Anaubrey Shannon, © 2013
Harry Potter © JK Rowling. I love Harry Potter, but it's not mine. I'm just tap dancing around in her world.
This is my first story! I hope you all enjoy what I have to offer and please tell me your thoughts if you are so inclined. :)
There were many things that Ginny loved about Harry. He was kind, courageous, wise, intelligent, and more empathetic that anyone she had ever known. She was happy to know that all these qualities culminated in his natural ability in being a good father. He knew exactly how to talk to James and Albus whenever they had their little quarrels, always speaking at their level, kneeling down to face them instead of towering over them, and listening to what they had to say. Though Lily had been an easy baby so far, whenever she was particularly cranky, she didn't fuss for long whenever Harry had her in is arms. Even as she grew, though Harry doted on her, he never spoiled her to the excess that his Aunt and Uncle spoiled his cousin, Dudley. He raised Teddy Lupin as his own as soon as he and Ginny had a house to accommodate their godson. Above all, the number one rule that Harry would always abide by was that his children could always ask questions.
Ginny supposed that Harry's parenting style developed from his negative experiences with the Dursleys. If there was any person aside from Voldemort that Harry didn't want to be like, it was them. He mentioned one day that he felt that being a good father to his children was his way of making up for the things he never had growing up. He wanted to give them the nourishment he never received for the first 10 years of his life, such as the constant reminders of how loved and important they were to him.
Whenever the time came for James and Albus to learn a lesson about life, watching Harry administer it was a magic of a different kind. He found ways to relay information that were creative and abstract, but easy enough for a young child to grasp. One lesson in particular that amazed Ginny was when her sons learned about death for the first time.
Both parents agreed it was a wonderful idea to give the boys a chance to take care of a creature to learn the dynamics of owning a pet. Once it was arranged between them what kind of animal they were responsible enough to tend to, Harry bought their sons each a wood frog from a Muggle pet shop. Aside from casting a perimeter around their outdoor enclosure; the frogs themselves weren't magically enhanced in any sense.
James and Albus were ecstatic with this surprise, and were as honored as any two children could be that their parents thought they were grown up enough to take care of an animal. They cleaned the enclosure together and took particular delight in feeding the frogs live insects. They named them Toil and Trouble. The boys also saved up their pocket money to purchase a tank that their pets could be transferred to during the colder weather. Nothing went amiss with their duties until the winter holidays.
Grandma Andromeda invited the family to stay in the Isle of Wight with her for a couple weeks since Lily was old enough to travel, but James and Albus, in their excitement at seeing their gram, forgot to put Toil and Trouble in their tank before departing, despite the constant reminders from both mum and dad. When they got back home, they discovered the frogs had frozen solid with the snow.
The two youngsters were devastated by what their forgetfulness had caused. To them, this was the greatest calamity. Ginny was especially sad for the boys when they locked themselves upstairs, but despite the apparent tragedy, Harry had a plan up his sleeve, and he let his wife know what he planned to do.
Talking near the door in an even tone, Harry asked his sons to come down with him.
"Boys? I know how upset the two of you must be, but I would like it very much if you would come downstairs with me so that we could have a little talk about what's happened. If you have anything on your minds, you can tell me."
Not sensing any reprimand, they exited their room and acquiesced to being scooped up into their father's arms. Harry brought them down to the sitting area couch, each boy nestled on either side of him, with Ginny settled on the floor in front of them.
James and Albus understood the concept that no one could live forever, that our bodies eventually stopped working, and that the person inside the body would be gone. The questions that burned in their little minds, however, were posed by Albus:
"What happens to the part of us that leaves the body? Does it go somewhere?"
"As a matter of fact Albie, there is. It's a really nice place. It's a place away from here that's beautiful and peaceful. Everyone you ever loved that was gone before you is there." said Harry in a placating tone.
"Can animals go there, Daddy?" asked James.
"Of course they can, James. I would say it isn't limited to just humans."
"Will Toil and Trouble be happy there?" asked Albus, seeking further comfort.
"I'm sure they will be someday, but I can think of a better place for them right now."
Looking up at their father, James and Albus had identically puzzled looks on their faces. What could he possibly have meant by this?
James gave his father a shrewd, almost Hermione-ish stare, and asked:
"Is there something you aren't telling us, Daddy?"
"Well, remember when I told you about that time during the war that I had to play dead to keep myself from dying for real? Toil and Trouble were doing the same thing."
On cue, and with a broad smile, Ginny pulled two very much alive frogs from the silencing charm she had cast in her pockets.
"TOIL! TROUBLE! They're alive!" both boys shouted, completely awestruck at the proceedings.
*3 hours earlier*
"I feel so sad for James and Albus, Harry. They were so diligent with taking care of those frogs, only to have one thing go amiss for them to be gone. It doesn't seem fair." said Ginny worriedly, as she set Lily down for her nap.
"It is a sad thing to lose a pet," said Harry wisely, "but I should have you know that I chose that type of frog with the possibility of accidental neglect. They aren't actually dead."
"What do you mean? Did they survive the freeze somehow?"
"Yes. Wood frogs live in forested areas where the temperature gets below freezing, so they have a special way to preserve themselves until it gets warmer. They slowly stop their bodily functions; they bring all the water inside themselves to their abdomen, and secrete a sort of goo around their organs to keep them from drying out. It's fascinating stuff. I learned about them a long time ago in the Muggle school I used to attend before I knew I was a wizard."
"You apparently put more thought into this project that I could have ever fathomed. The boys will be thrilled!" Even after so many years of marriage and three children, Harry retained the capacity to surprise Ginny.
"I want to bring them down to talk to them about this. Would you mind unthawing the frogs and keeping them in your pockets until the big reveal?"
"I must be a devoted wife, if I am willing to carry live frogs in my jumper pockets for you. Bring the boys down as soon as you can."
Bowing in what would have been reverence if not for Harry's teasing smile, he replied: "The man with eyes as green as a fresh pickled toad acknowledges your commitment!"
At that comment, Ginny gave Harry a glare rivaling her mother's, swatted him lightly over the head, and kissed him before heading to the sitting area.
*flash to the present*
"I thought it would be a better idea if your frogs stayed down here with the two of you until their time really came." said Harry with a tender smile.
James and Albus hugged their father with unrestrained happiness and affection and took their beloved amphibians up to the tank in their room. The two of them were relieved that the damage they had caused had not been permanent. Suffice to say, they never forgot any part of caring for their frogs again.