"And it's Owens, Owens of the
Tornadoes with the Quaffle, passes to Jamison, who passes back to
Owens—OH! nice Bludger work there by Portree's Thompson! Owens
misses the Quaffle and it's recovered by O'Riley. Portree now in
Harry Potter, Seeker for the Tutshill Tornadoes,
ignored the commentary and the melee beneath him, instead keeping one
eye on Roger Davies (who had made the change from Chaser to Seeker
shortly after being drafted by Pride of Portree) and one eye out for
the Snitch. The match had already been going for nearly three and
a half hours, and his team were getting tired; two of their Chasers had
been injured last week in practise, and consequently their reserve
players were on the field. It was time to end it before Portree
got more than a hundred and fifty points ahead of Tutshill—and they
were well on their way; the current score was 80-200.
shoots—and Jackson misses! Portree score! I don't know
what's wrong with Tutshill today; their players seem to be suffering
from a Butterfingers Hex. Llewellyn of Portree has possession of
the Quaffle, throwing to Jones—oh! MacKenzie's got wicked aim with that Beater's bat! Jones drops the Quaffle and Owens catches it, and it's back up the pitch—"
Make that 80-210.
Harry gritted his teeth in frustration. Something had to be done now.
Making up his mind, he set his face in an expression of concentration
and dived. As he'd hoped, Davies fell for it, zooming after him.
"And—what's this? Potter's diving—he's seen the Snitch!"
cheers from the Tutshill side of the stands nearly tripled in volume as
Harry angled for the field near the bottom of the Portree goals, Davies
only a yard or two behind him. Harry didn't often try to pull off
a Wronski Feint—had only done it three times in the two years he'd been
playing professional Quidditch, in fact—which meant that, when he
needed it, it worked. Praying that his Firebolt III would take
the stress, he leaned farther forward, picking up speed.
Got to time this just right... almost there... almost....
swerved right and up only a few feet from the ground, fighting not to
be pulled off his broom. Davies swore and tried to correct, but
at the last moment, Harry saw him dive off his Nimbus Millennium.
The broom hit the stands with a loud crack, and Davies came up from his roll (which had probably kept him from breaking bones), swearing vociferously.
the announcer said, as the fans gasped. "It was a Wronski
Feint—beautifully executed, I might add. That's only Potter's
fourth in his career, and quite effective, I must say. It looks
like Davies is going to the bench for another broom, as losing one's
broom isn't a legal reason to stop play. He seems to be all
right—good on him. That was a magnificent dive off his broom, and
likely the only thing that saved him from a nasty injury."
let out a breath in relief. It had worked, and nobody had got
hurt. He rather liked Roger Davies—they'd both been picked for
England's national team earlier that year, Harry in the starting
line-up and Davies as a reserve. During that time, they had become
friendly, if not precisely friends. It had been a disappointment
when England had gone down to Brazil in the quarter-finals. The
match had been held in Rio de Janeiro, and the strong sunlight had
blinded Harry just at the wrong time; the Brazilian Seeker had got to
the Snitch a hair's-breadth before him.
Harry snapped out of
his reverie and back to the present: he'd seen a small, sparkling,
golden glint just a few yards up the pitch. Forgetting everything
else, he put on another burst of speed.
"And there he
goes! It looks like Potter's seen the Snitch for real this
time! Portree's Beaters are converging—but Tutshill's are pacing
him, protecting their Seeker; nice work, that."
heard him. His vision had narrowed, his focus solely on the
small, glittering Snitch that fluttered ahead of him. He leant
forward even farther, reducing drag and speeding himself up—he was so
close—he started to reach—
"Up on your right, Potter!" shouted Jane Donovan, one of Tutshill's Chasers.
reacted without thinking, throwing himself to the left into a Sloth
Grip Roll as the Bludger came whistling by, right where he'd
been. His heart was pounding; he'd have broken an arm and
probably several ribs if that had hit him. Forcing himself to
focus again, he shot forward and closed his hand round the fluttering
The referee whistled and the Tutshill fans roared their
approval. "POTTER'S GOT THE SNITCH!" the announcer bellowed over
the crowd. "POTTER'S GOT THE SNITCH! TUTSHILL WIN, 230-210!"
stabbed his fist into the air as his teammates circled round him,
cheering. All seven of them flew a victory lap, waving at their
celebrating fans, before descending toward their changing rooms with
the chant of "POT-TER! POT-TER! POT-TER! POT-TER!" in their ears.
Harry paused, hovering on his broom, and gave a grin and a last wave to
the whole stadium. The roar increased.
