Regent's Park was beautiful this time of year. June just seemed to bring out the best in every corner; the flower beds and planters were a riot of colour, birds sang from every tree and bush, children ran about happily and excitedly. And at the London Zoo, news of baby animals born to favourite species brought families flocking to see the new arrivals.
The warm weather affected Ginny as it had in her Hogwarts' days: she wanted to be out in it after being cooped up indoors all winter and now, as an adult, she felt free to indulge in a little "sun therapy." The sunshine warmed her soul. It chased away the "baby blues" and made her feel less like the whale she really felt. This, her third pregnancy, was nearly over and for the last two weeks, Ginny had made herself take the Muggle Underground from Grimmauld Place to Regency Park so that she could enjoy the good walking weather.
She smiled as she thought of how Harry had insisted their family spend the last month in their London residence. He wanted her to be close to St. Mungo's so that, when her time came to deliver, the Floo trip would be shorter than it would be from their estate further north.
Harry had been concerned, at first, that Ginny's walks would take her away from the Floo network, further from the wizarding hospital, but Ginny had managed to convince him that the exercise was good for her. She was even pleased when he and the children insisted on joining her on weekends. Together, their family had explored the park, walking round the lake and the gardens, much to three-year-old James' delight. At nearly two, Albus was more interested in the "wocks" and "cwawies" he found along the paths they strolled than the animals in the zoo. And once Harry discovered how safe his wife seemed to be, and how much closer to St. Mungo's Regent's Park was than Grimmauld Place, he had relaxed and enjoyed himself.
Ginny spied her favourite bench standing under an enormous tree and made her way towards it. The shade the tree provided felt wonderful after her long walk and she swung her legs up on the seat to elevate her swollen ankles. She closed her eyes and listened to the sounds around her. The birds were in full song. Their voices competed with a Muggle wireless that was pounding out the bass to something that she supposed was music, off to her left. She wished the noise would go away.
She searched for something else to listen to. To her right, someone had tuned their wireless to the BBC broadcast of the US Open Golf Tournament. The announcers were reporting the standings of the British and Australian players. They sounded encouraged and she listened with interest. The big news of the day, though, was the standings of Americans Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate, and Robert Karlsson of Sweden; the announcers were certain that Woods would win the tournament, which was being held in San Diego, California, due to the fact that he seemed determined to overcome the previous year's loss, by one stroke, to Angel Cabrera of Argentina.
I'll have to find our atlas and look up where San Diego is, she thought. James will want to know where this place is if Harry and I talk about it at dinner this evening. He so likes looking at "pictures of the world."
Her thoughts drifted to this same weekend in June three years before, when Harry had experienced his first Father's Day. Well, really it was a Father-to-Be Day, she thought, but a Father's Day all the same.
At eight months pregnant, Ginny had felt as if she was going to pop, her belly was so big. Harry, she knew, feared she would, too. The difference between her and her husband, though, was the fact that she felt calmly serene and Harry constantly looked worried. She instinctively knew some of his worries: that he'd be a horrible father because he'd spent his formative years with the Dursleys. He feared that, with no decent role model, he'd end up treating his children like his Uncle Vernon had treated him. Ginny had found him many nights in his study, an untouched glass of firewhisky in his hand, staring at the fire and brooding on that very subject. She remembered — with overwhelming clarity — their final conversation, when she had finally convinced Harry that he would never, ever turn into his uncle.
She had walked into the room carrying a pot of tea, two cups and a plate of Harry's favourite biscuits. Harry hadn't noticed her and had actually jumped when she held out his cup to him.
"A Knut for your thoughts, love," she had said, a gentle smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.
Harry's eyes were large behind his glasses as he reached for the cup. "Just… just thinking," he'd said, sounding distracted.
Ginny had settled on the pouf his feet rested on and patted his leg. "Uncle Vernon again?"
"Yeah," he admitted, looking sheepish. "I just can't stop thinking about all the terrible things he did to me over the years, starting with shoving me in that cupboard under the stairs."
