Disclaimer: If you think I own Harry, you're crazy. If I did, I wouldn't be driving to school every day. I would be riding my Firebolt.
Note: I absolutely love writing this story, and this chapter was even more fun that usual. I hope you enjoy it. Please review!
"Come on, Harry, it'll be fun! I've been longing to see Hogsmeade again…we can have dinner at the Hog's Head, taste what's new at Honeydukes, and maybe even visit Aberforth! He promised to show us pictures of him, Ariana and Albus as children when we came back, remember? I bet Professor McGonagall would even meet us for a while. She's always begging us to come see her at Hogwarts. I think she's lonely there now, without Professor Dumbledore and Professor Sprout; she's not as young as she used to be, bless her. Now, don't you think we should go?" Ginny's tone was wheedling, even as she kept a serious face.
Harry shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "Well, I'll go with you if you really want me to, Gin…but you've got to promise me something first."
The young couple was sitting cozily together in the living room of number 12, Grimmauld Place. They didn't have to keep their voices down any longer when they talked-rather than having to live with the portrait of Mrs. Black screaming in their ears day in and day out, Harry had blasted down the entire wall that had held the picture in order to defeat the permanent Sticking Charm. He then proceeded to throw the dreadful portrait into the sewer via a manhole in their sidewalk. Despite Mrs. Black's horrible (and swiftly fading) squeals of rage, Ginny had cheered and clapped at the exhilarating sight, and then watched admiringly as Harry rebuilt the demolished wall with a few skillful spells and charms. The wall holding Sirius' family tree had suffered the same grim fate. Harry could almost feel Sirius grinning at him when that piece of the Blacks' history had left the house forever. No more pure-blood mania!
Kreacher had looked scandalized when he beheld the carnage that his master had wrought, but Harry made it up to the house elf by having a portrait made of Regulus Black and hanging it in Kreacher's newly refurbished bedroom, complete with his own elf-sized bed and curio cabinet for his treasures-always excepting the picture of Bellatrix Lestrange, of course. That had gotten heaved down the sewer as well.
That heavy renovation on the walls had occurred on their first night together in the house; Harry refused to bring Ginny to a house where she would be shouted at by portraits. With all the remnants of Dark magic gone beyond recall, they found that the house felt different, and seemed sincerely their own. Each day afterward, they had worked to fix up the drafty old place until it wasn't even recognizable. The outside of the house had received a new bay window, and flowering vines climbed up the clean bricks. Harry had had to do most of the magical construction in the small hours of the morning in order to avoid detection from his Muggle neighbors-he was amused when one day he heard some people on the street commenting on his excellent construction crew, which must have been very expensive to have worked so fast.
Despite all of the changes that came to the old house, Harry and Ginny had kept a few things the same: they had allowed most of the security charms and spells on the house to remain in place, simply because a few remnants of the Death Eaters still eluded capture. That and Harry's fame, to his chagrin, still garnered a lot of unwanted interest from the rest of the wizarding world. Neither Harry nor Ginny wanted to live in a fish bowl, so they guarded their privacy jealously. They Apparated to and from their workplaces every day-Harry to the Ministry where he worked as an Auror, and Ginny to St. Mungo's, where she was in her last year of training as a Healer. They lived simply, but to Harry it was a glorious life.
On the inside of the house, Ginny had used a tricky Infucatus Charm to color the walls with warm, bright colors. The kitchen gleamed with an exuberant yellow, their bedroom was a serene blue, and their guest room was a deep Gryffindor red. The living room where they now sat had received a coat of rich green paint, and with the help of her mother, Ginny had conjured up brown leather couches and chairs, accompanied by soft pillows with cheerful splashes of blue to complete the look. A fire burned briskly in the hearth, and Harry could never seem to stop gazing around the room in amazement. It was truly his home now, his and Ginny's. It was the first home that was his, without him having to borrow it from other people, like the Weasleys.
Ginny's warm eyes glistened now as she gazed at her husband from her chair, situated adjacent to Harry's own. "I promise, Harry. I won't ask you to go anywhere near the Shrieking Shack. I would never ask you to do that. You should know that by now." There wasn't any accusation in Ginny's voice-just simple facts.