And that's today's nod toward the sports pages of the Prophet,
Harry thought, grimacing internally. He'd decided long ago that
the best way to throw off those who might wonder about his occasional
meetings with strangers was to pretend to be the ultimate Quidditch
star—a slightly swelled head, a love of the fans (and, not so
incidentally, the cameras), and a cocky grin.
The Boy Who Lived becomes the Man Who Would Be A Star. Harry dived toward the tunnel to the changing rooms, snorting to himself. Well, it does provide something for the Prophet to focus on—and manages to hide my meetings with Order members quite nicely. I suppose I shouldn't quibble.
landed just inside the tunnel and handed off his Firebolt III to
Thomas, the broom-keeper. "Check the Braking charm, will you?" he
said. "It felt a little weak there at the last. For a
moment, I wasn't certain I'd be able to pull out of that feint."
Mr Potter," Thomas said amiably. He was about sixty and had been
with the Tornadoes for most of his adult life. What he didn't
know about brooms had yet to be discovered. Several of the broom-making
companies had even approached him to work for them, or so rumour had
it, but he'd refused every time. Colum MacKenzie, one of the
Beaters, had told Harry that Thomas had wanted to play Quidditch his
whole life but had never quite made it, so he'd found a way to be as
close to his beloved game as possible. Harry wasn't sure whether
to believe it, but as Thomas seemed utterly content with his lot, there
didn't really seem any point to wondering.
Stripping off his
leather guards, Harry turned left into the men's changing rooms.
Laughter and running water already echoed inside. "Hey, Potter,"
yelled David Owens, one of the Chasers, "did you pose for your fan
"How many birds fainted this time?" Keeper Connor Jackson taunted.
"More than ever did for your ugly gob," Harry replied, grinning.
others laughed as he reached his locker and pulled it open. His
robes got tossed into the laundry bin at the end of the row of lockers
for the Tutshill house-elves to take back to the clubrooms, and his
trousers, boxers, shirt, socks, and Quidditch guards stuffed into his
gym bag, after he'd pulled his clean clothes out. His boots he
left on the floor in front of his locker. Pulling the elastic
from his slightly-longer-than-shoulder-length hair, he took his shampoo
and soap and joined the others in the showers.
"So what's all
this I hear about a little blonde in Wimbourne last week?" Chris
Mishra, the other Beater, was something of a ladies' man and professed
himself jealous of the way Harry could draw women in without
trying. Literally without trying, though Mishra would
never believe it; he couldn't conceive of any man with Harry's fame
being content in a marriage of two years' duration.
"What about her?" Harry ducked under the shower spray, wetting his hair down.
"What did she want?"
Mishra asked, fascinated. "She was something else, mate.
Curvy enough, but not fat. A warmful armful, that one.
Merlin, what I wouldn't give to have a bird with tits like those."
smirked, lathering shampoo into his hair. "What makes you think
she wanted anything?" She had—specifically, to give him a report
for the Order—but of course he couldn't say that.
snorts of amusement from everyone. "Right, all she wanted was a
chance to bask in your divine light, is that it?" Owens said.
bother trying to get any more out of him, Chris," Jackson said as
Mishra opened his mouth. "You know Potter's wife—she's got him so
far under her thumb, it's amazing that he can even come to
practice." He gave Harry a sidelong smirk. "You can
certainly tell who wields the wand in their house!"
Harry had to stifle a laugh. Ginny, possessive? Well, she might be if she were ever all that concerned, he admitted to himself, leaning back to rinse his hair, but with all the protectiveness she put up with as a child, I can't imagine her trying to tie me to her apron strings.
I suppose it's hardly worth it to invite you along tonight, is it?"
MacKenzie asked, turning off the water and reaching for the towel to
dry off. His hair was almost as red as a Weasley's. "We're
going down to the Cat and Kettle for a pint or two, along with a few of
the blokes from Portree."
Harry shook his head, pushing wet
locks out of his eyes as he reached for the soap. "Can't, I'm
afraid. There's a big get-together at my in-laws' house, and I
have to be there."
The other players exchanged significant
glances. "Definitely under her thumb," Mishra agreed, turning off
his own shower and towelling off.
"It's a sad thing," Jackson sighed.
at his age." MacKenzie shook his head. "Harry, m'lad, you
ought to learn to live a little! You're what, twenty?
You've got a life ahead of you, mate, and you've already tied yourself down! What are you going to be doing in forty years?"
"Coaching a Quidditch side and teaching my grandchildren to play on weekends," Harry said, grinning as he soaped his legs.
