The shower was running and Ginny could be heard faintly, singing to herself, when Harry finally opened his eyes the next morning. He groaned softly, closing his eyes again. Despite the fact that Ginny had pulled him back to bed last night, he had slept with uneasy dreams and he had woken up several times… he had woken up very, very reluctantly. Very slowly, Harry opened his eyes again, staring up at the ceiling of Ginny’s bedroom. He looked down at the covers he was lying in, the pale yellow sheets. Studying the familiar photographs round the walls and the Quidditch gloves and robes thrown hastily across her trunk, he noted that although she was a good deal neater than he was, he still felt quite at home at her flat. Every bit of the place was Ginny, right down to the faint flowery scent of her bedroom. Wonderingly, he had asked what it was once, and she had laughed and told him it was violets. Harry felt his face break into a smile. Violets.
He could hear the stream of water turn off, and then it was silent except for the quiet padding of her bare feet. Harry sighed, pushing his messy black hair back before he rolled over and pushed his glasses onto his face. He had just raised his head towards the bathroom when Ginny stepped out. She was wrapped in a robe, and her brilliant red locks had tumbled haphazardly across her shoulders, damp but neatly brushed. She grinned as met his gaze. “Morning,” she said, dropping a kiss on his cheek.
Harry smiled in spite of himself. She grabbed some clothes off a chair, and called over her shoulder, “There’s coffee in the kitchen, and some breakfast. I have to go off to work in a bit, but I’m stopping over at the Burrow first. You want to come?”
Harry stretched and stood up lazily in his boxers, then headed for the bathroom. “Yeah, but I think I’ll shower first. Meet you there?” he asked, and she nodded, now fully dressed. He gave her a peck on the top of the head, and then she offered him a smile as she turned on her heel. The next second, she was gone. Harry yawned, gathered up his shirt, jeans, and trainers and went into the bathroom.
When Harry apparated into the Burrow half an hour later, Ron, Bill, Fleur, and Molly were in the kitchen and Molly was shouting up the stairs, “Arthur Weasley! If you don’t stop fussing with those bartery and screwdrive things right this moment, I will march up there and hex you down to this kitchen myself!” Her tone contained a definite note of warning, and Molly was frowning in exasperation as she listened expectantly.
There was a scuffling sound from upstairs, and then a harried voice called out, “Coming, Molly, coming!”
Sighing, Molly turned back to her kitchen, and caught sight of Harry. She beamed at him as always. “Good morning, Harry. My, you look tired!” she clucked in a voice of concern. “What can I get you for breakfast, dear?” she asked, quite pleasantly for someone who had been threatening her husband bare moments before.
“I’ll just grab some toast, Mrs. Weasley,” he said, grinning, as he ducked to grab a plate.
“Are you sure?” she asked worriedly, “Because I can make something in a hurry. Forgive me, but you seem to be nothing but skin and bones…” Molly fussed.
“Honestly Mum, let him be: it’s no wonder he’s skin and bones,” Ginny rolled her eyes, emerging from the stairway. Harry grinned as Molly indignantly turned away, pursing her lips as she looked away from her daughter. Ginny caught Harry’s eyes and smiled good-naturedly. There was loud crack, and then everyone turned to greet Hermione. She offered a half-hearted smile to the kitchen at large before wearily dropping to a chair. Even now, at nine months and nearly a week pregnant, Hermione still carried an alarming quantity of books crammed into her bag, but today she dropped it carelessly to the floor with a thud.
“Morning, love,” she said wanly, kissing Ron quickly before helping herself to some hot cereal. Harry studied her pale, drawn face and the hand she pressed awkwardly to her back, and with a frown, Harry turned to nudge Ron, but found his friend had already noticed Hermione’s odd behavior. Ron was watching Hermione with obvious anxiety. Harry watched his friend’s eyes survey Hermione’s listless demeanor, and then drop to gaze at the mound of his wife’s stomach. Hermione’s eyes were lowered to the table and she absently turned her spoon around in her bowl, lost in thought.
“Er, Hermione?” Ron said quietly, as Molly bustled around adjusting spoons stirring batter in bowls and fruits chopping themselves. A glance around the kitchen told Harry that no one else seemed to have noticed Hermione’s diminished state. Ginny was arguing with Fleur across the table while Fleur gesticulated wildly with her hands and Bill tried to contain his laughter, while Ron only had eyes for his wife. “Hermione,” Ron said again, more firmly. “What’s the matter?”
