There was no denying it. The boy was his father's son. But this story is told through his mother's eyes…
Ginny tried to position her head so that she could get a good look at the small, sleeping form she held in her arms. Her baby's penchant for sleeping in strange positions had made this task slightly difficult, however. He was burrowed into her right underarm, completely hiding his face from view, but not disguising the fact that his three-and-a-half-month-old head was covered in a mass of unruly, jet-black locks. It made her recall the first words uttered by her Obstewizard in the delivery room at St. Mungo's on the day James Sirius Potter was born.
"Would you look at the hair on that baby's noggin? What a mop!"
Ginny recalled thinking that, if it weren't for Harry's elation at becoming a father, he would have sent the mediwizard straight to the Spell Damage ward with a good hex. And so it continued to be the first comment everyone made upon meeting James Sirius Potter. An observation about the hair, followed by the remark of how much he resembled his father…and, as some pointed out, his grandfather (and namesake).
Baby James was quite the spitting image of Harry. Ginny had made comparisons to Harry's own baby photos when they brought James home from the hospital. The only truly noticeable difference – and it was the same between Harry and his own father – was in their eye colour. Harry's eyes were a dazzling green, like his mother Lily, whereas baby James had beautiful blue eyes, like his maternal grandmother, Molly.
"They'll change," assured the witch who was the nurse on duty after the baby was born. "All babies are born with blue eyes, but they change soon enough."
But the witch was wrong. It was almost four months later and James' eyes were still as blue as ever.
Little James shifted in Ginny's arms. His tiny body had budged further down Ginny's torso, and he was now practically balancing halfway on her belly and halfway on her leg. Ginny didn't let herself get too comfortable with his new position – she knew her son far too well to think he was finished squirming. With a push-off with both little feet, he positioned himself higher up, until his right ear was over his mother's heartbeat. He let out a contented sigh and Ginny reckoned she was safe to relax. She leaned her head to the side of the rocking chair and nodded off.
A few moments later, Ginny's eyes opened as she heard the nursery door creak ajar. She would have gestured for the person entering the room to do so quietly, but both arms were currently out of commission.
Harry took a few steps towards the rocking chair and held out his arms. He whispered, "Let me move him to the cot…you look uncomfortable."
"I'm not," Ginny said in an assuring whisper. "But I am a little thirsty," she added.
Harry was gone and back again in what seemed like an instant, holding a bottle of iced Butterbeer in one hand and a straw in the other. He placed the straw into the bottle and held them both to Ginny's lips so that she could take a few swigs.
"Mmm," she said in an undertone after she swallowed the drink. During her pregnancy, Ginny had developed a fondness for drinking the normally warm concoction frozen – and her liking for it had not diminished one bit after the baby was born.
"Your arms are turning purple," Harry said in a soft voice after setting the Butterbeer bottle down on the corner of the changing table next to a stack of clean nappies. "Let me take him to his cot…you can't sit with him like this all night."
The fact that Ginny could no longer feel from her elbows down convinced her to hand James over to Harry. She sat in the rocking chair, while Harry carefully laid James on his back on top of the lion-cub patterned sheet that covered the cotmattress. Ginny slowly began to move her fingers as they tingled with the sensation of feeling coming back to them.
Ginny watched as Harry stood over the cot for a moment, observing that James was not going to open his eyes or wriggle uncomfortably away from his parents' arms. When the baby remained still, Harry took his wand from his back pocket and pointed it at the lamp that sat upon the chest of drawers.
"Nox," he whispered, then tiptoed over to the rocking chair. He held out a hand for Ginny and led her to the nursery door.
"G'night, sweet little boy," she whispered as they departed. "Sleep tight."
A week later and Ginny was planning James' first Easter festivities.
"We leave for Grandmum's and Granddad's following breakfast tomorrow…after we see what goodies you'll have to open first thing in the morning, that is!" Ginny said all of this to little James as she bounced him up and down in her arms – he was never completely content unless he was moving. Harry always joked that it was because he was anticipating his first broomstick ride. Ginny always joked that it was because, while she was pregnant, she was constantly dashing to kneel in front of the toilet.
"I wonder when Daddy'll be home from work," commented Ginny, more to herself than to James, as she bobbed him in front of the kitchen window so that he could see the neighbour's cat chasing a gnome out of their garden.
