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A/N: As always I own nothing but the plot.

Harry arrived at Number 12 Grimmauld Place and hurried into the meeting room where he found Lupin and Moody sitting at a table surrounded by rolls of parchment, which Harry suspected were the reports from the mission to the Urals. Moody’s eye rolled in his head and he looked up at Harry – a look of impatience on his face.

“Nice of you to join us Potter.” He growled as he rolled up a bit of parchment and set it aside. Harry felt his cheeks burn red - if there was one thing Alastor Moody could do well it was to make him feel like he was a first year student, late for class at Hogwarts.

“Remus, Mad-Eye – sorry I’m late.” Harry said, sitting across from the two of them. “Had a bit of trouble getting out of the flat this morning.”

“No need to explain Harry. Despite Alastor’s grumblings you are only a few moments late. We’ve just finished reading over the last of the reports. You and your team did a brilliant job compiling all of your information. The defenders will have a hard time cracking through this prosecution.” Lupin said his voice calm as he glanced in Moody’s direction. Who as Harry observed was sitting in his chair fighting back the urge to make a comment.

“If the two of you are finished with the pleasantries, can we get started?” Moody growled, as he unrolled a new piece of parchment. “We have a lot to cover this morning.”

Both Harry and Lupin nodded – neither one wanted to add to their colleague’s bad mood.

Harry scribbled a date onto the parchment in front of him. October 20th was the day the trial against Malfoy was to start. Lupin, Moody and Harry would present their evidence first. As they were the heads of the Auror team; Moody and Lupin would outline the ongoing investigation that began during the war leading up to the piece of intel that lead Harry and his team to the Urals. At that point Harry would take over and give his detailed explanation about what happened during this mission.

“We’ll meet here on the morning of the 20th. The Wizengamot will start the hearing in the afternoon.” Lupin said as he rolled his own bit of parchment up and slid it into a battered leather case.

Harry nodded and rose to help straighten up the meeting room. Clearing his throat, he set down the maps he had in his hand. “Before we go, I was wondering if we could discuss something.” When both Moody and Lupin fixed their eyes on him; Harry felt his fingers and palms grow clammy. Although they were close to being his equals, it brought back memories of being in class at Hogwarts and getting called upon when he wasn’t paying attention.

Lupin sat back down in the seat he had just vacated and looked at Harry. “Well of course. Is it about your departure from the team?” He asked.

“Well it does have something to do with it. You see Ginny and I have set a date for the wedding.” He stated, as he fiddled with the corner of one of the maps in front of him.

“And when is it?” Moody asked, his magical eye swiveling in its socket, making Harry feel like he was on display.

“October 31st.” Harry responded, pausing to see their reaction. Lupin seemed to be contemplating the date in his mind; while Moody was staring intently at him.

“Tad inconvenient Potter!” He growled.

“It is – trust me I know. But Ginny has been rather adamant about this. Before I left we made the decision to have the ceremony a few weeks after my return. This was when the mission was still only an observation task. I tried to get her to push the date back; but she insists it be Halloween. I don’t want a lot of time off but do you think we could ask the Wizengamot for a few days off? The day of the wedding and the two flanking it?”

Moody sighed in exasperation. “This has got to be –“ He started, displeasure in his voice. “The trial will just be getting into full swing. The publicity will be crazy enough without adding in that Auror Potter needs a few days off to get married!” He shouted loudly.

“Look! I know what it’s going to be like. And I’d rather wait but it means too much to Ginny to have it now. And frankly – I’d rather deal with the press than my pissed-off bride to be!” Harry shouted back equally as loud. “Not to mention it’s the least the damn Ministry can do for me and my family! I’ve been available to them most of my life. I want three days off!”

“Harry – Alastor. Calm yourselves.” Lupin interjected in an even tone. “I believe we’ll be able to work something out. The full moon will be happening on the 2nd of November. The Wizengamot has already agreed to put the hearing old hold while I attend to my business. I am sure we can approach them and ask that it be put on hold a few days early.”

Harry let out a sigh of relief. “Will they do that?”

