There was nothing, Harry thought to himself, like a Saturday spent with Ginny and the kids just relaxing, enjoying each other's company and just being a family. The trouble was this was nothing like one of those Saturdays. In fact there were less and less of those Saturdays as time went by, and to make matters worse for Harry. he was feeling restless and troubled. Trouble was brewing, again, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it.
Instead of basking in the pleasures of being married to Ginny Potter, of which there were many, he was basking in the pleasure, or rather the lack of it, of filling in enough paperwork to cover the walls of his current and rather large home. Using the paper for this purpose was something that had crossed his mind around two hours ago, not to mention several times since. Still it was better than going through all the personal mail he still received after all these years. That chore had taken another 2 hours, and his personal assistant probably passed him only one in ten of the letters.
Harry had written his signature so far today more times than Gilderoy Lockhart on his best day. He threw down his pen (he had given up using a quill at home when he was in his late teens) and reclined in his chair. He placed his hands behind his head and thought about either looking over the latest case reports or grabbing a butterbeer from the kitchen. It was close run contest, much closer than it should have been considering it was a battle fought in his head and he was after all really thirsty, but the butterbeer won out in the end.
Easing himself up with a slight groan when he discovered how stiff his legs were, he stretched his arms wide to get the circulation moving round his body and smiled when he saw the picture of Ginny and the kids waving at him from the only photo he kept on his desk. All of the other pictures of friends and family, alive and deceased, were adorning the wall to his left.
One of the first things he had done in this room was to place photos of everyone important to him, including those who were lost at the final battle. For an orphan it always surprised him how much family he had gathered around him since his Hogwarts days. Then again for someone who was friendless until the age of eleven, it always amazed him how many friends he had. No, amazed wasn't the word. He tried to find the right word as he placed a couple of files into a small cabinet that would send them to its twin in his office ready to be filed away on Monday. 'Moved' was the word. It moved him how many he had, even if he felt he didn't deserve friends such as them. He knew that they wouldn't agree with him on that score. Ginny in particular would berate him something rotten, but some dark thoughts never left him even if he managed to keep them under control most of the time.
Leaving his study, Harry realised as he walked down the long hallway how quiet the house was. With Ginny and the three children shopping at Diagon Alley, there were no children making their usual joyful noise. Even the animals were quiet, with the owls asleep in one of the outbuildings that was used as an owlery, and Eric, Ginny's latest Pygmy Puff (after Arnold, Bernard, Clarence and Desmond) was probably fast asleep under their bed as usual. Gofer, his House-Elf with a level of devotion on par with Dobby, was at The Burrow helping Molly prepare for a dinner party.
With only the sound of his muffled footsteps on the Axminster carpet for company, Harry's sense of foreboding increased ten-fold. He was worried but he just didn't know why.
He approached the kitchen thirty seconds later and grabbed a butterbeer from one of the shelves closest to the door, mussing briefly why he didn't just Summon one whilst he was working. Wandering over to the large pine table, he pulled a chair out and sat down. Even though he knew he was alone, Harry glanced guiltily around before pulling a second chair out and putting his feet up, crossing his left leg over his right.
He saw the weekend edition of The Daily Prophet on the table, and having not even glanced at it over breakfast he pulled it over to him, casting a lazy eye over the front-page stories.
For once there wasn't a story about Harry or any family member on the front page. Any day that his picture wasn't prominently shown on the first page was a good day, he decided.
Thinking about his nervousness once again and sense of foreboding, he mussed that the lack of a story about him may mean that something else was going to go badly wrong today.
He glanced behind him to the clock, not that dissimilar from one that hung in the kitchen of The Burrow, which wasn't surprising as it had been a wedding gift from Molly Weasley. All the hands pointed to shopping, including Teddy Lupin's.
Harry knew why they were shopping. His birthday was only days away and what had become a ritual after James was born was taking place today. The weekend before his birthday Ginny along with the kids and Teddy would go shopping for presents.