"Harry, you'll never, ever be like him," she said, "just because you remember what it was like to be treated so badly."
Harry sighed. "I wish I could believe that, but I can't. I'm too afraid."
Ginny rubbed her belly where their child had kicked her. "Little One here already knows you're a good father," she said.
Harry raised an eyebrow as he took a sip of his tea.
"Harry, we know you're a better father because you're worrying so much. You're already a better father just by how you're treating me, too. You're constantly making sure I'm comfortable or not doing too much. You've become quite a good cook over the last few months and the house has never been this clean!" she exclaimed, grinning, as Harry's ears turned pink.
"Don't accuse me of becoming Aunt Petunia, too!" Harry groaned.
"I didn't say that," Ginny grumped. She paused, then said, "We both love what you've done with the nursery, and how patiently you've put up with my mood swings and cravings."
Harry looked slightly alarmed. "Are you craving pickles again, Ginny? You've almost finished the last jar. I was going to stop at the market on the way home tomorrow—"
Ginny leaned forward and laid a gentle finger on his lips to still his frantic stream of words. "No, silly. I was just going to say that your uncle would never have done any one of those things; you're different from him because Vernon only cares about himself. You, on the other hand, are always looking out for other people."
Harry groaned. "Please don't remind me of my 'saving people thing'," he pleaded.
A soft giggle escaped before Ginny could stop it. "In this case, sweetheart, it's a very good thing."
"How can you say that?" Harry asked incredulously. "Especially when most of my efforts to save people have backfired terribly in the past."
"Tosh! I can say that because I know for a fact you'll be a great father," she stated firmly. "Teddy and Victoire adore you, you know. Those two wouldn't call you 'Unca Hawwy' if they didn't. Oh, and do you think Percy would let you touch his daughter if he thought you'd be mean and grouchy towards her? I think not!"
This last statement had elicited a small chuckle from Harry, encouraging Ginny to continue. "And then there are George and Angelina's children… remember the last prank they helped you pull on their father? You could have pulled it off ten times faster with a flick of your wand, but instead, you helped them fill the pie plates with Muggle shaving cream by hand. George knew you three were up to something because of all the giggling coming from behind Dad's shed, but the look on Fred's face was priceless when he helped you levitate his pie so that it chased his dad around the garden."
Harry leaned back in his chair and Ginny watched as his shoulders relaxed. "Yeah, you're right, Gin. That was a lot of fun," he chuckled.
"So you see, Harry," Ginny said, flicking her wand at the wireless. Soft music filled the room as she stood up and settled herself in Harry's lap. "You'll never be like your Uncle Vernon. You care too much about others to be anything but a caring, loving daddy. I know that first-hand because you show me how much you love me in everything you do… even if I'm whiny and grouchy because this baby makes me feel like an over-stuffed whale."
Her husband sighed contentedly. "When you put it that way, how can I argue?" he asked.
"You can't," she said, tilting her head down and seeking his lips with her own.
As they kissed, the wireless crackled and the music was interrupted by the announcer: "We interrupt this broadcast to bring you the news that Michael Campbell of New Zealand has won the US Open Golf Championship at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina by two strokes over American Tiger Woods."
Harry mumbled, "Big deal," into Ginny's lips and used his wand to turn off the wireless.
A month later, James Sirius Potter had made his squalling appearance. Ginny would always remember the look of loving awe in Harry's face when his son was placed in his arms. There was no doubt in her mind that Harry's fears had been nothing but father-to-be jitters.
A brightly coloured ball rolling close to her bench startled Ginny out of her remembrances, and her long-disused Quaffle-awareness skills kicked into high gear. She lowered her feet and picked up the ball as a little girl about James' age came running up. A few feet away stood her watchful older brother.
"My baw?" the girl asked, holding up her hands. "Pease."
Ginny rolled the ball across the grass to her. "There you go," she said with a smile. When the little girl made a perfect catch, she added, "Good catch!"
The praise earned Ginny a big grin.
"Tell the nice lady 'thank you,' Melinda," prompted the older boy.
"Tank you, nice lady," the girl parroted over her shoulder as she ran to join him.