“I believe they will. I have to go to the ministry later this afternoon; I’ll speak to the Wizengamot receptionist. See what we can do.” Lupin was about to rise from his seat when he abruptly sat down once again and reached for his briefcase. Unclasping it, he withdrew some parchment and slid it over to the area of the table where Harry stood. “This had slipped my mind until just now. Harry, as you’re not going to be an auror much longer - we should really be proactive and alert the wizarding world about your decision; if the press finds out on their own, it will create a bigger zoo than if we tell them ourselves. That’s the statement we would like to release to the Prophet. If you agree with it, we could release it today.”

Harry picked up the parchment and started to read:

Auror Harry J. Potter has announced his retirement from active duty. Mr. Potter will stay on with the D.A. until the close of the trial against Draco Malfoy, which is set to begin on October 20th. During the trial Mr. Potter will be presenting evidence of Mr. Malfoy’s and other death eater’s crimes. At this time, any questions regarding Mr. Potter’s decisions should be directed to the D.A. or to the Ministry of Magic. Mr. Potter and his family wish to have their privacy respected.

Finishing the short statement, Harry raised an eyebrow as he looked at Mad-Eye and Lupin. “Very sweet and to the point – did you write this Remus?” As Lupin nodded, Harry chuckled. “You always have had a way with words. But do you expect that this will hold them off?” He asked, sliding the parchment back to Lupin, who slid it back into his case.

“We’re hoping it will.” Mad-Eye interjected. “Although we wouldn’t need to be releasing statements and the like if you hadn’t come up with this idea that you needed to quit auror duty.”

“Well Alastor I don’t think we can change Harry’s mind. It seems quite made up at this time. Of course, we do expect a small amount of uproar. You should be sure to warn Ginny and Molly and Arthur. Ron and Hermione as well. The press may suddenly become interested in their day to day lives - looking for a quote or full fledged interviews. We’ll wait until tomorrow morning to release the statement so you have a chance to warn those you wish to be warned. Let them all know that if they wish they can have ministry staff on call to drive away any press that may start hounding them.”

“Tomorrow is fine Remus. I’ll fill Ginny in tonight when she is home from her shift. Ron and Hermione are popping over for a visit tonight as well. And I’ll send a note to Molly and Arthur so they are aware. I’d say I’d warn the twins but I expect they’d welcome the press.” Harry commented.

Lupin gathered up his cloak and the battered case containing his documents. “Excellent - now if you’ll excuse me – I must head over to St. Mungo’s; Nymphadora is expecting me. Harry – you should stop by this afternoon – she would love to see you – she’s asked after you since your return.”

Harry nodded while he and Moody said their good byes. When the soft thud of the front door closing was heard, the two continued their clean up of the meeting room.


*~*

Ginny stepped out of the staff washroom and leaned against the door for a moment. Her lunch break was about to end when the baby had decided to lean against her bladder for the latter half of it, causing her to run to the loo twice and miss the relaxation of her lunch time before returning to the madness of St. Mungo’s. She smiled and shifted to the left of the door when a group of junior healers approached the bathroom. Pressing a hand against the front of her robes, she felt the still concealed, but growing, bump and realized she really shouldn’t have topped her bowl of stew with a handful of kippers even though she had been craving them. Now that the baby was thoroughly satisfied, he or she seemed content to move about inside Mummy. Taking a deep breath and sending calming thoughts to Baby Potter, Ginny straightened and set off to Healer Bones’ office where she was expected for a meeting.

She approached the thick oak door and rapped gently on it with her knuckles. After hearing a muffled come in, Ginny turned the door knob and entered Healer Bones’ office.

“Good afternoon Matilda.” She said as she closed the door behind her and moved to the chair closest to her.

“Ginny! Welcome, welcome!” Healer Bones said, looking up from the parchment she was scribbling on and setting her quill in the silver inkpot at the edge of her desk. “Thank you for stopping by this afternoon.”

Ginny smiled and shifted in her seat as Baby Potter moved around yet again. “Not a problem Matilda. My afternoon seems light. The children were looked after this morning and I have to visit Tonks after our meeting.”

“Ah yes, Nymphadora Tonks. She’s improving quite nicely. She is one of the things I wanted to speak to you about today. Everyone is quite happy with her progress. Enough so that Dr. O’Malley wants to start treatment on some of the other patients that have been damaged by the Cruciatus curse.” Healer Bones handed a roll of parchment across the desk to Ginny. “These are the names of the patients they’d like to start treatment on. Since you worked so closely on Ms. Tonks’ case; I’d like you to give each one a check up and present your recommendations to Dr. O’Malley and me. Of course you will have first choice on the cases you are involved on and there will be a team of healers available to you to assist.”

