Clearly, Teddy’s had way too much treacle tart. He’s turned the garden at the Burrow into his own personal climbing frame, scrambling over wooden chairs and ducking under the long, ramshackle table and running through the previously-tidy rows of carrots and turnips. When he’s not demolishing Molly’s horticultural efforts with his tiny trainers, he’s running up to various members of the Weasley family and coaxing them into entertaining him. So far he’s suckered Ron into a low-altitude broomstick ride and George into a game of hide-and-seek, which Teddy swiftly lost when he couldn't bear to be still in his hiding place for longer than fifteen seconds.
Just for a moment, Harry wonders if maybe he should reign him in, but quickly dismisses the notion. He’s not doing any harm, really. The garden can be put back to rights with the wave of a wand, and everyone else seems more amused by him than anything. The sun is shining, their bellies are full from Sunday lunch, and Harry - at least for the time being - hasn’t a single care in the world.
He uses the tip of his finger to wipe a bead of condensation from his bottle of butterbeer and looks over at his wife beside him. She’s got her elbows propped on the table, her chin resting in her palms. Her eyes, he notices with a jolt, are not on Teddy. Instead, she’s staring distantly at the line of blossoming apple trees that mark the border of the garden.
Harry places a soft hand on her back, but just as he touches her, Teddy comes barreling up, a lock of his turquoise hair falling over his sweaty forehead and into his eyes.
“Ginny!” he pants, bouncing excitedly on his toes. “Come play with me!”
He yanks eagerly on her forearm, and her chin slips off her hands so that she nearly smacks it into the tabletop. There’s another tug in the pit of Harry’s stomach: if there’s one thing that Ginny - a professional athlete - possesses, it’s lightning-fast reflexes.
“Please?” Teddy adds, eyes wide and angelic. “I really wanna play leapfrog, and I promise I won’t kick you in the head again this time, I promise!”
Ginny smiles wanly. “Maybe in a little while, all right?”
“It was an accident, I really promise-“
“I know, mate.” She points down to the other end of the table, where Percy sits, glasses low on his nose, the Sunday Prophet open before him. “Maybe Percy’ll play with you.”
Teddy’s little brows knit together. “No, he’s so boring, he doesn’t even like Gobstones.”
“I’m sorry, Ted,” she says, wincing and brushing his vibrant hair off his face. “Maybe in a bit.”
“I’ll play with you,” Harry offers, still studying Ginny out of the corner of his eye. Usually the summer heat causes a pretty flush to build beneath the dusting of freckles on her cheeks, but her complexion looks oddly pale.
But Teddy’s sugar-addled mind has already changed gears. “Can I go in the shed?” he asks. “I want to get the Muggle football.”
“Yeah, go on,” Harry tells him. “But don’t touch anything else in there, all right? Just get the football and come on back outside.”
Teddy takes off across the garden again, hauling open the door to Arthur’s shed of Muggle odds and ends and disappearing inside.
Leaning back in her chair, Ginny wipes a bead of sweat from her nose.
“You all right?” Harry says to Ginny, observing as the little silhouette of Teddy’s head bobs in the dingy windows of the shed.
Ginny nods, her lips pressed together into a thin line. “I’m fine.”
She draws in a deep breath through her nose and then slowly exhales. Her eyes are once again trained on the line of trees in the distance.
“Are you sure?”
“Mmhmm,” she nods again. “It’s just hot out, I guess.”
Harry sets a hand on the small of her back and finds she’s nearly sweated through her vest. “We can go home soon, if you want.”
“No, it’s fine.” She smiles feebly again as Teddy bursts out of the shed with a black and white ball clutched against his chest. “Let him have his fun.”
“Let me get you some ice water, then.”
She sags back onto the table, head on her forearms. “Thanks.”
He squeezes her shoulder as he passes her and heads back into the house, which is only marginally cooler than the garden. As he takes a glass from the cupboard and fills it with cool water from his wand, he gazes intently out the window. Ginny’s sat up again, a hand held against her forehead, her face pinched in discomfort.
It’s odd, because Ginny’s not one to let a little summer heat get to her. She’s more likely to splash around with Teddy in the pond than moan about how miserable it makes her. In fact, Harry can’t remember a time, since Teddy was old enough to walk and talk, that Ginny declined to play with him. Last summer, she took a Bludger to the head and she still let him clamber onto her bed at St. Mungo’s to play Exploding Snap.
Harry retrieves a few cubes of ice from the cooling cupboard, drops them into the glass, and heads back into the garden. As he plunks the glass down onto the table, Ginny slumps down in her chair and stretches her legs out before her. And then a second later she sits back up and folds her arms over her chest with an aggrieved sigh.
Further out in the garden, Teddy tosses the football up into the air, only to fail completely in his attempt to catch it. Unperturbed, he runs to kick it and almost trips over his own feet.
“You all right over there?” asks Harry, seating himself beside Ginny.
“I’m fine.” She picks up the glass with shaking hands and takes an impossibly tiny sip - the water just barely touches her lips - and then sets it back down. “Maybe I just ate too much.”
This is odd too - he’s pretty sure she didn’t even finish her serving of roast chicken, and usually she has seconds and then a massive portion of pudding - but he doesn’t get a chance to mull it over, because Teddy, football in hand, comes running over and slams into his knees.
“Harry!” His round face is flushed from exertion. “One of the gnomes is stealing tomatoes.”
“Really?” He follows Teddy’s pointed finger to see one of the knobby-headed little creatures tucking the plants into the pockets of his dingy trousers. “Right, then. You’re old enough to learn how degnoming works, don’t you think?”
“Yeah,” Teddy nods eagerly. “I can do it.”
“All right, then, come on.”
He stands and hoists Teddy up into his arms, making sure to let him get momentarily airborne before catching him and settling him on his hip. As he walks, he glances back at Ginny to see a smile gracing her lips.
Eventually, Teddy’s sugar high burns off. As the intensity of the midday heat gives way to a cool mid-afternoon breeze, they bid goodbye to the Weasleys, return Teddy to his grandmother, and then Floo home themselves. Ginny steps out of the fireplace, shakes the excess soot from her shoes, and collapses onto the sofa.
“Almost time for dinner,” Harry remarks, toeing off his shoes and seating himself beside her. Instantly, she curls up beside him, her legs pulled to her chest and her head on his shoulder. “What should I make?”
“Oh, you’re cooking tonight, are you?”
“Don’t I always?” He presses his lips against her silky hair. “Seriously, what do you want?”
She’s quiet for a second, contemplating. “Curry.”
“Or Thai,” she says, sounding almost dreamy. “Yeah, Thai sounds brilliant.”
“So you want to get takeaway?”
“If you do.”
