Author's note: Writing this fic has truly been wonderful, especially because of the large support I got- Thank you so much! In particular to everyone who ever took the time to review/fave. Also Spinning Round on a Carousel, who has been a major help as a beta. Glad you guys thought the summoning spell was such a good idea!
As always feedback is appreciated, even one-liners (since I'm a notorious 'one-liner' reviewer myself) make me smile.
That being said, it's been awesome- Thank you!
It had been a couple of days since the birth of his daughter and Harry was more tired than he had ever been in his life. He was certain that even the Horcrux hunt hadn't been this exhausting.
Despite that, he had never been happier. He could feel the warmth in the room, close friends and family having gathered for the official introduction of the baby.
Rita Skeeter also had the honour of being present, albeit trapped in a glass jar on the kitchen's windowsill. How she'd fallen for the same trap again, Harry would never know, but Rita's imprisonment was the last thing on his mind today.
"She's beautiful!" Luna gushed over the bundle in Harry's arms.
"She looks nothing like you, mate..." Ron teased, even though it was apparent she would indeed inherit his eyes.
"Wow, thanks, Ron..." Harry said dryly, but even that couldn't dim the proud smile on his face. He knew he was supposed to allow other people to hold his daughter, but for the life of him, he just couldn't bear to hand her over.
Ron very lightly punched him on the shoulder. "You'll be fighting off boys by the masses when she turns sixteen," he joked.
Harry grinned. "Been practising hexes already, to tell you the truth," he admitted.
"Always prepared," Ron said with a smirk.
Sirius sauntered towards them. "So you haven't told us her name yet?" he asked. He gave Harry a meaningful look.
Inwardly, Harry rolled his eyes. They were not calling her 'Siriusa'.
"Actually, we haven't named her yet," he admitted with a sheepish grin.
It seemed everyone in the room turned at his admission, but it was Ron who broke the silence. "What?!"
Harry gave an awkward shrug. "We haven't decided on a name yet," he said a bit defensively. The baby was barely two weeks old. They had lots of time to decide on a name for her.
"Mate, you need to name her," Ron said seriously.
"We will... We're just weighing our options."
"What other options?" Sirius asked.
"Harry, isn't it time for her feeding?" Luna asked. Harry gave her a grateful smile for how she'd managed to give him the perfect excuse to escape the scrutinizing eyes. Luna's dreamy eyed expression meant that people seldom, if ever, thought Luna had a deceptive bone in her body.
"Yeah, I think I'll also check on Hermione," Harry added as he made his getaway, glad to escape the group. He nearly walked right into Ginny, who was lurking in the hallway.
"Ginny?" he uttered, unable to hide his surprise. He hadn't spoken to her since that time after Rita's story broke and could feel the awkward tension between them.
Ginny, who was usually exuding confidence, seemed a bit nervous herself as she peered at the baby. "She's beautiful," she said honestly and Harry made a sound of agreement in the back of his throat.
"I always thought I'd have your children," she admitted. Harry was taken aback by her honesty, though he really shouldn't have been all that surprised because Ginny - for the most part - spoke her mind. "I am happy for you, Harry, don't get me wrong, it's just..." She paused, giving an awkward shrug. "I... Well, it's still a bit hard, yeah?"
Harry swallowed the guilt wedged deep in his throat before replying, "Yeah."
He had been so enraptured in his new found happiness with Hermione, their baby and the prospect of their future that he'd completely forgotten about his life before Hermione's call, all those weeks ago.
"You know, usually when people take a break from each other, one of them doesn't run off and get married and have a baby," Ginny tried to joke, but her voice choked slightly and had Harry not been holding the baby, he would have embraced her.
He was in love with Hermione, he was happy- was bursting with it actually and he couldn't imagine his life having turned out any other way. But that didn't mean he'd suddenly stopped caring about Ginny. They'd been together for a while and he had loved her, probably always will. But where once he'd loved her with intensity now all he felt was a lingering feeling of something that was once wonderful but he had no wish to revisit.
"I'm so sorry, Gin," he said. It was all he could say really. "You know I'll always care for you?"
Ginny was wiping furiously at a few errant tears. "I honestly told myself I wouldn't cry," she was saying. "I feel like I'm stealing your thunder - it's supposed to be a happy occasion and here I am, crying like an idiot."
Carefully moving the baby into a secure position in one arm, Harry placed his free hand on Ginny's shoulder. "You aren't an idiot."