Ginny sat in the chair for a moment and let her supervisor’s words sink in. They were willing to give her a team of aurors to work with. It was in essence a promotion and a big leap in her healing career. She unfurled the parchment and let her eyes quickly scan through the names. Frank and Alice Longbottom were listed as was many other names of witches and wizards whose names were familiar to Ginny. Many had fought in the war and many had families that would dearly love to have their son, daughter, husband, wife, sister or brother back.

As these thoughts tumbled through her head she felt a twinge in her abdomen as the baby shifted again and her face fell slightly.

“Healer Bones – Matilda – this is an amazing opportunity. I mean I could help all of these people. I know how it could help them; all you have to do is look at Remus Lupin and see how happy he is to have Tonks back.” She said, twisting the parchment in her hands.

Healer Bones leaned back in her chair and looked at Ginny with wisdom in her eyes. “I’m sensing a but here Ginny.” She held up a finger as Ginny started to speak. “Don’t try and deny it - after all of my years here as healer I’ve made it my job to observe. I can tell you truly want to be a part of helping all of these people but something is holding you back.”

Ginny nodded and set the parchment back on the desk in front of her before she wrecked it. “You’re right – “

“Is it the wedding? Because we can hold off until after you and Harry are married. We can set this to fit your schedule Ginny.”

She sighed. “It’s not about the wedding. Matilda, Harry and I are expecting a baby. It wasn’t planned of course – but I’ll be taking a leave of absence once I give birth. While I would love to be a part of this project I just can’t get involved knowing that I am going to have leave my patients half way through their treatment. If it works on the people on this list then it’s important that they have stability. Tonks was so disoriented in the beginning she needed a familiar face, when new people were introduced the results were not positive.”

Healer Bones looked at the young witch in front of her. “Well then. I suppose first thing I have to say is congratulations. A new baby is always exciting. The second is when should I expect to be one healer short?”

“Thank you. Harry’s quite excited about it all. Well I am too of course – but since he wasn’t home for James’ arrival – well this makes this baby extra special for him. Baby Potter is set to arrive near the end of March. I plan to work right up until the baby comes unless of course Healer Finnegan orders me off of work.” Ginny explained excitedly.

“You mean Ambrosia is your healer? And she never told me the great news!” Healer Bones said, chuckling to herself as she thought of her colleague – Ambrosia Finnegan was a notorious gossip and had to be bursting at the seams to tell someone about little Ginny Weasley. “Well Ginny, I respect your decision and I do hope that after your maternity leave that you decide to come back to St. Mungo’s. And don’t worry about Dr. O’Malley – I’ll explain why you can’t head up the project.” She rose from behind the desk and moved around to where Ginny sat. When she rose from her chair, Healer Bones embraced her in a warm hug.

“Thank you Matilda. And yes – I will be back. I love my work with the children here too much to stay away.” Ginny turned to leave but paused when she got to the door. “Oh! I almost forgot – the wedding is being held on Halloween. I do hope you’ll come – I’ll be rather disappointed if you don’t!”

Healer Bones nodded. “Of course I’ll be there. I received the invitation just before you arrived for our meeting. I expect your Mum sent them out. In fact, I may just bring Mr. Bones with me.” She chuckled at Ginny’s shocked expression. “Yes- I’m married – for quite a few years now. Don’t be so surprised! Now go – Miss Tonks will be expecting you on your round.”

Ginny smiled at her supervisor and as she closed the door behind her she realized she could learn something new about something everyday.

She made her way down to the floor Tonks’ room was on. Hearing voices inside, she proceeded inside. The room was full of sunshine coming in through the open window and Tonks was perched on her bed, talking with both Lupin and Harry.

“Good afternoon everyone.” She said, making her presence known.

“Wotcher Healer Weasley.” Tonks said cheerily, waving her over to the bed.

Ginny smiled and picked up her patient’s chart and scanned over it quickly. Everything from the night before and the morning looked to be in order. “Things are looking good Tonks.” She set the chart back on the end of the bed where it usually lay and turned to the two men sitting on the chairs. “I am going to need to do a quick examination – if the two of you don’t mind; could you leave the room please?” She asked, feeling very healerish as the words came out of her mouth.

