The smell of St. Mungo’s always reminded Harry of the war. Over the years he’d come here to visit many friends, some of whom were still here because of the lingering effects of attacks by Death Eaters. He knew what to expect when he walked in the door -- from the staff and visitors, and mainly from himself. Once he had learned that the flood of memories would hit him, he was better prepared to deal with their onslaught. Now he knew he would only have to pause momentarily at the door, gain control of his emotions, and head to the front desk
“Mr. Potter,” the mediwitch greeted him cheerfully, after a quick glance towards his scar. “We aren’t expecting you for at least a couple of weeks yet, but I suppose babies come at their own time, don’t you?”
Harry smiled. He had encountered this woman before and knew her to be quick, cheerful, and knowledgeable about everyone in the hospital and his or her personal business. “No, I’m not here about Ginny, and I hope we’ve got at least a couple weeks yet, but don’t tell Ginny I said that.”
“Tired of being pregnant, is she?” The mediwitch closed one of the files she’d been studying, waved her hand, and it obligingly disappeared. “What I can I do for you then, Mr. Potter?”
Harry walked forward and rested his elbows on the counter. “I need to know about a woman you’ve been treating here. I’ve been told she has, um… shock, I think is what Remus said. Kathleen….”
“…Bobertruss,” the mediwitch finished absently, waving her hand over a shelf. “Ah, yes, there she is.” Twisting the file around, she turned the information towards Harry. “Normally we can’t do this, you know, but since you’re Harry Potter, and she’s got no living relatives, I figure it’s okay.”
Harry studied the picture of the serious brunette woman carefully. “What does ‘shock’ mean, exactly? If I bring Ginny here to see her will she aggravate Ginny’s condition?”
“Do you mean will it send her into premature labor? I don’t know that there’s much in this world that could get your wife that upset, Mr. Potter,” the mediwitch said. “Seems to me that she’s a real rock.”
Harry smiled. “Oh, she is. I… ever since she…Well, in any case, I thought it might be best to ask.”
The mediwitch grinned. “Mr. Potter, that’s very sweet of you. It occurs to me that Mrs. Potter is a very lucky woman.”
Harry blushed down to his collar. “I, um. I’ll let her know you said that. But, um… Mrs. Bobertruss?”
“Miss,” the mediwitch corrected, closing the file. “She’s, well, she’s not fine, but she does better than some of our patients. There’s a strange effect the Cruciatus Curse has on some of its victims. Most times she’s fine, but I would recommend you get here before the sun sets. You won’t get anything out of her after the sun sets. For her, every night is 1980.”
Harry blinked. “I guess we’ll come in the late morning, then.”
The mediwitch nodded. “That would be best. She’s a bit strange, you know. Sleep deprivation. We do our best to make sure she sleeps, but lately she’s been nearly uncontrollable at night.” The mediwitch shuddered a bit. “I guess there’s something in the air.”
Chills danced down Harry’s spine. “I suppose so.”
Ginny was bored. Although Harry had managed to go nearly the full length of the pregnancy without turning into a mother hen, something about the strange events of the last week had made him nearly unbearable. Understandably so, she thought in her more sane moments, but she was fat and hot and unable to focus on anything for more than a few minutes at a time. The end of her pregnancy seemed miles away.
A knock on the door had her sighing, rising to her feet and waddling her way to the front of the house. When she opened the door, the sight of Molly Weasley had her throwing her arms open. “Mum!”
“Ginny,” Molly returned just as enthusiastically, giving her daughter a squeeze about the shoulders, since she could no longer fit her arms around her stomach. “How have you been, dear?”
“Fat, irritable, hot,” Ginny responded, though she was smiling now. “Thank you for coming. I probably would have driven myself completely loony if you hadn’t shown up.”
Molly smiled. “I remember the feeling quite well. I thought I’d pop in, maybe make you some lunch, and have a nice visit. I spoke with Hermione earlier and she said she’d try to make it as well.”
A grin overtook Ginny’s whole face, and she finally smiled with her eyes. “That’s wonderful! Harry’s out of the house. He wanted to run some errands, and then Dad wanted his opinion about something at the Ministry, so it will be just us girls. Come on in, Mum.”
As she gestured inside, a soft pop announced Hermione’s presence. “Seems I got here just in time,” Hermione said with a bright smile.
