Ginny Potter scowled and passed the letter across to her husband.
'It's in my contract, apparently. I have got to go, or we lose all of the money that Quidditch Weekly has paid me for my "Flying with the Harpies" column this season,' she told Harry. 'The Harpies solicitor has confirmed it. The contract says I have to write about every game I'm selected for, and the England squad for the friendly was announced before we announced my pregnancy. My name is on the original squad list, even though I can't play. So either I go, or we lose all of those Galleons.' Harry quickly read the letter and smiled across the table at his wife.
'We don't need the money, Ginny, you know that, but you might as well go. A short break will do you good. You were looking forward to going to Tibet, and you enjoy writing about the games. You're good at it, too.'
'I enjoyed writing about playing, Harry. Writing about a game that I've simply watched just won't be the same.'
'You've never tried,' said Harry.
'I'm really going to miss Quidditch,' Ginny said with a sigh as she blew out the flames on the thick slice of bread she'd been toasting. She wafted the blue smoke from the charcoaled slice and began to spread butter on it.
'I really don't know how you can eat that,' said Harry.
'It's your fault that my taste buds are confused, Harry, if you hadn't led me astray…' said Ginny, pouting teasingly.
'You didn't complain at the time, Ginny,' he said, laughing at his wife's familiar argument. 'We could've waited a few more years.'
Ginny leaned across the table and gave her husband a gritty charcoal kiss.
'I shouldn't tease you about it, Harry. We made the decision together. It's just that I really didn't think that I'd fall pregnant straight away. I'm not even twenty-three and my Quidditch career is already over. I'll be four months pregnant by our first wedding anniversary.'
Harry simply grinned. 'So what? George and Angelina will have only been married six months when they have itheir/i first child. We're going to have a baby and you keep telling me that everything will change when we do, and that is why you should go now.'
'Will you be able to get time off work, Harry?' Her husband shook his head sadly.
'I'm only two weeks into the office reorganisation, Ginny, you know that. To be honest, that's one reason why I think that you should go. If I take time off now the chances are Robards will make more changes and I'd have to start again when I get back. If you're away for five days I can work late, and over the weekend, and hopefully get most of the changes passed by the Minister before you get back. Then I'll be able to relax a little, and we will be able to spend more time together when you get back. Why don't you ask Luna to go with you? I'm sure that she would love to go,' he suggested.
'Luna doesn't follow Quidditch, she's got no interest in the League, never mind an England game.'
'England are playing Tibet, Ginny, and the league have organised transport. You've got two tickets for the game, and two beds in the team hotel in Tibet. Luna would love to go to Tibet.'
Stupid, stupid, stupid! Think Ginny, think, and do it quickly or you'll be dead.
Gasped for breath in the thin Himalayan air, Ginny Potter looked anxiously across the snow-covered mountainside. She was in agony, and her wand was in her satchel, so she could not heal herself. She cautiously moved her leg. She was winded and bruise from the fall, but worse, she'd broken some bones. Her ankle was broken, again. It was the ankle she'd broken in the Department of Mysteries, and in three subsequent Quidditch matches. It was weak; the club healer had told her that it would always be weak. Worse, she'd broken her right arm, her throwing arm, her scoring arm, too.
Then, in the confusion of her pain, she finally remembered that she was no longer playing Quidditch. She was pregnant.
The baby! I am doubly, triply, infinitely stupid.
Ginny swore and cursed and cried in frustration.
Luna had still been sleeping when Ginny had woken, very early. She'd been unable to get back to sleep as this was their last day in Tibet. She had, despite her reservations, enjoyed writing about yesterday's England match from the sidelines. Her match analysis had been brutal to the point of rudeness about the lack of foresight of the England Beaters. Her own lack of foresight, however, had now been brought forcefully home to her. No one knew where she was.
Her decision to take out her broom for an early morning, pre-breakfast flight into the Himalayas had seemed like such a good idea. Now, as she lay in pain on a mountainside, the realisation that she had not told anyone at all where she was going pierced and pained her. She was lost in the Himalayas.
She could not rely on Luna. Her friend had been giddily excited the previous evening when she'd discovered that a Wizarding naturalist called Scamander was in the area, carrying out a survey of the local Yeti population. Luna had (as Ginny had foretold) been completely disinterested in the Quidditch match but was enthralled by the local flora and fauna and was desperately hoping to meet Scamander before she returned to England. As a consequence, Luna probably wouldn't even notice Ginny's absence. That meant that she would have to get herself out of this.
She had fallen off her broom.
No one (except Harry) could ever know that she'd fallen off her broom. Ron especially must never find out. She had fainted and fallen. High altitude, thin air, pregnancy and morning sickness had combined to make her faint. No one (except Harry) could ever know that she'd fainted, either. She had never fainted before. And she never would again, she decided.
Ginny squinted across the sun-bright snow. Her broom, and the satchel which contained a flask of sweet tea and her wand were about a hundred metres away, uphill. It would be a struggle to reach them. An uphill struggle, she realised, smiling wryly.
Then she saw them.
She saw the snow moving first, because they were almost invisible, white fur on a white backdrop in bright sunlight. Yetis! There were at least four of them and they were moving towards her rapidly. Her Chasers instincts took over.
Her wand was the Quaffle, the yeti were the Bludgers. Could she snatch the Quaffle and score, or was it too risky? What alternative did she have?
She checked her surroundings before moving and spotted a dark hole not twenty metres away, a cave! She abandoned any thought of trying to reach her wand. Ginny would have tried to reach it; but she wasn't only Ginny, she was Ginny and baby. Ignoring the pain in arm and ankle she rolled and dragged herself towards the darkness, cursing every inch of the way.