Harry smiles and curls his arm around her, and as she sinks into him, all his concern from earlier in the day dissipates. “So you’re feeling better, then.”
“I told you,” she says, sitting up straight. “It was just really hot out, and I reckon I just ate a lot.”
“And now you want Thai?”
She smiles over at him. “I really, really do.”
He kisses her again, on the lips this time, letting himself lean into it. The seven months that have passed since their Christmas elopement have done nothing to soften his giddy disbelief that he’s really done it. They’re married now, she’s agreed to be with him for life, and sometimes it still knocks the breath out of him. It still seems like something from someone else’s life.
“And ice cream,” she adds once they’ve broken apart. “Strawberry, I think.” Her eyes light up. “Or chocolate. Or both?”
“Whatever you want.”
Harry Apparates to the village and back to pick up their dinner, and the evening passes with a carefree energy that makes the worry of the afternoon feel worlds away. They try - and spectacularly fail - at eating sticky rice with chopsticks and stuff themselves to the brim with spring rolls and pad thai, and by the time they’re tucked up into bed, Ginny’s head on Harry’s chest, he’s no longer thinking of the way she’d slumped onto the table in the Weasleys’ garden or the sweat that dotted the bridge of her nose even in the wake of a cool breeze. All he knows is the gentle thud of her heart in her chest, perfectly aligned with his, and the overwhelming sense that no one should be this lucky.
He wakes alone, to a barely-risen sun, and rubs the blurry sleep from his eyes as he sits up. He doesn’t have to look at his watch to know that his alarm isn’t due to go off for hours, but he seeks out his glasses from the nightstand anyway. If there’s one thing Ginny loves, particularly during this impossibly brief lull between Quidditch seasons, it’s a good lie-in. If she’s up at dawn, it isn’t willingly.
He pads down the hall in his boxers and threadbare shirt, and just as he passes the bathroom, he hears it: coughing, retching, then the sound of a flush.
His stomach sinks.
“Gin?” He raps his knuckles lightly on the door. “You okay?”
“I’m fine.” Her voice is loud, but shaking. “But I’m never eating Thai again.”
“Can I come in?”
“At your own risk.”
Cracking a smile despite his concern, he turns the knob and finds her sitting on the tile floor beside the toilet. Her legs are stretched out before her, her head tipped back against the wall.
“You don’t look so good,” he says honestly, joining her on the floor.
A scowl crosses her features. “Wow. Only seven months of marriage and the romance has already gone.”
Harry bites back a laugh. “I didn’t mean that- “
“No, no, I mean I expected this eventually,” she goes on, though she’s grinning too, “but not so soon - I’m still in my prime, I’ll have you know-“
“All right, all right. You’re incredibly fit,” he agrees. “But you’re definitely ill, too.”
She waves a careless hand. “Probably just a stomach bug.”
“Stranger things have happened.” She frowns at him again. “You died and came back to life, you don’t see me questioning it.”
“Technically speaking, I didn’t die as much as I survived a fatal curse-“
The words die on his lips as Ginny sits bolt upright, eyes wide, and then hunches over the toilet again. As she gags and sputters, Harry sweeps her hair away from her face.
“Sorry,” she mumbles, collapsing back into the floor and reaching for the toilet tissue to wipe her mouth.
“What’re you sorry for?” asks Harry, incredulous. “You’re ill, that’s not your fault. Let me make you some tea.”
“No, no, no,” she says with a frantic shake of her head. “I don’t want tea.”
“How about a Lucozade, then?”
She brightens at this. “The Muggle stuff?”
“Yeah, the Muggle stuff.” He hauls himself back to his feet. “You want the fruit punch one, right?”
So Harry Apparates into the village again, for the second time in twelve hours, and as he does, he tries to ignore the little alarm bell going off in the back of his head. The lion’s share of the time, his instincts are spot-on. It’s what has helped him rise to the position of Deputy Head Auror in just five short years. And something’s telling him this isn’t just a stomach bug, that it’s bigger and more serious than that.
But it can’t be that bad, he tells himself as he transacts business at the corner shop with a groggy clerk. If Ginny’s joking around and teasing him, it can’t be that bad.
When he gets back, he finds she’s posted herself up on the sofa with a blanket, a packet of ginger biscuits, and the wireless, which is broadcasting an exhibition match from Japan. She eagerly takes the bottle of sports drink from him and offers him a biscuit, which he eats on his way to the shower. Standing under the spray, he lets himself ruminate. He does have good instincts, he knows he does. He’s not even really one for ruminating like this - that’s more Ron’s style - because most of the time, he trusts himself. But for some reason, he doesn’t trust himself now. He doesn’t know what to think, and that’s the worst part.
The bathroom’s filled with steam by the time he emerges and wraps a towel around his waist. He uses another to rub the excess water from his hair, and as he opens the door, he’s nearly knocked on his back as Ginny pushes past him. Dropping to her knees in front of the toilet, she tidily empties the contents of her stomach into it. As Harry stands helplessly, his own insides twisting, she rises and goes to the sink to start brushing her teeth.
“I’m fine,” she mumbles around her toothbrush. “You don’t have to make that face.”
“I’m not making a face,” he says. “I’m just worried about you.”
“Don’t be.” She spits a foamy glob of toothpaste into the sink and rinses it down the drain. “It’s just a stomach bug or - or maybe a dodgy spring roll-“
“We ate the same thing.”
“Then it’s just a stomach bug,” she says again. “I’m sure it’ll be gone by tomorrow.”
Patting his bare chest, she passes by him again on her way back to the sitting room.
By the time he’s dressed and on his way, gulping down a small but piping-hot cup of coffee as he gathers his things, it’s as if she was never sick at all. Her back ramrod straight, she’s staring intently at the wireless.
“Oh, catch it, you idiot!” she shouts, waving a half-empty bottle of Lucozade so wildly that it threatens to splash out onto the floor. “How hard is it to catch a bloody Snitch?”
“Pretty damn hard, actually,” Harry remarks casually as he sits down next to her to pull on his boots.
“Says you,” she grins. “The last time I played Seeker, I won the Quidditch Cup.”
He smiles. “So you’re feeling better, then?”
“Much - oh, come on ,” she blurts out. “Canada’s Seeker is bloody awful, I swear, if the Harpies recruit her like they’re planning-“ She sinks back into the sofa. “I told you, it’s just a stomach bug.”
“All right.” His face softens into a smile. “I’ll see you tonight, then.”
He leans over to kiss her, only to find she leans away.
“You can’t kiss me!” she exclaims. “I don’t want you catching my germs.”
Skeptical, he raises a brow. “You think I’m scared of your germs?”
“Oh, I forgot. You’re a big bad Auror, you’re not scared of anything-“
She breaks off when he drops a lightning-fast kiss on her forehead and stands.
