A/N: Again, the characters are not mine, they belong to JK Rowling. The setting is my creation.
Back At Last
Evening began to fade on the little town of Hogsmeade, as Ginny and Jamie prepared for a quiet evening at their home, the Grove, with Ron and Hermione. As it was before Ginny delivered Jamie, a family member spent the evening at the Potters to help Ginny with the new baby. Ron and Hermione spent as much time as possible with them; they were Harry's best mates in school and were having a difficult time with his disappearance.
Jamie had just finished nursing, and Ron offered to hold him, while Ginny and Hermione prepared dinner. The girls had just finished setting the table for a simple meal of soup and bread, when there was a rap at the front door. Startled, Ginny looked at Ron and Hermione and said, "I wonder who that is? I'm not expecting anyone."
Ginny cautiously picked up her wand, and headed to the front door. Ron handed Hermione the baby and followed. Ron and Ginny looked at each other, silently agreeing that they were ready. Ginny called out through the door, "Who is it?"
A very tired male voice replied, "Gin, it's me, Harry."
Ron looked at Ginny in disbelief. Ginny's eyes were as big as saucers. "H-H-Harry? Is it really you?"
"Yes, Sweetheart, it's really me. Open up."
Ron took hold of Ginny's arm before she had the chance to open the door. He knew that there was a possibility this was a prank, or worse a Death Eater, here to harm his sister and nephew. Training his wand on the spot where the door would open, he nodded to his sister. "OK, Gin, open the door slowly."
As Ginny opened the door, she came face to face with a pair of exhausted, but striking, green eyes.
"H-H-Harry?" Ginny whispered in disbelief.
Harry Potter had been sequestered by the Ministry of Magic since he escaped from the Death Eaters. He was tired, hungry, and wanted nothing more than to be home with his wife and newborn son. He had finally found out that Ginny had named their son James. Harry had been held for twenty-four hours for debriefing and questioning with absolutely no contact with his family, and as far as Harry was concerned, that was cruel and unusual punishment for a new father.
Once Harry was found, he immediately requested that a message be sent to Ginny telling her he was alive and okay. He had hoped the Ministry had respected his wishes; however, he doubted it. It seemed to be Ministry policy lately to do the total opposite of whatever was requested of them.
His supervisors within the Department of Magical Law Enforcement had wanted to detain Harry for an additional night; however, Harry protested and demanded to be released. A compromise was reached where Harry would be allowed to go home for the night, as long as he reported back to the Ministry the next morning for any additional questioning. Harry readily agreed and left to apparate home.
Harry knew the Weasleys well enough to know that they would have placed additional wards around the Grove to protect Ginny and James. He also realised that apparating directly into their house was probably not a wise idea since he'd probably be splinched in the process due to the wards. Harry chose to apparate down the street and walk there, just to be safe. Grabbing his pack from his room at the Ministry, Harry apparated to the corner of Picket and High Streets.
Harry gazed down the street as the sun was slowly fading. It looked the same as he remembered. He walked the short distance to their house, and stopped to take in the view. He and Ginny had fallen in love with this house the moment they saw it. They purchased it shortly after they were married and had nicknamed it "the Grove" because of the large grove of trees on the back of the property. The house was a decent sized two story, with a lovely garden in front. The Grove didn't exactly sit in the town of Hogsmeade, but rather a bit on the outskirts. Ginny had planted her usual flower gardens in the front this year, and the house looked like it had a new coat of paint. Harry was sure the paint job was compliments of one of her brothers. Opening the gate to the front walk, Harry walked up the sidewalk and went to the front door. Through the front window, he could see Ginny and Hermione in the dining room, and Ron sitting holding a bundle in the parlour. He's holding my son, Harry thought to himself. Harry took a deep breath and rapped on the front door.
Harry could hear movement in the house, as someone approached the door. There was a slight pause in motion before a voice, loud and clear, called out, "Who is it?"
Harry could hardly contain his joy, even though he was thoroughly exhausted. He answered, "Gin, it's me, Harry."
"H-H-Harry? Is it really you?"
"Yes, Sweetheart, it's really me. Open up."
Harry could hear Ron talking softly to Ginny, probably telling her to be careful. As the door swung slowly open, Harry came face to face with a pair of wands pointed directly at his chest. Around the door, Ginny's brown eyes appeared and were as big as saucers.
Harry took a step into his house and dropped his pack. "Ginny," was all he could say, before he found himself in his wife's loving embrace. He buried his face in her hair and hugged her back. He inhaled the scent of her hair; hair that smelled of apples. He couldn't believe it; he was home.
"Oh my God, Harry, I can't believe it," Ginny choked out between sobs. She pulled back slightly to look at Harry. His eyes were now sparkling with tears. His hair was much longer than when he left, and even though it was pulled back at the nape of his neck, it still had its trademark messiness. She brushed her hand along his forehead and touched his lightening bolt scar. She tightened her embrace and noticed how much thinner he was now. Harry caught her lips in a deep, passionate kiss that left her breathless with her knees buckling. She buried her head in his shoulder, sobbing in relief that he was back.
