Harry Potter awoke with a start. He caught himself just as he was about to bolt out of bed, and instead forced himself to remain calm and to move Ginny's arm aside gently and to slip out of their bed as quietly as possible, so as not to disturb his wife. He grabbed his glasses and dressing gown and shoved his feet into his slippers as he hurtled through the bedroom door and across the hall. “Shhhh, Hope. It’s okay. Daddy’s here,” he whispered as he entered the other bedroom. He hurried to her cot and found her sitting up, holding onto her blanket and wailing loudly. He gently picked her up and carried her down the hall toward the stairs, but remembered to point his wand back over his shoulder, quickly casting a silencing charm at his bedroom door, so that Ginny could sleep in peace.
He yawned sleepily as he cuddled his daughter and went into the kitchen to get her a bottle. “I’m sorry your teeth are bothering you, sweetheart. I know you don’t feel well,” he murmured to Hope, who was now snuggled against his neck, but still whimpering. “Too bad Mummy always misses out on being with you in the middle of the night,” he whispered, kissing her cheek as he reached into the refrigerator for a bottle, and then waved his wand at it to warm it properly.
He carried Hope into the living room and couldn’t help groaning inwardly as he sank onto the sofa with her and gave her the bottle, cuddling her to him as he did so. He rested his cheek lightly against her head, loving the feel and the scent of her, and again savoring her very existence. But even the most devoted parent had to sleep at some point… and Harry had been getting up repeatedly with Hope for the past couple of weeks. She was teething again and wasn’t sleeping through the night most of the time now, and he could have sworn that it was tiring him out more now than it did when she was first born. And so… as Hope gradually drifted off to sleep as she finished her bottle… her adoring daddy also drifted into dreamland, with Hope sleeping contentedly on his chest.
Ginny awoke several hours later and reached for Harry only to realize abruptly that he most obviously wasn’t there. She sat up and looked at the clock. Only a little after six… he must be up with Hope, she reckoned. She grabbed her own dressing gown and went to find them. As she opened the door, she realized that he must have cast a silencing spell again, since she couldn’t hear a sound. She quickly terminated it, smiling a bit to herself as she did so. Harry was trying so hard to let her sleep well so that she could keep up with all the extra work she was doing at school.
She headed toward the kitchen, but then stopped as she spotted them both asleep on the sofa. She smiled at the sight, then quietly went and pulled a blanket over them, and headed into the kitchen to make breakfast. She’d just started cooking the eggs when she heard a strangled cry from the living room. She quickly set the pan off the burner and rushed to the doorway. Harry was sitting up, staring groggily at Hope, but his expression was priceless. There was a large wet spot now on the front of his pajama top, and Hope was looking a bit grumpy, but definitely awake. Ginny giggled, and Harry glanced up at her, appearing every bit as grumpy as Hope. Ginny laughed outright at his expression. “I’m sorry, dear. Want some help?”
“No thanks. I’m fine,” Harry grumbled, trying to hold onto Hope without holding her against him again. Hope was wiggling and starting to fuss. “I’ll just go get her changed,” Harry muttered, heading toward the bedrooms.
Ginny giggled again. “I don’t think she’s the only one who needs changing.” Harry shot her another disgruntled look, and didn’t answer. Ginny went back to the kitchen, still giggling as she went back to cooking breakfast.
Harry reappeared a few minutes later with Hope, both dressed and with Hope, at least, looking decidedly happier. “G’morning. Feeling better?” Ginny grinned as he entered. Harry shrugged a bit as he slid Hope into her high chair.
“Drier, at least,” he answered, as he turned to the cupboard to locate Hope’s breakfast.
“Hey, Grumpy. Don’t I even get a good morning kiss?” Ginny teased. Harry stopped in mid-reach and turned to her, grinning sheepishly.
“Sorry. Guess I’m not awake yet,” he grinned again as she slid her arms around him. He kissed her warmly, then hugged her. “That’s a much nicer way to wake up,” he said softly, stroking her face gently with one hand. She smiled at him.
“The other way may have not been as pleasant, but it was pretty funny,” she teased.
Harry snorted. “Easy for you to say. You weren’t the one – ” he was interrupted by a loud squeal from Hope, who’d managed to grab a piece of toast from the table and was waving it merrily in the air. “At least she’s happy about being awake,” he finished and couldn’t help but smile despite himself. He turned to their daughter. “Right, sweetheart?” Hope grinned at him delightedly and then chomped down on the toast. “I guess I’d better get her breakfast before she gets unhappy,” he said quietly, but didn’t take his arms from around Ginny’s waist. “But I still love waking up with you,” he added, leaning in for another kiss.