“I love you,” he says casually as he walks to the Floo.
“You’re the worst,” she shoots back. “I love you too.”
All day at work, he tries to push it out of his mind, but it’s one of the less eventful days in the Auror department - he’s just got paperwork and field notes and training schedules to deal with, when what he really needs is a good raid or trial to distract him - and he spends most of his time staring at a sheet of parchment and thinking over the past twenty-four hours.
Ginny’s probably right (she usually is). It probably is just a stomach bug. Most likely it’ll burn bright and fast and by tomorrow night, it’ll be like it never happened. She’ll be good as new, and he’ll look back and laugh, deeming himself foolish for ever worrying about it.
And yet… he feels like there’s got to be a reason he can’t stop thinking about it.
The second the clock strikes five, he packs up his bag and high-tails it to the row of fireplaces in the Ministry atrium. He usually tries to avoid this rush - too many people always try to talk to him while he’s queuing up for his turn - but tonight he’s just eager to get home to Ginny. He’s not heard from her all day, but he’s not sure if that’s a good sign or bad: she is not the type to ever ask for help.
He makes reluctant small talk with Maeve from Broom Regulatory Control, nodding politely along as she tells him all about the new parakeets she’s adopted, and then finally a fireplace opens up. He practically runs in and tosses a fistful of powder at the grate, and a second later the spinning stops and he’s in his own house. Opening his eyes, he steps out into a quiet sitting room.
“Gin?” He toes off his shoes and brushes the lingering soot from his clothes as he makes his way through the house. “Ginny, you here?”
“In the kitchen!” comes her clear, bright voice.
Harry follows the sound into the next room, where he finds her kneeling down in front of one of the cupboards. Surrounding her on the floor are various pots, pans and a small pewter cauldron.
“What’re you doing?” he asks, peering curiously down at her. “Are you... cleaning?”
“Just organizing,” she says, stacking a frying pan on top of a colander. “We’ve accumulated a lot of rubbish since we moved in, have you noticed?” She picks up the cauldron and brandishes it at him. “The bottom of this is almost completely rusted through.”
“Don’t tell Percy.”
Ginny stands. Tilting her head, her brown eyes narrow. “You look good in that.”
Befuddled, Harry looks down at his burgundy Auror uniform, the same one he’s been wearing since he was seventeen. “What - this?”
“Yeah.” Her voice has gone breathy. “You look… you look really good in that.”
Before he can formulate a response, Ginny’s locked her lips on his, and his heart leaps at the contact.
He smiles against her mouth, hands running lightly along her hips. “M’glad you feel better.”
“Told you it was nothing to worry about.”
Grabbing her by the back of her thighs, Harry boosts her up to sit on the worktop, delighting in her playful yelp of surprise. He moves in again, just barely letting their lips touch.
“So you’ll share your germs with me now?”
She hooks her calves over his hips to pull him tight against her. “ All the germs.”
He falls asleep that night happy and sated, with Lucozade and ginger biscuits the furthest thing from his mind.
Overnight missions are the worst ones, in Harry’s experience. They almost always involve a stakeout from the least comfortable place imaginable and usually coincide with the worst possible weather. This time, it’s the highest branches of a tree and fierce, howling winds. It’s only by the power of some serious sticking charms and sheer force of will that Harry doesn’t tumble down to his death. To add insult to injury, they don’t even apprehend the suspect, and come morning, Harry drags his exhausted, defeated, windburned self back home. It’s barely nine, and he has every intention of crawling into bed with his wife and falling asleep with the scent of her hair in his nose.
It’s the only thing about overnight missions, and his unpredictable work hours in general, that he doesn’t really mind. The tranquility of his house and the gentle warmth of his wife as she crawls in beside her. The way she turns to him, even in her sleep, so that their bodies nestle together under the blankets. It always serves as the most effective reminder that it doesn’t matter, really, what happens out in the field as long as he can come home to the person he loves most in the entire world.
So it’s too bad, really, when he opens the door to their bedroom - carefully, so as not to make the hinges creak - and finds the bed empty, blankets rumpled.
There’s a million places she could be, and things she could be doing. She could be out running: practice for the upcoming season starts in just a few weeks. Maybe she’s gone to the bakery to buy pastries. Maybe she woke early to listen to another Quidditch match from around the globe.
And yet Harry already knows exactly where she’ll be. As he walks down the hall, he sees Ginny step out of the bathroom. Her hair’s in a low, messy ponytail and she’s wearing a sweatshirt and a pair of his pyjama bottoms that completely cover her feet. At the sight of him, she jumps back in alarm.
“Oh - Harry-“ Her eyes are wild, bigger than usual. “Hi. I didn’t-“
“My mission’s over,” he tells her. “It was just for the night - what’s going on?”
“Nothing.” She shoves both hands into the kangaroo pocket of her sweatshirt. “I’m fine.”
“You’re still poorly, aren’t you?”
“It’s really nothing,” she says quickly, “I tried to cook dinner for myself last night and I think maybe the cheese had gone off or something - you’re a much better cook than I am-“
“And the other day it was the spring rolls,” he says - and gently, because she really does look miserable. Her forehead is dotted in sweat so he knows she’s just been sick, and his stomach twists at the thought of her suffering alone. “Just admit that you’re not well.”
“I just have bad food luck lately.” Even as she argues, she allows him to wrap an arm around her back and steer her in the direction of their bedroom. “How was the mission?”
“Awful.” With his free hand, he pushes open the door. “You want more Lucozade? I’ll go get it.”
“No, it’s fine,” she sighs. “Why don’t you just go to sleep, you look knackered.”
“Only if you’ll join me.”
She slumps against him and rests her cheek against his chest. “All right,” she agrees, and pokes one of the buttons on his uniform. “You do still look pretty good in this.”
Despite the concern tightening around his heart, Harry can’t help but smile. “It’s just to sleep - I’m not shagging you when you’re not feeling well.”
“And here I thought you weren’t scared of my germs.”
Harry releases her and sits on the end of the unmade bed. “I’ve got some self-control,” he replies as he bends forward to untie his shoelaces. Ginny joins him on the mattress, curling up on her side like a cat. “And you’re right, I am knackered.”
He supposes he should probably shower - he’s sure he’s got dirt and sweat caked onto his skin - but she looks so small and miserable and that same nagging insistence that this is something big, something that must not be ignored, is back with a vengeance.
It could just be the flu, he tells himself as he strips off his jacket and trousers, but it’s strange to catch the flu in July. Not out of the question, but definitely strange. And this isn’t really anything like the time she did have the flu, two Christmases ago. She’d been achy, then, and shivering despite a spiking fever, and she certainly hadn't still been randy for him.