Lupin was the first to stand. Straightening his shabby and patched jacket, he motioned to Harry. “Not a problem Miss Weasley. We’ll get out of your way for a few moments. Harry why don’t we take a stroll? There’s a particularly interesting case of a wizard growing tree branches for arms on the floor below. I found him on my wanderings a few weeks ago. He is the most fascinating fellow. Nymphadora – we’ll be back in a little while.” He finished, placing a chaste kiss on Tonks’ cheek before walking over to the door.

Ginny watched as Harry rose and started to follow Lupin towards the door. When he paused for a second in front of her, he seemed unsure of what to do. Smiling, she grabbed his hand and gave it a quick squeeze. Harry returned the smile, his green eyes flashing in the sunshine and headed out behind his fellow auror.

She waited until she heard the door click behind her before she pulled her wand and a potion vial from her robe pocket. Uncorking it and handing it to Tonks, she waited while she swallowed it. Once Tonks had ingested the potion, she gave her wand a quick wave, casting a revealing spell on Tonks to detect any traces of the curse she had been under. The aura surrounded her head for a moment - pulsing a bright blue for a few moments before it died out leaving only a few trace amounts of black curse damage in the air. Smiling, Ginny waved her wand again to banish the black wisps from the air.

“This is brilliant Tonks’ I do believe the curse is nearly obliterated from your system. The amount of curse remnants that just appeared was a trace amount. We will need to talk soon about next steps.”

“Next steps?”

“Well now you can’t stay in St. Mungo’s forever. And now that your brain and body is almost healed completely you’ll be able to go home.” Ginny replied as she wrote some information into Tonks’ chart.

“Home? But I don’t know where home is.” Tonks said, her voice growing with anxiety. “I don’t remember yet. Do you know where my home was?”

Ginny smiled and gave her a reassuring pat on the shoulders. “Well before the war you lived with Mr. Lupin at his flat. Of course – that will be something that you discuss with him. And your memory is coming back slowly. Soon enough you should be back to normal. Shall we finish up this exam then? I hear some footsteps coming down the hall.”

*~*

Harry knocked on the door of Mrs. Edgecombe’s flat and smiled to himself when he heard a small set of feet come rushing towards him. As the door flung open, he looked down to see James hanging off the doorknob, a bright smile across his face.

“Daddy - you’re back! Mummy said I got to stay with Nanny Edgy until the little hand on her clock hit the number 4.” He said, reaching up his arms for Harry to pick him up.

Obliging, he swung his son into his arms and entered the flat. Noticing Mrs. Edgecombe standing in the hall, he nodded in greeting to her. “Hello Mrs. Edgecombe.”

“Hello Harry. Please take that little goblin and come on into the living room. We were just about to finish tea. Would you care for a cup?”

Harry nodded and placed James onto the floor before taking a seat in a large blue chair in the living room. The place was strewn with toys and Harry could tell that his son had had an entertaining day. He watched as Mrs. Edgecombe conjured a new cup for Harry and poured him some tea from the cheery orange teapot on the coffee table.

“Thank you. So how was James today?” He asked, taking a sip and setting the cup on the coffee table.

“We had a great day. Ginny did tell me you had a spot of trouble getting him out the door this morning. But that’s neither here nor there – you’ll get the hang of things soon enough. Now I hear that you’ve decided on a day for the wedding.” Mrs. Edgecombe replied as Harry nodded.

“Nanny Edgy, may I have another biscuit?” James asked, climbing up beside Harry.

“James – I don’t think that’s a wise idea. Your mum has a big dinner planned for us and she wouldn’t want you to ruin it. Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione are coming over tonight.” Harry said, checking his watch. “In fact, we should get back to the flat; I promised Mummy that I’d get the potatoes peeled for her.” Tossing the remainder of the tea back, he rose. “Thanks for the tea Mrs. Edgecombe. Let’s get going James. We’ve got potatoes to peel!”

James looked at his father with a look of disinterest on his face. “Ok Daddy – but I don’t like peeling ‘tatoes. Even Grammum doesn’t make me peel ‘tatoes yet. Bye Nanny Edgy!” He said, giving her a quick hug. “See you tomorrow!”

“Bye James – be a good boy!” She chuckled and he waved as they went to the door.

