are you going to be buying for?”

Harry ignored that. “How much jewelry do you own?”

She gently bit her bottom lip and then grinned when she realized he was staring intently at her lips. “None.”

“I suppose we ought to change that, then,” Harry mused. He got down on one knee and Ginny noted that she still had to look up at him. When had he gotten so tall? And why had she stayed so short? She looked down at his hands and saw he’d pulled a small box out. “Ginny, will you marry me?”

“You don’t look nearly nervous enough for this to be a proposal,” she teased but relented immediately. “Harry, I love you with all of my heart. Yes, I will marry you.”

He opened the box and she gasped at the beautiful solitaire which was even lovelier than the one she’d picked from the magazine. He took her left hand and slid it on her ring finger. Instantly the band shrunk to fit her finger. “Automatic adjustment charms,” Harry explained. “Perfect for pregnant fingers that might swell.”

“It’s stunning,” she breathed out, choosing to ignore the swelling comment. “I love it, thank you.” She reached out, framed his face and brought him in for a kiss. “I love you.”

“I’m never going to get tired of hearing you say that,” he told her quietly.

“Good,” she said boldly, bringing him in for another kiss.

After a moment he pulled back, breathing heavily. “Uhm, Bill got the rental agreement. He and I are going over there in a bit with your dad and Hermione and one of the Aurors who specializes in protective charms. We’re hoping that if we push through we can get the place fully protected by Tuesday.”

“Wow, that fast?” Ginny said surprised. “I thought it would take longer.”

“It would normally, but the minister is helping us get this done. The Burrow is secure, but moving you to an even more secure location is our top priority. Too many people know the general area of where the Burrow is, so moving to some place that no one knows about gives us an edge.”

Ginny studied his face; saw the bags under his eyes and the worry lines around his mouth. He was too young to look so care worn. “Oh Harry,” she whispered, taking his hand in hers. “No idea yet who did this?”

Harry looked like he regretted saying anything but after a moment shook his head. “No. The Auror on duty guarding us that night is highly respected and has been a longtime friend of Kingsley’s who has saved his life more than once. He said only Healers that he knew personally went in to our rooms and he verified their identities each time before he permitted them entrance. They’re all being questioned right now although they don’t know exactly why they’re being questioned.” He cupped her cheek, stroking it gently with his thumb. “I don’t want you to worry about any of this.”

She knew why he was saying it and loved him all the more for it. “I’m not going to worry about it. I trust you to protect us. My job is to take care of myself and our baby.”

Harry studied her carefully. “Really?”

Ginny nodded. “You killed Voldemort for us! Whoever this is isn’t that bad. But I can’t worry about those things. Martha was really clear that I need to stay calm. I’m as sick as I am now because I got so upset for twenty minutes! So far things have been quiet here and I have faith that you’ll make sure our new home is totally secure. That leaves me to focus on growing the baby.” She smiled sadly. “I wish that I could make it easier on you. I don’t like that you’re so stressed about all of this.”

Back to index


Chapter 6: Chapter 6

Author's Notes: You're getting a chapter early! Why? A few reasons. The first is the server is going to be down early next week so I can't post then. Next is I'm going camping with the fam and won't have internet access so it's post now or wait an extra week and I don't really want to do that to you. Last? I've had five days of migraines and I could do with some cheering up- so lovely reviews are always appreciated.

I hope you enjoy this chapter, find it a bit amusing. I'll see you on the flip side.
~Sarah


Saturday May 30th

Ginny smiled sadly at him. “I wish that I could make it easier on you. I don’t like that you’re so stressed about all of this.”

Harry knew what she meant but he could only shrug. “As far as I’m concerned, you have it harder than I do. I may be worrying about things, but me worrying doesn’t do anything to anyone but myself.”

Ginny bit her lip again. He wished she’d stop and yet never stop; it was driving him round the twist in a really excellent way. Maybe she knows that…

“I’m sleeping while everyone around me does all the work. That hardly seems fair.”

“You’ve got the hardest task, Ginny,” Harry assured her quietly, not sure how she didn’t see it.

“Really?” she asked skeptically.

“Really,” he said firmly. She bit her lip again and he groaned. “You have got to stop that.”

Her smile was quick and wicked. “But it’s awfully fun to watch you squirm.”

Then Harry saw it for the first time in almost a year. Some of the old spark, her old fire was back and he was more grateful for that than he could put into words. He kissed her, loving the feel of her soft lips against his and the sound of her breath rushing from her in a quick gasp. She had that blazing look in her eyes, the one that always sucked him in. This time it was his turn to just know. It was his turn to have his heart turn over and for the world to right itself into a place that made absolute sense. “I love you Ginny.”

She gazed at him questioningly. “Are you sure?”

He nodded and kissed her again. “Yeah. I’m completely sure.”

“Will you tell me every day,” she asked, a slow smile working over her beautiful mouth.

“Absolutely every day,” he promised and he kissed her again.

“I don’t want to tease you…” she stopped to consider. “Okay, I don’t want to tease you overly much but I do want you to smile.”

Harry looked into those bright, amazing chocolate eyes and felt his heart lift. “I’m marrying you. There will always be lots of laughter in our house.”

“Harry?” They both turned to see Bill in the door. “We’re ready if you are.” He came in and kissed Ginny on the top of the head. “How are you doing, Smidge?”

“Bill!” Ginny flushed deep red.

Bill laughed. “He’s marrying you! Warts and childish nicknames come with the package.”

“Smidge?” Harry quirked an eyebrow. “Cause she’s so small?”

“It’s because she’s miniscule,” Bill told him affectionately, ruffling her hair and ignoring the hand that swatted at him. “I told you that when she was a baby she was tiny, well even compared to other babies she was a titchy little thing. Barely over a stone on her first birthday.”

“Wow,” Harry said. “Teddy is only 2 months old and he’s already bigger than that!”

Bill chuckled. “She never got over the name because she never got tall enough to earn a new one.”

“Please stop,” Ginny pleaded, covering her face with her hands.

Harry knelt, pried her hands away and kissed her. “You’re absolutely perfect the way you are and in a duel between you and Bill I’d place my money on you.”

“Hey!” Bill said and then paused considering. “No, you’re probably right. She fights dirty.”

“Are we leaving?” Hermione asked as she came into the room, looking around curiously.

Ginny made shooing motions. “Yes, please take them away!”

Harry chuckled and kissed her cheek. “We’ll see you around dinner.”

He walked out following Hermione and Bill. Arthur was waiting for them in the kitchen. “Shall we be off, then?”

“I’m ready,” Harry said, anticipation filling him. He knew the house needed a lot of work before they could move in, even after the wards were up. Molly had been tutting about the house needing a good scrubbing and Kreacher, whom Harry had thought would be resistant to the idea of moving house, had said that the location was good for master. He had started muttering about all the things he was going to do when he got in to clean.

They reached the point in the yard where they could Disapparate and they all held hands so Bill could lead them to the house. Bill had already gone over to scout it out and make sure they weren’t walking into a trap. The Auror they were meeting, Silas Raeburn, would be waiting for them. Harry felt the horrible crushing sensation as Bill twisted. He held tight and within moments they were staggering apart in front of the large, abandoned house. The rays of the midafternoon sun danced on the ivy that clung to the house. It didn’t look too bad, Harry thought.

Harry saw Raeburn striding towards them. He was a tall, powerfully built man with salt and pepper hair. His voice was like sandpaper as he reached out a hand to shake, “Potter.”

Harry nodded, shaking his hand. “Ready?” The other man nodded and they both pointed their wands, each casting a patronus. Harry’s stag sprang from his wand and Raeburn’s german shepherd went sprinting off after the stag.

After Kingsley had taken over as minister he’d quickly instituted a policy that every Auror become intimately familiar with the patronuses of all of the other Aurors, thus ensuring that they could always identify imposters since the patronus couldn’t lie, although they also had contingencies in place in case someone’s patronus changed. “Thank you for doing this,” Harry told him.

“I’m glad to help,” he assured him. “Arthur, Bill,” he said nodding to the other two men. “And this is…”

Hermione stuck out her hand to shake. “I’m Hermione Granger.”

“Ah,” his gray eyes lit with recognition. “I have heard of you. Your reputation precedes you young lady. I do hope you are going to look into a career at the ministry. We could use talent like yours.”

Hermione shrugged but looked nonetheless pleased. “I haven’t made up my mind yet. I’m going to finish my education first.”

“I quite understand, now Potter,” he said turning back to Harry. “How secure are we making this place?”

“Definitely unplottable,” Hermione piped in. “Muggle repelling of course and no Apparation as well as closing off the floo to all but the Burrow. Percy Weasley is moving over to Magical Transportation shortly along with his other duties and he’s taking care of that part.”

Bill turned in a circle. “We’ve been toying with putting the house under the Fidelius charm as well but we’re not sure it needs to be that secure.”

“I’m voting for it,” Harry shrugged.

Arthur nodded. “I am as well. We can put in the other protections, of course, and take the Fidelius charm down when the danger has passed and all Death Eaters have been captured but for now I think we should.”

Hermione’s smile was a bit too knowing. “Ginny is going to roll her eyes when she hears about this. But it can always be removed later.”

Raeburn looked around thoughtfully. “Normally I would say let’s do the Fidelius charm first, but I don’t want to be included in it and you’re not moving in today. Let’s start with unplottable and work our way around. It’s a large property and it’s going to take several hours to do the perimeter, even with all of us working.”

“You had to want the house with 16 acres, didn’t you?” Bill cracked.

“You’re the one who found it,” Harry reminded him, laughing. “Can we do muggle repelling at the same time as making it unplottable?”

“No,” Hermione, Arthur and Raeburn all said together.

Bill pulled out a scroll from an inside coat pocket. “Let’s look at the map and then we can spread out and make our way around it. I’ll cast the Extremitas charm so we’ll have a red line to follow along the property line.”

“I wish Ron could have gotten off training to help,” Hermione sighed as she looked at the large area.

“It’s nearly a perfect square, so we can each pick a corner and head clock-wise with one other person-” Arthur froze as a silver hare came bounding towards them.

Luna’s voice spoke softly into the still air. “Harry, Ginny has had a nightmare. We need you to come back right away.” The hare faded.

Harry looked around wildly, his heart skipping a beat. “I need to-”

“Go!” Bill and Hermione said together.

Harry focused on the Burrow, turned on the spot and was squeezed into nothingness. He hit the outer limits of the Burrow and sprinted towards the house. Even running full out it still felt like he was moving through sludge. His heart was in his throat and he raced up the stairs and into Ginny’s room, skidding a bit on the rug as he saw her sobbing hard into her mother’s shoulder.

Luna stood off to the side as Harry moved in to take Ginny into his arms, pulling her onto his lap. He was alarmed to feel how thin she was. He’d carried her up the stairs on Thursday and there had definitely been more to her than this.

“She’s not really awake,” Luna whispered and Mrs. Weasley moved back to give Harry room. He saw that she was crying and Luna put an arm around her waist. “Shh, it’s okay. Harry will get her calmed.”

Even though he hadn’t yet said anything, Ginny was already quieting as she burrowed into his arms. “Fred…” she whimpered. “No Fred, no.”

“Ginny,” Harry’s voice caught in his throat as he kissed her temple and easily, way too easily, moved her around so he could lay her down again. Instantly she reached for him, panicking as he lay beside her, pulling her in. “It’s okay, I’m here.”

“Fred,” she moaned, tears streaming down her face. “No…”

“We can’t wake her,” Luna said quietly, her voice heavy.

Harry looked over to see Mrs. Weasley crying hard into Luna’s shoulder. “I can do this. Luna, can you go down and make Molly a cup of tea?”

“No,” Molly began but Luna had already begun tugging her to the door.

“Come on, Mrs. Weasley. You need your own good cry before you can help Ginny.” They had reached the hall when Harry heard her say quietly. “Harry can handle this.”

Ginny thrashed away from him and he knew that the nightmare was still gripping her. “No!”

“Gin, come on love, please wake up,” Harry whispered into her hair, his own heart raced as her terror, pain and fear leaked out of her. “Ginny, I have you. You’re safe.”

The light played over her pale face, highlighting the bruising under her eyes. She cried out in her sleep, sobs racking her frail shoulders. “No Harry, no I can’t do this anymore. Don’t go!”

Harry didn’t know what else to do. He leaned in and kissed her, peppering her face with kisses and he stroked her hair. “You don’t have to do it anymore,” he promised softly against her lips. “I’m here. I’m not ever letting go.”

She began to quiet and he kept murmuring softly as he stroked her hair, her sobs finally subsided into soft breathing and she fell limp in his arms, fully back into a peaceful sleep. A few minutes later Mrs. Weasley came back in and touched his shoulder in thanks. “We couldn’t reach her,” she told him quietly.

“It’s okay,” Harry assured her. “I’m just going to stay here until she wakes.”

Mrs. Weasley frowned, her concern written all over her face. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah,” Harry had to swallow as his voice squeaked a bit. “I don’t think I could leave anyway. Can you send Arthur a message that she’s okay now but that I’m staying here?”

“I will,” she told him and backed out of the room.

Harry closed his eyes, trying not to let panic or despair sink in. She was so thin. Bill had been spot on when he’d said Ginny was tiny. She was a head shorter than him and probably 2 stones lighter when she was at her best and he was no heavy weight. But she’d always seemed so tough and solid that it was easy to forget that she didn’t have any spare weight to lose. Fleur had said it best when she’d called her sister-in-law vibrant. Ginny was fighting so hard to keep their baby alive and sometimes it seemed she was winning. Right now it felt like that life was slipping away.

If anyone could do this, Ginny could. She was five weeks pregnant today. Martha had said to him this morning before Ginny had woken that they were entering the most dangerous part and from here to twelve weeks it would be critical.

What had she meant when she’d said ‘don’t go’? Harry wondered. But he thought he knew the answer to that. It had been horrible breaking up with her a year ago. Even if she understood, even if she’d agree, it had been so painful and they hadn’t had a chance for anything much since then. She’d thought seen him dead. If he’d seen her dead he wasn’t sure he’d have had the strength to breathe. What had that done to her?

Harry could still hear her terrible scream as he’d been carried out of the woods by Hagrid. It ripped at him now, knowing just how badly he’d hurt her. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, offering the apology that she would never ask for. “I’m sorry I did that to you. I love you and I’m never going to leave you again.”

Ginny began to stir. For a moment Harry thought it was another nightmare but her eyes blinked open, confused. “What are you doing here?” she asked groggily. She rubbed at her eye, squinting at him before alarm flooded her face. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing!” Harry assured her hurriedly. “You had a nightmare.”

“Why are you so upset?” She whispered, running a hand along his cheek.

He closed his eyes, trying to will the fears to stop. “I couldn’t wake you, and you said… you talked about Fred and me leaving you.”

Harry felt her fingers pause on his face. “Oh.” Her fingers resumed tracing along his skin, over his scar and down to his ear. “It was just a dream,” she finally whispered apologetically.

His eyes flew open and he shook his head. “I’m the one who is sorry. I’m the one who left you.”

“You did the right thing,” Ginny told him quietly. “It hurt, but I get why.”

“Do you want me to stop Auror training?” Harry asked suddenly.

She looked simply stunned. “No, of course not! Why would I want that?”

He sighed. “Because it’s such a dangerous job.”

Ginny’s face was totally calm. “I love you, Harry. Not the person I think you should be or any of the fame rubbish. You won’t be happy doing anything else. This is part of you and I love this part of you.”

“Is there anything I should have done differently?” He asked. “Could I have made our break up easier?”

“Besides professing your undying love and promising to remain faithful until you came back to me?” Ginny’s mouth quirked. “No not really.”

“I’m promising that now.” Harry told her. “I’m promising to love you from here into the next world and always be faithful and always come back to you. In fact, I did love you into the next world although I’m not sure I would have been able to label it as love then.”

“What?” She asked, clearly confused.

“I…” he paused. “I will explain it to you at some point. I think the explanation might be what Martha calls ‘stressful’ and we’ve had enough stress to go around today.”

Her chocolate eyes focused on him, trying to read him. “Okay,” she agreed finally. “Someday you’ll tell me what that means.”

“You…” Harry hesitated. “You haven’t talked about Fred.”

Ginny closed her eyes, “That’s also a conversation for ‘someday’. I can’t talk about him without getting upset and I can’t get upset right now.”

Harry buried his nose into her hair, rubbing his cheek against her. “You have the hardest job.”

“It’s for a really amazing pay off,” she assured him, sighing in contentment. “When I was holding Teddy at… at the funerals I couldn’t help but be awed. They created this perfect, tiny little baby and he was never going to know a world with Voldemort in it, even though his life was completely altered because of the war.”

“I was going to go see him tomorrow-” Harry began.

Ginny interrupted him. “You’re still going to go see him tomorrow. You’re the closest thing he has to a dad, Harry. You need to spend time with him.”

Harry hesitated, not sure how to tell her how he was feeling. “I know, but-”

“You can’t be afraid to leave me,” she whispered. “You go back to training on Monday.”

How was he going to do that? But at almost the same moment he realized she was right. Most of the time he’d been away she’d been fine. “You’re right.”

“I usually am,” she assured him. “I’m fine now. Go back to the house and do what you need to.”

“But-” he was silenced by her lips.

“I’m fine,” Ginny promised, touching her belly. “We’re fine. You go make sure the house is safe for us.”

Harry left, although somewhat reluctantly, and went down to the kitchen to say goodbye and let them know he was leaving.

“I’m going to go read to her,” Luna told him, her arms full of books. “I think she could do with a distraction.”

“Thanks,” Harry said calling out a farewell to Molly and Kreacher. He walked to the edge of the garden and Disapparated.

~*~

Ginny glanced over as Luna came in, her arms loaded down with books. “Are you bored yet?” Luna asked.

“Very when I’m not sleeping and I don’t want to go to sleep right now,” Ginny sighed, watching her friend settling in to the only chair in the room. “Where did you find those?”

“Most of them were in the book case downstairs, but I found a few in Fred and George’s old room when I was cleaning last night,” Luna explained. “I’m really interested in one of them.” She dug around and pulled out a ludicrously purple novel that had a tattered spine. “It’s called Matilda Magpie and the Squire’s Son. I’ve never read this before, so we should both learn something new.” She held up the book for Ginny to see and she saw a buxom woman wearing half open robes, swooning on a cliff.

Ginny blinked. “You… you found that in Fred and George’s room?”

“Yes, I thought that was a bit odd since it seems like it must be a girl’s book, but maybe they wanted to learn about Matilda as well,” Luna said placidly. “Shall I begin?”

Ginny felt the corner of her mouth twitch. “Please.”

“Chapter One,” Luna began to read in her dreamy voice. “Matilda Magpie was a quiet, sensible girl from the country. Hmm,” Luna broke off, flipping the book back to observe the cover. Matilda winked. “It’s a bit odd. You’d think that if she were sensible she could have found a blouse that didn’t gape open like that.”

Ginny sniggered. “Maybe she accidentally shrunk it.”

Luna raised an eyebrow. “What sort of book do you suppose this is?”

“I think we need to explore it more before we decide on that,” Ginny said as soberly as she could.

“I suppose so; all right then.” Luna found her place and continued to read. “But on the night of October the 16th, 1824 her sensibilities fled her as she ran through the stormy night towards the cliffs overlooking the sea. Her feet stung as the pebbles buried themselves into her feet and the pounding of the surf beat in her head as a call to action. ‘I must throw myself into the sea!’ Matilda cried. ‘I will never have the love of the Marquis and life is just not worth going on without him.’ ” Luna stopped and looked up at Ginny. “She’s going to throw herself into the sea?”

“Apparently,” Ginny bit her lip, trying to keep back a laugh. “Some girls just can’t do without a man around.”

Nodding, Luna went on after taking a moment to pull her hair up and tying it in a knot with her wand. “ ‘Before she could launch herself into sweet oblivion she heard her name shouted and she spun. Her ankle turned and she fell to the gravel. Why doesn’t she have shoes on?” Luna asked suddenly.

“You don’t need shoes if you’re going to throw yourself into the sea,” Ginny explained.

“Oh, of course,” Luna agreed very seriously. “Matilda looked over her bare shoulder- when did her shoulder become bare?”

Ginny started laughing. “Probably while she was running. Go on,” she encouraged.

‘Matilda!’ The squire’s son had run after her. Matilda looked away, not wanting to see him for he was poor and homely and she knew that he long tendered feelings towards her. She pulled her cloak more securely over her shoulders before looking back at him. ‘Go away, Robert!’ Robert did not turn from her. ‘I cannot let you do this.’ He scooped her into his strong, bulging arms against his rock hard bare chest and began to carry her back to the village, her cloak trailing in the mud. ” Luna shook her head. “But she put a cloak on to throw herself into the sea? Why is his chest bare?”

“He didn’t have time to grab a shirt before he ran after her,” Ginny said as she laughed until her sides hurt.

“What is going on in here?” Mrs. Weasley came in carrying a tray. Ginny sat up in bed grinning at her. Her mother gasped. “You sat up!”

Ginny glanced down and was amazed to see that she was indeed sitting up and more astonishingly that her head wasn’t spinning. “Wow. Maybe I needed a book read to me sooner.”

“You were reading?” Her mum looked between her and Luna.

Luna held up the book so that Mrs. Weasley could see the cover. “I found this in Fred and George’s room.”

Her mother stared at the book, her expression completely blank. “You… you found that in the twin’s room?”

“Mhmm,” Luna hummed in answer. “I thought it might be fun to learn about Matilda, but she does seem a rather silly girl. I’m not so sure about this.”

“She was going to throw herself into the sea,” Ginny explained. “But she’s just been saved by the squires son.” She took a bite of the soup and groaned. It was good. “You should listen a bit, Mum. You might learn something too.”

“I…” her mother looked completely at a loss for words. Shaking her head, she sat down on the edge of Ginny’s bed and motioned for Luna to read on.

‘I don’t want you here, Robert! I want to end it all.’ Matilda cried into his sculpted shoulder. Robert was having none of it. ‘The Marquis is not worth this. You are so beautiful, Matilda. I would marry you and give you 15 goats all of your own.’ Matilda hit his shoulder to try to get him to set her down but her fist just bounced off his masculine physique.’ ” Luna stopped when Ginny choked on her soup and Mrs. Weasley spluttered. “Why is he giving her goats?”

“For their milk, I’m sure,” Ginny whispered through her tears of mirth.

Molly mouthed for a second before saying, “Oh my…”

Matilda began to cry…” Luna read on.

~*~

When Harry walked into the house with Arthur and Hermione it was to peals of laughter coming from upstairs and Kreacher humming happily in the kitchen. By the smell of things dinner was nearly ready. “Hi Kreacher,” Harry said, wiping his shoes on the mat.

“Dinner will be ready shortly, Master Harry. Mrs. Weasley and the girls are upstairs.”

More laughter rang down. Harry looked at Arthur and Hermione who shrugged and they quietly made their way up the stairs.

Harry stopped outside Ginny’s door in time to hear Luna’s melodious voice say, “But Robert just turned away from her heaving bosoms, the love spell gave him only eyes for Veronica. Matilda ran once again for the sea, intent on throwing herself to her death. You know, one of these times she’s going to succeed if she’s not careful. She can’t keep counting on random men to pull her back from the cliff.”

“No, and this is the fourth time, too,” Mrs. Weasley said amused.

“Fifth,” Ginny corrected. “At least she’s got shoes on this time.”

“But her shirt is open again,” Luna commented, confused. “She keeps saying she doesn’t want Robert because he’s ugly, so why is she ripping open her shirt for him? And what does she mean like a horse? That seems completely unreasonable…”

Harry walked in then to see Ginny sitting up in bed, giggling madly. She grinned as she spotted him and his heart skipped as surprise and elation flooded him. “Welcome back,” Ginny said.

Hermione stated the obvious. “You’re sitting up!”

“I think the laughter has been healing,” Ginny said. “I haven’t felt this good in days. Luna has been doing an excellent job reading the story.”

Luna sighed. “I don’t understand this book at all. The girl in it is very silly, and the men keep giving her things like goats and pillows and spinning wheels and she just throws them all away because they aren’t the Marquis’ gifts. Why does someone need seven spinning wheels?”

“Where did you get that book?” Mr. Weasley asked, walking over to look at the cover.

“It was in with Fred and George’s room,” Luna supplied. “When I first started reading I thought it was a story for girls, but the more I read the more I think it is a joke book and they were using it to help with their shop.”

“Oh, I’m sure that’s it,” Mrs. Weasley said faintly. She got up. “Well, we’ll have to read some more later. It’s time to cook dinner.”

Harry managed to find his voice enough to say, “Kreacher is almost done with supper.” He continued to stare at Ginny. Could this possibly be the frail girl he’d left a few hours before?

“Oh goodness,” Mrs. Weasley hopped to her feet. “I was going to help him! He’s such a dear to do it, but-”

“Mum!” They all heard Ron’s voice from down stairs. “Kreacher says to come down.”

They all filed out and Harry was left staring at Ginny, her bright eyes alive with humor. “You’re sitting up.”

“Yes,” Ginny laughed. “Hermione already told me that. Why don’t you come here and kiss me?”

He walked over and did, sitting on the bed next to her and cupping her face. A few hours of laughter with a friend and Ginny had regained a decent amount of strength. Twenty minutes of extreme stress had left her bedridden for three full days. Harry buried his face in her hair until he could compose his features. Ginny was his equal, up to anything his nutty life had thrown at him and he was more than a little staggered to think that for at least a few months he was going to have to keep all of that from her. But it would be worth it. He thought. If it kept her and the baby healthy, then that’s what needed to happen.

Her stomach growled and she grinned sheepishly. He smiled at her, truly happy to see color in her cheeks. Nothing else mattered but this. “I’ll be back up with food in a minute and we’ll have a mini-date.”

“I can’t wait,” Ginny assured him.

When he walked into the kitchen it was to sweep Luna into his arms for a tight hug. “Thank you,” he told her hoarsely.

Luna smiled serenely and handed him the tray with their dinner the already ready for him to take up.

Back to index


Chapter 7: Chapter 7

Author's Notes: I know a lot of you are itching to start figuring out how "who dun it" but they're short on leads. They are starting to work on it, though. It's been a slow build up but the pacing will increase from here on out.

Also the wedding is chapter 10. Stay tuned.

I hope you enjoy. Thanks for all the reviews! Everyone has been responded to and I'm open to comments and questions. Fire away. :)
~Sarah


Sunday May 31st

The previous three days had dragged for Ginny, even though she’d slept through most of it. Now with her energy coming back, thanks to a healthy dose of Luna and ridiculous witch’s novels, she was starting to regain ground and get things done, albeit from her bed.

Martha’s visit had been brief and positive. Ginny had only lost 1lb but her rebound in strength made up for that. Ron and Hermione had stuck around to see the baby and Ginny was astonished to see her brother tear up in wonder. He denied it, of course, but she knew what she’d seen and she wasn’t going to take the mickey out of him for it. Ron had simply clapped Harry on the shoulder and cleared his throat. They hadn’t looked at each other, but she knew that the two best friends had shared a moment.

Ron had had to go into the office again to work more on his training if he was going to have a chance of going with Hermione to Australia. Harry had been missing training since Thursday, but as Ron had ruefully told them, Harry didn’t need as much work to get up to snuff on defense against the dark arts.

Harry had stuck around for the appointment as well, but then dashed to spend the morning with baby Teddy where he was told he had to stay until Ginny’s dress fitting was completed.

Which is where Ginny was now; in her room getting fitted into the dress that she’d decided she wanted for her wedding dress.

“You’ve lost so much weight,” Mrs. Weasley said ringing her hands as Ginny sat to take a small break.

“No matter,” Madam Malkin said bracingly. She’d arrived with Hermione’s escort only twenty minutes before and Ginny was already wishing to be done. “I can fix the dress.”

Luna helped Ginny to stand up again so that the seamstress could fix pins in the hem. Luna’s hand in Ginny’s was sure and steady. She didn’t let go, and thankfully Ginny didn’t fall.

“Is that good enough?” Ginny asked, sitting again. “Honestly, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Just something decent to wear is fine.”

Madam Malkin looked scandalized. “I cannot let Harry Potter’s bride look ‘just good enough’! After all he and your family did for the wizarding world it would be an outrage.”

Ginny bit back a groan. Hermione, sensing her mood, said, “I think Ginny’s just tired. The morning sickness has been really rough on her. Do you think you have enough pins to get the length?”

Madam Malkin hesitated for only a moment before saying, “Yes, I think I do.”

“Okay,” Ginny sighed in relief. “I really want to get out of this dress and take a nap.”

In short order she was out of the dress, back into comfortable pajamas, given potion and a sandwich after which she promptly fell fast asleep.

Dinner that night was a family affair again and this time even Percy came. Ginny felt better after her nap. Luna had read more of Matilda’s ridiculous tale to her and Hermione and it was like drinking liquid sunshine.

“I really want to eat at the table,” Ginny said pleadingly. Harry had tried to resist but she’d agreed to let him carry her down, and while she didn’t actually sit at the table, they did move a reclining chair into door between the kitchen and sitting room so she could sit near the rest of the family and eat off a tray. It was enough and she enjoyed the huge ribbing that Ron and Harry had given George over Matilda’s novel. George told them the story of finding the novel in the Gryffindor common room and how much he and Fred had laughed over it.

It was so good remembering Fred but Ginny saw the grief on everyone’s face, too.

“I want to play midnight hide and go seek,” Luna piped in suddenly, completely out of the blue.

“Come again?” Percy asked.

“It’s a game my daddy and I have played many times. I was afraid of the dark after my mother died. It helped make it fun again,” she explained serenely. “We should play.”

Everyone looked around at each other, not saying anything. George finally asked, “How do you play?”

“We would dress in black and one person is ‘it’, and the other would go hide. You had five minutes to stay hidden, and then make it back to the base. If you make it back first without getting tagged, then you win.” Luna explained. “It is really very fun.”

“I want to play,” Ginny piped in, watching George’s interested face. “I’m the keeper of base so I get to decide who wins.” She bit back a grin, knowing that to appease her, the rest of the family would play. Maybe this will help George. Fleur looked absolutely scandalized, which was also a point in favor of this silly game.

It was agreed upon. Everyone changed clothes, and was ready to go by the time the sun set. Her mum decided to stay back at base as well. It was determined that Ron would be ‘it’ first and everyone was given a minute to hide. After that Ron went out to seek.

Molly looked at her shrewdly. “Why did you want them to play?”

“George wanted to,” Ginny said simply. “I could tell he was interested and he was looking so sad.”

Her mother swallowed hard and nodded. After the five minutes were up she sent out the signal that everyone had to get back to base. Much hilarity, and attempts at cheating ensued. Luna won the first round, Harry the second and George the third.

Ginny fell asleep during the fourth game.

~*~

Harry and Ron were neck and neck running full out towards the kitchen of the Burrow away from Arthur who was ‘it’ but didn’t have a hope of catching up. He refused to cheat and use tripping jinxes, unlike George, Bill and Ron had been doing all night. Ron’s long legs won the day and they arrived in the kitchen, breathless and laughing to find Fleur sitting calmly at the kitchen table, drinking a cup of tea next to a bemused Molly.

Fleur’s smile was radiant. “I win.”

“Hey!” Ron panted as Harry hung onto his one shoulder trying to catch his breath. “How… did you… beat us?”

Fleur laughed and shook back her hair. “I ‘ave my ways.”

Harry looked over and saw Ginny curled up in her chair, fast asleep. He grinned at her beautiful, peaceful face. She looked happy, even in sleep. Sucking in a huge breath, he finally felt his lungs let go of the constriction from running as the rest of the family poured in laughing. At first the idea of playing the game had seemed really childish, but because Ginny had wanted to they’d gone along. He was glad they had. They hadn’t had time for fun or games in years and it was a balm to the soul.

Harry walked over and gently picked her up to carry her up to bed, tucking her in and reaching for more potion when the timer went off. “Good timing,” he whispered as she took it, not even waking up.

He walked back down to find a slightly disheveled Hermione in Ron’s arms laughing hysterically at something George had said. “But you didn’t even win!” she giggled.

George grinned good-naturedly. “It was worth it,” he assured her.

Percy shook his head. “Magic is cheating.”

“Only if you get caught,” Luna said evenly. “Apparation would be cheating, though.”

They bickered on until well after midnight, drinking tea and enjoying each other for the first time in a long time. By the time everyone either left or went to bed Harry felt like a weight had come off of him. So much of the past year had been fear, death and funerals. They were going to have to play this game more often.

~*~

Monday June 1st

The next morning he and Ron were out of the house early to get to the ministry for training. There was a steep learning curve that he, Ron, Susan Bones and a few of his former classmates were working towards. Harry hadn’t struggled as much as he would have thought and several times he’d been out on missions, searching for Death Eaters. It wasn’t as glamorous as one might think, but on the other hand it was more entertaining than most of his last year, spent fruitlessly looking for horcruxes and being completely out of touch with the wizarding world.

“Welcome back, Potter,” Raeburn said as he and Ron walked in. “You have a lot to catch up on.”

Harry nodded and they went straight into the training room to begin dueling. They were expected to master several spells a day in order to move on.

They began, trading spells that they were supposed to have mastered the week before. Even for missing three days and having had his whole life turned upside down, Harry wasn’t struggling to keep up with Susan. Much of the practice involved speed of delivery and deflection of the curse, while completing them non-verbally. Ron was partnered up with Thomas Gregory, a tall man with sand colored hair. He was a Ravenclaw who had been a few years ahead of them in school. He’d began Auror training just a few months before the ministry had fallen and as a muggleborn he’d had to go into hiding. He’d been aiding Kingsley in the covert subversion of the Death Eaters and had joined in at the Battle of Hogwarts. He was a likeable enough bloke, but his sense of humor was limited. Having run from the Death Eaters himself, Harry could well imagine what he’d been through.

Harry blocked a hex easily, nearly instantly firing back at Susan who was just a second too late. Her face erupted in painful boils. Before Harry could react, their instructor, Declan Blake had waved his wand and removed the hex. “Your reactions are still slow, Bones,” he said in his thick, Irish brogue. “Potter is fast but he’s not that fast yet. You need to stop hesitating.”

Susan nodded, tucking a stray red curl behind her ear. “Yes, sir.”

Before they could begin again, someone called from the door, “Potter, Weasley.”

Harry turned and saw Robards in the door. “Yes sir?”

“I need a word with both of you, now.” He barked and walked out.

Harry and Ron looked at each other before heading towards the door of the gray walled training room. They quickly made their way towards their boss’s office. As soon as they walked in he snapped at them to close the door. They stood at attention until they were motioned to sit down.

“Sorry about that,” Robards said more normally. “I needed you two in here without anyone becoming suspicious. Did you see the paper?”

“Honestly, we’ve stopped looking,” Ron sighed. “It’s too depressing.”

Robards handed over the paper to see a picture of Harry and Hermione in Diagon Alley. The caption read, ‘Potter’s stepping out’ by Rita Skeeter.

Both Harry and Ron groaned. “This is just unbelievable,” Harry spat out. “I can’t believe she’s doing this, especially since we can nail her for being an unregistered animagus.”

“She’s what?” Robards spluttered.

Ron quickly explained how Hermione had discovered Rita’s secret. “Should we arrest her now?”

Robards sat back, looking thoughtful. “Is Miss Granger going to work for the ministry after she finishes at Hogwarts?”

Both Harry and Ron shrugged. Hermione was still waffling about what she wanted to do. “We’re not sure.”

“Tell her we really want her here,” Robards said finally. “We need more brains like hers. She figured that out at 15 years old, you say?”

They both grinned at each other. “I’ll try to persuade her,” Ron promised. “But when she’s made up her mind about something there isn’t much we can do.”

“I understand. What do you want to do about Rita?” Robards asked, looking at Harry. “This is your life she’s fiddling with.”

Harry didn’t have to think long. “I want to monitor her. She somehow got information that she shouldn’t have and she might know more about who is after Ginny.”

“I have to admit I was thinking the same thing. Alright, your first solo assignment,” Robards said clasping his hands together on his oak desk. “I can’t assign anyone else because this is highly classified and there is the possibility that one of the other Aurors is involved. You two are going to watch Skeeter and see what intel you can get. You’re going to tell everyone else that I reprimanded the pair of you for speaking the press and that I’m sending you off to follow some dead end assignment as punishment.” His grin was cynical. “They all think I’m a bastard enough to do it, so you should be able to pull this off.” He handed them a scrap of paper with an address on it. “This is where she lives.”

“Thank you, sir,” Harry said. He and Ron stood, put on their sulkiest expressions and walked from the room to tell everyone else that they were being sent out in the field to follow a little old witch.

As they left the ministry Ron asked, “How do we want to go about doing this?”

“We can’t be on her all the time,” Harry mulled. “We need to sleep at some point and there is no back up since only you, me, Kingsley and Robards knows why we’re going to follow her.”

They walked further along the muggle streets entering the same alley that they used to store the stunned Mafalda Hopkirk. Harry looked at the address, and grinned. “She lives in muggle London, not far from here.”

“Seriously?” Ron said, goggling at the piece of paper. “Let’s head over to Grimmauld Place and work out a strategy.”

After Apparating to Harry’s house, they went in, waited for the phantom Dumbledore to run at them, and went down to the kitchens. “I can’t wait to see your new house,” Ron told him. “I’m glad you’re not moving Ginny here. This place wouldn’t be good for her health.”

Harry got out parchment and quills from one of the cupboards and spread them out on the table. “No, nor mine come to that. This place isn’t exactly full of happy memories. You’ll like the new place. We can play Quidditch out back without any chance of Muggles spotting us.”

Ron looked like he was going to make a crack but then his face went blank. “Blood hell, Harry. We’re going to be teaching your kid to play Quidditch in a few years. My niece or nephew.”

Harry felt nerves jitter up his spine. “It’s scary.

Ron grinned at him. “Pretty brilliant too.”

“Yeah?” Harry asked tentatively. He’d been under the impression that Ron wasn’t too keen on the baby.

“Definitely,” Ron assured him. “Way earlier than I’d have liked, but nothing goes according to plan with you. Now, about Skeeter. We could split up, take alternating twelve hour shifts for a few days,” Ron said, scratching his long nose. “We need an idea of the lay out of her street. Do we still have those muggle maps from when we were going to break into the ministry?”

“Let me check,” Harry said going over to another cabinet and pulling it open. All of the neatly stacked maps were still there. “Yes! Thank you Hermione.” He flipped through them until he found the one he was looking for.

They opened it up on the table and Harry looked over it until he found the right street. “Right here, it’s about… well, it’s only about five blocks from here.”

“That’s an odd coincidence,” Ron said slowly. “She can’t know about this place, right?”

“Nah,” Harry said. “Even if she did she couldn’t get in.”

Ron shivered. “Imagine living this close to that evil cow.”

It was decided that they would spend three days following her in twelve hour shifts. Ron would take the night shifts, Harry the day and they’d use Grimmauld Place as a base.

“You need to be back in the evenings for Ginny,” Ron argued. “My sister needs you and we don’t need her knowing what we’re doing. She’s stuck in bed so she’s not going to notice if I’m not home.”

It put an end to any further protests Harry might have offered. Harry and Ron disguised their features and changed into muggle attire. Even after only a few weeks of intense training they’d made significant strides in learning how to effectively disguise themselves. They took a casual stroll around Skeeter’s block, located her flat which was above a muggle sweet shop, and made their way back to Grimmauld Place to make some notes.

Harry got out his invisibility cloak and set off to keep tabs on Skeeter while Ron stayed at the house to catch a nap. They would trade off at 6pm.

It was very dull and possibly fruitless. Rita might be leaving straight from her flat either by floo or disapparation, but in this case they had no cause to search her house, so observation was the only route open to them.

Right at 5pm he got lucky. Skeeter came down the street with a take-out bag from a local Chinese restaurant. Her hair was perfect, her clothes decidedly muggle. Her jeweled spectacles flashed in the rays of the setting sun as she entered the doorway that led up to her flat and a minute later and light flicked on behind the drawn curtains in the flat above.

At five minutes to 6pm Harry walked over to an alleyway that he and Ron has spotted earlier to give Ron the invisibility cloak. He quickly relayed what had happened and clapped Ron on the shoulder before his best friend threw on the cloak.

“Tell Hermione, okay?” Ron asked. “I was going to let her know but I was knackered and didn’t make it home to tell her what’s going on.”

“I will,” Harry promised. He apparated back to the top step of Grimmauld Place and quickly sketched out notes on what he’d seen happen. He stepped over to the fireplace to floo over to the Burrow.

He arrived to find Mrs. Weasley in a cooking frenzy. “Hey,” he said, coming over to the kitchen. “What-”

“Ginny really wanted pot roast and the poor dear lost another pound so I’m willing to make up anything she wants,” she told him quickly. Then Molly paused to look at him and smiled. “She’s missed you today, even if she won’t say it. Go on up and spend some time with her.”

Harry didn’t need to be told twice. He grinned and hurried up the stairs. The second he entered the room Hermione hopped to her feet and scooted out with a hurried, “Hi, Harry.”

“Hey,” he said, drinking in Ginny’s lovely face as he walked over. He kicked off his shoes and lay down next to her, pulling her into his arms. Her amazing smell enveloped him and he closed his eyes, totally relaxing for the first time that day. “I missed you.”

“I missed you too,” Ginny said into his shoulder. “How was training?”