Slipping under the blanket, he presses the back of his fingertips to her forehead.
“Who’re you, my mum?” Ginny mumbles into the pillow. “I don’t have a fever, I’m fine.”
He agrees on the first count - she’s clammy, actually, not warm - but not the second.
Despite Ginny’s grumbling snores filling the room, he doesn’t fall asleep. Instead, his mind races with countless scenarios, each more dramatic and tragic than the last: Ginny wasting away before him, her bright and beautiful face going pale and dull; Healers in their white robes shrugging and insisting that there’s nothing more they can do; an empty house, the silence echoing; Ginny’s Nimbus 3000 Pro gathering dust in a shed.
He can’t lose her. He really, really can’t lose her.
Around midday, he gives up on sleep altogether and drags himself from the bed. Ginny looks peaceful and calm, her skin flushed warm and pink. He really, really wants to believe that she’s right, that maybe a questionable spring roll and some dodgy cheese are to blame for all of it. He wants to believe that the most likely scenario is the one that’s truly at hand. He tells himself that a normal person would not be losing sleep over what appears to be, for all intents and purposes, an upset stomach.
But he’s Harry Potter, and his life has not been normal. Anytime he’s ever heard hoofbeats, it hasn’t been horses. It’s been zebras.
The rest of the day passes uneventfully, with the exception of the fact that Ginny - despite sleeping until one in the afternoon - falls asleep on the sofa, her head on Harry’s lap, barely an hour after they finish dinner. He strokes his fingers over her hair, which falls in a fiery sheet over his knees, and half-listens to post-match commentary on the wireless. And he tells himself, over and over again, that she’s just got a stomach bug. He tells himself that tomorrow he’ll clean out the cooling cupboard to make sure they don’t eat anything else that might have gone off. He tells himself it’s fine, that it has to be fine. That the war is over and the horror and the destruction and the deaths have stopped and darkness no longer looms around every corner. That Ginny’s still his future. That she always has been, and she always will be.
When the clock strikes midnight, and Harry’s own eyelids start drooping of their own accord, he carefully scoops Ginny into his arms and carries her into their room. She always moves toward him in her sleep, as though she’s drawn by an invisible magnet, and tonight’s no exception. The second he pulls the duvet over them, she’s curled up on his chest with her leg sandwiched between one of his.
Like he always does, he falls asleep with her in his arms.
But unlike he always does, he wakes up beside a cold expanse of mattress. His nerves spiking, he scrambles out of bed and nearly face-plants on the floor when the sheets tangle around his ankles. He leaves them in a ball on the carpet and darts anxiously down the hall, but the bathroom door’s ajar, and she’s not there.
Muscles easing in relief, he continues on down the hall to the kitchen. She must have gone out running, or practicing on her broom, wanting to be outside early before the heat of the day sets in. An image of Ginny, sweat-streaked in the little shorts and shirt she always wears to exercise, flits tantalizingly through his mind. It won’t be the worst thing, will it, if he takes the morning off… makes up for a bit of lost time…
At first when he enters the kitchen, he doesn’t even see her. He starts fiddling with the French press coffee maker - a wedding gift from Bill and Fleur that, even using magic, always seems like a lot more trouble than it’s worth for a measly cup of coffee - and it takes the sound of a chair scraping against the floor for him to turn toward the kitchen table.
“Morning,” says Ginny in the most transparent attempt at cheerfulness that Harry has ever seen. She takes a step toward him, swaying slightly on her feet. “How did you-“ She breaks off with a grimace and swallows. “How’d you sleep?”
“Gin.” Harry sets down the French press and tries to approach her, but she drops back into her chair. “You’re ill, all right? Can you just admit it?”
“Stop saying you're fine,” he pleads, desperation building within him, “you’ve been getting sick for nearly a week now.”
“It’s only been a couple of days.”
Even as she speaks, she hiccups behind her hand, like she thinks he won’t notice or something.
“I think you ought to see a Healer.”
She waves a hand in dismissal. “There’s nothing they can do, it’s just a-“
“If you say stomach bug one more time, I’m going to lose my bloody mind,” he snaps before quickly checking himself. “Look, I’ll go with you, all right?”
“No, just go to work,” she says impatiently. “I’ve got a meeting in Holyhead tonight anyway, so there isn’t time.”
“So then let’s go now, I can take the morning off.”
She shakes her head hastily. “You don’t need to do that.”
“I know I don’t need to, but Ginny…” He stops speaking to study her face, pale and wan. He wonders if she’s already been sick that morning and he didn’t even know. “I just want to make sure you’re okay.”
Her features soften. “I promise you,” she says, “you’ve got nothing to worry about.”
“Just go to work.” She stands again, this time on steady feet. “And I’m sure by tonight, I’ll feel loads better.”
“You keep saying that, but then it doesn’t happen, and I think something might be really wrong with you-“ He digs a hand into his sleep-tousled hair. “Can you just humor me? And when I’m wrong, you can take the piss out of me for the rest of our lives.”
“Do not say you’re fine-“
“But I am.” She raises her brows at him. “Just go to work, and I’ll see you tonight.”
“But what about Teddy?” asks Harry with a fresh burst of alarm. “We’re meant to have him on Saturday, I don’t want him to catch whatever you’ve got. Really, we should just go to St. Mungo’s now-“
“To hospital?!” Ginny’s jaw falls open in incredulity. “It’s really not that bad, I’m sure I’ll be fine by the time Teddy’s here.”
He knows Ginny well enough to know that she wouldn’t do anything to risk Teddy’s health. And he hates arguing with her. It almost never happens, they’re usually so in-tune with each other. He doesn’t like this disconnect, and he really doesn’t like the little voice in the back of his head telling him, for the millionth time that week, that this is something more. Something hospital-worthy.
“I’ll tell you what,” she adds in response to his pensive silence. “If I’m not better by next week-“
“Yeah, next week. If I’m not better by then, I promise to go to St. Mungo’s just to prove you wrong.” She sets a hand on his chest. “Okay?”
“Okay,” he relents. “If you say so.”
The sense of reassurance fades the second he steps into his office. He’s still got several days left to fret over her until she’s got to make good on her promise, and what if she gets worse? Whatever she’s got, it’s strange, it seems to come and go on a whim, and it’s not accompanied by anything else - no fever, no aches and pains. No coughing or sniffling or sneezing. She’s never been ill like this before, and at the thought, a pit of worry settles itself firmly in his stomach and refuses to leave.
He spends the day slogging through paperwork and sits, zombie-like and in a daze, through a department-wide meeting with the Head of the Aurors. As Deputy Head, he’s supposed to speak to the group on some of the upcoming policy changes, but Robards takes one look at him, shakes his head, and just keeps talking. Harry cannot be arsed to care either way. What does it matter if they sack him? None of it means anything without Ginny.