Ron stood there, with his mouth gaping open, in shock at the reunion of his sister and her husband. Harry glanced over at Ron and said, "Mate, you can take your wand off me now, if it's all the same to you."
Ron lowered his wand and continued to stare, clearly at a loss for words. Shaking his head, he slapped Harry on the back and said, "Harry, it's good to have you home."
Harry released Ginny from their embrace, and hugged Ron. "It's good to be home…"
At that instant, Jamie woke up from his nap in Hermione's arms and let out a cry. Hermione, who had been in complete shock from Harry's arrival, looked down at the baby in her arms as if she had forgotten he was there.
Ginny quietly walked over to Hermione, picked up her son, and went back to Harry. She placed Jamie in his arms and simply said, "Love, I'd like you to meet our son, James Arthur."
Harry looked at the tiny bundle in his arms, who, when his mother had picked him up, had stopped crying. His son—his son. Harry couldn't believe his eyes that this wiggling, cooing baby was his son. Jamie looked up at Harry with the same green eyes and smiled. He settled down contentedly in his dad's arms, as if he had known all along that this man was his father.
Harry stroked Jamie's small cheek with his finger, "Oh my God, Gin, h-h-he's incredible. I just can't believe it."
Harry looked up to see Ginny watching him with tears streaming down her cheeks. He smiled at her as she wrapped her arms around the two most important men in her life. She lovingly kissed the top of her son's head, and then kissed her husband. She had waited so long for this moment, and she was savouring every bit of it.
Ron and Hermione quietly excused themselves from the room and went to the kitchen, where they finished dinner preparations, while the Potters continued their reunion.
Once alone, Ginny looked at Harry again and said, "I can't believe it. You're here; you're really here."
"Didn't anyone contact you from the Ministry to tell you I was alright?"
"WHAT?" Harry said, "You're kidding me, right? They didn't contact you after they found me?"
"No, Harry, they didn't. I didn't know you'd been found until you walked through our door."
"It figures. I should have known better than to trust that lot at the Ministry to get a message to you. I even specifically asked them to let you know. I can't believe they couldn't even do that for me."
"When were you found, Love?"
"I escaped three days ago from a group of Death Eaters, but was too weak to apparate anywhere. I hid in the brush until nightfall, and then began walking. I stumbled upon a camp of Aurors and was rescued."
"Oh my God, Harry, when did they capture you?"
"Right before Christmas. Didn't the Ministry tell you that either?"
Ginny just shook her head. "No, it was all considered ‘classified information'. They gave me absolutely no details of what happened. And I only found out you were missing in March. They told me then, they considered you dead."
Harry shook his head, and shifted Jamie in his arms. He wrapped his free arm around Ginny. "Love, it looks like we have a lot of catching up to do."
During dinner, Harry relayed the story of his assignment, capture by Death Eaters, escape and rescue. Ginny, Ron and Hermione listened in silence as he talked.
"One minute I was walking in the back of my group, and the next minute, I felt someone grab my arm and the feeling of a tug behind my navel," Harry said. "I knew whoever grabbed me had a portkey, and we ended up in a forest by a shack. There was a whole group of Death Eaters waiting there for us when we arrived, and they quickly overtook me. They took my wand, beat me until I was unconscious, bound my legs and hands, and threw me in the shack. I woke up in the dark, and was able to get out of the bonds. I found my pack in there with me, but of course, my wand was gone. I tried to escape then and there, and couldn't. They had set up wards to insure that I couldn't get away, if I got free from the ties.
"The next morning, I tried to prepare for the time when they'd come back. I knew I had to be ready to jump whoever came through that door. Unfortunately, even though I put up a good fight, I couldn't overtake them—there were too many of them for me to take on alone with no wand. Even with the wandless magic I can perform, I couldn't overtake them. They had me in a full body bind in no time. They released that, and started using the Cruciatus Curse on me, over and over again. The thing was, they didn't want information or anything; they were just there to torture me. Apparently, Malfoy didn't want them to kill me, because he wanted the honour. But he told them they could torture me as much as they wanted to.
"I was able to naturally throw off a lot of what they tried to cast on me, but Cruciatus is one that I can't overcome. The Death Eaters would torture me until they got bored, then put me in a full body bind and use the Confundus charm. As soon as they'd leave, I'd be able to throw off the Confundus, and actually by the end of my captivity, I could block it all together, and just act like I was confused, until they left. Petrificus Totalus took me a bit longer to throw off, but again, by the end of the captivity, I could be out of the bind right after they left. Of course, they were feeding me very little—just enough to keep me alive, so I was getting weaker and weaker, and it was hard to be able to focus enough to throw off what I needed to. The only thing that really got me through all their torture sessions was the thought of Ginny and our baby. I knew I had to survive for them. I would say they tortured me daily. I waited and waited for my confrontation with Malfoy, but he never came, and they never took me to him. They left me in that shack the entire time. Malfoy's henchmen would come in, torture me, feed me, bind me up, and leave.