Suddenly a completely different sense of panic gripped Harry. If they were shopping for his birthday, then it meant it would soon be Ginny that he would take the kids shopping for. That frightened him more every three hundred and sixty days or so as each year it became harder to think of a present that she would love more than the last.
The evening of his birthday, when they went to bed, he would ask her what she would like and every year he would hear the two words that brought more fear to him than the words 'Lord Voldemort is asking for you' would have during his early teenage years. These words were 'surprise me.' They were just two words. Two simple words that he dreaded hearing. Two simple words that he dreaded hearing, and that would certainly paralyze a better man than him with fear.
At least Ginny wasn't Hermione. With Hermione it was five simple words that Ron dreaded to hear, even more than 'Oh, the Cannons lost again,' and they were 'I don't really want anything.' Several years ago when Hermione first uttered that phrase, Ron being Ron had taken the words to heart and given her just a card. The result hadn't been pretty. Harry had spent several evenings at a local pub listening to Ron rant about 'How mental women are,' along with 'Why say something if you don't mean it,' and 'Why can't they ever give a straight answer to anything.' It had been several weeks before Ron was welcomed back to the marital bed and even longer before he regained certain other perks that were lost.
No, Ginny wasn't Hermione and that was one thing he was more grateful for in more ways than one. One reason it was lucky was because if he had made the same mistake as Ron had to his wife, it would have been several years before he was welcomed back to the bed he shared with Ginny. He was certain he wouldn't have been able to enjoy use of any perks Ginny may have let him have in the past, because his loving wife would make sure he wouldn't be able to perform the simplest task in that respect. She had a lot more than her excellent casting of the Bat Bogey Hex in her arsenal these days.
Coming out of his contemplations, Harry noticed he was still looking at the clock and the hands had not moved. Then it hit him; he knew why he was so nervous. It was his family. They were in danger. Something was going to rip them apart. He didn't know why that idea hit him like it had. All he knew was that a feeling had been growing inside him for months, but today it had manifested itself at the forefront of his brain and it wasn't going to go away.
Years of being an Auror had taught Harry never to panic, not that he had since his fourth year at school, to react calmly to any unforeseen event and to think quickly and logically to uncover the perfect solution.
He needed to get to them. They were out in the open in Diagon Alley, and even with his godson being one of his best Aurors, they needed him there. He knew Ginny wouldn't be happy with him showing up, but wasn't safety more important than his birthday present? If only he could become invisible so she wouldn't see him.
The cloak! Even now he sometimes forgot about the cloak. He would retrieve it from his safe then Floo to the Leaky Cauldron. Jumping up from his chair and preparing to run to his study, he froze when hearing the telltale crack of someone Apparating outside the kitchen door. His wand was out quickly, even though only people allowed to pass through the wards could enter inside them. He had already pointed his wand towards the door when he heard someone knock three times.
Harry moved to the door his wand raised in his right hand, his left he used to pull the handle down and open it slightly. He moved his left foot forward and turned it slightly so he had use of both his hands, his right for his wand and his left available for any physical attack needed. As the door swung open his eyes met those of Hermione Weasley's assistant Barnabas Barbary.
"Is something wrong, Sir Harry?" Barnabas asked with a slight frown.
'There is now,' Harry wanted to say, but replied with a simple, "This isn't a good time, Barnabas. Anyway, she's not here and I need to get to my family."
"Aren't they shopping today, sir?" Barnabas asked. "Lady Potter told me I would find you alone so I could speak to you in private."
Harry looked at the younger man. He stood six-foot-three and was a complete mix of his rock star father and model mother. Perhaps the danger to his family wasn't in Diagon Alley. Perhaps it was standing right in front of him in the guise of a twenty-year-old former Ravenclaw.
"Right then, Barnabas, perhaps you should come in then," sighed Harry, who wasn't looking forward to this for reasons he didn't quite understand.
Harry gestured to the boy to enter and turned to lead him to the study. Just before he reached the door that led to the hall, he turned and asked, "Can I get you a drink or anything?"
"Not at the moment, sir, I'm fine thank you," Barnabas replied.
"Right then, let's head to my study and you can talk to me about whatever it is that can't wait."
