She stood slowly, wincing at the pain in her back. At eight months pregnant, friends told Ginny Potter that she was glowing and beautiful, but what she felt was fat and uncomfortable. The swelling in her feet and the pain in her back made sitting or standing a task to be accomplished as slowly as possible so as not to jar anything. Once she was seated, no position was comfortable, and standing made her tire. Nesting instincts were kicking in, and no speck of dust in the house was safe. The kitchen had already undergone a deep cleaning, and Harry had nearly lost his mind when he’d discovered her on her knees attempting to scrub the bathtub by hand, since the spells didn’t do nearly as good a job as she could do with her own hands.
As she walked to the kitchen to get a glass of milk, she passed the picture frames on the mantle. They were pictures she and Harry had chosen and framed together, she remembered, when they’d first bought the house outside of Ottery St. Catchpole. She recalled the one time she’d been to the Dursleys’ household and seen the shrine to Dudley, so she was careful to pick pictures of many people – her family, friends from school they still kept in touch with, Ron and Hermione’s son Andrew, and Bill and Fleur’s daughter Cathy. The largest picture was one of their wedding, displaying the moment when they sealed their vows with a kiss.
Ginny smiled as she watched a much thinner version of herself enthusiastically kiss the boy of her dreams, who had slowly become the man of her future. Taking a step forward, she caressed the wood of the frame for a moment before her eyes moved to the picture of her mother holding her after her birth. She watched almost breathlessly as Molly was handed a squealing bundle, and couldn’t help but smile as Molly burst into tears, mouthing over and over, “It’s a girl! Finally, it’s a girl!”
Rubbing her hands over her belly in the slow circular motion she now found was almost a constant, Ginny began to talk to the baby nestled inside of her. “That’s Grandma Weasley. My mum. You’re going to love her. She makes the best biscuits and the worst sweaters. Your dad’s mum...” Ginny trailed off, uncertain why she had begun to think of this now, when it didn’t seem appropriate to talk about sad things. Not having two sets of grandparents was common enough. Her thoughts were interrupted as a soft pop behind her let her know Harry had arrived at home.
“Hey, Ginny,” Harry whispered, coming up behind her to wrap his arms around the swell of her belly and kiss her cheek. “What are you looking at?”
“The baby and I are starting to learn names early, since that’s a skill it’s going to have to employ very early in life.”
Harry chuckled. “You can say a lot about our family, but ‘small’ it isn’t.”
Ginny nodded, a smile creeping over her face. “I don’t think I got up to look at pictures, though,” she admitted. “I think I was headed to the kitchen to get a glass of milk.”
“Well then, let’s go get a glass of milk. I could use some water. Practice was a bit rough today.”
With a grin, Ginny took Harry’s hand and walked to the kitchen, letting him pamper her for a minute and feeling calm and relaxed for the first time all day. “Harry, do you suppose I’ll be a good mum?” she asked, debating the advantages of sitting versus standing.
“Of course,” Harry answered a bit distractedly as he rummaged about in the fridge for the missing milk. “Gin, did you drink all the milk?”
Resisting the urge to stomp her feet, she snapped, “Harry. Will you focus on my question, please?”
“I’m sorry,” Harry said, popping up over the door to look her directly in the eyes. “I thought you’d be more concerned about the milk, but I guess I guessed wrong.”
Ginny let out a long-suffering sigh, went around to the sink and pulled out a rag to wipe down the counter. “I’d like the milk, yes. But do you think I’ll be a good mum?”
Harry thought for a moment, considering the question. “I think if you can’t be a good mum, Ginny, no one can.” Walking up behind her, he set the newfound milk on the counter and started rubbing her shoulders gently. “Do you know what else I think?”
“Hmm, what?” Ginny asked, after she’d taken a long swallow of the milk Harry had carefully poured for her.
“I think maybe you should try to catch a nap now while you’re warm and sleepy,” Harry suggested. “Maybe I’ll even lay down with you.”
Ginny smiled. “Are you going to haul me up the stairs, Mr. Potter?”
Harry chuckled. “No, but I’ll stand behind you so you don’t fall back down them. How does that sound?”
“I’ll take it,” Ginny agreed.
A hazy fog set over her mind, and Ginny got the impression that a new world was forming. She was standing somewhere – over a sink, mostly likely. And she was herself, but not herself. Ginny was skinny again, and she felt taller somehow. Her hair was less red and more auburn, and her eyes – her eyes were definitely different. Somehow she knew her eyes were green, and that she was not Ginny Potter at all, but another woman who had shared her surname – Lily.
She was puttering around the kitchen, cleaning up after a meal and listening to the sounds of her husband and her baby. James was bouncing the child and singing a silly song about dragons and Hufflepuffs. Not a tune she (as Lily) recognized, but one Ginny knew from her childhood.
Although Ginny knew she was not Lily, she could feel the pleasure Lily got from wiping down the counters herself, sticking her hands into the warm water she’d soaked the dishes in, and humming along carelessly with her – Lily’s – husband.
“James, it’s late! Don’t you think you should put Harry down?” she called up the stairs as she started to wipe her hands off with a dishtowel.
“Nonsense!” James shouted back, his voice modulating so that Lily knew he was bouncing the baby. “He’s mostly nocturnal, anyway.”