"Right. So why not have some fun now, while you're still young enough to enjoy it?"
Harry put the soap back and began rinsing himself off. "Because if I 'had some fun', as you put it, I wouldn't live to coach and teach my grandchildren," he said dryly. "In fact, I wouldn't live to have
grandchildren. Ginny would kill me, painfully and messily, and
then bring me back to life just so she'd have the chance to kill me
again." He, too, turned off the shower—he was the last of them to
finish—and dried himself as quickly as possible. The clock on the
wall said half-past four, and dinner was to be at six; if he wanted to
spend any time alone with Ginny at all today, he'd better get home
soon. Tossing the towel into the second laundry bin, he walked
back to his locker and started pulling on his clothes.
it up, Mishra," Owens said. "He puts on a good show, but you'll
never catch him chasing totty." He looked at Harry out of the corner of
his eye. "Frankly, mate, having met your wife, I can't say I
"Cheers, David," Harry said, grinning.
Slipping on his favourite pair of black jeans, he fastened them, then
put his dragonhide vest on, with no shirt beneath it. It was
something of a trademark, Harry Potter leaving after a match in his
black jeans and black dragonhide; Harry didn't particularly like it,
any more than he usually liked being 'famous Harry Potter,' but the
benefits far outweighed the discomfort. He performed a Drying
Charm on his hair, then ran a comb through it; long and heavy as it
was, it stayed put far better than it had when it had been
shorter. It had developed a pleasing sort of wave, which girls
(and women) apparently found irresistible. He knew Ginny did, at
least, and when he'd had it trimmed just before the start of the
season, Witch Weekly had actually published an article about his change in hairstyle.
Well, he thought, putting the comb away, at
least nobody takes me very seriously anymore. Nobody who doesn't
know better, at any rate; and that's sort of the point. He pulled on his boots, picked up his gym bag, and shut his locker.
"Out to face the screaming masses?" MacKenzie teased.
"Of course." Harry saluted jauntily. "See you Tuesday."
If I'm really, really lucky, he thought, perhaps they'll be focused on Pride of Portree. After all, this is their pitch.
But he didn't hold out much hope. Squaring his shoulders as he
left the changing room, he forced a smile onto his face and headed out
to fool the media one more time.
It was nearly
half-past five by the time he made it home, exhausted from having
talked to fans and press for what seemed like hours. His face
hurt from smiling; his brain hurt from trying to make sure nothing he
said could be taken too far out of context. Though nothing can guarantee that,
he thought, sighing. He was a little irritated by the time it had
taken; he'd hoped for at least an hour alone with Ginny before they had
A year or so before, he and Ginny had bought a
Muggle house in a small community a bit north-west of London, and
they'd created their Apparition point in the garage, where nobody was
likely to see them popping in and out. The garage opened into a
mud room / laundry area off the kitchen. Harry left his gym bag
on top of the Muggle washing machine and walked through the kitchen
toward the lounge. "Ginny?" he called. "Are you here?"
was no answer, but he saw a piece of parchment on the dining table,
held down by the pepper mill. He picked it up and read:
asked me to come in for an hour or so this afternoon; apparently
there's a problem that needs sorting, and he thinks my particular
talents will be of use. Tell Mum I'll be a bit late, but I should
be in time for dinner.
sighed and set the note down. "Bloody perfect," he
grumbled. He'd been looking forward to spending some quality time
with his wife, even if it was only a few minutes. Now they'd both
be distracted by family all evening, and probably too tired by the time
they got home to do more than kiss and fall asleep. Not that he
minded going to Weasley family events, of course, but he'd had matches
every weekend for the past three weeks, and practices all week, and he
missed having Ginny all to himself.
No practice or match tomorrow, at least, he told himself, heading down the hall toward their bedroom. We'll be able to spend some time together then.
bedroom was decorated in restful shades of cream and sage green.
It was almost like being in a wood or a park. He unbuttoned the
dragonhide and hung it up with a sigh of relief, then pulled off his
boots as well. His mother-in-law would have a fit if he showed up
at her house dressed the way he did for photo shoots; she wasn't
entirely pleased with the persona he'd taken on, though she did
recognise the need for it.
If there was a word in
Molly Weasley's vocabulary for a male 'scarlet woman,' I think she'd
say the way I dress is the next thing to it. He chuckled at the
thought. The lads on the team were more accurate than they
realised about his attitude toward women who threw themselves at
him. Not that Ginny controlled him, but that he simply had
no interest in anyone but her. Next to Ginny, most women paled
into near-invisibility, especially the type who chased after Quidditch
stars. Where they were scheming, she was straightforward.
