“Well,” sighed Harry, rubbing his face in both hands, “how about... I don’t know.... How about we sell the rights to another bloody biography?”
Ginny’s eyebrow barely lifted.
Roger shook his distinguished head. “I’m afraid not, Harry. The market’s there, but the contract on the Skeeter woman’s calls for another ten years as the exclusive authorized biography. It’d cost as much to buy her out as you’d be likely to make.”
Ginny patted Harry’s shoulder; she had to know even suggesting such a step was a sign of how desperate he was. “I could see if any of the teams want to have me.”
He looked at her; she seemed deadly serious. Things were bad. “You haven’t flown competitively since you were pregnant with Albus, love. I mean, they’d be lucky to have you, but...”
Her shoulders slumped.
Roger cleared his throat. “Besides that, it would force you to leave the Prophet, which is, at the moment, your steadiest income stream.”
Both Potters groaned. “Bloody hell,” Harry said, “who knew weddings could cost such a bloody fortune?” When Roger Davies looked as if he might point out that, indeed, he had suggested as their solicitor and financial adviser that holding the wedding for Lily and Lysander at Stonehenge on Midsummer’s Night would, in fact, be rather extravagant, Harry just shrugged. “Whatever.”
He wanted the best for his daughter. He wanted her to have the wedding of her dreams—he knew that, once the Scamander boy had taken Lily’s hand from his, she would be Harry’s little girl no more. So never mind that Stonehenge hadn’t been the kids’ idea, but Harry’s—he wanted the best.
Cost a fortune? He was supposed to have the bloody fortune to spend! He was the Boy Who bloody Lived, wasn’t he? Well, long past being a boy, of course, but he was a national hero and the youngest department head in the history of the Aurors. Of course, when he’d signed up, no one had told him that being an Auror—even Head Auror—wasn’t exactly highly remunerative work.
Not that he and Ginny were poverty-stricken. It was just that, between his less-than-high-paying job and the fact that his wife had left playing Quidditch to become a journalist—if anything, a career that paid even worse—on top of the costs of raising three kids and sending them to Hogwarts and maintaining three—no, four—houses, they weren’t exactly rolling in Galleons. The vault at Gringotts was a shadow of its former glory.
Ron and Hermione were in better financial position than they were at the moment. Bloody hell.
“I could sell my share of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.”
“To who?” Ginny asked. “George and Ron would hate having to answer to someone outside of the family, and while they’d be happy to help, I’m sure, that new Russian joke chain means they’re not a whole lot more flush than we are.”
Roger cleared his throat mildly once more. “Yes. I did broach the subject with Angelina. She said that under normal circumstances the company would be more than happy to buy the shares, or even to advance a loan, but...”
“But the cash isn’t there,” Harry grumbled.
Ginny patted the back of his hand.
“So we’re back to selling off one of the pieces of property.”
Roger tsked, and Ginny let off an exasperated hiss of frustration. They’d circled this more than once. “Which?” she asked, not for the first time. “The Shrieking Shack is Lily and Lysander’s present—that seems a bloody stupid thing to sell to finance their wedding. I suppose we could find a smaller house than Grimmauld Place for ourselves, but with all the work the house needs, and with the mortgage, I doubt we’d clear enough even to pay for the wedding. The farm on Fee Sark... Well, we’d have to ask your cousin and Parvati to move, which we could certainly do, but it seems a nasty trick.”
“And of course, they can’t afford to pay for it,” Harry sighed. Dudley, one-legged, on an Army pension. Parvati, spell-blind, her Ministry diplomatic career gone. No, forcing them to move wasn’t an option. “That leaves... That leaves Godric’s Hollow.”
“Harry.” Ginny peered at him, her brows bowed in concern.
“No, you know it’s the only thing we have to sell at the moment. It’s a pretty good piece of property. I’m sure... I’m sure someone will want it.”
“It just doesn’t seem right,” said Ginny, though it wasn’t with much conviction.
