Chapter 3: The House of Potter
“They're here!” James Potter had been sitting on the front porch railing of 7 Genista Way for nearly an hour, feet swinging languidly back and forth. His well worn trainers had thumped rhythmically against the whitewashed oak spindles, beating out a tune of tranquility and ease. Now, however, they were propelling him down the path in front of the cottage and out toward the road to meet the Weasleys.
“James! Don't go running out into the street!” Ginny had appeared in the front door, and was now leaning up against its frame, fiddling with a stray strand of her red mane. When James showed no signs of slowing down, she shook her head and laughed. The boy was bound and determined to cause trouble, and Ginny couldn't help but wonder if his middle name – Fred – was the culprit. But there was little to worry about here on the outskirts of Godric's Hollow. Traffic was very light owing to the burgeoning magical population, and children playing in the street were more likely to get hit by a rogue bludger than an automobile.
As the car pulled up to the grass in front of the house, James ran around behind it and directly to the front passenger side door. Ginny saw her brother, who was sitting there, glance sideways at Hermione before pressing his face to the glass. Ginny had no idea what he'd done then, but James howled with laughter. Hermione appeared oblivious to the entire thing, and was waving happily up at Ginny, who returned the gesture apologetically.
“Guess what, Uncchml Fhwom!” James cried, the latter half being smothered by Ron's body. He had exited the car and pulled the five year old into a great bear hug so quickly, that James hadn't even had the chance to get his arms up. “Guess what!” he exclaimed again after the hug was broken. Ron made a great show oh hemming and hawing, complete with head tilting and finger tapping upon his temple.
“Keep tapping Ron, and your brain's going to fall out through your ear.” Ginny had made her way to the car, and was embracing Hermione tightly. She felt her sister-in law's stomach start to contract wildly, and she could tell that Hermione was trying her hardest to keep from laughing.
“Funny,” Ron intoned under his breath, glaring daggers at his sister.
“Thanks, I thought so.” Ginny let go of Hermione, and after exchanging pleasantries, stooped down to hug Rose, who had just climbed down out of the back seat.
“A broom, no way!” she heard Ron enthuse from the other side of the car, and she grinned widely. Harry had gotten James a real beginner's broom just days ago, and he hadn't stopped talking about it since. Hermione, tugging at the straps of Hugo's car seat, looked at Ginny sideways.
“Are you sure that's safe?” she asked quietly.
“No, but who's going to tell him not to fly? Certainly not me. By the time I was his age I'd already borrowed each of my brother's brooms several times.” Ginny closed her eyes and for a brief moment she was back in a field at the Burrow, skimming low over the grass with her shoes off. No. If James wanted to fly, she'd do everything she could to encourage it.
“Quidditch,” grumbled Hermione, and Ginny knew that she was upset that her best female friend was just as avid a fan as the boys were. “And what is wrong with these straps?” she asked her voice rising and the back of her neck starting to turn red.
“Would you like me to-” But Hermione had already withdrawn her wand, and casting a furtive glance at the neighbor's house, proceeded to prod the stubborn straps with its tip. They instantly released, and she scooped Hugo up into her arms. Holding the one year old seemed to calm Hermione instantly, and Ginny smiled, knowing precisely how she felt. Hugo and little Lily had been born only days apart, and the concurrent pregnancies had caused the two good friends to develop something of a special bond.
“Come on Unc, you've got to see it!” James had now taken hold of Ron's hand and was pulling him towards the house. Ron looked back at the two women and the two children, and mouthed an apology.
“Boys,” whispered Hermione into the top of Hugo's head.
“Will be boys,” finished Ginny. The two looked at each other and burst into laughter that lasted until they were well inside the house.
“So where's Harry?” Hermione asked, once Rose had been unwrapped and given a bit of chocolate to help with the itching.
“Well, he was supposed to be setting the table, but I suspect he's probably gone to find Ron and help James brag about the broom.” But to Ginny's great surprise, Harry was right where he was supposed to be, and the table was set and then some.