They resumed their game and Ginny stood up laboriously, a craving for a lemon ice suddenly making itself known. It was funny how the frosty treat from Harry's childhood had become the obsession of this pregnancy. With Albus, she had craved ice-cold watermelon, a fruit not usually grown in English gardens. Harry had prevailed upon Neville to keep them supplied from plants he grew in his greenhouses and Ginny had happily eaten every one of the giant fruits Neville had grown for her.
She passed a group of older men sitting under a tree playing chess on a small board. They, too, had a wireless which was tuned to the US Open, but Ginny wasn't thinking about today's match. Instead, her thoughts went back to Harry's first "official" Father's Day, and she smiled secretively to herself, even as a tiny elbow or foot connected with her abdomen.
Harry had been an old hat at fathering by the spring of 2006. Now an expert in changing nappies and soothing fussing infants, he seemed to be anticipating the arrival of James' little brother or sister with as much excitement as Ginny.
This Father's Day, he and Ginny and James had gathered at The Burrow for a celebration with most of Ginny's siblings — Charlie hadn't managed to get the time off and Percy and Audrey were at her parents'. The house and garden were overrun with Weasleys and Potters big and little, something that, in Ginny's mother's opinion, didn't happen often enough.
As a nearby wireless reported on the standings at the US Open being played at Winged Foot Golf Club in a place called Mamaroneck, New York — Harry had recently become interested in the game and was anticipating a victory for Australia's Geoff Ogilvy in today's final round — Hermione had come over to where Ginny was lounging under a conjured umbrella, listening to the broadcast, and watching her husband chasing after James as he toddled about The Burrow's garden.
"How come Harry's so interested in golf all of a sudden?" she asked as she began nursing two-month-old Rose.
Ginny fanned herself as she replied, "One of the other Aurors asked Harry to play with him a couple of months ago. Something about filling out a foursome, whatever that is. Harry borrowed some clubs and discovered he enjoyed whacking the ball around the course, said it was his chance to become a Beater."
Hermione smiled and lifted Rose to her shoulder. After a few pats the little girl gave a huge burp and began wailing. Her mother efficiently accommodated her daughter's wishes and a moment later the baby was once again feeding like the hungry Weasley she was. "I can understand that," she said. "I remember Harry told Ron and me that Oliver Wood once said he'd be a fair Beater."
Changing the subject, Ginny asked, "How's Ron settling into being a father?"
"He's finally stopped being afraid to change Rose's nappies," Hermione giggled. "But when she's fussy, he's the one who can get her to calm down the quickest."
Ginny nodded. "It's the same with Harry," she agreed. "I think it's their strong arms and solid chests that our little ones love to snuggle into."
"You could be right," Hermione said as she peeked under the nursing blanket she'd laid over Rose. A moment later she pointed into the garden. "Oh look, Harry is giving James a ride on his broom!"
Ginny looked up to see Harry flying slowly across the garden with eleven-month-old James held tightly in front of him. "Harry said he might try a flight after George presented him with a child-size broom for James. If he likes it, Harry was going to show James how to ride his own broom later today," she said.
Hermione laughed. "I don't think you'll have to worry about James being afraid to fly," she said. "Just look at that kid grin!"
Indeed, James was laughing and clapping and chanting, "Fas', Da, fas'!"
Harry chose that moment to look over at Ginny and she repeated their son's words, adding, "Shall I get the new broom?"
"No need to get up, sweetheart, Ron has it with him down at the paddock," Harry called.
Ginny hauled herself to her feet. "I could use the walk," she said. "I'll come with you and bring the camera."
"See you down there, then," Harry called over his shoulder as Ginny Summoned their camera from James' nappy bag and began waddling towards the paddock. By the time she arrived, Harry's broom was leaning against a tree and he and George and Ron were all helping little James get settled on the tiny broom.
"Everyone say 'Quidditch'!" she commanded as she focused the camera. The men smiled and looked up just long enough for her to take the picture. Then, Harry let go of James, George and Ron released their hold on the broom, and they all stepped back to see what would happen.