Harry leaned over and pulled Ginny into his lap. "I'm sorry, Gin. I shouldn't underestimate you-no Bat-Bogey Hexes, please," he said jokingly, shuddering in mock horror. But then he sobered. "It's….well, it's just still hard, you know? I go there, and I remember meeting Sirius for the first time, and learning another piece of the truth about my parents' deaths. I remember Peter Pettigrew, getting away. I can see Voldemort murdering Snape. The place was never truly haunted before, but it is now," he said in a croaky voice. "It's haunted with my memories."
Ginny gazed at Harry, and then dropped a kiss on his head. "Don't worry, Harry," she whispered. "This trip will have good memories, I promise."
That weekend, Harry and Ginny Apparated into Hogsmeade with a loud cracking noise. Harry took a quick look around and groaned. "Ginny!" he wailed, managing to turn Ginny's two-syllable name into about five syllables. He grabbed her hand and pulled her into a convenient alley, before whispering urgently, "It's a Hogsmeade weekend for Hogwarts! What were you thinking? We'll get mobbed!"
Ginny turned a stern face to Harry. "Shut it, Potter. I've planned this out, so don't ruin it for me. So what if a couple of people stare at you? I should think you'd be used to it by now. Just go with the flow, all right, sweetheart?" She gave Harry the face she'd perfected since their wedding day-a pouty face against which Harry had no defense. He melted, as Ginny expected, but he still managed to keep his exasperated tone. "I hate it when you do that. It's not fair…but all right. Let's go, then, since you're so keen."
Harry's "generosity" was rewarded with a brilliant smile from his wife, which put Harry into a much better humor. They walked out of the alley with confidence, and were soon met with open stares and much pointing and whispering, "Look! It's Harry Potter!" "What's the luck that he should come to Hogsmeade when we were here?" "Quick, Mary, snap a photo!" "How sweet, he's with his wife! Aren't they cute?" "Think he'd let us get his autograph? After all, we are members of his official fan club!" Harry turned pleading eyes on his wife at that last statement which the wind carried to him. Ginny just grinned and raised up on her tiptoes to whisper in Harry's ear, "Didn't I ever tell you that I joined the Harry Potter Fan Club when it started at Hogwarts in my fifth year? Don't be embarrassed, Harry. You were young once too."
Harry looked admiringly down at his wife. "I don't think you ever were, though. Were you born twenty-five?"
"Ask my brothers. They'll tell you what a hellion I was as a child."
Just then, two welcome sights came to Harry's eye. It was Hagrid and Neville, obviously acting as chaperones for all of the students in Hogsmeade. They were engrossed in conversation with each other, but then Neville looked up and grinned broadly at the sight of his friends. "Harry! Ginny! It's so good to see you!" Even though Neville came to visit his friends at least once a week, often as not with Luna in tow, they were always glad to see one another. Harry and Ginny knew that their friendships with Neville and Luna would last a lifetime.
"Hullo, Neville!" said Harry cheerfully. "Hey, Hagrid!" Hagrid came over and gave Harry and Ginny each a bone-crushing hug. While he was shaking hands with Neville, Harry saw Ginny wince and move away a little from Hagrid's over exuberant display of affection and wondered at it. Ginny was no weakling.
But Harry put that from his mind as they spent the morning with Neville and Hagrid. Hagrid's wedding to Madame Maxime had come off without a hitch, and the giant's black eyes had never glittered so brightly. He constantly praised his wife's magical ability and teaching skills. "She's even 'elped meh with me own lesson plans. Ah, nobody's complainin' now, that's fer sure!" Harry listened carefully for any mention of skrewts or dragons, and was relieved when he heard none. Grawp, it seemed, had taken over much of the game-keeping chores, and Hagrid was throwing himself into his lessons. With his wife's help, he had even written a paper on the abilities of thestrals that had been very well received in the wizarding world.
Neville had already taken over the post of Herbology teacher, but his wedding to Luna had been postponed when she had demanded that the wind gypsies be in attendance. "And I don't even know what they are!" moaned Neville. "But she's promised that if we can't find them within the next month, we'll get on with our regular plans and be married next spring."