Stupid, stupid, stupid! Think Ginny, think. How can you get yourself out of this?
The Yeti's were too big. She'd slithered and squirmed to the back of the cave and she was curled uncomfortably up against the back wall. She was in total darkness; the hole through which she'd entered was filled by a yeti's shoulder. Its outstretched arm was reaching around the cave, trying to grab her. It couldn't reach, not quite, but the stupid beast was not giving up. There seemed to be no way out.
Move and get mauled, or stay and starve. Was that really the only choice that she had? There must be another way.
Suddenly, the flailing white furred arm was withdrawn and a shaft of sunlight pierced the cave. Ginny heard the angry roar of the Yetis and wondered if they were fighting amongst themselves. She risked an angry curse.
'Really, Ginny, there is no need to swear…wear…air,' Luna's voice sang out in an odd harmony as it echoed eerily around the cave.
A fur hood poked through the hole. Luna Lovegood pulled back the hood and pulled herself into the cave.
'At least you're both all right, but you shouldn't swear in front of your baby, Ginny.' Luna said.
'Both all right?' Ginny queried. Her friend's words combined with her suppressed worry for her unborn child and brought tears to her eyes. She fought them back and asked, 'How can you be sure, Luna?'
'Homenum Revello, of course,' Luna said with a smile as she began passing her wand over Ginny's injuries. 'I knew that there were two strong and determined people in this cave, one inside another. You've been a bit silly, haven't you? I was worried.'
At this Ginny burst into tears. Luna, who'd never seen her friend cry, pulled Ginny into a surprisingly powerful hug.
'I know that you don't like to cry, Ginny, but it's not a sign of weakness, you know. You're all right now, we've got your broom and your wand outside. I'll just mend your broken bones and we can go back to the hotel.' Luna said calmly.
'We?' Ginny asked. She wiped her tears on her sleeve and watched as Luna gently lifted her arm and mended the painful break before turning her attention to the ankle.
'Mr Scamander came with me. He helped me to find you. He's been here for weeks putting magical markers on the Yeti population in order to track their movements,' explained Luna
'Tracking Yeti's? Why?' Ginny asked. With the painful breaks mended she began to regain her composure.
'Because he's an eccentric, like me, and he's trying to track them in order to learn more about their habits.' Luna said seriously.
'He's eccentric, is he?' Ginny laughed in relief. 'I bet you have a lot to talk about.'
'He's not eccentric, Ginny, he's an E.C.C.E.N.T.R.I.C. a member of the European Cryptozoological and Cryptobotanical Explorers, Naturalists, Technicians and Researchers Institute and Collegium. We use the acronym E.C.C.E.N.T.R.I.C. because the Collegium has such a long title,' Luna explained patiently. 'I was worried about. When I woke, you were gone, and so was your broom. These mountains are dangerous, so I found Mr Scamander at the hotel and asked him to check his map. There were dozens of Yeti clustered together. They're usually solitary creatures, so we decided that they had probably found someone. Mr Scamander thought that you would be dead, but I knew that you weren't. I was right. Shall we get out of this cave and go home?' Luna concluded matter-of-factly.
Ginny shivered. Suddenly she was cold. Her furs and mittens had protected her from most of the chill, but now that she was safe she was shaking and not only from the cold, she realised. She was suddenly and violently sick.
'Sorry, Luna, Morning sickness doesn't usually last into the afternoon,' Ginny apologised.
'It's not morning sickness, Ginny. You were cold and frightened and you nearly died and Harry would have lost his wife and child and that would make him very, very sad, and you don't ever want him to be unhappy. It's perfectly understandable,' said Luna. 'I would have been very sad, too. You have always been a good friend and I think that I would miss you more than anyone else in the world except Daddy.'
Ginny pulled her friend into a tight hug, despite the cramped space. She pulled open the fur coat she wore, grabbed Luna's right hand and placed it on her only slightly swollen belly.
'If this little person in here is a boy, Luna, he's going to be James Sirius. That was decided over a month ago. If it's a girl, she's going to be Lily—something, Harry and I have dozens of alternatives for a middle name, but we can't decide. What would you think about Lily Luna Potter?'
'That would be lovely, Ginny, but what will Harry think?' Luna asked, beaming happily.
'After I tell him about today, Harry will be easy to persuade. Now let's go outside and you can introduce me to your new boyfriend,' said Ginny, smiling.
'He is older than Daddy, Ginny. He's certainly not boyfriend material,' scolded Luna as Ginny followed her out of the cave.
'Though he is a widower,' she added thoughtfully. 'And he's very clever.'
Scamander was a short and rather overweight man with a lot of grey hair on his chin and none at all on the top of his glistening head. He was sweating in the heat being generated by the ring of fire surrounding the cave mouth. Beyond it, a dozen angry Yetis snarled and raged.
'Ah, Luna my dear, I trust that your friend is well,' he shouted over the din of the yetis. 'I suggest Apparition back to the hotel, would you agree?'
'Yes,' replied Luna as Ginny picked up her satchel, wand and broom from the cave mouth. 'On three. One, two, three.'
Ginny concentrated on the hotel foyer, twisted and Disapparated.
The foyer was almost deserted when she arrived. Ginny was grateful, as that would save a lot of awkward explanations. The only occupant was skinny a fair-haired youth, of about sixteen. He had, she realised, recognised her. He was already on his feet and approaching nervously, his arm outstretched in greeting, when Luna and her new friend arrived with a pop.
'Mrs Potter…' the youth began eagerly.
Mr Scamander interrupted him. 'Allow me to perform the introductions. Miss Lovegood, Mrs Potter, I'd like you to meet my son, Rolf. He's a Harpies fan and a keen cryptozoologist and he's been desperate to meet you both.'