“It’s just a house,” answered Harry, though he didn’t feel any more certain of what he was saying than she had sounded. “What do you think, Roger?”
His face a mask of studied neutrality, their solicitor held his hands out towards them. “It is, of course, your choice. You would need to move quickly, nonetheless.”
“Of course,” Harry and Ginny answered together, utterly devoid of enthusiasm.
Tilting his head, Roger conceded, “But a little time wouldn’t make any difference. May I suggest that you take a day to talk it over? I can delay filing the use permits and such with the Ministry for another day, I am sure.”
Harry nodded, relieved to have another day before the decision had to be made; a part of him wanted to get it over with, but on the whole, he wasn’t ready to put his parents’ house up for sale. Not yet.
Ginny kissed him on the cheek. “We could visit the place. What do you think?”
“Sure,” Harry said, grasping her hand. “Roger, if you could have all of the paperwork ready to sign, we’ll be by at lunchtime, okay?”
Roger smiled his solicitor’s smile. “The paperwork is already ready. And I will look forward to seeing you both tomorrow.”
Harry shook Roger’s hand. “Thanks. And sorry about all of this bollocks.”
Roger’s laugh welled up, warm and genuine—not his office laugh but his after-hours laugh. “Harry, my friend, I’ve been your solicitor for more than twenty years and this is the stickiest problem you’ve ever handed me. May that always be the case!” He took Ginny’s hand and kissed it, and Harry remembered for a flash why he had disliked Roger when they were young. Roger chuckled again, and it was quickly forgotten. “Besides, I get to see your lovely wife twice in a week—more than recompense enough.”
“Lovely, right,” said Ginny, who did indeed look lovely. “Give my love to Lisa.”
“Of course,” Roger said, and walked them to the door.
Ginny’s arm circled Harry’s waist as they walked down Diagon Alley towards the Apparition point near Gringotts. “Sickle for your thoughts?”
“Not thinking,” grunted Harry, staring up into the dim, silvery sky as they moved. “I don’t even know where to start.”
“Harry...” She gave a long sigh as they arrived outside the enormous white marble façade of the bank. “Come on. Let’s go.”
They unsqueezed into the West Country landscape, behind a copse of trees just off of the lane where Bathilda Bagshot had attempted to lure Harry and Hermione to their doom, and Harry blinked his eyes. Not only was the sky here clear and bright, but they had traveled over two hundred miles to the west; the sun still hadn’t set. A lark, startled by their Apparition, no doubt, began to sing in the tree above them.
“I forget how beautiful it is here,” murmured Harry.
Ginny, the country girl born and raised, breathed in deeply. “That’s because you never come during the spring or summer—Halloween and Christmas, and then just to see your parents.”
“True enough,” Harry conceded, breathing in himself, smelling the rich scent of just-mown hay and of lavender. As they stepped out into the lane, he could see lupines bursting from the tufts of grass on either side of the road. He knew that if he walked down the lane and through the square, he would come to the little churchyard where his parents were buried. A jolt of guilt ran through him; how could he sell this house?
But Lily was getting married. Their youngest. Their last. Albus had been, to his own great pride, the first, and in spite of Ginny’s worries that Al had been far too young to be getting married—he had been a year older than Harry and Ginny had—he seemed genuinely, ecstatically happy. Young Ceci seemed even now thoroughly smitten with him.
Merlin. Soon enough the two would probably make him and Ginny grandparents. There was a thought.
James... Well, Harry still couldn’t say that he understood. He didn’t even know whether it was the fact that Scorpius was a man or that he was a Malfoy that made him uncomfortable. But, as Ginny pointed out at every opportunity, their eldest too had never been happier. And Scorpius had turned out to be much more pleasant company than his father, who seemed, it pleased Harry to think, even more uncomfortable with the whole arrangement than Harry himself.
Also, Scorpius was a huge, life-long Harpies fan, which made him all but family anyway.