Harry continued walking back down the hall to the one room in the house that was his and only his domain. He checked over his right shoulder once to make sure the younger man was following and led him to his study.
The sun, which streamed through the window, was at its highest peak and the mid-July heat was evident in the haze that had settled over the grounds as Harry took his seat behind his desk.
"Sit down then, Barnabas," Harry said, as he gestured to a chair the other side of him. "Well, tell me what's on your mind and what can I do to help?"
Barnabas Barbary, Harry noted, was more nervous than a kneazle in a room full of charmed rocking chairs. Years of interrogating suspects had taught Harry how to recognize certain signs in body language, and in his opinion Barbary may as well have been shouting 'I don't want to be here because I think you're going to hurt me.'
Barnabas' eyes, which had been looking everywhere except directly at Harry, suddenly moved upwards and he looked directly into the green eyes. He drew in an extra large breath. "Sir Harry…" he began before he was interrupted.
"Just Harry, Barnabas. How many times do I have to tell you?" Harry tried to give an encouraging smile but must have failed from the look of dread he saw on the face of the person sitting opposite him.
"Right, er, yeah, sorry, Sir Harry," Barnabas said, as Harry could only grimace.
"Well?" said Harry as he made a 'carry on' movement with his hands.
"Oh very," said Barnabas, not quite gathering what Harry was trying to convey.
"I meant carry on with your request, Barnabas." Harry took his glasses off and gave them a quick clean on his t-shirt.
Barnabas Barbary looked confused for a moment before smiling sheepishly. "Of course you did, Sir. Sorry." Once again he took a deep breath before continuing. "I would like your daughter's hand, Sir Harry."
Harry wasn't expecting anything close to this statement and was too shocked to reply for several seconds. Suddenly he realised what the sense of dread was that had been building for months and had exploded earlier.
"Just her hand you want, is it, Barnabas?" he managed to squeak out. "Are you sure that's all you want?"
"Oh no, Sir Harry, I want all her body," the danger to his family replied, with a smile that proved how quite unaware he was as to how his statement had sounded.
"Really?" said Harry, his voice as unnaturally low now as it had been high a few seconds earlier.
The smile on the face of Barnabas froze and was now disappearing faster than the sausages when eating breakfast with Ron. "NO! That's not what I meant, no, not at all. Godric's gonads! I knew I would mess this up. I'm rubbish at this kind of stuff."
Barnabas paused and Harry could see that he was trying to gather his thoughts and rephrase his request. This fact didn't make Harry feel any better. Despite liking Barnabas under more everyday circumstances, he immediately decided that it was his responsibility as a dad to test the young man's mettle.
"Sir Harry," Barnabas continued, "I am asking permission to marry your daughter, Lily." Considering Harry only had one daughter (though Rita Skeeter on several occasions had tried to print stories that he had several 'love' children), he thought that it was a little silly to add her name at the end.
"Yes, Barnabas," Harry started and he saw a smile begin to grow on the face of his daughter's boyfriend. "I know my daughter's name." Once again the smile faded on one of the two men and started to grow on the other. It was a couple of seconds before Harry managed to stop himself.
"Don't you think you and Lily are a little young to get married?" Harry asked, the tone inflected in his voice betrayed his opinion.
Barnabas sat up straighter than he had been and look affronted at the question. "No, Sir, I do not think that at all. Lily is nineteen and I am twenty. We are both in well-paying jobs and can support ourselves. We are both two years older than you and Lady Potter were when you were married. I believe you were eighteen and she was only seventeen, Sir."
"That was different. We had to get married." At the look he saw the other man giving him, Harry thought he had better quickly amend that statement and explain. "Oh! No, we didn't have to get married for anything like that! She wasn't pregnant! It's… complicated." Harry could only sigh as he sat back, remove his glasses and rub his eyes.
