(THE BURROW, ONE MONTH LATER)
"My, my. You're being a messy eater tonight, aren't you, James."
Ginny leaned over with a cloth napkin and wiped off the gobs of food hanging from James' mouth. The one-year-old gurgled and tried to back away, determined not to have his mother clean him.
Harry smiled as he watched the spectacle. He then looked around the crowded table. Pure joy swept through him as he basked in this, the first gathering of his whole family since the defeat of the Stacyx.
He breathed a contented sigh. Some higher power must have been watching over them that day in The Land That Time Forgot. They may have been battered, bruised and bloodied, but everyone in the Weasley/Potter clan had come through the battle alive. So many others hadn't.
His mind drifted back to the aftermath of the battle. A few Stacyx had managed to escape through portals before The Land That Time Forgot was consumed by fire and lava. At least three dozen Muggles around the world had been killed by them before groups of wizards, witches and TV and movie characters hunted them down and killed them. Harry still felt pangs of guilt over not being able to prevent those deaths, but considering what would have happened if Bentley Basham hadn't set off that volcano, they got off lucky.
Harry glanced down at the medal hanging around his neck. The Order of Merlin, presented to him by Minister Kingsley Shacklebolt, who survived a Stacyx ambush while he had been trying to regroup his forces. Ginny insisted he wear it to dinner so the entire family could see it.
"Stop feeling embarrassed about it," she had told him. "You earned it."
That was debatable. If anyone had earned the Order of Merlin it was Bentley Basham, who had gone into the volcano and sacrificed himself to stop the Stacyx. Since Basham had no family, Kingsley gave Harry the old auror's posthumous award. He knew of only one appropriate place for it . . . the grave of Professor McGonagall.
He glanced a couple seats down to Hermione. Ron's wife had been unusually quiet tonight. Harry wondered if she still grieved for Viktor Krum. Sure their relationship ended a long time ago, but the Bulgarian had been her first real love. And to see the man die in front of her wouldn't be easy to get over. He worried about Ron's reaction to this, knowing how jealous and overprotective he could be. To his credit, he had given nothing but comfort to Hermione.
Work also helped her get through Viktor's death. After the final battle with the Stacyx the Ministry had given Hermione a new research project. She was to study how TV shows and movies turned into alternate universes. After just a couple weeks Hermione told him she'd already come up with some incredible findings. The one that intrigued him the most was how all the characters who had died during the war with the Stacyx still showed up in their respective movies and TV shows. Hermione had no idea how that was possible, but she was determined to learn the answer.
"I think we're all done, Mum," George piped up. "How's about dessert?"
"You just wait a moment, George," Molly Weasley snapped at her son. "Harry and Ginny said they have an announcement to make, and we're going to hear it before dessert."
George turned to him and Ginny with a grin. "Make it quick, you two. I'm dying for a piece of plumb pie."
"George, behave! Honestly." Molly took a settling breath and turned to Harry and Ginny. "Now, what is this big news you two have?"
Harry looked to his wife, who smiled at him. They both stood, holding hands. Harry started to open his mouth, then glanced to Ron and Hermione. How would they take this?
It's not like we can keep it a secret forever. The sooner everyone knows the better.
"Well, I guess since Harry looks overwhelmed by all this . . ." Ginny bumped into him playfully. "We wanted to let all of you know that we're about to have an addition to the family."
Molly clasped her hands together. Arthur Weasley sat up straighter as Ginny finished.
Whoops of delight went up around the table. Fleur brought both hands to her mouth and squealed in delight.
"Here, here!" Charlie raised his cup.
Harry tried to smile, but instead glanced back to Ron and Hermione. His brow furrowed when he noticed Hermione poke his brother-in-law and best friend in the ribs.
Ron stood hesitantly. "Um . . . I'd like to say something, too."
"What, you want a fourth helping before dessert?"
"George!" Molly glared at him, then turned to Ron. "What is it dear?"
"Well, um . . ." He gazed at everyone at the table. "I mean, Harry, Ginny, I don't want to steal you guys' thunder, but, well . . ."
"Oh, for Heaven's Sake, Ron. I can't believe you're nervous about this." Hermione leapt to her feet. She turned and locked eyes with her sister-in-law. "Ginny, I guess you're going to have company in the maternity ward. We found out just last week. I'm pregnant, too."
More cheers went up around the table. Harry immediately jumped over to Ron and threw an arm around his shoulder. He grinned wide as Harry shook him.
"I can't believe I'm going to be a father," Ron stammered.
"Neither can I." George smiled as he made his way around the table. "Boy, do I feel sorry for this kid."
Ron's face scrunched in anger. Before he could say anything, a laughing George wrapped his arms around him.
"Our ickle Ronniekins is going to be a daddy."
"Come here you, two." Molly beckoned over her youngest child and her daughter-in-law and pulled them both into a tight hug.
"I think even James is excited." Harry's godson, Teddy Lupin, who was sitting next to little Victorie Weasley, pointed to James. The baby was waving his arms up and down and laughing.
"Congratulations, Harry." Arthur shook his hand vigorously. "And the Weasley family continues to grow."
"Thanks, Dad." Harry smiled and looked over his shoulder. His eyes jumped from James to Teddy to Victorie. He thought of his and Ginny's second child, of Ron and Hermione's first child. Beyond the Burrow, he thought of other expectant couples . . . Dean and Luna Thomas, Jimmy and Mireet O'Bannon, even Draco and Pansy Malfoy. After dealing with so much death last month, the prospect of new life in the near future helped ease the pain of so many losses.
Harry closed his eyes, picturing the faces of people like Professor McGonagall, Viktor Krum, Ernie MacMillan and Bentley Basham. Because of their sacrifice, his children and his friends' children would all have a future.
- THE END –
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed all the action in this story, then check out my original alien invasion novel "Dark Wings," available in paperback from Amazon and as an e-book from smashwords-dot-com.