“You've outdone yourself, Harry,” Ginny commended him, after she and Hermione had entered the dining room. The room did indeed look spectacular. Normally a cozy place more reminiscent of the Burrow, it now looked like an upscale restaurant complete with oversized crystal chandelier, draperies hanging from the walls, and four high back armchairs around the normal table.
“Where did you get these goblets?” Ginny asked, picking up one of the hefty brass cups that were located at each place setting. Harry twirled his wand in his hand and whistled nonchalantly while refusing to look Ginny in the eye. She turned it over in her hands slowly, admiring the fine filigree. She'd had her eyes on a similar set the last time she'd been in Diagon Alley.
“Well they're very nice, it'll be a shame when they get transfigured back into the normal boring glasses.” Ginny sighed; she had known it was too good to be true. Money wasn't exactly tight, but Harry had a habit of spending it on the kids rather than her.
“Transfigured? What, do you think I'm Hermione?” Hermione's cheeks turned pink, and she busied herself with keeping Rose from itching herself. “There's no way I could have transfigured our glasses into these.”
“You mean?” Harry nodded, and Ginny let out an excited squeak and she started towards Harry, fully intending to give him a kiss. However, she only made it halfway before she started to feel a nagging doubt tickling the back of her mind. “What did you do?” she asked.
“What do you mean?” Harry replied, putting on an air of innocence. “I can't buy the woman I love a gift?”
“Well of co-”
“Then that's settled. I didn't do anything at all. A little Snidget - all right, not-so-little, I don't think Millicent's ever been called little in her life."
"Would you get to the point already?" Ginny urged. She could feel the corners of her mouth twitching involuntarily. Harry put up his hands as if to surrender, but he continued.
"Anyway, she told me that you were looking at these in Diagon Alley. Of course, she only told me so she could point out how poor your taste was, but I wanted to do something special for you, so I jinxed her. And then I went and bought the goblets too. They're an 'I love you gift.' Nothing more, nothing less, all right?” Ginny could feel a roar of desire building in her stomach, and she was feeling several degrees warmer than she had just moments ago.
“You're a piece of work Harry James Potter,” she closed the distance between them and planted a wet kiss on him.
“Mmm... what?” Ginny's grin spread from ear to ear. She never grew tired of casting her own special brand of magic over the Boy Who Lived. The kiss lasted several seconds longer than was strictly necessary, but Ginny was in no hurry.
The sound of a throat being cleared in the doorway to the rest of the house finally broke the two apart. Ron was standing there with a smirk on his face, and James was standing beside him with his hands over his eyes.
“Is it safe to look yet?” he asked. Everyone laughed.
“Good to see you Ron,” said Harry, once the laughter had died down. “But I wonder if you've noticed that your daughter's gone a bit green?” He smiled kindly at Rose, who scratched in reply.
“I suspect yours will be getting there shortly, so long as everything goes to plan. You sure you can handle three sick kids?”
“What else has an unemployed wizard got to look forward to?” Harry responded. Ginny smiled; Harry's decision to stay at home and raise the kids had been an easy one to make. He did, after all, have a lifetime's worth of family experiences to make up for.
“Speaking of which, where are Al and Lily?” Hermione asked, eying the table set for four people.
“Upstairs with the baby-sitter of course,” Harry answered, “It's not often that I get much adult company, so I thought perhaps it could just be us four in here. Mrs. Figg will look after the kids if that's all right with you?” Hermione smiled and nodded.
“Of course, Harry, I think that's a great idea. I'll just deliver Hugo and Rose, then shall I?”
“James, why don't you show your Aunt Hermione where Mrs. Figg is?” prodded Ginny. James nodded and sprinted out of the room. Hermione took hold of Rose's hand, and still carrying Hugo, followed after him.
“I'll be right back,” she called over her shoulder.
Dinner was a happy affair, with the four friends talking loudly and laughing often, and they remained at the table talking for a long time after the last bite of dessert.