He shrugged, feeling a slight twinge that he was censoring his day. “Boring; it was all review. I’m going to need to study tonight. Not until you’re asleep, though.” Harry leaned down to kiss her, heat seeping through him. “I definitely want to spend time with you.”

“Me too,” she whispered against his lips.

They spent a few happy moments reconnecting. When they broke apart for air, Harry asked, “How was your appointment with the midwife?”

“It was okay,” Ginny told him, stretching a bit. Harry had to will his eyes not to travel down, trying not to notice her body as she moved. “The baby looks good, which is great. I still lost another pound. That puts me down 6lbs in four days which is not what she wants to see.”

He studied her features. If he really looked he could see that her cheeks were looking hollow and when he ran a hand along her side he could feel her ribs more easily. “You’ll start to gain soon. At least the weight loss has slowed.” He hoped he sounded reassuring.

“Yeah,” Ginny said linking her fingers in his.

Her engagement ring sparkled as he brought her hand up for a kiss and he was reminded inexplicably of Rita’s glasses. Wanting to put that out of his mind he said, “We’re going to be married in five days.”

“It seems a little bit surreal,” Ginny said. “If you’d asked me two months ago what my life would be like this summer, I’d have said that I hoped to get to see you one more time.”

“Now you’re going to be stuck with me forever,” he laughed. “Including all the crazy press.”

She rolled her eyes, dismissing it. “I don’t care what they say and I’m sure they will say a lot of ridiculous things. I love you, you love me and I know your character. That’s what matters. The famous you that everyone thinks they know is only about a third of the real you.”

“Oh yeah?” He asked, amused at her assessment. “What don’t they know?”

Ginny smiled like a cat that ate the gnome. “They don’t know how sweet you are or that you’re a great kisser.”

“I’m going to keep it that way,” Harry promised.

Back to index


Chapter 8: Chapter 8

Author's Notes: New chapter, new character, new information, but not enough of course. Tell me what you think.

~Sarah


Monday June 1st

Ginny fell asleep right after she ate dinner and reluctantly Harry went down to eat his own, leaving Luna to sit and watch her, while she read a textbook. He went down to the kitchen table and started pouring over the material he was going to miss the next day. Technically he was still a trainee, but in reality he, Ron and the others were full-fledged Aurors. They just spent more time in the training room than in the field.

The back door opened and Harry turned to see Percy standing hesitantly in the doorway.

“Percy!” Molly said happily, still elated to see her son coming to the door after so many years of silence. “Well come in.”

Percy kissed his mother’s cheek and shook Harry’s hand before sitting down. Molly put on a pot of tea while Harry watched him. Finally Percy spoke. “I think I may have someone who can help with Ginny’s medical needs.”

Harry raised an eyebrow. So why was he looking so nervous? “Who?”

“Uhm,” he fidgeted with his tea cup as Molly sat on the other side of him.

Before he could answer Arthur and Hermione walked in. Greetings followed, but Harry kept his eyes on Percy’s face. When they were all seated, Harry asked again, “Who?”

Percy took a deep breath. “It’s… it’s my girlfriend, Audrey. She’s a healer at St. Mungo’s and before you think she had anything to do with this-” Percy said, forestalling Harry saying exactly that. “She, uh… she spent the night at my flat that night and I know she didn’t leave.”

There was silence before Molly finally said, “Percy!”

“Mum we’ve been together for almost a year now,” Percy argued his face was a brilliant tomato red. “This is why I didn’t want to bring her into this. I know she didn’t do this to Ginny, but I also knew that you wouldn’t approve of us being together like that.”

“It’s more that you didn’t tell us before now,” Arthur said quietly.

Percy shrugged. “I couldn’t really find a way to tell you.”

“Is it serious?” His father asked him.

Percy nodded. “She’s not ready to get married yet or anything, but we’ve talked about it. We’ll probably get engaged in the next year or so. Her mother is a world renowned muggle doctor who married a wizard but, you know,” he said looking towards Hermione for confirmation, “it isn’t uncommon for muggles to marry later on in life.”

“He’s right,” Hermione agreed. “My parents were both in their mid-thirties before they got married.”

“I didn’t want to bring her in here, not with everything that’s going on, before I got your approval,” Percy said to Harry. “I mean, she’s my sister, but she’s your wife, well she will be,” Percy faltered, still looking really flushed. “I think you need to have final say on her safety.”

“Wait,” Mrs. Weasley stopped him. “Do you mean she’s outside?”

“I left her beyond the boundary line,” Percy explained. “She gets that security is really tight.”

Harry had another pressing question. “What does she know about Ginny’s illness?”

“Nothing!” Percy assured him. “I told her that her morning sickness is really bad and we’re trying to find help in caring for her.”

“Do you want to bring her in?” Hermione asked Harry.

Harry’s mind was racing, but there really was only one answer to this and he couldn’t just accept Percy’s word. He sighed. “We need to go to the ministry and question her. Let me send the minister and Robards a message about what I’m going to do.” Harry pulled out his wand, conjured his patronus and quickly relayed to them what was happening.

Harry fervently hoped, for all of their sakes, that this Audrey was innocent.

Everyone made their way out the back towards where Percy had left her. Harry’s first impression was that she was pretty with chin length chestnut hair, and eyes that matched. She was nearly as tall as Percy, and willowy. She also looked nervous.

Percy put an arm around her waist, and Audrey smiled at them. “This is Audrey Michaels.”

“It is nice to meet you,” Mrs. Weasley said and she sounded like she meant it. “I’m Molly, Percy’s mum.”

They shook hands, “Hello.”

“Arthur,” Mr. Weasley said, sticking out his hand. “I believe I have seen you at St. Mungo’s.”

Audrey nodded. “Yes, I’ve seen you there as well.”

“I’m Hermione,” Hermione said, smiling.

“Harry,” he said, holding out his hand. Her shake was firm even if her nerves were working overtime. She didn’t automatically look at his scar like most other people did. “We would like you to come to the ministry with us,” he said, indicating himself, Arthur and Percy. “I imagine that seems very odd, but as there are still a lot of people who want to kill me, and by extension Ginny; we really need to be careful.”

She took a deep breath. “I can’t even imagine what it has been like. I’m willing to go through anything you ask, although I don’t know that I can help Ginny any more than Martha can. She’s a brilliant midwife.”

“Percy thinks you might be able to help, but we need to go to the ministry first,” Arthur said. “We will use our floo.”

Audrey nodded, and they walked back into the house saying goodbye to Molly and Hermione. They floo’ed to the ministry, and headed silently up to the Auror headquarters.

Kingsley was waiting for them, his hands in his pockets. “I hadn’t gone home,” he explained in his slow, deep voice at Harry’s question. “There is a lot to do, but I could use a small break.”

Introductions were made and they stepped into one of the interrogation rooms which were private. Audrey looked startled at the Minister of Magic being present, but she didn’t comment on it.

Lacing her hands together on the table, she asked, “What do you want me to do?”

“Take Veritaserum and answer some questions,” Harry explained. Percy, who was sitting next to her, began to rub her back.

“I want you to understand something,” Kingsley said. “This has nothing to do with the ministry. You are not going to be forced to take it, and you can walk away with no consequences to you or your career. This is strictly because Harry’s safety has always been tenuous and we need to make sure that you are not a threat.”

“I understand,” Audrey said. “I really do,” she told Harry, looking straight into his eyes. “I…” she looked at Percy who nodded reassuringly, and then to Mr. Weasley. “I hope to one day be part of your family so I will do whatever it takes to show I’m not a threat.”

Arthur nodded, a small smile playing across his mouth even though his eyes were very tired. “Let’s get this over with, then.”

Harry got up and went over to one of the locked cabinets. He put his wand up to the lock, and after a moment it clicked open. He pulled out a small vial of clear liquid, walked over to Audrey and said, “I need to put three drops in your mouth.”

“Okay,” she said, opening her mouth. Once it was done Harry returned the vial and locked the cabinet again.

A few moments later Audrey’s eyes lost their focus.

“What is your full name?” Harry asked.

“Audrey Lucille Michaels,” she answered with no inflection.

“Have you ever harmed Harry Potter?”

“No.”

“Have you ever met Ginny Weasley?”

“No.”

“Have you ever done anything medical to either Harry Potter or Ginny Weasley?”

“No.”

“Do you have any sympathies for the Death Eaters or Voldemort?”

“No.”

“Are you in love with Percy Weasley?”

“Yes.”

“Harry!” Percy growled but Harry ignored him.

“Will you ever betray Harry Potter?”

“No.”

“Will you ever betray the Weasley family?”

“No.”

“Have you ever spoken to the press about Harry Potter or the Weasley family?”

“No.”

Harry looked around to see if anyone else had any other questions. When no one spoke up, he went to the cabinet and retrieved the antidote.

He put three drops of the green liquid on Audrey’s tongue and within moments Audrey’s eyes regained focus. She shuddered. “The antidote is so bitter.”

“Yeah,” Harry laughed. Everyone looked relieved. “It is. Come on, let’s go back to the Burrow and we can fill you in.”

“I will see you later,” Kingsley said as they parted.

“You should come for dinner,” Arthur said quietly. “You look as if you could do with a home cooked meal.”

Kingsley sighed. “Being minister is not a glamorous job, especially with the state of things. I will try to come by, though. I’m definitely going to be at the wedding.” His dark eyes flashed with happiness. “I wouldn’t miss that for anything.”

As soon as they arrived back at the Burrow, Molly and Hermione jumped to their feet. “She’s cleared,” Harry told them and they smiled in relief.

The all stood around awkwardly for a second. “Why don’t we take you up to see Ginny? She’s asleep, but you can examine her,” Hermione suggested. “I’m sure it will be nice to get a second opinion.”

Harry looked at her curiously. He’d wanted to explain what had happened first, but Hermione shook her head almost imperceptibly and started up the stairs.

They walked in to find Luna still reading in the chair. “Oh, hello,” she said distractedly. “I’m Luna.”

Audrey smiled warmly. “I remember you! You were in my house when I was Head Girl.”

“Yes,” Luna agreed. “It was my first year.”

“Audrey was a year ahead of me,” Percy told them.

Audrey grinned at him, starting to relax. “You were such a stickler for rules as a prefect. Thankfully you’ve lightened up a bit.” She kissed his cheek, tucked her short brown hair behind her ear and then focused her eyes on Ginny and Harry saw concern wash over her face. “Can we turn the lights up? Will that wake her?”

Harry brightened the room. “She’ll sleep through almost anything right now.”

Audrey pulled out her wand and ran it over Ginny, muttering softly. “She is really pale and a bit clammy. She looks like she’s lost a good amount of weight in a short time. How often is she getting sick?”

“She hasn’t thrown up,” Harry said quietly, cottoning on to what Hermione had wanted. She wanted Audrey to come in with nothing, to see just how good she was as a healer.

Alarm crossed Audrey’s face. “She hasn’t vomited at all? But that’s-” Her breath left her in a whoosh and she looked around. “Has she been eating?”

“Yes,” Molly piped in. “She’s been eating 3-6 healthy meals a day.”

Audrey sucked in her bottom lip and turned back to Ginny. “This is not good.” Audrey sat back, staring at her, frown lines etched into her thin face. “She’s been magically impregnated, hasn’t she?” she asked softly, horror flooding her face. Despite the circumstances, Harry was impressed at how quickly she’s gotten to the answer.

She turned to Harry who nodded in confirmation. “We were in St. Mungo’s a few weeks ago. It happened then and we didn’t know about the baby until we were told by the ministry.”

Audrey’s hand flew up to her mouth. “But then… you two are being forced to marry?”

“No!” Harry said quickly, a little more vehemently than he’d intended. “We’re just being forced to marry now. We’d have gotten there eventually anyway.”

Audrey looked relieved. “This is…” she looked back to Ginny and her concern was palpable. “She’s not holding her own in this pregnancy.”

Molly let out a small squeak and out of the corner of his eye he saw Arthur put his arm around his wife. Harry swallowed hard. “She’s made some progress, but she can’t seem to keep weight on and she’s still very weak. When we were in St. Mungo’s it was because of a blood boiling hex.”

“I remember,” Audrey sighed. “Percy told me when it happened. You both got hit with the same curse, right? That’s why it didn’t kill you?”

Harry nodded with his heart in his throat. “Yeah,” he said, clearing his throat.

“I don’t want you to lose hope,” Audrey told them. “Ginny is young, and she’s otherwise healthy but the fact that she’s bed bound at all is troubling.” She got a distant look in her eyes and went back to staring at Ginny. No one spoke. No one moved and the tension in the room was palpable. “Does she remember what happened at the hospital?”

“She said she woke up when there was a sharp pain in her stomach,” Harry told her.

Audrey nodded. “That’s the impregnating part of it. It is supposed to hurt quite a lot. I’m not surprised she woke up. Was that it?”

Hermione answered. “The woman doing this gave her a potion and Ginny fell back to sleep.”

Audrey looked over sharply. “Did you tell Martha this?”

“Yes,” Harry answered, completely confused. “She said it was likely a sleeping potion.”

Audrey began to move her wand over Ginny again. She picked up Ginny’s limp hand, examining her finger nails with her wand light, before taking a look at her feet. “It could have been, but she’s clammy…” she kept muttering until her wand shown a blue light. She sat back heavily. “She’s been poisoned.”

“What?” Harry gasped, along with almost everyone else in the room.

Audrey looked at him sadly. “It’s a very slow acting poison. It would take a healthy person at least a year to die, maybe two. I need to make the antidote. It’s extremely volatile and doesn’t travel well.” She turned to Molly. “I’m going to need to make it here.”

“I can help,” Hermione said a hitch in her voice. “I’m very good with potions.”

“Go set up the cauldron in a place where no one will accidentally knock into it,” Audrey instructed and Hermione hurried from the room.

Audrey turned back to them and Molly finally found her voice. “Why didn’t Martha spot this?”

“It’s so rare, and while Martha is a trained healer she is not ever called in on dark magic cases,” Audrey explained gently. “I’ve seen this poison only once before and that was about six months ago. Ginny’s finger nails are orange at the nail bed.” She gently pulled Ginny’s hand up to show them. “She is showing signs of the same poison except my previous patient was much further along; he was definitely very sick from it. His hands were completely orange which is why he came in. It took me two days of pouring through literature to find the right poison to make the diagnosis. We cured him, but he never regained his full health before his death.”

“What does this mean for Ginny?” Arthur asked.

Audrey shook her head, looking helpless. Percy put a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Just tell us, Audrey. We need to know the worst.”

“If we can get the antidote into her soon, then I’m reasonably confident that Ginny will make it.” Her eyes were anguished as she turned to Harry. “I think we have maybe a 10% chance of saving the baby.”

Harry felt like he’d been hit straight in the gut. He closed his eyes and grabbed ahold of Ginny’s dresser for support. He felt strong arms come around him, and moved to hug Arthur back. “You can do this, Harry,” Arthur whispered into his ear. “Whatever happens, you can make it through and you need to be strong for Ginny.”

Harry nodded and let go. “How long will the antidote take to make?”

“Not long; a few hours,” Audrey said. “We need to get a few specialized ingredients. I don’t want to go to St. Mungo’s to get them, in case someone is watching.”

“I can get anything we need from the Auror’s supply. We have everything,” Harry told her.

Audrey turned to everyone. “I do not want Ginny to know what is going on. The one thing we’ve learned over the years is that women seeking impregnation need to stay in a good mood. Their moods directly affect how well they handle the pregnancy. Ginny can’t know,” she ordered, looking over to Harry. “You all need to plaster on a happy face and the antidote we’re going to give her is just another strengthening potion, nothing special.”

“We understand,” Molly said quietly. “Is there anything else we can do?”

“Hope for a miracle,” Audrey said fervently.

Audrey made an ingredients list and gave it to Hermione who went to the ministry with Harry to get what they needed. As soon as they got back, Audrey set to work in the sitting room where Hermione had set up the cauldron.

Harry excused himself, needing a bit of fresh air. Ginny was probably going to be okay, but the baby might not live. He held back the tears but only just. He didn’t know for sure that the baby was going to die, and he had to pretend to Ginny that everything was going to be okay. No. No, he needed to hope that the baby was going to be fine. All he had now was hope to keep going.

If the baby was a girl, Hope would be a really good name. He thought suddenly.

“Harry?” Percy said from behind him.

Harry didn’t want to talk to him or anyone but without Percy, Ginny would definitely have been dead. He turned to his soon to be brother-in-law. “Thank you for bringing her.”

Percy nodded. “She’s really brilliant. I’ve never seen someone so intuitive about healing. She completed her training in half the time it normally takes and she’s already qualified for two different specialties when most healers only achieve one specialty in their career.” His face showed misery. “This wasn’t what I wanted to hear from her about Ginny. I can’t even imagine what you’re feeling.”

“Pretty damn lousy,” Harry admitted. He needed to be up in a few hours to relieve Ron and he still hadn’t told Hermione what was going on there. He couldn’t focus on how he felt when he had to figure out why someone had poisoned Ginny.

“I…” Percy faltered. “Audrey wants to see you.”

He nodded and made his way back into the house. Hermione was stirring and Audrey had him sit. She picked up his hand and shown her wand light down on his fingers. As she did, he saw it. They were very slightly orange. “Oh hell,” he groaned.

“It’s the perfect way to kill someone,” Audrey murmured. “I just… I just had a feeling as I started mixing up the antidote.” Her brown eyes, just a shade darker than Ginny’s, were full of compassion. “The poisoner had you both at her mercy. Why not try to kill both of you? We were very unlikely to ever discover it in time and when we did, you’d have already suffered months of damage to your body.”

“Am I going to be okay?” Harry asked, not even sure he cared about the answer just then.

“Yes,” Audrey said firmly. “You’re in excellent shape and you haven’t even been infected for a month. Ginny’s fragile from the pregnancy, she hasn’t got your reserves to fight off the poison. It’s not nearly as advanced in you as it is in her.”

Molly, who had been hovering in the background, asked, “Is Ginny going to suffer any lasting damage?”

“No, I doubt it,” Audrey said reassuringly. “All the literature says that we shouldn’t expect to see lasting damage until at least six months in. Even with Ginny in a weakened state, I’d not expect to see permanent damage for at least another month.” She turned back to Harry. “Why would someone do this to you?”

“Lots of people want to kill me,” Harry muttered darkly, knowing he was damning his future wife to the same fate and he couldn’t walk away even if he wanted to. He didn’t want to walk away, though. He just wanted to wrap Ginny in cotton wool and lock her in their new house where no one could get to her.

“Yes but why this way? What’s the point?” Audrey looked completely perplexed as she stared off at a photograph on the mantle.

He sighed, suddenly exhausted. “No idea. Hermione,” he said turning to her. “I meant to tell you that Ron and I are tailing someone. He’s on duty until 6am and then we’re going to swap. He’s likely going to be sleeping at my house so he wanted you to know why he isn’t making it home.”

Hermione nodded as she continued to stir.

“You can’t be on duty at 6am,” Audrey said quickly. “I need you here to give you this antidote and then you’re going to sleep for at least a few hours.”

“Who are you following?” Hermione asked before Harry could argue.

“Uhm,” Harry hesitated, not wanting anyone else to know who the target was. “The beetle.”

Hermione’s frown only lasted half a second before she nodded. “I’ll take over for you. You can relieve me when Audrey says you’re free to go.”

“I can’t-” Harry began but Mrs. Weasley cut him off.

She got into his face and her fierce look, so like Ginny’s, froze him in his tracks. “Harry James Potter, you will do exactly what you’re told.”

“But-” he began.

“No buts,” Molly said with finality in her voice. “We need you cured. We’re in for a rough go of it, and Ginny needs you at your best.”

It was a low blow, but it was the direct hit that he needed to see sense.

“I want you to go and get some sleep,” Audrey said. “This is going to take another few hours and the more rested you are, the faster your body will accept the antidote. Hermione, you can go as well. I have this.”

“Oh, but I don’t mind-” Hermione began as Luna walked in.

“I can help,” Luna told them. “I’m not tired and I’m good at following instructions.” She pulled her hair back into a long tail.

Molly chivvied them both up the stairs. “Go sleep. Hermione, I’ll get you up at 5am and have some coffee on.”

“Thanks Molly,” Hermione said as they made their way up.

Harry went into his room after bidding Hermione goodnight, changed into pajamas and went back down to Ginny’s room. He climbed into bed with her and kissed her brow as she snuggled in. He gently laid his hand on her flat stomach as the tears began to flow silently down his cheeks.

He didn’t know how he was going to do this. He didn’t know how to pretend that everything was going well when there was a good chance their baby was going to die. It felt like his heart had a chunk missing from it. Ginny stirred slightly and her timer went off. Harry reached up for the potion, gave it to her and wiped his eyes. It didn’t matter that he didn’t know how to do this. He just had to find a way to make it through. Sleep didn’t come easily, but eventually he drifted off.

He awoke suddenly when Audrey shook his shoulder and handed him a large tumbler full of green liquid. “This is going to taste very foul,” Audrey told him quietly. “Try to drink it in one go.”

He sat up and choked it back. It was unbelievably disgusting. When he had it all in, he felt his arms start to warm and realized belatedly that ever since the blood boiling hex he hadn’t been able to get completely warm. Odd that he hadn’t noticed it until the feeling came back.

Harry turned and helped prop Ginny up into a sitting position.

“This might wake her,” Audrey said with concern. “Just keep her calm, try talking to her.”

Audrey started to pour the liquid and Ginny began to fight. “It’s okay, Ginny,” Harry soothed and Ginny instantly relaxed. “I know it tastes bad, but it will be over soon and you’ll be able to go back to sleep.”

Ginny swallowed the last gulp and shuddered, but didn’t wake.

“Go back to sleep,” Audrey told him as he guided Ginny back down into her bed. “I’ll be back to check on you in a few hours.”

Within seconds of his head touching the pillow, Harry was fast asleep.

Back to index


Chapter 9: Chapter 9

Author's Notes: Thanks JPx for all of your help!!!!

Also, one step forward and two steps back on figuring how just why this happened...

Next up in chapter 10 is the wedding!

Thanks everyone for the reviews, you've been great. This was a very difficult story for me to write, and your encouraging words have been so helpful.


Tuesday June 2nd

Ginny woke the next day groggy and disoriented. The instant she began to stir she felt a sandwich being pressed into her hand and she began to eat, noticing belatedly that she was starving. By the time she peeled her eye open, she found Hermione sitting next to her, looking exhausted. “You okay?” she mumbled with her mouth full of food.

“Yeah, it was just an early morning,” Hermione said. “Not a big. We met Percy’s girlfriend last night,” she said grinning. “Her name is Audrey. She’s a healer and she’s really nice, plus harmless- Harry questioned her to make sure she wasn’t out to hurt us. She made a different kind of strengthening potion for you which we gave you in the middle of the night.”

Ginny frowned, starting on her second sandwich. “I don’t remember that.”

“No matter,” Hermione said shrugging. “Martha has come and gone and you didn’t lose any more weight and Audrey says she’ll be back later to properly meet you.”

“Great,” Ginny said, swallowing wondering if she was going to like Percy’s girlfriend. It was difficult to imagine Percy having a girlfriend who could do anything but frown ostentatiously.

Hermione handed her another sandwich before picking up her clip board and a catalogue. “We need to decide on your furniture. I’ve arranged with a muggle furniture company to deliver the pieces we pick out to the house tomorrow, although they won’t know it’s the house of course. He’ll think he’s delivering it to a vacant lot but I’ll tip him sufficiently enough not to ask questions. We can’t trust a magical company, obviously. Your dad and Bill are going to put the Fidelius Charm on the house tonight after work and I’m going along to learn how. I’ve never seen it done before.” Hermione looked just a little too enthusiastic about it. “All of the rest of the enchantments are in place and your Mum is over there now with Kreacher cleaning everything. It’s still a mess, but I imagine they’ll have it up to scratch shortly so as long as we get the furniture, you can move in after the wedding.” She finally took a breath and beamed at Ginny. “I can’t believe we’re going to pull this off!”

“I can’t either,” Ginny said between bites, eyeing her friend suspiciously. “Why are you so chipper?”

Hermione’s eyes twinkled. “I really like furniture shopping. I didn’t know I would, but it’s kind of exciting.”

Ginny groaned. “You pick it all out, then.”

“No, it’s your house,” Hermione said firmly. “Besides, then it’s a chore and I’m enjoying doing
something fun and frivolous without having to run for my life every few minutes. I’ve been
working on changing the DA coins into portkeys. Harry wanted to see if they could be voice
activated and I’m nearly there, but it’s just taking a bit longer than I’d thought and it’s
frustrating… well never mind,” she smiled. “I think we should just focus on a few rooms now
and then you can do more when you’re up to it.”

“Which rooms?” Ginny asked, although truthfully she was trying to wrap her mind around how one could speak and activate a portkey.

“Your bedroom, obviously, and a guest room for whoever is at your house helping out,” Hermione read from her list. “We’ll need the kitchen table and I think the sitting room furniture as well. Your mum is going to outfit the kitchen either tomorrow or Thursday.”

“That sounds do-able,” Ginny said. “All right, show me what you have.” She sighed heavily at the size of the catalogue. “Why doesn’t Harry have to pick out furniture?”

Hermione laughed and they got to work. It wasn’t as bad as Ginny had supposed. She picked out a bed and the dressers that matched for their room, along with a different set for the guest room. She fell in love with a long oak table that could seat twelve without being magically expanded. It was harder to pick out sofas so she selected several with different end tables and instructed Hermione to get the one that was the squashiest. It was hard to believe that only a fraction of the house was being furnished and that she had so many rooms to fill.

“I’ll have to decorate a nursery at some point,” Ginny said, flipping through the catalogue.

“Mmm,” Hermione hummed, writing on her clip board. “That will be fun! You’ll have to let me help, but I suppose we should wait to see if the baby is a boy or girl so we know pink or blue. At least you’re not having twins.”

“Yeah,” Ginny agreed, trying to picture what she would do in a nursery.

Hermione finished writing and smiled at Ginny, who saw something in her friends’ eyes that she couldn’t quite identify. “I need to be off. I have an appointment with the owner of the furniture shop in about 15 minutes to show him what we’ve selected. He said he had everything in stock or at the warehouse so it could all be pulled by tomorrow for a rush fee.”

The timer went off and Hermione handed Ginny the potion before heading to the door, clip board and catalogue in hand. “Luna said she’d come up and read to you in a bit.”

“Okay,” Ginny said and watched her go, frowning. What was going on with her?

Luna came up to read and the afternoon faded into evening. By the time dinner came around again Ginny was able to stand without assistance for several minutes and even made it to the loo by herself.

Audrey came for dinner and to her surprise and delight she really liked the woman, especially when she told Ginny she was fit enough to eat at the table. She was bright and cheerful and she knew how to playfully tweak Percy’s nose when he got too priggish. What was more, Percy seemed to enjoy it and it helped him lighten up.

“Where’s Ron?” Ginny asked, when Harry floo’ed in to the kitchen. He gave a laugh of delight and kissed her, clearly happy to see her up and about.

“He’s got some more work to catch up on,” Harry told her. “He’s going to need to put in some more time to take off with Hermione to Australia.”

“Don’t worry, dear,” Mrs. Weasley said smiling, happy to have so many people to feed. “I sent him a plate so he won’t starve.”

Harry sat down next to her, twining his fingers with hers. “I’m so glad you’re up.”

“The extra strengthening solution has really made a difference,” Audrey told them as she helped set the table.

George joined them, followed last by Hermione and Arthur who had just finished up the Fidelius Charm with Arthur as the secret keeper. Bill had gone home for a quiet dinner with Fleur and to finish the security preparations for the beach wedding.

George had a good time ribbing Percy about Audrey. The tall brunette took it all in stride and seemed to enjoy the teasing. “So really,” George said seriously. “Why do you fancy Perce- he’s not exactly what one would call a catch.”

“George!” Molly reproached half-heartedly.

“He has a most excellent bum,” Audrey told George seriously and he gagged on his pumpkin juice. “Definitely squeezable.”

Ginny thought her sides were going to split from laughing and it looked like Percy wanted to sink through the floor as everyone else rolled with laughter, except her mum who was doing her best not to smile.

Much too soon Ginny was back up in her bed, but as Harry was in it with her she wasn’t going to complain. Harry leaned in to kiss her and it was like her body was coming back to life. She deepened the kiss, running her hand up into his hair. Much too soon he pulled back. “Gotta take a break,” Harry said, his breath labored.

Ginny looked up into his handsome face and grinned mischievously. “We won’t be taking a break in a few days.”

He groaned, flopping down next to her. “Right now that feels like about ten years away.” Harry opened an eye and looked at her. “You’re feeling better.”

“Much better,” Ginny assured him. “It’s going to be harder to remind myself to take it easy since I don’t feel awful anymore, but I will,” she promised, seeing the concern written clearly across his face. “I’m not going to do anything that hurts our baby.”

“I know,” Harry said softly and he kissed her again. He ended it abruptly. “We really have to stop.”

Ginny rested her head against his shoulder. “It’s very flattering, though.”

“Did you get the furniture picked out?” Harry asked, changing the subject and finding a piece of her hair to play with.

“Yeah,” Ginny grumbled. “You have to help next time.”

“Promise,” he said. Hesitating, he finally said, “What do you think of Hope as a name if the baby is a girl?”

“Hope?” Ginny stared at him, her mind a blank. It wasn’t a name she’d ever considered for a child.

He shrugged self-consciously. “I just… I always hoped for this. I always wanted a family. If you don’t like it-”

Ginny touched his lips with her fingers, silencing him. “It’s lovely. I think we’ve spent a lot of time hoping for a lot of things.”

Harry kissed her fingers and took her hand in his. “I have no idea what we’ll name the baby if he’s a boy.”

“James,” Ginny said without hesitation. She grinned. “Definitely James.”

~*~

Thursday June 4th

After three days of fruitlessly tailing Rita Skeeter to get her hair or nails done, or following her to the offices of various newspapers and magazines, Ron and Harry gave it up as a bad job and went to report to Robards that they hadn’t seen her do anything suspicious except for dining often at muggle cafes with a variety of young men. All of the men looked no older than twenty, all were good looking, and unless Harry was very much mistaken, all were muggles.

“What the hell is she playing at?” Ron whispered, trying not to move his lips as they both stared through the window as Rita touched the younger man’s arm flirtatiously while she sipped her morning tea. She even took notes with a muggle pen and pad.

“No idea,” Harry said quietly, as he was under the invisibility cloak. “Come on, let’s get back to Grimmauld Place, and then get to the ministry.”

“A bloody waste of time,” Ron groaned. “And I’m starving.”

“Your mum said she’d send Kreacher over with some breakfast,” Harry told him as they started the walk back to his place. When they were out of sight of Rita, they snuck in to an alley and Disapparated back to the house.

Harry ran up to change into his Auror robes while Ron scarfed down some breakfast quickly in the kitchen. He met him on the stairs on his way down to gather up their notes, although he wasn’t sure what they were going to do with them. By the time he got to the door Ron was waiting. His friend looked exhausted. “Are you sure you want to go in now?” Harry asked. “You look like hell, mate.”

Ron merely the grunted and opened the door.

They walked in to Auror headquarters and straight to Robards office to let him know how their mission had gone. Their boss sighed heavily at the news. “I was hoping we’d get something, but it isn’t really surprising. She’s got no morals, but that doesn’t make her evil.”

That duty dispensed they headed back towards the training room to get back to work.

Five hours later, when Ron was barely able to stand up, they broke for lunch and Ron went into one of the empty interrogation rooms to have a kip on one of the cots that was stored in a broom closet for just such an eventuality.

Long hours and no sleep were par for the course for Aurors.

Harry sat at his desk, flipping through the parchment that had built up while he’d been out. The trials for the surviving Death Eaters were set to begin the following week and he was going to be called to testify in several of them.

He came across a memo that had been buried in the middle of the pile.

Potter, Draco Malfoy is requesting an interview with you. You will not meet with him until after his trial. —Robards

Harry stared at the message, his mind racing. What did Draco want? It wasn’t too hard to guess, though. Lucius and Draco were in Azkaban, Narcissa was on house arrest, her wand confiscated, until their trials. She was one of the few that hadn’t been sent straight to Azkaban to await trial. Azkaban was now guarded by Aurors and Hit Wizards on a one month rotation and Harry was dreading it. It was two full days on, one day off at home for the entire calendar month. The Dementors were gone but it was still an awful place. He’d gone out with Kingsley shortly after the battle to see what it was like and the memory still made him shudder.

He probably should warn Ginny that his guard duty was coming. Harry stared down at his wand, rolling it between his fingers. Not yet, he decided. That bit of unpleasantness could wait. He wouldn’t be sent to Azkaban for at least six months, not until he had more experience under his belt.

His mind wandered back to the poisoner. What did he know about them? It was a woman, or at least Ginny was reasonably certain that it was a woman. From what Hermione had told him poisoning was more a crime that a woman would commit, so that made sense although it didn’t rule out a man being involved. Whoever it was could get past an Auror. That was one of the more problematic complications. Either the Auror who had been guarding them, Proudfoot, was in on trying to kill him or the woman was just that capable. The Healers on duty all passed their screenings under Veritaserum, so it hadn’t been one of them. The poisoner was familiar with complicated and obscure poisons. She also was skillful enough to make the poison; something that Audrey said would take nearly two weeks to make, with hundreds of ingredients and thousands of steps in the instructions and was only stable for twelve hours. If it wasn’t used in that time frame it became useless.

That means that the poisoner had to know that she’d have Harry and Ginny in her clutches by a certain date, which meant that the blood boiling hex was planned by her.

Except that the man who had cursed them had been killed right after he’d fired the spell and the blood boiling hex should have killed them, or at least killed one of them. His blood ran cold at the thought. The curse had been aimed at Ginny. He’d heard the man Apparate into the clearing and he’d spun, his wand already in his hand casting a shield that hadn’t stopped the curse as he rammed left into Ginny, who had been standing next to him. His left side had born a faint red mark where it had burned him for days after he left the hospital. Everything inside him had burst into flames and the world had gone black.

He learned later that Ron, Hermione, Bill, George, Arthur, Molly, Kingsley and four other Aurors there to guard them had all stunned the man at the same time, throwing the man twenty feet back and killing him instantly. The man had been a snatcher, no one of importance. Harry couldn’t even remember his name at the moment. It was something like Bugsley. Likely he’d been a disposable hired wand.

The last piece in the puzzle was that whoever had poisoned them was a trained enough Healer to impregnate Ginny. Audrey had told him that wasn’t typically covered for Healers unless someone expressed an interest in learning. As far as she knew there were only two Healers who performed it and both had been Healers for more than 50 years.

“Harry?” He looked up to see Susan Bones standing at his desk. He’d completely missed her walking up. Some Auror he was.

“Yeah?” Harry asked, trying to come back to the present.

“Can we go practice some more? Ron was going to but he’s still passed out.”

Harry smiled, “Sure.” He popped the rest of his sandwich in his mouth, grabbed his wand and followed her back to the training room.

~*~

Friday June 5th

“I have the linens and your mum is getting all the things for your kitchen today,” Hermione said, checking down her list. “I hadn’t really thought of all the things you would need until I did a walk through and realized that the little things like toilet paper were missing.”

“Thanks for doing this, Hermione,” Ginny said, finishing her dinner. Audrey, who Ginny had taken an instant liking to and was secretly rooting for Percy to marry her, had happily accepted her invitation to the wedding, and had agreed wholeheartedly with Martha that Ginny was to stay in bed all day in preparation for the wedding.

It was boring, but Ginny wasn’t arguing. She was getting her beach wedding, even if it was going to be as brief as possible, and she’d gained a pound from the day before.

“I’m happy to do it,” Hermione assured her brightly. “I have been having fun, actually. I even got Kreacher a bed. He was touched.”

“Good,” Ginny said, shifting around to get comfortable, kicking the quilt further down the bed off of her feet.

“Ginny?” Hermione hesitated.

“Hmm?” Ginny looked over to see a consternated look on her friend’s face. “What?”

Hermione tucked her hair behind her ear. “Why did you want Auntie Muriel at the wedding?”

Ginny couldn’t help but giggle. “Most people just bend right over when she’s around so she can shove it up their rear. She’s a horrible, mean old bat if you take her seriously. I don’t. I figured out years ago that if you just roll with what she says, she’s hysterically funny.”

“But…” Hermione floundered. “But, she’s so rotten! Not one nice word ever comes out of her mouth!”

Ginny shrugged. “I know. I just don’t take what she says to heart.”

“But…” Hermione sighed, fidgeting in her seat. “I really don’t want her at my wedding.”

“Maybe she’ll have died by then,” Ginny said dismissively. “Honestly, Hermione, you know you’re a good person who is smart, courageous and that my brother adores the ground you walk on. Why does it matter what she says or thinks?”

Her bushy haired friend stared at her, but not really seeing her, lost in thought. Finally she asked, “Yes, but why have her at the wedding?”

“Because she took us in,” Ginny said simply. “No matter how awful she is, she took us in and we drove her crazy while we were there. She’s earned her place and it will make her happy to see me marry Harry. To her, fame matters.”

“I just don’t understand,” Hermione said, shaking her head.

Ginny couldn’t help but laugh. “Listen, are you marrying Ron tomorrow? Nope, so why borrow trouble?”

Hermione’s face went scarlet. “I may not marry him at all.”

Ginny just raised an eyebrow, not bothering to comment.

“Well, I mean,” she stammered, flustered. “We only just started going out a few weeks ago!”

“You know, Hermione,” Ginny said softly. “You don’t need time to know. Have you talked about it at all?”

Hermione’s mouth softened and she nodded her head. “Yes, but… well alright, I don’t need time to know how I feel about him but I’m only…” she fell silent.

“I’m sixteen,” Ginny said. “I know and I probably know because my life has never once been about taking the easy way out. Age has nothing to do with this, not for us. Maybe if we’d been born in a different time it would, but we were all grown up years ago.” Ginny turned to look out the window, watching a bird fly past her window.

“Ginny?”

She looked back at Hermione’s anxious face. “Yeah?”

“How are you going to do this? I can’t imagine being a mother right now.” Then as if the words fully registered, she shut her mouth and shook her head. “Forget I asked; it was stupid! I don’t want you to get upset or-”

“No, it’s not stupid and I have no bloody idea,” Ginny admitted, even while she pushed down the fear. “I think that I can, though. I have a great mother, friends and family to support me, and Harry is the best man I’ve ever known. Together we’ll muddle through until we learn enough to get good at it. I already love the baby so that’s the first hurdle. I’m excited and terrified but of all the things we’ve faced over the last few years, I think having a baby is at least something that’s all about happiness and love.”

Hermione nodded, her voice was choked with emotion when she finally spoke. “I think you and Harry are going to be really good parents.”

“I hope so,” Ginny told her. “We’re going to try. At least I know Harry doesn’t run from a challenge.”

Hermione snorted. “Definitely not.”

Back to index


Chapter 10: Chapter 10

Author's Notes: First off thank you to James for all your support!

Second, thank you for everyone who nominated me for a Silver Trinket Award. If you haven't yet voted, go vote! (even if it isn't for me!) :)

Third, this is the wedding! I hope you enjoy.

Fourth, THANK YOU for reviewing! I love getting the feed back.
~Sarah


Saturday June 6th, 1998

Ginny tried not to fidget as she glanced around the snow white tent that had been erected for her to get changed. The portkey had brought her here only thirty minutes ago but it felt like every minute was an hour. She’d changed into her dress; let her mum and Fleur fuss over her hair while Hermione and Luna had done each other’s. They all looked really beautiful and Ginny just wanted to get on with it. The last few days had dragged slowly with her being bed ridden while having a lot more energy. Hermione had filled her in on the progress of the house getting cleaned and moving in the furniture. She’d gotten Kreacher a bed which they’d put in his new bedroom and Kreacher’s eyes had leaked happiness as he told Ginny and Harry about picking out the cupboard under the stairs. Harry had only shaken his head.

Ginny shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts and focus. “How much longer?” she asked, trying not to sound too impatient.

“Less than 5 minutes,” Molly assured her. “There, your hair is done.”

“I’ll tell Arthur,” Fleur beamed, walking out.

Her father came in a moment later and froze a look of stunned disbelief on his face as he stared at her. “Dad?” Ginny prodded tentatively.

“You’re… you’re just too beautiful,” he said croakily, coming over to kiss her cheek. “Harry won’t know what hit him.”

Ginny sincerely hoped he was right.

~*~

Harry stood nervously next to Ron, thankful to be in a muggle suit and not dress robes which would have dragged in the sand. They had ditched their shoes, rolled up the dress pants and ignored Auntie Muriel when she’d said they were all heathens. She’d sat down on a seat in the sand, which she’d demanded George bring over for her, and completely refused to remove her shoes; unlike everyone else.

“What was Ginevra thinking?” Muriel barked, her red rimmed eyes darting around.

Harry ignored her. Ginny had wanted her here, so that’s all that mattered. Everyone else stood in a half circle around them. Bill and Fleur, Andromeda with Teddy, Charlie holding a camera, George, Percy and Audrey, Kingsley, Neville, Minerva McGonagall, a nervous looking Kreacher who Harry had had to order to come and last, but never least, Hagrid stood in the back, fat tears rolling down his cheeks. He’d given Harry a hug and told him he was going to be a great father, while he cracked at least one rib with the massive hug before retreating behind his hanky to cry. As they’d first gathered, Harry had briefly thought about all those who should have been there; his parents, Sirius, Remus, Tonks, Dumbledore and Fred. He’d had to push it out of his mind, though. They’d want him to be happy, not sobbing because he was missing them.