After lunch, he determines that the day is a lost cause, and decides to head home so he can wallow in peace. But once he gets there, the quiet is more than he can bear, and he cranks up the volume on the wireless to drown out his own intrusive thoughts.
Has it been too much to ask for, this life he’s built? Should he have been content just to have survived at all, to have scraped by with a win and most of his friends by his side? Maybe - with Ginny and marriage and dreams of a long, happy life together - he’s pushed it too far.
Things don’t work out for him, usually. The first seventeen years of his life were a long and brutal lesson in loss, in having a fleeting glimpse of what could be before having it wrenched mercilessly away. He had loving parents… for fifteen months. He had a godfather for two years. And now he’s had Ginny for years - five of them since the war, not to mention those brilliant and fleeting weeks together at Hogwarts - and maybe that’s just more happiness than he’s ever been allowed to have.
He’s just about to start cooking dinner when a little owl tumbles in through the fireplace with a folded bit of parchment tied to his leg. Intercepting him before his tiny wings can sprinkle soot all over the house, Harry takes the note and pops Pigwidgeon onto the mantle.
Hermione’s working late tonight, reads the note in Ron’s messy scrawl. Meet me for a swift one at the Leaky?
It’s as if Ron has some sort of sensor that goes off when Harry needs a distraction, and he’s never been more grateful for it. He scribbles out an affirmative response, feeds Pig an owl treat, and sends him on his way.
The pub is crowded and loud when he arrives, but he instantly spots Ron at a back table, two pints of beer sitting in front of him. Harry heads straight for him and drops into the chair opposite. Fatigue seeps into his bones as he picks up the beer that looks untouched and drinks deeply from it.
Across the table, Ron laughs. “When I said ‘swift one’, I didn’t mean you had to drink it all in one go.”
Harry plunks down the glass and stretches his legs out in front of him. “Just catching up to you.”
“I don’t know about you, but I’ve got nothing but time,” says Ron around his own swig of beer. “Hermione’s been working late every night this week.”
“Nice to know I’m your second choice,” quips Harry, though he can barely force a grin when Ron tips his beer to him in response.
“So what’s Ginny up to?”
At the mere mention of her, Harry’s stomach flips. “She’s got a team meeting or something tonight, I don’t know.”
“Can’t believe the season’s already about to start,” says Ron, swirling around the remaining beer in his glass. “Has Ginny said anything about if the Harpies have gotten that Seeker from Canada? Because I think the Cannons want to recruit her too, but I don’t know if…” He trails off, squinting curiously at Harry. “What?”
“Nothing,” Harry shakes his head. “Nothing at all.”
Ron frowns skeptically at him. “You seem weird today,” he declares. “Hermione’s been talking about all these policy changes in Magical Law Enforcement, are they getting to you too? Because she’s been so swamped-“
“No, no.” Harry traces the rim of his pint glass with the tip of his finger. “Not really, anyway.”
“Really? ‘Cause you do seem a little, I don’t know-“
“Ginny’s been ill,” Harry blurts out. “This entire week.”
“Oh.” Concern flits briefly over Ron’s face. “You should’ve just said that, then, you didn’t have to come sit here and drink with me if you’d rather-“
“She’s not home, she’s at that meeting,” Harry interrupts, “and anyway, it’s - it’s strange, mate, it’s not just like she’s got the flu or something.”
“So what’s wrong?”
“It’s been on and off since Sunday,” Harry begins, and even though Ron can’t really do anything to help him, it still feels good to talk about it. “She’ll wake up and get sick, but then she’ll insist she just ate something dodgy or that it’s a stomach bug - and then sometimes she’s all right and I just-“ He shrugs helplessly. “I tried to get her to see a Healer and she just keeps insisting that she’s fine. I don’t know what to do.”
Ron gives a subtle thumbs-up to Tom the barman, who nods and starts pulling another pint. “Well… her skin hasn’t gone all greenish, has it?”
“So it’s probably not dragon pox, then,” says Ron sensibly. “And her eyes haven’t gone yellow?”
“So it’s not black cat flu either, then.” He opens his mouth as if to continue down this road of robust rationality, only to close it and furrow his brows at Harry. “You said she wakes up sick, and then it goes away?”
“It never really goes away, though,” Harry says anxiously, “it comes back the next day.”
“Right,” Ron nods. “You should know that it pains me to ask this, but… d’you reckon she could be... pregnant?”
As Ron gives a joking, exaggerated wince, Harry shakes his head. “I don’t think that’s it,” he muses. “We’re usually pretty good about-“
Ron holds up a hand to silence him. “Details aren’t necessary,” he assures him. “It’s only a thought. It just sounds like she’s got morning sickness, is all.”
Tom hobbles over and places two more beers in front of them, but Harry doesn’t drink. Because little things are flashing through his mind like a film montage: her sudden, random craving for Thai food; her refusal to drink tea (which he realizes now contains caffeine, which would be off-limits); the way that, when she’s not ill, she’s completely randy for him.
“Oh my God.”
Ron barks out a startled laugh. “You think that’s what it is?”
“I - I don’t know-“ He reaches a hand toward his beer and sees that it’s shaking; he feels frantic in a way he hasn’t done in years. “I’ve got to talk to her-“
“So go, then,” says Ron, still wearing an expression of mingled shock and amusement. “I can drink these beers on my own, y’know-“
“She’s in Holyhead-“
“So go to Holyhead!” Ron gestures forcefully to the door. “I’m pretty sure you can’t sit here pissing about with me if you’re wondering if you’re having a baby -“
“Yeah,” Harry decides, standing up. “Yeah, I’m just gonna - they’ll let me into the Harpies complex, won’t they?”
“You’re you, so probably.“
Suddenly another second spent in the Leaky Cauldron is unbearable. Harry bolts from the pub and out into the bright, sunny street, where he immediately turns on the spot, focusing hard on the vibrant, craggy shores of western Wales.
For security reasons, he can’t Apparate directly to the Harpies training complex, so he’s got to walk nearly a mile down a little cobblestone road until he gets there. To Muggles, it looks like a farmhouse with the roof caved in, swamp-addled field, a barbed-wire fence, but Harry sees a vast stadium with seats rising hundreds of feet into the sky. At the main entrance stands a tall witch with a clipboard and a don’t-cross-me sort of expression, but Harry strides up to her like he owns the place.
“Hello,” he says, doing his best to tamp down the urgency flooding his body. “I need to see Ginny Potter, please.”
“For what purpose?” asks the witch briskly, looking down at her clipboard.
“Erm - I’m her husband-“
“No personal visitors allowed today.”