"I started trying to figure out if I could break out of the wards the Death Eaters had set with wandless magic, but I was so weak that it took everything I had to break out of the body bind they set me in each time. Three days ago, I was alone, and they hadn't come yet for their daily torture session. Suddenly, there was a house-elf in the room with me, holding my wand. She said she was a friend of Dobby's and had come to free me. I asked her how she knew that I was captured, and she said ‘my Master captured you.' I asked her who her Master was, and she said, ‘Harry Potter, the new Dark Lord is my Master. The new Dark Lord, Draco Malfoy.' I couldn't believe it; that self-righteous git thought he was the new Dark Lord. The house-elf gave me food and water, and left as quickly as she came. With my wand, I was able to break the wards, and escape. I settled in the brush a good bit away from the holding shack, and rested, ate and waited for nightfall. When darkness came, I began moving. I knew I was too weak to apparate, so I continued to walk and hunt for a rescue party. I had to be careful, though, as I didn't want to stumble into a camp of Death Eaters.
"At dawn the next day, I ran into a group of Aurors that were on an assignment similar to mine—to round up the end of the Death Eaters. They were shocked to see me, when I walked into their camp. Apparently, the consensus had been that I was dead, even though no body was found. I was completely shocked to find out that I had been missing for four months, and that it was April. I thought I'd been gone for about a month. I knew then for a fact, that I had missed the birth of James, and was devastated. One of the Aurors knew that Gin had a boy, but nobody knew what she had named him or when he was born.
"I led this group of Aurors to the shack I was held in, and as luck would have it, there was a large group of Death Eaters there. They were trying to figure out what happened to me, and what they were going to tell Malfoy. We signalled for back up and rounded up all the ones that were there. A couple of them crumbled under questioning, and told us that Malfoy believes he's the new Dark Lord, and that he is trying to reorganise the Death Eaters. So at least now, there is some testimony against Malfoy, if they can ever find him.
"We went back to headquarters, where I was finally able to get a shower, and clean up a bit. I asked them to get a message to Ginny that I was okay, and would be home in a day or two. They promised me they would, because they wouldn't let me contact her directly. I was debriefed yesterday, and today, and was released to come home, finally. They actually wanted to keep me another night, but I refused. I have to go back in the morning for more questioning. It was killing me to be at headquarters, and to not be able to come home. Ministry policy is really rubbish when it comes to things like this! And then to find out they didn't even contact you; no wonder you and Ron had your wands pointed at me when I came home."
Ron looked at his best friend when he was done with his story and shook his head. "Harry, I swear, you're the strongest wizard I know. How did you ever survive Crucio day in and day out like that?"
"I don't know. I truly don't. The entire time they were torturing me, I just thought of Ginny and the baby. I knew I had to come home to them. That's what got me through this whole ordeal; I had to come home.
After the dinner dishes were done, Ron and Hermione said their good-byes. Hermione hugged Harry, saying, "Welcome home, Harry. I knew that if anyone could make it out of a nasty situation, it'd be you!"
Harry laughed and replied, "Well, I'm glad you were sure, because I certainly wasn't!"
Ron hugged Ginny and told her and Harry, "I'll let Mum and Dad know about Harry coming home. I'm sure they'll be over to see you tomorrow. I'll also get in touch with everyone else."
"Thanks Ron, we appreciate that," smiled Ginny as she hugged her brother.
After seeing their company to the door, Harry settled down on the sofa next to Ginny as she nursed their son. He watched in total awe, as his wife of almost six years fed their baby from her breast. He had never witnessed anything like this before—certainly in the Dursleys' world, this would have been viewed as "freakish". But Harry had never witnessed anything so beautiful in all his life. His wife, after all, was nourishing their son.
"Uh, Ginny," Harry began, "does it hurt you to feed him like that?"
Ginny giggled. "No, it doesn't hurt. It did a bit when he was first born. But it has never been as painful as childbirth was!"
"Was that really awful?"
"No, Love, it wasn't awful. It was the most wonderful experience in my life. It just happened to be the most painful experience, too. Not only because of the actual process of giving birth, but also because you weren't there."
"I know, Sweetheart, and I'm so sorry I wasn't. It just tears me up that I wasn't here. I really couldn't believe I had been gone for four months!" Harry took a deep breath and sighed, "I thought I'd come back to you, and you'd still be pregnant. I can't believe I missed practically your entire pregnancy and the birth of our son."
Ginny reached out a hand and took Harry's. She squeezed it, causing him to look up into her deep chocolate eyes. "Harry, please," Ginny began, "don't beat yourself up over this. It happened, and, it's over. Nothing we can do can change it. We have to go on from here and make the best of it. What matters now is that you're here with us. We're a family, Harry; you, me and Jamie. We have our family. We need to enjoy what we have, instead of thinking of what could have been."