James gave a happy giggle as the broom rose a few inches off the ground and, with Harry jogging after him, he took off down the paddock.
"He's a natural!" crowed Ron as he and George came to stand by Ginny.
"Look at him go!" George exclaimed as Harry ran ahead of James and helped him turn the broom around at the end of the paddock. "I think Harry's going to get his exercise now that James is mobile."
Ginny snapped a few more pictures. "Actually, I think Harry was planning to have James come with him on his morning runs," she replied. "Once the baby comes, I won't be able to go with him, so James and his broom will be great company for him." She stood on tiptoe and kissed George on the cheek. "Thanks, big brother. You've made Harry a very happy wizard this Father's Day."
Her lemon ice finished, Ginny strolled down a path that would take her to the boating lake. It was a pleasant walk and, as she waddled along, she let her thoughts drift to her plans for the coming Father's Day weekend. This year, with the nearness of Ginny's due date, she and Harry had decided to make plans for both days… just in case. On Saturday, she and Harry were going to bring James and Albus back here to the park for a picnic and a visit to the zoo. Ginny knew she was in for a tiring day, but she was looking forward to sharing it with her three wizards. Then, on Sunday, if she still had not gone into labour, the family would be joining the rest of the Weasleys at The Burrow for a special family dinner. Harry was anticipating getting to play in his first father/child Quidditch match, now that James was coordinated enough to fly and hold a Quaffle at the same time. In addition, Ginny had heard from Charlie that he and George had plans to stake out an obstacle course for the children to ride their brooms through as well as a circular track for broom races. The prizes for the winners were going to be bags of age-appropriate Wheezes from George's shop.
Saturday dawned bright and warm, just right for a trip to the zoo. As Harry helped Ginny out of bed, the door to their bedroom burst open as a pair of tiny tornadoes thundered into the room.
"We're going to the zoo, we're going to the zoo!" chanted James, while Al sat on Harry's pillow roaring like a lion.
"Hey, you two," Harry said as Ginny waddled into the bathroom, "go get dressed and brush your teeth while Mummy and I get ready. We'll have a quick breakfast and then we're off to the zoo!"
James looked at Albus, a sly grin on his face. "Race ya, Al," he challenged.
"I win, Jamie, I win," Albus said as he jumped off the pillow and barrelled out of the room.
"Hey! No fair!" cried James as Albus took off down the hall. Ginny could hear her sons thundering towards their rooms a floor below and wondered where they found all their energy.
Harry came into the bathroom and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "You up for this?" he asked solicitously.
"I think so," Ginny replied, absently rubbing her abdomen. "If I get too tired, you can park me on a bench and come back for me later."
"I think I can do that," Harry chuckled. "I'll go check on the boys."
An hour later, the Potter family emerged from the Baker Street Underground station and slowly wended their way towards the London Zoo.
"Come on, Mum!" James cried. "We're going to miss seeing the keepers feeding the elephants!"
Ginny looked at her watch and increased her pace just a little. She wasn't feeling her best this morning, but she wasn't going to let her discomfort ruin her boys' day. Still, she knew they would miss getting to see the elephants eating their morning hay.
From the main gate, the boys made a bee-line for the monkey and ape enclosures, one of their favourite exhibits. After that, James insisted on going to see the elephants and the family was rewarded with the sight of three elephants playing "submarine" in their bathing pool.
"Look, Mum! All you can see is its trunk!" James exclaimed as he climbed up on the railing that separated the humans from the elephants.
"I see, I see," Ginny said. "Now get down. I don't want you falling in."
"I could be an elephant, then!" crowed James as Harry scooped him off the fence and lifted him onto his shoulders.
"Me up, me up!" chanted Albus. With a sigh, Ginny squatted down and grabbed her youngest about the waist and lifted him so he could see better, too.
From the elephant exhibit, the Potters wandered through the Children's Zoo and past the penguins to the Lion Terraces. This time, it was Albus' turn to sit on his dad's shoulders as they listened to the great cats roar. Inspired by the lions' voices, the little boy roared back, causing the visitors nearest them to laugh and roar, too.
