A/N: This story was written as a Secret-Santa fic for Grandma Kate. Her specific request was as follows:
‘I'd like something that shows Molly, Andromeda, Ginny, and Teddy doing something together. Surely, Molly would have tried to become a sort of other grandmother to him and Ginny would have had to take over many of the godparent roles. It should be generally child centered.’
And so after a bit of pondering I ran with an idea that wouldn’t let go—though I modified her request a bit. I couldn’t help but add in a little Hermione, a little Ron, and a nice helping of Harry, too. J
I hope that you enjoy.
The garden lies expectant, like a present waiting to be opened. Balloons, streamers, and fairy-lights decorate the whole of it, yet it is quiet and void of any partygoers. I glance at the clock; it won’t be long before everyone is here.
I unlatch the kitchen door and step outside, the grass cools my bare feet and a breeze lifts my hair, and I hear myself humming a tune that I don’t recognize but somehow know. The sun is starting to lower in the sky, just kissing the tops of the highest trees on the hill, and if I slit my eyes just the right way I can see the fairy-lights awakening, barely blinking pale in the bright red sunlight. I have seen the garden decorated this way many times before, and for many different celebrations, but to me—this night—it has never looked quite so lovely.
“Ginny, when you’re done laying out that salad I have another platter ready.” My mother’s voice finds me through the open kitchen window. I wave a lazy hand at her and keep walking towards Hermione who’s fussing over the food on the garden table. I am not able to get far though before my mother’s voice rings out again. “And for goodness sake, put on some shoes!”
I pretend as if I didn’t hear the last bit, though I’m certain children in China have heard. But truly, who in their right mind wears shoes on a deliciously warm night in August?
“Ginny,” Hermione stops bustling and turns towards me looking decidedly frazzled. Her voice is frantic. “I’ve tried everything, but there’s simply no place to put this.”
She gestures towards a hovering leg of lamb that’s so big it looks like it came from a Hippogriff, and back to the garden table which is piled high with every sort of delectable treat imaginable. Her wand holds the lamb steady in the air.
“There must be room somewhere, there always is,” I say simply, though on first glance she appears to be quite right. “Did you check the other side of the table?”
“Yes, of course I did,” Hermione snaps, her cheeks are flushed and her hair frizzy.
I arch my eyebrows, and she immediately looks apologetic.
“Well, then there’s only one thing left to do.”
I pull my wand from my pocket and within moments I’ve rearranged everything so that there are tiers of food on the table, and still plenty of space left for whatever else emerges from the kitchen. The lamb and the salad sit nestled side by side.
“Forget it.” I cut her off. I know why she’s feeling flustered, and I feel sorry for her. I take her hand in mine. My ring cuts into my finger, and I readjust. I’m still not used to it being there yet. “Listen, Hermione…Mum is… well, you know how she is, she’s just Mum.”
“She adores you and she’s very proud of you, too.”
“Yes, but it’s just that…” Hermione bites her lip. “I don’t want to disappoint her.”
“I’m just not ready yet.”
“I know.” And truly I do. I squeeze her hand and let it go. “She has Bill and Fleur anyway—and they seem quite willing to produce grandchildren like bunny rabbits. So don’t worry, she’s fine.”
Hermione snorts behind her hand, and I giggle. With one sweep of her wand, she lights the candles on the table. They flicker and glimmer and we both sigh.
It’s Teddy and Andromeda, the first of my guests to arrive.
I approach Teddy, grinning. It’s impossible not to as he runs towards me. His feet seem one size too big for his legs and his gait is nearly a jaunty hop with an occasional wobble on the uneven grass. My mum emerges to greet Andromeda and I scoop Teddy up into my arms. As I do so, his hair turns from light brown to brilliant red.
I nuzzle his neck and he squirms. I drink him in. He still smells soft to me, like baby powder, even though he really isn’t a baby anymore.
Of course. It’s always the swing for there is nothing at the Burrow he loves better—minus the sweets, that is, and Harry, when he’s here.
I tease him, glancing around the garden.
“Swing? What swing? I don’t see a swing.”
“There—over there.” He tries to point in the direction of the orchard, but I’m holding him so tight so that he can’t turn in my arms.
“Over here?” I bend at the waist and swoop low to the ground so that he hangs upside down. The blood rushes to our heads and our faces are smooshed cheek to cheek as we peek under the table.
“Oh.” I stand again, mocking disappointment. “Over here?”
I gallop, jiggling and bouncing him on my hip like a horse, and we stop in front of the chicken coop. He laughs gleefully and continues to try to bounce on my hip under his own effort.
“No-oh. Over there!”
This time I fly at a sprint and he grabs onto my shirt with little fists, squealing in delight.
“Here?” I say as we peer behind the honeysuckle bush peppered with glowworms.
“No, silly—over there.” He twists in my arms with such strength that I nearly drop him and he points directly at the orchard swing.
“Oh, yes, of course. Over there.” I say, and Teddy loops his arms around my neck before we’re off in the direction of the orchard.
I plunk him down on the wooden seat and conjure up a front and back to it, as I’ve seen my mother do before. His little fingers grasp the front of it, knuckles white, but his face glows like the setting sun.