Harry Apparated home from Auror Headquarters a half-hour later and found his wife and son in a familiar position. Ginny was sitting in an overstuffed armchair in the living room with James nestled on her chest – Ginny's arms, which were supporting the baby, had turned an unnatural shade of plum from lack of circulation.
"I'm going to have to figure out a way to charm the mattress of his bed into sounding as if it has a heartbeat," said Harry as he returned from the nursery where he laid James down for the remainder of the nap. "Otherwise he'll soon have a mum with no arms."
Ginny got up from the chair, walked over to Harry, and wrapped her numb arms around her husband. She kissed him gently on the end of his nose. "We can't have that," she said tenderly. "There are too many things I'd miss doing without them."
"Like holding your handsome son?" Harry inquired.
"Yes," said Ginny, squeezing Harry tightly. "And like holding his handsome father."
Harry leaned his head in and softly brushed his mouth over hers.
"You're distracting me," Ginny murmured after a moment.
"My apologies," said Harry insincerely as he went to kiss her again.
Ginny giggled. Sometimes he could make her feel like she was sixteen again and newly in love.
She raised a hand andbrushed away a stray bit of his fringe that was covering a portion of his glasses. "I wanted to show you what I've got for James' basket tomorrow," she said with a grin. Ginny had gone to great lengths to make sure her son's first Easter would be memorable…in any case, if not for James (he was, after all, still an infant), then memorable for his parents.
Ginny scurried over to a closet in the hallway and returned with a large basket, a bulging paper sack, and a menagerie of stuffed toys. Harry grinned broadly as he stared at the excess of holiday paraphernalia his wife was strewing across the living room rug. As Ginny set the swollen sack down next to a stuffed lion, the word Honeydukes became visible.
Harry laughed aloud and said, "Don't tell me Honeydukes has a new line of sweets for babies?"
Ginny looked sheepish. "Well…no…that stuff's more for us than for James."
Harry laughed again as he peered inside the bag. He took out a large chocolate egg wrapped in pastel-coloured foil. "Ahh, the memories this brings back," he said with a wistful look in his eyes.
Ginny nodded. "I think I still have an impression in the back of the head from where my copy of the Standard Book of Spells, Grade 4 struck me."
"Good old Madam Pince," said Harry. "No one can ever accuse her of having poor aim."
Harry picked up an armful of the stuffed toys and looked at Ginny curiously. "Couldn't decide on just one?"
Ginny got the sheepish look back again. "Well…initially, I got the conventional stuffed rabbit…" She showed Harry a toy rabbit, whose fur was a blend of every springtime-colour imaginable. "But that seemed a bit cliché, so then I picked up this adorable lion…" She squeezed the lion's tummy and it emitted a soft roar. Harry grinned. "But when I saw the sweet little owl, I was reminded of Pigwidgeon…and the cute ginger kitten made me think of Crookshanks…"
Harry's grin dissolved into a puzzled expression. He held up the stuffed cat and said, in a grave tone, "But this cat is cute…Crookshanks, on the other hand, is anything but." His expression went jovial again and he chortled.
Ginny snatched the cat from him and smacked him playfully in the ribs with it. "If you bribe me enough, I may resist the urge to mention that to Hermione!"
"And what about this?" Harry asked, ignoring the comment about Hermione, and picking up what appeared to be some sort of technicoloured sea creature. "What possessed you to buy this…er…what would you call this?" It seemed as if he was having trouble deciding on a name to give the toy he was presently holding.
"I'm not sure exactly what it is myself," admitted Ginny. "But it reminded me of the giant squid." She looked at Harry for some sign that he concurred. When she didn't get one, she went on to say, "At any rate, it's completely submersible and it actually propels itself when placed in the water…James'll have loads of fun with it once he's able to sit up in the bathtub."
"That he will," Harry said earnestly, pulling Ginny into a hug. "And in the morning, he'll have the finest Easter basket a baby could ever wish for."
At the crack of dawn, Ginny went to James' crib to find him gurgling and cooing, kicking his feet and arms in the air and gazing cheerfully up at the Quidditch-themed mobile that hung above him. As Ginny lifted him up, his fingers grazed the soft toy Snitch on one of the mobile arms and he let out a sound of pure delight.
