Disclaimer: Everything belongs to the illustrious JK Rowling. If anyone hasn't seen her interview with Oprah yet I'd suggest watching it. It's fantastic!
A/N: This story follows canon as closely as I can get it (bar a few alterations), so please allow room for a few mistakes now and then. (Yes, I know they weren't intimate at Hogwarts, and probably didn't marry so young, but while I was writing it just sort of...popped it, please forgive my little canon detours ;) )...I hope you enjoy it!
His son's hair was soft and smooth beneath the pads of his fingers as Harry ran them over James's tiny crown. Three week new chubby fists clutched at his royal blue Auror uniform, and Harry grinned widely as his tired but bright eyes flickered over every feature that made up his newborn child. A shock of black hair, the same as his own, fell over pale skin and high cheekbones, coupled together with, (had they been open), eyes the same characteristic blue of all new babies, but what Harry was certain would darken into the same rich hazelnut brown as his wife's.
He grinned even more, placing his whole palm over James's head and gently brushing a thumb across his temple. James shifted slightly and Harry stilled, not wanting to wake him, as it was rare such peaceful moments descended on the Potter household these days.
It was wonderful; Harry thought as he lay there on the sofa with his son, that he could come home from a hard day at work and simply have someone there he loved unconditionally. He had Ginny of course, but his love for Ginny had developed and flourished, before blossoming into what it was today. It wasn't nearly as sudden or instantaneous as his adoration for James had been. He loved his son as much and as fiercely as he loved his wife, but it had just occurred a lot more differently.
Harry smiled again as he shifted a little on the couch, his hand now moving from James's head to span his little back and trace calming circles over the soft skin there. The instant the little bundle currently sleeping on his chest was placed into his waiting arms, bloodied and screaming from birth, Harry had known he'd love him forever.
Don't get him wrong, he'd definitely loved James before his was born, (he'd spent hours over the past nine months simply caressing Ginny's ever swelling stomach and delighting as their baby pressed kicks against his palms), but seeing his child, healthy and alive had iron clad the feeling. He understood now, in its entirety, why his parents had died for him, because he now knew that he'd do exactly the same for James and Ginny in a heartbeat.
There was movement to his side but Harry kept his gaze on James, feeling as his wife knelt down beside him and kiss the side of his lips. He immediately turned towards Ginny and slowly kissed back; feeling the last of the day's stresses ebb away and the lines on his face relax. James continued to sleep peacefully on his chest. He closed his eyes and smiled contently as his wife ghosted her thumb over the shadows he knew were under them.
"Tiring day?" she murmured. He felt her hand rest on top of the one he was stroking James's back with. He latticed their fingers together.
"Mmm," was all he could say, the combination of her soft touch and the warm weight of James lulling him into the beginnings of sleep.
"We missed you," she breathed, "he doesn't like it when you leave."
"I don't like it when I leave," he whispered back, enjoying the way Ginny was now combing her fingers through his hair. Harry sighed and leaned into her touch; he'd never, before he started dating Ginny and then marrying her, experienced what it felt like to be physically comforted.
"He started crying the minute you left," she continued; brushing the back of her hand across his cheek, "it took me ages to calm him down."
Harry sunk deeper into relaxation, his eyes still closed but his heart swelling, "it's kind of comforting to know he misses his dad."
He felt Ginny smile and then extract her hand from the one he was resting on James before standing up slowly, "you're missed a lot in this house during the day."
Harry's lips curved, feeling his son move at his mother's absence, "it's nice to be missed. Makes me feel special."
"You are special," chuckled his wife as she walked into the kitchen, "you're also exhausted. I have your dinner if you would like it now."
Harry was so worn out he didn't know if he would have the energy to eat anything, but this thought was quashed as fumes pertaining to the likes of lamb chops and boiled potatoes wafted into his nose and he forced his eyes open. He was grateful the room's lighting was dim for the comfort of James, and Harry couldn't help but smile again as he caught sight of his son slumbering over his heart; the shadows on his little face flickering from the fire in the heath.
"Here," Ginny said, setting down a steaming plate on the coffee table and smiling slightly when Harry wouldn't take his eyes off their baby, "let me hold him while you eat."
"Yeah," agreed Harry, eyeing his food appreciatively before supporting James and slowly sitting up, the aches and pains of the day's activities burning through him. He felt slightly empty when Ginny took their son into her own arms and she sat down in the room he'd made for her on the sofa.
He watched them while he ate.
James had begun to stir. Little fat fists clutched at Ginny's nightgown as he awakened slowly, squirming a little restlessly before he began to cry. Thick tears rolled down his cheeks and Harry felt his stomach roll at the sight. His son in distress was not something he enjoyed witnessing.
"Like father, like son," Ginny grinned at him, "always hungry."