Where they'd say what they thought you wanted to hear, she said
precisely what she meant, no more and no less. Where they were
willing to compromise nearly anything to get the Quidditch star they
wanted, if only for a night, Ginny had clear definitions of what she
was willing to compromise on and what she wasn't, and stuck to those
definitions with all her formidable will.
And besides, she's just plain sexier than all those other women combined.
put on a light-green Oxford shirt, and pulled over it a dark-green
jumper (not one that Molly had knitted, but one he thought she'd
like). He untucked the collar, so it showed over the neck of the
jumper, and pulled the cuffs of his shirt free, too. Padding in
his sock feet across the hall to the loo, he ran the brush through his
long hair and pulled it into a tail at the nape of his neck. If
he left it free, he knew Molly wouldn't be able to resist asking if she
could just give him a bit of a trim; he and Bill had exchanged rueful
glances at the last get-together, when she'd done exactly that.
But Ginny rather liked his long hair, and truth be told, so did
Sometimes he got a chuckle out of thinking what
his uncle and aunt would say if they saw him now: twenty years old, two
years married, richer than they could imagine he'd ever be, the hero of
the wizarding world, and a famous sports star. He didn't think
they'd even recognise him, unless he walked up to them and identified
himself. Nearly the only thing that hadn't changed since he lived
with them was the glasses; he was still blind as a bat without them.
And the scar, of course. The scar would never leave him.
at the clock, he cleaned his teeth quickly, then went back to their
room to put on his black trainers. Time to leave. With a
last sigh for missing Ginny, he Disapparated.
Weasleys' back garden was just as he'd always known it: gnome-infested,
overgrown, and filled with redheads. He opened the gate and
sauntered in, grinning as heads turned and voices greeted him.
One voice, however, pierced through the noise easily:
"Unca Hawwee Unca Hawwee Unca Hawwee!"
laughed as he knelt and held out his arms to the toddler who was making
his unsteady way toward him, holding tightly onto his parents'
hands. Samuel Ronald Weasley let go the hands and threw his full
weight forward into his youngest uncle's embrace. Harry grunted
with the impact and stood, swinging the boy up into his arms and
grinning a hello at Ron and Hermione. "Hi, Sam!" he said,
accepting a hug and a kiss. "Merlin, you're getting big! What're
they feeding you at home?"
"Gween beans," Sam told him with
all the solemnity of a 13-month-old. He craned his neck to look
over Harry's shoulder. "Auntie?"
"Auntie Ginny will be
here shortly. She had a few things to finish first." Harry
gave his two best friends a one-armed hug, Sam held securely by the
other. "Good to see you."
"And you," Ron said, releasing
Harry and tousling his son's red hair affectionately. "The twins
think we should train him up as a Beater, since he's got experience
already at being a Bludger."
"I should say he had!" Hermione laughed. "I was black and blue inside for the last nine weeks before he was born."
"Beatuh!" Sam crowed. Harry winced at the volume. "Beatuh beatuh!"
"Not so loud, please, darling," Hermione said. "Where is Ginny, Harry?"
a few things at work before she comes," Harry said, grimacing.
"She said Gilbert had a few things he needed her to do."
"On a Saturday?" Ron said, surprised. "What do they have her doing there on a weekend?"
gather she's been working with the Prophecies, but she can't tell me
much more than that. I think they're trying to push the limits of
"Gif'?" Sam perked up.
"No, not that sort of gift," Ron said, grinning. "Sorry, son."
think Nana has something for you, Sam," Hermione said, catching her
son's immediate attention. She held out her arms and he leant
forward eagerly, letting her take him from Harry. "Come along,
let's go see, shall we?" She settled him comfortably on her hip,
and the two of them went back inside.
"He's been all excited
about coming to visit 'Nana and Papa' since Mum Flooed on Wednesday,"
Ron said, grinning after them. "He's got quite the vocabulary,
hasn't he? Hermione's been reading to him ever since she found
out she was pregnant. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if he
inherited every ounce of her cleverness."
"He's a gem," Harry
said. There was always a small twinge of—something—every time he
saw his best friends with their son. Not quite pain,
but—longing? Regret? He wasn't sure.
said, and Harry turned to see a concerned expression on his best mate's
face. "You and Ginny will have one of your own soon. No
"Right." Harry forced a smile. "After
all, she's a Weasley, right? If I weren't travelling with the
team all the time, no doubt we'd already have two and a third on the
Neither he nor Ginny had shared with the
rest of the family their attempts to have a child, nor their dismay at
repeated disappointments. They had even gone to St Mungo's and
subjected themselves to a barrage of tests, only to be told that there
was nothing physically wrong with them. "Maybe it's just not time
yet," the Healer had said sympathetically.