Ron’s words ring in his ears: You’re you, so probably . He hates doing this - avoids it at all costs - but when it comes down to Ginny, there’s really nothing he won’t do.
“Are you sure?” Harry lifts a hand to his hair and sinks his fingers deep into it so that his entire forehead is on display. “You can’t make any kind of exception?”
“Your wife is… Ginny Potter?” the witch repeats.
Despite his anxiety, he can’t help but feel a swell of joy at hearing Ginny’s new name. “Yes. I’m her husband. Harry.”
She sighs. “Do be quick, won’t you?”
Waving her wand, she opens the door, and Harry mutters a thank-you as he darts inside before she can change her mind. He’s been to the stadium before, dozens of times, and his feet carry him quickly through the brightly lit corridors. He’s not about to barge in if she’s still in a meeting - he reckons he can exercise at least a modicum of tact - but perhaps he can intercept her as she’s leaving. As usual, he hasn’t really got a plan, but it still feels like momentum, like action. And Ron was right: there’s no way he could have sat in a pub and pretended that his entire life isn’t about to change.
He rounds a corner and nearly collides with Gwenog Jones. “Harry?” she greets him, doing nothing to mask the surprise on her face. “What are you-“
“Looking for Ginny,” he pants, only just now noticing that he hasn’t taken a proper breath since before Ron dropped the words ‘morning sickness’, “do you know-“
“Changing rooms, I expect-“
So Harry spins on his heel and heads down a side corridor. During the season, it’s usually swarming with press and coaches and front office staff, but now, blessedly, it’s quiet. He pushes through the door and takes in the rows of lockers and benches. Ginny’s is all the way in the back, from when her last name still started with W, and Harry finds her sitting alone, tucking gloves and elbow pads into a rucksack.
“Hey,” he says softly, not wanting to startle him.
She turns to look at him, her long hair framing her face, and for a moment he just lets himself drink in the sight of her. He prays that he’s right, that this little suspicion is correct, and not just because he doesn’t want her to truly be ill. It’s because he looks at her and sees everything he has ever wanted. His whole life, his whole future.
“What are you doing here?” she asks, half-panicked. “Is everything okay?”
“Everything’s fine.” Even as he approaches and joins her on the bench, he feels remarkably calm. It’s like his distress faded the second he saw her. Like things are falling into place. “Gin… are you pregnant?”
She tips forward, burying her face in her hands, and Harry’s heart sinks. He’s wrong, and not only is he wrong, he’s probably accidentally called her fat, and she’s probably still sick with some mysterious illness that the medical community will have to name after her because it’s so rare and horrible…
Until he notices that she’s nodding. She’s nodding .
He can’t bring himself to speak above a whisper, because if he does, he might shatter this, and then it might stop being real.
“You weren’t meant to know yet,” she mumbles, speaking into her palms. “I was going to surprise you for your birthday, I had a whole thing planned with, with Teddy-“
“Ginny.” His voice comes out strangled, hoarse, and she picks up her face. “We’re having a baby?”
Her shoulders relax. “We’re having a baby.”
She’s in his arms a second later, and he breathes in the flowery scent of her hair, the one that makes him feel like he’s still sixteen and tumbling madly, uncontrollably, head-over-heels in love with her and too terrified to let himself picture a future that he didn’t think would ever be his.
It’s here now. All the wishes he didn’t think he had any right to make are coming true now anyway. Turns out, he doesn’t have to settle just for being alive. He can have the life he’s always wanted.
“I love you,” he whispers into her neck. “I love you so much.”
She squeezes him tighter. “I love you too.”
It does not sink in right away, not properly anyway. Throughout the course of the night - as Ginny finishes packing up her locker (since she’s going on leave for the season), and as they Apparate home, and as they stumble with delirious joy into their bedroom, discarding articles of clothing along the hall like breadcrumbs - it just keeps hitting him over and over again.
A baby. An actual baby, one that’s half-Ginny and half-him. It doesn’t seem real, it’s too amazing to be real. It’s the sort of thing that happens to other people, not someone like him, whose life has been defined by darkness and loss.
But maybe his life can be defined by something else now.
It hits him again as Ginny, her body warm and soft and flushed, curls up against him in their bed, just as she always does, like nothing’s changed. Even though everything has changed. Her fingertips press against the dark stubble peppering his jaw and her lips brush his.
“How long have you known?”
“About a week,” she replies quietly. “I’m only about six weeks along - I think, anyway. I need to see a midwitch.”
“So you knew when you told me not to kiss you that time,” he recalls aloud, looking down at her in bafflement. “You didn’t even have any germs for me to catch-“
“It wasn’t like I didn’t want to tell you,” she says, sheepish. “I just thought with your birthday coming up - I had this whole thing planned out with Teddy-“
“I’m sorry, Teddy knows?!”
Her laughter fills the air. “No, he was just going to be part of how I was going to tell you.”
“I’m not angry or anything,” he assures her, “but you really could’ve just told me.”
“I know I could have done, but… I don’t know. I just wanted to make it special for you.”
Without the words to tell her just how special it already is and what it already means to him, he moves in and kisses her, soft and lingering.
“We probably should tell Teddy soon, though,” he realizes once they break apart. “He’s old enough to understand, I think, and this way he’ll have time to get used to the idea, ask questions if he wants.”
“Questions like where babies come from?”
“I’ll let you answer that one,” replies Harry with a grin. “But really, we’ve got him this weekend anyway. May as well.”
“Oh, well…” Ginny bites the inside of her lower lip. “I mean, of course we should tell him, but really we’re not supposed to tell anyone this early on.”
“What, really? Not anyone?”
“Not until I’m a little further along, and I’ve seen a midwitch and we know that everything’s all right. It’s not like I’m showing yet or anything.”
Harry sneaks a hand between them to place it against her stomach, which is still smooth and flat. He’s not expecting to feel anything, really, but he still knows there’s something more there, and a fresh flurry of excitement rushes over him.
“All right, but - can I least tell Ron and Hermione?” he asks hopefully. “They don’t really count as people.”
“Oh, nice,” she chuckles. “I’m telling them you said that.”
“Well, the thing is, Ron may already have a, er - an inkling.”
She laughs again, propping her chin on his chest. “Why would Ron have an inkling ?”
“I was very worried about you, you know,” he begins, “you had me in a bit of a state, and Ron wanted me to go have a pint with him at the Leaky tonight so I told him how you’ve been poorly…” He feels his face go red. “He may or may not have been the one who figured it out, actually.”
“Oh, Merlin,” she groans. “I really thought you were more observant than this.”
“I thought I was too.”
“Well-“ Ginny bites her lip again. “Can’t you just tell him that I’ve got the flu or something, until it’s time to actually tell everyone?”
