"He's crying again," said Harry, trying to ignore the sound coming from the room further along the landing.
"I know," came the grumpy reply, "it's your turn."
"My turn?" He sat up angrily and turned to the Ginny-shaped bump in the covers next to him. "I got up to him last time. Surely it's your turn?"
She threw back the bedclothes and glared at him.
"Harry, you got up, brought him to me and then went back to sleep whilst the hungry little bugger tried out his new tooth on me."
Her point made, she flopped back down onto the bed and pulled the sheets over her head, leaving him to deal with it.
"Well, it's not my fault that I can't feed him," he replied, poking her back to emphasise the point he was making.
She appeared from under the bedclothes again. This time, her voice was more measured, a sign that if he continued to push his luck, she'd be reaching for her wand next.
"Harry, it would give me great pleasure to hand over the feeding chores to you. Then at least these might return to their normal size and give my back a rest."
Harry stared at his wife's ample cleavage, transfixed by the movement under her night dress.
"And take that bloody smirk off your face before I hex it off."
Duly chastened, but still finding it hard not to stare, Harry resumed the argument.
"If we'd gone to Mothercare – like I suggested – and bought some bottles, then I could feed him."
"You're not still going on about that again, are you? I suppose you think we should have bought some disposable nappies too?"
"They would be quicker than these terries we're using."
"For the last time, Harry, your son is a wizard and will be brought up as one. It's not my fault that you can't charm his nappy whilst you're half asleep. Now stop arguing and go and see to him."
And with that, Ginny rolled over, leaving him to deal with his son.
James was sitting up in his cot, red faced, with tears streaming from his brown eyes. His jet black hair, which everyone had told them would disappeared within weeks of his birth, was standing proud, helped by the chubby hands that messed with it. As Harry walked over to him, his crying increased and Harry wondered how bad this night was going to be. There was nothing new about the last night of August being a disturbed one, but he'd thought he'd seen the last of sleepless nights plaguing the start of a new school year.
As soon as he picked up his son, the wet sleep suit told him what the problem was and, as he was still caterwauling, Harry took him downstairs to the living room to change him.
"Perhaps Mummy will be nice to Daddy tomorrow if she gets some sleep tonight, eh, James?"
James continued to cry and Harry began to think that, at this rate, even if Ginny allowed him access to the E-cups that had so obsessed him, he wouldn't be capable of anything remotely energetic.
A few minutes later, his mood improved by a dry bottom and the prospect of playing with Harry's glasses, James was wide awake, which was more than could be said for his father. Harry gave into the inevitable and Summoned his son's toys from the toy box at the end of the room.
Ten minutes later, the floor was strewn with discarded toys. Even his favourite, a big red steam engine, had failed to keep him occupied for more than thirty seconds. Hagrid had presented the engine to them when James had been born.
"Reckon you'll be wantin' to see 'im off to 'ogwarts yurself. Least I can do is give the little blighter his first sight of the train, eh?"
Soon Harry was sending showers of sparks from the end of his wand in a bid to keep his son entertained. As the novelty of the sparks wore off, he moved onto puffs of coloured smoke as his own father had done all those years ago. James sat and squealed with delight, trying to grab the smoke in his tiny fist.
Finally, after making animal shapes appear, Harry saw his son's little head droop and he scooped him up in his arms, thankful that he would at last get some sleep. He sat back in an armchair, his son cradled to his chest, singing him one of the lullabies Ginny had taught him.
It was hard to think that seven years had passed since the demise of Voldemort. So much had happened and yet so much remained the same. There were very few people who were his friends who weren't his friends then; his summers seemed to revolve around The Burrow and once again the first of September would see a bleary-eyed Harry wondering how he was going to get through the day.
He still found it difficult to believe that Fred was gone and every time Teddy Lupin was brought over for them to baby-sit, his eyes and hair reminded Harry of two more friends he'd lost. In some ways, their early marriage was a reaction both to the year they had spent apart and to the past, but with the arrival of their son, Harry and Ginny's thoughts had begun to turn to the future. As he watched his son suck on his thumb, he Summoned the big red engine from where it had been discarded and made it chug around the room, sending puffs of white steam into the air.
The first of September dawned, and Ginny stretched lazily, amazed that she'd had such a good night's sleep. Then she remembered that Harry had got up to see to James and she felt guilty that she'd given him such a hard time over it. It didn't help that Harry could sleep through most things and some nights she'd not been able to wake him.
From the top of the stairs she could hear strange noises coming from below and what looked like smoke coming from the living room. Fearful that James had got hold of his father's wand again, Ginny clattered down the stairs worried about what mayhem James had caused.
She needn't have worried. The sight that greeted her brought a smile to her face and a tear to her eye. There, in his favourite armchair, his son asleep in his arms, was Harry. And chugging around the room, swerving in and out of the contents of James's toy box, was the big red engine Hagrid had made. She was tempted to wake him, but instead she took her wand from her dressing gown pocket and set to work on breakfast.
As the bread knife started to slice the loaf, she glanced over at the fireplace. It wasn't too early, and her mother was sure to be awake. Perhaps Molly could have James tonight and Harry would find that a well-rested wife would be more than happy to thank him for giving her a good night's sleep.
A/N:This is one of the many post-DH drabbles that I've written. Since the book, I've found my inspiration has returned with a vengeance. This is for all who are waiting for the next chapter of 12 Months. It is coming but it's taking a long time.
Thanks to Margaret, who has continued to encourage me in my writing, Ruby, who looked at the first draft and, of course, Sherry.