Harry hadn’t heard her moving around upstairs for a good while. He pulled himself from his chair, ignoring the newspapers that slid from his lap to the floor, and made his way to the second floor landing. The door to their room stood ajar, allowing a soft light to escape. There, in the rocking chair that had been in the corner of the room since early on, sat Ginny. Her eyes were closed and her hand was clutched on a small yellow blanket whose edging was tattered and frayed.
Beside the chair stood an old pine trunk that Harry swore had an Undetectable Extension Charm placed on it. Ginny had always tucked things into it that most people would have cast off. Ginny called them her treasures.
The trunk was open and Harry could see a hodgepodge of papers and ribbons and bits of fabrics threatening to spill from it. He reached down and removed a worn old rabbit. One ear was barely attached and it was missing a button eye. What fur remained was greyed and stuffing leaked out of several seams. Harry smiled and stroked the old toy, remembering a little boy dragging it by its ear.
‘That was James’.’
Harry started slightly. She had awoken silently. He nodded with a smile. ‘As was that,’ he said, gesturing at the blanket in her lap.
‘Rub-rub,’ she said, giving the satin binding a twist between her thumb and forefinger. ‘He had to have it to sleep.’ She pulled at a hole made where the binding had come loose from the fabric. ‘He would stick his thumb through here and suck it whenever he was tired or upset.’ Ginny sighed and folded the blanket, patting it gently into a neat square. ‘He insisted on one just like it for both Al and Lily.’ She gestured at the trunk. ‘Theirs are in there too, but they’re in a lot better condition. They never needed it like he did.’
Harry sat on the bench at the foot of their bed and began to rummage through the trunk. They reminisced over photos of growing children, remembering the occasions they portrayed, and laughing at their own youth in the pictures. Papers that were everything from toddlers’ first scribbles to long-forgotten essays were admired, then carefully rerolled. James had a fat book that noted achievements from his first bath to his first steps. It was stuffed with some photos showing a beaming Harry holding a squirming, red-haired bundle and others of a beatific Ginny rocking a nursing infant in the very chair in which she now sat. There were books for Al and Lily as well, but they only had a few notations and far fewer photos. Harry looked at them with a twinge of regret. If only they had had the time to document their infancies as well, but as each came along time slipped away even faster. It was Harry’s turn to sigh as he placed the books aside.
As Ginny sorted through tiny articles of clothing, Harry found a small chest he had never before noticed.
Ginny’s face lit up. ‘Those,’ she stated firmly, ‘are my greatest treasures.’ She withdrew her wand from her pocket and gave the little box a tap. The polished cedar lid sprang open and she took the box from him, placing it in her lap. ‘This,’ she said, holding up a tiny cloth pocket, ‘is the first tooth each of them lost.’
Harry’s jaw dropped. ‘How did you get those? I thought the Tooth Fairy…’
‘She does. But she always leaves the first one for the mother to keep.’ Ginny smiled at Harry’s surprise. ‘Fairies are very wise. They know what is important in life, especially to mothers.’ Ginny plucked a tiny bit of ivory out of the bag. ‘This one is Lily’s. It was so loose but she wouldn’t let anyone pull it for her. Finally one morning it came out when she bit into a blueberry muffin.’ She shook her head at her daughter’s stubbornness, even thirty-nine years later.
She pulled another one out. ‘This was Al’s. Remember that? Both of his teeth were so loose. He loved to play with them with his tongue. Finally he had bothered them so much that one of them started bleeding into the tooth and it looked disgusting. Hermione’s parents were visiting them and we were laughing at how Al was holding on to those teeth too long. Mr Granger volunteered to pull it. He took Al to the kitchen and pulled the one that was so loose he was afraid Al would swallow it. He about fainted when I shrieked, ‘You pulled the wrong one!’ He went back and pulled that one, too. Al was pleased as punch when Ron taught him how to whistle through the gap.’ Ginny shook her head at the memory.
Harry grinned. ‘All I remember is Al and Rose going around singing ‘All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth’, till we were about to strangle them.’
Ginny laughed. ‘I had forgotten that.’
‘How? They spit everywhere. That song has far too many ‘S’s.’