Harry exhales. “I suppose.”
“Because I’ve at least got to go to the midwitch first and make sure everything’s going well so far.”
“But after that?”
“After that, we can tell them. And I’m really sorry that I worried you,” Ginny adds, going serious. “I didn’t mean to, I thought I could just downplay it until I told you what it actually was, but you-“ Her brown eyes look directly into his. “I didn’t think you’d be that worried.”
“Yeah, I just…” He pushes a lock of her hair behind her ear. “I just had this feeling that it was something more than what you were saying - and I guess I was right in a way, but my mind just jumped to you being seriously ill, and-“ He swallows thickly. “And losing you.”
“You’re not going to lose me,” she says fervently. “Me or the baby, we’re going to be around for a really long time.”
“I know that now. I think I’m just not used to being happy yet,” he admits. “I’m not used to having a good life.”
She kisses him firmly on the lips. “Get used to it.”
It’s another bright, sunny summer day. England doesn’t see many of them, but the year’s allotment seems to have all come in this one week as July marches to a close. Molly and Arthur have set up the long table in the garden again, and Teddy and Victoire run rampant through the grass with bare feet. Harry pictures another child out there, years from now: a little girl with red hair, perhaps, or a boy with Ginny’s eyes.
The appointment with the midwitch is set for this coming Wednesday, and the mere thought of it sets Harry on pins and needles. To him, it’s the moment that it becomes tangible - when a medical professional tells them that there is, indeed, another human being growing inside his wife - and the moment that this giddy, unbridled joy can be ripped away from him.
There’s still so much that can go wrong, and in the past almost-twenty-three years of his life, Harry’s become rather acquainted with disaster. With tragedy. With disappointment. He can still lose it all in the blink of an eye.
But that’s always been possible. It will always be possible, no matter how many dark wizards he locks up or how many protective wards he puts over his house. Things can always go wrong, but the difference between the little boy who slept in a cupboard and the young man Harry is today is that now, he isn’t alone. The fact that they’ve got to eat in the garden because the kitchen can no longer contain everyone is proof enough of that.
Ginny’s gone to the loo for the third time since they arrived, so Harry’s been left briefly to his own devices. He’s content for the time being to supervise the children while the rest of the adults talk and nibble on appetizers, but then there’s a crack of Apparition and Ron and Hermione materialize at the outer bounds of the garden.
He hasn’t seen Ron since abandoning him in the Leaky Cauldron in a panic three days ago. Knowing Ron, he won’t have forgotten about it, and indeed, Ron and Hermione make a beeline straight for the table and drop into chairs on either side of him.
“So?” asks Ron, intrigue alight in his blue eyes. “What happened?”
“What happened with what?” asks Harry blithely. “Hello to you too, by the way.”
“With Ginny,” Hermione chimes in from Harry’s other side. “Is she pregnant, or-“
“You told her?!”
Ron gives a casual (and irritating) shrug. “I tell her everything,” he replies. “You can’t honestly be surprised by that.”
“I’m not,” Harry concedes, “but still-“
“So is she?” Hermione interjects. “You’ve had us in suspense the whole weekend.”
Ginny’s sworn Harry to secrecy, and he understands her reasoning as to why, and he’d never want to betray her trust. But he hates lying to Ron and Hermione. He’s never misled them about anything this big, and what’s worse is he’s bursting to tell them. Despite a latent worry that this can still be taken away from him, he’s the happiest he’s ever been.
And he’s pretty sure his two best friends can tell anyway.
“You both need to calm down,” he says finally as the back door swings open and Ginny strides out into the garden.
“That’s not a real answer,” says Hermione, breathless with exhilaration. “Don’t dodge the question, Harry-“
“Sometimes a stomach bug is just a stomach bug,” he snaps, watching Ginny draw nearer. “All right?”
It isn’t a lie, not really, but it’s enough to misdirect their thinking and assuage the little twinge of guilt in Harry’s stomach.
“Get up,” says Ginny when she reaches them, knocking her foot into Ron’s calf. “You’re in my spot.”
Grumbling under his breath, Ron stands and starts toward Hermione - who, Harry cannot help but notice, is still narrowing her eyes suspiciously at him. When Teddy hurtles up, a smudge of dirt on his cheek, and requests a glass of water, Harry’s all too eager to bring him inside.
“Is Ginny still poorly?” asks Teddy, looking up at Harry with big, earnest eyes.
“What do you mean, mate?”
Harry pulls open the door and lets Teddy scamper in ahead of him. The kitchen’s empty, though a pot of soup bubbles away on the stove.
“Last time we had Sunday lunch, she couldn’t play with me ‘cause she didn’t feel good.” Teddy stands on his toes, the tips of his fingers clutching the worktop, as Harry fetches a glass from the cupboard. “But is she better now? I still really want to play leapfrog.”
Dammit . Leave it to Teddy to be the most considerate, perceptive five-year-old on the planet.
Harry fills the cup halfway with cool water from his wand and crouches down in front of Teddy.
“She‘s still not feeling very well,” he explains, handing the little boy the cup. “Remember last Christmas, when you had the mumblemumps and even though you were mostly better, you still had a sore throat a lot of the time?”
Teddy nods. “It even hurt on Hogmanay.”
“I know, mate,” says Harry sympathetically. “Sometimes when you’re poorly, it just lasts a little while, but I promise, Ginny’ll be fine. You don’t have to worry.”
“Okay.” Teddy takes a deep drink from the cup, water sloshing onto his shirt. “Can we go for a fly, then?”
“Yeah,” Harry smiles. “Course we can.”
By the time Teddy grows bored of his low-altitude cruise around the orchard, lunch is ready to be served. A pale grey cloud cover passes over the sky - the sunshine couldn’t last forever, Harry supposes - as he takes his seat beside Ginny. Across the table, Hermione fixes him with a razor-sharp stare.
What? he mouths at her in annoyance, reaching for a roll from the basket between them. Innocently, she shrugs and takes her own roll.
Harry glances over at Ginny on his left, who’s helping Teddy arrange his napkin on his lap. They’ve just got to get through this lunch, that’s all. After that, he should have no trouble avoiding Ron and Hermione until after the midwitch appointment later that week.
It’s just one lunch under Hermione’s eagle-eyed glare. He used to endure this multiple times a week back at Hogwarts without breaking a sweat, so he can certainly handle it now.
From the head of the table, Molly begins levitating bowls of soup to everyone’s place setting. Harry intercepts one from the air and brings it down in front of Ginny… and then watches as the blood drains from her face.