Harry looked at Ginny and smiled. "You're right, of course. You certainly know how to keep me grounded, don't you? And thank God you do!"
Ginny laughed, "You bet I do, Harry, and I plan to keep you grounded no matter what. What happened is not your fault. It happened. It's over. We go on." She shrugged her shoulders before burping James. "We have much more important things to do now, than to dwell on the past," Ginny said as she grinned impishly at Harry. "Namely, your son needs his nappy changed, and I think this is the perfect time for you to learn!"
After settling James in his cot for the night, Harry and Ginny retired to their own room. Harry showered quickly, as he hadn't had the opportunity to get a proper one in since going on assignment. Although he had taken one while sequestered for his debriefing, it had been cold. He relished in the fact that he was able to have a hot shower with plenty of soap.
Entering their bedroom after his shower, Harry stopped to look at his wife, who was sitting on their bed, looking at photographs. She looked just like he remembered her – her fiery red hair lying like a mane around her face, her brown eyes, so full of life, and her smile, so beautiful. The nightdress that she wore was form fitting, and showed off the curves she had developed due to her pregnancy and delivery. She was, by far, the most beautiful sight he had ever seen.
She looked up from the pictures, and smiled, "Feel better, Love?"
Harry closed the distance between the door and their bed. "Oh, definitely. That was the first decent shower I've had in seven months. It was wonderful to have hot running water and soap!" Harry bent over and captured her lips in a soul-searing kiss. "What are you doing?" he whispered in her ear.
"Looking at our wedding pictures and pictures of James," Ginny replied. "I looked at these a lot while you were gone. There was something very comforting in having your photograph smile and wave at me."
Harry crawled into bed next to Ginny and looked over her shoulder. The picture in her lap was one from their wedding day of just the two of them. The Harry and Ginny in the photograph were, indeed, smiling and waving. The Harry in the picture proceeded to pull Ginny closer and give her a quick kiss.
"I remember our wedding day, like it was yesterday," Harry said. "Happiest day of my life, I think. Well...today might just top that." Harry smiled and nuzzled Ginny's neck. "Did you say you have pictures of James, too?"
"Yes, here." Ginny showed Harry the album she had started for him with pictures of Jamie. The first one was of an exhausted looking Ginny holding a tiny bundle. The picture Ginny looked up from the bundle and smiled a very weary smile. Her chocolate eyes looked very sad.
"This was taken right after James was born," Ginny told Harry. Labour had been hard and difficult, and I was pretty sacked by then, so I looked pretty awful."
"I think you were beautiful, Hon," Harry said, looking into Ginny's eyes. "Look at you; holding our son. You looked wonderful."
"Here's one of Jamie during bath time. Mum was here helping me bathe him. And this was taken when we first got home from the hospital. Fred and George were here that night to help."
Harry looked at all the pictures Ginny had, and again, realised just how much he missed. Ginny could see in Harry's eyes the sadness and pain he felt at not being here. She closed the album, and snuggled down close to him.
"I love you, you know," Ginny whispered. "I've missed you so much."
"I love you too, Gin, and God did I miss you!" Harry wrapped his arms around her, as he paused to collect his thoughts. "Gin," he began, "I have been thinking. I'm not going to renew my contract as Auror when it comes up in July. I want to be here for you and Jamie, and I can't guarantee that with being an Auror. This assignment was definitely the worst I've ever been on, and I don't want to be out in the field like that again. I don't know what I'll do, but I just know I don't want to continue doing this."
Ginny looked at Harry for a long moment, processing what she had just heard. "You're serious?" she said, rather dumbfounded.
"Yes, Sweetheart, I am quite serious. Look at what I missed being gone this time. I don't want to miss another minute with you and Jamie, and I simply can't see that happening if I continue as an Auror. Do you mind if I quit and do something else?"
"Mind? Me mind? Of course I don't mind! I'm thrilled!" Ginny said, throwing her arms around Harry's neck and burying her head in his shoulder.
Harry laughed as he relished the feeling of his wife in his arms.
"Hmmm…you smell wonderful. I've missed that smell," Ginny said as she pulled back and looked up at Harry. She smiled and ran her fingers through his damp hair. "I can't believe how long your hair is!"
"If we have time tomorrow, could you cut it?"
"What? You don't want to leave it with the wild look?"
"Not particularly…why, do you like it like this?"
"Well, it does have sort of a sexy quality to it," Ginny said wiggling an eyebrow.
"Really? You think? Hmmm…maybe I should leave it long then; if you think it makes me sexy," Harry replied smiling.
Ginny giggled, "Oh yes, Harry; it definitely makes you sexy. But Love, I think you're sexy no matter if your hair's long or not." Ginny tightened her embrace around Harry's neck, and kissed him on the lips.
"You know, I think you're pretty damn sexy too, Hon," Harry whispered in her ear. "Why don't you let me show you just how sexy I think you are?"