“Come on,” Ron mumbled. “Dad went in there at least 5 minutes ago, aren’t they ready yet?”

As though he’d conjured them, Mrs. Weasley appeared in the tent flap and walked up to the front of all the guests, smiling and dabbing at her eyes. Luna came next looking pretty in her robin’s egg blue dress, her wispy blonde hair flying around her as she moved. She had a small bouquet of white lilies and she smiled happily and she walked to stand off to the left side.

Then Hermione came out in a matching dress to Luna’s and Harry heard Ron’s breath leave him as if he’d been kicked in the gut. Hermione grinned at the look on Ron’s face and took her place next to Luna.

Come on, Harry willed in his head. Then Arthur appeared, Ginny on his arm and all sound was sucked from the earth and he thought that maybe breathing wouldn’t be possible anymore.

She looked simply exquisite, more beautiful than she’d ever looked before to him. Her long red hair danced in curls down her back and her smile was only for him as she walked the short distance to where he waited. Harry got lost in her deep brown eyes, unable to believe that in a few minutes she was going to be his wife. How had he gotten so lucky?

He watched Arthur kiss Ginny’s cheek, clap him on the back and say, “take care of her, son.”

“I will,” Harry promised quietly as he put his arm around her waist to give her more support. He looked down at the dress properly for the first time and saw it was stunning- white and flowing and that she was holding a bunch of white lilies.

Ginny smiled up at him and his heart tripped.

The tufty haired wizard that Harry had completely forgotten was there in the wake of seeing Ginny cleared his throat. “Family and friends, we are gathered here today to celebrate the union of two faithful souls. We know that love has drawn these two together and that by their commitment before you, they will draw strength in each other through the good times and the bad.”

“She doesn’t look pregnant,” Auntie Muriel grumbled loudly.

Harry looked down in time to see Ginny’s lips twitch.

“Do you, Harry James, take Ginevra Molly to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, in sickness and in health? If so, please say ‘I will’.”

“I will,” Harry said his voice strong and sure as he slid the ring that Ron had quickly passed him on to Ginny’s finger.

Ginny handed her bouquet to Hermione and took the ring from her. “Do you, Ginevra Molly, take Harry James to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, in sickness and in health? If so, please say ‘I will’.”

“I will,” Ginny said staring up into his eyes as the ring slid home on his finger. He kept her hands in his.

The old wizard smiled, “Then I declare you bonded for life.” He waved his wand high in the air above them and the shower of silver stars fell around them as Harry pulled her in for a kiss.

Harry felt as though a part of his heart left his body and joined hers’, but the hole was filled instantly with something from Ginny. He couldn’t have explained it better if someone had held a wand to his head and he didn’t want to try. He just wanted to kiss his wife and let the rest of the world fall away.

Ginny broke the kiss, breathless and laughing. Joy like he’d never known was bursting out of him and he swept her up into his arms to carry her up to the larger white tent they had prepared for a small reception.

As he walked by the laughing, happy group up the grassy embankment, the blades tickling his bare feet, he saw Molly and Hagrid, both crying copiously and Muriel demanded that Bill help her up.

Ginny giggled into his shoulder before kissing him on the neck. “I am so glad we invited her.”

Because they were so few, they only needed two long tables including a massive, reinforced seat at the end for Hagrid. Harry set Ginny down next to her seat, pulled it out and helped her sit without catching her dress on anything. He sat down beside her and kissed her again while George and Ron wolf whistled. Everyone laughed. Lunch was served by a couple of Hogwarts house elves who had eagerly volunteered for the job. Hermione had only looked outraged for a moment before accepting that house elves didn’t need to pass Auror screenings to get into the wedding venue.

Lunch was served and Harry assumed it was good, but he couldn’t stop looking at Ginny and he only realized he’d eaten when he saw his plate clean. He was her husband. From here on out, it was the two of them plus however many kids they had.

Traditionally the bride and groom walked around to talk to their guests, but as Ginny was supposed to be resting everyone came up to them. Professor McGonagall came over to congratulate them and wish them the best before heading back to Hogwarts to continue with the repairs. Harry even thought he’d seen a tear in her eye. Kingsley also came over and told Ginny she was a beautiful bride and he was happy for them.

Andromeda walked over, Teddy in her arms. The baby’s hair was vivid green, his eyes a deep blue. Ginny held out her arms to cuddle the baby. Harry gazed at them completely transfixed as she kissed his cheeks and told him he was so sweet. Hopefully it would be their turn in a few months to do this with their child.

“Come here,” Harry said, clearing the emotion from his throat as he took his godson. Completely out of the blue Teddy waved a hand at his face and smiled a real smile. Harry cradled him close, kissing his cheek. “I love you,” he whispered to the baby who cooed happily and drooled spit bubbles.

“He loves Harry,” Andromeda said fondly, not having heard his words. Her face softened as she looked at them.

“The feeling is mutual,” Ginny assured her.

Harry looked over at his wife and there was such tenderness in her expression that he was awed. “Definitely mutual.”

“My turn,” Fleur said, taking Teddy into her arms. “You are such a ‘andsome leetle man!”

Bill grinned as he watched his wife sway gently with the baby. “She’s itching for a baby although I think we’re going to wait another year or so. Congratulations you two.”

“Thanks for everything, Bill,” Harry said, standing up to shake hands. “This has been great.”

Bill waved it off. “We’ve enjoyed it. It’s nice to be able to do this for you.” He bent and kissed Ginny’s cheek. “By happy, Smidge,” he whispered.

“I already am,” Ginny promised.

“Now, I best go rescue your grandson,” he said, linking Andromeda’s arm in his as they walked away chatting towards where Hermione, Audrey and Fleur were all cooing over the baby.

Someone put on some slow music and Harry stood, holding out a hand for her. “Time for a dance.”

Ginny let him help her to her feet and they moved between the tables into a slow dance that was more like revolving in one spot. Harry knew it was all Ginny was up for and just holding her close was enough. Her sweet smell drifted up as she tucked her head under his chin, her arms around his neck. All too soon the song ended and Arthur moved over to cut in.

“One dance with your old dad,” he told Ginny as he took her into his arms.

Harry wandered over to Ron who was watching Hermione with Teddy. “You thinking about doing this, mate?” Harry asked him, teasing.

To his shock Ron just grinned. “Someday; hopefully sooner rather than later. Hermione has a timeline in her head but I’m going to see if I can’t get her to budge it up a bit.”

“Yeah?” He asked a little nonplused.

Ron shrugged. “I don’t want anyone but her. It’s pretty much always been her, but there’s time yet. She wants to finish school and start a career. I’m just not keen on waiting until we’re thirty five.” Ron looked over Harry’s shoulder and blanched. “Oh bloody hell, Muriel is beckoning us to come over.”

Harry sighed inwardly. “Well, let’s go then.”

He’d avoided talking to her so far, but knew he couldn’t put it off any longer. Ron made the introductions. “Auntie Muriel, this Harry.”

She took Harry’s hand in her strong grip and pulled him down into a chair. “I want a word with you about Ginevra,” Muriel said.

“Isn’t she beautiful?” Harry said, grinning over at her dancing with her father. “I’m so lucky have her.”

Momentarily thrown for a loop, Muriel shook her head. “She’s pale and too skinny. Now I’m glad you’re-”

“I think she’s perfect,” Harry corrected, feeling the steel in his words as he met the older woman’s gaze and was amazed to see her falter. “I wanted to tell you that I met you last year at Bill and Fleur’s wedding. I was disguised as Barney Weasley and I sat with you and Elphias Doge at the reception and we discussed Dumbledore.”

Ron chose that moment to walk away without saying a word. Harry couldn’t blame him. Muriel looked thunderstruck and livid. “You… you didn’t tell me who you were?”

“No one knew,” Harry shrugged. “Anyway, it was nice meeting you formally. Ginny really wanted you to be here so I am glad you could come. Excuse me.”

Harry got up and walked over to Kreacher who was standing awkwardly at the edge of the group. “I’m really glad you came, Kreacher. Ginny and I wanted you here.”

Kreacher nodded, and then speech just burst out of him. “Master, please let me go back to the house and make sure everything is ready!”

Harry sighed, and nodded with a smile. “Go ahead. I imagine Ginny and I will be along shortly.”

Harry looked over to see Kingsley, Percy and Audrey talking to Ginny and Arthur and that his father-in-law had his arm around Ginny, pretty much holding her up.

Harry strode over and scooped her into his arms. Her head went against his shoulder with a sigh. “I feel like such a bleeding damsel in distress,” she muttered crossly. “I really want to stay longer.”

“Not today,” Audrey told her, shaking her head. Charlie came over and snapped a picture and everyone else gave their final congratulations. Harry knew the party would go on without them as he took the portkey Arthur handed him.

A few seconds later they were sucked into space and deposited in their new bedroom at Ivy Run, the name Ginny had picked for their new home.

Harry gently laid Ginny on the bed and got a potion for her. Everything was already laid out, but his bride barely had her eyes open as he helped her to drink the potion. He contemplated trying to get her out of the dress but decided just to let her sleep. Pulling back the covers he tucked her in and went to figure out where Hermione had put his jeans when she organized the bedroom the day before.

~*~

Sunday June 7th

The first thing that Ginny became aware of was the smell of bacon.

“Come on, Gin, you know you’re hungry,” Harry whispered as she felt something pass by her nose. “It’s bacon.”

She cracked an eye open, but only because it was bacon. The bed was so comfortable and she was so warm and sleepy. She reached out a hand for the salty goodness and took a bite. “Mmm,” she groaned in ecstasy. When Ginny peeled open her other eye it was to see the early morning light sprinkling into a room she didn’t recognize. “Where-” but the memory came back and she beamed up at Harry, even as she held out her hand for another piece of bacon. “You’re my husband.”

Harry’s smile lit up his whole face. “Yes, I am. You slept through dinner last night so you really need to eat now.”

Ginny sat up and took the tray from him as he propped a pillow behind her back against the solid wood and tastefully carved headboard. She ate in between breaks of kissing Harry. When she finally finished and he took the tray, she swung her legs over the edge of the bed and giggled. “I’m still in my wedding dress!”

“I didn’t really know how to get it off of you,” he admitted sheepishly.

“Well it needs to come off now,” Ginny said ruefully. “I have to use the loo and it’s too heavy to drag around.”

Ginny stood carefully and turned. “Just undo the zip for me.”

Harry groaned. “You’re trying to kill me, aren’t you?”

“Didn’t you once tell me that it would be a good way to go?” She asked, trying not to laugh. “I have a bra and knickers on. Come on, I need to pee.”

She felt his unsteady hands reach up for the zipper, and after a moment he slid it down. She pulled her arms out and turned, reaching out for a hand she knew without question would be there to steady her. She looked up into Harry’s eyes as she stepped out of the dress. He kept his gaze resolutely fixed on her face. “Which way to the loo?”

“This way,” he said, walking with her to the bathroom which was the first door to the right outside of their bedroom.

Ginny closed the door, used the facilities and steadied her nerves as she washed her hands. She took a moment to look into her own eyes, which seemed huge. She couldn’t lie to herself as anxiety skittered in her belly. It wasn’t that she was afraid of Harry, or afraid of hurting the baby; it was a fear of the unknown. Part of her was so excited too. Ginny put a hand on her flat stomach, in awe yet again that a tiny life grew inside her. “You’ll be okay, baby. Mummy loves you and you’ll be okay.”

She turned to open the door. Harry sprung up from the bed, where he’d sat with his head in his hands. “Are you all right?” he asked in a rush.

“I’m fine,” she said walking towards him, amused to see that he was still not looking anywhere but her face. She cupped his cheeks and kissed him, his hands automatically going up to her nearly bare hips. “I’m ready if you are.”

Harry shook his head. “I’m not sure I’m ever going to be ready. I’m… I’m so scared I’m going to hurt you.”

“You won’t,” she said against his lips. “We’ll be fine.”

And they were.

~*~

“You have got so many scars,” Ginny said as she trailed a finger along one of the scars on his chest.

Harry shrugged, trying not to be self-conscious. “That one is from… something I’m going to tell you about some other day that isn’t today.”

She eyed him speculatively. “I’m not complaining. I love you, scars and all. It’s just… this one looks like it really hurt.”

“It wasn’t that bad, actually,” Harry said, relaxing under the amazing feeling of her fingers.

She leaned over and kissed the puckered skin. He groaned and she grinned at him impishly. “You know you love me.”

“I do love you.” He rolled over, trapping her half under him as he kissed her. Ginny buried her hands in his soft, unruly hair and lost herself in the kiss. “You have a few scars too,” he said, pointing to her shoulder. It was courtesy of a detention with the Carrows, but she didn’t tell him that. She couldn’t think about it.

“My scars are prettier than yours,” she replied primly, trying to keep a straight face.

“Your everything is prettier than mine,” Harry reminded her. “That was never a competition.”

Ginny felt her cheeks stained pink at the compliment. “Pretty soon I’m going to look stuffed like Father Christmas.” She studied his face, wanting to see his reaction.

Harry looked down her body, frowning slightly but she could tell it was with contemplation. Suddenly his face split into a wide grin. “That’s going to be so amazing. Do you think I’ll be able to feel the baby move?”

Startled, she nodded. “Yeah, you’ll get to feel the kicks and such.”

He sat up so he could lean over and kiss her stomach, their baby. “I love you.” Coming back up to Ginny he kissed her and said against her lips, “I love you too.”

“You’re getting better at saying it,” Ginny said, feeling his love stealing over her.

“I never really got to say it before and… and I regret that I didn’t. I’m saying it now. I’m not going to live with any more regrets.”

~*~

Harry couldn’t pull his eyes from his wife’s face. She was so beautiful. He leaned down to kiss her bare shoulder, unable to quite believe his luck. He was alive, he’d managed to survive Voldemort, he had a job he loved, he was married and bloody hell he was going to be a dad in a few short months.

The horrible thoughts were there too. Someone was trying to kill them, again, and Fred wasn’t at the wedding. They couldn’t even mention Fred without risking Ginny getting upset and ill. Ginny was trying so hard to keep their baby alive. He marveled at her strength to block everything out and keep going. Their baby might die. But Ginny didn’t know how desperate the situation was, and Harry wasn’t going to tell her. She didn’t need to know because her knowing could only hurt, not help.

He hoped that was the right thing to do. Ginny mumbled in her sleep and turned more fully into him. He didn’t want to wake her but Martha would be there shortly to check on the baby and right now neither of them had a stitch of clothing on.

Harry grinned at the memories that flooded through him but pushed it away quickly as he carefully extracted himself from the bed to get dressed. That particular part of marriage was now on hold for the next several months… at the very least.

Harry leaned over to kiss Ginny’s soft, warm cheek as he buttoned his jeans. “Gin… time to get dressed. Martha will be here soon.”

Ginny stretched her arms above her head, not opening her eyes and Harry had to look away as the sheet slipped close to revealing her curves. He couldn’t get distracted now. “Mm, ‘kay. Hungry,” she mumbled.

“I’ll get you something, don’t fall back to sleep,” Harry warned, but without heat. Damn she was so cute, her hair tousled and her face slightly flushed from sleeping. He walked down the stairs, pulling on a t-shirt as he padded barefoot into the kitchen. It smelled amazing and he saw that Kreacher already had a tray ready. “Kreacher, you are a life saver. Thanks.”

Kreacher nodded as Harry picked up the tray. “Can I do anything else, Master?”

“Just let Martha in when she gets here, will you?” He called out over his shoulder as he went back. Ginny hadn’t moved. “Oy,” he said and she waved at him vaguely. “I have food.”

Her eyes popped open and she sat up, letting the sheet fall down. Harry nearly tripped and she giggled as she reached for the shirt that he’d left on the bed for her to put on. As she pulled the red shirt over her bright hair, she commented, “I really think I love being married.”

Back to index


Chapter 11: Chapter 11

Author's Notes: I'm so excited that I won 2 silver trinket awards!! It's so cool and thank you for everyone who voted for me. I'm glad you're enjoying the story. I think you'll like this chapter, well I hope you do. Let me know.

Thanks James for all of your help!


Wednesday June 10th, 1998

It wasn’t even light out when Harry felt the bed shift suddenly and heard running feet. Grabbing his glasses, he thrust them on and made it to the bathroom door in time to see Ginny lose the entire contents of her stomach into the toilet. He flipped on the light and she didn’t even seem to notice. Her hair fell around her and her whole body shook. “Ginny,” he whispered as he knelt down next to her, pulling her hair back for her. Her arms were resting on the seat, her head propped on one arm waiting for the next spasm to hit. When it did she heaved again until nothing came out.

“Water,” she choked. Sweat drenched her face and her nose was running freely.

Harry got up for the glass on the counter and filled it. He handed it to her and she swished some in her mouth before spitting it into the toilet. He wet a cloth and bent down to wipe her face. She grabbed some toilet paper, blew her nose, and after chucking in the toilet, closed the lid and flushed.

He sat down next to her on the cold tile floor and she fell back against him, shaking uncontrollably. Harry held her, wishing desperately that he could take this from her. He kissed her damp brow and stroked a hand slowly up and down her back, feeling her spine under the night shirt. “Do you want to go lay down again?”

She didn’t seem able to answer, only nod.

Carefully, and somewhat awkwardly, he stood with her in his arms. She’d put a few pounds back on in the last few days, but she was still light and easy to move. He tucked her in on her side of the bed and went to retrieve a bucket. “If you need it, you can throw up in here,” he said, placing it on her nightstand, pushing the sweaty hair away from her face. Harry looked at her, waffling on whether or not to send a message to the midwife.

“Harry…” Ginny’s voice was cracked and pitiful as she held out a shaking hand for him.

He swallowed hard, willing back the rising flood of helplessness as he moved onto the bed behind her, molding his body around hers and pulling her in close. He lay awake, watching over her as she fell into a fitful sleep again. A lump had lodged itself in his stomach as he closed his eyes, trying to fight off the rising panic. If she kept getting sick… but he couldn’t think like that. It was just once so far, and it was normal for pregnant women to throw up. Hadn’t Martha said that it was okay as long as it didn’t happen all the time?

But this wasn’t a normal pregnancy. Harry looked over towards the clock and saw it was almost 6am. Molly was supposed to be here in half an hour and Martha was scheduled for around 10am. He was supposed to be going in to work shortly, but there was no way he was going in until after Martha had been there to check on Ginny and the baby.

He stayed in bed and waited for Molly to come. When she finally poked her head in, her eyes filled with concern. “What happened?” His mother-in-law whispered.

“She got sick,” Harry told her softly. “It was pretty bad, but only the once.”

Molly came to put a hand on Ginny’s brow. “Oh my baby,” she said gently, almost crooning. “Are you going in to work?” She asked, looking up at Harry.

“Not right now, maybe later,” he explained. “I’m going to send in a message in a bit.” He didn’t want to get up, didn’t want to let her go.

“I’ll stay, you go ahead,” Molly told him, pulling a chair over to sit next to her daughter.

Harry reluctantly got out of bed, feeling cold after having been entwined with Ginny. Shivering slightly, he made his way down to the room he was using as his office. He sat in the chair at his desk and put his head in his hands, willing his heart to slow and for the dread to abate. He sucked in a deep breath, let it out slowly and wrote out a message for Robards. He went over to the cage on the filing cabinet. Harry hadn’t wanted another owl, but Ron and Hermione had given them one as a wedding present. His name was Burt; Ginny had named him the second she saw him and as with most things she did, it just stuck. Burt raised his tawny head and stuck out his leg.

Harry tied on the scroll. “It goes only to Robards. No one else, alright?”

Burt ducked his head twice and Harry opened the window for him. He watched the bird fly off as the first rays of the rising sun began to kiss the tree tops.

Harry made his way back upstairs to find Molly giving Ginny her next dose of potion. “Come on, luv, just a bit more.”

“Mum, I feel awful,” Ginny whispered pathetically.

“I know,” Molly’s voice cracked. “I know, darling, but it’s just what we mums go through.”

“What if it hurts the baby?” Ginny asked and Harry’s chest clenched when he saw tears start to rain down her pale cheeks.

“No,” Harry said firmly, coming back in and climbing back in bed with her. “No, Martha said it would be okay if you were sick sometimes. This isn’t a big deal.”

Molly stroked her cheek comfortingly. “He’s right. You’re scared because you feel so bad, but Ginny this is a normal part of pregnancy. It’s a good thing! It means the hormones are all there, making you feel lousy.”

Ginny let out a soft chuckle. “Oh great.” She sighed and turned into Harry, pillowing her head on his shoulder and fisting her hand into his soft, worn shirt. “I’m so tired.”

“Go to sleep,” Harry told her. “I’m not leaving you.”

~*~

“How is she?” Hermione asked as Harry made his way back downstairs later that evening. He sat down with Ron and Hermione at his kitchen table and dropped his head onto his arms. “Oh Harry.” Hermione said gently as she reached over to rub a hand across his shoulder.

Harry sighed and sat back up. After Martha’s assurances that Ginny was okay, that it was normal he had finally made it into work, but his mind had definitely been elsewhere and Robards had sent him back home after only a few hours. Ginny had slept most of the day.

“Did she get sick again?” Ron asked him.

“No,” Harry said. “No, but she’s lost most of her strength. It’s like we’re going backwards.”

Ron’s eyes were intense as he studied him. “What did the midwife say?”

“That her getting sick isn’t that big of a problem; it’s the fact that she lost her strength that is a huge concern.” Harry took the tea cup from Kreacher that the old elf handed him. “Thanks, Kreacher.”

“Ginny still doesn’t know anything?” Hermione asked him hesitantly.

Feeling older than he had in a long time, Harry shook his head. “I’m deliberately not telling her and I feel horrible about it.”

“You can’t tell her,” Ron reminded him. “It wouldn’t do her any good to know what’s happened.”

“I know,” Harry said wearily.

“That doesn’t help, though, does it?” Ron asked him shrewdly as he drank his own tea.

Harry shook his head. “I don’t want to lie to her anymore. I don’t want to keep secrets from her. I can’t share anything with her that’s stressful or hard.”

“Dinner will be ready shortly, Master,” Kreacher called from the kitchen.

Harry nodded in acknowledgment.

Hermione pulled her hair back, clipping it with a large clip. Curls instantly broke free and framed her face. “You’re carrying a huge burden.”

“It isn’t that,” he said, holding his cup between his hands, staring hard into the amber liquid.

“You don’t know whether to be happy or grieve,” Hermione said breathlessly, her eyes welling up.

That was it. “Yeah,” he agreed. “I don’t know if we’re going to have a baby at the end of this and I have to keep up a solid pretense for her that we will or-”

“Or the fear will make sure that she miscarries,” Ron finished. “Instead of a small chance, the baby will have no chance.”

“That’s about it,” Harry said. He looked up at them, unable to hide the raw emotion. “I feel like I’m setting her up to fall hard. She really thinks the baby will be okay-”

“The baby might be okay!” Hermione said sternly. “You don’t know for sure that she won’t make it through.”

“But at least Harry knows the odds,” Ron replied. “He knows that things might go badly and he’s not got his hopes up too high.”

Hermione frowned at him. “Yes, but that won’t change things if something goes wrong.”

“How do you mean?” Harry asked.

“I… oh… I started researching grief and miscarriages,” Hermione said as her bottom lip trembled. Ron squeezed her hand in comfort. “I just want to be prepared, just in case. You love your baby.” It was a statement, not a question.

“Yeah, of course I do,” Harry said. “It’s really weird to love someone who I’ve never really seen, but I do. I…” he swallowed hard. “I’d do anything to keep the baby safe.”

“You’re going to grieve the loss of your child,” she said simply. “It doesn’t matter how far along the baby is, or anything like that. You want this baby and if the baby doesn’t make it, you’re going to be devastated.”

Harry sighed and put his head back down on the table. “I don’t know how to do this.”

“You’re not doing this alone,” Ron reminded him. “We’re all here, backing you up. There doesn’t need to be any kind of mask for us.”

“I know,” Harry said, not looking up. “I just… I held my sick, miserable wife this morning while she cried, so scared that she was failing the baby. How is she going to get through this if she does miscarry?” He finally looked up. “How do I help her through that?”

“The question is how are you going to get yourself through it?” Hermione asked, taking his hand. “You can’t save her if you’re drowning too.”

He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know how he was going to get through. “I guess like everything else, like everyone else’s death over the last several years.”

“None of them was your kid, though,” Ron reminded him, clearing his throat of emotion. “If Ginny wasn’t pregnant and needing her so much, my mum would be a mess. My dad would too. Fred’s death has left a massive hole in our lives.”

Harry closed his eyes. “That’s not helping me.”

“Okay, no,” Ron agreed. “I didn’t mean to make it worse for you. Listen, we get through this as a family. We do what we have to… stick together and keep going even if that means dragging someone along.”

Hermione was studying him, completely shocked. “Where did all that come from?”

Ron shrugged dismissively. “It’s just what’s happened. We’ve banded together. Andromeda hasn’t got anyone anymore except Teddy, who is Harry’s godson, so they’re ours now. You watch. Mum will have her over at every Christmas and family celebration. We’re all taking turns babysitting George when we’re not babysitting Ginny.”

“I…” Hermione’s voice petered out, and she just shook her head, looking impressed.

“It’s a little weird that you have a wife,” Ron said suddenly, smiling a little. “I mean, I know I was there and all but still…”

Harry arched an eyebrow, smiling for the first time all day. “Did you expect that everything would just go according to a normal schedule now that Riddle is dead?”

“Nah,” Ron shook his head. “I mean you’re still you and you still attract a certain amount of trouble but you know, you’re seventeen and it’s just a little weird to hear you say ‘my wife’ and have it come out so natural.”

Hermione shook her head in bemusement at the pair of them. “This time last year I thought we weren’t going to make it out alive. I think the fact that Harry’s got a chance to be married at all is a miracle.”

“But there’s still the small matter of figuring how who the hell started this Quaffle rolling,” Ron said dryly.

“And why,” Hermione agreed.

“I can’t seem to make any sense of it,” Harry sighed, hating to get back on to a serious topic but knowing they should. He thanked Kreacher when the elf put a plate in front of him and began to eat, the others following suit.

“Do you want to wake Ginny up to eat now or in a bit?” Hermione asked, taking a drink of water.

Harry shook his head. “She was completely out when I went up a few minutes ago. I’ll check at her next round of potions and see if I can wake her enough to eat. If we can’t, Martha is going to have to come and set up a feeding line.”

“What’s a feeding line?” Ron asked his mouth half full.

“It’s… uhm,” Harry paused looking at Hermione who shrugged her shoulders helplessly. “Well, I think it will feed directly into Ginny’s blood stream and get nutrients in without going through her stomach. That way she can’t throw it up.”

“Gross,” Ron groaned, taking another bite.

Hermione rolled her eyes at him. “Anyway, back to whoever did this. We’re definitely thinking a woman?”

“That’s what Ginny thinks, although of course I haven’t pressed her for more details,” Harry said. “She’s got good instincts, though, so I trust her on this.”

“The blood boiling hex was planned as part of this, it must have been to get you both in the hospital,” Ron said, biting into a roll. “Except that it should have just killed you. That part is weird. Since the poison is so complicated to make and will only keep for a few hours she wouldn’t have wanted to make it unless she knew she could get you.”

“I think,” Harry hesitated, coming back to a theory that had been ruminating around in his brain. “I think that it was the snatcher making a mistake.”

“What do you mean?” Hermione asked.

He took a bite, trying to work out how to explain it. “I think that whoever the mastermind is, they hired this snatcher and told them to injure both of us enough to land us in St. Mungo’s.”

Ron’s eyes lit up. “But since most snatchers are complete idiots, the bloke thought he’d just try to kill you instead and it was only luck that you weren’t killed, and you both ended up in St. Mungo’s anyway!”

Harry nodded and Hermione rested her chin in her hand, looking off towards the sparsely furnished sitting room. “I think you’re probably on to something there. The mastermind wouldn’t want the hired help to know what she was doing, so she wouldn’t have told him why she needed you hurt badly, but not killed.”

“Exactly,” Harry agreed. “He takes matters into his own hands and it just happens that it still works out that she got what she wanted. She may have said she was going to poison us, and he just thought he’d do it faster.”

“But why would anyone do this?” Hermione said again. “I just don’t see the point in trying to kill you slowly and why impregnate Ginny? Why force you to get married?”

“Especially if they knew just how happy being married is making you,” Ron said, scraping his plate. “Typically the bad guys don’t want their victims to be happy.”

Harry shook his head. “That probably wasn’t something they were after but…” he thought of what it was like getting to wake up with Ginny every morning, even if she wasn’t awake before he left for work. Only a few days in and he didn’t ever want to go back to the way it was before. “This is going to sound odd.”

Ron rolled his eyes. “Harry this whole situation is completely cocked up. Just say it.”

Harry grinned sheepishly. “I’m just glad that if something had to go wrong, that it ended up this way.”

“It definitely wasn’t something you were looking for,” Hermione smiled knowingly. “But you ended up being exactly where you wanted to be.”

“Yes,” Harry agreed.

“Master,” Kreacher interrupted and he looked over to the elf who was still in the kitchen cleaning a pot. “Mistress is waking up.”

Harry stood. “Thanks Kreacher. I’ll be back down in a bit.”

“Take your time,” Ron waved him off. “I know where the biscuits are.”

Harry sprinted up the stairs and opened the door, spilling light into the dark room. Ginny blinked sleepily as he came in. “Hey,” he said softly, coming to sit next to her. “How are you feeling?”

She licked her dry lips, “Thirsty.”

He got her glass from the night stand and helped her to drink a little. “You ready to eat something?”

Ginny shook her head. “I don’t know if I can.”

Harry ran his hand over her cheek. “I know you feel bloody awful but you’re going to have to eat something.”

“Toast maybe?” She conceded, rolling onto her back and looking up at him. “Did Ron and Hermione still come for dinner?”

“Yeah, they offered to reschedule but I said to just come anyway,” Harry said. “They’re still downstairs. If you’re up for it, they’ll come up and spend some time with you and if not Ron will eat all the sweets we have in the house.”

Ginny chuckled, like he hoped she would. “Maybe after I eat something they can come up for a bit.”

He bent and kissed her forehead. “I’ll be back up with some toast soon.”

Harry managed to get a slice of toast into her, some water and her potion for strengthening and the new one for nausea that she was now going to take twice a day before she passed out again. He watched her sleep for a minute. She was still so beautiful, even as sick as she was. She was brave, she kept her sense of humor through much of this and she was showing so much love that it was simply stunning to watch. He was lucky to have her. He tucked the covers in around and went back downstairs to Ron and Hermione who were standing in the kitchen.

“She fell asleep again,” Harry told them.

“It’s okay, Harry. We’ll be over for dinner a lot, I expect.” Hermione said and she stood. “If nothing else I’ll see her in a few days when I take my shift as day nurse.”

“Yeah, don’t worry about it,” Ron said as he clapped him on the back. “Pregnancy is supposed to make women total bonkers and do all sorts of odd things.”

“Really?” Hermione said, arching her eyebrow. “Is that what happens?”

Ron grinned and snagged her around the waist, laying a kiss on her cheek. “I hear you have to put up with your wife turning into a-” at her look he cut off whatever he was going to say.

Hermione flushed. “I’m not going to forget you said that.”

“You never forget anything,” he reminded her scowling a bit. “Have I ever told you just how beautiful you are?”

Hermione sighed and pushed away from him in disgust.

“That she’ll forget, though,” Ron said to Harry who was grinning at the argument. “Any kind of compliment and she just shrugs it off.”

“You only compliment me when you’re trying to make me forget that I’m annoyed with you,” Hermione said peevishly, marching over and getting into his face.

Ron leaned in and tenderly kissed her. Harry would have looked away, except he was waiting for Hermione to give him a good tongue lashing and he was hard pressed to miss the entertainment.

Instead Ron cupped her cheek, touching his forehead to hers and for once she didn’t have anything to say. “You’re beautiful and when you’re pregnant, you’re allowed to throw pots at my head if you like. I won’t complain.”

“At least it’s only last nine months,” Harry added helpfully and they both laughed, breaking the tension.

“Too true,” Ron agreed, taking Hermione’s hand in his.

She smiled up at Ron and grinned. “I’m going to hold you to that, you know.”

“I have no doubt,” Ron told her as they walked over to the fireplace to floo back to the Burrow. “You never forget anything.”

Back to index


Chapter 12: Chapter 12

Author's Notes: Thank you to James for all of your help!

Thank you again everyone for reviewing! I am still on cloud 9 over the Silver Trinket Awards! It's such a great feeling. I hope you enjoy this chapter and finally get a taste of what's going out side of Ginny's knowledge. Let me know what you think.


Thursday June 11th

The stadium seated courtroom was packed, the air heavy with humanity and body heat. Harry sat with Hermione and Ron to one side, Arthur on the other. They were seated near the top of the courtroom as Death Eater after Death Eater was marched before them. Witnesses were called, sentences handed down and on it went with only a short break for lunch.

Everyone had a trial. Harry had insisted on it and Kingsley had agreed. Even when everyone knew someone was guilty, they still were given a chance to mount a defense. He scanned the crowds around the room while waiting for the next prisoner to be brought in. There was a woman across the room crying softly into her handkerchief, her blond hair shaking loose from its knot as she cried, while a dark haired woman next to her patted her consolingly on the back. He elbowed Hermione.

“What?” She asked, looking at him.

“Who are they?” Harry asked, indicating the woman.

Hermione sighed. “That’s Crabbe and Goyle’s mothers. Goyle’s trial is up next.”

Harry didn’t get a chance to say just how unlike their sons they looked when the doors opened and Goyle lumbered in. He sat in the chair and the chains snaked up around him.

“Gregory Goyle,” Percy Weasley read, acting as the court’s clerk for the day. “You are charged with being a Death Eater, with participating in dark magic and with the torture of your fellow students at Hogwarts. How do you plead?”

“Guilty,” Goyle mumbled.

Harry knew why he was doing it. Most of the Death Eaters were pleading guilty in order to get a life sentence in Azkaban. If the person went to trial and was found guilty, they were given a death sentence.

He’d argued until he was blue trying to get that revoked, but Kingsley’s hands were tied. Most of the wizarding community was in favor of it and demanding swift and severe action. Harry had, however, been sorely tempted to push Umbridge through the death veil in the Department of Mysteries. Watching her plead guilty had been somewhat satisfying.

Kingsley stood. “Gregory Goyle this court finds you guilty of your crimes. We are sentencing you to life in prison without the possibility of parole.”

Goyle’s mother began to sob even harder, as Crabbe’s mother’s face hardened. Harry felt inextricably sorry for them even though he knew they’d probably contributed to their sons’ bad behavior.

Goyle was led away from the court by an Auror that Harry only vaguely recognized, since he was currently on duty at Azkaban.

Next up was Alecto Carrow who pled not guilty. Harry turned to look at Ron and Hermione, both of whom looked equally stunned. Her lawyer got up and started making a case that she was a teacher, not a Death Eater and that she was simply following Snape’s orders. It was complete rubbish.

Neville got up and gave testimony to the torture, along Luna and several other students, which the lawyer tried to get thrown out.

The lawyer, a balding man with a shiny face, said, “I call Ginevra Weasley to the stand.”

Harry blinked in surprise before looking at Kingsley, who had risen. “Mrs. Potter is too ill to be in court. We have a signed affidavit by two healers verifying that.”

“She is one of the accusers and my client has the right to face her accusers. If she is not present, I would move that my client’s case be thrown out. The shame of carrying a bastard is not an excuse to get out of legal matters nor does it count as an illness.” Then he smirked, looking around to see who else was enjoying the joke. “She can’t be that ill if she’s not in St. Mungo’s.”

Harry would have leapt from his seat and cursed the man if both Hermione and Arthur hadn’t grabbed him. No one was laughing, although several people were throwing Harry furtive looks.

“That was out of line,” Kingsley growled. “You will refrain from such statements or face prosecution for disrupting my court. Am I understood?”

Harry had never seen the minister quite so ferocious. He watched the lawyer wither under his stare.

The lawyer, whom Harry was sorry he hadn’t caught the name of so he could hunt him down later, said, “That does not negate-”

To his utter shock Harry saw Martha stand up, her face a stern mask as she stared down the lawyer. He hadn’t even noticed her before.

“The court recognizes Martha Sterling, Healer and midwife,” Percy said, glancing around at her.

“I have given a written statement that Mrs. Potter is too ill to attend these proceedings. I will state it now before this court.” The solid midwife glared down at the lawyer who withered under Kingsley’s stare.

“The Ministry accepts your testimony, Healer Sterling,” Kingsley told her. “Payton, your argument for your client’s case to be thrown out is not valid. We cannot call a witness who is too ill to give testimony when there is ample evidence without her testimony.”

“We would like a new trial date set,” the odious Payton spit out.

Kingsley hesitated and Harry suddenly realized why. “Healer Sterling, do we know when Mrs. Potter will be fit to attend court proceedings?”

“No, Minister,” Martha said as she held herself straight and tall. Harry could see that she didn’t want to answer. “It would be unlikely that she would be well enough in the next six months.”

Murmurs started flowing around the court and Harry stared above their heads, trying to keep his face blank. He didn’t care what they thought of him; he never had. But it ate at him that anyone would think badly of Ginny, would think their baby was anything to be ashamed of.

Hermione didn’t touch him. He knew she wanted to. He could feel that she wanted to comfort him but Rita was watching, her eyes practically tunneling into Harry, waiting for any sign of weakness.

“Order in the court,” Percy called out.

Once everyone had fallen silent, Kingsley spoke. “Mrs. Potter’s testimony is not going to change the verdict. Her written statement from when Ms. Carrow was charged mirrors what Mr. Longbottom has already testified to today. I would ask the Wizengamot vote to dismiss Mrs. Potter’s testimony from evidence and proceed with the verdict. All in favor?”

Every hand of the Wizengamot members went up instantly. A unanimous vote.

“Mrs. Potter’s testimony is dismissed,” Percy said, making a note.

“Very well,” Kingsley said. “All those who find Alecto Carrow guilty of crimes against humanity, please raise your hand.”

Every member of the Wizengamot raised their hand. Percy noted it down as Kingsley stood. “Alecto Carrow, you have been found guilty of crimes against humanity. You will be remanded to Azkaban for one month and then you will be put to death.”

Alecto started screaming as the Aurors removed her from the courtroom, as she flailed about and screamed at the top of her lungs of her innocence. It was pitiful and painful to watch. Or it would have been if she weren’t a murderer.

Hermione put her hand up to her mouth to conceal what she was saying. “That was painful.”

Harry nodded, but Ron only snorted.

Unsurprisingly when Amicus Carrow was brought in, he pled guilty and took the lesser sentence.

As court broke up, Neville hurried over to catch up with him. “Harry, I need to speak to you.” His eyes showed concern but only because Harry he knew him well enough to see it there.

“Here or-”

Neville cut Harry off. “No, not for the public to hear.”

“Now, or can it wait?” Harry asked, puzzled.

“It can wait a few hours,” Neville told him cryptically.

Harry nodded. “Come to dinner tonight. Ron and Hermione are coming over. I’ll invite Luna.”

Neville nodded grimly and said he’d be there. Harry was thankful that Arthur had already given Neville the secret to Ivy Run or they’d have to fiddle with that. On the whole he liked having his home so well protected, but it did make inviting company over a little difficult.

By the time Harry arrived home, he was exhausted and in desperate need of a shower. He greeted Mrs. Weasley who was knitting on one of the sofas in the sitting room. She looked up at him, her eyes full of sympathy. “Hard day?”

He flopped into one of the arm chairs and closed his eyes. “Pretty lousy. They tried to call Ginny.”

“What?” Molly stammered.

“It’s alright, Kingsley took care of it,” Harry said wearily. “Listen Molly, I just need a quick shower and then I’ll be ready for the evening.”

“Go,” Molly waved him off. “Ginny is still out and has been most of the day. I did manage to get some oatmeal into her, though. Audrey stopped in to check on her since Martha was in court and she’s thinking that Martha is going to put the line in tomorrow. Ginny’s down about 5lbs.”

Harry nearly fell off his chair. “What!?”

Molly shook her head. “Audrey said it was normal and will go right back up with the line in. She’s going to talk to Martha tonight about it.” Molly stood and came over to hug him and he pulled her in close. “Don’t worry about this part, Harry. Audrey isn’t going to lie to us to make us feel better. She says the line will help.”

“Okay,” he croaked into her shoulder.

“Now, go shower!” She grinned as she pushed him towards the stairs.

After he’d finished and changed into shorts and t-shirt, he checked to make sure Ginny was still asleep and he went down to see if he could help Kreacher with the dinner preparations since there would be four extra people tonight. He waved to Molly as she left before turning back to the house elf.

“Master does not need to help Kreacher,” he got told sternly before being pushed out of the kitchen.

Not at all sorry to leave the task to Kreacher, he went back up to lie down next to Ginny and rest for a bit before his friends got there. He fell asleep the instant his head hit the pillow and he didn’t wake again until her timer went off twenty minutes later.

Harry reached over for the potion as Ginny stretched and opened her eyes. “Hey,” she said smiling sleepily at him. “When did you get home?”