I can’t resist. I kiss my nose to his, like I always do, but this time his bright red hair deepens to a shade that better matches mine and I am struck by it.
“Why, Teddy, you really are getting quite good at that.”
A frown scrunches between his eyes as he looks up at me. He doesn’t understand. He isn’t aware of his talent. Not yet. I smile and tickle his tummy and he curls in on himself with a delighted squeal.
I pull the swing towards me and watch as his face lights up in expectation. And then, just to add to the suspense, I count to three slowly and if possible he lights up even more.
Finally, I let go. The swing swoops down in a rush of air, then up and away from me, and Teddy laughs.
I comply again and this time when I push him the light catches my ring, and I’m mesmerized by it once more. Or maybe I’m hypnotized, the way I feel whenever I look at it—light as air—unable to take my eyes from it for hours. What is it about such things? I never cared a stitch about jewelry before, but this is different—much, much different. The weight of it feels foreign on my untrained finger, but yet as if it was always meant to be. Meant for me. It glitters and twinkles, making light prisms on the leaves. A thrill bursts deep within me and warms me all the way up to my head making me giddy. Oh, the possibilities!
“Higher!” Teddy cackles again and I cackle too. His enthusiasm is contagious.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see my mother and Andromeda strolling towards us in the orchard, each holding a cup of tea. Hermione gestures animatedly beside them, speaking at length. I can tell that they’re talking about something Ministry related, so I ignore them, though I probably shouldn’t. They sit in the garden chairs closest to us, just on the edge of the trees.
“Happy birthday, Ginny,” Andromeda says in my direction during a lull in conversation. “If my grandson hadn’t swept you away so quickly I would have already wished it.”
I smile kindly at her. “Thank you, Andromeda.”
“So,” she says, settling back into her chair, cradling her tea, “what will you do now with the whole world set before you?”
The whole world…I think to myself…the whole wide world.
But I’ve already chosen, haven’t I? I’ve been playing professional Quidditch now for a full year and then there’s Harry…sweet, adorable…Harry—and my friends, of course, and family…and George’s shop…and sometimes accompanying Luna on her wild hunts.
But…the whole wide world…
“Travel,” I say without thinking it through. My mother startles, but Hermione looks pleased.
“Travel?” Andromeda considers this, before taking another sip of tea. I can’t tell if she approves or not, not that I care either way. Not really. “Where would you like to travel to, my dear?”
I give Teddy another push, my brain rapidly filling with possibilities.
“Spain,” I hear myself say, “Greece, Italy—Majorca.”
“Warm places,” Andromeda murmurs.
I nod, however, that isn’t all that I want…but she doesn’t need to know every last detail.
“And what about Harry?” My mother asks; her eyes watch me carefully, measuring my words.
“He’ll come too, of course. We’ll go together—during my breaks from Quidditch.”
It makes perfect sense to me, though I’d never truly considered this option before.
Hermione gives me a soft smile. “He’d like that.” And I know that she’s right.
No pressure, no media, just us. How perfect would that be? We had talked about it at various times, but the timing had never been right. But now that things are settling at the Ministry…and now that Hermione and Ron are married…and now that …
I glance again at the ring on my finger and my stomach swoops like Teddy in his swing…
The whole world lies before us. So why not?
Yes, why not!
“It’ll be hard for Harry to get away from the Ministry.” My mother cautions.
“We’ll make time.” I respond, confident. I know we will, no matter what my mother thinks. “My two month break from Quidditch is the same every year—it’ll be easy for us to plan.”
Easier than coordinating a weekend here or a weekend there—with my Quidditch schedule and Harry’s work as an Auror, it was a wonder that we ever found any time together at all. But it would be different now…once we were married…under the same roof…in the same bed. The thought of this pushes the breath from me.
“Swing!” Teddy insists.
I’ve momentarily forgotten my duties. I work for a moment to recover our rhythm. Soon he’s content and so am I.
Andromeda sighs. “To be young again…”
“Yes.” Mum nods, sipping her tea.
“All those thoughts of travel will change once you have children,” Andromeda states so matter-of-factly that I immediately feel the hairs on my neck bristle.
“I don’t plan to have any children.”
This has my mother’s attention, and Hermione looks stricken, glancing warily between us.
“It’s true.” I don’t even give my mum a chance to start. “I don’t plan to have children. Ever.”
The last emphasis is a bit over the top, childish, and I know it, but it’s there in its entirety to vex my mum. I put more effort into pushing Teddy and ignoring my mum, who is currently piercing a hole in my back.
But then, really, I defy her to pressure me for grandchildren as she has already done with Hermione. Poor thing! She and Ron have only been married four months. It’s absurd. Plus, Mum already has Bill and Fleur—why does she need us?
Andromeda chuckles lightly. “I once felt like you, Ginny.”
I glance at her, I can’t help it. Her eyes twinkle with some forbidden knowledge that I have yet to understand and it bothers me. Hermione is studying her, too. I turn back to my methodical task of pushing Teddy.
“Yes,” nods my mum. “I did, too.”