Ginny pulled back to gaze deeply into his rich green eyes. "Now, I've been waiting for you to say that all night, Harry…heck, I've been waiting for this moment for seven months." She smiled at him as she took her wand and put out the lights.
Harry's first night home had been spent exactly how he wanted – with Ginny in his arms. Hands roamed freely over each other's bodies as they reacquainted themselves. Both had been a bit shy at first when they had begun their lovemaking; but they quickly got back into the rhythm they had developed over the years prior, and their passion that night had risen to new levels. Thoroughly exhausted from not only being together intimately, but also from the emotions that had defined their day, they both fell into a deep slumber.
Two in the morning came very quickly, and soon the howls of a hungry Jamie broke through Ginny's peaceful sleep. This was the best sleep she had got in seven months, and she actually felt rested, even though she had only slept a few hours. Quietly, hoping not to disturb Harry, Ginny got out of bed and headed to the nursery.
Harry had heard her get up, and started to get up also.
"Harry, what are you doing?" Ginny said, as she yawned and pulled on her dressing robe. "Go back to sleep; it's just Jamie's two A.M. feeding."
"I don't want to miss another thing, Gin, so I thought I'd get up and sit with you both."
"That's very sweet, Harry, but please, you're dead on your feet. You're not going to miss anything by missing a two A.M. feeding. Trust me. It isn't that exciting."
"Are you sure you don't want me to sit with you?"
"I'd love it, really, but you've been through so much lately, and you're exhausted. Go back to sleep; you can sit with me another night when you're rested."
Harry turned and crawled back into bed. Ginny hadn't even got to the door of their room before he started snoring again. Ginny shook her head as she padded down the hall to Jamie's room. Harry was exhausted, both mentally and physically. It was going to take awhile for him to regain his strength. He's so thin; it‘ll take time to build his body back to the shape it had been in, Ginny thought to herself.
Ginny entered Jamie's room, and picked up her crying son. She changed his nappy, soothed him and settled down in the rocking chair to feed him. Half an hour later, James was in his cot and back asleep.
Ginny walked back to her bedroom, and sat at the desk by the window. The letters she had written Harry while he was gone lay in a pile. She pulled out a piece a fresh piece of parchment, looked over at Harry, and wrote a final letter. Once done, she neatly piled all the letters together with some pictures of her and Jamie, and tied them with a ribbon. Once Harry was settled in at home, she would give them to him to read. She sat in the chair for a few more minutes, watching Harry as he slept. She silently thanked every God she could think of for Harry's safe return. She padded quietly over to their bed, and crawled in, snuggling close to the man who held her heart.
Harry began to stir at seven in the morning, when he heard Jamie starting to whimper. Ginny was still sound asleep next to him, and had not yet begun to wake. He quietly crept out of bed and down the hall to his son. Harry knew that he'd have to wake Ginny up to feed Jamie, but he figured he could get him up and changed, before arousing her.
Harry opened the door of James' room, and looked in. In his cot, James was laying there, cooing at the dragon mobile that hung over his bed. Harry went over and looked in with wonder at his son. He watched him for a moment, until Jamie's eyes focused on him, and Jamie smiled. It certainly looked as if Jamie knew who he was, in such a short period of time. Harry gingerly picked up James, and carried him to the changing table.
Laying him down carefully, and not leaving James unattended, Harry assembled the needed supplies for the nappy change. Once all the supplies were within easy reach, Harry set out to perform the task at hand. Before now, Harry had never changed a nappy in his life – he had watched Ginny do it with her niece and nephews, and he watched her last night, as she tried to teach him, but he had never done the actual task. This was going to be a mini adventure.
"Okay, James, I'm new at this, so I hope I do this right," Harry said as he prepared to remove the soiled nappy. Harry clumsily cleansed Jamie's bum, and prepared to put a clean nappy on him. As Harry was slipping the nappy underneath him, Jamie urinated again, this time in an arc, and all over Harry, the changing table and the floor. A muffled giggle came from the doorway.
"Harry, that is definitely one thing with changing boys—you have to make sure that they stay covered most of the time, or you run the risk of being christened."
"And I suppose, this never happened to you?"
"Oh no, it happened to me. And what a surprise it was. There was just nobody here to witness it at the time."
Harry finished the job of changing the nappy, while Ginny cleaned up the urine that had landed on the floor and changing table. After everything was taken care of, Harry handed Jamie to her, and gave her a hug and kiss. "Here I was trying to get him all ready for you, so you could get a few more minutes of rest."
"And I did get a few more minutes. I had only just come up to the doorway when Jamie urinated everywhere." Ginny walked back to their bedroom, and settled down in their bed to nurse James.
Harry washed up a bit and settled in beside her. He watched in fascination again as she fed their son. He pulled the photo album out and began paging through it.
"You know, I think we need to make sure we get a photo of the three of us today, to put in this album," Ginny said, as she looked over his shoulder at the pictures.