Harry swallowed his mouthful of peas and potato and watched as Ginny one-handily unbuttoned her nightgown and slipped a shoulder bare, James soon suckling greedily on her breast. His previous woes were already forgotten in the materialisation of milk. Harry couldn't help but reach over and brush his fingers across his son's head like before. Ginny was watching him oddly.
"Is everything okay?" she asked, "You're very quiet tonight."
"Yeah," he breathed, sparing her a small smile, "Just work catching up with me."
Understanding crossed her features, "Well, you're off duty now so just relax. I don't know what Kingsley thinks he's doing pulling you and Ron out for such long shifts."
Harry took his hand from James and placed his plate back on the coffee table. Suddenly he didn't feel hungry as the images from the day's (and part of the night's) case surfaced. He returned to caressing James's head automatically.
"We closed the Liverpool case today."
"Oh that's good," Ginny said softly, and again Harry could tell she was staring at him oddly.
Harry moved closer to his wife and touched James's upturned palm with his finger, smiling as his son gripped it strongly. He felt Ginny's hand that wasn't supporting James run through his hair and settle on the back of his neck. He closed his eyes.
"What's the matter?" she asked, concerned.
"We -" Harry faltered, "we were too late. We caught the rogue Death Eaters but they'd already killed them."
"Oh Harry, I'm so sorry."
He opened his eyes and met her gaze and was relieved to find no disappointment there. That was one of the things he loved most about Ginny – she never judged him on his failures. He looked down at his son again.
"They were such a lovely family," he continued, "three kids – the same number of children we want – and the oldest was only twelve. Twelve, ten and nine, that's how young they were Ginny and the bastards still murdered them."
His wife pressed James closer to her chest and played with the hair on the nape on Harry's neck, "It's not your fault."
"I know," Harry said, "but God, it was disturbing. They were so much like – they were what I saw us being in ten or twenty years. The Death Eaters who did it are getting the Kiss, but I honestly don't think it's enough punishment for them."
Since he'd joined the Auror Corps a month after his eighteenth birthday Harry had encountered many tragic and horrible circumstances. From mother's killing their own sons under the influence of the Imperious curse, to children accidently drowning their siblings. He was not however, prepared for the deliberate and cold-blooded murder of three innocent children. He knew it happened from time to time, as there'd been many instances of it occurring during Voldemort's reign, but it had tapered off after the war and Harry had yet to encounter such a crime before this day.
He did suppose though, that being a father himself now had changed his views and reactions to things somewhat. He couldn't fathom life without James.
"How's Ron?" Ginny inquired, sensing Harry's impeding gloom.
"Better. He took it much easier than me," Harry replied, watching James dislodge himself from Ginny and yawn, "he doesn't understand though. He's not a father yet."
His wife smiled softly, "I wonder when they're going to make that happen."
"A couple of years I think," said Harry, "Hermione loves her career, and in the Muggle world it's unusual to get married as young as us, let alone have a kid."
"We're not too young."
"The average age to marry in the Muggle world is twenty nine. You were sixteen when we got engaged -"
"Nearly seventeen and you were turning eighteen that July, remember?"
Harry smiled, Ginny had always been defensive when people brought up how young they were, "It was still considered weird even in the Wizarding world. Remember how crazy the media got when it became known? Your dad even pulled me aside and asked if you were pregnant."
Ginny laughed, "He didn't!"
"Oh believe me," Harry chuckled, watching as James reattached himself to Ginny's breast, "he did. And the rest of your brothers asked all the less poignant questions."
"Like what?" his wife asked amusedly, her eyes glinting, "You didn't have to tell them we'd been having sex since before the war ended, did you?"
Harry snorted, "No. Thankfully I think they thought you were still as virginal as an asexual flower, and that I'd always been a perfect gentleman. They just asked whether I had enough funds to support a family, or whether I had a place to live, or if I was going to further my education and get a decent job seeing as I was a Hogwarts drop-out."
"You poor, poor thing," giggled Ginny, "what an earth did you tell them?"
"Well," Harry chuffed, wiping a little milk off James's mouth with his sleeve; the morning's murders shrunken and forgotten in a distant recess of his mind, "first I placated your dad and informed him that you were not, in fact, pregnant. It was quite intimidating because he looked so convinced that you were, and he asked about three times before he finally believed me. We were both so embarrassed by the end that we only talked about the weather for three days."
"Oh so that's why you two could hardly look at each other for a couple of weeks?" Ginny laughed but calming down quickly as James mewed in protest, "I'd thought he'd had a go at you for defiling his daughter."
Harry grimaced, gazing at his son's content face, "how would he know that?"
"Mum found out."
"What?" Harry's eyes snapped up to meet his wife's, who laughed at his horror, "How?"
"When we decided to become intimate at school I ordered contraceptive potions from Diagon Alley," Ginny explained, "but because I was under seventeen they also sent a notice to my parents informing them I may be engaging in sexual activity."
