Ginny pulled her jacket a little closer and watched as James carefully climbed the steps to the top of the slide, smiling when she heard his shriek of delight as he sat down and grabbed onto the edges. She kept her eyes trained on him as she walked around to the front of the slide, crouching down at the end and waiting for him to come down. "Astoria, you're being awfully quiet."
"I'm not sure what to say," Astoria said softly. "All I can think about is that I'm standing in a park with you while Draco..." she paused and glanced up at James, "...sleeps with Harry."
"The park is supposed to be a distraction." Ginny smiled as James slid down the slide and into her arms, pressing a soft kiss to the top of his head before letting go and watching him run back to the steps. "Say anything. Ask me anything. Just stop thinking about that."
"Okay," Astoria laughed. "So, how did you meet Harry?"
"We met at university," Ginny said, starting to stand up so she could help James up the stairs again. She paused when she saw Astoria move over behind him and place a steadying hand on his back. "Thanks. A mutual friend introduced us at a party one night. Neither one of us was interested in being in a relationship, but what was supposed to be one night quickly turned into a whole lot more."
Astoria smiled at James as he settled himself at the top of the slide. "So what else? Give me the whole story."
"The whole story, huh?" Ginny asked, grinning up at James and holding her arms open wide.
"Yeah," Astoria said softly. "Draco's said some things, and I just...I think that things might not be quite so awkward if everything's on the table, you know? I know about you, you know about me. Stuff like that."
Ginny nodded as James came down the slide, picking him up once he was safely in her arms and hugging him close. "Should I take that to mean Draco's mentioned my health?" she asked, carrying James away from the slide and towards the swings. "Enough of the slide, for now, little one."
"He didn't say much," Astoria said, walking over and sitting down on one of the empty swings. "He just said that your health was one of the reasons you two decided to have James."
Ginny set James down in one of the child swings, smiling at him as he quickly asked to be pushed. She pushed the swing gently and took a step back, getting a slow rhythm going much to James's delight. "But he didn't go into detail."
"No." Astoria smiled as James shrieked again. "Look, if you're not comfortable telling me, that's alright. It's just that the stuff Draco said has me curious."
"No, it's alright," Ginny said, glancing over at Astoria. "I was diagnosed with cardiac ischemia when I was twenty-two."
Astoria blinked. "I don't know what that is."
"Coronary artery disease. It restricts the flow of blood and oxygen to my heart." Ginny sighed heavily. "I suppose the way to do this is to start at the beginning and tell you the whole story."
"If you want to."
Ginny nodded. "Harry and I met at the start of my freshman year, literally like the second night I was there. And it was just this whirlwind, you know? New town, new life, the craziness of university, and he was there in the middle of all of it, just this steadying presence that I could count on. Everything happened so fast, we were spending every moment we could together, and we just...knew, I guess. It was only a couple of months before I realized he was going to be the one I'd spend my life with."
Ginny stopped as James called out to her, turning her attention back to him only to realize she'd stopped pushing the swing and it had come to a stop. "Oh, I'm sorry, little one!" She started to push the swing again and smiled when James laughed. "Anyway, we'd been together for about four years when I woke up in the middle of the night with this horrendous chest pain. I'd been having a little bit of pain whenever I went to the gym, but I'd just thought that meant I was working myself too hard. This was a lot stronger than anything I'd felt before. Harry freaked out, I was rushed to the hospital, they did all these tests, that sort of stuff. And there I was, just turned twenty-two and being told I needed a double bypass or I was going to die."
Astoria stared at Ginny in disbelief. "You had a heart attack that young?"
Ginny nodded. "There's a history of heart problems in my family, but up until that moment, I hadn't really paid that much attention to any of it. Needless to say, that night scared the hell out of both of us. And after that, we went through this period of time where we tried to figure out what we were waiting for, why we were wasting time when anything could happen at any moment, you know? So we fast-tracked all the things that we'd talked about doing. We bought the house, we went to New York, and when Luna offered to be a surrogate for us, we couldn't turn that down. He was born just about a month before I turned twenty-four. We got married soon after that, and then I adopted James as my own."
"But you're okay now, right?" Astoria asked, smiling when James called out that he was hungry.
"I'm as okay as I'm going to be," Ginny said, stepping forward and grabbing onto the swing to stop its momentum. "But I do have to watch myself and what I do, take the absolute best care of myself that I can. I take a lot of medicine and I have a specific amount of exercise I'm supposed to do each day, but I'm a lot slower and a lot weaker than most women my age."
Astoria nodded. "So that's why you stay at home with James, then? Draco mentioned that you don't work."
"I don't work because I was smart enough to marry a man who was studying to be a lawyer and could make a lot of money," Ginny laughed. "No, seriously, one of the things we talked about before we tried to have James was that one of us should be at home with him, and it wasn't that difficult a decision. Besides, it's probably better for me not to have to deal with the stress of a workplace." Ginny glanced at her watch and then reached for James, pulling him out of the swing. "How about we go grab lunch somewhere? Give them some more time together."
Astoria nodded and stood up, following Ginny towards the car. "Can I ask, um, why you're so okay with all of this? It seems to me that you have more reasons than me to be upset about this, and you seem like you're taking this whole thing better than I am."
Ginny sighed as they approached the car, setting James down and digging through her pocket for the keys. "I am far from okay with this. I'm just trying to look at the bigger picture."
"And what's the bigger picture?" Astoria asked, leaning against the front of the car as Ginny opened the back door and put James in his car seat.
"I love him," Ginny said softly, buckling James into the seat and standing up, looking over at Astoria. "I want him to be happy. And when I saw him and Draco together for the first time, it was just...they gravitated towards each other without even realizing it. Harry looked so relaxed in his presence, like even though everything that was happening was happening it was okay because he was there. Draco looked so worried that he was going to lose him. I can't really explain it."
"No, I get it. I saw what they were like with each other at that dinner and all it did was make me wish that Draco looked at me like that."
"He does, for it's worth," Ginny said. "I've spent one evening together with you two talking about the hardest subject in the world and it was obvious how much he loves you."
"Wish it felt that way right now," Astoria mumbled. "I still don't understand why you're letting this happen."
Ginny sighed. "Draco gives him something that I cannot give him, and he needs that something to be happy. And Harry gave up a lot for me, to take care of me right after the surgery and to take care of James after he was born and...if I have to share him to keep him happy, then I have to share him. I'd rather have part of him then none of him at all, or all of him but an unhappy him. I'm not sure that makes any sense to anyone but me, but that's just how I feel."
"It makes sense," Astoria said, pushing off the car and reaching to open the passenger side door. "It's not all that different to how I feel about Draco, to be honest."
Ginny climbed into the driver's seat and shut the door, glancing back at James before sliding the keys into the ignition. "Now that you've heard my life story, does this mean that I get to hear yours over lunch?"
Astoria laughed as Ginny backed out of the parking space. "Mine's pretty boring. Just growing up working in the family restaurant. Still do, as a matter of fact."
"I still want to hear it," Ginny said, putting the car into drive and heading towards the parking lot's exit. "First though, let's decide on where we should eat."