Caught unawares, Hermione looked up at her husband distractedly, an obviously forced smile coming to her face. “Oh, sorry, Ron,” she said sheepishly. She raised a hand to her head. “I’m a bit tired…”
“Are you sick?” Harry asked with a touch of concern.
Hermione’s smile dropped from her face like a rock. “No, not at all. It’s just...” Her eyes fell, her face was distraught. “Why haven’t I had this baby yet?” she burst out. Hermione’s eyes were very bright, and, looking almost terrified, she lowered her voice worriedly. “What if there’s something wrong? What if there’s something the matter with the baby?” Her lip trembled when she spoke, and she wrapped her arms around her stomach helplessly. Ron looked at her in alarm, then nervously at her stomach, protruding noticeably from her robes.
“Hermione, I’m sure the baby will come soon…” Ron began in an attempt at soothing her, reaching to place a gentle hand on her shoulders. At his touch, Hermione stood up, her abundant brown hair swinging against her back wildly.
“Well, I’m not nearly as sure, Ron. I’m going back to the house,” Hermione said miserably, looking on the verge of tears. She turned and Disapparated with another crack. Ron looked stunned, then he stood up, hauling Hermione’s bag over his shoulder. He glanced warily at the rest in the kitchen.
“She’s nearly a week overdue, and she’s a bit…” Ron paused, looking for the careful way to put it, “…stressed.” He seemed to think this a good enough answer, as he then turned on his heel and Disapparated a few steps behind his wife.
Ginny, Molly, and Bill exchanged looks over the table, while Harry stared at the place where Ron had disappeared with a frown. “I am sure there eez nothing to be vorried about,” Fleur said unconvincingly, lacing her pale, elegant fingers together. She cleared her throat, but she too looked to where Ron and Hermione had disappeared.
In the year that Ron and Hermione had been married, he had not remembered a time much happier than when Hermione had announced (rather pink-faced at the time) their pregnancy, only two months after their marriage. Only three months after the fight with Voldemort, Harry reminded himself. After the fall of ‘You-know-who’, their first child was more than a cause for celebration; it was something rather closer to a miracle. But when Hermione went past her due date, the Weasleys and quite a few members of the Order of the Phoenix waited nervously and every day, Hermione seemed every bit closer to going into hysterics…
“Harry?” Ginny had come to stand next to him, looking anxious. “You don’t think… you don’t think there’s something wrong-?”
“No,” Harry said firmly, but deep in his stomach, a lurch of fear escaped. The baby’s fine, he told himself off resolutely. “Hermione and Ron had dozens of check ups before. All the Healers have told them everything was fine.” Ginny nodded, but she still looked anxiously at Molly’s clock, where Ron and Hermione’s hands were pointing to ‘Home’. Sighing with resignation, Harry brushed stray bits of black hair from his face and reached for Ginny’s hand quietly. She intertwined her fingers with his wordlessly, but returned to her toast with a sigh. “Now, now,” Molly finally addressed her kitchen rather briskly. “That boy will be here within the next day, I’m sure.”
Bill raised his eyebrows. “Boy? Mum, Ron and Hermione didn’t find out the baby’s sex, aren’t you getting ahead of yourself?” he asked pointedly.
“Nonsense, all you boys were late; Ginny was the only one born early.” She fixed him with sharp eyes. “I’m afraid your ten Sickles will go to Charlie, Bill dear.” Bill snorted into his milk, swallowing hastily while Fleur patted him on the back with an outraged expression.
“Really, I am sure ze uncles would know better zan ze grandmuzzer, zat is how my family eez…” And at this, the whole kitchen burst into laughter, Molly included, while Fleur sat stiffly at the table, frowning in silence.
A/N: Well, amidst some not-so fun winter weather here, chapter two has been managed and cleaned up nicely. Much thanks goes to my beta, Malkin, who has addressed my overuse of the word ‘quite’ and did a lovely job of fixing my confusing word use. As always, I hope you enjoy it! [Beta note: I enjoy it anyway - it’s a real pleasure!]