She smiled at him and whispered against his lips, “You’d better, Mr. Potter.”
She kissed him and then he whispered, “I love you, Mrs. Potter.”
“I love you, too.” Hope squealed again, and Harry just managed to tear his gaze away from Ginny long enough to see Hope reaching for the jam jar. “No!” he said quickly, trying to distract her. Hope looked back at him but not soon enough… crash!
“Ohhh…” Harry groaned, reaching for his wand, but Ginny stopped him.
“Nevermind, Harry. I’ll do it. You eat.”
“No, Gin. You’ve got to get ready for school. I’ll do it,” Harry argued, a bit louder than usual. She glanced at him, pouting a bit. “Sorry,” he muttered, grabbing a cloth and trying to wipe up the jam that Hope had smeared on her face as well. She wiggled and fussed. “I’m sorry, darling, but we’ve got to get that off of you,” he murmured to her. After he’d cleaned her up a bit, he waved his wand to clean up the rest of the kitchen. Most of the jam disappeared, but he had to do the charm more than once to get the last of the stains off the cupboards.
Ginny watched him out of the corner of her eye as she started to eat her own breakfast. Harry finished with the jam, then wordlessly got out Hope’s cereal and fruit. He warmed it slightly, then turned toward the table at last. Harry sighed and started feeding Hope her cereal. She happily cooperated, as Harry grinned at her and talked to her while she ate. Ginny was smiling quietly at the two of them as she sipped her tea. After a few more minutes of watching Harry being wound around their daughter’s tiny fingers, Ginny sighed quietly and stood to put her dishes in the sink. Harry glanced at her. “Gin? When do you think you’ll be home this evening?” She shook her head at him.
“I’m not certain. I’ve got loads of things I need to check on in the library after classes are over.” She shook her head again. “I wish I didn’t have to, but…” He stood up quickly and silenced her with a kiss.
“I know, Gin. I wish you didn’t have to work so hard on everything. I’m so proud of you for getting to do all this advanced work, but I miss you, too. And I know Hope does, too.” He wrapped his arms around her again.
“I miss being with the two of you so much! I just want to be home with you and play with Hope and enjoy our family!” She snuggled against his shoulder, squeezing him more tightly.
Harry kissed the top of her head. “I know, Gin. Me, too.” She sighed again, then kissed him.
“I hate to, but I suppose I’d best get dressed and get to school.” He nodded as she stepped away from him, and he turned back to finish feeding Hope. He watched Ginny disappear toward the bedroom, then glanced back at Hope.
“Oh, Hope…” he groaned, and reached for the wet cloth again, sighing as he pulled her hand out of the cereal bowl and started cleaning her off again.
Ginny dressed quickly, kissed Harry and Hope goodbye, then hurried away to Hogwarts. Harry sighed again as she disappeared, and Hope wiggled in his arms. He glanced down at her, and smiled as she reached for his glasses. “No, no you don’t!” he laughed, pulling her away. She laughed, and he raised her up above his face, laughing at her expression. “You’ve got too much of your uncles in you!” he laughed as she squealed in delight. He kissed her again, then put her back in the high chair with some toys in easy reach while he tried to get the rest of the kitchen cleaned up.
It wasn’t as easy as it should have been, though, because he had to keep turning around and handing Hope whatever toy she’d just dropped. Hope, of course, thought this “game” was great fun, and kept dropping more toys for Daddy to pick up. And if Harry tried to ignore her, she fussed. Harry wasn’t certain which was worse: her fussing, or him having to pick up the toys. Eventually, he settled for putting most of the dishes in the sink and just cleaning up the stove and cupboards for now, and planned to wash up the dishes when Hope took a nap. He sighed. He couldn’t help but wonder why it was that he could conjure up a great Patronus, but he couldn’t manage to clean a kitchen and tend to a baby at the same time. He wondered how in the world Molly Weasley appeared to still be sane after having raised seven children. Then he couldn’t help but grin in spite of himself – Especially those seven kids!
He shook his head at himself as he lifted Hope from the high chair. He carried her into the living room and set her in her playpen. “Sweetheart, you’re going to have to play a bit while Daddy gets the laundry started. If I don’t, none of us are going to presentable!” He gave her some of her favorite toys and books, and then hurried out of the room before she could get upset with him. Harry quickly gathered up the laundry, noticing how ironic it was that Hope had more laundry than he and Ginny combined, even though her clothes were so much smaller than theirs. H