The fact that
Hermione had given birth to Sam eleven months to the day after she and
Ron had married had only increased Harry and Ginny's desire for a child
of their own. Both of them adored their nephew, but that didn't
make the longing any less. However, despite the fact that they'd
never said anything, Harry had the distinct feeling that Ron had more
than a faint idea of how they felt. He gave Harry a sharp look,
then smiled and clapped him on the back. "Come on," he
said. "Mum's wanting a hand."
"All right," Harry said, gratefully taking the change of subject. "Anything to stay on my mother-in-law's good side."
two of them went inside. A chorus of greetings sounded from all round
the room, and Harry had to smile. It was too rare that the whole
family got together, and he couldn't help feel his heart lift at the
sight. Bill's wife, Fleur, sat in a corner with their daughter,
Marjorie, and Sam, reading a storybook; Katie Bell, George's fiancé,
and Angelina, Fred's wife, sat on the sofa talking animatedly with
Hermione and Tonks, who was currently dating Charlie. The men of
the family—except Arthur, who wasn't home yet—were engaged in various
lifting-and-carrying activities for Molly, who stood in the kitchen,
directing all of them in her usual no-nonsense voice.
and George, you carry the tables out to the garden, and for heaven's
sake, use your muscles, not your wands—I'm never certain whether you've
picked up your own wands or one of those silly things you two
sell. This is likely to be one of the last nice weekends of the
year, and I want to make the most of it. Charlie, you shoo the
chickens back into their coop. We don't want them underfoot while we're
trying to eat. And watch for eggs; I've a couple of hens that like to
hide their nests. Bill, pull down the big serving bowls from the
top of the cupboard, will you, dear? I can't reach them, and I just
don't like to use magic with them, because they belonged to your
grandmother. Hurry, we haven't much time; the food will be ready
shortly." Her gaze fell upon Ron and Harry, and her face lit up.
"Harry! Ron! Oh, I'm so glad to see you!" She bestowed a hug and
a kiss on both of them. "I've seen Hermione and Sam, of course,
but where's Ginny?"
"Still at work," Harry said, giving his
mother-in-law a kiss on the cheek. "She got called in unexpectedly, but
her note said she'd be here for dinner."
Molly's face fell.
"Oh, I do hope so. They work her at all hours, with that Gift of
hers. If Gift it is; I'm not entirely certain of that, either—it
sounds more a curse to me. The poor dear. I do hope she didn't
get it from my side of the family; I'd hate to be responsible for that
sort of thing." She cocked her head and looked up at him. "Didn't
you have a match today, Harry?"
"Yes, earlier. We won by twenty points."
she said with satisfaction. "With your Chasers on the injured list, I
was afraid it would cause problems for you, but you seem to be doing
well even though you're having to use your reserves."
blinked, startled by this observation from a woman who, to the best of
his knowledge, had never been interested in Quidditch and never
followed it. By the expression on his face, Ron, too, was
surprised. "I didn't know you followed the Tornadoes so closely, Mum,"
To their even greater surprise, she flushed slightly. "Well, I never did, but as Harry's playing with them—"
was saved from having to say more by a chorus of "Ginny!" from the
front room. Harry turned round and smiled at the sight of his
wife, despite the fact that she looked tired and frustrated. Things must not have gone as well as she'd hoped, he thought, moving toward her.
greeted the other members of the family affectionately but distantly as
she headed straight for Harry and wrapped her arms round him, burying
her face against his chest. He hugged her close, dropping a kiss
on the top of her head. "Rough day, love?" he asked quietly.
yes," she sighed, "but I can't tell you about it here. Wait until we
get home." She squeezed him briefly but tightly, then pulled away
and turned to the other figure who had come in the doorway—a figure in
Auror's robes. "Thank you, Harrison," she said. "You can go on back to
the house. The wards will protect me here, and we'll be Apparating
through them straight back to the garage."
Harrison said, and saluted Harry. Harry grinned and raised a hand
in greeting. "Nice match today, sir. I was able to catch most of it on
the WWN, while Mrs Potter was working."
said. "Glad you weren't having to follow her round Diagon Alley
or anything like that; you'd've missed the whole thing."