"Did they teach you about the war at Hogwarts?" Harry asked. Receiving a nod he continued, "Am I correct in thinking that they don't teach you about the aftermath of the Second War?" With more confirmation from Barnabas, Harry thought a brief explanation wouldn't go amiss. "Things were hard. Old laws were in place, so Ginny helped me out. We knew we loved each other, and I wanted to marry her even before the war was finished. We just moved the timescale up some. If you want a full explanation, as I'm sure you can understand why I don't like talking much about it, you need to read the book that Hermione, your boss, wrote or rather, according to the official line, helped me write."
A wry smile made its way to his face. "Listen to me. Earlier I was signing my name Merlin knows how many times, and now I'm telling people for full details to see my published work. Lockhart would be proud of me."
A confused look was on the face of the taller wizard. "Who?" Barnabas asked.
"You really have no idea how lucky you are to be able to ask that," Harry said.
"Anyway," Harry continued, "we do appear to have wandered off topic. Now where were we?"
"I was asking your permission to marry Lily, sir." Barnabas sounded hopeful in his reply.
"And I was asking if you thought you were too young," Harry said. "You think you don't obviously, even if I do."
"Sir, I'm asking for your permission out of courtesy. It's not as if I really need it, seeing as how we are both of age. We could even elope." Barnabas raised his chin in defiance at Harry. "I would even use the pure-blood laws if I had to and duel you for her, Sir. I love her and I know she loves me. We have told each other on many occasions."
Harry just stared at the young wizard and took stock of the information he had at his disposal, as any good Auror should.
Barnabas Barbary, aged twenty, son of Heathcote Barbary, a member of The Weird Sisters, and Daisy Dorny, possibly the most well-known model in the magical world on either side of the Atlantic, and he was the perfect mixture of the two in looks. He was one year older than Lily and one year younger than Albus. Barnabas was popular at school, not only because of his parents. As a Ravenclaw he had achieved top grades in all his NEWTs. He was unanimously known as the second best chaser in Hogwarts. Most of the opposite sex had chased him during his school days, except the one whom he had his eye on. His daughter.
He now worked as the assistant to the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Hermione Weasley, who raved about him, though she said he lacked a sharp sense of humour.
Harry and Ginny had known the kid all of his life, being friends with his parents. Nobody had a bad word to say about him, except his eldest James. That wasn't really too surprising as he went all 'Ron-like' when it came to protecting his sister's honour. He was the godson of Bill Weasley, who had been the one to convince Lily that he was worth a chance in the first place. Sometimes, when he thought how serious the relationship was becoming between Lily and Barnabas, he cursed Bill (not literally, though that had crossed his mind) and thought about some trumped up charge for which he could arrest Bill for the misdemeanour.
Harry thought there must be some law that forbade the daughter of the 'Saviour of the World,' as they still called him after all these years, from being taken away from him and getting married, but no. He had looked up every law the Wizengamot had passed, and it wasn't until Ginny discovered some notes he had written that he had given it up. Well, his wife had suggested he give it up. When he felt that way now, all he could do would be to head down to the training room or visit a casting range until the feeling wore off.
Harry joined his hands flat against each other and placed them under his chin, in a very Dumbledore manner, and studied the potential Potter family interloper sitting in front of him. "You really would elope with Lily?"
"Only if it was the only option left, Sir Harry. Yes I, or rather we, would," Barnabas said.
"You have spoken to my daughter about marriage them?" Harry, his hands still in the same position, wasn't going to give his daughter up without a fight.
"We have discussed our futures on several occasions over the past twelve months, and we cannot see ourselves with anyone else. Lily feels the same for me as I do for her."GHfggg
"If you eloped, how long do you think it would be before I found you?" Harry posed.
"I don't believe you would be able to, Sir. I managed top NEWTs at Hogwarts and know plenty of charms to avoid detection, but really, Sir Harry, it shouldn't come to that."
"I know it shouldn't, Mister Barbary, but the threat is there, is it not?" Barbary didn't answer, as it was obvious that the question was rhetorical. He waited for Harry to continue.
"Remember, I am the Head Auror with the entire D.M.L.E. at my disposal," Harry said, waiting for Barnabas to at least gulp at that threat. Harry waited a few seconds but there was no visible change in his appearance.