"I know that," she said with an eye roll and watery smile. "It's just going to take some time. Good thing I'm still young," she added, a hint of false bravado.
Harry gave her a soft smile and squeezed her shoulder. He didn't doubt that Ginny would find the perfect guy for her; she was beautiful and smart enough.
"Congratulations, Harry," she said. She gave him a peck on the cheek, grazed the baby's cheek with a finger and stepped aside for him to pass.
"Thank you, Ginny," he said softly before walking down the rest of the hallway and then up the stairs.
Would he and Ginny ever be friends? He pretty much doubted that, but they'd always have their past and he knew that when they ran into each other in the future, it wouldn't be awkward nor would it be filled with overwhelming enthusiasm.
But if she ever needed his help, he'd be there and he knew the sentiment was mutual.
He glanced down at the bundle in his arms, his heavy mood lifting just with seeing her scowling face. The love he had for his daughter was like something he'd never felt before; he could understand why his mother sacrificed her life for him now more than ever.
He peeked into their bedroom. Hermione, after playing host for twenty minutes, had retired there and no one blamed her. Actually, they were surprised that she was even out and about already. Harry had tried to keep Hermione bedridden at least for a week, but she wouldn't have it.
"Hey, you," he said, entering the room and closing the door behind him.
Hermione, not surprisingly, was reading a book. She sat it aside, stretching out her hands for the baby. "Honestly, Harry, I can't feed her with you holding her," she said, shaking her head. She thought it was cute how possessive of the baby he was.
Reluctantly, Harry handed over the baby. "Ran into Gin," he said as he sat on the bed beside her.
"We had a chat actually," Hermione said, cradling the infant as she partially removed her bra. The baby latched on to her breast without prompting.
"You and Ginny?' Harry asked. No matter how many times he witnessed it, it still fascinated him to watch Hermione breastfeed.
Hermione nodded. "Yep, clear the air and all," she said.
"Clear the air?"
"A few weeks back we had some words, but I understand she was upset about all this and we were just mending the wall, so to speak," Hermione answered.
Harry wanted to ask more, but then decided it wasn't really important. Also, his eyelids had begun to insistently kiss each other. A new born baby meant little to no sleep. He doubted he'd caught more than an hour's worth since Hermione was discharged from the care of (the ever attentive) Doctor Garcia - much to Harry's secret glee.
"You should get some sleep," Hermione chided him.
Harry, having kicked off his shoes, lay beside her on his back. "Look who's talking," he said even as he removed his glasses to rub at his sore eyes. "Besides, we have guests remember?"
"They're practically family - if they get hungry, they know where the fridge is."
Harry made a sound of agreement, one arm over his eyes.
"Did you know Gretchen is a cupid?" he asked her.
"What?" Hermione blurted.
Harry had had a hard time wrapping his mind on the revelation either. Although he was a wizard and had long since learnt to expect the unexpected, sometimes there was just no way of preparing for it. But the more he'd thought about it, the more it made sense. Babies in diapers shooting arrows even seemed laughable now, all things considered.
"Yeah, Mrs Weasley apparently recognised her as one on sight," he answered. "Turns out their powers lie in being able to determine soul mates and bringing them together. She can also change her appearance…sort of like a Metamorphmagus."
Hermione laughed. "No wonder she was such a crusader for us to end up together," she said. "I've read about them, just never thought I'd actually meet and befriend one."
"I'm glad you did," Harry said, unable to stop the yawn that overtook him. He could feel the lull of sleep and reasoned that an hour nap wouldn't be so terrible.
"We should get married, like make it official or something."
"If that's a proposal, then it's the lamest one ever."
"I'm going on an hour of sleep a day. Cut me some slack!"
"Fatigue is no excuse for being uncreative."
"... You're right. I'll think of something then ask you again."
"I didn't say no."
"But you just-"
"Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, Harry Potter - just feel lucky you have such a forgiving fiancée."
"Hermione Jean Potter... I like the sound of it."
"Now let's not jump the gun... Hermione Jean Granger still has a certain appeal to it."
Harry smiled to himself, it was just like Hermione to fight him over something like this and honestly, he wouldn't have her any other way.
End note: I'm not going to lie- I was one of those people who asked crucial questions like- why didn't Tom Riddle kill Ginny? Why did Fred die instead of Ginny? Honestly, I'm not a fan but I don't flame characters. If JK can sleep soundly with that dreadful epilogue, I'm not about to let myself lose sleep over it.