"Yes, sir, but I'd've got my physical training in for the day, so it wouldn't have been a total loss," Harrison said, deadpan.
mock-glared at both of them, and they laughed. "I'll be back at the
house until my shift's over, then," Harrison said. "Chettle has the
evening shift today. Enjoy yourselves." With a genial wave,
"Men," Ginny sighed, winked at Harry, and
headed toward the sofa. Katie, Angelina, and Tonks made room for
her and she sat down, joining in the conversation with an air of
relief. Harry grinned.
Bill came up beside Ron,
frowning, as their mother slipped back into the kitchen. "Are
they still watching Ginny that closely?" he asked, concern evident in
Ron and Harry nodded. "She's the only Seer
the Ministry have," Harry said. "She's considered a 'strategic asset'
that they're not willing to risk, especially as we've almost certainly
not found all of the Death Eaters in the country. They believe
her life is in danger because of her Gift, and so she's under
twenty-four-hour guard except when she's within the wards here or at
home. Even at work she's under guard, except when she's actually
in the Department of Mysteries itself. They're taking no chances
with her safety."
He could hear the bitterness in his voice,
and was ashamed of it; why shouldn't he be grateful that they were
being so careful of his wife's safety? But they're not keeping her safe because she's Ginny Potter, he thought rebelliously, his jaw clenching. They're
doing it because she's the only Seer we've got, and we need her too
badly to risk her. It's like locking up a priceless diamond;
she's an object of worth to them, not a person. But he had to
admit to himself that it was the Department of Mysteries, not the
Ministry as a whole, that felt that way; after all, her father was the
new Minister for Magic.
Bill looked somewhat shaken at Harry's
explanation, but then, he, Fleur, and Marjorie had spent much of the
past year and a half in France, and he hadn't been as aware of the
guards as the rest of the family. "I'd no idea it was so
dangerous for her," he said.
"The Department of Mysteries is really the only place she could
work and be safe," Harry said. He was watching Ginny, who was
laughing with the other women with no evidence of self-consciousness or
concern whatsoever. She'd either got over whatever had bothered
her at work today or, more likely, she'd pushed it to the back of her
mind so she could enjoy the evening with her family. "She rarely
even comes to my matches because of the security concerns."
simply awful, Harry," Fred said from behind them. Both Bill and Harry
jumped. "Having guards hanging round all the time."
George said. He had come up beside his twin. "No wonder you've not made
her pregnant; you've never performed well before an audience.
Well, except on the Quidditch pitch."
"Ooh, there's a thought," Fred said, consideringly. "Have you tried there, Harry?"
"Fred! George!" Bill said sharply as Harry flushed.
"Sorry, Harry," George said unrepentantly. Fred just smirked.
better be, you bloody git," Ron growled. Harry glanced at him, a
bit surprised to notice the way his shoulders had tensed. I wonder whom he's protecting—Ginny or me? Harry thought.
come off it, Ron. Harry's family," Fred said in an exasperated
tone. "We've been taking the mickey out of him since he was
eleven. He knows we're only joking."
"Why don't you go
pick on Charlie instead?" Ron snapped. "Or better yet, go pull
that on Ginny. Your looks would be improved with a few Bat-Bogeys
flapping over your face." He nudged Harry's elbow. "Come on,
Harry, let's go see if we can help Mum with something."
but dragged Harry into the kitchen. Glancing back, Harry saw Fred
and George watching them, frowning slightly with what looked like
confusion. They don't know, he reminded himself.
Ron and Hermione knew about the baby Ginny had lost during the battle
with Voldemort—Harry and Ron had got very drunk one New Year's Eve and
Harry had let something slip in Hermione's hearing. She'd waited until
everyone was sober before asking pointedly what he'd meant, and there
had seemed to be nothing for it but to tell them both. They'd
both been sympathetic—Ron surprisingly so—but Harry had a strong
suspicion that the fact that Hermione had been pregnant with Sam at the
time had had something to do with it.
None of the other
Weasley children or their spouses knew, though, and Harry and Ginny had
extracted promises from Ron and Hermione to keep it that way.
Perhaps that was why the two of them seemed to know how badly Ginny and
Harry wanted a child—having had one themselves, the fear of losing him
was very real to them. More real than to us, possibly,
Harry thought as Molly handed them cutlery and dishes and instructed
them to set the tables out in the garden. Despite the pain they'd
both gone through, their child had never been more than a missed
possibility to both of them; Ginny hadn't realised she was pregnant
until she'd lost the baby, and Harry hadn't been told until three
months later. They'd never known what they were missing, not
really. I suppose I ought to be grateful for that, Harry thought bleakly. If only the possibility of a child hurt so much, how badly off would we have been if we'd known about her pregnancy and been planning for it?
sun was growing close to the horizon, but the days were still warm,
even if the nights were beginning to grow cooler. Harry set out
the plates while Ron put down serviettes and cutlery at each place
setting. Ron was still tense, and Harry was fairly certain he had
more to say.