They ate lunch at a table in the playground and at the close of the meal, Harry purchased lemon ices for everyone. The frozen treat tasted wonderful to Ginny and she watched her sons carefully as they tasted theirs. Three-year-old James loved his. Albus took one lick, made a face and handed his to Ginny.
"Tell me the story of your first lemon ice, Daddy," James requested as he sucked happily on the frozen treat.
"Oh, you mean the one from Cousin Dudley's eleventh birthday outing?" Harry asked.
"Yes, yes!" crowed James.
"All right, but I know you've heard the story several times," Harry said, glancing over at Ginny. She really didn't want to hear that story again because it always made her sad.
"I want to hear it again. Pleeeease, Daddy," wheedled James.
So Harry told the story of his first lemon ice once more, which meant that their next stop would be the reptile house to see the giant snake like the one that had escaped on Dudley's birthday. As the family approached the reptile house, Ginny touched Harry's sleeve to get his attention.
"Can you take them in, love?" she asked. "I need to sit down for a little longer."
Harry gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. "I think that bench is waiting for you," he whispered in her ear. Ginny smiled her thanks and waddled over to the shady spot and sat down to finish Albus' lemon ice.
She must have fallen asleep because the next thing she knew her cheeks were squashed between two wet, sticky mouths waking her with gentle kisses.
"Come on, Mummy, it's time to go home. You need a nap," pronounced James.
Ginny chuckled. "I agree with you. Have you had a good trip?" she asked.
"Yes, yes!" the boys cried. "Can we come again tomorrow?"
"I'm afraid not," Harry told them as he helped her up. "We're going to The Burrow tomorrow to see Grandpa and Grandma Weasley and all your uncles, aunts and cousins."
"Sweet!" James cried. "Is Teddy going to be there?"
"I think so," Ginny told him.
"Yippee!" the boys yelled and, as the family began the walk back to the Underground station, they chattered happily about what they wanted to do the next day.
When they reached Grimmauld Place, Ginny let out a tired sigh that made Harry stop and take her in his arms.
"Thank you for coming with us, Ginny," he said as he kissed her forehead. "I've had a wonderful day, but are you feeling all right?"
Ginny laid her head on Harry's chest, even though it was awkward with her belly sticking out between them. "I think you're going to be a father again very soon," she said tiredly.
Harry pulled back and looked at her with loving eyes. "Why don't I feed the boys and put them in bed while you take a hot bath? That seemed to help two years ago."
"I remember," Ginny said as she started up the stairs. "Thank you, Harry."
"I'll see you in a bit," he said.
The next day was Father's Day and, for the second day in a row, the weather was perfect for a day spent outdoors. Once again Ginny found herself stationed under a large umbrella where she could watch, keep track of the standings at the US Open for Harry who was hoping Tiger Woods would win, and still be part of the festivities.
Indeed, this was a special day. All five of Ginny's brothers had managed to get away from whatever kept them from coming to family gatherings. They'd brought their wives and children and The Burrow was a noisy, happy place, just the way Ginny remembered it from her childhood.
The day started with everyone helping to set up for the mid-day meal. True to form, her mother had a list of tasks that involved everyone, from the youngest child (helping the older children set the table), to all the wives (food preparation and child minding), to Ginny's father (policing the aerial table battles as Harry and Ginny's brothers turned the garden into a dining area). To Ginny's amusement, Victoire had been given the task of keeping Ginny busy doing nothing more strenuous than minding Percy's infant daughter, Lucy. The two of them talked about Hogwarts and brothers and sisters and needlepoint and the books they'd read while Lucy slept in her pram. At length, Harry came over to announce that they were ready to eat.
As he helped Ginny up from the chaise lounge she'd been reclining on, he asked, "Are you feeling all right?"
Ginny gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. "I've been better," she admitted, "but I'm having a good time and that's what counts."
Harry looked down at her with a very serious look in his green eyes. "You'll be sure to let me know if I can help in any way," he stated, sounding almost as if he were ordering her to do so.