“We’ve been trying to fix that, darling,” Lily said as she climbed the stairs, meeting James at the top. “It’s not fair to us to have him up at all hours when most other children his age are sleeping through the night.”
James made a silly face at the bundle in his arms. “Did you hear that, Harry? Mum’s tired. Guess that means the jig’s up for you, m’boy. Bedtime!”
“Here, James. You’re too much of a softie. He’d just stay up until I got back, so I’ll put him down. Why don’t you go check the security wards?”
Carelessly, James kissed Lily’s cheek. “All right. Caught me at my own game. Off I go then, I suppose.”
“Yes. Be careful, please.”
“Always,” James said, and headed down the stairs and out the door.
With a sinking feeling, Ginny realized he would never walk up the stairs again. Desperately, she tried to call out to him, but she could no longer move Lily’s mouth and she was being pulled up and away.
“Ginny. Ginny.” Harry was softly but intently calling her name, resting a hand on her shoulder. “Wake up! You’re crying!”
As she slowly fought her way past the fog in her brain, Ginny sat up and wiped her eyes with her hands and swallowed as her husband came into focus, looking scared and very white. “I’m sorry. Did I frighten you?”
“Nah, I’m made of steel. Pregnant women bawling in their sleep don’t scare me,” Harry joked sarcastically.
Ginny smiled in spite of herself. “Pregnant women in general scare you, Harry Potter. Don’t even lie.”
“All right. You caught me at my own game,” Harry admitted.
Suddenly, all the color drained from Ginny’s face. “Don’t say that.” She pulled herself to a standing position and looked at Harry, who was still on his side and looking rather shocked. “I just had... I just had the most disturbing dream.”
“Tell me about it,” Harry said, patting a space beside him on the bed. “You always told me it was best to talk about dreams. That way they can’t haunt us during the day. That’s pretty much a direct quote.”
Ginny tried to smile. “It was your mum. I was her. Or I wasn’t, but I was in her. It’s hard to explain. She was messing about in the kitchen. You know, cleaning up this and that. Your dad was upstairs, playing with you.”
Harry swallowed. He had a feeling he knew where this was going. “And then what?”
“Then she came upstairs and told your dad to put you down, that you weren’t sleeping all the way through the night and that you should be letting them get some rest. Then your dad left to check the wards. I don’t think he came back.”
Harry sat in silence, letting the full impact of the dream hit him. He knew this spoke directly to both his and Ginny’s worst, and as of yet unspoken, fears.
“I’m going to come back tonight when I check the wards, Ginny. And every night. Because there’s no one after us like Voldemort. We’ve beaten him, and we can destroy anyone like him who tries to take us from our child.”
The way Harry phrased the last sentence was not lost on her. “She was lovely, Harry,” Ginny said, blinking back tears. “If you could have felt the love in her heart for you.... She loved you the way we already love this baby. We’re going to be okay.”
“Of course we are,” Harry agreed, ignoring the squeezing pressure in his chest that demanded he release some of his emotion. “Um, this seems a weird question, but... your mum called while you were asleep. Do you want to eat at the Burrow tonight?”
Ginny pondered for a moment. “Yes. I think I want my mum. Do you mind if we ask her to stay for a couple of days after the baby gets here?”
Something like relief passed over Harry’s face. “Not at all.”
The kitchen of the Burrow bustled with energy as Molly Weasley orchestrated the making of a meal the same way someone else might orchestrate the final movement of a symphony. Seated on a stool under orders to rest, Ginny watched her mother efficiently prepare a meal that would surely be able to feed twenty people.
“You know, Mum, they tell me I’m supposed to have gained 25 or 30 pounds with this pregnancy. I think I’ve gained 40, and it’s all your fault.”
Molly clucked her tongue. “Young people today worry too much about the numbers. And besides, when you have that bouncing baby in your arms, you’re not going to mind the 40 pounds so much.”
There was a pause as Molly continued to bustle and Ginny thought through what she wanted to ask. “Mum... what do you know about Lily Potter?”
Molly stopped what she was doing for a moment, although the kitchen continued to take care of business. “Well. That seems a strange question.”
“It’s just that... we know a lot about James. But all Harry has of his mother is a couple of photographs and a few pieces of the memory of that night when she saved him from Voldemort. If I were to die before my child got to know me... I would want there to be more, you know?”
Molly nodded. “They were young, James and Lily. I doubt they thought about leaving scrapbooks and things of that nature lying around. There’s always time in the future to do that sort of thing, you think.”
“I think I’m going to get a hold of Remus and see what he knows about her, maybe see if any of her friends survived the war. I’d like to do something for Harry while I’m puttering around the house this last month. I need something to keep me from going insane and cleaning the bathroom again.”
Molly chuckled, remembering very well what she had been like in each of her pregnancies. “That sounds like a lovely project, my dear. And I’m sure Harry will appreciate it, and maybe even your child will at some point.”
Ginny smiled and rubbed her belly. “Sometimes it doesn’t seem real, like I’ll wake up some morning and I won’t have all this – Harry, and the baby on the way. It doesn’t seem very much like I’ll have a child someday soon, who will be able to read and ask questions and....”
“Get into absolutely everything and drive you crazy,” Molly finished. “But you will, and those days are coming up fast.”
Author’s Note: Thanks to Kat Morning and Daily Prophet Reporting for the fabulous beta and excellent comments! No one else knows how to keep me on track like you two do. Chapter Two coming soon!