“Mum says she’s making lunch. I would say that’s just in time,” Ginny said with a grin. After the two women had exchanged a warm hug, Ginny pulled away. “Is today your day off?”
Hermione nodded. “I had a doctor’s appointment today so Ron and I both skived off. We thought I might…”
Ginny gripped her friend’s arm. “Good news?”
A soft smile overtook Hermione’s face. “In about seven months, I’ll be a mum, too.”
Ginny was unable to help herself. She squealed, hugging Hermione again. “Oh, this is wonderful! I needed some happy thoughts. Ron must be over the moon.”
“Oh, he is. He’s gone off to try and catch Harry for some lunch in that pub in Diagon Alley that they both like.”
“Good!” Ginny stepped back. “Come in, Hermione. Mum is going to want to fuss over you and I’m going to want to hear all the details.”
As Molly bustled about in the kitchen, refusing help from Ginny or Hermione, the conversation revolved around babies, soft materials and colors, and what sort of pram Hermione would like to get. Of course, she would have liked to have done all of her research before she actually got pregnant, but nature had decided otherwise.
“And how are you doing, Ginny?” Molly asked after they had given their opinions on all the options. “Still having those dreams you told me about?”
Hermione turned to look at Ginny, raising an eyebrow. “You’ve been having nightmares?”
“Not exactly. There’s nothing about them that’s inherently frightening,” Ginny said, taking the plate of salad Molly handed her.
“They’re all of Lily Potter,” Molly supplied. “Scenes from her daily life.”
Hermione tapped her fingers on the counter. “That seems at least explainable. You and Harry… I suppose there are a lot of parallels to James and Lily. You were both targeted by Voldemort, defeated him through love….”
“Yes,” Ginny muttered, “but these are so real. It feels like Lily’s trying to communicate with me.”
Hermione, ever suspicious of anything not easily explained, tapped her fork against her salad plate. “Do you feel like she’s trying to warn you?”
Ginny shrugged. “I don’t know. I’m confused right now, but I’m learning so much about Lily – and James. I wish I knew what the ultimate purpose was.”
Hermione nodded. “I can see that. I’ve done some interesting reading on dream communication in the past. I can revisit some of the theories, if you’d like.”
Ginny smiled. Of course Hermione had done some reading on something like this before. She always had. “Yes, please. At this point, I’ll take any advice, any theory you’ve got.”
“Are the dreams every night? I mean, have you been able to get some rest?”
Rubbing her arms, Ginny sighed. “They never last long. Harry always wakes me up, and eventually I go back to sleep. I’ve been getting all the rest I need. I haven’t been doing anything strenuous -- at the request of the mediwitch.”
Nodding, Hermione took Ginny’s hand. “I know dreams can be disturbing.”
“Luckily, I happen to be married to a man who knows more about recovering from visions in dreams than anyone has a right to.”
Clucking her tongue, Molly laid her hand on top of the other two women’s. “I’m sure we’ll be able to work this out, dear, but things such as this, I have learned, often have a way of presenting their purpose themselves.”
At that thought they all resumed eating, and the conversation turned to other, more pleasant, things.
Harry was snoring gently next to her, his hand resting on top of her belly when she slid into unconsciousness. When she slid into the dream…
“James,” Lily whispered, kissing his cheek. “It’s time to wake up.”
“I don’t want to,” James whispered back, curving a hand around the nape of her neck.
Giggling, Lily laid herself on top of James’s chest, burying her hand in his hair. “I think we’ll have one very upset baby if we don’t get up and change him sometime. And, my love, it is your turn to do so. I feed him; you have to do the clean-up work.”
Opening his eyes and gazing up blearily at his wife, James sighed. “I can’t very well change him at the moment. You know I can only think of one thing at a time, and while you’re lying on top of me like that…”
Lily grinned. “Ah, you’ve discovered my evil plan. Go change the baby and I’ll reward you.”
Flipping Lily over onto her back, James grinned down at her before he kissed her passionately. “Is that a promise or a threat?” he asked, smiling at the dazed look in his wife’s eyes.
“Both,” she said, laughing. “Now, go.”
The dream changed…
Lily and James lay replete and satisfied, with James’s head on top of Lily’s stomach while she played idly with his hair.