Harry was surprised at how pleasant the day was-not once did he even catch a glimpse of the Shrieking Shack, and he even enjoyed speaking to the students that came up and asked him questions and shook his hand. Ginny was right; they were young, and genuinely curious. He probably hadn't been that different as a child. "Correction," muttered Ginny when he made that observation, "you were a lot worse. Don't you realize how much you probably terrorized your poor teachers and my parents, with you always sticking your nose into things? Not that they weren't grateful, mind, but imagine how Dumbledore must have felt, watching the person he knew had to save us all nearly get himself killed a thousand times." Harry was startled by this, but had to acknowledge that Ginny was right. Poor Dumbledore; Harry had probably made things a lot harder on him than the old man deserved.
Eventually, Neville and Hagrid began shepherding the students back towards Hogwarts, and Harry and Ginny walked with them, both of them eager to see the castle again. When it came into sight, their hands clasped tightly-there was their past, and the place where they had been wed. It was a special moment.
Professor McGonagall met them at the gates, and they all Apparated back to Hogsmeade and had a drink together at Madame Rosmerta's. To Harry's concern, he saw that Ginny had been right about the headmistress' condition. She looked tired and worn. Her shrewd eyes caught Harry when he was looking at her, and said quickly, "I may not be young anymore, Potter, but I'm fit as a fiddle. I can keep doing the job for a while longer, but then I admit that I'll be grateful for a rest. My job has been done, Harry-you can Transfigure a water goblet and You-Know-Who has been defeated. I have no greater satisfaction than that, although I DO wish I could persuade you to come to Hogwarts and be Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher."
Harry had already been offered this post several times, but he always refused. "You know I'd like nothing better, Minerva, but I can't help feeling that the time isn't right. I don't think Hogwarts is through with me yet, but…we'll just have to see." Professor McGonagall just nodded. She understood.
Soon the headmistress returned to her post, and Harry and Ginny were alone. They wandered through the shops some more and went to see Aberforth. They had a delightful time there, but when Aberforth asked them to stay to dinner, Ginny refused. "Thank you, Aberforth, but we'd best be getting on. Good night!"
Once they got outside, Harry asked, "Ok, Ginny, what have you got up your sleeve?"
Ginny grinned mischievously. "Wouldn't you like to know? Just wait and see!"
Leading Harry a little outside Hogsmeade, Ginny settled down on a grassy spot. Dusk was starting to fall, and fireflies danced around the couple. Ginny whipped out her wand, and a beautiful picnic appeared before them. "There! That's what I have up my sleeve."
"Ginny," said Harry admiringly, "you're amazing."
"I know," said Ginny without a trace of modesty. "Eat up!"
When the stars came out, Harry handed Ginny her cloak and then wrapped his arms around her. They sat staring up, the cool air making the stars above stand out crisply and sharp. "Look, Ginny! There's Sirius' constellation. I hope he's doing all right…" Harry said longingly.
"He's fine, Harry," said Ginny quietly. "You told me when you saw him with the Resurrection Stone that he looked younger and better than ever." She was silent for a while, and then said hesitantly, "Harry? I have something to tell you."
Harry was half-asleep by this point, so he said fuzzily, "Hmm? What's that, dear?"
Harry jolted with a start and pulled back so that he could look at Ginny more fully. "What? What did you say?"
Ginny smiled, although she still looked a little anxious. "I said I'm pregnant, Harry. I'm going to have a baby."
Gulping hard, Harry allowed the news to digest. And then, suddenly, an enormous whoop tore from his throat. Ginny laughed and tried to shush him, but to no avail. She couldn't stop Harry's exclamation, "You're pregnant? Really? I'm going to be a dad?"
Obviously relieved at Harry's joyous reaction, Ginny hugged him hard. "Yes, Harry! We're going to be parents!"
The inhabitants of Hogsmeade heard whoops and hollers of joys coming over the night air and shook their heads. "Odd," they said. "Usually those ghosts at the Shrieking Shack don't sound that happy. Oh, well, who can figure ghosts?"
Nine months later, and Harry had turned into an unashamed mother hen. "Don't lift that!" he squawked, when he saw Ginny heaving a laundry basket. "Use magic, for Merlin's sake!"
"Oh, Harry," said Ginny exasperatedly. "It's you that should have been the Healer, and me the Auror. I'm fine! Stop worrying, will you?" Despite her protests, she did pull out her wand and said "Wingardium Leviosa!" The heavy basket drifted over to her, and she started to fold the clothes capably.
"I'm sorry, Ginny…I just want you to be careful, that's all. I don't want you or the baby to be hurt."
