It seemed to happen all at once.
One second, she was sitting on the old sofa in the living room, curled up with a particularly strong cup of tea; the next, her fireplace was bright green and Hermione was stepping out onto the carpet, brushing soot off herself.
“Hermione,” Ginny said, a little surprised. “Is everything alright?” It was barely past nine in the morning on a Saturday. Harry had left for the Ministry an hour or so ago, but Ginny was still in her pyjamas, and had intended to stay like that for the rest of the day or, at the very least, the rest of the morning.
“Of course. Why wouldn’t it be?” Hermione said, far too perky and energetic for the lazy mood Ginny was in. Instinctively, she already knew that whatever Hermione was up to — and she had no doubt at all that she was up to something — would not bode well for her.
“No reason. Do you want a cup of tea?” Ginny said slowly. She tugged off the blanket she had wrapped around herself. It was older than she could remember, knitted by her mother, and possibly one of her favourite things in the world.
“No,” Hermione said. That, Ginny reflected, was the second sign that whatever was going to happen wasn’t good. Hermione’s manic eyes were the first.
Ginny sighed. May as well bite the bullet and get over it. “Okay. What’s up, then?” she asked.
“We need to go to Hogsmeade,” Hermione announced.
Ginny couldn’t hold back her groan. “What? Why?” she said.
“I need a book,” Hermione said, predictably enough. “And it’s not there in Flourish and Blotts. Well, it is, but it’s the eleventh edition that’s in stock there, and I need the twelfth, and there’s a chance it’ll be in Tomes and Scrolls, in Hogsmeade. It has an updated introduction and footnotes by the author, and I wanted to read it this weekend, so I can’t use their mail order service, since it won’t get here by Monday.” She said this all at once, and very rapidly, as if anticipating that Ginny would argue with her.
“I… oh, all right, then. Why can’t Ron go with you? Or–I don’t know, why can’t you go alone?” Ginny asked.
“Ron’s in the Ministry,” Hermione said. She sat down at the edge of the sofa, and fiddled with the edge of the blanket Ginny had discarded. Ginny noticed the dark circles under Hermione’s eyes, the way she was furrowing her brows. “I just thought… I didn’t want to spend the day alone, worrying about him,” she said.
Ginny took one look at Hermione, worried and seeming smaller than usual. She thought about how the past week, both Harry and — presumably — Ron had been coming home later than usual because of the way work was piling up at the Auror department. It was all she could do to not worry about them. It was taking every single ounce of self-determination she possessed to not think about it. She didn’t know what they were doing, so she assumed Hermione didn’t, either. All she knew was that it was Auror business, involved some amount of field work, and that they weren’t allowed to talk about it yet, but Harry had promised her it wasn’t too dangerous, and she had no choice but to trust him about it.
She leaned over, took Hermione’s hand, and gave it a squeeze. “Okay,” she said. “Let’s go to Hogsmeade.”
The first thing Ginny noticed once they’d Apparated into Hogsmeade was how queasy she felt. She really did hate Apparition; it always left her feeling nauseous, but today seemed to be a bit more extreme than usual. She chalked it up to the sleep deprivation she’d been going through the last week. She’d hoped to catch up on sleep today, but she supposed that wasn’t meant to be.
“Are you alright?” Hermione asked her.
Ginny took a deep breath. “Yeah. I’m alright. Just a bit nauseous.”
“It is a long distance to Apparate, isn’t it?” Hermione said, looking sympathetic. She had far more experience with long-distance Apparition than Ginny did, and Ginny was starting to wish she’d listened to Hermione and practiced more during her last year at Hogwarts.
“Yeah. Maybe we should get a drink,” Ginny said.
Hermione nodded in agreement, and the two of them started to walk into the village.
“Let’s go to the Hog’s Head,” Ginny suggested. She hadn’t seen Aberforth in a while, and she fancied a less crowded pub at the moment.
It was a surprisingly pleasant day today, and Ginny could feel a light breeze as they walked down the path, which did serve to make her feel a bit better. Thankfully, it didn’t seem to be a Hogsmeade weekend, so it wasn’t too crowded.
“Have you heard from Luna recently?” Hermione asked as they walked.
Ginny chuckled. “Got a letter from her last week. She’s in Bulgaria, investigating some creature or another for the Quibbler.”