The fact of the matter was that Harry wasn’t ready for Lily to marry. She was twenty-one, an auburn-haired chip off of her mother’s fiercely independent block—of her namesake grandmother’s as well, when it came to that. And Luna and Rolf’s boy had been her best friend since their first day at Hogwarts together. She was marrying him because she wanted to.
And Lysander loved Lily. Harry could see the look in his eyes, and remembered the feeling behind that look. When the two children had first become romantically involved during the summer after their sixth year, everyone had expected Harry to become insanely jealous and protective. But he had known that Lily was capable of taking care of herself—not that his heart hadn’t nearly broken for her during her occasional break-ups with the boy. No, the one Harry had worried about was Lysander, who was as dreamy as his mother and more determined than either of his parents.
Lysander Scamander. The name still made Harry chuckle.
No, Lily was ready. It was Harry who couldn’t get himself reconciled to the idea.
And so he had thrown himself into the preparations for their wedding—just two months away now—with more energy than he had expended on anything in years. Caterers. Florists. The band—Harry had wanted to talk to the Wyrd Sisters, who hadn’t played together in a few years, but Lily had shot down that idea; still, Roger had negotiated with the agent for Lily’s favorite group, The Crypt-Kicker Five, and it looked as if the hottest band in the wizarding world would be available that night. Harry had convinced Kingsley himself, recently retired, to officiate. The marquee company had to be hired—Wiltshire could get drizzly; no matter what the Wizarding Weather Bureau said, they had to plan on rain. And of course there would have to be a team of wizards retained to cast Muggle-repelling charms. A full security detail was essential—times were relatively safe, but old Moody’s cry of Constant vigilance! had saved Harry’s bacon more than once.
Lupines. Would Lily and Lysander want lupines? Buckets of them around the dance floor. Or on the tables perhaps. The star-gazer lilies, of course; those were a given, but—
“You’re thinking about the wedding again, aren’t you?” Ginny was smirking up at him. The late-afternoon sun shone golden on her high, freckled cheeks and set her flame and ash hair ablaze.
“Uh, yeah.” Harry looked around. They were standing in front of the remains of his parents’ house—or what seemed to be the remains of the house. The whole of the ruin seemed to be encased in a living blanket of green, spangled with red and yellow. Nature was reclaiming the Potter home. Harry put his hand on the gate, and the familiar sign rose out of the bank of purple-tufted thistle: On this spot, on the night of 31 October, 1981... “A bit overrun. We’ll have to clear things a bit, if we want to sell it.”
“A bit,” laughed Ginny. She pushed open the gate—not easily—and pulled him through. Using her wand to clear their path, she walked him towards the house. “When was the last time you actually came in here? I haven’t been since that first summer.”
“When you wanted me to show you the rose garden.” He couldn’t help but grin at the memory: Ginny had wanted him to bring her to what was reputed to be one of the most romantic spots in Britain, but they hadn’t got much further than the side of the house before sinking into the grass and flowers and snogging each other silly. “Neither have I, really. Not much. Not recently.”
He always meant to come, of course, but there never seemed to be time. And Harry never really felt the urge to revisit the place where Voldemort had killed his parents.
Johnny Abbott, Hannah’s nephew and one of Teddy’s friends, lived in Godric’s Hollow and kept an eye on the property—both the house and the thirty acres of meadow and woodland behind it—but Johnny had a family of his own, these days, and so Harry hadn’t heard much from him recently. Harry knew that, for a time, Johnny had tried to keep the weeds and such to a minimum, but obviously the plants had won. Even standing ten feet from the old house, you could barely tell that people had ever lived there. It looked more like a hillock of wild roses and thistle, mixed in with spring wildflowers that Aunt Petunia would never have allowed in her garden, but that Ginny had taught him to recognize, back in the days when they’d gone hiking and snogging on the moors after her quicker Quidditch matches: coltsfoot and scarlet pimpernel, euphrasy and rue. Through the greenery, here and there, a blackened doorknob or the corner of a peeling blue shutter peeked out. Otherwise, there was no sign of the house in which Harry had been born, and in which his parents had died.