Barnabas finally replied, "Sir, I don't think the department head would allow you to misuse your position like that."
For the first time Harry grinned openly. "Really? Have you forgotten that the department head is Lily's aunt and her husband is one of my section heads?"
"Not at all, but I do think that Mrs Weasley wouldn't allow her personal feelings to interfere with what is right," Barnabas said.
"Perhaps," Harry replied. "But you would be depriving her of seeing her niece walk down the aisle. I think she may be persuaded."
"If you say so, sir, but I still think we could evade capture." Barnabas returned the grin Harry had given him
Harry could see this wasn't going to be as easy as he thought and now it was time to bring out a couple of bigger guns. "How do you think Teddy Lupin would feel? He calls Lily his sister and, apart from blood, she is that indeed. Only three of us can tell when Teddy is standing by us. How do you think you can avoid him? James and Albus would also be after your blood. How do you think your godfather and parents would feel?"
"Well sir, Teddy Lupin is just an Auror." Harry raised an eyebrow at this. Teddy was many things, but just another Auror wasn't one of those. "My parents have always told me to follow my heart and my godfather has always been happy with my choice of Lily. He was the one who first spoke to her about me. At Hogwarts she wouldn't give me the time of day."
Harry saw an opening; one that he knew would finally win this argument for him. "I think you underestimate Bill; if there is one person he hates to see upset, it's Ginny. I think running off with her daughter may just about qualify for making her upset. How do you think my wife would react?"
All of a sudden Harry had a vision of a very irate Ginny chasing Barnabas Barbary up Diagon Alley, flinging hexes and curses at him whilst shouting, 'NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU GIT!' and Barnabas jumping every time one hit him.
Harry started to laugh, whether it was at the vision in his head or the way the blood drained from the face of the potential family member so quickly that it must be taking refuge in his feet, he wasn't sure. It was probably a combination of both, he thought.
"Perhaps eloping isn't the best idea, Sir Harry. In fact, it never was. However, my request remains the same. I would like to marry your daughter and make her my wife." Barnabas had a little colour back in his face now as Harry studied him. A couple of minutes passed before he spoke.
"Barnabas Barbary, I am going to accept your request," Harry said.
"Thank you, Sir Harry, I promise to defend Lily and make her the happiest girl on the planet." For the first time, he relaxed and beamed at the elder gentleman.
"I hadn't finished talking, Barnabas, please try not to interrupt me again," Harry said. "I was going to say I accept your request to duel me for my daughter. Shall we proceed outside?" Harry rose from this chair threw a glance at Barnabas who, once again, was back to looking paler than a vampire.
"Barnabas? You there?" Harry asked, as the young man had yet to move, or even blink.
"Sorry, what was that? Oh yes, I'm here. Is there really any need for this, Sir? I mean, duelling is so old fashioned." Barnabas looked up at Harry with almost pleading blue eyes.
"Come now, Barbary, wasn't it you a few minutes ago saying that would defend Lily, and wasn't it also you earlier who said you would duel me for her hand? Come on, boy, you got top grade NEWTs, you said. Stand, follow me outside and prepare yourself."
Harry turned on his heel and marched purposefully down the corridor for the third time in less than an hour, this time not even slowing down as he approached the back door due to the fact he waved his wand and it flew open. He didn't stop until he was a couple of hundred yards away from the house. When he reached the point he wanted to be once again he turned, crossed his arms and waited for the blue-eyed boy to appear.
Harry didn't have long to wait as he saw a very nervous looking face poke out from the rear entrance to the house, looking left then right before he spotted Harry standing some distance away.
"Right then, Barnabas, name your terms!" Harry shouted.
The handsome young man started walking towards Harry, his pace getting slower as he neared the older wizard. Barnabas stopped a good twenty yards from Harry and drew his wand.
"You sure about this, Sir Harry?" he asked and received only a sharp nod in return. "Right, er, how about nothing too dangerous? No Unforgivable Curses, definitely. Winner is the one standing with the other's wand?"
Harry mulled over his terms. "They are acceptable and, oh, Mister Barbary remember, this is for Lily."