"You know I will, darling," Ginny said. She slipped her hand into his and together they walked over to the tables where everyone was seated.
After the meal, which Ginny didn't eat much of, her mum waved her wand at the back door of the house and a long line of brightly wrapped gifts floated to a stop and settled at her feet.
"I know we've gathered together each June to celebrate Father's Day, but this year is special," she announced. "This is the first year in a long time that every one of my children has been able to come home to The Burrow at the same time and it makes me so happy that we can all share this day together.
"Now, will Teddy and Victoire please come help me distribute the Father's Day gifts?"
The two children scrambled out of their chairs and ran to help Grandma Molly. Soon the air was filled with flying paper scraps and exclamations of delight from all the fathers. Ginny smiled at Harry as he pulled a Muggle book bag from his box. On it was written "Daddy's Bag" and her mother had filled it with the sorts of things Harry would need when he took his three children out so that Ginny could have some time to herself.
One by one, Ginny's brothers called out their thanks and held up their gifts while Hermione looked at her watch.
"What's she doing that for?" Harry whispered in Ginny's ear.
"Poor Rose isn't going to get to play Quidditch with Ron until a full hour has passed after the meal," Ginny explained in equally hushed tones.
Harry's jaw dropped and he scowled at his best friend. "That's not fair," he exclaimed a little too loudly.
George heard him and asked, "What's not fair?"
"Hermione's not going to let Rose play Quidditch for another three-quarters of an hour," Harry told him.
"She'll miss the first half of the match," George said, shaking his head in disgust. He turned to Hermione. "How come Rose can't play Quidditch now?"
Scowling, Hermione stated, "She needs time to digest. I don't want her getting an upset stomach."
"She won't get sick, Hermione," Ron said as he joined the conversation. "You know she's flown at least a dozen times right after eating lunch or dinner."
Hermione glared at Ron. "Against my better judgment," she growled.
"Let her fly with us," Charlie called from the other end of the table. "The sides won't be even if she's not playing."
It took another few minutes for Hermione to agree to lift Rose's restriction and, with a happy yell, all the men and children sprinted toward the broom shed to find their brooms.
As Ginny watched the group troop down to the paddock, an arm settled around her waist and she looked over to see her mother standing by her side.
"Harry's a lucky man, Ginny," she said. "I haven't seen him look so happy or so terrified since Albus was born."
Ginny hugged her mum back. "You noticed that, too, huh? He thinks he hides it, but he doesn't, really. If you asked me what Harry would see when confronted with a Boggart, I'd tell you his head on his uncle's body."
Her mother shivered. "Oh, that's not a pleasant thought at all."
Ginny grimaced as her abdomen clenched.
"Contractions?" her mother asked.
"Yes. I've had them all day," Ginny answered. "They started about seven this morning."
"I thought so," her mum said, nodding. "Are you feeling all right otherwise?"
"I think so," Ginny replied, disengaging herself from her mum's embrace. "I think I'll go down to the paddock and watch the match. Walking helps me feel better."
"Go right ahead. It won't take me very long to get the dishes and left-overs taken care of."
Ginny started walking towards the paddock. "Thanks, Mum. You're the best," she called over her shoulder. "Do you want me to take some water and cups down with me?"
"Please. I'll get them," her mum said and, a moment later, a large covered bucket and a stack of paper cups floated out of the kitchen to where Ginny was waiting.
When she reached the paddock, the first match was in full swing. It was the "Kids verses the Dads" match and as Ginny leaned against a tree trunk, Victoire flew under her Uncle Ron's broom to dunk the Quaffle through the hoop. This brought groans from Ron and the other dads and excited cheers from the children.
The match continued until Teddy, who was playing Seeker for the children's team, spotted the Snitch and caught it before his Uncle Charlie even realized the little winged ball was even catchable.
"You beat me fair and square," Charlie complimented the boy as the players descended upon Ginny for cups of water. "I don't have a partner for the next match. Want to be my kid for a few minutes?"