Hermione seemed as amused by that as she was. “Bulgaria, really?”
“Yeah. Don’t be surprised if she runs into Viktor Krum or something,” Ginny said.
“They met at Bill’s wedding, didn’t they?”
“Oh, yeah,” Ginny said, feeling an involuntary shudder run down her spine as she thought about the wedding, about being interrogated by Death Eaters soon after.
Hermione pushed open the door to the Hog’s Head. As always, despite how bright and sunny it was outside, it was dingy and dark inside. Seasons would come and go, but the Hog’s Head would be the same. Sitting behind the bar, reading the Daily Prophet and looking generally grumpy, as was his wont, was Aberforth Dumbledore. Ginny grinned, tugging Hermione over to the counter.
“Hi, Abe,” she said cheerfully.
Aberforth looked up, and though he didn’t look pleased to see her, Ginny could see the twinkle in his eyes. “You two are back then, are you?”
“Turned up like a bad penny,” Ginny agreed.
“How have you been?” Hermione said, more politely, as she and Ginny sat on the stools by the counter.
Aberforth waved his wand, and two Butterbeers appeared in front of Ginny and Hermione. “Been alright,” he grunted. “Longbottom was here yesterday,” he added.
Ginny raised an eyebrow. As far as she knew, Neville was on duty yesterday, along with Harry and Ron. If he was here, it might have meant…
“Only him?” Hermione asked, in a deliberately casual way. Ginny knew that she was wondering the same thing Ginny was.
Aberforth shrugged a shoulder in response. Before he could say anything else, there was a suspicious bang that seemed to come from the back room.
“That’ll be the goats,” Aberforth muttered and then glanced around the pub. Ginny had no idea what he was looking for. Finally, he looked back at her and Hermione. “You two are the only ones with half a brain in here,” he said, and Ginny felt flattered, “will you watch the place? Need to sort out a few things.”
“Oh, we were actually going to–” Hermione started to say, but Aberforth interrupted her.
“Thank you, shouldn’t be more than a few hours,” he said, and turned around, walked into the back room and shutting the door firmly behind himself. Ginny heard the little click of the lock.
“Well. I guess we’re in charge,” Hermione said, eyes a little wide and panicky.
“Wait. Did he say hours?” Ginny asked.
One hour later, and Ginny had learned that running a bar was no joke. Hermione, of course, had it figured out. She’d even figured out how to mix the perfect Firewhiskey and Gillywater. Ginny, on the other hand, was quite content to stand at the bar, chatting with customers and trying to decide if the person in a veil at the end of the bar was a hag or not. (She thought yes, Hermione thought no, they had two Sickles riding on it.)
“This is fun, isn’t it?” she asked Hermione, taking another sip of her Butterbeer.
“Is it?” Hermione said. She looked rather stressed out. Ginny was reminded of NEWT revision.
“I mean… isn’t it?” she asked, a bit confused.
Hermione lifted up her hand, pushing her bushy hair off her face. “It’s just… I haven’t gotten my book yet,” she mumbled. She looked a little shame-faced, but Ginny was more amused than anything else.
Ginny shrugged. “Go get your book, then. I’ll wait here and handle things,” she told Hermione.
Hermione looked relieved. Without another word, she leaned in and hugged Ginny gratefully before she left, leaving Ginny behind the counter.
How did this happen, Ginny wondered to herself as she got out her wand and started waving at the stains on the counter to try and clean them up a bit. This was meant to be her rest day. And she’d been on her feet for an hour and was now solely in charge of running a pub. Had she somehow been tricked into getting a second full time job?
“Excuse me,” a voice called out to her. Turning to the side, she saw the person at the very end of the bar lift their veil up to reveal their face. Witch, not a hag. Damn. She now owed Hermione two Sickles.
“Can I help you?” she asked, automatically.
“Can I get another?” the woman asked. She was polite, and Ginny felt quite guilty for accusing her mentally of being a hag. She walked over to her and pointed her wand at the woman’s glass, and it began to refill. She was grateful that all she wanted was a refill and not a whole new drink. Refills were easy: one Refilling Charm and she could rest easy.
“There you go,” she said cheerfully.
“Thank you,” said the woman. Ginny reflected that she was far more polite than the average Hog’s Head customer. “Where did Aberforth go?” she asked.