He leaned down and kissed her, letting the day slip away in the feel of her lips. “A while ago. Here,” he said, handing her the potion.

She drank. “How was training today?”

“More boring than I could possibly tell you,” Harry said, hating the lie even as he knew it was necessary. “I do hope the job is more interesting than this.”

“Bound to be,” she said, snuggling into his arms, running a cold foot up his bare leg and her freezing fingers up the back of his shirt onto his warm skin.

Harry swore loudly, even as he pulled her in closer to warm her up. “That’s a dirty trick.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Ginny giggled.

“Are you feeling any better today?” He asked, trying not to recoil from her icy foot sliding further up his thigh.

“A bit,” she promised, kissing his neck. “I love you.”

“I’m not sure that sticking your frozen hands on me counts as love,” he told her dryly.

“Of course it does,” Ginny said smiling. “It’s true love.”

“Uh-huh,” Harry said unconvinced even as a smile tugged at his lips. He was glad she was joking around. “If you’re up for it Luna and Neville are coming for dinner tonight.”

She looked up at him, excitement in her eyes. “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” he said. “Problem is you’re still going to be in bed.”

She blew out a breath, puffing out her cheeks in frustration. “I know, but they can come up and see me if I’m awake. I’d love some company.”

“I’m not company enough?”

“You’re not company at all,” she said rolling her eyes as she chuckled playfully. “You’re my foot warmer.”

Everyone arrived a few minutes later and came up to see Ginny. Harry had helped her to sit up in bed and she hugged Neville. “I didn’t get to say much to you at the wedding,” she said, grinning broadly at him.

“No, but you looked beautiful,” Neville promised. “You left Harry stuttering.”

“Hey!” Harry protested.

Ginny laughed and they spoke for a few minutes until Harry saw her starting to tire out. Luna saw it too and said, “Ginny’s tired; everyone out.”

Harry helped her back into bed and told her he’d be up with her dinner in a bit. He lingered over a kiss but she was already falling asleep.

Closing the door, he made his way down to the kitchen to see Luna patting Neville on the back as he sat with his head down at the table. “She’s okay, Neville. She’s just really weak,” Luna told him, her large silvery eyes a little misted.

Neville looked over at Harry and he saw that Neville looked devastated. “She looks so… so different, so hollow. Even at the wedding she looked better than this.”

“That’s why we warned you,” Luna told him. “You did a good job of hiding your shock.”

“Neville,” Ron began but stopped, clearly not knowing what to say.

Neville swiped his eyes on his shoulder before speaking. “Ginny was a rock for me last year,” He told them. “She is one of the strongest people I know and to see her like this is just…” his voice faded out.

Harry nodded, unable to speak. He knew exactly what Neville meant.

Hermione walked over and hugged Neville and to Harry’s surprise Neville broke down completely. “Shh, it’s just a shock. You haven’t seen her on her good days.”

“I’m sorry,” Neville said, pulling himself together. “You know, she didn’t talk much about you last year, Harry, but every time she did I could just see how much she missed you and now you’re together but… why is she so sick? Pregnancy doesn’t usually do this, does it?”

Harry stared at him helplessly, before turning to Hermione. He thought if he spoke he’d break down crying too.

“Sit down,” Hermione said gently, leading him to a chair.

Ron went over to a cabinet and got out a bottle of Rosmerta’s Oak Matured Mead while Kreacher pulled out wine glasses that Harry didn’t even know he owned. Pouring out some for everyone they all sat and Hermione began to explain it all to Neville.

Harry didn’t drink much. He’d need to be clear headed to care for Ginny through the night if she needed him, but he did sip at the mead, letting it smooth out the edges from the day.

As Hermione talked what little color he had drained from Neville’s face until he was white as a ghost. “Holy hell,” Neville muttered. “I just… woah. I don’t want to be crass, but I just assumed it was a post battle celebration, you know?”

“No,” Harry said gruffly, at this point really wishing their baby had been created that way. They’d have been a little embarrassed and the family would have been disappointed in them for a while, but they’d have gotten over it with the arrival of the baby. Ginny would be safe and healthy and their baby’s life wouldn’t be in danger.

“No one knows about this, right?” Neville asked.

They all shook their heads. “It’s been kept really quiet,” Harry told him. “We don’t want the baby to find out how it got here. That’s not fair to a kid.”

“Good,” Neville said taking a deep breath. “The thing is… Rita Skeeter is writing a book about you.”

“Bloody hell,” Ron swore.

Hermione looked resigned. “She was always going to do it; it was just a matter of time. What happened, Neville?”

“She sent me an owl, asking for an interview,” he told them. “I didn’t even bother to reply. I thought it was just for the Daily Prophet. Then yesterday she tracked me down at my house and tried to bribe me to tell her stuff about you.”

Luna sighed. “Yes, she did the same thing to me.”

They all looked at her. “Why didn’t you tell us?” Hermione asked incredulously.

“You didn’t need anything else to worry about,” Luna said simply. “She was very angry when I said I wasn’t going to talk to her.”

“I’m sorry, Luna,” Harry said honestly.

Luna smiled. “It isn’t your fault, Harry.”

“No,” Ron said firmly. “You didn’t ask that cow to write about you. You two should have taken the money and told her how bloody great Harry is,” Ron said bitterly.

Hermione glared at him, her nose wrinkled in disgust. “She’d only have spun it to make them all look awful. It’s better to ignore her.”

Harry looked around at his friends and knew they were right. “We have to keep this from Ginny.”

“We will,” Hermione assured him. “All your mail is still being stopped at the ministry and no one can get in here. You can only floo in and out through the Burrow and you can’t Apparate here or walk in unless you’re in on the secret. She only learns what we tell her.”

Neville opened his mouth and then shut it again, but Harry knew what he’d been about to ask. “If Ginny gets upset she gets really sick,” Harry explained. “We can’t tell her what’s going on or we risk her miscarrying, maybe even dying herself. She doesn’t know any of what’s been going on except for what happened initially.”

Neville sat back and ran his hands through his hair, “This is such a mess. So you two were forced to marry?”

“No!” Harry said honestly. “I mean, yes, but not really. I love Ginny and she loves me. It wasn’t a hardship having to marry her.”

Neville nodded. “Who the ruddy hell would do this to you two?”

“That is a great question,” Ron said before groaning with pleasure at the steak and kidney pie that Kreacher put before him. “Kreacher, you are the best!”

Kreacher handed out the other plates at they all thanked him. “Would Master like anything else?”

“We’re good, Kreacher,” Harry assured him. “You should take a break. We can clear this up.”

Kreacher nodded and shuffled off towards his cupboard as they dug into their dinner.

“Ginny thinks I’m still training right now,” Harry told them. “I didn’t tell her about court today.”

Hermione nodded. “Got it, you’re just training like normal and that it’s boring and a lot of book work.”

“It’s a good thing she forgot about the trials,” Neville said between bites. “Writing up those statements after the battle was horrible.”

“What happened to her shoulder?” Harry asked suddenly. “I didn’t want to ask her and get her upset. She’s doing a good job of blocking that stuff out. Do you know?”

Neville and Luna exchanged a dark look. “Yeah, that was Alecto,” Neville explained. “After one of our stunts, she had a couple of first years chained up. Ginny broke in to free them and got caught. Alecto had her in chains for two days, stabbing her in her right shoulder with a blade dipped in spider venom.”

“Oh God,” Hermione breathed out, her hands flying up to her mouth. Harry thought he might be sick and pushed his dinner away from him. Ron was white as a sheet.

“We finally got her out of there,” Luna said. “It took us awhile to figure out where she was keeping Ginny. By the time we got her to Madam Pomfrey the scar was permanent. Alecto told Ginny she was going to ruin her Quidditch arm, but Alecto was a bit stupid. The spider venom stung and left scars on Ginny’s skin, but didn’t do anything to the muscles.”

“Ginny was so cool over it,” Neville said. “She just shrugged it off like it was no big deal. She and Luna missed out on the really nasty things that started to happen after Easter.”

“What happened?” Ron asked, stunned.

Neville nearly bent his fork in half; he was gripping it so hard. “Crabbe and Goyle and a few of the other Slytherins started assaulting some of the girls of the DA.”

Bile rose in Harry’s throat. “How many?”

He shrugged. “I stopped a few, so did Seamus and a few of the other blokes. After that started happening most moved in to the Room of Requirement.” Neville looked as sick as Harry felt as he stared up at the celling. “Crabbe definitely raped one girl. I don’t know who it was. The DA girls knew and took care of her, told us boys to keep out of it which we decided was best. She didn’t need us to know who she was. It would have only made her feel worse, I’m sure.”

“Oh my,” Hermione said again as fat tears flowed down her face. Ron put his arm around her shoulder.

Harry hated that he was glad Ginny hadn’t been there for that. He shouldn’t be glad when he knew that someone else had suffered so much. “At least Crabbe got what he deserved.”

Hermione shuddered and wiped her eyes with her napkin. “Was Malfoy involved in all of that, Neville?”

“Not that I ever heard. He mostly kept to himself and stayed out of the Carrows’ way,” Neville said. “I hardly ever saw him to be honest. He’d definitely lost a lot of favor with the other Death Eater kids and the Carrows.”

“What are we going to do about Rita Skeeter?” Ron asked suddenly.

Harry scowled down at the table but a fully formed plan had already sprung into his mind. “I’m going to offer her a trade.”

“What?” Hermione, Ron and Neville spluttered out together.

“I’m going to offer to tell her about Snape, the whole story, as long as she keeps anything nasty about Ginny out of the book,” Harry told them. “I think it’s a fair trade and it gets Snape’s name cleared.”

“You can’t make a deal with her, Harry,” Hermione warned. “She’s a snake! She’s not to be trusted.”

Harry shrugged. “I can just arrest her if she annoys me. She is an unregistered animagus.”

They all looked at him for a moment before Luna started laughing. “I think that’s very smart.”

Hermione didn’t look convinced but she let it go. “You can’t go alone.”

“No,” Ron agreed. “I’ll go with you under the cloak.”

Harry nodded. “Yeah, that’s a good idea.”

Hermione looked at her watch. “It’s late. Do you want some help getting Ginny to eat?”

Harry shook his head. “I have it. Molly says she’s getting the line put in tomorrow.”

She nodded sadly. “I thought that would happen. I asked Audrey about it last night after we got back to the Burrow. She was there with Percy until nearly midnight.”

“I need to get going,” Neville said, standing up. “I have a meeting with McGonagall tomorrow before court about teaching Herbology. Professor Sprout wants to retire in a year and wants me to come on as her student teacher.”

“You’d be great at that, Neville,” Ron grinned.

“I hope so, as long as I can get the first years to handle the Mandrakes without losing consciousness,” Neville said as they walked towards the door and the long walk out to where they could Disapparate.

Back to index


Chapter 13: Chapter 13

Author's Notes: Thanks James for all your help

More trials, in more than one way... this chapter is sort of a bridge to the next. I hope you enjoy it, let me know. I love getting feedback and I do respond to every review. Questions, comment, always welcome!


Friday June 12th

Testifying at the Malfoys’ trails left Harry drained and wishing for the end of the day. He told them what he knew, what he’d seen Draco do at the top of the tower and how Narcissa had saved his life. He didn’t sugar coat it, but he also didn’t lie. He told the members of the Wizengamot about how none of the Malfoy’s fought at the end when he’d killed Voldemort, and he told of the horrors that they had committed. He’d wanted to tell them about Voldemort’s diary, but Hermione had squashed that one by pointing out that there was no proof and as Ginny’s husband, he was biased. There were countless other witnesses but Harry knew his testimony was key in their trials.

It had taken nearly an hour of deliberation on the part of the Wizengamot for a sentence to be handed down. Narcissa Malfoy was given ten years of probation and five thousand hours of community service to be completed within five years. Draco was given sixty days in Azkaban, ten years of probation and five thousand hours of community service. Lucius Malfoy was given a year in Azkaban along with the probation and community service.

Harry sat stunned as the Malfoys were led from the court room. He didn’t know what to think about what had happened but there wasn’t time to think it through now. The next prisoners were brought in and the trials continued.

When they’d finished for the day Harry walked back to his desk to check in with his trainer and to see the state of his inbox. All of the post that made it through the ministry screening process landed on his desk. What he was left with today was what looked like a formal invitation.

Frowning, Harry slit it opened and pulled out the card within and read. “No,” he breathed out.

“What?” Ron asked, coming up behind him. Harry held it up for him to see. “Damn,” Ron swore. “A ball? Do you think I’m going to have to go too? When is it?”

“On June 27th which is…” Harry checked the calendar. “Two weeks from now,” he groaned. “I don’t want to go. They can’t make me, right?” He asked, somewhat desperately.

Ron glanced down at him pityingly. “You’re not going to get out of it, Harry. You’re the hero.”

“But Ginny won’t be able to go,” Harry grumbled. “I don’t want to go to one of these things without her.”

His best mate clapped him on the back. “Are you going to tell her about it?”

Oh. He hadn’t thought of that. “I suppose I will. I can’t go if I can’t find someone to stay with her, though,” he said, suddenly hopeful.

“You’re not getting out of it,” Ron said firmly. “No way.”

“Maybe I can get Audrey to write me a note,” Harry said grinning at the thought.

Laughing, Ron turned away. “Good luck with that.” Harry stood to go, and found Kingsley standing there. “Sir.”

Kingsley smiled ruefully. “I see you got your invitation. Ron, you’ll have one waiting at home.” Ron groaned and waved as he walked off.

Harry looked down at it, annoyed. “Why is there going to be a ball?”

“To build morale and celebrate the end, while honoring those we lost,” the Minister said in his slow, deep voice. “I’m here to inform you that your attendance is required and to make sure you don’t find a way to get out of it.”

“Great,” Harry muttered, then remembered he’d wanted to ask Kingsley something. “Listen, I found out that Rita Skeeter is writing a book about me. Do you care if I make a deal with her to try to keep anything bad about Ginny out of the book?”

His dark eyes showed only amusement. “Do what you want Harry. I trust you. I appreciate the warning, though.”

Harry nodded and started gathering his things. “So you really came down here just to invite me to this ball?” he asked, the invitation crumpling in his fist.

Kingsley clapped him on the back as they walked out of his cubicle. “Several members on the ball’s committee thought you were unlikely to come.”

“What about if I get a Healer to say I’m ill?” He asked hopefully.

“Not even then,” the older man laughed. “You faced down Voldemort without any hesitation. This won’t be that bad.” Then after a pause, “Maybe it will be.”

~*~

Ginny stared at the wall, her book forgotten when she’d grown too tired to hold it up. They didn’t have any paintings or decorations, just a framed photo that her mum had brought over that morning from their wedding. It was of Harry holding her at the reception, grinning down at her. They looked happy.

She traced a finger along the stitching of the quilt, trying to keep her mind as blank as possible and to not let the worry creep in, or the grief of all they had lost spill out.

The sun was setting. She could see the last rays coming through her door from a window at the end of the hall as she lay there, too tired to do anything, but not tired enough to sleep.

Ginny tried to picture their baby. If she closed her eyes, she always saw a little girl with dark hair and green eyes, giggling as Harry pushed her on a rope swing hung from one of the trees she could see out their bedroom window. She didn’t know for sure, but just had a feeling that the baby was a girl.

Sighing as she caught the scent of the trees through the window her mother had left cracked for her, she opened her eyes and stretched. Ginny longed to go and sit in the garden, to get some fresh air, to ride her broom, but she couldn’t even make it to the loo right now.

She rolled over and felt the feeding line pull on her arm before stretching to allow her to move. Ginny glanced up at her newest addition and tried not to grimace. It was a clear bag with milky colored liquid inside that flowed slowly into the line that fed into her upper arm. She did feel better with it. She was getting food straight into her blood and her potions came in through the little dripping line. The bag needed to be replenished every twelve hours, but at least this way she didn’t have to wake up to take potions in the middle of the night anymore.

Ginny didn’t like it, but tried to ignore the feeling of being a failure that she couldn’t do this on her own. It doesn’t matter, she reminded herself sternly. Her ego was not important in any of this. What mattered was that the baby got fed.

She sensed a movement and glanced over to the door to see Harry watching her. She tried to smile but her lips trembled instead. Stop! She ordered herself. He doesn’t need to see you as a watering pot! It didn’t help. A single tear slid traitorously down her cheek.

Harry walked over and knelt beside her, carefully avoiding the feeding line. He kissed her, wiping away the tear with his thumb. “What’s wrong?”

Ginny shook her head, not wanting to tell him how stupid she was being.

“You can tell me,” he said.

“I’m being ridiculous,” she whispered and looked away.

He gently pulled her chin around to look at him. “Nothing you do is ridiculous.”

“I feel like I’m failing,” Ginny blurted out, pointing to the bag above her head. “I can’t do this on my own.”

Harry’s eyes were straight on hers. “You aren’t supposed to be doing this on your own.”

“I’m supposed to be able to stay pregnant on my own,” Ginny whispered.

Harry kissed her. “Not this time. This isn’t a normal pregnancy,” he said gently. “No one could do this on their own, Gin. That’s not got anything to do with you.”

“Yeah,” she agreed, knowing he was right but it didn’t lessen the guilt. She looked up at the feeding line’s bag. “I’m never going to get outside with this.”

Harry sat back on his heels, staring up at the metal stand and hook that held the bag. “I can get you outside with all of this stuff.”

“Really?” Ginny asked, finally starting to feel hopeful. “I really miss sitting out in the sun.”

“What did Martha say?”

“I didn’t ask,” Ginny admitted. “I was barely awake when she was here and didn’t realize how much I wanted to go out until a little while ago.”

“We’ll ask her tomorrow morning then,” Harry said as he stood and went over to the dresser for his jeans and a t-shirt. Ginny watched him change out of his Auror’s robes, trying not to wish for things that couldn’t happen. He grinned at her. “Are you supposed to eat anything?”

“I can if I want to,” Ginny told him. “I’m allowed to eat unless I think I’m going to be sick.”

He sat down on his side of the bed, the mattress dipping a bit under his weight. “Do you want anything to eat?”

She shook her head. “I feel kind of queasy still.”

“Okay,” Harry said easily. “If I eat up here will that be okay?”

Ginny bit her lip, not sure why she felt like crying again. “Yeah.”

“I’ll be back shortly, then,” he said, going out and coming back a few minutes later with a tray. He propped a pillow up against the headboard and sat next to her. “The ministry is having a ball,” he told her and she saw the sour look in his eyes.

“Do you have to go?” Ginny asked, trying not to smile at his obvious annoyance.

“Yeah,” he grumbled, taking a bite of sprouts. “Kingsley himself told me that I was going.”

She patted his arm consolingly. “When is it?”

“In two weeks,” he told her, glancing down at her. “You’re probably not going to be able to go.”

Ginny shrugged that off. “I wouldn’t have wanted to go anyway.”

“Really?” He asked.

“Really,” she told him honestly. “It’s undoubtedly going to be a mixture of happy and sad and I’m not really up for that.”

“You’re probably right,” he agreed and didn’t comment when she snagged a carrot and began nibbling on it. “How was your day, otherwise?”

“I slept through most of it, tried to read,” Ginny sighed, taking the book and putting it on her nightstand. “How about your day?”

“Same as yesterday,” he said between bites. “I missed you,” Harry said, glancing down at her. “I just wanted to leave and come home to be with you.”

She stared up into his green eyes, eyes that never failed to pull her in. “That’s excellent. I didn’t want to be the only pathetic one.”

“Pathetic, huh?” Harry chuckled, raising an eyebrow.

“You know,” Ginny said, picking at a piece of lint on his shirt. “I can’t just be sitting at home missing you. It’s pathetic. But if you’re doing that too, then it isn’t so bad.”

“I think it’s probably normal at this point. If you weren’t pregnant and the country weren’t in turmoil trying to rebuild we’d be on a honeymoon right now.” Harry said, looking pensive. “Then we’d have several weeks to get sick of each other.”

“I suppose so,” Ginny agreed, trying to picture what that would be like. Except for trips to visit her brothers after they’d left Hogwarts she’d never really gone on a holiday. Come to that, Harry probably hadn’t either. “We should do that sometime.”

“What? Get sick of each other?” He asked, grinning.

“No, go on a holiday,” Ginny said, turning onto her back to relieve the tingles in her arm from lying on it.

Harry set the tray down and pulled her into his arms. She had to move her arm around carefully. Even though there was no chance of pulling out the feeding line from her arm, it still didn’t feel delightful when it got pulled. “Sorry. This is going to take some getting used to.”

“I’ll have to cart this thing to the loo and if I’m ever allowed to shower, it will have to come along there too.” Ginny told him morosely. “I really want a shower. The cleaning charms just don’t feel the same.”

“You probably couldn’t stand up for it,” Harry reminder her.

“You could hold me up,” she said, smiling mischievously. “I’ve heard lots of couples shower together.”

Harry groaned, closing his eyes. “You’re trying to do me in, aren’t you?”

“Never,” she assured him, “and I’m torturing myself just as much as you.”

“Really?” He said a light in his eyes.

Ginny nodded and kissed the underside of his chin. “You need to shave.”

“I will later,” he said. “We will go,” Harry said suddenly.

“Come again?” Ginny asked, confused.

“On holiday,” he explained, running his hand through her hair. “We’ll go when the baby is a few months old.”

Ginny bit her lip. “I don’t think I’m going to want to leave the baby that soon.”

Harry shook his head. “No, I meant all three of us will go. We can do a proper honeymoon when the baby is a lot older and happy to ditch us for your parents.”

“That sounds good,” Ginny yawned.

“Go to sleep,” Harry whispered in her hair. “We’ve got all weekend to get sick of each other.”

She laughed and closed her eyes.

~*~

Saturday June 13th

“You’re back up 2lbs in weight,” Martha said, clearly pleased as she examined Ginny. “You’re also seven weeks along today.”

Harry watched Ginny grin at that. “I guess the line is working.”

“It is, and it’s going to keep working,” Martha assured her. “It isn’t optimal since it really limits what the mother can do, but since you’re going to be staying here anyway it isn’t going to be as much of a restriction.”

“Ginny wanted to go outside for a bit. Would that be okay?” Harry asked.

The midwife smiled and nodded. “It would be good for her as long as you carry her down. If you unhook the bag, you can carry her and it, and then come back up for the pole. Don’t try levitating it down by magic with you. If you don’t have full control and pull on the line it really hurts.” Martha waved her wand down Ginny again. “You can sit on one of those lovely lawn chairs that I saw outside.”

Harry tried to picture it but then then gave it up as he hadn’t really looked around out back much. Hermione must have gotten them.

“Let’s take a look at the baby,” Martha said and she performed the magic that let them see their child.

The baby was definitely getting bigger, Harry thought as he gazed in wonder again on the dancing lights. He could see eyes and tiny arms. Unconsciously he took Ginny’s hand and squeezed it. “She’s beautiful,” he said in awe.

Martha grinned. “Well we don’t know if she’s a she yet. That takes another five weeks or so before I can tell, but the baby is definitely beautiful.”

Harry kissed Ginny. He didn’t know how to tell her all he was feeling, but she seemed to understand anyway. Her eyes shown as she looked up into his face.

“If you keep putting on weight like this you might even start to get a belly,” Martha said finally and they both looked at her. “You’re so thin and short that you’ll probably show early.”

“I’m looking forward to that,” Ginny laughed.

After Martha left, Harry unhooked the bag to Ginny’s feed line and picked her up. Ginny held the bag in one arm as they made their way out of their bedroom.

“Oh,” Ginny said in amazement. “It’s beautiful!”

“I forgot you haven’t seen the rest of the house,” Harry said suddenly remembering. “Here’s the sitting room,” he told her carrying her over to the sparse room. “The couches are really comfortable,” he told her before carrying her over to the kitchen. He looked down and saw her eyes widen.

“I love it,” she said in awe. “It’s perfect!”

Grinning, feeling inordinately pleased that he could give her what she wanted, he took her out the kitchen door into the back garden. He saw the chairs that Hermione must have gotten and set Ginny in the one that was mostly under the tree. She was able to lean back and put her feet up. She closed her eyes and turned her face up to the sun, sighing happily.

“I’ll be back in a minute,” Harry promised, but by the time he got to the door Kreacher was there with the pole. “Kreacher, thanks.”

Kreacher bowed, “Shall I bring out some pumpkin juice, Master?”

“That would be great,” Harry said as he walked back to Ginny with the pole.

She looked so comfortable, with the sun highlighting her bright red hair. Harry set the pole down and hooked up her bag. “Thank you,” she said without opening her eyes.

“Anything for you,” Harry told her.

“That’s so corny,” Ginny replied mildly, not even bothering to open her eyes as she basked in the mild day. “But since you’re being so generous, I think we need a rope swing.”

Harry looked up at the tree and walked around it, finding a branch that would be perfect for a swing. “That’s a good idea.”

“I generally have them,” she assured him. “Merlin, I am so happy to be outside.”

He looked up at the branch again and pondered how to go about putting in a swing. Arthur would probably have an idea.

When he turned back to ask her a questions Harry saw that Ginny had fallen asleep. She looked so peaceful that he just watched her for a minute. Grinning, he went to the small tool shed that was along the back of the house near the kitchen window. Upon inspection he found it fully stocked. The previous owners must have left everything behind. He got out pruning shears to start tackling the overgrown ivy. He didn’t even contemplate using magic. He had nothing but time right now, and oddly enough he missed doing yard work and there was definitely something satisfying about doing yard work in his own yard.

It took him about an hour to beat back the ivy along the back wall. Harry stood back to admire his work and grabbing the glass of pumpkin juice that Kreacher had brought out and downing it in one go. After he’d made a pile, he vanished the clippings and went back to the tool shed, digging through to see what else he could find. When he spotted the rope, he pulled on it and found to his amusement that it was a rope swing.

Harry carried it over to the tree and stared up, trying to figure out how he was going to get it up there. He wasn’t yet good enough with levitating himself to be steady enough to secure the rope. Pointing his wand towards another shed he said, “Accio broom.” His complimentary Firebolt that the company had given him for killing Voldemort sped towards him and he hopped on, floating up with the swing to attach it to the limb. Harry went back down to the ground and stood up on the wooden swing, hopping on it to make sure he’d tied the ropes tight enough.

It held.

Harry grinned at the swing and checked on Ginny, but she was curled in the chair, her head pillowed on her arm. He grabbed the broom and mounted, wanting to fly up and see the land around the house, reveling in the feeling of being back in the air. He’d walked the perimeter when they’d set up the protective spells, but he hadn’t seen it from the air yet. He took off and soared up above the trees, just high enough to see the forest around him.

Harry flew over the stream and the bridge that was about a hundred feet from the house, over the small clearing where the benches were grouped and out the back. He looped around to the front of the house and the expansive lawns that were surrounded by a row of old growth oaks. He could imagine running around there, playing games in the yard with their kids, something he’d never done with his father and wanted to make sure he did with his own kids.

Harry flew back around the house and touched down next to Ginny who was awake again, watching him. “How was the view?” She asked.

“Great,” he promised. “You’re going to love it.”

“I already love it,” Ginny said, as he sat down in the chair next to her and stretched out. “It’s a little spooky, but…”

He glanced over to see her blushing. “What?”

She shrugged and then laughed. “I always wanted an ivy covered house. One of dad’s brothers had one and I just loved going to visit when we were young.”

“Really?” Harry asked.

“Well, I didn’t ever expect to get one,” Ginny laughed. “Or a house this big! It’s huge.”

Looking around he had to agree. “I didn’t really expect it to be this big either,” he said. “The pictures didn’t do it justice. Not having much furniture makes it look empty, too,” Harry told her. “Hermione is making noises about getting more furniture,” he told her chuckling. “She might be badgering you with more catalogues next week.”

Ginny shook her head. “No way! You promised to help with the next round of furniture shopping.”

Groaning, Harry remembered his promise. “Maye I’ll get the catalogues from her and we can look over them tomorrow.”

“Deal,” she sighed closing her eyes.

“I put up a swing,” Harry told her, wanting to see her happy.

She looked over at him and then around behind her. A wide grin broke out over her face. “You put up a swing! How long was I asleep?”

“Not long,” he assured her. “I found it in the tool shed. I got out my broom to fly up and hang it, and that’s when I went for a fly.”

Ginny yawned and Harry stood to pick her up. “No,” she protested mildly.

“I’ll bring you out tomorrow,” he promised and she sighed, already nodding off again.

After Harry had gotten her back in bed he wandered down to his study to send an owl to ask Hermione to bring over the catalogues. He sat and stared out the window onto the front lawn as a happy contentment stole over him.

He really liked his life right now. Not all the details were perfect, and there were still some parts that he wished he could alter, but if this is how life was going to be then it was good. He had Ginny and a job he loved and his weekends could be quiet and safe.

After all he’d been through, he didn’t want to imagine ever going back and maybe in a few years Teddy and his kid would be out playing tag on that lawn.

Speaking of Teddy, Harry was going to have to get toys for him at some point. Andromeda was coming over the next afternoon. Harry had been amused to learn that not only did she have a car, but she insisted that she was an excellent driver and when Harry had been there two weeks previous he’d helped her read through the instruction manual for the child safety seat before installing it. Then he’d put a sticking and shield charm on the seat when she hadn’t been looking. Andromeda only lived about 20 minutes by car from Ivy Run so it was a short drive.

Harry thought about the car and then added getting a driver’s license to his list of things he wanted to ask Hermione.

Back to index


Chapter 14: Chapter 14

Author's Notes: First off, thank you for all of the reviews! I want to assure you I look through all of them and take them seriously. I got a little slammed for the British errors. I get it, I'm terrible. I have gotten some help, so thank you to Arnel for stepping in to help! Also thanks to James for continuing to cheer me on

Unless you're actually flaming me, I'm not going to take anything you say personally. Critically, sure, but personally no. Most of the time when I write something I have a reason for it, and I'm happy to explain or debate and if I've made an error I'm good on admitting it. When I respond, don't take anything as me being defensive. Don't be nervous telling me what you think. If you're reading defensive in the tone, that's never my intention. I'll either say "oops" or give you a reason why I did something :) It's just that, an explanation. Say whatever you think, really! I'm a big girl, I can take it. I had a reviewer send me a PM to discuss something and I'm glad they did because I'd rather clear the air.

When I wrote this, and I wrote it in about a month, I was writing to get a lot of really awful stuff out. I chose to write without worrying so much about American-isms and flushing out supporting characters more because 1) I didn't expect to ever post it, and I'm completely expecting awful flaming torches by the time we're done, and 2) I needed to write to get it out, not worry as much about how things were coming out. I wasn’t focused as much on those around them, just Harry and Ginny. I hope that makes sense. I was focused 150% on the feelings, not so much the delivery. I wouldn't have posted if I'd thought it was unreadable, but even after I first started posting I was really too raw to look at it critically. I'm starting to gain some perspective. I still struggle to read a few of the chapters and as I made my tough husband cry, I'm sure you can understand why.

You're asking for better, I got an offer to help me make it better so more improvements on the American stuff from here on out. -Sarah


Friday June 19th

“Potter,” a gruff voice barked and he looked up to see Raeburns striding towards him with a note. “Draco Malfoy has sent another request to see you. I just got it from Robards who has cleared you for a trip to Azkaban today.”

Harry took the note, frowning as he read the missive and pass for a Portkey to the prison. “What does he want?”

“Do I look like your ruddy errand boy?” Raeburn growled.

Harry glanced up at him concerned. Normally Raeburn was more cordial than this. “What’s up with you?”

Raeburn glared at him before sighing and shaking his head. “Nothing to do with you; I’ve been up for almost two days and I’m not getting home for at least another four hours.”

He saw the shadows under the man’s eyes and nodded. “Sorry about that.”

He shrugged it off and Harry knew he was hot on the trail of Nott Sr. who had been eluding him for weeks. “Part of the job; how’s the wife?”

“Good,” Harry said offhand as he stood up and put on his traveling cloak. “The morning sickness isn’t as bad as it was.”

“Good, good,” Raeburn said and Harry could tell that he’d only asked out of politeness. Babies weren’t a big topic of conversation in the Auror office. “I’ll see you Monday, then.”

Harry nodded and headed down to the Portkey Office.

When he arrived at the entrance of the fortress he was greeted by two Aurors and, after showing identification, was taken into the damp, drafty prison. Harry didn’t say anything as their shoes clacked along the damp stone floor. The walls were also stone with moss growing in the cracks and it had the smell of an old church.

“This way,” the taller Auror, Savage, told him. He’d met Savage and the other Auror, Collins, right after the battle, but the two had been sent to the prison at the beginning of June for their stint on guard duty.

Harry paused when he heard a scream and looked at them questioningly. “What was-”

“It’s one of the Snatchers, Tom Pugsly,” Collins told him, his voice soft and low as he shook his blond head. “He’s totally gaga. We have no idea what happened to him, but he’s gone completely round the twist and screams every few minutes. The Healers are saying it’s in his head, but we can’t move him to St. Mungo’s. He keeps trying to kill us.”

Harry nodded and followed them into an interrogation room. “We’ll be back with Malfoy in a minute,” Savage told him and he watched them walk out.

He stood off to the side, shivering slightly at the cold feeling the prison eked out of every nook. Minutes later they were back with a thin, dirty and rumpled Draco who none the less still had the same haughty look in his eyes as they sat him in one of the chairs and chained him there.

Harry didn’t say anything until the other two had left. He walked slowly around and sat across from his former school mate, green eyes meeting gray. He waited.

Draco’s face twisted and finally he glanced away. “I wanted to thank you for what you said at my mother’s trial.”

“It was the truth,” Harry said honestly. This was not a surprise. He’d expected Draco to say something like this. “I wasn’t going to lie.”

Draco looked back at him, his eyes were narrowed slightly. His voice was measured, less his usual contemptuous drawl. “No, I suppose not.”

“Is that all you wanted?” Harry said, suddenly impatient. He didn’t want to be here just for this.

“No,” Draco retorted. “I know you were attacked at Snape’s funeral.”

Harry raised an eyebrow but didn’t comment, waiting him out.

Draco shifted slightly, but the bounds that held him kept him from moving more than an inch. “Blood boiling hexes aren’t something commonly used.”

“No,” Harry agreed. It was what the Muggleborn Auror Thomas Gregory, said was like shooting a rabbit with a howitzer. “Do you know who might have done it?”

“I thought they killed the man who cursed you,” Draco replied carefully, almost testing.

“He was killed,” Harry agreed and waited.

Draco let out a breath. “I owe you.”

“No you don’t,” Harry said evenly.

“I do.” Draco said, and it sounded like those two words were infinitely painful. “You saved my life more than once and your testimony helped keep my mother out of prison. I owe you and I’d rather pay that debt off.”

“Your mother saved my life in the forest,” Harry reminded him but when Draco just kept studying him he shrugged. “Okay, you owe me,” he said evenly, again waiting, knowing somehow that he needed to wait Draco out and that if he did there might be something worth hearing.

Draco gave a little nod, as if coming to a conclusion. “When I was home last summer I overheard my Aunt Bellatrix talking to a woman in my father’s office. They seemed to be friends and I thought I recognized the woman’s voice, but I never found out who it was. Bellatrix saw me in the hall and shut the door in my face. They had been talking about a little known poison that kills very slowly, very painfully and that no Healer would know how to cure it. Bellatrix told her that the price for the recipe was that if she ever got the chance, she was to use it on you and the woman swore that she would. It is called Dolore Tardus.”

His attention caught, Harry asked, “What does this have to do with me today?”

“How many people were at Snape’s funeral? Not many, right?”

“No,” Harry agreed. No one had wanted to go except Harry and they’d gone because of him. There was minimal security at the funeral because it had been a last minute decision to go.

Draco’s eyes were calculating as he studied him. “I thought as much. No one was going to miss him and no one was going to mourn him. But you… you would go. It’s something you would do, even though he hated you and you hated him. Anyone who heard you defend him at the last battle would know that you were going to go. It was the perfect chance to get to you, to poison you when security was likely to be negligible.”

Harry just stared, trying to figure out how Draco could have worked that out from here in Azkaban. He tried to shoot a note of incredulity into his voice. “Excuse me? Do you know for sure that someone poisoned me?”

Draco shook his head. “No, but it seemed like such a pointless, random attack. The Snatchers all know that they have no protection and there is no money to be made from hurting you, so why would they do that? I also couldn’t figure out why someone would curse you with what could have been a deadly curse when there was nothing to be gained from it politically or power-wise. Most of the Death Eaters are dead or in prison, but of course it could just be the work of a random psychopath.”

Harry just waited.

Draco shook his head impatiently. “But the funerals had to be set for a specific time because of how unstable the Ministry was at the time. There was time to form a plan. Then I heard that the attacker went for the girl first and I know you and so does anyone else who has been paying attention. If the person made a show of attacking Weasley, there was every chance that you’d step in her way to take the curse and because a blood boiling hex is so widespread and difficult to aim properly, there was a reasonable chance you’d both land in St. Mungo’s seriously injured, but alive. Knowing that detail, it started to fall into place that there was probably a greater scheme in all this, but I couldn’t see what at first. There was no reason at all to attack her, so what was the point? I’m betting that they probably poisoned Weasley as well since she has been too ill to attend court hearings.”

“You mean Ginny?” Harry asked him casually.

“Yes,” he said, his eyes narrowing.

Harry waited another moment. “Well, we were poisoned,” he confirmed. “We’ve been treated.”

Draco looked unsurprised, but to Harry’s shock not displeased. “You’re married now.”

“Yes,” Harry said.

“You didn’t get her pregnant,” Draco drawled softly.

“Excuse me?” Harry blurted out stunned, this time he didn’t have to fake his shock. “I’m most definitely the father.”

Draco’s eyes were level and a single strand of blond hair fell down by his eyes, but with his hands bound he couldn’t push it away. “I know you, Potter. You wouldn’t have done that to her.”

Panic started to flood him, but he kept his gaze neutral. “You don’t think I’d want to be with her?”

“No, I don’t mean that,” Draco said coolly. “I mean that I’ve seen how you look at her. You love her and you’re too noble have done anything that might hurt her.”

Hating that Draco knew him so well, he smiled and shrugged it off. “Things happen.”

“No,” Draco said more firmly. “You wouldn’t have done that.”

“So then how did Ginny get pregnant, hm?” Harry asked flippantly. “The stork?”

Draco waited a beat. “Someone impregnated her in St. Mungo’s.”

Surprise left him momentarily speechless and scrambling for something to say that wouldn’t confirm that Draco was right; he went with what Neville had said, knowing that for the baby’s sake he needed to keep it quiet. “No. It was a post battle celebration.”

Draco shook his head. “I’m not saying this to be cruel, although I can imagine you would think that I would, but that is completely out of your character. Marrying her even when you didn’t get her pregnant-- that’s something you would do.”

Harry felt his heart slamming into his chest. “I love my wife.”

“I believe you do love her,” Draco agreed softly. “That’s why I don’t think you got her pregnant. I’d never do something like that to a girl. The shame would be there even after the marriage, but I wouldn’t do it because it would bring shame on my family, not on the girl. You, however, would never be that careless with someone you care about because you care about how they feel. If I know anything about you it’s that you’ll die before you let your friends get hurt. You’d do much more for the woman you love.”

“Why are you saying this?” Harry asked, trying to work out what Draco wanted and how this git had figured out what had happened.

“To make sure we’re square,” Draco said finally. “Even here I heard about the curse, how you two were in St. Mungo’s and then just a few weeks later the rumors start flying through here that Weasley is pregnant and you’re the father. There’s a lot of time to think in here and no one to talk to. Doing the math I figured out that she must have gotten pregnant right around the time you were in St. Mungo’s. If she’d been pregnant when she was cursed, the baby would have been killed immediately no matter how early on she was. So she had to get pregnant right after in order for the Ministry to find out when they did.”

Harry stared at him, annoyed and puzzled that Draco was this clever. All of his deductions made sense and were close to the same that Harry had come to. It begged the question: did he think Draco was involved? The answer was no. Draco had been in Azkaban since the last battle and the one thing that Harry knew for certain was that because Harry had saved his life twice in the last battle that he’d want to repay it. Draco wasn’t as stupid as Pettigrew. Another startling thought was that no one else had told him the hex would have caused a miscarriage. Maybe they didn’t know. “Why are you telling me this?”

“Someone is after you and by the look on your face you already know it, so my information about the poison isn’t useful. But I do have useful information.” He gazed at Harry, studying him. “I didn’t tell the Dark Lord how you felt about the girl. At the time I told myself that I didn’t tell him because I wasn’t completely sure that you did have feelings for her, but I knew. The real reason I didn’t tell him was because there was every possibility that if she wasn’t killed outright that she’d be pawned off to a pureblood wizard in marriage. That’s happened more than once over the years, especially during the first war. I admit that I didn’t want it to be me that ended up stuck with her. She’s got quite a temper and the Dark Lord would have, uh, insisted that she be broken.”

Harry had to swallow hard as the bile threatened to spew from him. “I appreciate you not telling him.”

Nodding, Draco went on. “I’m also not going to tell anyone about how she got pregnant since you obviously don’t want anyone to know,” Draco said slowly. “That, I think, will make us even.”

“Yes, that more than makes us even,” he agreed. Harry appreciated what he’d said and he felt some of the tension leave him. Nodding once, Harry got up and walked to the door. He believed Draco wouldn’t tell; that he’d want to feel like he owed Harry nothing.