Teddy beamed at Charlie. "You bet," he said as he grabbed a glass of water and gulped it down in two big gulps.
When the players were all back in the air, Ginny pulled out her camera and began taking pictures between contractions. It was fun to watch her brothers coaching their children and she had to laugh when little Albus lost his daddy in the scrum of bodies and brooms and came streaking out of the sky when he spotted Ginny by the water bucket.
"Mummy," he said, pointing, "have you wet your pants? You told me I'd have to stay in my room the next time I did that."
Ginny looked down and confirmed Albus' observation. "Go get your daddy, Al," she requested as a painful contraction wracked her body. The little boy ran into the middle of the paddock calling for his daddy.
When Harry reached her, Ginny was pacing between two trees, taking deep breaths to stay calm through the contraction.
"What is it, Ginny?" Harry asked. "The baby?"
"Yes, my water just broke," she answered. "This baby is coming fast. I don't think I can make it to St. Mungo's."
Harry's eyes widened as another contraction nearly doubled Ginny over. A moment later, Harry was barking orders to his brothers-in-law as he helped Ginny down the path that led to the house.
Things happened swiftly after that. Ginny's Healer met her at the kitchen door and whisked her up the stairs to her old bedroom. Harry followed them up and helped settle Ginny on the bed. Together, they answered the Healer's questions and then the three settled down to the business of bringing the newest Potter into the world.
At fifty-four minutes past six o'clock in the evening, Lily Luna Potter made her debut with a mighty wail.
"She's a right pretty lass, Ginny," the Healer commented as he cast his charms to ascertain her weight and length. "And a good set of lungs, too."
"Thank you," Harry breathed as Ginny released his hand. "Does she look like me or Ginny?"
The Healer smiled as he said, "She has ginger hair just like her mother, Harry. She'll have you wrapped around her little finger in no time, I predict."
Harry's eyes widened at this and Ginny chuckled softly. "Mum says Dad was smitten the first time he held me, so I doubt you'll be any different," Ginny told him.
"Then I'll count myself lucky that I have two beautiful women and two handsome boys in my life," Harry said, sounding rather humble as the Healer approached the bed with the baby swaddled in a blanket.
"Here you are, Mrs Potter," the Healer said, handing the tiny bundle to Ginny, "you know what to do."
Ginny smiled tiredly as she opened her nightdress and positioned little Lily on her abdomen. A moment later, with her father and grandparents watching, Lily began to nurse. Peaceful silence descended upon the room as every adult watched the new arrival partake of her first meal.
Harry reached up and caressed the top of Lily's head and then gently brushed a strand of hair out of Ginny's face. "My two beautiful girls," he whispered.
Ginny smiled at his besotted expression and looked down at their daughter. "I think she's done," she said. "Want to hold her, Daddy?"
As Harry took the baby from her and cradled her in his arms, a tear slowly slid down his nose. He brushed it away as he gazed at his daughter. Then, he tentatively traced a finger over her forehead and down her cheek to her tiny chin.
A sniffle caught Ginny's attention and she glanced over at her parents who were now huddled together near the bedroom window. It appeared that her father was restraining her mother to give Harry a few more moments with his new daughter. The sight made Ginny smile. She turned back to watch her husband who now had Lily's fist gripping his little finger. They look so precious together, she thought as her heart filled with joy.
Lily's eyes fluttered closed and she gave a tiny sigh as outside the window her brothers' and the children's shouts filled the evening air. It was as if she knew she had a family who loved her.
Ginny turned back to Harry, who reached down for her hand. Tiredly, she squeezed his fingers. "Happy Father's Day, Harry!"
A/N:Many thanks to my pre-beta, GhostWriter. I love working with you because you catch things I usually don't and then make them better! Also, best wishes for a speedy recover to Aggiebell, my beta, who read through this story while coping with an adult case of the chicken pox.
Beta Note: *coughs* Yeah. I had the chicken pox in June. I recovered fine, but I apparently left my brain somewhere while I was doing it, because posting this story for Arnel just completely slipped my mind until she reminded me… six months later. *hangs head in shame*