“Lily my love,” James said, closing his eyes to the simple pleasure of her fingers in his hair, “we should really talk about what Dumbledore is saying.”
Lily sighed, stilling the motion of her fingers. Sitting up, James leaned against the headboard and drew Lily into his lap.
“If we go into hiding,” James said, “we’ll be isolated.”
“Yes,” Lily said. “We wouldn’t be able to visit with friends. It would be just you and me.”
“We’d have to limit how much we ventured outside,” James said. “If we use this charm versus some of the wards we’ve been talking about, it might very well anger him and he’d target us at work. He’ll redouble his efforts.”
“But the charm is nearly foolproof,” Lily said. “We’d have to pick the one person we trust absolutely.”
“Dumbledore has offered,” James said, sighing. “He’s already done so much for us.”
Lily nodded. “And he seems the obvious choice. Voldemort already hates him. Maybe this would finally motivate him to attack. I trust Dumbledore absolutely, but if Voldemort went after the students…”
“Agreed,” James said. “What about… Sirius?”
Lily sucked in a breath. “He’s grown up an awful lot over the past year. And when we made him Harry’s godfather, we told him we’d trust him with Harry’s life. If we can trust him with Harry’s life, we can trust him with our own,” she said. “If we’re going to do this, we need to ask Sirius. I would trust no one else.”
“What about Meghan? Or Kathleen?” James asked.
“No. They’re both starting families. We need someone who only has to worry about themselves.”
James nodded. “Of course.”
Tears drifted down Lily’s cheeks, silently. “It’s such a terrible thing to ask someone. We’d effectively be asking him to bear the brunt of Voldemort’s wrath. If he dies…”
“…He dies for us,” James said, dragging in a ragged breath. “How do we live with that?”
“How can we not?” Lily asked. “I love Sirius, but Harry... Harry deserves a chance at life.”
“So are we decided then?” James asked, wrapping his arms completely around Lily.
“I suppose we are,” Lily said, leaning her head back against James’s shoulder. “For Harry.”
James nodded. “For Harry.”
Their lips met in a tender kiss, and they lay down next to each other, spooning in the dark, though neither one slept the rest of that night.
When Ginny awoke, Harry was standing at the window in his boxer briefs, staring out at the rain falling on their lawn.
“I was going to wake you,” he said, “but you were smiling and crying at the same time.”
Ginny pushed herself upright so she was sitting. “Are you okay?”
Harry snorted. “I don’t think that you’re the one that needs to be asking that question.”
“Harry,” Ginny said pleadingly, walking across the room to stand behind him, lowering her head between his shoulder blades. “Please, tell me what’s bothering you.”
“It’s supposed to be over,” Harry said, lowering his forehead to the window. “We’re not supposed to have to worry about Voldemort anymore.”
Ginny wrapped her arms around his waist. “The worst of it is over. We have a new start here, Harry.”
Shaking his head, Harry turned around, wrapping Ginny in a tight embrace. “I don’t like this, Gin. These dreams of my mum, what the mediwitch said about Kathleen at St. Mungo’s… something in the air is not right.”
Ginny sighed because she felt the same thing that Harry did. “I know neither one of us likes this, but I’m not sure what we’re supposed to do.”
“It’s times like this when I wish Dumbledore was still alive,” Harry admitted. “As badly as some of his choices turned out for me, there was no one like him for giving advice, or knowing what to say.”
Ginny nodded. “We all seem to be a bit lost.”
“How… how was mum tonight?” Harry asked finally.
Ginny blushed. “Ah, she was fine. Your dad and mum decided to use the Fidelius Charm tonight.”
Harry blushed too, and then chuckled. “I suppose I had to get here somehow.”
“Harry,” Ginny said, laughing too. “What are we going to do with you?”
“Dunno,” Harry admitted and then grinned. “Wanna snog?”
Ginny burst out laughing. “That’s the least romantic line you’ve ever used.”
“Is it going to work?” Harry asked, waggling his eyebrows.
“Sadly enough, it just might.”
A/N: Okay, so I promised the muses 5 chapters. Um… we’ll see. Thanks to the HP Lexicon for their invaluable services in providing the correct spellings for curses (I always like to double check my Latin). Thanks, as always, to Kat Morning and Daily Prophet Reporting for their fabulous job. Without them, this fic would sorely lack polish.