“Potter,” Draco said and Harry glanced over his shoulder to see Draco’s expression calculating, but with a small smile. “I hope that the kid looks like Weasley. You’re too ugly to replicate.”

Fighting back an urge to laugh, and more than a little amazed that Draco had made a crack that he’d find funny, Harry walked out.

~*~

By the time Harry got home that night all he wanted was a shower and to spend the rest of the night holding Ginny in his arms. He walked in the door and heard laughter upstairs. He smiled, remembering that Luna was at the house today and the two were probably reading another one of those ridiculous novels. Hermione had gone to a used bookstore and come home with about a dozen by the same author. Harry had offered to read one to Ginny, but she’d told him that only Luna could do the novels justice.

Hanging his cloak on the new coat rack that had arrived the day before, along with a whole houseful of furniture that he, Ron and Hermione had spent hours arranging, he walked upstairs to find them reading.

“Hey, Luna,” he said walking in to their bedroom and over to kiss Ginny. “Hi.”

“Hello, Harry,” Luna said serenely. “I’m going to head home now.”

“Thanks,” Harry told her as Ginny said goodbye and he watched her blonde head bob as she walked out the door.

Ginny’s face had regained a lot of what she’d lost. She’d put on nearly twelve pounds in a week, putting her up a few pounds over what she’d started at and she was starting to look healthy and whole again. She would be eight weeks pregnant the next day. “How was your day?”

“Meetings,” Harry grumbled and at least that part was true. “I hate meetings.”

“I can imagine,” Ginny said and he got up to pull off his tie and kick off his shoes. “Are you getting a shower?”

“Yeah, it’s been a long day,” he told her. “We had lots of training practice and I can still feel the grime of the training room floor on me.”

“I want a shower,” Ginny said firmly.

He quirked an eyebrow at her, “What did Martha say?”

“She said yes as long as we behave ourselves and you’re there to make sure I don’t fall,” she informed him.

Sighing, Harry pulled off his shirt and dumped it in the hamper before going to sit on the bed. “It’s the behaving ourselves bit that makes this more complicated.”

“Yes, but you wouldn’t do anything to hurt me or the baby,” Ginny said confidently. “So I know we’ll be good, even if neither of us wants to be good.”

It was so close to what Draco had said that he had to shake his head. He was apparently very predictable. “Ginny…”

“I really want a shower,” Ginny pleaded. “I’ve been so good and Martha said it was okay. Please?”

Sighing he nodded. “Okay, let’s go get a shower.”

Getting Ginny out of her shirt, around the bag, was always tricky. They’d put one of his large t-shirts on her so that the bag could be slid through the arm hole when she changed clothes. Finally undressed, she glanced at him a little shyly. “This is still a little weird.”

“Can we make it a cold shower?” he asked, half serious, as he hung the feeding bag back on the pole which had been transfigured so it now had wheels and could be rolled around easier.

“No,” Ginny told him as she held the pole and walked towards their bathroom.

Harry stripped and when he got to the bathroom he saw her staring at herself sideways in the mirror, completely transfixed. “What?” He asked.

“I…” she stopped and put her hand to her stomach. “My belly is sticking out.”

Looking into the mirror he saw it. Ginny’s normally flat stomach had a definite curve to it. Heart racing, his eyes flew up at her face and saw tears in her eyes. “Gin-”

She reached for him, and he caught her round the waist. “The baby is growing!” she sobbed and he could hear the relief in her voice.

Harry nodded, too choked up to speak. He knew that it was still a close thing and that their baby still might not live, but small seeds of hope began to plant within him and he couldn’t help but think that maybe things would be okay.

“I’m sorry,” she sniffed, pulling back to wipe her eyes. “I’m trying not to cry so much, but I just-”

He put a finger under her chin and lifted it to look into his eyes. “Stop. You can cry as much as you want.”

“You hate crying,” she reminded him.

“I don’t hate it when you cry,” Harry promised honestly then realizing how that sounded, he explained further. “You only cry when you really need to.” He turned her around gently so that her back was too him and pulled her close so that he could rest his hands on her belly. “Wow.” It was small, but definitely there. Then he looked back into the mirror and noticed something else.

Ginny apparently had too. “Oh, that’s a nice benefit. I didn’t know I was going to get bigger breasts this soon.”

Carefully stepping back from her he closed his eyes and shook his head trying to clear it. “Cold shower.”

“No.”

Back to index


Chapter 15: Chapter 15

Author's Notes: Thank you to Arnel and James for all your help!

Lovely readers, I'm working on an original book (yay!) that will be released via a new publishing company and will be an e-book. If you like my work, you'll probably like this story. More details to follow, but I'm over halfway done with it. HAPPY DANCE! Once it is done and in editing I will put more details in my author's profile.

Also, as I've hinted in reviews, I am writing a sequel to Bound. It is well underway (over 50,000 words in and not nearly done so it may end up as two or three stories). My plan is to finish Bound and then continue with the sequel immediately after the next week but that depends on finishing the original fic (I'm about 75% sure that I will).

I love feedback and I respond to all reviews. I want to hear what you have to say.


Wednesday June 24th

“No way,” Ron hissed almost inaudibly as they approached the same Muggle café that they had spotted Rita in during their stint of trailing her. Harry couldn’t see Ron’s expression, since he was under the Invisibility Cloak, but he knew the look of disgusts and incredulity that Ron would be wearing.

Harry didn’t respond since they were walking through a Muggle street. He opened the café door and felt Ron pass by him before he walked over to the table where Rita sat waiting for him. Harry sat closest to the wall and knew that Ron was standing directly behind him so that he wouldn’t get knocked over by an unsuspecting Muggle.

“Harry!” Rita trilled, touching his arm. “I was so surprised to hear from you.”

Harry made no comment to that. He waved his wand under the table, silently casting the Muffliato charm and said, “We can talk freely. None of the Muggles can hear us.”

Rita’s drawn-in brow raised above her jeweled glasses. “A nice Auror trick, I’m-”

“I want to make this simple,” Harry said, cutting her off. “I know you’re writing a book about me and I want to make a deal.”

Sitting back, she crossed her arms, tapping one manicured finger on her upper arm. “What could you offer me?”

“I will offer you the true story of Severus Snape, all of the details. It will give you a very good head start on a second book,” Harry offered evenly, watching her face and seeing the flicker of interest he’d hoped for.

“And what, my dear boy, do you want in return?” Her tone was calculating as she eyed him, but he knew she was seeing fat galleons dancing before her eyes. After all two books were a lot better than one.

Taking a slow breath, Harry told her, “I want you to be kind to Ginny in the book you write about me.”

She held silent for nearly a full minute. “Why?”

Harry didn’t answer, just watched her as she watched him.

Leaning forward and folding her mannish hands on the table, she asked, “I need a reason.”

“I love my wife,” Harry said honestly. “And I don’t care what you say about me.” Harry felt Ron shift slightly behind him and knew he was going into dangerous territory. “I could just arrest you, of course, but in this case I’d rather work with you.”

Rita scowled at him, her blonde ringlets barely moving as she shook her head. “You can’t arrest me!”

“I can,” he informed her evenly, not moving, not giving away what this conversation was costing him. “I have Robards’ blessing to do so because of your little bug problem, and also we want you for questioning on how you got into the Ministry to get sensitive information.”

Outrage crossed her face. “I did no such thing, Harry! You wound me!”

“You’re a liar,” Harry said evenly. “No need for pretense between us. I know you snuck into Garsteur’s office at the Ministry as a beetle. That’s how you saw the record.” Rita’s face remained impassive, but it was answer enough for him. Harry tamped down on his rage. “Do you check it constantly or something?”

She waited a beat. “If I checked it, and I’m not saying I did, it would be because I got an anonymous owl saying I was going to see something worth seeing.”

It was just as Harry had suspected. He swallowed hard. “About my wife… do we have a deal?”

Studying him again she finally said, “Alright but on two conditions.”

“No conditions,” Harry stated flatly.

“Now, you haven’t heard what I’m proposing yet,” Rita said with a sly smile. “I assume you’ll want to see my book about you before you help me with Snape, is that right?” Harry nodded once and she went on. “Then, I want your agreement that after I write about Snape you will give it your blessing in the press release.”

“I’d have to read it first,” Harry said. “I’d have to be able to say that I find it factual to the best of my knowledge.”

She waved a hand dismissively. “Of course, of course.”

“What’s the other condition?” He asked, afraid of what the answer might be.

“I want you to answer two questions honestly,” Rita said, her face shrewd and Harry heard alarm bells go off in his head. “My first question is if you could have changed one thing in the Battle of Hogwarts, what would it have been?”

Harry had to think. There were so many things he would want to change, but changing one thing might have altered the outcome and made it so that he couldn’t have killed Voldemort. “I don’t know that I would have changed anything,” he finally said. “I have a lot of things that I wish had happened differently, but with the ultimate goal of killing Voldemort in mind I know that if I change one thing, I might not have been able to end him. I think saying anything should be different is like saying that everyone who sacrificed themselves did it for nothing.”

Rita just stared at him. “You wouldn’t change anything?”

“I can’t be sure that I’d have been able to kill him if I did change something, and he needed to die.”

Rita swallowed hard. “Alright, I also want to know when you found out it would be you that had to kill You-Know-Who.”

Stunned, but glad it wasn’t worse he answered honestly. “It was right after we broke into the Department of Mysteries at the end of my 5th year. Dumbledore told me that night about the prophecy.”

“There was a prophecy?” She asked, her voice wheedling.

“That’s more than two questions,” Harry replied evenly.

Rita grinned. “Just confirm that, Harry, and I will be more than kind to your lovely young wife. It’s one of the biggest clues about you that I just can’t get an answer on.”

Harry tried to think through it, but could see no harm. “Yes, there was. It was why my parents went into hiding when I was a baby.”

Rita stuck out her hand and reluctantly Harry shook it, feeling suddenly like he was making a pact with the devil. “When the book is done I will send you a copy for your approval after which I trust that we can set up a few interviews about the mysterious Severus Snape. I can trust you, can’t I, Harry?”

“You can trust me more than I can trust you,” he retorted and she grinned wickedly. “Send it to me at the Ministry,” Harry said. “No mail goes to my house and I might not get it if you try.”

“What are you afraid of, Harry?” Rita asked laughing.

Harry shrugged and stood. “Getting mail from you of course.” With that he walked out and he could feel Ron’s shoulder’s shaking with silent laughter when he bumped into him as he followed Harry out.

~*~

Sat June 27th

“You look very handsome,” Ginny said from her perch on the bed as she watched Harry finish getting dressed in his dress robes for the ball. She felt a twinge in her chest that she didn’t get to go, but it faded back to the dull ache she’d had on and off for days. George had refused, point blank, to go to the ball and instead was spending the evening with her. Ginny had to admit that she was looking forward to some time with her brother.

Harry gave her a pained look. “I don’t want to go.”

“You keep saying that,” she said, trying to hide a smile. Standing, she crossed their bedroom, her feeding line pole in one hand, to stand before him. Ginny reached up and straightened his collar. “It won’t be so bad.”

“I wish you could go,” Harry said, not for the first time. “I don’t like dancing.”

Ginny didn’t much fancy him dancing with anyone else, but there wasn’t a lot she was going to do about it. “It will be okay. I told Luna to stick with you constantly.”

“Yeah,” Harry agreed, suddenly grinning. “She’s great fun at parties.”

Ginny burst out laughing and he pulled her into his arms. Resting her head on his warm, solid chest she closed her eyes and listened to the beat of his heart, letting it lull and sooth her. “She’ll protect you from all the scary reporters.”

“By confusing them until they walk off dazed,” he said, kissing the top of her head and holding her close in a way that always made her feel like she was cherished above anything else. He ran his hand down to her stomach which now in her ninth week had a definite small bump. Ginny loved when he did it, reveled in the feeling of him connecting with their child and he seemed to crave it as she much as she did. It was like a beacon of hope leading them on. He ran his thumb along her stomach, her shirt bunching a bit as he went. “You’ll have a better time than I will tonight.”

Ginny took that as a given. “You’ll be okay, though. You’ll have Ron and Hermione there with you too.”

Sighing, he pulled away. “You’re right. I need to go.”

“Go,” Ginny said kissing him when he bent down. “George will be here soon and I always have Kreacher if I need something.” She made her way back to the bed and crawled in.

Harry hesitated for a second but then nodded. “I’ll be home as soon as I can.”

“All right,” she said, waving as he walked out. Ginny picked up the latest issue of Quidditch Monthly and started to read.

George arrived about five minutes later with a call from downstairs.

“Up here,” Ginny yelled back and grinned at her one-eared brother as he sauntered through the door. “You’re late.”

“Only fashionably,” George said, smoothing his collar, “besides, I had to make myself pretty to come and see you.”

Sniggering, she shook her head. “You’ll always be beautiful to me, Georgey-boy.”

“Brat,” he snorted and came to sit on the bed, looking up at her pole. “This is quite a rig you have here.”

Sighing she glanced up at it too. “It’s a right pain in the arse. I have to drag it along everywhere.”

“Do you ever leave your room?”

Ginny nodded. “Harry will carry me downstairs or outside if the weather is nice.”

“Aww, you have your own knight in shining armor to carry you around,” he sang melodramatically.

“Stuff it, you,” she said rolling her eyes before letting out a huff. “It does sort of feel like that, though. I’m stuck here in my ivory tower, safe from everything. I might as well have a fire breathing dragon out front.”

George frowned. “Surely Harry’s breath isn’t that bad. I mean, fire breathing is a serious-” he cut off when she kicked him in the thigh. Chuckling, he went on. “You’re supposed to be nice to me! Here I am, doing you a favor-”

“Me a favor?” Ginny shook her head. “You didn’t want to go to that ball either.”

Shrugging dismissively, he could only grin. “Maybe not.”

“Oh,” Ginny said, getting to her feet. “I wanted to show you.” She turned sideways and pulled her shirt in tight so he could see her small belly. If it had been any more than one of her brothers she’d have never done it, but when it was just one-on-one she knew they could be real with each other and no one would be honor bound to take the mickey.

“Wow,” George said awed. He started to reach out, but hesitated.

Ginny took his hand and put it on her belly. “That’s your niece or nephew.”

“That’s…” George seemed completely lost for words but she understood anyway. Stepping over she hugged him for a long moment before settling back into bed. “Just yesterday you were a baby,” he said finally, his voice a little hoarse. “I mean, you still are. I never thought my sixteen-year-old sister would be a mum, you know?”

Ginny swallowed back the lump in her throat, nodding. “Yeah, it’s pretty weird for me, too.”

“Here you are, though,” George said, uncharacteristically serious for him. “You’re married and having a kid. My niece or nephew…” the awe was replaced by a glint in his eye. “Oh, I think I’m going to like being an uncle.”

“I’m sure,” Ginny said dryly. “Only, leave the pranks until they can at least walk, yeah?”

He considered it and she could tell he judged it a reasonable request. “Fair enough. So let’s go downstairs. How do we do this?”

“Unhook the bag and hand it to me,” Ginny instructed, taking it from him. “Then after I’m downstairs, you just run back up for the pole.”

“Can’t I levitate it down?” George asked, considering as he picked her up. He was a lot broader than Harry, but made a point of making fake groaning noises as he went out of the room. “If you can walk, why can’t you walk downstairs?”

“I don’t know, they just don’t let me,” she said as they entered the sitting room where he deposited her on a sofa. He jogged back up and got her pole, carrying it back down a moment later.

Flopping down next to her he said, “I’m never going to recover from that. Such heavy lifting.”

“I’ve put on almost fifteen pounds,” she said proudly. “It is way more than I normally would have this soon, but the midwife is encouraging it.”

George grabbed his back, groaning dramatically, “No wonder! That must put you up near one hundred-twenty pounds!”

“Not quite, more like one hundred-fifteen pounds, but I’m working on it,” she said happily, sinking back into the soft brown leather sofa. Sobering, she looked into his face and saw the tension in the lines around his eyes. “How are you?”

He shrugged. “Not something we’re going to talk about, Smidge.”

Biting her lip, she shook her head. “George, I love you and I want to know how you’re doing.”

“Ginny, we can’t talk about anything like that,” George said dismissively.

“Can I help in any way?” Ginny pushed gently, her heart hurting for him. She knew she should leave it alone, but she couldn’t ignore the hurt that was right in front of her.

“Nope,” he answered easily. Getting up, he wandered over to the kitchen and went poking around until he found the tin of biscuits Kreacher always had on hand.

She just watched him as he came back and offered her one. She shook her head, not feeling like eating anything at all. “Can I have a job?”

George burst out laughing. “No way is anyone going to let you out of the house, Smidge.”

Scowling, Ginny crossed her arms. “You don’t have anything I can do?”

“You’re already rich, why do you want a job?”

“Because I get bored,” she admitted. “Now that I’m awake most of the day I don’t have anything I can really do and both Mum and Hermione are trying to get me to learn to knit.”

George was horrified. “I see your dilemma. Let me think.” He pretended to tug at his missing ear. “I need help writing adverts for the new products. Fred was always better at that.”

It touched and hurt her to see just how neutral he kept his face when he said it. “I can do that,” she said smiling. “How much are you going to pay me?”

“You’re loaded!” He spluttered. “What the ruddy hell do you need money for?”

“So I can buy more another rich husband,” Ginny scoffed as if it were obvious.

George laughed. “Titchy little brat. Alright, a galleon per product if I end up running them in the papers or magazines and more if the adverts do well.”

Ginny stuck out her hand to shake. “Deal.”

~*~

Harry Apparated back to the outer limit of his property, which was conveniently at the end of a cul-du-sac so he didn’t have to worry about Muggles spotting him as he arrived. He quickly walked through the invisible barrier and made his way up to the house. The ball had been okay. Luna and Hermione had spared him from having to dance with anyone he didn’t want to, which had been pretty much everyone, by claiming that it was their turn to dance any time a girl asked him. If they got shirty about it, Luna would go off about Nargles and some other nonsense until they walked away. He’d shaken five million hands, endured about a million uncomfortable, embarrassing or downright rude conversations and rejected several hundred offers for things that he didn’t even want to remember.

Kingsley had made a speech and asked Harry to say something, which had been horrible. He didn’t know what he’d said, and if he was honest, Harry didn’t really care. His feet hurt, he was tired of his hot, itchy dress robes, and he was ready for bed. He’d been told by some committee member for something that he was getting an Order of Merlin and he’d flat out refused to go if they held the ceremony when Ginny couldn’t make it. Thankfully, Kingsley had backed him up and said that it was only right that his wife be there.

He opened the door and called out. George stirred from the sofa, dropping a magazine where his bum had been a second before. “How was the party?”

“Bloody awful as you well know, you lucky git,” Harry growled, rubbing absently at his chest which felt odd. “If I never go to another one of these effing functions it will make my life complete.”

“That good, eh?” George said sympathetically. “Ginny’s asleep. I’ve hired her, by the way.”

Harry stopped in the middle of pulling off his cloak to look over his shoulder. “Come again?”

“Yes, she’s looking for a job, so she’s going to write adverts for me,” George said, his hands in his pockets as he rocked back on his heels. “She’s itching for pocket money, apparently.”

Harry just stared at him, trying to take it in. “What?”

Shaking his head, George seemed to take pity on him. “She’s bored, wants something to do.”

“Oh,” Harry said, cottoning on. “I need to sleep. I feel like hell.”

George clapped him on the shoulder. “Go on, I’ll see you later.”

Harry walked slowly up the stairs and found Ginny asleep. He stripped off his clothes and fell into bed.

He woke what felt like minutes later to Ginny crying out. Harry reached for her, but she thrashed away, in the midst of a nightmare. “No… no….” she moaned.

He reached for his glasses and his wand, flicking it to get the light. “Ginny,” Harry whispered, trying to reach her like he had before when she had nightmares. She wouldn’t wake. “Ginny!” he called more sharply, kissing her.

Ginny responded instantly to the kiss, pulling him in as if she was drowning and he was the lifeline. Heat flooded through him and he sunk into the kiss, forgetting for half a second that she wasn’t actually awake. He pulled back and she broke down in sobs. He tried to pull her into his arms, but it only made her cry harder.

“No… no please no no no no no!” She cried out, rolling away from him and doubling over.

Not knowing what else to do, he pulled her back and kissed her again. Ginny quieted and they spent several minutes just kissing. When he tried to pull away again she fell straight back into the nightmare. Desperate he said softly, “Kreacher.”

With a loud crack the house-elf appeared next to his bed. “Master?”

“Please go get the midwife,” Harry asked. Kreacher nodded once and with another loud crack left.

Harry got up quickly and threw on some jeans just before she arrived with the old elf’s hand in hers, wearing her dressing gown. The second she was steady on her feet she rushed over to the sobbing, yelling Ginny who was half tangled in the sheets.

He nodded to Kreacher with thanks, and the elf bowed and walked out of the room.

“Ginny?” Martha said, running her wand along her. “How long has she been like this?”

“Not long. She calmed down when I kissed her,” Harry explained, “but when straight back into the nightmare when I pulled back.”

Ignoring Ginny for a second, Martha studied him. “Have you two been intimate since your wedding?”

“No, of course not,” Harry promised. “We’ve been abstaining like you said.”

Nodding with a sigh she turned back to Ginny. “Let me see you kiss her.”

Feeling decidedly awkward, he moved over to the side of the bed, knelt down and kissed Ginny. Once again she clung to him as if he was life itself. When he broke it, she went straight back into the nightmare. “No! No, I need you! No!”

“What are we going to do?” Harry asked, rubbing at the ache in his chest again. He stopped when he saw that she was watching him do it.

Martha grimaced. “Do you know much about the soul bond that happens in marriage?”

“No,” Harry answered, trying to not panic as Ginny cried out further.

“It is sealed by being intimate that first time, and it is strengthened as the relationship progresses. Usually that happens because the newlyweds can’t keep their hands off each other,” Martha explained gently. “In your case it never had the chance. I was hoping to avoid this, but it looks like we’ve reached the crossroads. Pregnant witches are often, uhm, more vulnerable to feeling the separation than they were before they conceived. The bond between the husband and wife can begin to feel weaker to them if the couple goes too long without having sex and the pregnant witches will especially start to crave it like you might crave food. I’ve seen something similar to this in another couple who used magical impregnation and was asked to abstain. It wasn’t this severe, though. You might know the feeling I’m talking about, even if you can’t name it. Certainly when it goes away you will be able to identify that it was there.”

Something Arthur had told him came back to him. It’s like having your heart walking around outside of your body. “What do we do?” Harry asked, hesitating.

“You two are going to be intimate but just the once,” Martha told him with a wry smile. “Not doing so would cause more damage than harm, especially if she is reacting like this.”

“But she’s asleep!” Harry said, horrified.

Martha patted his arm. “I’m going to wake her with magic, which is not something I would normally do to someone in the midst of a nightmare as it’s very unsettling, but then I’m going to leave and have Kreacher take me back home so you can help each other feel better. Just be gentle and slow.”

Harry stared at her, completely stunned. “But… but the baby…”

Martha put her wand over Ginny. “The baby will be hurt more if we can’t get Ginny to calm down. Her body and soul are signaling that this is what she needs. When I come back in a few hours we can discuss this.”

“This is just about the weirdest thing I’ve ever had happen,” Harry muttered, running a distracted hand over the back of his head. “And I’ve led an exceptionally strange life.”

“You’re not going to argue with me, are you?” she asked, and when he shook his head Martha let out a snort. “Good, I’d hoped not.” He watched as she waved her wand and Ginny let out a gasp of surprise, sitting up.

“What?” Ginny looked at Martha who patted her hand reassuringly before moving aside.

Harry went to her and he heard Martha walk out and close the door. Harry kissed her again and Ginny melted into him. He deepened the kiss, gently laying her back down and running his fingers into her hair.

Later, when they lay together drifting off, it finally registered what Martha had meant, like something had been digging in his heart and that it had been steadily getting worse over the last day or so. But it was gone now, replaced only by a bone deep contentment.

Back to index


Chapter 16: Chapter 16

Author's Notes: Thank you to Arnel and James for your help with editing!!

I hope you enjoy. It's a nice, calm chapter, but with a bit more information. No answers... I know you're all getting really axious but resign yourself to not finding out anything for another 5 or more chapter.


Sunday June 28th

Ginny woke slowly, feeling languid and completely at peace with staying right where she was. She became aware gradually that the sheets felt different and her limbs felt heavier than normal. Testing, she shifted a bit and realized that in fact she had no clothing on at all. She glanced to her left and saw vivid green eyes watching her.

Harry reached for his glasses and put them on. Neither of them spoke for a while. They just gazed into each other’s faces as if committing them to memory all over again.

“What…” she began, trying to put together the jumble of events that were fighting for placement in her memory. “We… weren’t supposed to do that,” Ginny finally said.

“We were, actually,” Harry disagreed, leaning in for a lingering kiss.

Ginny lost herself for a moment, wanting to sink in completely as joy and contentment filled her from the top of her head straight down to her toes. “But the baby…”

“You had a nightmare,” he told her gently. “I couldn’t wake you, nothing but kissing you worked and you got hysterical when I stopped. I had Kreacher get Martha. She said we needed to be together, so she woke you up and…” Harry’s voice faltered.

“And… we were following the Healer’s orders?” Ginny supplied lamely.

“Pretty much,” Harry said as he buried his face in her neck. “I miss you so much when I’m not here. I miss being with you so much that it’s an ache.”

She knew what he meant. She’d been feeling that way for weeks now, not able to articulate it properly, but like something was pulling at her heart. “I know.”

Harry kissed her neck as she tilted it so he could have easier access. Tingles raced up her spine as his breath kissed over her skin. “That’s why we were together. Martha said something about our soul bond needing us to be together to strengthen it.”

“Oh,” Ginny breathed out. “Oh, that makes sense. I knew that. Mum explained it all when we had that talk last year.”

He propped himself up on one elbow and moved her hair back from her face, his gaze open and intense. “You are so beautiful.”

Her cheeks flushed maddeningly. “You’re always making me blush.”

Harry grinned and leaned in to kiss her cheek. “You’re even more beautiful when you blush.”

They both turned when they heard the knock at the door. “All right you two,” Martha voice floated in through the bedroom door. “Get dressed.”

Harry hopped up and got dressed and located a shirt for Ginny along with some knickers. He helped her get her shirt on, threading her feeding bag through the arm hole.

Ginny looked down at the floor and saw her other t-shirt completely in shreds. “What-”

“You told me to cut it off of you,” Harry reminded her sheepishly. “I’m not so good with that charm.”

“Oh yeah, I remember. I think it’s bound for the bin now,” Ginny said mildly as Harry opened the door.

Martha came in and sat on the bed next to Ginny. She studied her critically. “Do you have any cramping or nausea?”

“No,” Ginny answered. “I feel great, actually.”

“I thought you might,” Martha began. “It appears that your soul bound was in need of some shoring up.”

Ginny nodded. “I know, well…” she said, wanting to be clear. “I know now what happened. My mum told me about it a while ago, but I didn’t really remember that bit.”

“So, let me have a look at you and the baby,” Martha said as she examined her. “No weight gain, but that’s alright since you’ve put on a good amount recently. Baby looks marvelous.”

Harry came over to her other side and sat down, taking her hand. “So we didn’t hurt the baby at all?”

“No,” Martha said reassuringly. “That doesn’t mean you can carry on as you like, though. I still need you to abstain for the most part, but I’m going to give you permission to be together once every few weeks if you really feel like you need that connection. You need to try to stretch it out as much as you can, though.”

Ginny nodded feeling only slightly embarrassed at this conversation. “All right.”

~*~

Harry opened the front door to Andromeda and a sleeping Teddy a few hours later. He took the baby carefully in his arms, cradling him against his shoulder. Thankfully, it was getting easier to move his godson around. “Hey,” he said softly as she came in with a bag and shut the door.

“He fell asleep on the drive,” Andromeda explained. “I don’t know that he’ll stay asleep, though.” She followed them in and greeted Ginny who was sitting on the sofa. “I’m glad to see you up and about today.”

Ginny nodded. “I’m glad to be up too. Thank you for bringing him here so I could see him.”

Andromeda waved that off as nothing and took a seat in one of the arm chairs. “It’s nice to get out for a bit. We don’t get out too often, so it’s nice to have some place to go and visit.”

“Why don’t you go out?” Harry asked frowning as he swayed in front of the fireplace, patting Teddy’s back gently.

“I still get threats over Teddy’s parentage,” Andromeda said. “It hasn’t been much, but I don’t want to get out and take the risk of something happening.”

Harry felt his blood start to boil. Working to calm himself, he asked, “Is there anything I can do?”

Andromeda shook her head, tucking her soft brown hair behind her ear. “No, we’re safe. The house is well protected by the Ministry. It is absolutely rubbish that someone would think that little boy is going to be a threat to anyone.” Her tone only held a slight note of bitterness.

“If you ever need anything, please ask,” Ginny said gently, her eyes crinkled, her concern etched on her face.

“I will,” Andromeda promised.

Kreacher came over slowly, not meeting anyone’s gaze, creeping carefully into the room. He’d been very reserved the first time that she’d visited them but he seemed to be warming up to the formerly disowned Black sister. “Would mistress Andromeda want something to drink?”

“Water would be great, Kreacher, thank you,” she said kindly and the elf bowed and left. Andromeda’s lips twitched. “He’s got no idea what to do with me.”

“No, but he’s trying,” Ginny giggled. “It’s such a switch up to how he was a few years ago.”

Teddy stirred against him, rooting his nose into Harry’s shoulder. He cupped the baby’s soft head and started to pace a bit until he settled back down. He turned to find them both staring at him. “What?”

“You’re getting better at that,” Andromeda commented with a small smile. “The first time you held him I thought you were going to throw up from nerves.”

Ginny laughed and Harry felt his cheeks flush. “Well, he was so small and breakable,” he said defensively. “He’s getting big fast.”

Andromeda sighed wistfully. “The newborn stage goes by so fast.”

“It’s my turn,” Ginny said and he walked over to hand the baby to his wife, carefully avoiding her feeding cord. She cradled Teddy in her arms and after wiggling for a moment he settled back in, his mouth hanging open slightly. “Can you put that pillow under my elbow?” she asked Harry, and he maneuvered it to give her arm more support.

Harry sat down next to her and grinned when she ran a finger over his soft cheek. “He’s so beautiful,” she said with awe. “I can’t get over how much I can see Remus and Tonks in him.”

“It’s a blessing I have him,” Andromeda agreed. “Sometimes babies come into our lives at the most unexpected times, but they’re always a blessing.”

Harry and Ginny grinned at each other. “Definitely.”

Teddy snuggled in closer to Ginny, turning his head towards her breast and rubbing his nose against her.

“Ah, he’s hungry,” Andromeda said, pulling a bottle from the bag. “He’s going to wake up in a minute screaming like he’s never eaten before.” She waved her wand at it, warming it and passed it to Harry, who gave it to Ginny.

Ginny fitted the nipple into his mouth and he began to suck voraciously without even opening his eyes. “He knows what he wants and when he wants it.”

“Definitely,” Andromeda agreed. “If he does that to you when you’re in the 8th or 9th month you might start to leak milk.”

“Really?” Ginny asked, interested, as Harry felt his cheeks warm as the breastfeeding discussion flowed from that. He knew he was going to have to get used to it sooner or later, but at the moment, it still seemed a long way off.

“Poor Harry, you’re as red as Ginny’s hair,” Andromeda chuckled.

He shrugged helplessly, and took Teddy from Ginny when the bottle was drained to burp him.


~*~

Thursday July 2nd

“Potter,” Robards called. “A word in my office.”

Harry stood from his desk and the mountain of paperwork and walked over, closing the door behind him. “Yes, sir?”

“Sit,” the head Auror said and Harry sat. “Your request for an adjustment on pay was approved.”

“Good,” Harry said relieved. “I think it will work better for me to get a nominal pay for now, in exchange for flexible hours.”

His boss nodded. “You’re in and out with your wife’s health and that’s understandable, but are you sure you only want a galleon week? We can arrange for a more equitable hourly wage.”

It was an argument they’d already had, but Harry just shook his head. “No, I don’t need the money. When things have calmed down and I can go back to work full time then I’ll resume my full salary.”

Sighing, Robards gave up. “I have another matter to discuss with you. You got this note mailed to you here at the Ministry through the Muggle post. We’ve tried to track it and can’t locate who sent it since the Muggles don’t have a way to track who dropped it in the letter box. Here,” he said, handing it over to Harry.

Curious, Harry took it and opened the envelope. It was addressed to “Harry Potter c/o The Ministry of Magic.” Inside was a small scrap of parchment that said, ‘I know your secret’. He looked back up. “What on earth does this mean? And how did it get here if it was in the muggle post?”

“We get letters like that once in a while,” Robards said offhand. “It happens. We have a wizard stationed at the post office that sorts them out and forwards them on.”

“I know your secret?” Harry said, feeling an ominous tingle in his gut.

Robards eyed him carefully, folding his hands on top of his solid oak desk. “Do you think this is from the person who attacked you?”

“It could be, but from the Muggle mail?” Harry hesitated, tapping his fingers on the arm of the chair absentmindedly.

A knock sounded at the door and Harry put the scrap in his pocket before Robards barked out, “Come!”

The door slid open silently and Collins, who was back in the office after his stint on duty in Azkaban, poked his head in. “Sir, we have news on Nichols. We need Potter.”

Harry stood as Robards nodded in dismissal and he followed Collins to one of the interrogation rooms which was set up to house all of the information on the Death Eaters that were still at large. On one end was a small stack of parchment and several photos of a young, darker skinned man with shockingly pale eyes. Daniel Nichols was one of the younger Death Eaters, only two years ahead of Harry at Hogwarts and from what they could find, and what Draco was willing to share, he’d only been branded months before the Battle of Hogwarts. He glared up at them from one of the photos.

“What have you found?” Harry asked as he came over to Raeburn and Proudfoot.

Proudfoot had been on guard duty that night at St. Mungo’s, but he’d willingly taken three separate truth potions in order to prove that he hadn’t done anything wrong and Harry believed him. He’d spent time talking to him about that night, even watched his memories in a Pensieve and nothing had happened that could pinpoint when Ginny had been impregnated. Proudfoot hadn’t even heard Ginny cry out.

“We’ve got his mother under surveillance,” Proudfoot said, pulling out a sheaf of parchment. “She recently withdrew a sizable amount of gold from her account, and vacated her house for several days. She returned last night alone, as far as we can tell.”

“Do we have any idea how much she withdrew?”

The older man shook his head. “We couldn’t get a firm number from the goblins.”

“Any luck on getting a warrant to search her house?” Harry asked, sorting through the papers looking for the log of the last Auror on surveillance.

“Nope,” Collins told him. “Unless we can prove there is someone else in the house with her we’re not getting in. She’s not ever shown any sign of being a Death Eater.”

“Just giving birth to one,” Proudfoot grumbled, handing Harry the log he was looking for.

Harry quickly scanned the notes, flipping through the times she came and went. “She’s very meticulous about everything. She always waters her plants at 7:45am?”

“It’s bloody dull,” Collins shook his head. “She does the laundry at the same time every day, bakes bread at the same time every day. I could set my watch by her.”

Harry pulled out his battered pocket watch and saw it was quarter to five. “I need to leave shortly.”

“Any idea about her?” Proudfoot asked.

It still startled him a bit to have the other Aurors, all more senior, turning to him with questions like this immediately following the end of the final battle. They were his instructors in the training room for spells and stealth, but as far as they were concerned he had far more experience than any of them. “There has to be something about this routine. It’s just too neat. No one is that predictable.”

“We’ll keep on her, then,” Collins said. “It may be dull, but I’ll take this over prison duty any day.”

Harry grinned at that and walked back to his desk. He found his owl, Burt, waiting for him on his desk with a letter. “What are you here for?” He knew it couldn’t be an emergency or they’d have sent a Patronus.

He pulled off the short missive and read, ‘I need chocolate ice cream’ in Ginny’s neat script. Harry stared at it for a full thirty seconds, rereading it more than once as his lips twitched into a smile. She’d underlined ‘need’ three times.

Ron came over and took the note from his hand to read it. He snorted so loudly that several people turned to look at him. “Let the cravings begin,” Ron chuckled and handed it back to him. “Best get a move on so you can relieve Hermione at a decent time. We have a date tonight.”

“At least she wants to eat something,” Harry said mildly then frowned as he remembered that the ice cream shop in Diagon Alley had still not reopened. “Where am I going to get ice cream?”

~*~

Friday July 3rd

“We’ll only be gone through Tuesday,” Hermione said as she dished beans onto Ron’s plate.

Ginny shook her head, nibbling on a strawberry at her kitchen table while everyone else ate dinner. “It will be fine, Hermione.”

“Relax,” Ron said with a mouthful of mash. “They get along fine without us here.”

“Yes, but we’re usually not half a world away,” Hermione said peevishly.

Ginny could tell that Ron wasn’t offended. Even he could see that it was worry that made her snap. “We’ll be okay.”

Harry snagged a chicken leg from the platter. “You need to go get your parents, Hermione. You can’t keep putting it off.”

Hermione hadn’t even touched her full plate. “What if they’re mad at me?”

“They aren’t going to be mad,” Ginny promised then reconsidered. “Okay, they might be mad, but they won’t stay that way. They love you and they’ll understand.”

“Eat,” Ron said pointing to Hermione’s plate with his fork. “Starving yourself isn’t going to help.”

Ginny reached for another berry. She didn’t need to eat, as the feeding line sat dripping in from the pole that was directly behind her, but the berries looked and tasted amazing. She couldn’t eat too much, though, or she’d get sick again. She’d learned that lesson the hard way. “We’ll miss you, but you need to go.”

“It’s lucky we were able to find them,” Harry commented, forking in another mouthful. “At least you know where you’re going.”

Hermione pushed the food around on her plate, but finally took a bite when she realized Ron was glaring at her. “I’m eating!”

“What time does the Portkey leave?” Ginny asked, taking a bite of chicken off of Harry’s plate.

“Do you want me to get you some?” he asked, sounding bemused.

She shook her head. “I’m good.”

“You keep stealing off of Harry’s plate,” Ron observed. “Why don’t you get your own?”

“I’m not really hungry,” Ginny told him, which resulted in a blank look.

“Then why do you keep eating?” Ron asked incredulously, his pumpkin juice halfway to his mouth.

Ginny shrugged. “It looks good. Hermione, what time is the Portkey?”

“In a few hours,” Ron said as Hermione answered, “Nine thirty.”

Ginny opened her mouth to comment, but a yawn snuck out instead as fatigue swamped her suddenly. “I think…”

Harry wiped his mouth and pushed back from the table. “Come on,” he said, unhooking her bag.

“Be safe you two,” Ginny yawned again as Harry picked her up.

“I have the pole,” she heard Ron.

Ginny put her head against Harry’s shoulder. It fit right there… just perfectly.

~*~

Harry and Ron made their way back downstairs a minute later and sat back down with Hermione who was finally making a dent in her dinner.

“So about that note,” Hermione commented between bites. “Anything more on it?”

“Nope,” Harry sighed as he finished his last few bites. “I think it’s safe to assume that it’s from whoever attacked us and that they don’t know where this house is if they have to send me letters through the Ministry.”

“It was clever using the Muggle post, though,” Hermione said thoughtfully. “They barely monitor it and without anyone using magic to send it, it’s nearly impossible to trace.”

Ron drained his glass. “Yeah, but the person knew enough about the Ministry to know that she could mail it that way.”

“True,” Harry said, tapping his fork lightly on the table, thinking. “So we’re dealing someone skilled enough in healing, stealth and the inner workings of the Ministry… who on Earth would that be?”

“I have no idea,” Hermione said, sitting back in her seat. “I’ve been looking into the records of all the healers who have gone through training, but no one is standing out as a candidate. The problem is that none of them really have an obvious motive to hurt you.”

“I don’t think this is going to be someone obvious,” Ron added. “The whole thing is convoluted and crazy. You watch; whoever it is will turn out to be completely cracked.”

Hermione crossed her arms, frowning at him. “That would end up being worse. You can’t predict what a crazy person is going to do next.”

Harry stood, plate in hand and walked to the sink. He looking out the window over the kitchen sink as the stars began to blink on in the sky. “I think Ron’s right.”

“I don’t want Ron to be right,” Hermione groused. “But I think he is too. Although the plan to get you two into St. Mungo’s was pretty brilliant-”

“I still want to know how the ruddy hell Draco figured it out from jail,” Ron grumbled, interrupting her.

Hermione rolled her eyes. Harry didn’t even need to be looking at her to know that she’d done it. He could hear it in her voice. “Draco is a slimy git, but he’s not an idiot. If you know all the pieces and you’re willing to look into it closely then it isn’t so hard to put together. I’m just thankful that Rita Skeeter seems to think you’re sleazy enough to have actually knocked Ginny up.”

“Thanks, Hermione,” Harry said dryly, turning back around and crossing his arms. “But you’re right, it is lucky that she’s blamed this all on me being raised by muggles and not having the same ‘moral standards’, which is a load of tosh.”

“Agreed,” Hermione added with a sniff. “I’m still appalled at this ridiculous law. It should have been revoked decades ago.”

Ron cleared his throat. “So are we waiting for another step from this crazy woman or do we think this was the whole plan?”

“I think it was likely the whole plan,” Hermione said thoughtfully. “I think that she was counting on us not figuring out the poison in time so that Harry would first lose his child, then his wife and then be either killed or permanently injured by the poison.”

