"Is everything all right?" Ron asked tenderly. "It seems like… well… you and Ginny are tense around here."
"Tense?" Harry snapped. "Would you be tense if Hermione's stomach was bursting, and she asked for stupid things? Ginny sent me to Diagon Alley in the dead of the night for a baby toothbrush!"
Ron held up his hands. "Whoa, Harry," he said in surrender. "I don't want to know about Ginny's crazy hormones."
"Don't ask, then," Harry spat.
They were sitting in the large foyer-hallway of number twelve, Grimmauld Place. The soft purple leather couch felt like rock hard ice to Harry. Hermione was upstairs, helping Ginny through her contractions so they could bring her to St. Mungo's.
Kreacher was hurrying past them, holding a wet towel and a number of supplies.
"Can we go up yet?" Harry asked, on the verge of chewing his fingernails. He was so worried about Ginny, he hadn't even comprehended he would be a father soon.
"No, Harry Potter sir, Madam Granger says it is not time yet."
"Madam Weasley," Ron said out of habit.
Kreacher ignored him. He turned to rush upstairs.
"Kreacher, wait!" Harry stood up. "You tell Hermione that we're coming up right now, I don't care, I need to see that Ginny's alright."
"From me too," Ron said. "I am Ginny's sister."
Harry refused to be outdone. "And I'm her husband."
Kreacher nodded. "Kreacher will do as Master wishes," he bowed.
"Kreacher!" Hermione's shriek made them all jump. Kreacher ran upstairs.
"Girls," Ron said, shaking his head. "They make no sense."
Harry didn't answer. He was too busy thinking about Ginny. The way her long red-orange hair fell loosely around her round, heart-shaped face; how her brown eyes twinkled when she laughed, and how he could count the freckles that danced across her nose. Oh, please let her be all right, Harry thought.
A scream of pain pierced the air, and both Harry and Ron jumped.
"That's it," they said in unison, "I'm going up."
They didn't even have a chance to chuckle before they were jostling each other up the stairs.
By the time they'd gone past the twisting landings to the master bedroom, they were panting. Harry put a hand on the wall and looked at the floor, breathing heavily. Ron slid onto his back. As soon as they'd quieted down, Harry heard the panting of his wife.
He leaped up and opened the door. He watched as Kreacher held a wet cloth to Ginny's face. Her eyes were closed and she was breathing hard. Her massive belly nearly shielded her face from sight. Ginny's face was so wet that Harry couldn't tell figure out if she was sweating or if it was water from the wet cloth. Hermione was frantically waving her wand and doing spells. Harry felt a stab of unease and embarrassment for Ron, who was closing his eyes because of Ginny's open legs.
He raced to his wife's side. She hadn't noticed him yet. "Hermione," Ginny said through gritted teeth, with her eyes closed, "isn't there any spell you can use to make this go quicker?"
"I'm trying!" Hermione wailed.
"Did you try this?" Harry murmured, and took out his wand. He said and incantation and Ginny smiled peacefully, a smile on her face.
"Was that a Cheering Charm?" Hermione asked.
"Probably," Ron said with his eyes shut tight. "How do you feel, Ginny?"
"I feel perfect." Ginny smiled. "Is the baby here yet? Harry and I have the nursery all set…"
"Not yet, dear," Hermione said in a motherly voice. "Kreacher, would you mind getting that medical ruler from the bag over there? I need to see how far she's dilated."
Ron let out a little groan between disgust and embarrassment.
"Grow up, Ron!" Hermione spat. "This is your sister, not – not a stranger!"
"I'm not comfortable staring at my sister's crotch!" Ron shouted.
Ginny's expression darkened. The Cheering Charm seemed to be wearing off. She shrieked.
"Ten inches." Hermione put the medical ruler away. "She's ready to go."
Ron started to groan, but stopped.
"Ginny!" Just then, a horde of people crowded the doorway.
When Harry looked up, he noticed Bill and Fleur, Victoire, George, Angelina, Fred II, Percy, Audrey, Molly II, Luna, Rolf, Lorcan and Lysander, and a whole bunch of other people Harry had known. Their faces were both comforting and annoying, and he couldn't quite concentrate with a hundred faces staring.
"How did you even get in here?" Harry demanded.
"Kreacher let us in." Bill picked up Victoire, who was clearly trying to get into the room.
"What's happening?" Victoire asked.
"Did you have to bring the kids?" Harry growled.
Molly II, Percy's baby daughter, started to cry.
"For heaven's sake!" Hermione bellowed. "Go away, all of you."
"Not us." Mr. and Mrs. Weasley stepped forward. "I can take care of this now," Mrs. Weasley said kindly to Hermione.
Hermione let out a long sigh and swept the sweat from her face. She let Ron put his arm around her and watched Mrs. Weasley warily. Ron rubbed her shoulder.
"Now, Ginny dear," Mrs. Weasley said, "I need you to push. That's the only way the baby will come out."
Ginny pushed with effort. Out of nowhere, she cried, "I swear, Harry Potter, next time you're having the baby!"
Harry shrank as several eyes locked on him. Ron and Mr. Weasley chuckled.
"Hey! I see a head!" shouted Lysander, Luna's son. "Hush," she told him gently.
"Me too!" said Lorcan, Lysander's twin.
"Why is it all blue?" said Fred, George and Angelina's son.
Harry turned to them, angry. Rage burned in his green eyes. "Get out of here!" he thundered. They all muttered, and the door shut. Harry locked it.
"They're right, Harry," Mrs. Weasley said. She sounded as though she would faint. Her normally bright brown eyes were oddly blank. Mr. Weasley looked at her, clearly worried.
"What do you mean?" Harry asked.
"The umbilical cord is around the baby's neck, Harry. If we don't get it off, it'll die."
"Well, that's great," Ron muttered.
"WHAT?" Ginny demanded.
Harry swallowed. "It is okay, Gin. We can fix it." He calmly took out his holly wand and said, "Reparo."
"What the hell are you doing, Harry?" Hermione spat.
"What do you mean?" Harry said.
"That's not the right spell! How incompetent are you that you can't even remember an elementary spell to save your child!"
Despite the tension, Ron snorted. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Harry, and Ginny gave him glares of annoyance. "What?" Ron said, still snickering. "It's nice to see her attack someone else for a change."
"Will you just shut up?" Ginny panted.
Hermione waved her wand and muttered, "Relashio." The umbilical cord gently unwound from Harry's son's neck.
"Thank God." Ginny said.
"He's just so beautiful." Ginny murmured as Harry's arms wrapped around her waist from behind.
They were both staring at James Sirius, their new baby boy. Ginny walked slowly onto the balcony, where she and Harry stared into the night sky.
Harry took Ginny's face in his hands and kissed her. "You're so strong," he praised her. "I'd never be able to do that."
"Thank you," Ginny smiled. "And you wouldn't. It's too much drama."
"Haven't I been through tons of drama already? In fact, enough drama for the whole family."
Ginny giggled, which turned into a moan as Harry's hands went to her butt. She kissed him fiercely, knotting her fingers into his already messy hair.
Harry lifted her off her feet and put her on the bed. He kissed her, and then he looked at her face. He counted her freckles, the ones that danced across her face.
"What are you doing?" Ginny said.
"Sorry. It's becoming a habit," Harry murmured peaceably.