Chasing Butterflies
Disclaimer: I don't own HP or any of these characters. That belongs to JKR, Scholastic Books, Warner Brothers, etc.

The sky above was brilliantly blue without a single cloud in sight. The sun beat down upon all those who dared take step outside, as it was more than pleasantly warm. Fortunately, a light breeze had started up within the last hour to counteract the sun's effects but in Harry's opinion it was still too hot. All in all, it was a typical summer day.

Personally, Harry thought that it was too hot to really do anything, as he sipped his iced pumpkin juice while resting out on the porch. He preferred to simply recline in his chair, not moving unless it was absolutely necessary until the cool of night came about. His children, however, had other ideas on what to do during the day.

Their seven year old, James, was currently sitting against a tree reading the latest edition of Quidditch Through The Ages. Harry knew perfectly well that his son would prefer to be doing something more active from the looks of longing James would occasionally cast at his broom. Earlier in the day, he had somehow got the idea to try some of the more daring maneuvers that he had read about in his favorite book. Watching his son attempt some of those moves made Harry realize how Hermione must have felt back when she watched all of his Quidditch matches as he could have sworn that his heart stopped in fear several times. Yet Harry did not have the heart to stop his son from flying like that. The sheer joy that was apparent on James's face was something that Harry had felt too often from flying himself for him to take that joy away from the boy.

However, James had momentarily lost control of the broom while pulling out of one of his more daring maneuvers. The end result was that he was sent hurtling through the house before he could regain control. Hermione had been scared witless when she found her son flying like that in their dining room. Harry had been able to locate his wife and son first from her shrieks of fear and later from her vehement scolding of their son. She had turned to give him a piece of her mind as soon as he arrived on the scene and it took ages to calm her down. Regrettably, he had also had to ground James from flying for the next three months. It was a harsher punishment than Harry would have liked to mete out but he really did not have any choice. It was better that James have both his feet solidly on the ground for the next three months rather than scaring his mother like that again in her condition. So it was he was stuck with only reading about Quidditch although he would occasionally cast the most pathetic looks at his dad, as if begging for a reprieve, but Harry was having none of it.

Rachel was ignoring her brother's pouts in favor of chasing butterflies. She was running back and forth across the yard, occasionally stumbling over bits of grass, trying in vain to catch one of them in her hands. Harry was a bit surprised that she hadn't given up for one reason or another by now. After all, it was a very warm day and she hadn't once came close to actually catching one.

The sound of footsteps behind him alerted Harry to the approach of his wife. Turning in his chair, he saw her waddling towards the seat beside him. He rose to help his wife for whom it was getting progressively more difficult to move, as she was seven months pregnant. She accepted his hand and he helped her to the chair. He sat back down in his chair while she leaned over to take one of the remaining glasses of pumpkin juice on the table. He watched as she took several long sips from her glass before relaxing and leaning back in her seat.

Her thirst slaked, Hermione turned her attention to her husband. "Never again," she stated flatly, gesturing at her stomach.

He smiled at that and bent over to give her the lightest of kisses. "That's what you said last time."

"I mean it this time, Harry."

"If you say so, love." His hand drifted over to rest on her stomach. "And how is our littlest one today?"

"Active," Hermione replied. "Very active. You could say hyperactive. He hasn't let me rest all day with all of his cartwheeling."

"I'm sorry to hear that she's been bothering you so much."

Hermione rolled her eyes at Harry's insistence that their youngest would also be a girl. Though they could have easily arranged for the mediwizard to tell them the gender of their child, they had decided that it would be more fun to wait and see. Hermione dearly wish that they hadn't decided to do that. She dearly longed to tell her husband "I told you so" about right now. Sighing, she settled with saying, "It's all your fault, you know."

"Is it?" Harry raised an eyebrow at her and smirked. "I rather got the impression that you were involved at the time as well."

"That's not what I meant and you know it." She glared at her recalcitrant husband. "I meant that it's your fault that he's so hyperactive."

"Do you mean to tell me that her mother never ran about endlessly as a child?"

"Well, no, I didn't say that exactly," she stammered, "but I'm sure that you were much worse than me."

"Maybe," he replied. Casting a glance towards their children, he felt the need to apologize for earlier events. "I am sorry about what happened earlier, Hermione. You know that James never meant to frighten you like that."

Hermione glowered at their son, who was still reading under the shade of the tree. James pulled his book closer to his face, as if he could feel the daggers that his mother was shooting at him through her glare. "You should have told him to stop, Harry," she accused.

"I'm sorry, Hermione. Can I do anything to make you forgive me?"

"Cook dinner."

"You don't even have to ask."

"For the next three months."

Harry winced. That wasn't what he had been expecting her to say but he wasn't about to tell her no, especially as he wanted her to relax more anyway. "That's fine, love. You shouldn't have to stand in the hot kitchen, cooking in your condition."