“A cheery thought,” Ron commented sarcastically.

“Well, we wouldn’t have discovered it if it weren’t for Audrey.” Hermione reminded him. “I do hope Percy marries her.”

“It would be good for him to marry a Healer,” Ron agreed seriously. “That way she can keep pulling the stick out of his arse every time a new one gets stuck up there.”

Harry and Hermione both snorted with laughter.

Back to index


Chapter 17: Chapter 17

Author's Notes: Thanks to Arnel for beta'ing! To James for your moral support.

Readers, I got struck down with nearly a week's worth of migraines and on top of that, while I love this chapter, I also really dread this chapter. I've tried to be as open as I can about how this story is going to go, you've been warned. I wrote this story so that it could fit seamlessly into the epilogue of Deathly Hallows. I didn't feel like looking at my computer screen, and I also really wasn't ready for what my come my way. No, this isn't the really awful chapter. That's coming up, and I will warn you including trigger warning etc. But this confirms how everything ends. Why am I telling you? Cause I wouldn't want to be blindsided.

So anyway, I'm going to duck and cover and hide my poor recovering head.

On more cheerful news my original story is nearly done. I'm so, so close and I'm really excited for how it has turned out. It's helping me get through the pit in my stomach at what everyone is going to say over this story.


Tuesday July 7th

“Do you ever get tired of taking care of me?” Ginny asked him as he got changed from the day. The last rays of the afternoon light were fading from their room and she was propped up in their bed with what seemed like two dozen pillows.

“What?” Harry said blankly, turning to look at her. “Why would I get tired of it?”

She pulled her hair back from her face, working to tie it into a ponytail. “Because you look tired.”

She looked tired too, although thankfully without the gauntness that had plagued her for weeks. He got out a hanger for his robes and said carefully, “It was just a long day. Work makes me tired, not you.”

“I’m work,” he heard her say in a small voice.

He spun and had to reign in his temper when he saw the pain in her eyes. “No, you’re not.”

“This isn’t what it’s supposed to look like when you’re seventeen years old,” Ginny told him. “You’re supposed to be hanging out with your mates in a pub while getting chatted up by a dozen girls.”

Harry chuckled at the image, but quickly cut it off when he saw the glint in her eyes. “Can you honestly see me doing that?”

She let her head fall to the side, resting against one of the myriad pillows. “I guess not. But you could have.”

He went and sat on her left, hip to hip, facing her. “If I said to you, ‘Ginny, I want to go have a pint with Ron and Neville down at the pub’ you would say what?”

She sighed and scowled at him. “You’re not funny.”

Harry stifled a grin knowing that she had no idea just how hilarious this conversation was turning out to be; her sense of humor seemed to be on holiday without her. “What would you say?”

Ginny blew out a breath. “I’d tell you to have fun and I’ll see you later.”

Harry smiled, knowing that was exactly what she’d say. “So what’s the problem?” he asked.

“You can’t go chat up all those girls,” she reminded him, clearly peeved as she poked him in the chest. “You. Should. Be. Able. To. Do. That!” she said firmly, enunciating every word forcefully.

Not too long ago Arthur had tracked Harry down at work and they’d gone to lunch. At that lunch his father-in-law had told him a story from when Molly was pregnant with Bill. It had started out with her burning their dinner, then progressed to her losing her wand in the chicken coop, and rounded out with her cutting a large hole in one of his shirts when she was trying to mend it. The whole thing had been very funny to Arthur, and he’d made the mistake of laughing. ‘Every single time she was pregnant she’d have these completely irrational mood swings that seemed to make absolute sense to her. When Ginny does that, don’t laugh. I promise you, she won’t share in the joke.’

With that in mind, Harry got back to the problem at hand and with what he hoped sounded like heartfelt sincerity and total rationality, said, “I don’t want to chat up other girls. I never liked chatting up girls.”

“But maybe you’d have learned to like it,” she shot back, getting more annoyed. “You could have turned into a world class flirt or something.”

Of all the things Harry had ever imagined for himself, that was definitely not one of them. “How about I just try to flirt with you?”

Her lower lip quivered ominously. “I don’t do anything for you.”

And just like that it wasn’t funny. He cupped her chin and guided her into his arms. “That’s not true.”

“Name one thing!” Ginny challenged even as her arms snuck around him.

“You love me,” he said simply into her hair.

“Lots of people love you,” she said with a hitch.

He shook his head. “None of them love me like you do. None of them know me like you do. I’m not Harry Potter to you, Gin. I’m just Harry, husband, foot warmer and I’m only the hero when I bring home ice cream.”

“Why did you get me ice cream?” Ginny sniffed. “You’d been at work all day and I was so selfish asking you to get it.”

“I got it because I love you, and it was down in the contract that I have to get ice cream for my pregnant wife,” he told her patiently. “You must not have read the fine print. I’m obligated by law.”

She pulled back and her eyes looked even more shattered. “But what do I do for you? You do everything for me.”

Harry didn’t know what else to say. It didn’t seem like anything was getting through to her. “You loving me is more than enough.”

Ginny traced around his eyes. “Not when you look so worn down. I can’t help you in any way.”

“You help me by just being here,” he promised honestly. “That’s enough.”

“But there are a lot of things on your mind and I can’t help you with any of them,” she said, biting her lip. “I’m just a leech.”

“No!” Harry said firmly. “You and I have two different roles in this,” he reminded her, laying his left hand on her gently rounded stomach. “You take care of the baby, I take care of you. That’s the way it has to be.”

Ginny let out a bone deep sigh. “Who’s taking care of you?”

“You are,” he said instantly.

“I’m not,” she said and he could hear the hurt pulsing from each word. “You can’t talk to me about anything important.”

“Okay,” Harry agreed hesitantly. “We have the family, you know? I have Ron and Hermione to talk to if I need to.”

She nodded and flopped back against the pillows as she turned away. “It’s you three against the world again, and I’m still an outsider.”

He looked at her and his heart wanted to break at the pain in her voice. Harry knew he had to make her feel better, knew that her being this upset was going to be bad for the baby, but he didn’t know how to fix this. He looked down at his left hand, which was still on her small belly and his wedding band glinted as his hand shifted slightly. Then an idea struck and he knew what to say. “No, you have that wrong,” he said, drawing a gentle line along her stomach so she’d know he was including the baby in this. “It’s us three against the world. Ron and Hermione are their own unit now. We’re a family, Gin; you, me and the baby. Whatever I want to tell you can wait because your health and the baby’s health is the most important thing to me.”

Ginny turned back to him and unshed tears swam in her eyes. “You have so much on you.”

“You have so much on you,” Harry retorted. “You feel lousy, you can’t eat much or you get sick, you can’t let anything upset you and you can’t even walk down the stairs. That can’t feel good.”

She studied him, her brown eyes probing him. “I want to do something for you.”

“Tell me you love me and don’t ever treat me like the Chosen One,” Harry said simply. “You’re really the first person who has ever said that they love me; at least that I can remember.”

Her lip trembled again but she held it in. “I love you. I love your eyes, and your amazing heart, and the fact that you love me. I love that you love Teddy, and you love our baby and I melt every time you kiss my belly. I love you for letting me be silly, and spoiling me without making a big deal out of it and I love when you laugh. I love your strength and your courage and your integrity. I love kissing you and when you hold me. I love you for not running when things get really difficult and scary.” Ginny licked her dry lips. “I love you for a thousand other reasons, but those are the big ones.”

Harry didn’t trust himself to speak. Whatever he was feeling, whatever worries he had seemed trivial and useless in the face of her words because together he could get through anything. He gathered her in and held on while he tried to compose himself and slow his pounding heart. Finally he said, “That’s more than enough. I don’t need anything else.”

“I’m sorry,” she whispered into his shoulder.

“What for?” He asked, confused as he stroked a hand down her back.

“For being stupid and weepy and such a girl,” Ginny sighed.

“And yet you wanted me to have a dozen girls not five minutes ago,” Harry said dryly, laying his lips on her cheek. “I only want you.”

She started to giggle and before long she was laughing so hard that tears were rolling down her cheeks.

Harry was hard pressed not to laugh with her. She had such an infectious laugh. “What’s so funny?”

“You… you and twelve girls…” Ginny swiped at her eyes as the giggles continued to roll from her. “Oh Merlin, you’d probably turn your wand on yourself.”

Sadly, he thought that was not far from the mark. “Are you okay, now?”

“Yeah,” she said hiccupping. She leaned up and kissed him. “Thanks for being you.”

“You’re welcome… I think,” Harry grinned against her lips, trying not to get whiplash from the mood swing. “Thanks for being you. You make me happy.”

“I’m trying to,” Ginny promised. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me, or why I said those things.” She sat back and took his hand, tracing a line on his palm with her finger. Her brown eyes flicked up to his.

Harry thought about all the ways he could answer that, and decided that in this case he could go with the truth. “You’re pregnant. Your brain has been hijacked.”

“My brain has been hijacked?” Her red eyebrow raised in response to his proclamation.

“That’s what your dad said, anyway,” he told her a little cautiously.

She nodded thoughtfully. “I suppose he would know. I can’t believe Mum did this six times.”

Harry opened his mouth to say that he couldn’t believe her dad had survived all six times, but on reflection thought better of it. Thankfully, he was saved by voices from downstairs. “Ron and Hermione must be here. Come on,” he said, standing up and coming around to the other side of the bed to get her. “Let’s go hear how it went with her parents.”

They made it downstairs to find both Ron and Hermione sprawled on the couch. Ron gave a halfhearted wave while Hermione just lay there with her eyes closed and her hair practically standing on end. Harry set Ginny in one of the arm chairs and went back up for the pole.

Ginny looked at them with concern. “Are you two alright?”

“Exhausted,” Ron muttered. “Starving.”

“Dinner will be in ten minutes,” Kreacher called from the kitchen.

Ron moaned with longing. “Can we have a house-elf, Hermione? Please?”

Hermione didn’t even open her eyes as she kicked her leg sideways and made contact with Ron’s shin. “You can have me or a house-elf, Ron.”

Ron sighed grumpily. “Alright, alright.”

“How are your parents?” Ginny asked them, as Harry sat on the arm of her chair, wanting to stay close to her.

Hermione opened her eyes and frowned. “Why were you crying?”

“My brain has been hijacked,” Ginny told her.

“Oh,” Hermione nodded in understanding.

“Excuse me?” Ron said, opening his eyes. “What the ruddy hell does that mean?”

Harry felt his lips twitch. He twined his fingers with Ginny’s before answering. “The baby.”

Ron frowned, but shrugged. “Right, well, we got down to Australia and after checking it with the Australian Wizarding Ministry, we went to her parents’ house.”

“They had a guide to take us,” Hermione said, picking up the story. “It was nearly eight in the morning by the time we got to their house on the outskirts of Sydney. They opened the door and…” her voice trailed off.

“They didn’t know who we were, of course,” Ron said. “We managed to talk our way into the house and Hermione pulled out her wand and removed the enchantments. They remembered everything of their last year, but also all the things that Hermione had erased from their memories.”

Ron sat up and winced, leaning to one side. “They were pretty hacked off at first. The yelling lasted a good hour until they calmed down enough for Hermione and me to tell them the story.”

“After we finished telling them what happened, and why I sent them out of the country, they realized that I’d done the right thing.” Hermione looked like she’d like nothing better than to never move from the couch. “They were still annoyed with me, but they were also really, really glad that we’d all made it.”

“We told them we were there all weekend to help them move back if that’s what they wanted,” Ron explained. “They said they were going to move back but that they’d been working for another dentist so they were going to have to give notice.”

Hermione kicked off her shoes and rubbed her feet into the rug, stretching out her toes. “We loaded so many boxes. Every muscle in my body hurts.”

“I’m never moving into a Muggle neighborhood. Moving without magic is torture,” Ron added. “Make a note of that, Hermione.”

“I’m quite sure neither of us is going to forget it,” Hermione said with a yawn. “It was so much easier moving you two in here.”

“So is that all?” Harry asked, amazed that it had gone that well.

They both gave each other a dark look. “Not exactly,” Hermione said slowly. “They asked about you, of course. They wanted to know where you were since the three of us were so often together.”

“I shouldn’t have told them,” Ron grumbled. “I told them that you two had gotten married and that Ginny was having a baby, so she couldn’t travel.”

Hermione raised her eyes to the heavens as her face flushed a brilliant scarlet. “That resulted in full minute of silence, and then the shouting started again.”

“They could tell we are a couple,” Ron explained running both hands through his hair, making it stand on end. “It was…”

“Bloody awful,” Hermione lamented. It must have been ten times worse than that to cause her to swear. “It was just dreadful.”

Ron took her hand and gave it a squeeze. “I made it worse by telling them that you two had to get married because of the baby. I was trying to explain why we weren’t going to do anything.”

“But it backfired spectacularly,” Hermione told them. “The shouting continued till well after lunch and we’d been up for so long by that point because of the time difference-”

“-that we told them the full story,” Ron said finishing for her. “We weren’t going to, but it seemed like the best way to get them to stop shouting.”

Hermione shook her head. “That didn’t work either. Suddenly they were convinced that we shouldn’t go back to England.”

Ron put his arms above his head and stretched. “We did manage to talk them around, and assure them that the weird things only happen to you, and not us,” he told Harry.

“They’ll be back in England on Friday,” Hermione told them. “The Ministry is going to handle moving all their stuff back to England for them, thank God. We’re going to help them move back in to their house, though.”

“You’re helping,” Ron told him. “So is anyone else I can get.”

“Sure,” Harry promised, running a hand along Ginny’s arm. He saw her nod.

“Dinner,” Kreacher said from the kitchen.

~*~

Ginny rolled on to her side and watched Harry exit the bathroom later that evening. She was amazed to still be awake since she rarely was at night. When he came out she smiled at his handsome face and thanked whatever lucky star she had that he was hers.

“You’re still awake,” he said in surprise as he got the lights. “I expected you to be asleep.”

Harry climbed into their bed and rolled over to spoon up behind her. He kissed her neck behind her ear and let out a contented sigh.

“I really am sorry that I was so stupid earlier.”

“Forget it Gin,” Harry told her. “I say stupid things too and you never make a big deal about it.”

She nodded and snuggled as far back into his arms as she could get and fell almost immediately to sleep.

~*~

Saturday July 11th

“Are you okay?” Ginny asked hesitantly as Harry walked into their bedroom and sprawled on the floor, his face pressed into the rug. “Harry? Did Mum leave?”

“I can’t move,” Harry told the floor. “Hermione got her love of books from her mum.”

Ginny got up and pulled the pole around to the foot of their bed so she could sit down next to him. “Are you going to be all right?”

“No,” he mumbled. “I’m never going to be able to budge from this spot.”

She ran her fingers along his back, trying to sooth. “Did you have help?”

“Oh yeah,” Harry said. “Bill, George and your dad all came and helped move everything back in. Your dad was over the moon to be in a Muggle house. However they elected Ron and me to haul all the book boxes and her mum has had many, many years to collect books.” He turned his head and looked at her. “I never want to move houses again.”

Ginny laughed. “I hope we won’t ever have to move. I like this house.”

“Me, too,” he said, yawning. “I’m so tired. I think I know how you’ve been feeling.”

“I feel really good right now,” she told him, trying to hold back her excitement. “I had a really good day.”

Unfortunately Harry looked like he was barely listening. “Good, good.”

“Harry?” Ginny asked, poking him in the shoulder. “If you fall asleep here you’re going to be really sorry tomorrow morning.”

“Mmm,” he mumbled.

She pushed a lock of hair away from his brow. “Harry, I can’t move you and I’m not going to try to levitate you into bed.”

“Yeah,” was all the response she got from him.

Scrunching up her nose, she tried another tactic. “Aren’t you going to kiss Hope goodnight?”

“Mkay,” he said and then froze. Finally Harry opened his amazing green eyes and looked up at her. “What did you say?”

“I said I had a really good day,” Ginny reiterated with a straight face.

He pushed himself up to sitting, staring intently into her eyes. “You said Hope?”

She nodded as happiness threatened to bubble out of her. “We’re having a girl.”

“We’re having a girl?” He repeated looking like a troll had hit him upside the head. “A girl?”

“Yes,” she whispered and gasped when he pulled her onto his lap, practically crushing her in a bear hug. Laughing she wound her arms around his neck. “I take it you’re not mad that I didn’t wait for you to be here to find out.”

Harry shook his head and kissed her. “I didn’t think we’d find out this soon!”

“Martha said she’s sure,” Ginny promised. “I’m eleven weeks along today.”

“Wow,” Harry breathed, still looking stunned. “I have a daughter.”

She nodded, overjoyed with his obvious pleasure. Harry stood with her in his arms, moving her onto the bed. He lay down beside her, kissing her deeply. He broke away a minute later to lean down to her belly. “Hope...”

Tears filled her eyes but didn’t fall. “I thought you were too tired to move.”

Harry moved back up to pull her into his arms and kissed her soundly. “Nothing hurts anymore.”

Back to index


Chapter 18: Chapter 18

Author's Notes: Thank you to Arnel for your help with the beta'ing and James for your support! Still not the awful chapter yet. I'm taking pity on you and letting you know that the awful chapter is the next one, chapter 19. I'm really nervous about it, and feeling pretty sick to be honest with you. I've been avoiding rereading it, so going for edits next week is going to be very hard on me.

I finished my original!!! I'm so excited about that, and trying to focus on that instead of my feelings on chapter 19.

I think this chapter is very sweet, though, and maybe a little funny. Calm before the storm. Anyway, let me know what you think. I know a lot of readers are hating what I'm doing. I get it. I've lived it three times, and I'd rather not have lived it even once, but it's a story that so many families live and I needed to get it out.

Sarah


Wednesday July 22nd

“So she’s past twelve weeks?” Ron asked quietly as they stood Disillusioned near a stand of trees, watching Daniel Nichols’ mother’s house. She was in there, at that very moment baking bread. Again.

“Yeah,” Harry whispered back, focusing on the house. “Both Martha and Audrey said that’s a good sign.”

Letting out a long, relieved breath Ron shifted almost imperceptibly. “A girl…” he said, not for the first time. “I have a niece. A boy would have been easier.”

Harry glanced at him, forgetting for a second that he couldn’t actually see Ron. “Why’s that?”

“Well,” Ron said slowly. “Now we have to worry about keeping the boys away from her.”

A solid point, Harry mused. Then just like every day before Mrs. Nichols came out to hang laundry on the line. Then he saw it and it was so obvious that he couldn’t believe they’d been missing it for weeks. “That’s the same towel as yesterday.”

“Come again?” Ron asked and Harry knew he was focusing on it.

“Next she’s going to put out a white shirt with a yellow star on it, even though she didn’t wear a white shirt yesterday,” Harry said, getting excited. “This is an illusion.”

“It can’t be, Harry,” Ron said dismissively. “She’s wearing different clothes and her hair is different. Yesterday it was down; today it’s up in a bun.”

Harry thought about what he knew of illusions. Typically they were only set up for a few hours. “Maybe she’s resetting it every day and just using the same script but with different clothes?”

Ron was silent for another moment. “If she hangs up the voluminous lacy pink drawers next, I’m going to agree with you.”

Seconds later the questionable undergarments appeared.

“Let’s get back and report this,” Harry said. “We’ll need to get authorization for a raid.”

Later that day as they raided the house and they discovered Daniel Nichols hiding in his mother’s basement, his mother’s corpse was later dug up in the garden. In the interrogation room he admitted that he’d kept her alive only long enough to make the withdrawal from Gringotts.

One Death Eater down, Harry thought later that afternoon as he went through the paper and then looked at the dozens of still open cases and groaned.

“Potter, you’re needed in interrogation room four,” Collins called out, interrupting Harry’s train of thought.

He paused in his writing, looking over at the other man who was leaning around the wall of his cubical. “What’s up?”

“It’s the hearing for Goyle’s retrial,” Collins reminded him.

“Damn, I forgot,” Harry said as he quickly capped his ink and followed Collins to the correct room. He walked in and saw the same two women he’d seen at the trial, although for the life of him he couldn’t remember which was Goyle’s mum and which was Crabbe’s. He took his seat next to Robards with Kingsley at the head of the table.

“I have read through the petition, Mrs. Goyle,” the Minister said, looking down at the parchment in front of him. “Your contention is that son’s trial was illegal, is that correct?”

Harry watched the blonde with plain features and a rather squashed nose look to the striking woman next to her. Harry hadn’t been able to tell from across the courtroom, but Mrs. Crabbe was young and pretty. The only thing she shared with her dead son was hair color. Mrs. Crabbe nodded encouragingly. “Yes,” Mrs. Goyle answered carefully. “He didn’t have a choice. He had to plead guilty.”

“Your son is guilty,” Harry retorted firmly. “He would have killed me if he could have.”

Mrs. Crabbe gave him a calculating look, but it was Goyle’s mother who spoke. “You can’t prove that. It’s your word against his.”

“What Mrs. Goyle means,” Mrs. Crabbe interrupted evenly, “is that there is no physical evidence that Gregory Goyle did what he’s accused of.”

Robards folded his hands on the table. “The law is very clear on this. If we have the word of three or more credible witnesses then we don’t need physical proof.”

“It is our contention that Mr. Potter’s testimony is suspect,” Mrs. Crabbe interjected and Harry was amazed that this clearly intelligent woman could have produced someone as thick as her son. “They had a well-known rivalry during their school years. Mr. Potter has every reason to lie about their interactions.”

“Mr. Potter’s testimony has been honest,” Kingsley said flatly. “He testified for Narcissa Malfoy and on behalf of Draco Malfoy. I believe the animosity between Potter and Malfoy was even more notorious.”

Harry watched Crabbe’s mother’s face as it fell into an impassive mask. Mrs. Goyle began to cry. “I want… my son t-to have a retrial.”

“You haven’t given us a reason to retry him,” Robards explained, not unkindly. “We cannot retry him.”

“I want to see my son!” she cried as a strand of her blonde hair came loose from its bun. Harry handed over a box of tissues. She snatched one to wipe her running nose as she glared at him.

Robards and Harry turned to Kingsley who was looking thoughtfully at her. “I cannot let you see him now. If, however, he behaves himself in prison I will personally grant you permission to see him in six months.”

Mrs. Goyle blew her nose and nodded. “Thank you, Minister.”

“If he is anything but a model prisoner, however,” Kingsley added firmly, “then the deal is off.”

“I understand,” Mrs. Goyle said and she rose, knowing the meeting was over.

Harry watched her walk to the door and Mrs. Crabbe reluctantly stand and follow her, glancing back once at Harry. He couldn’t read her eyes, but as he had been with her son when he’d died, he imagined that she didn’t have anything good to say to him.

After they’d left he turned to the other two men. “Why was Mrs. Crabbe here?”

“She’s her sister,” Robards explained as he shuffled the parchment together into a stack. “She came for moral support.”

Harry’s mouth fell open. “You’re joking!”

Kingsley’s low voice was dry. “No. They don’t look alike, but they are definitely sisters.”

Harry got back to his desk and sat, tapping his quill absently as he thought. He didn’t see any reason why Crabbe’s or Goyle’s mothers would want to hurt him, but at the same time he needed to check. Quickly he scribbled out a note for Hermione, and went to find an owl.

~*~

Sunday July 26th

“I don’t want to move,” Harry said as he stared at their bedroom celling. “Let’s just spend the whole day in bed.”

“I spend every day in bed,” Ginny grumbled as she dabbed her quill into the ink pot and continued to work on the wording for the advertisement. “It gets old fast.”

She looked over when he touched her thigh. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” she assured him. “I just can’t get the wording right on this thing for George.”

“What’s it for?” Harry asked, propping himself on one elbow to look down at her clipboard.

Ginny reached over to the bedside table and grabbed a shiny pony. “It’s a unicorn that poops rainbow tarts.”

Harry stared at it. “Excuse me?”

“I don’t know,” Ginny shrugged. “It’s apparently a Muggle thing. You pull back the tail and it rapidly fires the tarts out of its arse at whoever you’re aiming at.”

Harry started to laugh. “That is hilarious.”

“It’s actually already selling really well. I just can’t figure out how to tell people they want to eat unicorn poo. Hmm…” her mind trailed off along the path of using ‘farts’ as part of the wording.

“Ginny?”

Ginny glanced over absently to see Harry studying her. “Yeah?”

“I love you,” Harry told her grinning.

“I love you too,” she said answering his smile with one of her own. “What’s up?”

“When I said I wanted to spend the day in bed, I didn’t mean with you working,” his grin turned mischievous. “I was thinking more along the lines of lots and lots of snogging.”

Ginny leaned over and put the clipboard and unicorn on her bedside table again. She scooted down so that she was lying flat, facing him. Her night shirt had bunched up some as she moved.

Harry put his hand on her hip, sliding it up her bare skin onto her back as he leaned in to kiss her.

Burying her hands in his hair, she practically purred with joy at the feeling of being this close to him. “It has been a month.”

“It’s been a really long month,” Harry agreed moving on to her neck. “More than the few weeks that Martha wanted us to try to wait. You can finish that thing for George tomorrow, right?”

Sighing heavily she nodded. “It can definitely wait.”

~*~

Friday July 31st

Harry yelled as he hit the ground hard, rolling once before looking up into a dark face. “Tag!” Neville yelled triumphantly, poking him with foot.

“You tripped me!” Harry groused, but Neville was already off to tag more people who were streaking towards his back door. Laughing he got up and made his way back to the house to find out who won. He walked into find Audrey and Ginny giggling madly at the kitchen table and most of the rest of the family standing around laughing and getting a drink. “Who won?”

“No one yet,” Ginny told him. “Neville has got everyone so far. It might be a clean sweep.”

“Who’s still not made it back?” Harry asked looking around.

“Luna and Percy,” Bill said with his arm around Fleur. “I have no idea how he did it, but he got me seconds after he came out to find us! We were well hidden.”

Ron ran his finger through the frosting from the leftover cake and licked it off.

“Ron!” Molly and Hermione admonished but he only grinned and shrugged.

“What? I’m hungry. Neville should be training to be an Auror.” Ron told them. “He’d be a natural.”

“His parents were Aurors,” Harry reminded him. “But I think he’ll be happier being a teacher.”

Percy slunk in seconds later. “I was tagged.”

A minute later Luna waltzed in and sat down at the magically expanded table. “Am I last back?”

“Did you get tagged?” Arthur asked her.

“No,” Luna said shaking her head. “Who won?”

They all just looked at her and burst out laughing.

The party broke up a bit later when Ginny started nodding off. Harry helped her up to bed and came back down to find that only Ron, Hermione, Percy and Audrey were left sitting at the table. “Is she asleep?” Audrey asked him.

“Yeah, she was out before I even got her all the way upstairs,” Harry told her. “She’s doing better.”

Audrey nodded. “It seems like it. She’s almost fourteen weeks now, and this would typically be the point where we’d declare her in the safe zone.”

“You aren’t going to?” Hermione asked curiously.

“We can’t,” Audrey told her, cupping her hands around a mug of tea that Kreacher had just brought her. “Because she was poisoned there are so many variables. I’ve not been able to find any recorders of a woman being poisoned this way while pregnant so we don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Ron grabbed a biscuit and shoved it whole in his mouth. “Is there going to be a point where you’ll be able to say that she and the baby are going to make it?”

“Birth,” Audrey answered regretfully and Percy squeezed her arm. “When the baby is born healthy, then we’ll know. I had a look at the baby and she seems to be fine right now; maybe a little smaller than I would otherwise expect, but Ginny is tiny and we tend to see tiny mums having tiny babies.”

Harry sat heavily. “You didn’t tell us that earlier.”

“I wasn’t going to say anything in front of Ginny,” Audrey reminded him gently. “The baby’s size is in the normal range. It’s probably nothing, so I’m not going to give her anything to worry about.”

Percy cleared his throat. “So, you wanted to talk to us about something?”

“Yes,” Hermione said coming back to it. “We need to know more about the poison and impregnating. Of the two which is the harder to do?”

“The poison,” Audrey said without hesitation. “The poison is well beyond mastery level.” At Harry’s blank look, she explained. “In potion making there are classifications that one can earn. You get your NEWT and that is the first level of classification as long as you get an O in potions. You can study further with a master as an apprentice and become an expert potion maker. It takes years to get that good unless you have a natural skill for it. After that you can become a master potion maker, but that will sometimes take one’s entire career. Snape, for example, was a master potion maker, but he only achieved that three or four years ago. Slughorn is also a master potion maker, but again he taught for a good number of years before he achieved the skill level to move up. There are only half a dozen masters in the country right now.”

Harry looked at Hermione who was frowning. “You’re saying that you’d need to be a master in order to make that poison? There’s no other way?”

“I tried to make it twice after we figured out you’d been poisoned,” Audrey said with a shrug. “I wanted to see just how hard it would be. Percy tried to help me as well. We failed. I have an expert potion maker’s standing.”

Stumped, Harry sat back, running his hands through his hair as he tried to think. “Do you think any of the potions masters would have made this for someone?”

“Not that I can see,” Audrey said honestly. “I know two of them, besides Slughorn whom I’ve only met the once after the final battle. I asked one of them about making the poison and he’d never heard of it. The other told me that he’d tried but never managed it. He said he only knew one man who had succeeded in making it and he’d died almost forty years ago.”

“What about impregnating?” Ron asked. “How hard is that to learn?”

Audrey shrugged helplessly. “It isn’t technically difficult, but the secret of how it’s done has been closely guarded because it’s so dangerous and it would be easy to abuse someone.”

A memory flashed back to Harry and he sat up. “But people do know how to do it. Fleur told me that many Veela have been impregnated over the years by wizards wishing to marry them.”

Everyone looked sick at that, but Audrey nodded slowly. “That doesn’t surprise me. I think that the knowledge of how it is done is out there, and probably not too difficult to obtain if you have the right connections. The only difficult part is that the person who did this likely induced ovulation in Ginny. That’s a charm that takes a certain finesse and a lot of practice. We practiced it on ourselves when we did our rotation in midwifery when we were training and it took me several months before I managed to get it right. A couple of my classmates never managed it.”

Ron let his head drop to the table. “When you think about it the whole thing just gets more and more effed up.”

Harry had to agree and thought of another question he’d wanted to bring up with Audrey. “Draco Malfoy told me that Bellatrix Lestrange had the recipe for the poison,” Harry told them, “if it’s the same slow killing poison. He told me it was called something like Door Tardus.”

Dolore Tardus, yes, that’s the same poison, but having the recipe won’t help you if you don’t have the skills,” Audrey countered.

Percy nodded. “We tried, Harry. It was way past our skill level. We didn’t even make it in a few steps before it failed.”

Hermione stood and started to pace. “But this could still mean that someone got the instructions for the poison from Bellatrix and is fulfilling her promise to poison Harry.”

“But why go to such an elaborate plan?” Ron said irritably. “Why bother with all of this?”

“I don’t know,” Audrey said. “I have been trying to quietly work through the list of people who could make the poison, but none of them is a good candidate. Potions masters are notoriously reclusive and after Voldemort took over most of them went in to hiding to avoid him.”

Hermione came back to the table and stood behind Ron, her hands on his shoulders. “I wish we could ask Snape. He’d know if any students showed that level of promise.”

“We could try Slughorn,” Ron reminded her, patting one of her hands. “Maybe it was an older person doing it.”

“Maybe,” Hermione said. “Probably. They’d have to be very skilled to get through all of it.”

Harry shook his head and sighed. “Maybe.”

Audrey and Percy stood. “We need to be getting home.”

Harry stood too. “Thanks for coming.”

“Happy Birthday,” Audrey wished him as they headed for the front door. After they’d left Harry came back to the table and fell heavily in his seat. “Did you find anything out about Crabbe’s mum, Hermione?”

“Yes,” Hermione said, going over to a bag that was sitting behind the sofa. She pulled out a wad of parchment and came back over, laying everything out on the table as she sat. “Her name is Isabella Crabbe. Her maiden name was Greengrass, and I dug more and found out that she’s the aunt to our former classmate, Daphne Greengrass. Her older sister, who is Goyle’s mum, is Fiona Goyle.”

Amazed, as always, at her researching prowess, he asked, “How did you find all of this out?”

“It was easy,” Hermione grinned. “I went to the hall of records in the Ministry and was told I couldn’t see anything. I went up to Kingsley’s office, waited a bit till he was free, and after I explained what I was after I got his go ahead to access anything I wanted.”

Harry chuckled appreciatively. “It’s handy having the Minister of Magic on your side. What did you learn about Goyle’s mum?”

“Not much,” Hermione admitted. “She got a few OWLs, but no NEWTs. I got the impression that she wasn’t very bright from the notes on her. Crabbe’s mum didn’t achieve any OWLs, but it didn’t give any further details.

“How old is she? She didn’t look like she was very old.”

“Let me look,” Hermione said as she flipped through her notes. “I know I wrote it down and she’s really young. She’s…” she paged through and then paused. “She’s 34 years old.”

They both stared at her. “But…” Harry said slowly. “She had a full grown son.”

“Bloody hell, she must have had him at…” Ron did the math quickly. “Fifteen? Or sixteen? That’s unreal.”

Hermione nodded slowly. “That throws her out as a suspect and explains why she didn’t have any OWLs. She’d have left school before the end of her fifth year because she was pregnant.”

“She wouldn’t have had the skill,” Harry agreed. “At least Ginny will be seventeen when Hope is born.”

“You know,” Hermione interjected. “I really like that name. It seems just perfect, somehow.”

Harry tried not to beam like an idiot but it was a close thing. “Every day that passes it seems like things are getting better. Ginny still can’t eat much without getting ill, but Martha said it wasn’t uncommon for women who get really sick to stay that way through their entire pregnancy. It was part of why the feeding line had been developed about ten years ago.”

Ron clapped him on the back. “I think she’s going to make it through.”

“She’s got such a cute little belly,” Hermione said happily. “I can’t believe she’s made so many changes in just a few weeks. She looked like she was going to starve to death right after your wedding and now she’s getting quite a round figure.”

Harry had spent a happy twenty minutes that morning nestled up to Ginny as she slept, with his hand on her rounding belly. She definitely looked pregnant now, although her stomach was still small enough that she could hide it if she wanted to.

“Are you nervous about being a dad?” Ron asked him.

“He’s already a dad,” Hermione corrected. “He just doesn’t have to change nappies yet.”

“That’s going to be a whole other adventure,” Harry said and found that he was quite looking forward to it. “Speaking of which…” he went over to one of the book cases that Hermione had insisted that they needed and from the top shelf pulled down the book that Rita had sent him. “Here.”

Ron read over her shoulder, “Harry Potter, The Savior? Why are you giving it to Hermione?”

“Because I can’t stomach the thought of reading it,” Harry said honestly as he looked pleadingly at Hermione. “Be a pal and read it for me, will you?”

Hermione stared down at it for a solid ten seconds before she took it. “I’m only going to do this for you because you already have too much on your plate.”

He swept her up into a hard hug. “Thank you.”

“Oh believe me, I’m going to figure out a way for you to pay me back for this,” Hermione grumbled.

Back to index


Chapter 19: Chapter 19

Author's Notes: TRIGGER WARNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is the bad chapter.

Thank you Arnel for beta'ing, my husband for patting my back (literally) while I post this, and for JP and your prodding to write what isn't always popular.

I dedicate this chapter to my three amazing, beautiful, perfect sons, Zach, Toby and Simon. Time does not heal all wounds and the empty places in my heart will never be filled. I will miss you until we are together again.

I lost three babies in the second trimester. I wrote this to try and cope. It’s been more horrible to live than I have words to describe. I appreciate you reading and sharing my journey of healing with me.

I know I have said I'd be brave and take whatever everyone threw at me for writing this, but I've ripped my heart out and put on the page what I've lived three times. I've healed from it, because writing is healing for me, but the wounds are still scabbed so if you could go easy on me, I would appreciate it. I know what I'm doing sucks. I know it's mean and awful. I know because I've lived it. I know. I stand at my sons' graves on Mother's Day. So if you really hate it, okay, but know I didn't just do this for kicks. I have some really big pain that I needed to get out. If you want to skip this chapter, and wait for chapter 21 (the next one isn't a lot better) I will completely understand.


Wednesday August 11th

“Harry birthday, Gin,” she heard Harry whisper.

She blinked her eyes open to find him smiling at her with so much love in his eyes that her heart wanted to melt inside her chest. “Thanks,” she replied. Harry leaned in to kiss her tenderly and she spent several happy moments lost in the feel of his soft lips on hers. She only broke away when she couldn’t fight off a yawn any longer. Ginny turned onto her back a bit. It was getting uncomfortable to sleep on her back now because the baby was pushing on everything and she’d wake up with heartburn when she accidentally rolled onto her back, but it also left her sides stiff and aching by morning.

“Do you want to eat anything?” Harry asked, rolling over so that he could pull her to his side.

“I don’t think so,” Ginny said as she rubbed at her belly. Something was tickling her, but she didn’t find anything except her pajamas. Frowning, she looked down at her belly and felt it again, almost like a feather was fluttering in her stomach.

“What?” Harry asked, suddenly concerned. “Are you okay?”

Confused, she looked at him and then back down as she felt it again. Realization and hope blossomed in her so suddenly that it was almost painful. Ginny put her hand back on her belly and pressed down gently on the mound and waited.

“What?” Harry asked again, really starting to panic.

She couldn’t take her eyes from her belly. “I think I’m feeling her move.”

“What?” He asked, but this time with shock and reverence. “You’re feeling her?”

“I think so,” she said, “hold on.”

Harry nodded and waited with her. A moment later she felt it again, like a butterfly was trying to fly around in her stomach. “Oh…” Ginny breathed out, completely in awe. “I’m feeling her!” Tears began to pool in her eyes as she looked at Harry and saw that his eyes were also suspiciously bright. “I’m feeling our baby!”

Harry nodded and buried his face into her neck. “That’s a really great birthday present,” he said finally, his voice a little scratchy. “Makes the necklace I got you seem really paltry.”

“You got me a necklace?” Ginny asked turning to him.

“I did,” Harry laughed. He got up and bent down to speak to their child. “Hope, you showed me up.” He tenderly kissed her stomach, cupping her belly with his hand and saw that his hand could no longer cover her whole stomach. “I’m so glad you did.” Hope wiggled inside of her again.

Ginny ran her fingers through Harry’s hair. “She moved when you talked to her.”

“Yeah?” Harry asked hopefully, looking up at her. At her encouraging nod, he turned back to her belly. “Hope…” his voice cracked a bit. “I love you so much. I’m so glad you’re growing bigger.”

The baby moved again and Ginny gasped in wonder. “She must know your voice.” Laying her hand back on her belly, she sniffed once. “You have the best Daddy, Hope.”

Harry grinned at her in gratitude. “You have the best Mummy, too.”

“This is definitely going to top it for birthdays,” Ginny said joyously. “I’m never going to forget this one.”

~*~

Sunday August 23rd

Ginny curled into a ball, half-awake as she tried to ignore the need to use the loo. She cracked an eye open but saw it was still dark and she could hear Harry breathing deeply next to her. She rolled over, trying to ignore it but it only got worse. She tentatively got up and grabbed the pole as a wave of nausea overtook her. She clung to the pole and started to slowly walk to the bathroom. It felt like every step took her an hour. She felt something warm and wet start to trickle down her legs and groaned. She couldn’t believe she’d wet herself. Embarrassment warred with feeling wretched and feeling wretched won. “Harry?” She managed to croak out.

“Hm?” He mumbled and rolled over. She could see from the dim moonlight that he was looking at her. “What’s up?”

“I need help going to the loo,” she told him.

“‘Kay,” he yawned and put on his glasses as he got up. He walked over and put his arm around her waist just as another cramp hit her. She moaned and nearly doubled up in his arms. “What’s wrong?” Harry asked suddenly.

“I’m going to be sick,” she said, falling limp in his arms as her stomach rolled and her muscles lost all of their strength. Harry picked her up and managed to carry her and the pole to the bathroom. He set her down at the toilet and got the light just as Ginny heaved what little was in her stomach into the toilet.

She heard Harry’s strangled cry, but couldn’t look at him when he called out for Kreacher to go get Martha. She heaved until her stomach ached and her throat felt like it was going to burst into flames. She felt Harry’s hands on her back and finally she looked up at him. His face was white as a sheet. “What-” but then something bright caught her eye and she looked down to see a crimson stain spreading onto the cold tile floor. No. Her mind sputtered to a stop. She couldn’t process it. She couldn’t be bleeding. She couldn’t be bleeding. If she was bleeding then something was wrong and nothing could be wrong. She was seventeen weeks pregnant so nothing was going to go wrong now!

Ginny didn’t speak as Harry picked her up again and took her back to the bed. There was a buzzing in her ears so loud that nothing Harry said registered. She curled into a ball, trying to hold her baby in and keep her safe. She ignored Harry’s hand on her head and ignored the voices that filled the room. Nothing mattered but her baby. Nothing mattered but that she not move so that Hope could stay in and alive.

“Ginny, I need you to lie flat,” Martha said firmly as she tugged Ginny onto her back. “Come on, I need to look at the baby.”

Ginny turned onto her back and closed her eyes as her heart pounded painfully. She felt Harry take her hand. She couldn’t watch. She couldn’t watch. If she didn’t watch then everything was still okay. Everything was fine and Hope was going to move any minute so that she’d know that the she was still alive. That there was still hope.