It’s French onion soup. Which Ginny loves. Or, more accurately, non-pregnant Ginny loves it. Pregnant Ginny possesses an all-consuming hatred for onions and, given the option, would happily see them eradicated from the planet. Pregnant Ginny caught sight of an onion in her salad on Friday and could hardly make it to the bathroom in time to empty out her stomach.
Her lips are pressed tightly together as she draws in a deep breath through her nose. Around them, everyone picks up spoons and starts, mostly oblivious - with the exception, of course, of Hermione, who is not yet eating. Harry’s not even sure she’s blinking.
It wouldn’t be difficult for him to do some clandestine magic under the table and gradually vanish Ginny’s soup to give the effect that she’s eating it, but he knows it’s the scent that’s really bothering her. Still, he can’t just do nothing: he slips his wand out of the waistband of his trousers and thinks, Evanesco , and her bowl drains halfway.
“Ginny,” says Fleur suddenly from halfway down the table, “is something wrong? You look a bit - what’s ze word-“
“Peaky,” Bill concludes, regarding his sister with concern. “Yeah, you actually do.”
“I’m-“ Ginny hiccups. “I’m fine.”
She makes an attempt to smile, but it’s more like she’s baring her teeth, and even when Harry tries to give her a comforting pat on the leg, her face twists in anguish.
Across the table, Hermione gasps.
Fine, Harry decides. They’ve lost this little battle. There was no way they were ever going to outsmart Hermione Granger, anyway. But he’s not going to let her and her complete inability to ever be subtle ruin the entire thing.
And so he kicks her under the table. She gasps again, this time affronted, and then begins whispering furiously in Ron’s ear.
Ginny, with a shaking hand, picks up her spoon and sinks it into the remaining soup in her bowl. Slowly, she draws a ragged breath, then exhales.
“Gin,” Harry mutters under his breath. “You really don’t have to do this.”
“It’s fine,” she hisses back. “I’m fine.”
“Just go inside-“
It’s Arthur’s turn now to stare down the table in Ginny’s direction. “Are you sure you’re all right, dear? Maybe some ice water-“
“No,” she protests, voice coming out as a whimper. “Please, nothing’s wrong-“
She lets out a little cough, then swallows. A bead of sweat rolls down her temple.
“Gin,” Harry tries again, fully aware that everyone’s listening and fully unable to care. She’s making herself suffer for no reason other than safeguarding a secret they’d all be thrilled to hear. “This is getting a bit ridiculous, can’t we just-“
“ No- “
Teddy taps Ginny politely on the shoulder, his little face screwed up with worry. “Do you have mumblemumps like I had?”
For a moment, her expression relaxes. “No, sweetie, don’t worry, I don’t have mumblemumps-“
There’s another gasp, this time from Molly, and it’s one of dawning realization. Ginny turns to face Harry, and unspoken words pass between them.
“Fine,” Ginny declares, rising to her feet. She tosses her spoon down on the table and drops of soup spatter George in the face. “Everyone? Harry and I are expecting a baby.” The words hang on the tension in the air. “And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and vomit.”
Her chair falls over in the grass as she takes off toward the house, and silence falls across the Weasley family. Ten sets of eyes turn to stare at him.
“Erm,” Harry breaks the silence with a nervous chuckle. “I’ll just - I’ll be right back.”
He follows her path inside and takes the stairs two at a time until he reaches the landing outside of the loo and taps on the door.
“One second,” comes Ginny’s voice, strong and clear now.
The door swings open. Ginny’s stood at the sink, a toothbrush in her mouth. “Oops,” she mutters, spitting into the basin.
“We should’ve known,” reasons Harry. “It was us against the onions, and the onions win every time.”
“They’re evil,” she agrees, spitting again and straightening up. “I can’t believe I did that.”
“Oh, come here,” says Harry, opening his arms so she can gravitate into them. “It doesn’t matter, really, does it?”
“It’s way too early.” Her face is pressed against his shirt. “They’re not meant to know yet.”
“I know, but it’s just your family,” he reasons. “It’s not like we’re doing an interview with the Prophet or anything.”
“Right, but…” She slips out of his embrace and leans back against the sink, palms resting against the porcelain. Her eyes are cast somewhere near his knees. “I hate that I kept it a secret from you, I really do. And I did have something planned out to surprise you, but I think I was just trying to stall on telling you, because right away I started thinking - what if I told you, and then something went wrong? It’d be like - like I was taking it away from you-“
“No, no,” he shakes his head, horrified. “It isn’t like that at all. Whatever happens, we’re in this together, aren’t we?”
“I know.” She meets his gaze and nods firmly. “I know that, but it… it feels like it’s safer somehow, when we’re the only ones who know.” She shrugs. “Maybe that’s mad.”
“It’s not.” He moves to hold her again. That flowery scent is in his nose again, and he kisses the top of her head as she sinks into him. “I know it’s still early days, and I want to protect it too, but - but I’m also so happy about it… and now they can be happy with us. Yeah?”
Ginny nods against his chest. “Yeah, that’s true.”
“We’ll have to sit down and have a talk with Teddy, though,” Harry thinks aloud. “Properly explain it all.”
“Oh, I know,” Ginny groans. “I feel horrible, he’s too little to find out in such a dramatic fashion, I hope he isn’t confused, or upset-“
“I think he’ll just be pleased to hear you don’t have mumblemumps.”
Ginny shakes with gentle laughter. “All right, let’s go. Get Mum’s crying over and done with.”
They’re welcomed back into the garden with a flurry of hugs and pats on the back and well-wishes, and Molly hugs Harry so tightly that he thinks his ribs might crack. Ron runs inside to fetch a bottle of Firewhiskey, so they can “celebrate properly”, and as he leaves, Hermione approaches Harry and Ginny with shining eyes.
“I’m so sorry,” she says at once. “I wasn’t trying to - to try to get you to tell, but it was so obvious and I’m just so excited for you-“
She breaks off with a whimper and flings her arms around both of them at once. Over her bushy head of hair, Harry catches Ginny’s eye and grins. Telling the entire family has hammered home the inescapable, wonderful truth, and it feels so good to share it.
Ron leads them in a toast (and Harry cannot help but reminisce about the nightmares he’d had in his sixth year of Ron disowning him) and they manage to get through lunch. As pudding is being served, Teddy climbs into Ginny’s lap and begins issuing a litany of questions, each of which she answers with the utmost patience.
“How long do babies take to grow?”
“About nine months,” says Ginny. “So this one’ll be born in the spring - probably about a month before you have your birthday.”
“And it stays in your tummy the whole time?”
“Mmhmm,” she nods. “Until it’s big enough to be born.”
“But how did it get there?” asks Teddy, oblivious to the snickering from George and Ron. “How do you put it there?”
“Teddy,” Harry interrupts, face flushing as he pushes a plate across the tabletop. “Have some treacle tart.”