Ginny shrugged. “Something about his goats. So you’ve got me at your service until… until he comes back or my friend comes back from book shopping.” She didn’t know who was less likely to return: Aberforth when distracted by goats or Hermione when distracted by books. Merlin, when put like that, she was starting to think she would always be here.
She was about to put her wand away when she was hit with another wave of dizziness. She leaned against the counter, forcing herself to take a deep breath. Apparition had never affected her this much before.
“You should sit down, dearie,” the witch told her.
Ginny wasn’t used to taking advice from strangers. Sitting down did seem like a good idea, though, so she Summoned a chair over to her, sat down, and leaned back in it, doing her best to breathe deeply.
“Are you married?” the witch asked her.
Ginny was a bit surprised by the question. Yet again, she was grateful for the anonymity the Hog’s Head provided her. She had gotten quite good over the years at telling who was a reporter and who wasn’t, and who recognised her. Besides, her marriage was public record, so it wouldn’t hurt to confirm it. “I am, yeah,” she said.
“Good. You don’t want to be alone in your state,” the witch said seriously, as if she was telling Ginny a secret.
The state of being dizzy? Ginny wondered. “Right,” she said slowly.
“It’ll get better with time,” the witch promised her.
Ginny wondered if, in addition to her Firewhiskey, this woman had been drinking something much stronger. As such, she had no idea what the hell she was talking about.
She was saved from having to answer by the door jingling open and Neville Longbottom walking in, followed by none other than her husband himself.
“Abe, are you sure you haven’t seen–” Neville said as he stepped up to the counter, and then stopped, mid-word, when he saw Ginny.
“Pretty shit deduction skills, Auror Longbottom,” Ginny teased, but she couldn’t keep her eyes away from Harry. He was looking at her the same way he looked at her the day they first decided to get married: as if he couldn’t quite believe his eyes.
“Hi,” he finally said. He sat down on one of the stools, leaning slightly forward so he could look at her properly. Ginny was wearing the jumper she’d slept in the night before and an old pair of jeans, so she wasn’t sure she made a very pretty sight, but the way Harry was looking at her told her he didn’t agree with her self-assessment.
“Hi, yourself,” Ginny said, with a small smile playing at the corner of her lips. “What brings you two here, then?”
“Oh, we’ve been here the last two days,” Neville said. “Ron, too, but he’s in the bookshop now. We thought we’d come in for a drink before we go back to the Ministry,” he said, and Ginny nodded. That made sense.
“You know, I never understood why Ron thought Madam Rosmerta was so attractive. But I kind of get it now,” Harry said, so only she could hear it. “There’s something about a fit bartender…”
“You’re an idiot,” Ginny said, unable to hold back her fond smile.
“Where’s Abe?” Neville asked, sitting down next to Harry.
“Goats,” Ginny said by way of explanation. “Hermione and I were in, so he asked us to handle things while he dealt with… whatever the problem was. And then Hermione abandoned me for books,” she added, and Harry chuckled.
Neville nodded. This seemed to make sense to him, which was fair enough, since he was the one who had introduced her to Aberforth in her seventh year during a Hogsmeade visit. “Yeah, alright. Do you think you could pass me a Butterbeer?” he asked.
The Butterbeers were on the shelf right above the bar, so there was no real point in Summoning them. Instead, Ginny went on her tiptoes to fetch one. She stumbled a little once she’d retrieved it, hit by another wave of dizziness. She set down the Butterbeer and rested her hands on the counter, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath. Before she knew it, Harry was besides her, his arm wrapped around her waist. Without opening her eyes, she leaned into it.
“Are you alright?” he asked quietly. She could hear the concern in his tone.
“You don’t have to worry, dearie,” said someone. Ginny opened her eyes, and the witch from before was smiling at her and Harry in an almost maternal way. “This is very common. It happened to me all the time when I was first pregnant.”
“Ginny’s not pregnant,” Neville said.
Ginny stayed quiet. In her head, she started calculating the dates, thinking about the last time she… Wait. She couldn’t be pregnant. Unless…
“Merlin,” she breathed. Next to her, Harry had frozen absolutely still.
“Gin?” he asked.
She turned to look at him slowly. His eyes were wide, and he didn’t move a muscle.
“So,” she said, “Harry. Turns out I might have some news for you…”