"Most definitely. I'm betting we have a ton of your family over to visit today. I bet one of them would take a picture for us."
"Speaking of today, what are our plans?"
"Well," Harry began, "I have to head back to the Ministry to finish questioning. I figure you and Jamie might as well stay here…"
"If you think, Harry James Potter, I am letting you out of my sight anytime in the near future, you are sorely mistaken!" laughed Ginny, with a wild gleam in her eye.
"You know, they may not let you in on the questioning."
"Oh, I want to see them try to keep me out, Harry."
Harry laughed. He knew how very determined his wife could be. He knew that anyone trying to keep her out of the debriefing would be faced with a very fiery temper. "And what a sight that will be to see, Love. What do you want to do after that?"
"Do you know how long the debriefing will be?"
"Unfortunately, no. I can't imagine anything else they want to ask me, so I hope it will be short. Why don't we get some lunch afterwards, and then come back here. I'm sure we'll have a houseful for dinner, so we probably should come home and get ready."
"Sounds good. After I'm done here with Jamie, I think I'll get a shower, and then we can eat and get to the Ministry. If they won't let me in for the questioning, I guess Jamie and I will visit with Dad in his office."
Harry took Jamie downstairs with him when Ginny had finished nursing. While she took her shower, Harry figured he'd put together something for the two of them for breakfast. Harry laid Jamie in the portable cot they had downstairs, and went to the kitchen. As he was setting out a variety of items to assemble breakfast, Harry heard the familiar voice of his mother-in-law calling out to Ginny from the fireplace.
"Ginny! Ginny! Are you there, Dear?"
Harry walked into the parlour and faced the fireplace. "Hello Molly! Ginny's upstairs taking a shower. Is there something I can help you with?"
"Oh Harry, dear, it's so good to see you. Ron floo'd us last night and told us the good news. I was just calling and checking in with Ginny. Is it alright if I floo over for a quick visit?"
"Certainly, Molly, I'd love to see you."
A moment later, Molly stumbled out of the Potter's fireplace and into the arms of her son-in-law. Harry laughed as she caught him up in one of her famous hugs. She stepped back and looked Harry squarely in the face as she grinned broadly.
"Harry, it is so good to have you back home! We missed you so much!" Molly hugged Harry again.
"It's good to be home, Molly. I can't tell you how much I missed all of you."
"Oh my gosh, Harry! You've lost weight! You are so thin! Have you eaten yet this morning?" Molly said, breaking from their embrace.
Harry shook his head, "I was just in the kitchen getting ready to prepare some breakfast for Ginny and I when you called."
"Well, here, let me do that for you dear. You sit down and rest. I am sure you must be still tired after your ordeal."
"Molly, I'm fine, why don't you sit down, and let me make…"
"No, Harry, I insist. I want to make breakfast for you. You sit down now, and tell me all…"
"Mum? Is that you?" Ginny called out as she descended the stairs and headed toward the kitchen.
Ginny kissed Harry as she handed Jamie to him, so she could get her shower. She gathered up her clean clothes and headed to their loo. In the twelve hours since Harry had returned, she hadn't had much time to reflect on what had happened. Her emotions were a mess right now, and she needed some time in the shower alone to think.
Ginny quickly undressed and turned on the water to an acceptable temperature. Stepping into the shower, she let the water pour over her body. She wet her hair in preparation to wash it; as she stood under the spray of hot water, she closed her eyes. He's home, she thought to herself, Oh my God, he's home!"
Tears began flowing from her eyes, mixing with the water from the shower. She stood there, crying, revelling in the mixture of relief and thankfulness that she felt. She was so thankful that Harry was home, and she was so relieved he was all right. He was thin; that's for sure, but that was nothing that a few good meals wouldn't take care of. Ginny silently worried about how Harry had coped emotionally with all the torture he had endured.
When Harry was recounting the story of his captivity, Ginny was horrified. She cried now at what her beloved had gone through. She couldn't believe he had endured as much as he had—and had survived to tell about it. She hoped that whatever he was dealing with—now that he was home—that he'd share it with her so she could help him through it. She knew Harry, though—he never shared his feelings or emotions easily. It would take a lot to get him to open up to her. She hoped he would—she was sure it would help him in his overall healing.
Ginny shampooed her hair and bathed quickly. She stood one more minute under the spray of the water, again thanking any deity she could think of for Harry's safe return. Turning off the water, and stepping out, she dried herself off, and dressed quickly. She dried her hair with a drying charm, and headed out of the loo.
Heading downstairs, she heard Harry talking with someone. Quickly she realised it was her mum. Calling out, Ginny asked, "Mum? Is that you?"
"We're in here, Dear," her mother called out. "I'm preparing breakfast for you and Harry."
"'Morning, Mum. What brings you by so early?"
"Your mum floo'd this morning looking for you, and I told her to come over," Harry answered.
"Well, I called to find out if you wanted to have a celebration get together tonight in honour of Harry's return. I thought we could have it at the Burrow, unless you'd rather have it here."