"For Lily," he agreed.
"On my mark, so be it," Harry said. "MARK!"
Harry waited and circled his opponent waiting for him to make the first move. It appeared to be an eternity as he waited for an attack, but soon enough he heard "Stupefy!" and saw a streak of red heading his way. A quick circular motion with his hand, and it collided with his shield and bounced harmlessly off towards an outhouse. Barnabas was so far away, Harry thought, he would have plenty of time to defend any spell thrown at him.
Barnabas was a good dueller, but he wasn't Harry. In the space of three minutes, the one fighting to take Lily from Harry had thrown several spells including one that made arrows fly from his wand, a Densaugeo and even more Stunning Spells. He had yet to cast anything non-verbally, making it a lot easier for Harry to defend than it should have been. So far, all Harry had done was keep his shield in place, not even having to recast it.
After a few minutes Harry tired of holding his shield and went on the offensive. He pointed his wand towards Barnabas and saw the young man smile as nothing happened. The smile disappeared along with the rest of his face as a bucket came flying at him from behind and landed on his head. Harry quickly followed this up with a quick Augamenti shot at Barbary that knocked him off his feet with some force.
Harry just stood there, twirling his wand in his hand and waiting as his rival slowly got to his feet. He could see the other man getting angry.
"Come on, I thought you were one of the best at Hogwarts. Give me some sport here," Harry taunted.
Barnabas replied by flinging Diffindo at him, yet another spell flicked away with ease. Within what seemed less than a second, Harry had sent a Tickling Charm along with a Jelly Legs Jinx, and Barnabas was laughing and wobbling all over the place. Unable to go on the attack, he threw himself behind a wheelbarrow and Harry heard him cancel the spells.
The Auror then swished and flicked his wand and the wheelbarrow rose several feet from the ground before Harry released it some distance from Barbary, leaving the younger wizard exposed and with no where to go. He rose and, with a primeval scream, ran at Harry.
Barnabas was within two feet of Harry when he neatly sidestepped the on-coming wizard, causing him to over-shoot his target. As he pulled up and turned ready for another pass, Barnabas didn't even have time to react as Harry, for the first time, shouted a spell.
"Expelliarmus!" Harry cried, and he raised his right arm, neatly catching a ten-inch holly wand in the same hand in which he held his own.
Harry looked down after catching the wand and saw Barnabas resting against his shed, having been thrown backwards as his wand had flown towards Harry. The senior Potter walked towards him, smiling, and stopped just a yard short of him and threw his wand to him.
"I expect to see you in the Auror training room every Monday, Wednesday and Friday lunchtime. I will make arrangements with Hermione so you can still have some lunch. If you're going to marry my daughter, I expect you to at least be able to defend her to Auror trainee level," Harry said to the now gaping Barnabas.
"But you won. We duelled for Lily," Barnabas managed to get out.
"Yep, we duelled for her. Not for the reason you think though. We duelled so I could see how far you would go for her. How many do you think would duel the man who defeated Voldemort twice and escaped him countless times, his Death Eaters more times than I care to remember and the one man who managed to tame Ginny Weasley, well, tame her to some extent?"
"Not many?" was all Barnabas could say to that. "Could you please help me up, Sir Harry?"
"Of course." Harry extended his hand and pulled the tall wizard up, noting for the first time how the younger wizard towered over his smaller frame.
"Right then, let's head back inside. We both need a drink and a chat." Harry turned and led the way back towards the kitchen. Stopping after ten yards, he turned back towards his defeated opponent.
"Oh and, Barnabas?" he asked
"Yes, Sir Harry?" came the reply, though he was still breathing quite heavily.
"Drop the 'Sir Harry' bit, please. It's just Harry. It's always been just plain 'ole Harry.'" With these last words, Harry headed back to the kitchen, pointing his wand at the door so it was open when he arrived.
As soon as Harry arrived in the kitchen, he Summoned a bottle from his study and caught it deftly in his left hand. As he placed it on the pine table, Barnabas entered the kitchen, walking rather gingerly.