Hermione's glare returned to her husband. "I'll have you know, Harry, that I'm pregnant, not an—"

"Invalid, yes I know." Harry put up his hands to defend himself. "But your ankles are swollen and you really should spend more time resting than you do."

"That's a little hard to do with you three around."

Just then, a crash resounded from behind them. Rachel had been pursuing her quest for butterflies with the determination only five year olds have, when one had landed on the edge of James's book. She had shrieked in delight and had eagerly bounded over to catch that butterfly. Unfortunately, she had tripped and landed hard on top of her brother, where she was now loudly crying.

Without pausing for thought, Harry got up and ran over to his children to make sure that they were both okay. The wails coming from his daughter were not reassuring and he was worried that she had injured herself. As he got closer, he could hear James trying to stop Rachel's tears.

"Oh come on, now. Stop crying. After all, it wasn't you who was used as a landing pad." James was in enough trouble today without being accused of making his younger sister cry. Suddenly, a pair of hands swept down to pick up Rachel. Looking up, he saw his father and instinctively, he protested, "It's not my fault, Dad!"

"I know," Harry replied shortly, waving his hand at his son to let him know that he wasn't upset at him for anything. Relieved that he wasn't in trouble, James went back to his book but kept an eye on his father and sister.

Harry carefully examined Rachel to see if she was hurt. Her knees were only slightly skinned but she wasn't crying as if that were the only thing. "Please stop crying, Rachel," he said. "Daddy hates to see you cry."

Her sobs continued on unabated.

He began to rock his daughter back and forth, trying to calm her down. "Oh, Rachel. Come on and tell Daddy what's wrong. What hurts, pumpkin?" he asked.

"It's not that," Rachel said through her tears. "Nothin' hurts. But it's not fair, Daddy. I've been chasin'em all day but James, he does nothin' and he gets one. And when I come over, it flies away again."

It took a moment for Harry to figure out that she was talking about the butterflies. He heaved a sigh of relief that she wasn't hurt before continuing. "Did you ever consider that you were trying too hard, pumpkin?"

Surprised at the idea, Rachel stopped crying completely. "What do you mean?" she asked.

Harry walked away from the tree to the middle of their yard. He sat Rachel down and then knelt down beside her, with his back to the porch. "Sometimes," he said, "chasing after what you want doesn't get you anywhere. Sometimes you just have to sit still and wait for what you want to come to you. You just have to sit back and enjoy the scenery and eventually, it'll come to you." He got up and took a few steps away from his daughter. "Just wait," he told her, before continuing to back away.

A few seconds later, a single butterfly came and landed on Rachel's nose. Her green eyes wide with glee, she stayed perfectly still so as to not scare it away. Harry smiled as she watched the butterfly contentedly.

"I see you took care of that one," a soft voice said from behind him.

He spun around to see Hermione slowly walking towards him. Quickly, he strode back to her, slightly miffed that she had felt it necessary to get up and walk to check up on them in her condition, even though he had set off right away to make sure everything was all right. He took her right hand in his and gently supported her back with his other hand. "You didn't have to worry, love," he said as he guided them back to the chairs on the porch. "I had it completely under control."

Hermione shot him a look that clearly asked what sort of mother did he think she was before deciding to let that subject drop. He would worry about her and she knew there was nothing she could do about it. It got frustrating at times, especially when he literally bent over backwards to be accommodating, but she knew that there were times when she fussed over him more. If he could accept such nagging with good grace, the least she could do was to return the favor. Casting a glance back at their daughter, she said, "I suppose it's just as well. It seems that your method of catching butterflies is far better than mine."

"You chased butterflies like that when you were little?" He was surprised by her admission. "I thought that you blamed me for our kids being so active!"

She screwed her nose up at him. "I blamed you for our sons being hyperactive and always wanting to jump and fly about. I never said anything about our daughter."

"So does this mean that you'll take the blame for our daughters?"

"Yes, I'll take the blame for our daughter if you'll take the blame for our sons."

Harry decided to let it go, as they would only start to get childish if they continued this debate. Besides, he knew that in a couple months Hermione would have to admit that he was right no matter how much she hated being wrong. That would be worth waiting for.

As they sat back down again, Hermione suddenly asked him, "Do you have everything you want?"

He turned to grin at her before replying. "Yes, I do, love. All I had to do was sit still and open my eyes and see that she was right by my side all along."

finis

Author's note--This ficlet was written originally for a friend's birthday (waves to Ariana) but I thought that with a little brushing up, it could be posted here as well. In any case, I would dearly like to know what you thought of this fic so please review. Thanks.

Oh and Stoneheart -- while I agree that the proper length of a fic depends on the fic itself, there is still such a thing as fics that are really too short to post. Such fics are better hidden away to be taken out during a rainy day to share amongst friends or to reuse the concept in a longer fic.