Looking at Harry, who was nodding his agreement, Ginny said, "That would be wonderful, Mum. Let's have it here. Can you notify the rest of the family?"
"Of course, I can take care of everything. Do you mind if I come back and prepare the food here?"
"We have to go into London today to the Ministry. Harry has to finish his debriefing with the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and then we plan on having lunch. You're more than welcome to go with us if you'd like; you could see Dad at work and join us for lunch. Then we can come back and get ready."
"That sounds lovely, Ginny. Are you sure I won't be intruding on your day?"
"No Molly, you won't. We're not even sure that Ginny will be allowed in the debriefing, so she had planned on visiting with Arthur if she couldn't accompany me. I think it sounds great to have you along with us."
Molly placed a plate of eggs and bacon on the table and magicked the bread she had been toasting to fly over to the waiting plates. The three adults sat down and ate while planning what would be served for dinner that evening. Molly excused herself shortly after breakfast to go home and call the rest of the family. She agreed to meet Harry and Ginny at the Ministry at ten o'clock.
After cleaning up the kitchen from breakfast and setting the dishes to wash themselves, Ginny went into the parlour to check on Jamie, while Harry went upstairs to get changed. Ginny followed Harry upstairs after finding Jamie had gone back to sleep. As she entered their bedroom, she saw Harry staring into their wardrobe looking for something to wear. He held a pair of trousers in his hand, and was studying his shirts. After choosing one, he walked to their bed and began changing. When Harry had changed, he found that all his clothes were at least one size too big for him. He looked up at Ginny with a sad look in his emerald green eyes. She walked over to him and wrapped her arms around his waist.
"I look like I am back at the Dursleys," Harry said. "All my clothes are too big, just like when I wore Dudley's hand me downs."
"You did lose a lot of weight Harry. How could you not, with barely eating for four months? Here let me help you shrink some down to fit better. We can look today while in Diagon Alley for some new things, if you'd like."
"We'll have to look in London for the trousers and shirts. If we have time, we probably should. It'll take me awhile to gain back as much as I lost."
"Well, if my mum has anything to do about it, she'll have that weight back on you in no time!"
"That's for sure! She certainly outdid herself this morning with breakfast. And on such short notice too! And did you hear what she has planned for dinner tonight! Your mother is amazing!"
Ginny laughed, "Yes, she is amazing. She's always happiest when she has someone to feed. And now that she has someone to fatten up, she'll be ecstatic!"
Harry laughed and gathered Ginny up in his arms. He felt an electric thrill pass through him as she snaked her hands up around his neck. She began playing with his hair, as he bent down and kissed her. Their kiss deepened and they broke apart minutes later, both a bit breathless.
"How long do we have until we need to leave for the Ministry?" Harry whispered in her ear.
"About an hour, I'd say. Do you want me to trim up your hair now?"
"No, I think I'll leave it long for now, especially since you find it sexy," Harry said with a wicked grin. "How long will Jamie sleep?"
"Probably another half hour – why? What do you have planned, Mr. Potter?" Ginny asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Oh, I thought I'd show my wife just how very much I love her."
"Hmmm, I think we have plenty of time for that."
Harry and Ginny decided to travel to London using the Floo Network, since the wards around the house had not been restructured yet to allow Harry to apparate and disapparate from their home. The couple floo'd to the Leaky Cauldron, and then proceeded from there to the Ministry of Magic. Upon arriving at the Ministry, they took the lift to Level Two where the Department of Magical Law Enforcement was, and entered.
"Harry, it's so good of you to come back this morning. And you brought your lovely wife and son too, I see," said Amelia Bones, head of the department.
"Good morning, Ms. Bones. I was given the impression last evening that I was ordered to come back this morning for further questioning – that it wasn't an option."
"Well, yes, that is true, Harry. Hopefully we'll finish up with you quickly, so that you can go about your business today and start your long overdue holiday."
"That would be nice, since I have been gone for seven months," Harry said dryly.
"Uh…yes, Harry, uh…let's get started, then. If you'll just follow me. Mrs. Potter, you and your son can wait here for Harry. This shouldn't take very long at all."
"No Ms. Bones, I think I'd like to accompany Harry for questioning. I'd like to hear a full account of what happened," said Ginny as Ms. Bones began to leave.
Turning back to address Ginny, the department head said, "Now, Mrs. Potter, you know all information concerning assignments is confidential…"
"Oh yes, Ms. Bones, your Aurors made that quite clear when they came to tell me that Harry was missing." Ginny stopped to take a breath and compose herself. "However, I do believe you owe me an explanation as to what happened to my husband while he was out on one of your assignments."
"Again, Mrs. Potter, that is all confidential information. We cannot share that with you, and you are not allowed in for the questioning."