*~*

The knock came just as Ginny was putting the finishing touches on the roasted chicken she had prepared. Knowing Harry was helping James get ready for bed; she set it in the middle of the table and rushed out to answer the door.

“Ron! Hermione! Hello!” She cried as she pulled the door open and stepped back to let her brother and sister in law into the walk way. Giving them both a hug, she looked at Hermione’s large belly. “My, my! Are you sure there are only twins in there?” She teased, laughing when Hermione turned pink. “Ah – it’s quite different when you’re the object of the teasing isn’t it?” She commented, reminding the couple of how badly Ginny had been teased when she was carrying James. “Come on in. Dinner’s ready, Harry’s just getting James ready for bed. They’ll be out in a minute.”

The kitchen table was covered with food. There was a steaming bowl of mashed potatoes and rich gravy next to them. Bright green peas and yellow corn stood ready to be scooped onto the plates and in the middle of the table was the roasted chicken. Ron immediately dashed to the table, sitting down and looking at the other two eagerly.

“This is brilliant Ginny - I’m starving! Hermione wouldn’t let me have a snack before we came over.” He said, glancing at his wife.

“Because I knew a snack would make us late. It’s only an hour later than our usual mealtime. Honestly – you think I starved him on a regular basis.” Hermione said, rolling her eyes at Ginny and sitting down beside Ron.

“Well Hermione – from the way I hear it – Ron’s been starved all his life.” Harry said as he came into the room with James in tow. He paused beside Hermione and gave her a warm kiss on the cheek. “You look lovely tonight. Pregnancy does agree with you.”

“Says the man who doesn’t have to live with her.” Ron said, holding up his hands to shush both women. “He’ll know what I mean now that Ginny’s as pregnant as well.”

“What should he know Ronald? Perhaps you should enlighten us all?” Ginny said, taking a seat beside James.

Ron looked at his sister and saw the fire dancing in her eyes; he could see traces of a temper in them and blushed. “Nothing at all Ginny. It’s truly a joy to have the woman you love carry your child.” Leaning over he lifted Hermione’s hand and kissed it gently.

“Can we eat now? “ James said, from his spot between his parents. Ginny looked down at him and smiled.

“Of course we can Quidditch-Bug.” She said as she picked up his plate and started to fix his supper for him.

As food was dished around, Harry felt it was a good time to tell them about the impending news release. “Since everyone is here tonight, I think you should know that the Daily Prophet will be running a story about me tomorrow.”

“The Prophet runs a story about you every day Harry.” Ron said, piling the potatoes onto his already stuffed plate.

“Not like this – tomorrow they’re running the story about my retirement from active duty. Remus and Mad-Eye think that it’s important you all know. I do too. I expect there will be a flurry of reporters wanting interviews after they find out what is going on.” He explained, looking from Ron to Hermione to James and finally to Ginny, who reached out and patted his hand lovingly.

“No worries Darling. We’ll get through this. If the reporters harass us too much I’ll hex them.” She said simply.

*~*

After dinner, the trio retired to the living room, while Ginny tried to persuade James to head to bed.

“But I want Daddy to read me a story!” He whined, standing his ground firmly in the hallway.

“Daddy wants to catch up with Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione. He hasn’t seen them much since he got home. How about we go into Mummy’s room and read a book in there – then you can sleep in the big bed tonight with us?” She asked, kneeling in front of him.

“NO! I want Daddy!” James reiterated, his cheeks starting to turn red under the few freckles he had.

Ginny paused for a moment, holding her breath and counting to ten. She knew James was being this way because it was late. When she’d arrived home from her shift at St. Mungo’s that afternoon, she had told him he could stay up and have dinner with the adults as long as he promised to head to bed after dessert. Of course, dinner had taken longer than expected, the four of them reminiscing over old adventures and their days at Hogwarts. When the last bit of custard had been spooned into Ron’s mouth, Ginny had announced that it was time for James to head to bed and she was immediately hit with resistance. He had been enjoying the stories of the past as much as the trio and Ginny but she could tell he was tired. In the middle of Ron’s reenactment of his involvement in the third task during the tri-wizard tournament, James’ eyes had begun to droop and he had leaned into Ginny’s side. She then shooed the three friends into the living room and declared it was bedtime for James.

