Do Harry, Ginny and baby James have some visitors in the maternity ward at St Mungo's? Or is Harry just dreaming?
It was early evening in St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Ailments. In the private room at the end of the maternity ward, Harry Potter sat quietly in a chair. Lying in the bed, Ginny had just nodded off. Lying in the cot between the chair and the bed, James Sirius Potter, all of ten hours old, had also just nodded off. Harry sat and looked between one and the other, tired but perfectly happy. It had been a long day. Their son had decided to start coming into the world at nine o'clock last night, but after a mad rush to St Mungo's, James had dawdled and teased and delayed, finally putting in his appearance at breakfast time.
"Boys," the maternity ward Healer had remarked. "Always show up in time for meals."
James might have wanted his food, but nobody else had got much. For the rest of the day, all the Weasley family had poured into St Mungo's to see him: Molly and Arthur ('Oh, Ginny love! And Harry!'); Bill and Fleur (''Ee eez beautivul...!'); Charlie ('Sorry, Jamie mate: they made me leave your new pet dragon outside'); Percy and Audrey ('Congratulations, the pair of you!'); George and Angelina ('Say something, George!' 'Isn't a bloke allowed to cry when his baby sister has a son?'); and Ron and Hermione ('D'you think we should get one too?').
Congratulations to The Boy Who Lived and the Holyhead Harpies No. 1 Chaser had come from all the formal sources: Quidditch managers, team-mates, Minister Shacklebolt and Headmistress McGonagall to name but a few – the latter's note sounding incredibly brisk and curt, as if the writer had blown her nose and cleared her throat many times in the composition of it. Hagrid had brought a massive bunch of marigolds and an almost bone-crushing hug for Harry to the downstairs foyer, but had not been allowed up to the ward; and Andromeda had made a Floo call to say that Teddy was absolutely delighted, but she would not be bringing him until tomorrow because his hair was flashing through over-excited colours like a demented kaleidoscope. There had even been – and Harry was still unsure how it had possibly been delivered – a large bouquet of roses from a muggle florist bearing a card with two words: Congratulations – Dudley.
It had been a lovely day. But, Harry felt, this might just be the best moment of it: just himself and Ginny and James. A small, perfect, family. His family. James wriggled in his sleep. Ginny was snoring slightly, while the long beams of evening sunlight across the bed caught her hair and made it glow. Could anything be more beautiful? Harry yawned, and stretched his legs out, but he wasn't going to go to sleep. Not to sleep. He was too happy, just sitting watching his wife and son and the odd dust flake dancing joyfully in the evening sunbeams...
Evening? Who had said it was evening? It was afternoon, and the private room at the end of the maternity ward in St Mungo's was bright with afternoon sunshine. James was finally asleep in the cot between the chair and the bed, and Ginny had just nodded off. She was snoring slightly, and Harry, listening to the gentle rise and fall, almost missed the sudden murmur and then increasing rumble of voices in the main ward outside.
"Family!" said the voice of one of the junior Healers on the ward, in a rather desperate tone. "Family visiting only!"
"I'm his godfather!" broke in a loud and cheerily indignant voice. "And if that doesn't qualify-"
"We're cousins," another cheerful voice cut across. "And he's with us. So – ooops!" Whatever the Healer said in reply was lost in a loud bang. Before Harry could scramble to his feet, the door burst open.
Tonks – Remus – Sirius – and a sudden flood of hugs and congratulations and explanations. "Where is he? Where is he? Who's hiding the baby?!" "We're here at last!" "She wouldn't let us in!" "Padfoot's shocked; a Healer he couldn't manage to charm!" "I am family!" "Isn't he gorgeous?!" "Well, we are cousins! Sirius and me! She didn't ask whose cousins!" "Isn't he lovely?" "Where've they gone?"
Sirius pulled out of the flood and strode back to the door. "Oi!" he bellowed, jerking it open. "Grandma! Granddad! What's the matter with you slackers?! Afraid he'll be the first Potter in six generations to look like he's brushed his hair?"
And there they were. James and Lily, proud and pink as any grandparents had ever been. Harry stood bewildered, and Sirius flung one arm around his shoulders. "C'mon, mate. They feel just the same!"
A vast, paternal hug from James; a motherly kiss from Lily ("He's too old for that!" quoth Sirius in the background) – and the new grandparents were finally bent over the cot.
"Oh!" said Tonks, stepping back to give them room and knocking over the chair. "I forgot to give you this." She held up what looked like a small rubber banner printed with the words 'NEW BABY.' "It was the biggest congratulations balloon we could find – until I tripped over that Healer outside and squashed it flat."
Harry took the flat balloon with a rather breathless laugh. "Was that the balloon or the Healer squashed flat?"
"Balloon – oi!" Tonks dived towards the door, and grabbed Remus by the arm. "You are NOT sidling off!" she scolded, steering him firmly back in and shutting the door with a kick. "And NO, you are NOT saying you think you're not needed here! Of course he needs his uncle Remus! Who else is going to teach him to behave himself?!"
Sirius broke off pulling faces at James the younger to laugh, with his usual bark. Remus sighed, and chuckled, and shook Harry's hand again. "Teddy's delighted, but we've left him with Andromeda, 'cause his hair's flashing through over-excited colours like a demented kaleidoscope. He'll come tomorrow."
"You'll bring him!" Tonks ordered, and Remus flung up his hands in defeat. She shook her head at him, hair turning from plain purple to pink stripes, and then pulled him back to lean over the cot as Lily moved away to ask Ginny how she was feeling.
Feeling? Harry looked round with a feeling that his heart might be going to burst with happiness:
"Remember?" Tonks was saying. "Remember when our Teddy was that little?"
James the elder and Sirius were arm-over-shoulder: "Remember when Harry was that little?"
"I remember," Lily was saying to Ginny. "You want to sleep for a week and you've got a year of two o'clock feeds ahead of you."
Someone was squeezing his hand, someone was calling his name, and Harry blinked awake to find Ginny standing over him. "I'm just going to the loo," she said, gesturing at her hospital dressing gown. "I hated to wake you, 'cause you were smiling so happily, but someone needs to keep an eye on James."
"Er-" Harry rubbed his eyes hastily. "Right."
Ginny squeezed his hand again. "Wakey wakey... you might want to sleep for a week, but we've probably got a year's worth of sleepless nights ahead of us." She grinned at Harry, and then turned to look into the cot. "You know, I was thinking, sitting there watching you asleep. James is Mum and Dad's newest grandchild but – he's also your Mum and Dad's grandchild. Their first, in fact."
Harry caught his breath as Ginny hesitated, her eyes fixed so firmly on the cot he knew she was trying not to look up at him. "They'd – they'd be really proud of him," she said uncertainly. "Even if I have passed the Weasley red hair onto him."
Of course it is all happening inside your head, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?
The truth clicked into place for Harry. "Mum's red-headed," he said quietly. He squeezed Ginny's hand until she looked up and met his eyes. "And not 'would be': they are, Ginny. They're delighted."