Harry was surprised to find this reassuring.
“Come on, Harry. I never did get to see the rose garden.” She led him through the weeds and flowers, which reached above her waist. They waded around to the side of the house, where the view of the dale and of the woods beyond opened up before them. No wonder they hadn’t got any further than this all of those years ago. He stopped, tugging his wife back towards him. Together they gazed out, watching the sun start its last slide towards the horizon. Kissing Ginny’s ear, he felt the urge to emulate it, and began to push her down into the high grass.
“Oh, no!” giggled Ginny. “That’s what stopped us before! I want to see the rose garden!” Tickling him so that he broke his grasp, she ran down the shallow incline, laughing as she went.
Harry gave a roar and charged after her—not an easy feat, with all those weeds to fight through. Really, she was much shorter than he was; shouldn’t it have been even harder for her? Instead she flitted just beyond his grasp, like a bloody Snitch.
Suddenly she squawked and stopped. Before she could get away again, he barreled into her, grabbed her in his arms and kissed her.
The air here. It smelled like Ginny. Like the scent that had haunted him for most of his sixth year before he had figured out what it was that he was smelling: her. This.
Her fingers were tangled in his hair, her tongue tangled in his. One of his hands found its way inside of her Sensible Journalist robes and was pulling the tail of her blouse from her Sensible Journalist.
“Fence,” hissed Ginny as his fingers began to play an old, familiar song upon her flesh. “Roses.”
“Huh,” grunted Harry, and lifted her; she wrapped her legs around his hips. Too many bloody clothes. Got to find somewhere we can take these off.
He tried to walk forwards, but something was blocking the way. Fence. Right. Not a high fence though; without disengaging from kissing Ginny, he managed to step over the obstruction, and walk towards the low, dark berm that he could just make out through the strands of Ginny’s hair. Woods? A strong floral breeze wafted in the scant spaces between him and her, and it was that same Ginny scent...
He strode forwards: she’d see her roses, by Merlin—they’d make love amidst the bloody roses. It had been weeks since they’d had the time—the wedding and work had been swallowing whatever time or energy they had. Well, they had the time now. And they both seemed to have the energy. Without breaking the kiss, he tried to find a path into the garden, but it seemed to be a solid wall of flower-bedecked thorns, like something out of Sleeping Beauty or The Fountain of Fair Fortune....
The Fountain of Fair Fortune.
Harry disengaged his lips from his wife’s, who moaned at the unwelcome interruption. “Let us in,” he said.
To his surprise, a gap opened in the wall of roses, forming an arched entryway.
His wife still wrapped around him, his lips back where they both wanted them to be, Harry strode forwards into the roses. Well, at least it wasn’t creepers pulling us through.
Once Harry and Ginny had passed through the wall, they stopped kissing. They both knew that there would be time for that later—plenty of time for that.
Harry had expected the interior of the rose garden to be as wild as the outside; he hadn’t really thought that there would be an interior—just a nice, private place for him and his wife to get up to the kinds of things that husbands and wives enjoy getting up to.
Instead, the garden looked...
It looked magnificent.
There were hundreds of rose bushes in full bloom, no two seeming to be the same variety. Pink roses, red roses, white roses—damask, orange, lavender, silver, blue, even black. Each seemed to have been perfectly pruned to show off its distinctive glory. A manicured lawn filled the enormous central area, which was easily the size of a regulation Quidditch pitch.
At the opposite end of the green, directly below the almost-setting sun, bubbled a fountain, tall and alabaster, the clear water sparkling in the sunlight.
Ginny unwrapped her legs and stood beside him. “Wow.”
Harry couldn’t help but agree. “Wow.”
Hand in hand they strode towards the fountain. The burbling song of the water seemed the perfect compliment the heady scent of the flowers all around them. The fountain itself was carved with the figure of a goddess, scattering seeds.