"You know, Barnabas, if you want to lead the department one day it helps if you know what those in my department, as well as the standard patrol, have to go through." Harry studied him for a moment. "Try and get yourself some time in each department so you understand them better. However, we can discuss work on Monday. Today we talk about my daughter." Harry uncorked his bottle of Ogden's Finest and poured a couple of glasses.
"So when were you thinking of asking Lily?" Harry questioned
"To be honest, I haven't any definite plans. I guess I'll know when the time is right," he replied. "It will be soon. If she says yes, I hope to have the wedding next August, probably the first week of the month, after her season finishes." Barnabas looked at Harry and asked, "What's life like living with a Quidditch player?"
"Easy," Harry said. As he saw Lily's future husband visibly relax, Harry continued. "When they are winning. When they are losing, let's just say you become very accomplished at Reparo Spells." He smiled as he remembered many times when Ginny had come storming in after defeats or even bad training sessions.
"What type of wedding would you like?" Harry enquired
He noted a far off look in Barnabas' face, one he had been told for many years appeared on his own when he thought of Ginny, as the young wizard said, "Any that makes her my wife."
A bark of laughter, not too dissimilar from the ones that escaped from Sirius years ago, erupted from Harry. "You know, those are the exact same words I used when Arthur asked me that question. Best answer you could have given me, lad."
"A quiet one would be perfect for me. Lily has mentioned the same thing when we have discussed the subject of weddings," Barnabas said.
"Good luck with that. You do know that Ginny will be a nightmare. If you ever mention what I am about to tell you, I will hex you so bad that Lily will wonder why she married a slug." Receiving a nod, Harry continued. "Ginny is worse than her mum, Molly, when it comes to mothers and their daughters. Lily will be the first of her children to marry. James is too busy 'playing the field' and becoming a big shot in the Department Of Foreign Affairs. Albus is still at Exeter studying for his medical degree, and I can't see him settling down till he has qualified."
"So be prepared to be steamrollered by my wife when it comes to planning this wedding." A shiver ran through Harry as he realised how manic Ginny would become if he knew his wife as well as he thought he did.
On the plus side, he thought that at least next year he wouldn't be worrying about what to get Ginny for her birthday.
"I guess we'll have to keep this out the papers," Harry said. "They have a field day with Ginny and myself as it is. Add in your parents, one of the two rising stars of the Ministry and the fact the bride is a Chaser for the Harpies, and they'll all be over this like a dose of Dragon Pox."
"I guess that Lady Potter..." Receiving a sharp look, Barnabas amended, "I guess that Ginny must have some pull at the Prophet? What about the other paper? The Quibbler? These days they are reporting almost factual news, hardly a mention of Crumpet Horny Snorkels in the last few months."
"That's Crumple-Horned Snorkacks. Oh, I'm sure that Lily's godmother can have a word for us there."
Harry smiled at the thought of Luna being overjoyed that her goddaughter would be getting married. It had been some time since they had seen her, Rolf and the kids since they were travelling a lot. Still with the twins starting Hogwarts this autumn, Harry vowed to himself that they would see them at the earliest opportunity. If Luna missed her goddaughter, then he missed his godson when they were away.
Just as he made his promise, the back door swung open and five people flooded into the kitchen. James entered first, laughing at Albus' expense, Harry surmised by looking at the frown that was on the face of his second-born child. Albus had followed his brother, carrying most of the shopping bags by the amount in his hands. Ginny followed next with Teddy's hands on her shoulders. Lily brought up the rear, that is until she spotted her boyfriend and covered the distance from the door to the table at a run. Overtaking the other four, she threw her arms around Barnabas and kissed him soundly on the lips, not caring that both her parents and brothers were in the room.
"When did you get here?" she questioned
"Not long," came the reply. "Thought I'd come and see you. Your dad said you weren't here but to wait and have a drink until you arrived."
"I'm here now, just let me dump my bags in my room and you can take me out. I fancy a walk by the coast." With another quick kiss, she disentangled herself and skipped out the kitchen and down the hall
"Wotcher Harry," Teddy said. "Get the paperwork all done?"