Harry and Ginny had embraced her pregnancy with all the usual zeal of new parents and more. The joy of the Weasleys when they had found out took the cake, but that hadn't stopped Ginny from flinging at Hermione, "You lose again! I win this race! Remember, we were going to race to see who had a baby first?" Ron looked distinctly relieved that for once, his little sister had beaten him, although he did seem a little interested and slightly bemused by Harry's excited anticipation.
The forthcoming parents did have their solemn moments, though. One night, Ginny had woken up to find Harry's side of the bed empty. Getting up, she soon found him in the room that they had fixed up for the paper. The pale green walls glittered a little from the soft light coming from the tiny stars they had pasted from the ceiling, and Ginny could just see Harry standing at the window with his head in his hands. "Harry?" she whispered. She came over and put a comforting hand on Harry's arm. "What's wrong?"
Harry turned around and wrapped Ginny in a fierce, but carefully gentle, hug. "Ginny…this is how my parents felt. I look at you, and I suddenly understand more fully how my mother could die for me. But by the same token, I understand their anguish. Oh, Ginny! I don't know how they could have had the bravery to leave me! When this little one comes, I never want to be separated from him. I want to protect him and love him and show him this world that we've made…I'm just so mixed up. I know that I would die unhesitatingly for my son, but it would kill me anyway, to have my child grow up without knowing my love." He bent down and gently kissed Ginny's bulging belly.
"Harry," said Ginny softly, "don't you see? Our child will never have to grow up without our love. He will always know that he is safe, and provided for. We can change your past, Harry, with this child's future. You paid with your life already for this child to know a secure future. Never again, Harry, will a Potter have to grow up an orphan and unloved. I promise."
"Thank you, Ginny. You're right-we can break this curse of mine with our son."
After that conversation, Harry had been a lot more relaxed, but that still didn't save him from Nervous Papa Syndrome. Now he looked at Ginny folding the clothes by hand. "Why don't you just use a charm, like you usually do, Gin?"
Ginny smiled weakly. "I just don't feel much like using magic today, Harry. The baby kept me up a lot last night with all of his kicking. Don't worry, I'll be-" Ginny suddenly stopped and her eyes bugged out as she put a trembling hand to her stomach. "Harry!" she cried out. "I just felt my first contraction!"
Fast as the wind, Harry ran upstairs and grabbed an already prepared suitcase. Handing it to Ginny, Harry grabbed some Floo powder, stuck his head in the fireplace, and sent the Weasleys the news that he and Ginny were leaving for the hospital. That being done, he lifted a pale Ginny in his arms and Disapparated with her to St. Mungo's.
Many more hours than Ginny would have liked later, Harry was standing in a room in St. Mungo's as his wife pushed again. Thanks to a potion she hadn't felt much pain, but he could tell that his wife was tiring and would be very glad when the baby was out. "Hang in there, Ginny. You're almost done, love."
Ginny's tired eyes looked up at Harry, and gave one last Herculean push. With that, a small and wiggling baby came protesting from Ginny's womb. "Congratulations!" crowed the Healer. "It's a boy!" As the Healer used an effective charm to quickly clean the baby, Harry dropped a kiss onto Ginny's damp forehead, not even noticing that both of them were crying more heartily than the baby. He ran out of the room and bellowed at the gathered family and friends that had taken over the waiting room, "It's a boy! Everything's fine!" Harry barely acknowledged their cheers before rushing back to his wife. The Healer was just handing the baby over to his mother.
"Hello, James Sirius," said Ginny softly. "Welcome to the world! We love you so much already, little one."
Harry couldn't speak as he gazed down at his son. And when Ginny handed him over to the new father, he knew that here was his chance to start again. Here was his chance to make his past worthwhile, for anything that had brought him to this moment was worth it. Finally, he said, "Hello, James Sirius. I already love you for who you are, but I know that you'll be just a good a man as the men that you get your names from. I hope they can see you now, and know how much I appreciate them. Maybe they'll live in you, just a little, even though I can't wait to see who you really are."
The first James wiped his sodden eyes. "Cheer up, Prongs, old boy," said Sirius beside him. "Try not to be too depressed that you're a grandfather!"
"You're one to talk, Padfoot. You're crying like a first year over there."
"Shut it, both of you," said Lily sternly. "Look. Just look." The hospital room became very quiet as the parents and godfather, though technically gone from the world, watched as the boy that they all loved so well held his son in his arms.