“Quidditch-bug – it’s time for bed. You’re tired and need to get some sleep. You don’t want to be cranky tomorrow do you?” She asked, trying her best to keep her voice calm.

“I want Daddy!” He shouted, his bottom lip sticking out in a pout.

Hearing the commotion in the hall, Harry poked his head around the corner to find the two of them in a stand off of sorts. He could sense that Ginny was trying her best to stay calm and attempt to get James off to bed in a somewhat quiet manner; while James was on the defensive, ready to dig in his heels until he got what he wanted.

“Gin? Do you need any help?” He asked quietly.

She turned and met his eyes but before she could answer, James had flung himself at Harry’s knees.

“Daddy – I want YOU to read me a story!” He cried, tears wobbling on his edges of his eyes, ready to spill over. Harry bent over and lifted his son up to eye level.

“I think someone is extra tired tonight. Uncle Ron and I shouldn’t have been telling stories so late.” Harry said, giving him a hug. “Now I think it’s time for you to head to bed. It’s Mummy’s turn to tuck you in. I’ve been hogging all of your tucking in time since I’ve been home. I think she misses that special time with you. Ok?” He said, brushing the tears from James’ eyes. “Why don’t we go out and say good night to Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione once more and then Mummy will take you into bed?”

Ginny rose from where she had been kneeling on the floor and walked over to where the two stood. Her heart leapt in her chest as she watched the exchange between the two. Just last week, Harry had been at a loss for words or action when James had pulled a similar stunt when he was overtired. Now he was handling it like an old pro. When James buried his head in Harry’s shoulder, she mouthed ‘thank you’ to him before he took their son into the living room. She could hear the quiet good nights and kisses James gave his Aunt and Uncle before they returned. Harry then passed James into Ginny’s arms.

“Good night mate.” He said, laying a kiss on his forehead, before pressing his lips quickly against Ginny’s cheek.

“Night Daddy.” James said, and wrapped his small arms and legs around Ginny’s body. Turning before he could change his mind and resume his tantrum, she walked down the hall to her room.

Upon entering, she used her wandless magic to spread a soft light throughout the room and throw the covers back. Sitting down on the bed, James quietly climbed out of her arms and lay down in the middle. Despite the fact that he had just thrown a tantrum; the tear marks down his face made Ginny feel bad. She leaned over as she tucked the blankets around him.

“My little Quidditch-Bug.” She said softly, brushing the dark locks of hair from his forehead before rubbing his cheeks gently with her fingers. “You’re very sleepy aren’t you?” She whispered. James met her gaze and yawned widely while he nodded his head. “Do you still want a story? Or would you just like Mummy to just lay with you for a little bit?”

“Just cuddle.” He whispered sleepily. “Mummy? I need my golden snitch.” Ginny settled back against the pillows on the bed and pulled him close. She silently accio’d the stuffed snitch from the other bedroom, watching as it sailed into the room and onto her lap. James wrapped an arm around it and closed his eyes. “”Good night.” He yawned as he started to drift off.

“Good night Quidditch-bug.” She whispered back, rubbing his back slowly up and down, lulling him into sleep and feeling her own senses growing tired, drifted off to sleep herself.

Out in the living room, Harry brought out fresh tea and biscuits for his friends. As he poured tea for Hermione and offered her the biscuits, Ron teased him.

“Harry! I never realized you would domesticate so easily! What does Ginny threaten you with?” He said, laughing when Harry blushed.

“Not everyone is a barbarian like you Ronald.” His wife interjected, slapping his arm lightly. Sniffing at him, she gestured at him with the hand that held a fresh biscuit. “And don’t think you aren’t – just because you pick up your quidditch robes occasionally does not make one refined.”

Harry chuckled at the couple and settled back onto the chair. He watched them argue for a few more moments. Neither really meant the words as they sounded, Harry could tell by the way they looked at each other. Their eyes never left each others as they argued; seemingly forgetting that Harry was in the room with them. It was a lot like how they acted before they even knew they loved each other but now he knew it wouldn’t end with one of them storming out of the room in a rage; it had the possibility of ending in a way that Harry did not want to fathom. The quick mental image that flashed in his mind made him choke on his tea and fall into a coughing fit and make the others remember he was in the room. Hermione ended their little back and forth by shoving a cookie in Ron’s mouth.

“Harry are you ok?” She asked as she tried to get up to go and help him.