"Nope. The rest can wait till Monday. It's too nice a day to worry about it. Nothing that important anyway."
"How was London?" he asked Ginny. "Get everything?" Harry made to grab a bag but his significant other very quickly slapped down his hand.
"Hands off! You know the rule," she berated.
"James, can you please place these in my office before your git of a father decides he has no self control?" Ginny asked.
"No problem. Mum. I think the old man must be losing his marbles if he can't remember what you did to him last time he almost made it into a bag." James picked up the bags and just as he came to the door Lily brushed past him.
"Are you off then. sis? Hey. Barney," he shouted even though he wasn't far away, "don't have her back too late. Wouldn't want to have us come looking now, would you?" With these parting comments, he disappeared to off-load the bags.
"Thanks for the company, Barnabas. I'll see you on Monday?" Harry gave him a knowing look and broke eye contact to give his daughter a hug and a kiss on the cheek. "Have fun, you two and I'll see you later." He gave an extra tight squeeze to Lily and released her. She took her boyfriend's hand, smiled at her parents and departed with a wave. Shortly they heard a double crack that signalled that two people had Apparated away, no doubt to the coast.
Albus and Teddy were discussing the difference between Muggle medicine and magical remedies and the possibility of creating a hybrid of the two as James returned.
"You guys all ready to go then? Oh, give it a break, please, Al, you know magical is better when it comes to healing." Muggle verses Magical was an argument that had been going on between the two of them since they were just out of nappies.
"Dad, Mum. We're off as well. We're meeting Rose, Hugo, Victoire and Fred for a bite to eat and then a night out on the tiles. Don't wait up." James added a smirk at this last piece of information and departed in the same manner as which he had appeared... just like a whirlwind. Teddy and Albus followed him out the door with quick farewells, and the only difference to a minute ago was that there was a third crack as they departed.
The kitchen that had a minute ago been full of laughter, arguments and noise was now silent. Ginny moved to the chair next to Harry and placed an arm around his waist and rested her head upon his shoulder. Harry gave the top of her head a kiss and wrapped his left arm around her.
"How was the Alley?" he enquired.
"Busy. George was packed out. Ron was there. of course. He says 'Hi.' Glad to be home. if I'm honest. I missed you. No, I miss you. Too many Saturdays are taken up with work. Can't you slow down?" Ginny raised her head and looked at him, almost as if she sensed his hesitation to say something.
"I think that maybe I'm ready for a change," he admitted. "I want to spend more time with you now that the world is safer and we will be here alone more."
Ginny's bright brown eyes met Harry's green. "He asked you about Lily, didn't he? He wanted to know if you were going to be home today. He asked you if he could marry her?" At Harry's nod, she sighed and placed her head back on his shoulder. "We both knew it was coming, even if you didn't want to admit it. He's good for her. They love each other," she concluded.
"Just as long as he remembers I loved her first," Harry replied quietly.
Ginny shot up from Harry "You didn't hurt him? Oh, Harry, please tell me you didn't hurt him."
"Oh no. I just wanted him to show how far he would go for our daughter. We had a duel. I won. He gets to marry Lily." Harry cringed and waited for the outburst.
It never came. Ginny just laughed before asking, "He mentioned eloping to you, didn't he?"
"Oh yes." Harry smirked. "He also said the same words to me that I said to your dad. He's a good lad. Even James thinks so, deep down. Very deep down."
"I don't want to be a grandmother," Ginny said. "I'll feel old when I am."
Harry glanced at his wife. She still had vibrant red hair without any grey, could still fit into her old Harpies uniform and had, to Harry's eyes, never looked more beautiful. "We still have a few years before that happens love. Anyway. think of the fun we'll have spoiling the kids before we give them back at night time. We get to do to our children what your parents did to ours. It's called payback."
"Oh, I hope she will be as happy as we are," Ginny commented.
"I'm sure she will be. She's been shown by the best mother in the world how wonderful love is." Harry smiled into his wife's hair as he said these words, and he looked forward to his daughter's next great adventure in this life.