She heard Martha mutter a spell and waited, waited to hear that she was being silly and that the blood was normal. Then she heard the spell repeated and waited again as the dread swamped her and the tears began to pour out from her closed eyes. No. No. Her mind started to scream even as her lips stayed silent as she heard Harry let out a sob next to her and pull her into his arms.

No.

Harry’s tears soaked into her shoulder as he held her close and she heard someone else enter the room. She still didn’t open her eyes as the two voices left and closed the door.

No.

Harry rocked her as his shoulders shook with pain and grief and she lay limp, not able to take in anything.

Because Hope was fine. She’d felt her move the night before. She would move now. The effort it took to move her arm was extraordinary. Ginny put her hand on her belly and waited. Waited for movement. Please baby, please Hope… please, please move for Mummy, please. The begging in her head went on and on.

Hope didn’t move.

More tears poured out. She couldn’t be… she couldn’t have…

“Ginny…” Harry’s voice was thick with tears and pain so deep that it confirmed what she already knew and didn’t have any way of accepting. She felt him kiss her temple as she turned into him, letting his arms surround her as she fell apart.

Minutes or hours later Ginny felt a handkerchief pressed into her hand and she blew her nose as the tears continued to pour out. “Ginny,” she heard her mother’s gentle voice say as she stroked her brow. “Ginny, sweetheart, I am so sorry.” She heard the tears in her mum’s voice but couldn’t get up the energy to turn from Harry’s arms to look at her.

Ginny heard her mother and Harry talking and Harry shifted. Panicking, she clung to him not wanting him to leave her. “I’m not going anywhere, Ginny,” he whispered into her hair. “I just need a drink of water.”

Nodding, she let go so he could take a glass and drink. She should be thirsty. After Fred died she’d cried for days and no amount of water could quench the thirst. No amount of comfort could stop the grief.

This grief came back like the tide, washing in over her and she began to sob again. Harry pulled her back into his arms and stroked a hand up and down her back. The pain stabbed into her so deeply that she couldn’t breathe for the agony. Her baby was dead.

Her child had died. Hope was…

Another cramp hit her and she moaned as she curled into a ball.

“She’s in labor,” she heard her mother tell Harry.

She breathed, trying to fight the pain which ripped at her insides with claws.

Ginny heard someone come in the room and felt a hand on her forehead, heard talking above her.

“Labor might last hours,” Martha said.

“Can you give her something for the pain?” Harry asked.

Ginny shook her head. She didn’t want anything to numb the pain. Nothing could numb this pain. “No.”

“Ginny, please take something,” Harry begged her. “Please.”

“No,” she breathed out as another wave came upon her and the pain began to build. “Owww.”

“We can help her deal with the pain without potions,” Martha said. “Ginny, would you like to get in a bath? It will help with the pain. Lying flat on the bed is one of the worst positions for labor.”

She must have nodded because shortly she felt them helping her up, undressing her. Harry picked her up and carried her back to the bathtub, gently laying her in the warm water which instantly soothed her. Ginny cupped her stomach as another wave crested. She looked down and saw the blood.

So much blood stained the water a bright red and left no room for doubt that Death was here.

She tried to sit up and felt the feeding line pull. “Take this out,” she barked, grabbing at it with her other hand.

She felt a strong hand stop her. “We can’t take it out, Ginny. You need to leave it alone.”

Ginny grabbed for it, trying to pull it out, reveling in the pain in her arm because it drew her mind from the pain that was breaking her heart in two. “I don’t need it anymore! Hope is dead! I don’t need it!”

“You do need it,” Martha said gently but firmly. “You’re still ill Ginny.”

“I don’t care,” she sobbed, curling into a ball in the crimson water. “I don’t care. I can die, I don’t care anymore.”

She ignored the anguished sob from Harry and her mother as she continued to cry, drawing tighter into a ball.

“Harry,” she heard Martha say. “I want you to put on a bathing suit and get in with her. I think she needs your support.”

Another wave hit and Ginny nearly came out of the tub. “Ow ow ow oooooooo!” She moaned, sobbing. “No, owww!”

“I’m here,” Harry said, moving her a bit so he could sit behind her. The water splashed around her as her body tried to split in half. “Ginny lean on me.”

She fell back into him panting, trying to catch her breath. “I can’t do this.”

“They’re building, Ginny,” Martha told her. “That’s a good sign. If you fight the pain it will hurt more. If you let go and let it work, it will be easier on you.”

“I can’t…” Ginny cried again as another contraction hit. She got onto her knees, her head on Harry’s shoulder with her arms around his neck as she felt Martha pressing points on her lower back. “I can’t…”

On and on it went. Wave after wave came for what felt like years as she moved where her body told her to move. “No…” she cried when she was only managing one breath between the contractions which were coming faster and faster. “I can’t, ouch, I CAN’T!” Ginny yelled it at the top of her lungs, letting out a guttural cry that felt like it shook the whole world. She turned onto her side, turning into Harry’s bare chest, clinging to him as she cried from the pain and the grief as his arms came around her, holding her in close.

Something popped and she felt another wave of pain wash over her then slide away.

“Ginny, look down,” Martha said gently.

“I can’t,” Ginny cried burying her face into Harry’s chest. “I can’t.”

“Sweetheart, look at your baby,” her mother encouraged gently. “She’s beautiful, Ginny.”

Ginny looked down and saw her tiny baby, still red from the blood, but so beautiful that she was drawn to pick her up from the water. She didn’t weight more than an apple and she was slightly longer than Ginny’s hands. She had to use both to hold her wet little body. “Hope,” she whispered.

Harry leaned forward and using his index finger took her tiny hand. Her whole hand was smaller than the tip of his finger.

Words failed her. She couldn’t comprehend holding her child and yet could not ever fathom letting her go.

“She’s beautiful,” Harry said thickly. “She’s just perfect.”

She was. Her little face looked just like a baby’s face should look. Her eyes were closed and to Ginny’s utter amazement she had perfect little fingernails.

The tears began again and she felt, although she did not acknowledge it, another smaller contraction that pushed out a large reddish-orange blob. She saw in her periphery as Martha pull it from the water and move away.

Her mother sat down on the floor next to the tub, knocking a bit in the feeding pole. “Ginny, she’s amazing.” Molly reached out and gently touched her foot.

Very suddenly Ginny wanted out of the tub, away from the red, wanting Hope away from the blood. Ginny looked into her mother’s tear stained face. “Mum, can you hold her so I can get out?”

“I’d be honored,” Molly whispered and gently she took the baby from Ginny. She stood, cradling her grandchild in her hands while Harry helped Ginny stand and dry off.

Leaning heavily on Harry, Ginny walked back to her bed and saw that it had been cleaned up. She got into the bed, propped up with some pillows while Martha examined the baby in Molly’s palms. “Audrey is coming,” she told Ginny as she wrapped the baby in a small, soft blanket.

“Here,” Harry said holding out a clean shirt. He helped her put it on.

Molly came over with underpants and a large pad and in short order Ginny was tucked back in. Her stomach was still cramping some, but it had faded from the intense rage that it had been mere minutes before. Harry sat with her and Martha gave Hope back to her.

She didn’t have any hair, so she couldn’t tell what color it might have been. Tears began to flow again, but this time it they didn’t destroy her. She couldn’t fall apart. She had to hold onto Hope.

“Can I hold her?” Harry asked quietly and she nodded, and handed the swaddled baby to her daddy. She was smaller than his hands. She looked even smaller in his hands. Harry’s lip trembled as he brought her up for a delicate kiss. “I love you,” he told her. “I love you, Hope.”

Ginny couldn’t speak as more tears washed down her cheeks. She let Harry hold her until she couldn’t stand it anymore, and the ache in her heart made her reach for her baby. Harry passed her back and she kissed her, and held her and cried. Harry’s arms stayed steady around her as his sobs mingled with hers.

Audrey came in along with the rays of the morning sun to examine Hope. She unwrapped the blanket and ran her wand over her, but Ginny didn’t know what she expected to find. Hope was perfect. She was amazing and there was nothing to find.

“She’s beautiful, Ginny,” Audrey promised as she carefully wrapped the baby back in her blanket. “Are you tired?”

Ginny shook her head, fighting off the complete exhaustion. She couldn’t sleep, sure that something else would happen if she slept.

“Gin,” Harry said gently. “You can sleep. Your mum or I will hold Hope for you. We- we’ll keep her safe.”

She looked into the red rimmed emerald eyes and nodded slowly. She handed her baby over, and lay back. In seconds she slept.

~*~

Harry looked down at his tiny, perfect baby and felt another wave of grief wash over him. He glanced at Ginny. Her skin was ashen except for the red splotches from crying.

“Harry?” Audrey said softly as she sat at the foot of the bed. Her shoulders sagged as he looked at her. “Harry, the placenta is orange tinted.”

“What?” he asked, not understanding.

“The placenta is what feeds the baby. It’s the connection between the mother and baby. It’s orange,” she said wearily. She tucked her short hair behind her ear. “I think that the antidote to the poison didn’t make it through.”

He closed his eyes, understanding what that meant. “Did… did she suffer?”

“No,” Audrey promised. “No, she was watched daily, Harry. If she’d been suffering or in pain we would have seen it when she was being monitored. I think that the poison was infecting the placenta, but that it didn’t make it to Hope. There is a barrier between everything. It’s very complicated, but the placenta shows signs of being ill. Besides being the wrong color, it was smaller than we’d normally see. Hope is perfect, though.”

“So… so what does that mean? Why did she die?” He swallowed hard and fought to keep his composure.

Audrey closed her eyes and seemed to be counting in her head. When she finally looked at Harry it was with sorrow and tears. “I think that the baby just stopped getting enough nutrients and she couldn’t keep going.”

“She starved to death?” Harry hated that he’d asked. He didn’t want to know. He didn’t want to think about his daughter suffering.

“Not in the way you think about it. It was more like a gentle drifting away and she couldn’t keep up.”

There was a knock at the door and he saw Ron and Hermione. Hermione was crying hard as they came in. “Harry…” she came over and hugged him around the shoulders before looking down at the baby. “Oh she’s so small!” She wept even as she reached for the bundle. She cradled her to her.

Harry looked over to Ron and saw tears dripping down his long nose. He shuffled over and sat next to Hermione. “We’re so sorry,” he said gruffly. Hermione held her out to Ron and carefully he took his niece. “She’s just like a little doll.”

“How is Ginny?” Hermione asked, looking over at his sleeping wife.

“I don’t know,” Harry said honestly as a fist clenched around his heart. “She hasn’t said much.”

Arthur came in next and Audrey excused herself. He came over and took Hope from Ron, held her tenderly and a few tears fell down onto her tiny blanket. No words were spoken, but none were needed.

Finally he said, “We’ve contacted the rest of the family. Everyone is here except Charlie and he said he’d be here in a few hours.”

Harry nodded. They were going to have to have a service. “I can’t decide anything until Ginny wakes up.”

Arthur nodded with his head and Ron and Hermione got up and went out. His father-in-law sat next to him, one hand holding the baby and the other on his shoulder. “This is up to you. Ginny isn’t going to be fit to make any decisions, at least not for a while. A father’s grief is terrible and unimaginable, but for a mother it is worse.”

Arthur hugged him, the tiny baby between them and Harry began to cry again. He didn’t even bother to try to hide it. He wasn’t ashamed of it. His daughter was dead and he needed to cry, to mourn her loss. “Okay,” Harry finally said. “We’ll bury her here. We can’t move Ginny; she’s too weak. We can’t go to the cemetery.”

“No,” Arthur agreed. “Do you know where?”

He nodded. “I’m going to dig her… her grave,” he said, sucking in air. “I promised Ginny that I wouldn’t leave, though.”

Arthur kissed the baby gently and handed her back. “Molly will come back up and hold her. Everyone else wants to see her, to say goodbye.”

Harry nodded. “Just don’t take her from the room. Ginny-”

“I know,” Arthur said gently and minutes later Molly was back and he handed over her granddaughter to her and went downstairs.

Everyone took turns hugging him and telling him how sorry they were. It didn’t really mean much, not when there was a hole in his heart that no words could ever fill. He saw Bill and Fleur head for the stairs to see the baby. He saw Audrey in the kitchen with something in a bowl but he didn’t go look. Arthur and Ron were waiting for him by the back door and he followed them out. He found a shovel in the tool shed and made his way past the tree where he’d hung the swing.

A swing that Hope would never get to ride on.

He went over the bridge, hearing the stream’s babble but not really taking it in, to where the benches were situated in the clearing among a copse of trees. He walked to the big oak that Ginny loved and that they’d spent many hours under over the last month. He stepped back a bit from the roots and began to dig, overwhelmed with the thought that he was digging a grave for his child and reminded forcibly of the grave he’d dug for Dobby. The pain he felt now, though, was beyond words or measure.

Ron and Arthur had both offered to help, but he shook his head and continued to dig down into the wet, cold soil.

Hermione and Bill came out a few minutes later with a large, flat stone that was mostly square. Bill set it down and without a word Hermione began to carve Hope’s name with her wand into it, followed by the date underneath.

When all was prepared, he accepted Ron’s offered hand up and they silently moved back to the house. The house smelled of food and comfort. Low mummers filled the rooms and he thought fleetingly of a church during a funeral. Well, Harry thought as he slowly climbed the stairs feeling older than he ever had before, that was exactly what it is. He showered quickly and went back to his room to find Martha and Audrey examining Ginny again.

Inextricably needing to hold is child, he carefully took the baby from Molly and sat back down next to Ginny. “Is she okay?”

“I think the poison has been stored in the placenta and has been filtering back in to her,” Audrey said quietly, not wanting to wake Ginny. “I will need to make another antidote for her.”

Harry closed his eyes and leaned back against the headboard. Every time he thought this day couldn’t get any worse, it did.

Back to index


Chapter 20: Chapter 20

Author's Notes: “You just keep living until you’re alive again.” from Call The Midwife Season 3

Readers, you showered me in many kind words of encouragement last chapter. You have no idea what that meant to me. I was so vulnerable posting it, and you helped me to feel better about opening my heart. It's always a gamble, thank you for being gentle with me.

This chapter is also difficult. Maybe tissue worthy, maybe not. After this things will even out some and we will start to get to the bad guy.

Thank you, thank you, thank you again for all of your kind words! I appreciate it more than I can express.
Thank you Arnel for all your beta help! ~Sarah


Sunday August 23rd

“I will need to make another antidote for her.”

Ginny heard Audrey’s voice, but did not fully process it. She didn’t want to wake up. Something was wrong. Something was crushing her from the inside and if she slept she didn’t have to face it.

“Charlie is here,” she heard her mother say. “Luna and Neville also arrived.”

Why are they here?

“Charlie wants to come up, is that alright?”

Movement, shuffling, crying… Charlie’s voice and the bed rocked as someone sat down.

“She’s so small,” Charlie said quietly.

Then Ginny remembered and a cry burst from her lips as arms came around her and the pain, which had been kept at bay by the bliss of sleep, flooded back and she remembered why it felt like part of her soul had died.

“Ginny,” Harry whispered into her hair as he held her. “Shhh, I have you.”

But it didn’t feel like it was enough; like she would never be whole again because Hope was dead. Slowly the sobs subsided until all that was left was a headache and a numbness that was nearly paralyzing.

“Here,” Charlie said gently and he held Hope out for her.

Ginny gazed down onto the tiny face and she knew why they were all here. She knew that they’d come for her and to be there while she and Harry said goodbye. Her tiny face, so perfect and still in death and Ginny fought to remain calm. She looked to Harry, the question she wanted to ask in her eyes even as she couldn’t form the words.

“Everything is ready,” he told her, kissing the top of her head. “George has made a box for Hope.”

She watched Charlie circle the bed and bring over the small wooden box, smaller than a shoebox.

She heard someone stand and say something about the family before she left, but Ginny couldn’t focus on that. She needed every cell in her body to put her baby into the box. But she couldn’t make her arms work. They wouldn’t move.

Looking back to Harry, her lip trembling she shook her head once. Turning back to Hope she let the tears rain down and the world fade away as she focused on her tiny child. “I… l love you Hope. I’m so sorry I…”

“Ginny don’t,” Harry said gently, hugging her tight. “You don’t have anything to be sorry for.”

She did, even if he wouldn’t admit it. Ginny had failed her. She’d not been strong enough to keep Hope alive. She kissed her one last time and buried her face in Harry’s shoulder.

Harry gently took the baby from her and after another kiss and whispered goodbye, he put their daughter into the box that Charlie was still holding.

Ginny clung to him and Harry said they’d need a few more minutes. She panicked, “No! Don’t take-”

“She’s staying with us, Ginny,” Harry reassured her. “Not until you say so.”

She nodded and saw that Charlie had set her box in the middle of their bed before he’d left. “I can’t do this,” she moaned. “I can’t, Harry.”

He nodded into her hair, rocking her back and forth. “We’ll wait until you’re ready.”

Sudden anger filled her and she wanted to lash out and hit him for his calm and for not caring, but even as it flared the rage ebbed. She still felt his tears sliding into her hair and knew his heart was broken too. “How am I going to live through this?” Her voice was so small and defeated that it shocking to realize that it had come from her.

“I… I don’t know,” Harry answered sounding like he had a terrible head cold. “I guess we’ll try one day at a time.”

She sat in the safety of arms and willed the strength to come; willed the calm to fill her. Finally, she whispered, “I’m ready,” even though she wasn’t sure she’d ever be ready.

Harry put her down and left the room. Moments later her dad and George came in. George hugged her hard but didn’t speak as he unhooked her bag and grabbed the pole.

Harry and her father fit the lid onto Hope’s box. Ginny shut her eyes and didn’t open them again until Harry picked her up. She realized belatedly that sometime while she was sleeping someone had put sweat pants on her. She wanted to hold on to Harry, to make it easier on him, but there was no strength left in her. It took all her will just to be.

Harry followed behind her father down the stairs. Her dad was carrying Hope and she saw that the house was empty and silent. They walked out the back and over the bridge to the little clearing that she loved; to the family that stood with red eyes waiting silently for them.

She saw the hole in the ground and closed her eyes again, unable to watch. Harry set her down on one benches and her mother sat with her, her arms around her.

Words were spoken, but they didn’t mean much to her. Harry said something, her father spoke and so did Bill and Hermione. Then Harry carefully lowered Hope’s box into the ground and gently started to replace the displaced earth. Ginny lost her fight and sobbed into her mother’s shoulder even as hands and arms came to sooth her from all sides.

Harry knelt before her and she saw his bloodshot eyes and the grief in every line of his face. “Do you want to stay out here for a bit with me?”

She nodded and everyone kissed her and hugged Harry before making their way back to the house. Harry sat and pulled her onto his lap, holding her in close. Automatically she placed her hand on her empty womb. It had become habit, but there was no reason to do so anymore. The mound of her belly didn’t mean life. It was all Death.

She looked around towards the grave and saw a beautifully carved stone that said ‘Hope Potter 23rd August 1998’

They sat in silence as they world continued on around them.

~*~

“Do you want to eat anything?” Her mother asked her later that evening.

“No,” Ginny said, not turning to look. She didn’t need to eat. She never wanted to eat again.

Her mother touched her arm and leaned in to kiss her cheek. “Ginny… darling, I know how much you’re hurting.”

She nearly snapped that she didn’t, but Fred’s face filled her mind and shame washed through her. Ginny slowly turned to her and looked at her through the haze of moisture in her eyes. “How did you go on? I thought I knew… but…”

“There is no pain that comes close to losing your child,” Molly told her, not even bothering to wipe away her tears. “You just keep living until you’re alive again.”

“Mum, I’m so sorry about Fred. I know this doesn’t compare but-”

Her mother cut her off. “This isn’t a competition. It’s different having known Fred for years, but he is still my baby. Hope is still your baby. Those things are the same and they hurt the same.”

Ginny nodded, not sure what else to say. Her mother hugged her. “You will be okay someday. I will be okay someday. There will always be an empty space in your heart because she’s gone, but someday you’ll be able to get out of bed and keep going.” Her mother looked across the room, seeing distances that were only in her mind. “In a way I was lucky because I had all of you there to pull me through.” She turned back and brushed Ginny’s hair back. “And you are so lucky to have such a wonderful husband. You need to lean on each other, Ginny. If you don’t grieve together the pain will tear you two apart.”

She nodded and turned to see Audrey come in with a large glass. “I need you to drink this Ginny.”

Ginny pushed herself up to sitting and eyed it. “What is it?”

“It’s an antidote,” Audrey explained. “It tastes terrible so try to get it down in one go. I’m hoping you don’t throw it up.”

Ginny held the glass and closed her eyes before downing it. It was revolting and for a moment she did think it was going to make a return trip, but after only a few seconds her system settled. “That was awful. Why-”

Audrey took the glass and gently pushed her back down. “You need to sleep now. When you’re awake again, we will answer some questions.”

“Can you get Harry for me, Mum?” Ginny asked her, feeling a tug at her heart and needing the comfort that only he could give her now.

“I will,” Molly said and squeezed her shoulder.

Harry was there a moment later, lying down with her and wordlessly pulling her into his arms. Moments later she drifted off.

~*~

Monday August 24th

The sun was barely up when Harry made his way down to the kitchen. It hurt to move, hurt to walk and to continue on. He walked over to the kitchen and found Arthur and Molly sitting at the table with Audrey. They were drinking coffee and talking softly. The eyes that met his held compassion and understanding. He reached for the mug that Kreacher handed him and sat down at the head of the table, just staring into the dark depths.
Audrey broke the silence. “I checked on Ginny while you were both still asleep. She’s showing signs of fighting off the poison.”

Harry nodded relieved, but not able to look up. “Good.”

“Harry…” Audrey’s voice was filled with remorse that he looked up finally. “I’m sorry I didn’t check her sooner.”

“What?” He asked, unsure what she meant.

“The poison… I just assumed it was gone. I didn’t think to check after the first few days,” Audrey explained. “I… I don’t know that it would have made a difference, but…”

“No,” Harry said, too numb to get mad. “You saved both of our lives and you did the best you could.”

She shook her head. “Ginny’s been under the influence of the poison for weeks now. I don’t think it has done any irreversible harm to her body, but…”

He waited for her to continue, but she seemed to struggle for words. “But what?”

“I… I don’t think you should have another baby right away. Martha and I talked about it last night and we think it best to wait at least six months, maybe a year,” Audrey said apologetically. “I know a lot of couples want to try again, but we need to make sure that Ginny gets time to heal and to make sure there is no damage.”

Harry hadn’t gotten far enough along to think about more kids. He didn’t even know what to say so he simply nodded.

“I’m going to release a statement to the press if you’re willing,” Arthur said gently. “Hermione and I worked it out last night.”

He nodded again. He didn’t need to be part of that as he trusted them both. “How much should I tell Ginny?”

They were silent for a long time. Finally Arthur spoke up, “The truth when she asks for it, and only when she asks for it.”

He nodded and took a sip of the bitter brew. “Did you hear from Andromeda?”

“Yes, she sent Burt back last night and sends her condolences,” Molly told him. “She also understood why we didn’t want Teddy here. She agreed that it might be too hard for Ginny to see the baby right now.”

Harry deliberately released the tight grip on his cup, relaxing his hands before he broke it. Part of him longed to scoop up his godson and never let go while another part knew that seeing the baby would be a painful reminder of what they’d lost. He forced more coffee past the lump in his throat.

“I also let Robards know that you won’t be in this week,” Arthur told him.

“We’re going to head out in a bit,” Molly said. “We know you and Ginny need time just the two of you, but we’ll be in and out and you can always send word if you need us.”

“I’m taking over Ginny’s care,” Audrey told him. “Martha and I have agreed that’s best. I’m going to continue what Martha has done and make house calls daily for at least the next week. If she’s doing better I’ll remove the feeding line then.”

He couldn’t do more than nod. They left shortly after and he still sat, staring into his cold coffee.

“Master,” Kreacher said coming up to him at the table. “Mistress is waking.”

“Okay,” Harry mumbled. “Thanks.” He got to his feet, feeling every joint ache as he moved up the stairs. He hadn’t eaten breakfast, but he wasn’t really hungry. He’d eaten the night before under the watchful eye of two healers and Molly Weasley, but today he didn’t know that he needed food.

He walked into the dim bedroom and saw Ginny staring at the wedding photo on their dresser, silvery tracks making their way down her cheeks into the pillow.

He didn’t speak as he got into bed behind her and curled around her, trying his best to hold her together as the sobs tore from her, shaking her whole body. He didn’t have any comforting words to offer. There were none to be had so he simply held on until it passed.

“I hurt so much,” Ginny hiccupped. “I don’t even know how to…”

“I know,” Harry managed to choke out. He didn’t know what to say, didn’t know how to help and Hermione’s words came back to him clearly that he couldn’t save her if he was drowning himself.

Ginny turned in his arms and he lay flat so she could rest her head on his shoulder. “I’m sorry.”

“You don’t have anything to be sorry about,” Harry said immediately, burying a hand in her soft hair. “You did everything you could.”

“It wasn’t enough.”

He closed his eyes and pulled her tighter to him. “The blame for this falls more on me than on you.”

There was a long pause and then she asked, “Why did I need an antidote.”

The time had come much sooner than he’d hoped, but she’d asked and he could now answer. “We were poisoned in St. Mungo’s by a slow acting poison.”

“What?” Ginny gasped, sitting up and looking at him. “How long have you known?”

He looked into her big, brown eyes and hated the answer. “Since the first day I met Audrey.”

Shock filled her face. “That extra strengthening solution…”

“Was the first antidote you were given,” Harry confirmed, hating himself more in that moment than he ever had, knowing that to get to him someone had done this to Ginny, had doomed Hope to such a short life.

She bit her lip and studied him. “Are there a lot of other things you haven’t told me?”

“Yes,” he answered simply, taking her hand. “I’ll tell you if you really want, but I’d rather we spread it out a bit.”

Ginny watched him for a moment longer and then nodded. “Am I going to have to keep the feeding line in for a while?”

“Until we’re sure you’re past the danger point, yeah,” Harry said, tugging her back into his arms, needing the connection.

They lay entwined for nearly an hour, just soaking in the comfort of each other. “Did you eat?” she asked.

“I’m not hungry,” he told her honestly.

“Kreacher,” Ginny called out and with a crack the elf appeared. “Can you get Harry some toast and juice, please?”

“Yes, Mistress,” Kreacher said before vanishing again with another loud crack.

“I’m not hungry,” Harry repeated.

She turned her head up to look at him. “How many times did I say that to you before I got the feeding line in? Did you ever let me get away with not eating?”

“No,” he sighed already dreading choking down the toast.

~*~

The nightmare woke her a few short hours after falling asleep, leaving her covered in sweat and gasping. As she opened her eyes the dream fled and she was left with a pounding heart and fear coursing through her.

“It’s okay, Gin,” Harry said pulling her down again. “I’m here, it was just a dream.”

But the nightmare didn’t end because she knew that her baby lay in her grave and that she’d never hold her again. “I miss her so much.”

“I know,” he said. “I miss her, too.”

Ginny closed her eyes again and wished for oblivion, knowing that sleep was not a refuge. Thoughts swirled, jumbled and bounced around in her head, none of them coherent. “What am I going to do with myself now?” She felt purposeless and it was a black pit that spread out before her with no end.

Harry let out a long sigh. “I don’t know. You’ll think of something. Once you’re healed you can try for a spot on the Harpies if you want.”

The Harpies… a dream from another life. “What about…” then she paused, unable to say what she’d been about to say.

“You can’t get pregnant right now,” Harry said gently, rubbing her back. “They’re saying at least six months.”

Ginny nodded and her next thought spilled from her. “If… if I didn’t want to get pregnant again right now, does that mean I didn’t want her?”

“No!” Harry said, and he sounded absolutely certain. “It just means that you’re not ready for this again right now.”

“How do you know?” She asked quietly.

“Because I wanted her, and I don’t know that I’m ready to try for another right now,” he said honestly. “We…” his voice cracked. “We can’t replace her. She’s always going to be our first child.”

That was the heart of it and the sorrow which had abated enough to allow her to speak, came thundering back and she was lost to it again.

~*~

Tuesday August 25th

“I’m putting off going to Hogwarts,” Hermione told her as Ginny tried to eat something like a breakfast. She was still throwing up if she ate more than a small meal.

Ginny shook her head and heard the shower go off. Harry had wanted to wait until Hermione had arrived before getting one. Family still checked in on them daily. “You can’t. You’re the Head Girl, you have to go.”

Fat, silent tears flowed down Hermione’s face as she shook her head. “I don’t want to go.”

“Yes, you do,” Ginny reminded her quietly.

Hermione shook her head and took Ginny’s hand. “I can’t imagine how you’re feeling, but from what I can see on your face… on Harry’s… I can’t leave you. You’re the closest thing I have to a sister and I-”

Ginny tugged at her hand, and pulled her in for a hug. “You are my sister and I love you for saying that, but you have to go. That’s the right thing for you.”

“But…” Hermione broke down completely and Ginny followed suit. They cried in each other’s arms for several minutes.

Ginny glanced up and saw Harry coming in wearing jeans and a white t-shirt, his hair damp. He walked slowly over and wrapped his arms around both of them as they continued to cry.

Back to index


Chapter 21: Chapter 21

Author's Notes: Thank you Arnel for your amazing help!!!!

Okay, take a deep breath, this chapter is not so bad. It's not the misery that the last two were. I hope you like it.


Sunday August 30th

They sat, side by side, holding hands as the light fog swirled around them in the early morning chill. Their thighs brushed as Ginny shifted on the bench to lay her head on Harry’s shoulder. There were no tears at this moment as she gazed upon Hope’s grave. There had been tears earlier, and there would be tears later, but for this moment she felt too hollow for tears.

It had been a week since her baby had died and a week since she’d held her last. Ginny was able to walk around the house, eat small meals without getting sick, and getting upset no longer left her bedridden. They should have been real victories, but they were empty in the face of what it had cost her.

Harry put his arm around her shoulders and she sighed as she leaned in to him, snaking her arms around his waist. He kissed the crown of her head. “I’m going to take another week off.”

“Okay,” Ginny said. It wasn’t a surprise to her. She closed her eyes, just for a moment to enjoy the smell of him, and to soak up his warmth in the unusual chill of the day. “How has it already been a week?” she asked suddenly.

“I don’t know,” Harry told her. “It feels like it was just yesterday, and then sometimes like a few years ago.”

She knew exactly what he meant. Ginny still hurt all the time. Her heart ached constantly and the thought of leaving their house and facing the rest of the world was so daunting that she was glad that she didn’t have to. But as her mum had said, she’d made it out of bed and there were times when the grief ebbed enough for her to be present without being absolutely miserable. Grief was like that. Even if it was constantly there, it didn’t always make itself boldly known.

“Harry? Ginny?”

Ginny turned and saw Audrey walking towards them. The two stood and after Ginny unhooked her feeding line bag, she began to walk, Harry following with the pole. She was hopeful that the line was coming out today.

They didn’t say much as they made their way back to the house and up to their bedroom. Ginny lay down for what was now her routine check. Audrey examined her, checked her weight, palpitated her uterus to make sure it was still shrinking down in size and checked to make sure there was still no poison showing up in her system.

The only day that it had varied had been three days before when Ginny’s milk had come in. Feeling her breasts swell and become painful had been a slap in the face. The pain was nothing; that was less than meaningless. It was knowing she now had milk for a baby who didn’t need it. Harry had held her while she cried and Audrey had pulled out a vial to dry up the milk and then hesitated for the briefest moment.

“What?” Harry had asked.

Audrey sighed and shook her head. “I had an idea, but I’m not sure that you want to even consider it.”

She looked so unsure, so unlike herself that Ginny hardly recognized her. “What?”

“It’s just… there are babies who could really use breast milk that aren’t able to get it,” Audrey explained hesitantly. “Formula is fine for a lot of babies, but some don’t thrive as well on it. You can pump your milk and donate it for a baby who has lost their mother.”

Ginny had just stared at her while Harry had looked extremely flustered. “What?”

“Think about it,” Audrey said quietly. “I’ll leave the potion here. You think about it, and if you want to dry up your milk everyone will understand.”

Ginny had only needed to think about it for an hour before deciding that pumping her milk was something she wanted to do to honor Hope’s life. It wasn’t much, but it was something. Audrey had brought a pump for her, showed her how to use it, and she now had bags of milk stored in a magically cooled chest near their bed.

“Your weight is down a bit more,” Audrey commented. “I expected that. You’re down to nearly your pre-pregnancy weight and you are still showing no signs of the poison. Has the bleeding slowed?”

“Yes, it’s pretty much like a normal period now,” Ginny told her.

“How is pumping going?”

“It’s good,” Ginny told her, sitting up again. “Do you have a baby yet?”

Audrey nodded. “I do, actually. Her mother was killed shortly before the last battle and she’d been steadily losing weight until she switched to donated breast milk. However, our first donor got pregnant again and her milk dried up almost overnight.”

“I’m… I’m glad I can help,” Ginny said, looking down at her lap, to her entwined fingers.

“Martha or I will collect the milk once a week. You can continue as long as you want and if you want to stop, we will understand. The baby will be one near Christmas so our goal is to keep her on the milk until that point if we can.”

Ginny nodded, not looking up.

“I have something else for you that you need to make a decision on,” Audrey said as she pulled out two different bags of vials from her bag. One said ‘180 Days Supply’ and the other said ‘365 Days Supply’. “These are the birth control potions. Normally, I would give you the potion that would last for six months but that would dry up your milk completely. I’m leaving you with a calendar and every four weeks you will need to take one vial, for at least the next six months. Which duration do you want; six months or a year?”

Ginny looked at the bags, then over at Harry who was sitting next to her. “Which should I take?”

“It’s up to you,” Harry said quietly, squeezing her hand. “It’s your body.”

“I’m going to give you two a minute,” Audrey said and she left, closing the door.

She looked into his eyes. “This is our family. You have a say on when we have more kids.”

Harry leaned in and kissed her tenderly, cupping her cheek. “If you want to play Quidditch, then it needs to be a year.”

Ginny had written to Gwenog Jones on Tuesday at Harry’s insistence. She’d met her through Slughorn years before, and had heard back from her the next day saying that if Ginny wanted a spot on the Harpies, she had a guarantee for the reserves with a chance to try for the first team the next year. She’d watched Ginny play in the first match of her fifth year and she’d told Ginny at Slughorn’s Christmas party later that year that she wanted her for the team when she was done with school. At the time Ginny had been stunned and flattered, but it had seemed like such a long way off.

Of course that had been before Hope. It had been before she’d started to plan to be a wife and a mother. “I don’t know what to do.”

“You can just keep the 6 vials and decide later,” Harry reasoned, rubbing her back. “You have to take at least that.”

That seemed so prudent, so well-reasoned. “But what if I want to take the one for a year?”

“Then take that one,” he said. “Ginny, it doesn’t mean anything about Hope. We love her, and we were doing the best we could under the circumstances.”

“But neither of us would have wanted to have kids this soon,” Ginny said, finishing off the thought and feeling a small measure of guilt come off her chest. “I just feel like I’m saying I didn’t want her.”

Harry took her face in his hands and looked into her eyes, his vivid green eyes meeting her brown ones. “No. You wouldn’t be grieving like this if you didn’t want her.”

“So…” Ginny looked between the bottles. “Let’s maybe decide on a year by year basis if we’re going to have a baby. After I stop pumping I guess I can take a bigger dose then… maybe…”

“I think that sounds like a good plan,” he said gently as she reached for a vial from the one year bag and drank it in one go.

Audrey came back in a minute later and put the other bag back in her bag. “I’ll let Martha know and she’ll send you an owl next year to remind you to get the next round of potions. You can decide on a larger dose at any point, though. There is no way to reverse this, so you cannot get pregnant again until four weeks from now, but I cannot stress enough that it would be dangerous for you to get pregnant in the next six months.”

“I understand,” Ginny promised, tucking her long hair behind her ears.

“Also,” Audrey hesitated only for a moment. “It takes a few hours for it to work, so don’t be intimate before tomorrow.”

They both nodded, although truthfully neither had really felt like it over the last week.

“What about the feeding line?” Ginny asked, really wanting to get rid of it.

“I want to keep it in,” Audrey told her and Ginny’s heart sank. “Hear me out. You want to be strong enough to try out for professional Quidditch and you’re pumping. Both of those require more from your body. I think if we give it at least another week that you’ll be much better off and ready to start training and getting back into shape.”

“I really wanted to go to King’s Cross to see Hermione and Luna off to school,” Ginny explained, but at the neutral expression on Audrey’s face she sighed. “You weren’t going to clear me to do that, were you?”

Audrey shook her head. “No, I want you staying here for at least another few weeks.”

“All right,” Ginny sighed. “I guess it doesn’t matter if it stays in, then.”

~*~

Monday September 14th

“Are you sure?” Harry asked, hovering in the door.

“Go,” Ginny ordered, walking over to kiss him. He’d stayed home this whole time with her. They’d cried, and grieved. They’d laughed once or twice. They’d made love, and held each other for hours. They sat by Hope’s grave every day. The pain was still there. The hole in her heart that Hope had taken with her remained unfilled, and Ginny accepted it as she accepted every scar that she carried. It was time to get out of bed and to keep living until she was alive again. “I’m going to George’s shop for a few hours anyway.”

Harry frowned at her. “I still don’t like it.”

“I’ll be fine,” she promised. “No one but George will know I’m there. I’ll stay in the back the whole time. I’ll keep my new and improved DA galleon in my pocket just in case something happens so that I can Portkey home. If I’m going to join the Harpies next month, you have to let go.”

“I don’t want to let go,” Harry sighed, turning away to run his hand distractedly through his already messy hair. “I want to wrap you in cotton wool and keep you in the house.”

Ginny crossed her arms and looked up at him. “How’s that going to play out?”

“You’ll hex me and walk over my body on your way out the door,” Harry said, a reluctant grin spreading on his face. “I can want it, though, even if I can’t do anything about it.”

She shook her head and hugged him. “We both have to face the world now.”

“Yeah, but…”

“What?” She asked.

“Rita Skeeter wrote a book about me,” Harry admitted. “Hermione says she was really fair to you in it, although most of the story is rubbish.”

Ginny nodded slowly. “Okay, so I might encounter some of the press from that while I’m out.”

“Yeah,” he said, cupping the back of her head and leaning down for a kiss. “Alright, I’m off. I’m leaving at five o’clock.”

Ginny nodded. “I love you, and I’ll see you later.”

After he’d gone, she went about getting dressed and went down to find Kreacher in the kitchen cleaning up from Harry’s breakfast. She went for some juice. “Good morning, Mistress, would you like something to eat?”

“Thanks, I can get it,” Ginny told him. “You’ve been working really hard and I appreciate it.”

“Kreacher is just doing his duty, Mistress,” the elf croaked. “I am glad to see you up and moving.”

“I’m glad to be up and moving,” Ginny replied as she went about scrambling some eggs and frying up bacon. “I have a favor to ask and I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but I really want to make dinner tonight.”

Kreacher just looked at her as if he couldn’t hear her through the white hair that stuck out of his ears.

“It’s just…” Ginny bit her lip, trying to think up how to say it without hurting him. “I know I can’t cook as well as you do, but it shows love to cook for someone.”

Kreacher nodded once, still not speaking.

“So just tonight,” she said hurriedly, wanting to reassure him, “I want to make Harry’s dinner, but I do need some help. I can’t go to the market for food. I promised I wouldn’t go out in public today except to my brother’s shop. Can you do that for me if I give you a list?”

“Yes Mistress, Kreacher would be happy to do the marketing,” he said with a bow.

Ginny wrote out a list of what she needed while she ate breakfast and left it out for Kreacher before traveling by Floo powder to the Burrow, breast pump and storage supplies in hand. Their house was still only connected to her parents’ Floo. Her mum fussed over her and only reluctantly let her go so she could Floo to George’s flat above his shop.

“I’m here,” Ginny called out as she entered.

“Hey, Smidge,” George said coming out from the tiny kitchen. “I’m glad you’re up and about,” he told her, giving her a hard hug.

“Me, too,” Ginny agreed with a twinge in her gut. “Where can I store this?”

“What is it?” George asked, coming over to look in the bag.

“A breast pump,” Ginny smiled sweetly.

Stumbling back a bit as though it had fangs, George shook his head. “Uh, over here,” he said, point to an end table.

“I’m going to take breaks a few times to pump, so knock before you come in, alright?” She instructed and George nodded, looking faintly ill. “So what am I doing today?”

Inventory; lots and lots of inventory. It was dirty, sweaty and sometimes dangerous work moving around all the boxes of products and making sure they were all labeled correctly, but it was also rewarding. George had ordered his few staff members to stay out of the back so she was left alone to do something useful. It had been about five days since she’d had the feeding line removed and she’d been afraid that she would feel weak without it, but all of her strength was coming back as though it had never left.

George broke for lunch and they went up to his flat to have sandwiches and talk. At around three o’clock Ginny told him she was knocking off for the day.

“Slacker,” George grumbled good-naturedly.

“I’m slave labor here,” Ginny pointed out. “I can leave whenever I want.”

“If you were actually a slave you’d never leave,” George retorted then gave her a hug. “Come back any time.”

“I probably will tomorrow,” Ginny told him. “I have a few weeks before Quidditch and I’m not ready to be on a broom for hours a day. Audrey said I need to work up to that and this is a good work out.”