Ginny tucked the little tooth back in the silk bag with a smile. She poked around in the box for a moment then produced three cigars. She grinned this time at Harry’s look of incredulity. ‘These,’ she said, ‘are cigars you gave out when each of the children were born.’
‘Blimey, Ginny! That’s a dangerous thing to have in your treasures. They might still explode, you know!’
‘These won’t. I made George remove the explosives so I had one to keep.’ Harry shook his head at his wife’s cleverness. ‘I just don’t understand how you fell for the exploding cigar gag three times.’
‘Yeah, well, I was a bit distracted. I guess I just forgot.’
She was rummaging in the box again. With a laugh she pulled out a minuscule comb. ‘I’d forgotten about this.’
Harry pulled a sullen face.
‘Oh, come on,’ Ginny cajoled. ‘I liked it. Very dashing.’
‘Yeah, but I got no end of grief about it at work. Ron especially. They kept asking me what the hell that caterpillar was doing under my nose.’
Ginny giggled and tucked the comb back in the box. When she withdrew her hand it had a bit of lace and satin around her fingers. ‘Remember this?’
Harry raised his eyebrows and gave her a little smirk. ‘I certainly do.’ He leaned over and began to walk two fingers up her thigh. ‘I particularly remember how much fun it was to remove.’
Ginny gave his hand a gentle smack and continued to look at the scrape of lace with fondness. ‘I leant it to Lily for her ‘Something Old’.’
‘But now she doesn’t have her own garter to keep,’ Harry protested.
‘Of course she does. She wore this one on one leg and hers on the other.’
Harry nodded at the logic of this as the garter disappeared into the box and the box was tucked into a corner of the trunk.
Harry found a bundle of envelopes, tied with red ribbon. ‘What’s this?’
‘Those,’ said Ginny, ‘are every letter you ever wrote to me before we got married.’
‘You kept them?’
‘Of course I did.’
Harry looked down at the neat bundle and a spasm of guilt made his heart contract. ‘I didn’t keep the ones you wrote me,’ he said very quietly. He looked up, a little panicked. ‘It’s not that they didn’t mean the world to me. They kept me going during those four and a half years.’
‘I know. Saving all this sort of thing is just me. Most people don’t save every scrap of rubbish the way I do. I just like to. I always have.’
‘I think it’s wonderful,’ Harry said, reaching to run his finger along her jaw. ‘It’s not rubbish. It’s the important things from our lives.’ He caught his finger under her chin and lifted so he could see her eyes, a little wet with unshed tears. ‘Never get rid of a single scrap of it.’
Ginny nodded solemnly and blotted her eyes with the heels of her hands. Harry caught her hands and tugged, pulling her from the chair and onto the bench beside him. He wrapped his arms around her and drew her into a long, loving kiss.
‘I love you,’ he murmured.
Ginny sighed with a smile. ‘I know.’
‘I don’t tell you enough.’
‘I still know.’ With a pat of his cheek, she sat back, surveying the precious memories now scattered across the floor. ‘We need to tuck this all away again.’
Harry knelt in front of the trunk, but looking inside, he found more fabric folded at the bottom. He lifted it out and with a rustle, yards of satin and lace escaped his hands.
‘Oh dear. I may never get that folded up again,’ Ginny moaned.
‘You looked like a dream that day. I had dreamt of that day for years and there you were, coming down the aisle, looking like an angel in this.’ He lifted his hands to indicate the gown.
Ginny bent down and this time she caught his face in her hands. ‘You are the sweetest man,’ she whispered before returning his kiss.
It took them quite a while to refold the gown. The fabric seemed to have a mind of its own, but it finally submitted and returned to the bottom of the trunk. Together they returned the mementoes to their proper places, making sure papers weren’t crushed and photos stayed in the books.
‘What do you think the children will think when they see the things we’ve kept? They won’t know what half of them are.’
‘I don’t know about you,’ Harry said. ‘But I don’t intend to have to worry about that for a while. I plan on having another fifty years to collect even more. After all, with nine grandchildren and the first great-granddaughter here, there’s bound to be plenty of memories. Now, if you could be so kind…’ He reached a hand up. ‘…give an old man a hand?’
Ginny laughed, grasped his hand and gave him a tug. ‘You’re only as old as you feel.’
Harry dropped his hand and gave her a pinch. ‘In that case, let’s get that garter out again.’