Waving her off, he nodded. “Tea just went down the wrong way that’s all. Stay where you are. I’ll be ok.”

Hermione settled back down against the back of the sofa, Ron’s arm fitting comfortably around her, her free hand rubbing her large belly.

“Have you decided what you’re going to do Harry?” She asked.

“About what?” He asked, thinking about how he couldn’t wait for Ginny to be as pregnant as Hermione.

“Now that you’re retiring from active auror duty, you need to find a job.” She responded, leaning forward in her seat. “I’ve been thinking about it and I’ve come up with a few options – “

“Aw come on Hermione. He doesn’t need to find a job yet. Not everyone is a workaholic like you. Let him relax, he’s only been off fighting for the wizarding world since birth. He deserves some time off.” Ron said a light tone in his voice.

“Ron – he can’t just do nothing. They can’t live on Ginny’s salary as a healer forever. They are going to have two children soon; maybe she wants to become a stay at home mother. And then what would they do for money? But if you ask me, two salaries is needed in the wizarding world these days.”

“Hey – Mum and Dad got along just fine with one salary.” He responded, his cheeks turning slightly pink. “Mind you we weren’t rich, but you know well enough that we were happy growing up. Besides – Harry has his inheritance, don’t you Harry?”

Harry looked up at his friends as they watched him, waiting for his answer. “Well I do have my inheritance. And I know you’ll be surprised Hermione – but I have been thinking about what I’m going to do once this bloody trial is over. I have some plans but there are some things that I want to talk with Ginny about.” He explained.

“As long as you have some plans Harry. Remember we’re here if you need to talk. I still think you’d be brilliant as a teacher. Perhaps at the auror academy? Hogwarts would keep you away for the school year. You should think about that.” Hermione said eagerly.

“Hey – speaking of Ginny – where is she?” Ron said, looking about the room, as if his sister would suddenly appear before them.

Harry used a bit of legimency to discover where she was. “Sleeping. I expect she lay down with James for a moment and fell asleep herself. She’s tired a lot these days.”

“Being pregnant makes a witch tired Harry.” Ron said, glancing at his watch. “In fact – we had better get home ourselves Hermione. It’s getting rather late and remember what Healer MacEachern said about resting.”

“Did the two of you want to floo from here?” He asked, as he rose to stand beside them. Moving to give Hermione a hug, he laughed when her belly hindered his attempts. “When is it that you’re due anyways?”

Hermione laughed as well as she gave him a light punch in the arm. “I have another month and a half to go – but you shouldn’t tease me – I could go into labour during your wedding.”

“Well that would be the icing on the cake wouldn’t it?” Harry laughed. “As long as it’s after the ceremony – I think Ginny would be fine with that. Now get going. See the two of you soon.”

“Night Harry.” Ron said, “We’ll see you on Saturday at the Burrow yeah?”

“Yeah – I don’t think Molly would let us not come. The lists she has are a little out of control.” He laughed, giving his other best friend a quick hug. Harry watched as the two took a handful of floo powder from the pot on the mantle and headed home.

When the last flames of the floo had faded away, Harry extinguished the lights throughout the flat before heading down the hall towards the bedroom. Entering the room he found James curled under the covers against Ginny’s sleeping form. Quietly closing the door, so he wouldn’t disturb them, he prepared for sleep. Dressed in his pyjama pants and old t-shirt, he knelt down beside Ginny’s side of the bed. She had fallen asleep in her clothes, propped up against the pillows. She had slipped down into a more prone position as she relaxed causing her shirt to ride up and expose an expanse of her stomach. As he was about to wake her to get her into some sleeping clothes herself, he noticed the small bump that was exposed.

Harry’s heart leapt into his throat as he stared at it in awe. There was a movement in the bed and he glanced up to watch James roll over under the blankets and spread his small limbs across Harry’s side of the bed. Looking back at Ginny, he couldn’t imagine how at one point in time James had been a small bump as well. Tears formed in his eyes when he realized once again what he had missed when he had left Ginny. He reached out and softly placed his fingertips on her skin.

“Harry? What time is it?” Ginny asked quietly, sleep making her voice gravelly. Sitting up slightly, she placed her hand on top of his, rubbing them both against her stomach.