"Getting quite the early start, aren't you my wee little Seeker?" she said in a sing-song voice she reserved just for him. "First things first, though…"
Ginny laid him down on the changing table and grabbed a clean nappy.
When he was changed and dressed in his Easter finery (a sweet little light-blue, seersucker outfit from Baby Gladrags), Ginny brought James into the living room for a first glimpse at his plunder. Harry sat beside the overflowing basket and called out to them both, "Happy Easter!"
James let out a string of blissful sounds that were comprehensible only to him…the gist of which both Ginny and Harry gathered to mean that he was well pleased with the bright basket of goodies.
Ginny could have sat with James and Harry all day long, as James laughed at the sound of the lion's roar and tugged on the ginger kitty's tail…but she knew Mum would be expecting them soon. And since the Wizarding World didn't offer travel techniques that were baby-safe, they'd have to resort to slower methods of Muggle travel to get to the Burrow. Which meant that they were already running late.
"I'm skipping breakfast," Ginny informed Harry. "I'll go ahead and feed James, then hop in the shower, get dressed…and we may make it before Mum sets out afters!"
She scooped James into her arms and whisked him into the nursery. She emerged a half hour later and gave the baby to his father, then hurried into the bathroom for the world's quickest shower (which was quite a feat…her showers were never long to begin with since James was born). Afterwards, she toweled off, charmed her hair to look halfway decent, and slipped into a brand-new gauzy blue dress that unintentionally coordinated with the baby's new outfit. She slipped on a pair of sandals before dashing into the living room to find Harry and James ready to travel.
"You look remarkable," Harry said, smiling.
Ginny grimaced a bit, but said, "Thank you…I wasn't sure of this dress at all, you know…my figure isn't what it used to be."
"Looks fine from where I'm standing," said Harry, with a sly expression.
"Carry on like that and I may just keep you," Ginny said playfully, kissing him on the cheek and taking James from him. "Now let's load up the car and hit the road…Mum'll have a fit if we're late."
Despite their attempt to get to the Burrow on time, they were still behind schedule, but all was forgiven when Molly Weasley laid eyes on her grandson.
"Oh, my…isn't this the sweetest baby you've seen in all your life?" Mrs. Weasley rushed across the garden and relieved Harry of James. Ginny emerged from the car holding a satchel-full of baby items. Her mother didn't seem to notice Ginny at all as she showered James with kisses. "Isn't he the handsomest…isn't he the most precious…isn't he…?" She continued on in a similar vein as she toted him back into the house to show off the rest of the Weasley family.
Ginny sighed and looked at Harry. "And I was worried about what I was wearing?" She laughed, though rather mirthlessly. "I don't know why I bother…no one ever sees me when the baby is around!"
"That's not true," Harry said, taking her hand and squeezing it.
"Ah, well," said Ginny, quickly getting over her momentary lapse into self-pity. "I wouldn't have it any other way…let's go in before everyone starts to worry."
Harry laughed. "You think anyone actually noticed we're not in there with the baby yet?"
Ginny winked and said, "Wasn't that my point before? But I'm sure someone's bound to realize we're about…James is too young yet to have Apparated here alone!"
They both entered the house laughing heartily. But soon their merriment turned to mild distress as a gaggle of little people intercepted them at the door.
"Aunt Ginny! Uncle Harry!" A chorus of small – but very shrill – voices greeted them. Two identical redheaded girls and a smaller dark-haired boy skipped out of the small kitchen and nearly trampled down several adults to get to them. They threw outstretched arms around both Ginny's and Harry's legs and chorused repeatedly, in screeching voices, "Happy Easter! Happy Easter! Happy Easter!"
"I told Angelina to lay off the chocolate, but would she listen?"
Ginny heard her brother Fred's voice above the commotion of the children, and she looked up from where they were squeezing her to see him grinning broadly at the scene.
"I can't account for the girls…you'll have to ask George what he gave them…but Angelina gave Artie at least two dozen chocolate eggs this morning. It's a wonder the kid hasn't slipped into a diabetic coma."
"He had two chocolate eggs this morning, dear," said a firm voice from behind Fred. "But I noticed quite a few Twitchy-Toffee wrappers on the kitchen floor after breakfast…care to explain that?"