"Ms. Bones, I really don't care if the information is confidential or not or whether I'm allowed in or not…"
Harry, realising that Ginny's temper was flaring, decided it was best if he interceded. "Hon," he said quietly, squeezing her hand, "it's okay, really. I'll go in, do the questioning and get it over with. Why don't you go meet your mum at your dad's office? I'll come down there as soon as I'm finished." Turning to Ms. Bones, he said a bit louder, "I'm sure I'll be done in about an hour; isn't that right, Ms. Bones?"
"Honestly, Harry, I'm really not sure if you'll be done in an hour or not...."
"You have an hour of my time, Ms. Bones," interrupted Harry. "After that, I'm rejoining my wife and son in my father-in-law's office. I've been out on assignment for seven months. I deserve some time off from this place, and I intend on taking it, starting after this interview."
"Well.... We'll see what we can do. If you will follow me please, Harry, we'll get started. Good day, Mrs. Potter."
Harry leaned over and kissed Ginny, and whispered in her ear, "It'll be fine, Gin, I promise. I'll see you in an hour in Arthur's office, okay?"
"Okay, Harry. Love you."
"I love you too, Sweetheart. Go see your parents."
Harry winked, and turned to walk down the hallway behind Ms. Bones. They turned a corner and were gone from Ginny's sight. Ginny sighed, picked up her bag and tightened her hold on Jamie. She left the office and headed down the shabby corridor to her dad's cramped office.
"Now, Harry, let's go over this again from the beginning," Ms. Bones said. "You said you were in the back of your group as you were heading to a new location, and someone grabbed you and you were portkeyed to the shack you were held in?"
"Ms. Bones, really, why do we have to go through this again? I went through the story with you and the other supervisors yesterday. Why must we go over it again?"
"Harry, I want to make sure I have your story straight. After all, you might be called to testify against the Death Eaters that were caught. Especially the ones that tortured you. So, humour me, and go through it again."
Harry drew in a deep breath. He again recounted the story of his capture and torture at the hands of the Death Eaters. He restated that the Death Eaters said Draco Malfoy believes himself to be the next Dark Lord.
Once Harry had finished, Amelia Bones closed her eyes and sighed. "Another Malfoy causing problems. Just what we need. Now we just need to find some sort of evidence to raid the mansion again."
"Evidence? You don't have enough evidence? There are Death Eaters swearing that Malfoy is the next Dark Lord. What other evidence do you need for the raid?"
Ms. Bones looked Harry in the eye and said, "I wish it was that easy, Harry, but it isn't. We need some sort of physical evidence to raid, and frankly, Draco hasn't given us any. He is as slick as his father, that's for sure."
"He always was a slimy git, even back in school."
"Well, enough about that. I think I have all the answers I need. We need to discuss your time off, so we can make sure you meet your wife at the time you designated. I would hate for her to come back here looking for someone to curse."
Harry laughed, "Ah yes, my wife certainly has the infamous Weasley temper. Although she most certainly got it from Molly and not from Arthur!"
Amelia chuckled. "I agree. Arthur is about the calmest individual I know. If she got the temper from anyone, it's Molly." She paused, looking at Harry. "Harry, I'd like you to consider coming back to work after two weeks off instead of a month. We are really very short on staff right now, and I could really use the help," Amelia said, saying the last part almost pleadingly.
"But last night, I was promised a month off. Why the sudden change?"
"Well, Harry, I won't lie to you. You are probably our best Auror out in the field. I just don't know if I can spare you for a month. I know what I promised, and I won't go back on my word, but I am asking you to reconsider and take only two weeks."
Harry thought for a moment before answering. "Ms. Bones, I think my wife would kill both of us if I go back and tell her that I'll only be off two weeks instead of four. I've been gone seven months…seven months. I missed most of my wife's pregnancy, and the birth of my child. I also missed his first two months of life. Do you know how much that is tearing me up? No, I think I'll take my full month off. I need time to catch up with my life." And with that, Harry got up and left.
An hour later, as promised, Harry arrived at Arthur's office, looking for his wife and son. Harry greeted his father-in-law with a hearty handshake, which led to Arthur pulling Harry into a tight hug. Since it was nearing lunchtime, Arthur decided to go with Molly, Harry, Ginny and Jamie to lunch at the Leaky Cauldron.
Lunch was a grand affair with lots of good conversation and catching up. Jamie was enjoying all the attention lavished upon him by his grandparents and father, and Ginny had the opportunity to sit back and watch how they all interacted. When lunch was over, Ginny and Harry took Jamie and ventured back into Muggle London to do a bit of clothes shopping for Harry, while Arthur went back to work and Molly went back to the Grove to begin the preparations for dinner. The evening would be a busy one, and the Potters wanted everything to be perfect. Quickly finishing up their shopping, they floo'd home to help Molly finish the preparations.
A/N: As always a huge thank you to both my pre-betas, Julie and Jen, and to Julie for also being my beta. This chapter wouldn't have been possible without our debate over began and begun. This ol' gal learned a thing or two about irregular verbs, past participles, perfect tense and passive voice. Thanks always for all your help. I couldn't do it without you two!