My world spins.
I stop pushing Teddy abruptly and he squawks. “Mum—you can’t be serious.”
“I am,” she replies without a second of hesitation and I know that she’s telling me the truth by the calm light in her eyes.
“When I married your father—well, he was my world and I wanted nothing more.”
“Then I got older and my priorities changed.” Her gaze finds mine again. “My love for your father has never wavered, but I found that my little world of two no longer needed to be quite so exclusive.”
“Humph,” I say. “Then why are you pestering us so much? If anything you should understand—”
“Because that’s what mothers do,” she interrupts calmly. “We exist to remind you to eat your vegetables, to go to bed on time, to write owls to your elderly relatives, to wear your shoes—” She glares briefly at my toes as if they’ve done her some personal wrong, “It’s our job. And when the time is right—we encourage you to pass on what you’ve learned to your own family, and even more, to remind you that we will be there to love your children just as much as we loved you.”
Oh, for heaven’s sake! How can you say no to that? I feel disgruntled, bothered, and a bit like my own little world has tilted onto its end. Questions bubble up under my skin, itching under the surface. I never want children, but my mum—the mother of all mothers—how can it be that she was once like me? Is it possible to feel so strongly about something one moment and then change on a Sickle a moment later? No, it can’t be…but yet…
Andromeda retrieves Teddy from the swing and I’m grateful for it. He runs around us in circles, pretending that he’s flying on a broom. And I long for my own broom—the freedom, the wind, the rush of adrenaline. It helps to clear my brain when it’s jumbled with too many conflicting thoughts.
I blink and look up across the dusky garden. Harry and Ron are striding across the lawn towards us, their Ministry robes open and flapping behind them as they walk. They’re laughing—no doubt at something Ron has said—and they have brooms slung across their shoulders. They look happy, content, and my little world starts to right itself once more.
I’m up and across the lawn in two strides and I don’t know who reaches who first—I to Harry or Harry to me—all I know is that we meet, arms flung, tightly meshed, and the scent of him steadies me to my core. I am where I want to be.
I hear Teddy’s voice and then I feel him tugging on our legs. He jumps repeatedly and jiggles us as we stand together, and it makes us both laugh. Harry pulls me close and kisses my hairline before swooping down to pick up Teddy and tossing him playfully into the air.
“Hello, little man,” he says.
Teddy’s hair changes from red to an unruly black as he squeals, and I grin. He is so adorable. Teddy really is getting quite good at transformation. It won’t be long now until he’s mastered the art of it. Even now, he looks just like he could be Harry’s…
A small puff of air escapes my lips and I press my fingers to my mouth to stifle it. I can’t explain it—I can only soak it in. This tableau unfolding before me in slow motion, it is nearly overwhelming. I watch as Harry continues to throw Teddy into the air, grinning from ear to ear. I hear Teddy’s infectious giggles and Harry’s deep laugh. I feel the warm sensation rush through me from the pit of my belly to the ends of my toes and the tips of my ears—and suddenly…quite suddenly…I know. My heart races; I can feel it clamoring against my ribcage.
I dare a glance at my mum and she is watching me. Her gaze holds mine and her smile is knowing. I glance away and back to Harry. But it’s too late—I know.
Not yet, though. It’s entirely too soon—and there’s so much yet to experience. And maybe, possibly, somewhere far off down the road, our little world of two will become more, but for now—
“Happy birthday, Ginny.”
Ron interrupts my thoughts by flinging his arm around my neck and pulling my head to his chest. He musses my hair with his knuckles and I poke him in the ribs repeatedly. Hermione looks on, amused.
“So, I hear you’ve requested a game of Quidditch in the orchard.” Ron scrutinizes the surroundings before giving my hair one more good tussle. “Where’s your broom?”
“In the house.”
“Well, go get it then!” He pushes me along as only a brother can. “The light is fading.”
“I’ll go with you,” Harry says, and he slips his hand in mine.
I squeeze his hand and I smile at him, and there’s something like anticipation pooling in my stomach, gliding just under my skin.
“So,” he says as we begin our leisurely stroll to the house, “I have the whole weekend off—I’ve requested it—so now it’s ours to do with whatever we want.”
I grin. He grins, too.
“What would you like to do, then?” he asks, “Where would you like to go?”
“Spain,” I say, “or Majorca—your choice.”
He barks out a laugh and pulls me to him for a kiss, but I want more, and I kiss him hard and full and as if breathing for the first time, and then, unexpectedly, he lifts me off my feet and twirls me around, one, two, three times, and — as if suspended on a string — the whole wide world hangs above us, plump and ripe, ready for the plucking. I can taste it. He can taste it and the possibility of it all is thrilling…overwhelming…and endless.
“Shall we, then?” he says, breaking away, breathless. “You know—go somewhere—get away, just the two of us?”
“Yes.” I nod, my forehead resting against his. “Let’s.”
For now…the voice in my head cautions me and I answer it…yes, for now.
For no matter how small our love is in the grand scheme of things…it just takes up so much space…oceans of it…and for now, this embrace, us together, him and me, the two of us, this moment…this is all I want.