At last, Ron grumbled, "I ought to take
those two gits and explain to them that they oughtn't tease you and
Ginny about children."
Harry froze, his heart pounding, then
carefully put down the dish he had in hand as he turned round to face
Ron. "No, Ron, don't," he said earnestly. "It's not fair to put
that on any more of the family than we have to."
up, meeting Harry's eyes, and grinned sheepishly. "I meant, explain
with my fists," he said. "Don't worry, Harry, I'd never tell
anyone about that."
Mollified, Harry returned to his task, though his heart still raced. "All right," he said.
just meant," Ron said, "that it's not right to poke fun at you because
you've not had a child yet. I mean, you're gone a lot,
right? And just because Mum had all of us, doesn't mean you're
necessarily going to have a huge family."
"Ron," Harry began.
nothing wrong with a small family," Ron continued, talking over
him. "I mean, Hermione and me have been talking, and we're not
sure we want a big family, either. Hermione wants to keep
working, for one, and it would be a pain in the arse to have to find
someone to mind a houseful of children. Mum would probably do it,
but we can't really put that on her; it's not fair."
"Ron," Harry said again, a little louder.
just think the twins should mind their own business. Fred and
Angelina don't have any children yet, either, and I heard Katie telling
Tonks that she wasn't planning to get pregnant for a year or two after
their wedding anyway—"
"Ron!" Harry near-shouted.
one Ron couldn't ignore; he looked up, his ears flushing. Harry
sighed. "The more you argue with them over it," he said, "the
more they'll push. Just let it go, all right?"
"Harry, you don't have to put up with—"
"Just let it go,
Ron," Harry said again, with finality. "We'll take care of things
ourselves, if we think it needs doing. Ginny and I aren't
"Well, yeah, I know—" Harry gave Ron a look,
and Ron sighed. "All right," he said. "I know neither of you is
helpless, but listening to those two prats mouthing off—"
set down his last dish and came over to Ron, taking some of the
remaining cutlery. "Thanks," he said simply. Just that, but
he knew Ron would understand exactly what he meant.
Apparently, he did; Ron flashed a crooked grin at him. "You're welcome," he said, and the two of them finished laying the table.
and Ginny Apparated back to their house just before ten o'clock.
Harry knew he should be exhausted, and one part of him was, but the
rest of him was oddly exhilarated; he'd won his match that afternoon,
he'd spent the evening with the people he'd thought of as family since
he'd first come to Hogwarts, and now he had more than twenty-four hours
to spend alone with his wife.
Ginny ran a hand through her
hair and blew out a sigh, then opened the door from the garage into the
house and walked quickly on through. Knowing where she was going,
he followed more sedately, checking in with Chettle and letting him
know they were home, then making certain the door was locked and all
the lights were turned out, before heading upstairs.
halfway up the stairs when he heard the shower come on. In the
first few months of their marriage, they'd lived in a small flat whose
water heater wasn't always reliable. Rather than use magic,
they'd arranged their schedules so they showered at different times:
Ginny in the evening, just before bed, and Harry in the morning, when
he first got up. Ginny teased him that showering in the morning
was redundant for him; he'd just shower again after practice, so what
was the point? Harry stuck stubbornly to his morning showers,
though; they were part of his waking-up routine, and given the early
hour at which he had to report to the pitch, being awake was not always
easy. Especially if Ginny had decided to join him in the
shower... which was not uncommon.
whether to offer to wash her back tonight, then decided against
it. As soon as they'd arrived at home, Ginny's whole demeanour
had changed from energetic and happy to tired and worried, the way
she'd looked when she'd first arrived at The Burrow. Clearly,
there was still something concerning her—likely the something she'd
promised to tell him later. He very much wanted to know what it
was. There wasn't much that made his wife that concerned anymore,
and he was afraid it was nothing good.
He stripped down to his
boxers and slid under the covers, propping himself up into a sitting
position with his pillow. He picked up the book on his bedside
table, but didn't really pay much attention to the words on the page;
he was too busy listening for the shower to shut off.
rush of water stopped a few minutes later, and he heard the distinctive
sound of water slapping against the bathtub as Ginny wrung out her
long, thick hair. He knew her routine so well he could almost see
her as she performed it: drying off with a thick, fluffy towel;
slipping her nightdress on and wrapping herself in her dressing gown;
performing a Drying Charm on her hair, which was so thick that it would
take hours to dry on its own; weaving her hair into one long plait down
her back, in preparation for bed.