"You're kidding," Harry said weakly, waving his wand at James's nappy when it began wafting something repulsive, "what did she say? And more interestingly, why didn't she kill me?"
Ginny grinned, "She wrote me a letter saying how very disappointed she was in me, and that she'd like to meet the dishonourable boy who dared to jeopardise my virtue. I don't think she told dad though, because she knew I had him wrapped around my little finger."
Harry felt himself pale, "What did you tell her? And...Oh Merlin – I just remembered – I also ordered some contraceptives. The Dursley's would've -"
A tired cry met their ears. James was full and had flopped his head towards his father, little arms flailed wildly in Harry's direction. The child's large eyes, the same shape as his own, melted away Harry's worry.
"I think he wants you to burp him," Ginny said, letting Harry's already eager hands take James from her arms and place him upright over a broad shoulder. James immediately snuggled his face into Harry's neck and clasped the shoulder of his father's uniform, content to be held.
Patting James gently but firmly Harry looked back at Ginny, "Please tell me you didn't tell her it was me..."
His wife snickered, "Of course I did! I believe my exact words were 'Dear Mum, Myself and the honourable Mr Potter will do as we please. I'd appreciate it if you to stayed out of our private business. Love, Ginny.'"
"Merlin..." Harry spluttered weakly, "What did she say after that?"
"She was fine," his wife informed him simply, "after she found out it was you she went all mother hen-ish. My mum adores you Harry, and simply the fact we were going out overran any anger she felt at our... activities. She did however write back strongly implying that she expected us to marry in the near future, which happened anyway."
"Yeah," Harry murmured, turning his head and laying his nose and cheek on James's temple, breathing deeply, "but only after we broke up. How did she take that?"
His wife watched him tenderly, "I explained it all and she was fine with it."
"That's a relief. It's kind of weird now though knowing she knows when we started shagging."
Ginny laughed and James finally burped, a little spew of partially digested milk wetting the collar of Harry's uniform.
He merely chuckled, "good aim son, it's better than my face."
Harry lowered James from his shoulder and cradled him in the crook of his arm as he waved his wand and cleaned up the mess on his clothes. He grinned as James stared sleepily up at him, father and son contemplating each other silently. Harry stowed away his wand and wiped a dribble from James's mouth with his sleeve, before watching his son's bright, almond shaped eyes close and his little breaths even out. Smiling in pride and adoration he looked up to find his wife's eyes brimming with tears.
"I love you."
Harry smiled, reaching out to hold her hand, "I love you too."
She gave a watery chuckle before swiping at her face, "You're just – you're just so wonderful with James that I can't wait to have more children."
"We did pretty damn good, didn't we?" Harry said proudly, sitting as close to Ginny as possible and kissing her on the side of the head, then peering down at his son, "and he has the best mother in the world."
Ginny snorted a little at that, "The rest of the world's mothers must be pretty abysmal then."
"Don't be so hard on yourself, we're only three weeks in," Harry said comfortingly, "and anyway, you'd have to be quite amazing if you let your husband name the kid."
"I love the name James," his wife said, "I happily agreed to it."
"Yes, well next time it's your turn to choose, and so long as it's not anything outrageous I'll readily agree," Harry provided, looking down at his baby again, "We don't want to be one of those celebrity couples who name their kids things like 'Wand' or - or 'Eggplant."
One of Ginny's slender fingers brushed a lock of hair from James's forehead, "I've already decided what to call our next one if it's a girl."
"Really?" said Harry, slightly astounded, "What?"
"Lily," she whispered, and peered up a moment later when Harry remained silent.
He was staring at her, eyes suspiciously bright, "You would- you would really do that? Name two children after one side of the family?"
"Of course," Ginny smiled, looking into his face, "they're wonderful names, and your parents should be honoured. Without them I wouldn't even have you."
"Gin, I – I...Thank you, thank you," and then he was kissing her, strong and passionately, whilst cradling James carefully between them both before slowly breaking apart, "I love you."
"Right back at you," she whispered.
His wife nestled her head into the crook of his neck as Harry brought an arm around her shoulders while they both peered down at sleeping James. Harry breathed deeply and closed his eyes as he buried his nose into Ginny's hair, trying to imprint into his mind the feeling of utter contentment he was experiencing. He, Harry Potter, that scrawny kid from the cupboard under the stairs, currently had everything he'd ever needed or wanted. He felt a rush of pride followed by an instant wave of protectiveness as he held his family; knowing that what he had was so very precious, so very valuable to him that he knew now, without a doubt, why Voldemort had been the one to die.
A/N: So, there it is. I hope you liked it, I certainly enjoyed writing it. Oh, and if anyone's wondering Harry and Ginny are twenty-three. In canon they were thirty-six when Albus was eleven, so I'm guestimating James to be around two years older than Al. Anyway, I know it probably wasn't one of the most wonderful stories but please review!