"Er…Angie…darling…" Fred was stammering while trying to come up with a plausible excuse. "I dunno where he'd have gotten those…they were test-market items…"
"If you've been testing products on my son…"
"Our son, dear…"
Ginny and Harry shook Artie and the twin girls loose and left Fred and Angelina to their discussion, only to find Alicia (George's wife) cornering George in order to find out what he gave their children that morning for breakfast.
"Mental note," Harry whispered to Ginny. "Never leave James alone with your brothers."
"At least not those brothers," Ginny agreed, laughing.
They tried to make their way over to where Mrs. Weasley was bouncing James upon her knee in the living room, but were again intercepted.
"Happy Easter, Harry… and Ginny!" Ron flung his arms out and hugged both Harry and Ginny together, knocking their heads together in the process.
"Oof…Hermione!" Ginny called desperately. "Come get your husband!"
Hermione laughed and tugged Ron backwards. "He's just overexcited today…you'll have to forgive him." She gave Harry and Ginny each more civilized, individual hugs.
"What're you so excited about?" Harry queried, but was interrupted by greetings from Bill and his wife, Fleur; Percy and his wife, Penny; followed by a hearty welcome from Charlie; and finally a hello from Arthur.
"Don't know if we can pry little James from Molly's clutches," said Mr. Weasley, "but we'll never eat if I we don't try." He winked at Harry and Ginny and led them over to the sofa, where Molly was singing a boisterous medley of nursery tunes to her grandson.
"Time to get this lad back to his parents, Molly," said Mr. Weasley.
"Oooh, no," crooned Mrs. Weasley fretfully. "Jamsie and I are having too much fun…aren't we my wee little Tadpole?"
James giggled with delight.
Ginny was trying not to cringe. "Jamsie" and "Tadpole" were only a couple of the silly nicknames her mother had come up with for the baby. At first it was endearing, but now she thought it was just downright silly…after all, James was at risk to grow up thinking his name was actually "Squirt" or "Mr. Shortpants." The poor child could be affected for life…
"Have it your way," Mr. Weasley said to his wife. "I'll just take it upon myself to finish cooking then…"
That did the trick.
Molly Weasley promptly handed her grandson over to her daughter and said to her husband, "Oh, no you don't, Arthur Weasley! I'll not have this whole family in St. Mungo's as a result of your abysmal cooking…you stay away from my cooker!"
She hastened into the kitchen, muttering about food poisoning as she went.
"Works like a charm every time," said Mr. Weasley, in an undertone and with a wink.
Ginny was thankful for her father's efforts in getting her mother to finish the meal when she laid eyes on the enormous spread a short time later.
The meal was set upon floral tablecloth-covered tables in the garden, and everyone agreed as they sat down to partake of it – Molly had quite outdone herself with this feast. The meat dishes of lamb, ham, veal and pork sat surrounded by bowls of cheese and herb dumplings, mushy peas and celery baked in cream. Hot-Cross buns were stacked in a basket, encircled by a vast array of other baked goods, including Easter biscuits (made from spicy fruits and a generous amount of Brandy), cakes, scones and many puffed pastries. And this was not even to mention the sweets and desserts which sat displayed upon their very own table – butterscotch and truffles; fudge drops and treacle nut toffee; flan and custard; trifle and clotted cream.
Ginny was so hungry, she took a bit of everything. Harry was patient and held James as she wolfed down her meal. He bounced James on his knee, making sure to keep the baby's curious little fingers away from his cup of pumpkin juice.
"Mum," Ginny managed to say after she'd chewed up a large bite of dumpling. "This is wonderful!"
Everyone agreed, and Mrs. Weasley blushed to match the crimson Easter egg her husband was handing her.
"Time for a time-honoured, Weasley Family tradition," announced Mr. Weasley as he handed everyone a dyed Easter egg.
"Egg knocking! Egg knocking!" chanted Beatrice and Bianca (George's twin daughters), who had apparently not come down from their Twitchy-Toffee high yet.
"Yes," said Mr. Weasley, handing each of the girls their own dyed egg. "As my granddaughters were so keen to point out…it is time for a round of Egg Knocking…winner is the one whose egg stays intact…"
"Loser cleans up the mess!" announced Fred.
"What mess?" said Percy indignantly. "Mum hard-boiled the eggs."
"I wouldn't be so sure about that," George whispered in Ginny's ear.
Ginny looked at her own yellow-dyed egg suspiciously.