George shook his head. “Especially when you don’t move the boxes with magic.”

~*~

Harry’s first day back had gone about how he’d expected. He’d stayed out of most people’s way, just trying to get back into the rhythm of things in the training room. No one had said much, except Susan who’d said she was sorry. He didn’t want anyone’s pity, and he couldn’t think too much about Hope or he’d just break down again. A good, hard training session was just what he’d needed. Plus it gave him time to think as he rapidly fired spells at the training dummies.

He knew there was something he’d missed in all of this. There was something nagging at the back of his brain, begging him to remember. It was almost as if he’d forgotten to ask a very important question about who might have done this to them. But the more he tried to focus on it, the more it eluded him.

“Harry,” Ron called through the door, leaning on the jam. “You said to warn you at quarter to five if you were still in here.”

“Yeah,” Harry said, wiping the sweat from him brow as he went to store the equipment. There was no clock in the training room so it was easy to lose track of time. “Thanks, Ron.”

He made his way back to his desk, and grabbing the mail, left the Ministry to Apparate home.

He walked in the front door and smelled something heavenly. It was a mixture of garlic, butter and rising bread. Instantly, his stomach growled and his mouth began to water. He hung up his cloak and walked back to the kitchen calling out, “Kreacher, that smells ama-” but froze when he saw a long mane of red hair. Ginny’s back was to him, and she had an apron on over her jeans as she worked at the stove.

“Not Kreacher,” Ginny said, amusement in her voice, but she didn’t turn around.

Harry walked up behind her and put his hands on her hips, leaning in to kiss her neck. She tilted her head to the side and purred contentedly. He saw that she was sautéing garlic cloves in a pan. “What’s all this?”

“Dinner,” she said. “I wanted to cook tonight and I just need another few seconds.” Ginny turned the flames down lower and covered the pan before turning and winding her arms around his neck.

Harry pulled her up off of her feet, his arms firmly around her waist, as he kissed her deeply. “It smells amazing. You smell amazing.”

“I like to cook,” Ginny admitted with a sheepish grin. “And if you ever tell Mum I said that, I will have to hunt you down.”

“On my honor I will never breathe a word,” Harry promised, setting her on the kitchen counter, and kissing his way down her collar bone. “Especially if that tastes as good as it smells.”

“It will as long as it doesn’t burn,” she promised. “Now go get a shower. You stink.”

Harry chuckled and it felt good, strange and off all at once but he also knew, because he’d been through this so many times in his life, that learning to laugh again after loss was a step that needed to be taken. “Alright, I’ll be back down in ten.”

“Don’t rush,” Ginny said, hopping down from the counter. “It still needs twenty. Damn,” she said, opening up a cabinet and looking up. “I can tell Hermione and my mum laid out the kitchen. I can’t reach anything. Why do I have to be so short?”

Harry wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her in close. “You are absolutely perfect. In fact we can forget dinner, and go up and find out just how absolutely perfect you are.”

“I’m starving,” she told him as she turned in his arms. “Go shower.”

Harry reached up for the glasses that she’d wanted and after setting them on the counter, kissed her cheek and went up to clean up.

Back to index


Chapter 22: Chapter 22

Author's Notes: Thank you Arnel for your help!

A tentative, but hopefully soon to be firmed up, release date for my book has been set for mid-January. This story will be done before then, but I hope you'll tag along for the sequel, which will jump forward in time.

Okay everyone, so tell me if you guessed correctly... :) Also, if you'll go to my stories you'll see that I've made this a series, because I've already done a one-shot that captures bits of what will happen next.


Thursday September 24th

Harry sat at his desk, his head in his hands as the nagging came back. There was something there. Something.

“What’s up with you?” Ron asked, coming over to stand next to him.

“I’m missing something,” Harry said. “There is something about our being poisoned that I should be able to remember. There’s a clue there. I just don’t know what it is.”

“It will come to you,” Ron said without hesitation. “It always does.”

Harry sighed and sat back in his chair. “It just seems like I’m missing something huge.”

“Like what? We don’t know much about the poison, no one does.” Ron said, picking up one of his sneak-o-scopes and rolling it between his hands.

He shook his head. “I guess not. Even Audrey didn’t know anything about it until that bloke came in poi…” his voice trailed off and he looked at Ron who just looked back, questioningly. “Poisoned. Did we ever hear who it was that was poisoned before?”

“Not that I know,” Ron said slowly. “I don’t recall her saying, but there is patient and Healer confidentiality, so she wouldn’t have said.”

Harry got to his feet. “We’re going to St. Mungo’s.”

After quickly explaining where they were going to Robards, Harry and Ron made their way to the Floos in the Atrium where they could Floo directly into the staff room at St. Mungo’s. They arrived and found only one older man, his gray hair thinning on top and spectacles framing his watery blue eyes. He took one look at their Auror’s robes and balked. “May I help you?” He asked in a quavering voice.

“I need Audrey Michaels,” Harry said firmly. “Do you know where she’d be?”

“Who are-” then he froze as he saw Harry’s scar and nodded. “She’s down on Spell Damage doing rounds, fourth floor.”

They left and went down the stairs. “You think this will help?” Ron asked him quietly as they made their way through the ward, as they both avoided the curious stares of the patients and family members.

“It can’t hurt,” Harry said, and found Audrey as a large desk in the middle of the hallway making a note on a chart. “Audrey?”

She turned her chestnut head and looked at him surprised. “Harry, Ron, what-”

“We need a word in private,” Harry told her and to her credit, she adapted and nodded for them to follow her down to a room marked ‘Private’.

She waited for them to pass before going in herself to the sparse office and closing the door. “The walls are warded, no one can hear anything. “What’s wrong?”

“Who was poisoned before us?” Harry asked her, watching her face.

She hesitated, tucking her hair behind her ear. “I can’t tell you. It’s confidential.”

“We can get an order from the Minister if you need one,” Ron told her. “Harry’s got these… I dunno, he’s got these feelings about things. He thinks this is important.”

“I don’t know how it can help you,” Audrey said, her brown eyes softening. “He died in the last battle.”

Harry paced once, trying to calm his racing heart. He knew he needed the name. “It matters. Whoever poisoned him is probably who poisoned us.”

“I… I mean, I agree, but he was a Death Eater, Harry,” Audrey said a little impatiently. “Anyone could have wanted to kill him. We did an evaluation of those around him, but none of them could have poisoned him. None of them had the skills.”

Harry let out a slow breath and turned to her, staring hard into her eyes. “Audrey, I need his name.”

Indecision played across her face painfully. “I could lose my job.”

“You won’t lose your job,” Ron promised. “We have really excellent connections.”

“Please,” Harry said only that one word and he watched her resolve break.

“It… it was Milton Crabbe,” Audrey whispered.

With that everything started to fall into place with such a horrible, sickening sense. He’d been there when her child had died. She probably blamed him, but…

“Crabbe?” Ron said, dumbfounded. “I thought we’d ruled out…”

“We need to get to Hogwarts,” Harry said walking to the door. He spun, hugged Audrey hard, and walked out with Ron following hot on his heels.

They took the Floo back to the Ministry, made contact with the Headmistress for permission to come and used the Floo to get into her office all within half an hour. “Harry, Ron,” she greeted them warmly. “What brings you here?”

“I need to speak to Slughorn,” Harry told her. “I have a question for him.” He glanced up at Dumbledore’s portrait, but the old Headmaster was faking sleep. Snape still didn’t have a portrait up yet, but he was working on that.

“He should be in his office,” she told him, escorting them to her door. “Come back when you’re ready to head out again.”

“Thank you for this, Professor,” Ron said as they hurried down the stairs. “Bloody hell, I’m feet from Hermione and I can’t even say hi to her.” He said with a grimace.

“Maybe we’ll get lucky and run into her,” Harry said and then skidded to a halt. “Actually, we could really use her in on this.” Harry pulled out his wand and sent his Patronus with a message to Hermione to meet them in Slughorn’s office as quickly as she could.

Ron laughed. “That’s going to be quite a shock to whichever class she’s in.”

They arrived at Slughorn’s office just as an out of breath Hermione sprinted up to them, her brown hair flying in waves behind her. “Wha-” she coughed as Ron pulled her into his arms for a long kiss.

Harry knocked and at the “enter” the three of them walked in. Slughorn stared at them in surprise. “Good gracious Harry. To what do I owe-”

“We have some questions about a former student,” Harry told him as he closed the door and pulled up a chair. Ron and Hermione sat down in the seats next to him.

“Ask then,” Slughorn said, getting comfortable, his hands on his large belly.

Harry took a breath and looked at Hermione. “What was Crabbe’s Mum’s name again?”

Hermione looked surprised, but answered immediately. “It was Isabella Greengrass.”

“Ah,” Slughorn nodded. “Yes, I do remember her.”

“How was she in potions?” Ron asked him excitedly.

Slughorn’s shook his head. “She was a genius.” His voice was full of bitterness. “She was good at everything, but in potions she was the most natural student I have ever taught. But then she got pregnant and had to leave school in the middle of her fifth year. It was a horrible scandal, so shocking for her to have been so young and the man so much older. What a waste, especially for that idiot son she produced. I was hopeful at first when I heard he was here, but the second I met him I knew that he was just like his father.”

The three friends looked at each other in horror. “Uh…” Hermione fumbled, looking back at him. “What about her sister?”

“Hmm,” Slughorn leaned back and his chair creaked ominously. “She wasn’t very talented or bright if I recall correctly. She was a sweet girl, rather a shame that she was so dim when her parents were both so accomplished, but that happens.”

“What did her parents do?” Harry asked. “Were they Death Eaters?”

“The Greengrass family has always been on the fence,” Slughorn told them. “They are purebloods, but they also don’t always follow the pureblood line. Her father was a higher up in the Ministry, very powerful and influential man during You-Know-Who’s first rise to power. Her mother… let me think…” he absently rubbed his chin. “She was a midwife, I believe but they both died many years ago.”

Ron dropped his head in his hands. “Bloody hell, Harry.”

“Yeah,” Harry said gruffly. “Yeah.” No more needed to be said.

They thanked Slughorn and walked from his room. Slowly they made their way to an empty classroom and closed the door behind them so they could talk. “So you think…” Hermione began but stopped at their nod. “Why?”

“It was Crabbe’s father who was poisoned before Harry and Ginny,” Ron told her. “We asked Audrey about an hour ago.”

Hermione groaned. “Why didn’t I think to ask that?”

“She would know how the Ministry works,” Harry said, pacing. “She’d have access to materials that would tell her how to impregnate a witch. She clearly has enough skill to make that poison.”

“And,” Hermione reminded him, “Remember Draco said that he thought he recognized the voice of the woman who was talking to Bellatrix. Of course he’d know Crabbe’s mum’s voice. They’ve been friends for years.”

“Yeah, and if she’s crazy enough she might just blame you for what happened to her son,” Ron said falling into one of the chairs. “Bloody effing hell.”

“She might want to take your child away from you,” Hermione whispered, her hands over her mouth.

Harry closed his eyes, fighting back the grief. He needed to be clear headed.

“Why did she poison her husband, then?” Ron asked suddenly.

Frowning they both looked at Ron. “I don’t know,” Harry said honestly.

Hermione’s face went sheet white. “Oh, God, I think I do.”

~*~

“What do you want for lunch?” George asked, popping his head into the store room. “I’m going to run down to The Leaky Cauldron and get Hannah to give me something.”

Ginny raised her eye brow. “I didn’t think they did carry out.”

“Yeah, well,” George said modestly. “Hannah’s an old DA friend. She’ll do it for me.”

“Anything, then,” Ginny told him going back to counting the fake wands. “I’m not fussed.”

George left and she got back to work. She’d nearly finished with the wands when she heard the curtain behind her ruffle. Ginny looked over her shoulder but didn’t see anyone. Frowning she started to turn, but the spell hit her before she saw who held the wand and she fell.

~*~

Harry and Ron made their way back up to McGonagall’s office after having said goodbye to Hermione. Both of them felt ill at her theory and didn’t discuss it. It was too awful to even think about.

“Valor,” Harry said to the repaired gargoyle and it sprang to life, letting them up the spiral stairs.

“Did you get what you needed?” Their old professor asked as they entered.

“Unfortunately,” Ron muttered.

Harry nodded. “Thanks a lot, Professor.”

“Anytime,” she hesitated. “Harry, I was so sorry to hear…”

Swallowing hard, Harry nodded and she let it drop. They went back to the Ministry and up to the Auror’s office to tell Robards what they’d learned.

“Hang on,” he said, holding up a hand. “Let me see if the Minister is free. He’s going to want to hear this.”

He went out and they followed him up to Kingsley’s office. His secretary jumped to his feet at seeing the head of the Auror’s office approaching. “I’ll see if he’s available,” he said and knocked on the door.

“Come,” they heard Kingsley’s slow, deep voice. His dark eyes flitted between them as they entered and the secretary closed it behind them. “What can I do for you?”

“Potter has some information,” Robards said curtly as they all took a seat. “I think you’ll want to hear this.”

Harry laid it all out for Kingsley who watched him thoughtfully. “I see. You want to search her house, I’m assuming?”

“We have no proof,” Harry said shaking his head. “We only have a theory about-” Harry broke off as a hyena Patronus burst through the wall and George’s frantic voice filled the room.

“Ginny’s gone.”

~*~

“You were supposed to die,” a voice said above Ginny’s aching head. “Why didn’t you die with the baby?”

Realization and understanding flooded through her, even as Ginny kept still, not wanting whomever it was to realize she was awake. She felt a slap to the face and tried not to flinch at the pain.

“I know you’re awake,” the high pitched, agitated voice said. “You can’t pretend.”

Ginny peeked an eye open and saw a pretty woman with dark brown hair staring down at her. Her eyes were a clear blue, and she would have said she was beautiful if she weren’t scowling. “Who are you?” Ginny asked her, trying to move and finding that she was bound to a table.

“Never you mind,” the woman said clearly, going back over to a table across the room.

The room was small and dark, with heavy wooden paneling all along the walls. Ginny tried to see if there was a window, but only saw a door at the far end. She tried not to groan at the idiocy of the whole thing. She’d been captured like a damsel in one of those wretched witch’s novels and now she was tied to a table. This was just great! Ginny thought sourly.

There should have been fear, but Ginny felt none. There was no fear left in her anymore. Hope was dead, and this woman was the one who’d made that happen. If she didn’t kill the bitch with her bare hands, then she was happy to die trying for what this woman had done to her daughter.

The woman came over with something trailing from her wand. It looked like bogies. “What’s that?” Ginny asked disgusted.

“I’m going to impregnate you again,” she said laughing insanely. The first trickles of fear leached in at the laugh. “This time it won’t be Potter’s baby, though.”

“I can’t be impregnated for a whole year,” Ginny lied evenly. “I took the birth control potion a few weeks ago.”

She watched and was not sorry to see the rage cross the woman’s face. “Well!” She flicked her wand and the yellowish goo flew off and stuck to one of the walls with a sickening splat. “Well!” she said again, her robes flying around her as she stalked around the room. “I’ll just hold you for a year, then!”

Ginny watched her back as she strode away, trying to think up a way out. She tried to shift again, but could only move an inch. She felt the galleon dig into her hip and relief flooded her. She had a way out if she could only get her hand into her pocket. Thank Merlin for Hermione and illegal Portkeys. She’d half considered calling Kreacher, but she was glad she didn’t have to. She didn’t want to endanger the poor old elf unless there was no other option.

“Where am I?” Ginny probed. “Where have you brought me?”

The woman went over to a cauldron and stirred something. “Somewhere that no one is ever going to find you.”

“Why are you doing this?” Ginny asked her, trying to get her hand into her pocket and onto the Portkey while she wasn’t looking.

Ginny froze when she spun back to her. “Because your husband took my son’s life.”

Ginny licked her lips and tried to think. “Who was your son?”

“I’m not telling you,” she spat and turned around again. “He took my son! My only joy in this horrible, bloody world so I took his child. I’m doing to him what was done to me.”

Trying to move silently, Ginny wiggled her hand under her hip but she was so tightly bound that she couldn’t get her hand underneath. “Why did you use me?”

“My nieces were gossiping about you and Potter dating,” she said still facing the cauldron. “Said that Potter was clearly smitten with you. Of course, I didn’t know then that I’d need that information.”

The woman was insane. Ginny rolled slowly to her side, trying to budge the rope but it was tied well. “So you used me in hopes that we wouldn’t discover that I’d been magically impregnated?”

She turned slowly, her eyes calculating, but then she giggled and it shot straight through Ginny. The sound was so wrong, so unexpected that she had to fight off a shiver.

“I made sure that the snatcher used the blood boiling hex, just in case you were already pregnant. I couldn’t have a different baby already taking up your womb, now could I?” She clapped, before turning serious and guarded. The effect was startling and if Ginny hadn’t just seen the madness she’d have never guessed it was lurking just under the surface. “I knew that Potter would try to save you. Those hero types are always like that; always seeking more fame and glory. I knew that I could kill two Kneezles with one stone. I promised her I’d poison him for her. That was her price for the recipe. Then he’d lose you and the brat, then lose his own life. She wanted him to die a painful death and I wanted him to lose everything first, just like I did.”

None of this made any sense to Ginny. She’d not asked Harry for all the details of what had happened yet and now she wished desperately that she had. The woman seemed to think that Ginny should know what she was talking about.

Ginny watched her, too horrified to move.

“I wanted you to suffer too,” the woman said, going back to the cauldron. “Your family protected you like mine never did! I knew there was a risk that you’d be happy with Potter, but then I thought it might be all the more enjoyable to know he was losing someone he loved. Just like I did. But then I remembered that men don’t really want to be married. They just want whores and sluts so I made him marry you, I made him hate you and beat you and rape you just like I was. I’d have the fun of watching you being abused by the man you love.”

“What happened to you?” Ginny asked, feeling sickness roll through her. She wasn’t making any sense. “Who raped you?”

The woman turned back to her, her eyes cold and her lip curled. “You don’t care.”

She didn’t really care, but she wanted to know anyway even though she was sure the answer would haunt her. “I do care,” Ginny lied easily.

The woman moved slowly over to her and stared down at her, her face uncomfortably close. “My father wouldn’t support You-Know-Who during his first rise to power even though he knew that we’d be taken. He was asked to join and he said ‘no’ so my sister and I were captured and raped until we were pregnant. You can’t say no to marrying the idiot if you’re already pregnant. I wanted to rid myself of the baby, but they had me tied up for months to stop it from happening.”

Ginny watched the blue eyes go hazy.

“I put up a fight, but my sister gave in. The Death Eaters we were given to weren’t very smart, but they were both mean, especially the one I was given to. I fought him and he beat me and raped me daily until I was too pregnant to beat anymore. After my son was born, it started all over again until I stopped fighting him. He wanted me broken.” There was no inflection in her voice. There was no emotion behind anything she said. “I learned to play the game and pretended to love the Dark Lord and when I played along, I was free to do almost anything I wanted. I could love my son. I could study potions and learn new spells. My mother had many books and I kept them secret so that I could read. I played dumb for my husband. But he got what he deserved in the end.”

“You killed him?” Ginny probed, trying to swallow her horror and not at all sure she didn’t agree with this woman trying to off her husband.

“No,” she said bitterly. “Some fool Healer figured out what was wrong with him and cured him. But he died in the last battle. He was too weak to really defend himself. But then… then my son died too and I knew I was going to make sure that Harry Potter suffered for what he’d done. The Dark Lord only came back because of Harry Potter. If he hadn’t come back my son would have never been made a Death Eater!”

Ginny tried to move again and inched her hand behind her. “How did you get into the shop?”

“That,” she said with a laugh, “was the easiest part of all.” With a flick of her wand on her head, she became invisible and moments later she was back. “I perfected that many years ago, never knowing I would need it to break in to St. Mungo’s with the Healers who were treating you. Being invisible and a very carefully executed Confundus Charm and I was in.”

“How did you know I was in George’s shop?” Ginny said, trying to keep her talking while she moved her hand closer to her pocket. The revelations as to how this woman had gotten to her was very important, but at the moment it was more important to get all the information she could and get the hell out of there.

“Enough questions!” The woman roared and Ginny jumped. She turned back to the potion.

Ginny’s hand finally reached her pocket and she slid it in, trying to grasp the coin. In order to activate it, she had to have her thumb on one side and middle finger on the other and say ‘home’ or the coin would remain inert. She glanced once at the counter where her wand lay and sighed in regret, but wands were easy to replace and there was no way that she could do more to this woman right now. She got her fingers in place and waited, wanting a few more answers.

“Please…” she begged, trying to sound frightened and thinking fleetingly that she ought to be scared. “Please tell me where we are!”

“No.”

“How did you know I was at the joke shop?” she asked, trying to pry a bit more information from the woman, although she didn’t know what she expected. Most of what the woman was telling her was contradictory and muddled.

Growling she turned back to Ginny and for a second Ginny thought she’d gone too far. “I have been watching your brother’s shop for weeks, trying to find out where you were. When he went into the back I followed, and heard him talking to you.”

Nodding slowly Ginny let out her held breath. “I see.”

“It doesn’t matter, though,” she said with deadly calm. “Your husband will be wondering where you are and when I send him back to you with a bastard child in your belly, he will turn you away after he’s beaten you and raped you. He might even kill the child. He’ll still be stuck with a wife that he doesn’t want.” The relish in her voice was undeniable. The madness gleamed in her eyes and her wildly happy smile.

There was no chance of that. She didn’t know much, but she knew that even if she came back in a year pregnant with someone else’s kid, that Harry was still going to love her and stand by her. He was just that kind of man. He’d never hurt her. Ginny felt a small glimmer of pity pass through her, but moments later it was gone because this woman was insane and intent on hurting her and she’d killed her daughter. Closing her eyes, and praying that the portkey would work, she whispered, “Home.” She felt the jerk behind her navel and the room around her vanished.

Back to index


Chapter 23: Chapter 23

Author's Notes: Thank you Arnel!!!!

So readers, we're soooo close. Just an epilogue, and also with the epilogue I will post the first part of the prologue of the new story some time in the next week or two. You've been amazing, readers.

I am through my first round of edits on my original story, and I'm super excited and a bit nervous about it. We're looking for the third-ish week in January to publish. Fingers crossed, and please keep me in mind. If you like how I write characters, you'll probably enjoy this new story.

As for the sequel... it's got fluff, action, a lot on the kids, and a new threat. All good times. Stay tuned.

Finally, thank you for all of your reviews. I will probably get over 300 reviews from this story, and that feels amazing. I'm so glad you have enjoyed it, and I appreciate all of your support. You rock!


Thursday September 24th

Ginny hit the sitting room floor with a solid thud as the Porteky dropped her into her house. “Kreacher!” she yelled as she groaned and rolled onto her side, thankful that the bonds around her had been attached to the table and not her, or she’d have gotten back home still tied up. The elf came running. “Go… get… Harry.”

With a crack he was gone and she gave up and flopped back. The wind had been knocked out of her when she’d landed.

Seconds later, Harry was back with Kreacher and she felt him scoop her into his arms. “You’re okay! You’re okay? Ginny what--”

She put a hand up to his lips to stop him. “Just winded, the Portkey dropped me hard.”

He kissed her and then raised his wand and she saw several of his Patronuses fly away. “What happened?”

“A woman took me from George’s shop,” Ginny explained, sitting up and rubbing her back. “I used Hermione’s Portkey to get me home. She was completely nuts, Harry.” She closed her eyes and felt his hand slide into her hair. “The things that were done to her… I can’t even imagine.”

Harry kissed her temple. “I’m so sorry, Gin.”

“It isn’t your fault,” Ginny said shaking her head and winding her arms around his neck. “She… oh Harry, she was talking about holding me for a year, and then impregnating me again once the birth control potion wore off, but this time with someone else’s child. I lied and told her that I took the potion that lasts a year. She didn’t know I was pumping, but she was hoping you’d beat me and rape me if she sent me back pregnant by another man. She thought that you might hate me because you’d been forced to marry me.”

He closed his eyes and shook his head. “That’s insane. I wouldn’t do that to you.”

“The whole thing was… I don’t know. It was just awful to hear her talk about her life.” Sighing, and so thankful to be in Harry’s arms safe in their home, she let go of the tension. “I wanted to kill her for what she did to Hope, but there wasn’t any way I was going to be able to. I had to leave my wand.”

She felt him nod and pull her in closer. “You can get a new wand tomorrow. When I got the message from George I… not one of my best moments.”

“Do you know who she is?”

“Crabbe’s mum,” he told her. “I was hoping you had the Portkey on you. I didn’t check this morning. Thank goodness for Hermione and that coin.”

Before she had a chance to digest this, the Floo lit up and half her family piled in to the sitting room, wanting to see for themselves that Ginny was okay.

~*~

“Can we trace where she was when she activated the Portkey?” Harry asked Robards an hour later as he, Robards and Ron stood over one of the interrogation room tables looking down at the information on Isabella Crabbe.

“Not without the maker,” Robards said and then frowned. “Who made it?”

“Hermione Granger,” Harry admitted hesitantly. “I’m not going to get her thrown in jail for telling you that, am I?”

Looking impressed, he shook his head and turned to Ron. “Head over to Hogwarts and bring her back here. We’ll need her.”

“Yes sir,” Ron said, leaving the room not looking at all sorry that he had another excuse to see his girlfriend.

“So if--” Harry broke off as the door burst open and Raeburn came running in.

“Sir, we’ve had a fire up in Kent,” Raeburn said looking pale and shaken.

Robards scowled at him. “What does this have to do with us?”

“It’s Fiend Fire, sir,” Raeburn explained. “It’s completely out of control.”

The two looked at each other and then headed for the door.

By the time they arrived in Kent several acres were actively on fire with nearly every Ministry employee working to control the blaze. There was no real way to stop Fiend Fire except to make sure it had nothing left to burn. Muggle houses were in the way and already catching fire. There was a small village that was in danger of going up as well.

Everyone was split to either get the Muggles out, or setting a control burn around the edges. Reinforcements showed up from all corners of the Wizarding community, including Ron and Hermione. Harry saw them briefly after a few hours of fighting the blazing inferno.

It took nearly twelve hours to contain the fire. In the end almost four hundred witches and wizards came in to fight it. Only one body was found and it was in the ruins of an old house that had belonged to one Oscar Greengrass and was left in trust for his grandchildren, Vincent Crabbe, Gregory Goyle, and Daphne and Astoria Greengrass upon them reaching their majority. The body was located in an underground storage vault that should have protected anyone from a normal fire. But this body was so mangled and warped that it was nearly impossible to tell it was human. It was sad and somehow fitting that she’d died the same way as her son, also by her own hand.

Harry Apparated home at nearly five in the morning so tired and singed around the edges that he could barely think. Ginny came out to meet him and helped him upstairs. She stuck him in the bath, helped scrub off the grime and guided him to their bed to fall flat on his face and sleep for nearly fourteen hours.

~*~

Saturday September 26th

“So what else?” Ginny asked, sticking the last grape in Harry’s mouth and shifting on the bed to put the empty bowl on the bedside table.

He chewed up the fruit and shrugged. “Then Draco said that he hoped the kid would look like you.”

“Why did he say that?” She blurted out, astonished.

Harry tackled her sideways and kissed her neck. “Because you’re beautiful and I’m not.”

“I think you’re very handsome,” Ginny said as primly as she could.

“I’m glad,” Harry said kissing her and getting lost in the feel of her against him. “Merlin, I am so glad you are okay and I’m equally glad that Isabella Crabbe is dead.”

Ginny shrugged. “I hate her, Harry. But she also gave us Hope. We wouldn’t have had her if it weren’t for this insane plan of hers.”

Harry looked off thoughtfully. “You’re right.”

“As much as this has hurt,” she told him, willing herself not to cry so that she could get it out. “As much as I miss Hope, I’m really glad we had her, even for just a few months. I wouldn’t wish that time away.”

“I wouldn’t either,” Harry admitted, curling into her. “I think… this is weird to say, but I think this whole thing has made me a better man.”

Ginny thought about it and ran her fingers along his forearm. “I agree. We both had to really grow up very fast.”

“Nothing like being told you’re going to be a dad to give everything a new perspective,” Harry agreed sadly. “It has been a rough few months.”

“It has,” Ginny agreed. “It also made me realize just how lucky I am.”

He looked at her oddly. “Come again?”

“Harry, you didn’t hear Isabella Crabbe,” Ginny said grimly. “She had no idea what it was like having a family that would protect her. She was absolutely convinced you were going to turn on me. She had no concept of what it was like to be loved.”

Harry stared at her silently. “You never doubted me, did you?”

“No!” Ginny fired up. “I never doubted you. I knew that if I came back after a year that you’d still love me because that’s who you are. You’ve made this commitment to me and you won’t back away from it. You’ve proven that to me over and over again. It would have been hard and awkward having someone else’s baby, but you’d have learned to love the baby because you love me and it would have been a part of me.”

Harry’s eyes were intense as he studied her face. “Yeah… that’s exactly what I would have done. Sometimes I think you know me better than I know myself.”

“That’s my job,” she promised, kissing the tip of his nose.

Sighing, Harry rolled onto his back and stared up at their bedroom celling. “My life has just been a series of bad things happening. I hate that you’re always going to be caught up in that.”

Frowning, Ginny sat up cross legged next to him. “You didn’t start this. She was crazy and her son killed himself. That didn’t have anything to do with you.” Crawling over to straddle him, she let her hair fall around them like a curtain as she kissed him. “But you have to admit, marrying me was a really excellent thing.”

He reached up and buried his hands in her thick hair, the hair he absolutely adored. “That it is.” After a few happy moments Harry broke away, looking over at the clock. “Andromeda should be here soon.” He looked at her, studying her carefully. “Are you sure you’re ready to see Teddy?”

“Yes,” Ginny said firmly. “None of this is Teddy’s fault and he shouldn’t be treated like it is. I needed some time but I’m okay now. I don’t want you to have to keep going over there, like he’s not welcome in our home.”

Shortly after lunch Andromeda arrived with the nearly six-month-old Teddy. Ginny had gone out and bought some toys for the baby a few days before in preparation for his visit and she stood nervously next to Harry, twisting her hands together. Harry took her one of her hands, stilling it. “You’re sure?”

“Positive,” Ginny said as they opened the door for her. She held out her arms for the baby and pulled him in close, breathing in his baby scent and reveling in the feel of him in her arms. It wasn’t the same as when she’d held Hope, but it was a balm to her soul and a comfort in a different way. She had Teddy to love and to spoil. “Let me show you all the toys I got!” she told the little boy, carrying him over to the basket in the sitting room.

“Ginny went a bit overboard,” Harry told Andromeda as they trailed behind her, “Bought half the shop.”

Ginny grinned down at the baby who was sitting at the basket carefully pulling the toys out. “Harry is so silly! I only bought a third of the shop.”

Laughing, Harry sat next to her and kissed her soundly. “Come here little man,” Harry said, helping him stand on his sturdy little legs.

Teddy grinned a gummy grin and bounced twice before plopping back onto his padded bum.

“He’s about ready to start crawling,” Andromeda told them as she sat down on the sofa. “I caught him on all fours this morning, trying to figure out how to make his legs and arms work.”

“Aww,” Ginny cooed, tickling him. It was difficult, like she’d expected, but it was also a relief. She didn’t want to be afraid to see Teddy. She didn’t want to fear the pain. She wanted this child in her life unconditionally and she needed to face it.

“When are the Harpies tryouts?” Andromeda asked her.

“Thank you,” Ginny said happily as Teddy handed her a block. “Next week. I’m still a bit rusty, but it’s getting easier. It helps that Harry has a Firebolt for me to practice on.”

“I can imagine,” Andromeda said laughing. “I… I imagine you’re glad to have that woman gone.”

Ginny looked into Harry’s eyes for a moment and they shared the pain that only two parents can share when they’ve lost their child. Something that Andromeda well knew.

“I am,” Ginny agreed slowly, looking back into her kind face. “I didn’t fancy having to look over my shoulder all the time, but in a small way I feel bad for her too. She had a rough life and she couldn’t seem to understand that there wasn’t any way that she could make Harry hurt me.”

The older woman nodded sadly. “I knew their family, although not well. I remember when it happened and I knew why it was happening. I was married to Ted at that point and my family had turned their backs on me. We’d actually had to elope to keep me safe from them.”

Harry pushed a ball over to Teddy who attempted to shove it in his mouth. “That must have been hard.”

“Not really,” she said, sitting back. “I didn’t agree with anything my family did, so to me it was freeing to be well shut of them. If I hadn’t married Ted and gone into hiding, they’d have pawned me off on some pureblood who would have made me sorry I was ever born.”

Ginny felt the tears prickle but pushed them aside. “So it’s true? That the Death Eaters were having women abused like that?”

“Oh yes,” Andromeda said quietly, her eyes haunted. “Oscar Greengrass was making noises about not joining the Death Eaters and when he wouldn’t cooperate his daughters were taken. I believe Isabella was fifteen when it happened. Her husband was nearly thirty. Once she was pregnant, she had to marry him. Crabbe was always a brute and I’m sure he made her life a living hell. It was an effective method for keeping the pureblood families in line.”

Ginny blew out a breath. “I never knew that.”

“No,” Andromeda smiled a real smile this time. “I have always admired your family for that. The Weasleys were going to do their own thing and ignore what anyone else thought they should do. They never bought into the pureblood mania. They worked hard to keep you safe.”

Ginny turned when a slobbery hand touched her arm and she grinned, picking Teddy up to blow a raspberry in his tummy. “You are so adorable!”

Teddy giggled and squirmed and Ginny set him back down. He propped himself back up on all fours and rocked a bit.

“That’s what he was doing earlier,” Andromeda explained. “I was sure he was going to--”

Then he crawled. First one arm out and one leg, then the other and he made it less than half a foot before his leg slid out from under him. He let out a frustrated cry and Harry picked him up, cuddling him to his chest. Ginny watched the baby snuggle in Harry’s arms for just a moment before squirming to get down and try again. Back onto all fours he went.

Before leaving, Andromeda went out to the car and came back with a bouquet of flowers. She hesitated, but Ginny realized what she wanted. Harry picked up the sleepy Teddy and they walked out the back together towards Hope’s grave. Silent tears fell down Ginny’s face, blurring the path as they crossed over the bridge.

Andromeda bent and placed the flowers on her grave, touching the carved stone and tracing out Hope’s name. She stood and turned to hug Ginny, their tears mingling together. “I’m so sorry. I wish things could have been different.”

“Me too,” Ginny sobbed into her shoulder.

Teddy made a noise and they looked at him. The baby leaned over to Ginny out of Harry’s arms and she took him, holding him close. Harry wrapped them both in a big hug and she kissed the baby’s soft hair. They would be okay someday.

Back to index


Chapter 24: Epilogue

Author's Notes: I hope you like the ending. Thank you all so, so much for taking this journey with me. I know it hasn't been easy, but you've been an amazing audience and I appreciate all of the kind words.

Thank you Arnel for all of your hard work!!!

Also, SEQUEL!! Head over, you'll find the series already created. The prologue for the next story is going up. It's called The Space Between.


May 2001

“Shh,” Ginny whispered to Teddy as they crouched behind a bush. She could barely see her house through the thick foliage. “We have to stay really quiet or Harry is going to get us.”

“Kay,” three-year-old Teddy whispered back, hopping from one leg to the other. “Ginny, when we gunna wun?”

“Really soon,” Ginny promised, eyeing him suspiciously. “Do you need to use the loo?”

“No, I wanna wun!” he said impatiently, his blue eyes glancing up at her imploringly. “Now?”

Ginny grinned and kissed the top of his head. “Not yet. Should I trip Harry this time?”

“I do it,” Teddy said holding up the stick he’d found on the ground. “My turn to twip him.”

“Right you are, little man,” Ginny told him very seriously as the signal flew out for them to leave their hiding spots. “Okay, let’s go.”

She took his chubby little hand in hers and they struck out, checking to make sure they weren’t going to be tagged. She heard Bill’s muttered oath from somewhere to her left, but she didn’t stop to check. It was harder running with a three-year-old, but Teddy refused point blank to be carried like a baby. Except by Harry; Harry was still allowed to carry him.

They snuck around to the side of the tool shed and paused, looking carefully around to see if the coast was clear. It wasn’t. Harry was standing right there, facing away from them.

“You ready, kiddo?” Ginny whispered, surreptitiously pulling out her wand.

“I weady,” Teddy said very seriously. He pointed his stick at Harry and said, “bang!

Wordlessly Ginny fired the jinx off at her husband and hit him straight in the back, knocking him off his feet with a yelp. Ginny grabbed Teddy’s hand and they ran as fast as they could for the back door.

Harry rolled over and saw them. He pretended to run after them while laughing and yelling a war cry. He allowed them to just beat him into the house.

“Safe!” Molly cried swinging Teddy up into her arms. “You’re the winner!”

“Yay!” Teddy squealed enthusiastically and squirmed down to run for the biscuits on the table.

“What was the meaning of that?” Harry asked in her ear as he wrapped his arms around Ginny from behind. “I thought you said that was cheating.”

“No,” Ginny laughed dismissively as she turned her head to kiss him before nudging him towards the door to go hunt down the rest of the players in their game of hide-and-go-seek. “I said it’s cheating when you do it. Some Auror you are. I got off a clean shot.”

Harry chuckled and patted his wife of three years playfully on the bum before running back out the door.

Ginny walked over to the table to see Teddy eating his reward for ‘winning’ with Angelina who had declared herself too pregnant to play. “Where’s Victoire?”

“She fell asleep,” Angelina told her grinning. “Audrey is getting in some practice and putting her down in the spare room.”

Ginny nodded, snagged an apple slice and sat down. “You sure you don’t want to play? You know they’d give you a sympathy pass.”

Angelina rolled her eyes. “George wouldn’t give me any kind of pass. He’d be just as likely to want to hide together behind some tree and just not come out. I am not doing that out on the grass anymore.” She informed her sister-in-law, patting her belly. She was five months along now and already looking huge.

“Do what?” Teddy asked looking between them.

“Sleep,” Ginny said and handed him an apple slice.

Audrey, who was also pregnant, although only two months along, came back down into the kitchen and sat across from Ginny at the table. “She’s getting so big.”

“She’s a baby,” Teddy told them importantly. “She fell asweep, but not me!”

“You are so right,” Ginny said head in one hand as she watched him, her lips twitching.

A moment later Ron sprinted into the house and skidded to a stop looking sourly at Ginny. “How did you beat me?”

“I twipped Harry!” Teddy told him proudly, pulling Ron’s attention from his sister.

Ron held out his hand for a high-five and the little boy smacked it loudly with his own. “Good show, little man! I hope he fell hard.”

“Uh huh,” Teddy promised laughing as Ron swung him into the air.

“You boys are so competitive about this,” Molly said, clucking as she pulled another batch of biscuits from the oven.

Ron sat down in Teddy’s seat with the boy on his lap and they both went for a biscuit. “You just don’t understand, Mum.”

“You just don’t understand, Gran,” Teddy mimicked seriously and Ginny had to hide a snort of amusement. “Where’s Grandma?”

“She’s still out hiding,” Molly told him, patting his cheek affectionately. “No more sweets Teddy. If you’re still hungry, have some more fruit.”

“Ha,” Ron said teasingly to Teddy as he reached for another biscuit.

Molly swatted his hand away. “No more for you either,” she told him sternly.

“Ha!” Teddy told Ron. He dissolved into uncontrolled giggles as Ron tickled him.

Ginny laughed as Teddy bounded out of Ron’s lap and plopped himself in hers, cuddling into her arms. He rarely did it anymore since he was now a ‘big boy’, but she cherished every time he did. “Are you excited to spend the night?”

“Uh huh,” Teddy said and she could hear the sleepiness creeping in. “Can Victoire spend da night?”

“Not yet,” Ginny told him, kissing the top of his head. “She’s still too little.”

“Kay,” Teddy said, rubbing his cheek against her shoulder. It was a sign that he was about to pass out and sure enough a few minutes later his solid little body went limp against her.

Ginny held on, holding him securely while she continued to chat with her family as everyone else poured in from the game. Teddy was a solid sleeper. When he was out, he was out.

When Harry finally made it in from being ‘it’ he came over and plucked the little boy up. After a sleepy goodnight kiss from his Grandma Andromeda, Harry took him up to the room they had made up for him.

Ginny watched him go, feeling a small ache in her heart. Hope would have been two years old now. She might have been running along with them, tripping Harry and giggling as they ran for the house. She’d have been petted and adored by her uncles, hugged and kissed by her aunts. Ginny would have been tucking her in that night.

The place in her heart where she felt the loss of her daughter had never truly healed. She still missed Hope daily, but she’d done as her mother had said and she was living. She remembered her daughter, and hoped that Luna was right and that someday she’d meet her on the other side. She was so thankful that she had Teddy in her life. She loved him dearly and in his own way he’d helped her keep going.

Harry bounded back down the stairs and walked over and kissed her. “He’s completely out. All of that cheating has really done him in.”

Grinning impishly Ginny shook her head. “Oh, Potter, you haven’t seen anything yet. I’m ‘it’ next.”

All of her brother groaned while Hermione, Angelina and Audrey cheered.

Harry just laughed and kissed her playfully on the neck. “Catch me if you can.”

“I will,” Ginny promised as her mother called for everyone to get set to hide again.

Back to index



Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

This story archived at http://www.siye.co.uk/siye/viewstory.php?sid=129829