At last he heard the
doorknob to the bathroom rattle as she turned it, and the familiar
sound of her bare feet padding down the hardwood floor of the
hallway. She came into the bedroom looking exactly as he'd
pictured, and he smiled as she untied her dressing gown, slipped it
off, and tossed it across the foot of the bed, then climbed in beside
him. He put his book down, scooted down in the bed so he was
lying rather than sitting, and turned to face her. "Ready to talk now?"
She rubbed her face with both hands before turning
onto her side as well, tucking one arm up under her pillow.
"Gilbert called me in because we received a new Prophecy today," she
said soberly. "It's only the third since I started working there,
and...." She trailed off.
"And what?" Harry asked gently.
She closed her eyes, then took a deep breath and looked at him again. "And we think it's about you," she said finally.
It was like a blow to the solar plexus. Harry stared at her, his brain whirling. "About me?" he managed at last.
Ginny said reluctantly. "Gilbert thought so at first, but he
wasn't sure, so he called me in to verify. It's not completely
clear—it doesn't mention you by name or anything—but for anyone who
knows what's happened over the past few years, there isn't really
anyone else it could refer to."
Harry felt his stomach begin
to churn. The first Prophecy had been bad enough, but this?
"What did it say?" he forced himself to ask, though he wasn't sure he
really wanted to know.
She took another deep breath, then recited:
"The Chosen One's destiny was left unfulfilled When another vanquished the first Dark Lord. A second now reaches forth, Ticking fate to its rightful place. Adoring faces will turn away, Loving hearts will suffer. Only in turning from them can The power behind the throne be defeated. Only by taking the silver hand Can the world yet be saved."
chill walked up his spine as she spoke, and it took him a moment before
he could shake it off enough to speak. "Gilbert knew about the
first Prophecy, then?" he asked with a credible effort at aplomb,
though his stomach was already beginning to roil. The last thing
he needed was for Ginny to know how badly this had upset him.
was the one who was finally able to put your name on it, after
Voldemort attacked your parents and tried to kill you." She
reached up and gently touched his scar, traced it slowly, then lowered
her hand again and met his gaze. "Harry," she said quietly, "I'm
scared. I don't want to go through all that again. I don't
want to have to worry about losing you."
Harry gathered her
into his arms, cradling her against his chest. She slid her arms around
him, holding him close. "You won't," he said soothingly.
can't know that," she said, an edge to her voice that he knew wasn't
directed at him. "Bloody damn prophecies. Why can't they
just leave us alone? Why does it always have to be you that saves
He smiled slightly. That was his Ginny:
ready to stand up to the universe in his defence. "Us," he
corrected. "You were the one who actually killed Voldemort."
"Yes, and apparently I mucked that up as well," she almost snapped. "If you'd done it, we wouldn't have this now."
right," Harry said calmly, despite his roiling stomach, "because I
wouldn't be here. You Saw it yourself; if I'd tried to take on
Voldemort myself, I'd have died—and so would you, because he'd never
have let you live."
There was a long pause, as Ginny lay very
still in his arms, thinking. At last, she said heavily, "You're
right. You're right. I'm sorry."
"Don't be." He
kissed the top of her head. "Love, I won't pretend I'm not
worried by this prophecy, because I am. But if there's one thing
I've learned, it's that prophecies never mean exactly what you think
they do. Think about the first one—it said neither can live while the other survives. It did not say that I was the one who would actually kill him."
"It implied it," she pointed out.
"Very strongly," he agreed. "We all thought that's what it meant. But it turned out not to, didn't it?"
She yawned and shifted closer to him. "I'm not convinced," she said. "But I'm too tired to argue."
too," he said, stifling a yawn of his own. "Let's get some sleep,
and we can go over it again tomorrow. Maybe we can make more
sense of it then."
He reached out and picked up his wand from his bedside table. "Nox,"
he murmured. The lamps went out, and he placed the wand back on
the bedside table, then set his glasses beside it. Wrapping both
arms around his wife as she twined her legs with his, he lay his head
down and tried to compose himself for sleep.
"I love you," Ginny said softly into the darkness.
He smiled. He never tired of hearing that. "And I love you," he said.
Now, if only I don't dream about this new Prophecy....