"Don't worry, little sis," assured George. "Only special people got our special eggs." He shot a scheming look in Percy's direction. "Hope Penny's dress isn't Dry-Charm Only…"
Ginny gave a wide-eyed look at Harry and said, "Some things never change!"
Penny's dress (thankfully) was not Dry-Charm Only; Hermione knew a spell involving club soda that cleaned it right up. After an old-fashioned scolding for Fred and George from Mrs. Weasley, the family made their way to the grassy slope a ways behind the house and lined up at the top for egg-rolling festivities.
Percy and Penny sat this amusement out; Ginny suspected it was because of their fear of more raw eggs, though Percy assured everyone it was because they were too full from the meal to run down a hill after an egg.
Ginny sat out as well, more of a mind to sit with James and allow him to watch the fun than to participate.
Arthur and Molly stood at the base of the slope, acting as referees.
"On the count of three," shouted Mr. Weasley. "One…two…three…go!"
A barrage of coloured eggs came careening down the slope like an army of rainbow orbs, all coming to rest at the feet of Arthur and Molly. James laughed merrily.
"And we have a winner!" announced Mrs. Weasley with satisfaction.
Fred came bounding down the slope towards his mother, skilfully avoiding the cluster of eggs and looking at her with a glint of pride in his eyes.
"And it's not you," said Mrs. Weasley, scowling at her son.
"What?" said Fred, astonished. "My egg got down first!"
"You know the rules…no magic…and we could all hear you say Mobiliovum after your father said go!" No one was denying this accusation, not even Fred. "Your son is the winner," Mrs. Weasley pronounced.
Artie beamed as his Grandmum handed him a gigantic chocolate Easter egg.
But the day's crowning moment had to have been when Ron and Hermione finally announced the reason for Ron's (and Hermione's, at that) excitement…sometime around Christmas, Ron declared proudly, Hermione would be making an addition to the Weasley clan.
"Oh…bless you, both!" Mrs. Weasley had said with tears in her eyes.
Ginny beamed as she hugged both Ron and Hermione. "With any luck," she told them, "James and his new cousin will be celebrating birthdays on the same day!" James' birthday was just two days before Christmas.
Harry clasped Ron around the shoulder, "If you ever need practice changing nappies, I have a volunteer willing to assist you." He gestured to James, who was being doted over by his Aunt Fleur at the moment. As if on cue, James gurgled at his Uncle Ron.
"Thanks, mate," Ron responded, an inebriated sort of look crossing his face.
"I have some clothes you'll need in a few months," said Ginny, gesturing to Hermione's still-flat tummy.
Hermione beamed. "I'm so excited," she said to Ginny. "I see you and Harry with James, and I think Ron and I are in for the time of our lives."
Ginny couldn't help but agree.
As the sun began to set on what had been an eventful – yet very pleasurable – day, Ginny and Harry began to gather their things for the trip home. James yawned and rubbed his eyes as his grandparents kissed him goodbye.
"We had a fantastic time, Mum," Ginny told Mrs. Weasley as she took James back. He whimpered a bit and snuggled into the curvature of his mother's arms, utterly exhausted after the day's events. "Thank you for making James' first Easter so wonderful."
"Oh, for that little bundle of joy…it was my pleasure," replied Mrs. Weasley, bending over to kiss the top of his downy head.
Ginny thought, as Harry pulled the car away from the Burrow, that "bundle of joy" was one pet name that she and her mother could definitely agree on. She closed her eyes after she'd observed that James was asleep in his baby seat, and drifted off into dreams of how her "bundle of joy" was the joy of her life.
Author's Note: I couldn't have written this chapter about Baby James Potter without the inspiration given me from my sister and her own sweet baby boy. A great portion of Ginny and James are taken from them. I thank them both for being such special influences in my life!
And a side-note…the names of George and Alicia's twin daughters were plenty challenging to come up with! I had it "narrowed" down to seven choices, but finally decided to go with Beatrice and Bianca. Their names come from Shakespeare plays – Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing and Bianca from The Taming of the Shrew. I was sad to see some of the other names turned down, but who knows when I'll need more female names? ;-)
I hope everyone enjoyed the first installment of this piece. Stay tuned for more chapters from the life of James Sirius Potter, as seen though his mum's eyes!