Ginny peered at the fountain, her eyes wide, reached out, and then pulled back her hand. “Do you suppose...?”
“I think...” Harry said, looking at the fountain, which for all that it was obviously very old, was bright white. “I think that either they created this because of the story—the Peverells, the Potters, whoever—or, maybe, Beedle based the story on this. Like the Cloak.”
“Right.” She started to reach out again to drink from the fountain, but stopped. “Hey,” she said. “Those aren’t roses.”
Growing to just behind the fountain was a clump of lilies—star-gazers, and like every other flower in the garden, in full bloom.
The hair on the back of Harry’s neck lifted. He had spent far too long looking at specimens of this flower recently. He knew: these were perfect.
Walking towards them, he knelt down. At their base was a plaque: With these flowers (lilium ‘stargazer’), in this place, on this day, 19 June, 1979, James Charlus Potter was wed to Lily Elizabeth Evans
Harry felt as if the air had been expelled from his lungs. He reached out and touched the pollen-soaked pistil of the closest flower. The pollen came off on his finger.
“Harry.” Ginny was kneeling beside him in front of beautiful blue flower that had been blocked from their sight by the fountain. She read the plaque at its base: “With these flowers (calydorea amabilis), in this place, on this day, 2 September, 1939, Charlus Harold Potter was wed to Dorea Andromeda Black.”
“Wow.” He looked past her; there were more. “Do you think...?”
Crawling, they made their way to the next plaque—Charlus’s sister, Damascena Victoria Potter. Harry’s great-aunt. Married to Hieronymus Abbott in 1935. Perhaps he and Hannah were cousins?
Before that... Harry’s great-grandparents. Married in 1913. Dumbledore might have been living in Godric’s Hollow then, Harry found himself thinking. Wonder if he attended?
The plaques stretched on and on, rounding the corner. Behind each bloomed a gorgeous, perfect specimen of the flower with which a couple had been married. Perhaps the flowers themselves.
The names shifted. They ran across an occasional Weasley and Prewett—no Malfoys, however. Potters disappeared; Harry found when a William Potter had married a Floribunda Wright in 1687. Then the Wrights too disappeared—there was Bowman Wright marrying Iris Peverell in 1518. The Peverells too had married here for several generations. The last plaque they came across was that marking the marriage of Ignotus Peverell to Rose Black in 1400. The beautiful rose bush behind the plaque bore blossoms that matched her family’s name.
This was Harry’s family tree. His family garden.
Harry sat back in the lush grass, stunned. Ginny curled herself into his lap and peered at him. Her face was slack.
“Did you know?” he asked.
She shook her head. “Mum had always talked about this place, about how it was... magical.”
Harry nodded. “I can’t wait to show this to her. She’ll be in heaven. And Neville!”
Before he could get any further carried away, she kissed him.
They made love there in the grass; it was sweet and unhurried and when they were done, they lay side by side on his Ministry-issue robes. The sun was setting, burnishing Ginny’s skin so that it matched her hair. Harry played his favorite game: connecting her freckles with her sweat.
Harry tried not to think about it, but felt sure that hundreds of Potters and Wrights and Peverells had made love here. Had pledged their love here. He smiled.
“So,” Ginny said, smiling in return, “still want to sell this place?”
“Still think we need to hold Lily and Lysander’s wedding at Stonehenge?”
She favored him with her most feral grin. “Care to have another go?”
He didn’t say anything at first, but merely entangled himself once again in the gold and flame of her. “What did I do,” he asked breathlessly, “to deserve such... fortune?”
Her answer came without words. And it was utterly, completely satisfying.
A/N:This fic was written for elysianflowers as part of the takingitinturns “In Motion” exchange.
In case you're interested, yes, this fic is set in the same 'verse as my F Words fics—just thirty years later. And yes, I do have another installment or two in that series (including one that explains, in part, Dudley and Parvati)!