“Um – late. Around eleven I think.” Harry said, using his free hand to brush away the tears from his eyes. “Ron and Hermione left a little bit ago. We got carried away talking about the old days.”

Ginny pushed the hair out of her eyes and let her eyes adjust to the dim light of the room. It was then she noticed Harry seemed out of sorts. “Hey – what’s the matter?”

He sat back on his heels and looked at her. “Nothing. You should get ready for bed.” Despite his words, Ginny didn’t believe him and moved from the bed to kneel on the floor beside him.

“No way Potter.” She said, wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him close enough that their foreheads touched. “You’re not just going to say nothing and expect me to go right back to sleep do you? What’s wrong love?”

Harry stayed stiff for a moment, but as Ginny nuzzled her nose into the side of her neck, she could feel him relax and wrap his arms around waist. Knowing he would start to talk when he was ready, Ginny held onto him tightly and let the quiet of the room envelope them. It was a trick she used with James many times and knowing how much he was like his father she knew it would work on him as well.

Harry let out a sigh as he let Ginny snuggle into him. He knew there was no way she was going to let him go until he told her what he was feeling. As her fingers curled into the hair at the nape of his neck, he felt her lips press against his neck just below his earlobe. “I’m sorry Ginny.”

At his words, she pulled back from him and looked at his face. “Sorry for what?” She asked, confused at his words. “Did you leave the milk on the counter?”

A smile quirked up at the corner of his mouth. “No – no. I just realized that James was as tiny as the new baby is right now. And I realized I missed so much when I went off traipsing around the world. Now I feel like the world’s biggest sop.” He said feeling embarrassed.

Ginny smiled slightly and pulled Harry’s head down against her shoulder, embracing him tightly. “Oh love – you’re not the world’s biggest sop. I mean – it was a lot to miss of course – but you were saving the world. If you hadn’t been saving the world, James would be growing up in fear. And we probably wouldn’t be having this baby would we? Besides – I don’t think you could love James any more than you already do. ” She paused for a moment and kissed his messy black hair. “And Harry? He loves you as much as his little heart will let him. Don’t ever forget that.”

As calm settled around him, Harry relaxed slightly and pulled her close and let his fears slip away. Ginny’s word rang true in his head and in his heart and they eased the guilt he felt for leaving them. He lifted his head from her shoulder and looked at her in the dim light of the room. Her hair was messy from sleep and her eyes still had traces of sleep in them, but there was a glow about her, it was evident under the freckles that dusted her nose and cheeks.

“You know I’ve always loved your freckles?” He said quietly, kissing her softly.

“Well I should hope so. Because try as I might, they won’t go away.” Ginny said her tone light as she realized that his mood had lightened. “I used to ask Mum if she could magic them away and she wouldn’t.”

“I’m glad she didn’t. I enjoy counting them. In fact – I think there might be a new one right over here.” He said, nipping at her ear; smiling when she giggled lightly as his lips touched her. As she yawned, Harry once again remembered the time. “Hey– we should get to bed yeah? It’s getting even later.” Standing, he helped her to her feet and gave her another quick hug.

Ginny nodded against his chest and squeezed him tightly, her cheek rubbing against the soft, worn cotton of his shirt. “You’re right – it is late isn’t it? I still can’t believe I fell asleep with Ron and Hermione here.” She commented, looking up at him while she rubbed his back lightly.

He looked down at her and kissed her nose. “It’s ok. It was all rather boring. We were just telling stories of the Hogwarts days. Ron gave me some infinite wisdom about pregnant women. Now get ready for bed will you? It’s you that always reminds me how James will be up bright and early.”

Ginny laughed and slipped out Harry’s arms to dress for bed. As she slipped out of her clothes and into the nightgown she watched him from the corner of her eye. He gently rearranged James under the covers to give them both some room in the bed with him. After they had both climbed into the bed, he extinguished the lights and let the room fall into darkness. When her eyes had adjusted to the change of the light, Ginny turned over to see Harry also lying on his side, looking at her. Silently she reached out her hand and looped her fingers around his.

“Good night Harry.” She said quietly before stifling a yawn.

Harry lifted Ginny’s hand to his lips and kissed the back of it gently. “Night Love.” He said, watching her until she had fallen asleep.

A/N: Greeting faithful readers - thanks so much for your patience while I got this chapter ready - I hope it was worth the wait!

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