“So how are things at Azkaban?” Harry asked Ron, taking a sip of Butterbeer. Ron shuddered at the question, and the mood immediately grew somber.
“Fenrir Greyback sends his love,” he mumbled, and he put his arm around Hermione protectively. “He's raising something of a werewolf army in there, and there's really not much we can do to stop it.”
“Oh isn't it horrible what's happened to them?” Ginny had been hoping this subject would come up. She had to talk to Hermione about it.
“It certainly is,” said Ron, “but the fact remains that the vast majority of them that are imprisoned are now looking to Greyback for leadership, and he's only too happy to oblige.” Hermione slammed her goblet down on the table – Ginny grimaced briefly, hoping that it wouldn't break – and anyone who knew her as well as the present company did, knew she was going to start a rant.
“Well honestly, they wouldn't be looking to Greyback if they hadn't been put in Azkaban in the first place! Most of these people were just regular folks like Lupin before their incarceration. Tell me Harry, if you were thrown into jail just because of who you were, not because you did anything wrong, wouldn't you rally around someone who promised revenge?” During the course of her speech, Hermione had risen to her feet, and she was gesticulating wildly.
“Yes, yes I suppose I would,” answered Harry, deathly afraid of disagreeing Hermione when she was in a state such as this. She slumped back down into her chair, and crossed her arms over her chest. Ron once again reached out and put his arm around her.
“Kingsley has been great on the whole,” Ginny chipped in, “but I really think he was wrong to cave into the pressure of the rest of the wizarding world on this one. Would we have just sat idly by had Lupin been alive?” The four friends said nothing, and could not look at each other.
“All right,” resolved Hermione after nearly a minute of silence, “I'm on it.”
“Well that's as good as taken care of then,” said Ron with an attempt at humor. “Once the great house-elf liberator is on the case, no injustice stands a chance.” He drew his arm tighter around Hermione, and turned to kiss her temple. She didn't fight him, but didn't respond either. Ginny could see the wheels starting to turn in her head already.
“Hey, Hermione, I've been meaning to ask,” began Harry, “why are you and I immune to Dragon Pox? I've known you your whole wizarding life, and I think I'd remember if you'd turned all green and pock-marked.” Hermione frowned, and she visibly had to change the direction that her train of thought was taking.
“We had Chicken Pox. It's the same exact virus, and it behaves in the same manner. Which one you get all depends on who you catch it from. If you get the virus from a Muggle, you get Chicken Pox. If you catch it from someone with magical blood, it's Dragon Pox.”
“Chicken Pox? What, do you grow feathers and walk around clucking?” asked Ron. “Because I'd quite like to have seen that.”
“No, Ron.” Hermione was clearly getting exasperated, and Ginny felt bad for Harry. He'd picked a bad time to broach the subject. “No feathers. And no clucking for that matter, just a bunch of itchy red spots. And you've already seen me with fur and a tail. That should be enough to last you a lifetime.” Ron smiled and closed his eyes, and Ginny was sure he was picturing the adult Hermione with a tail.
“But I never had Chicken Pox, Hermione,” Harry said quietly. Hermione's fierce mood disappeared suddenly, as she gasped and raised a hand to her mouth.
“Tell me you're joking!”
“I'm not. I never had them. Dudley did, and I remember thinking how lucky I was not to get it too.”
“I'm so sorry!”
“Why, do you think I'll get it now?”
“Probably, you hugged Rose, didn't you?” Harry nodded, slowly. “I tried to check with your family, Harry, I really did. I couldn't seem to find your Aunt and Uncle anywhere.” Harry let out a derisive laugh.
“No, I shouldn't think so,” he spat.
“They're not-” began Ron before Harry cut across him.
“No, but good as. They've had a Fidelius Charm placed on their house. Wherever it might be. They're the secret keepers, and they've set it up so that no one with wizarding blood can get anywhere near them.”
“But how do you know?” asked Ron.
“I ran into Dudley a few years back.”
“Oh, I'm sorry.”
“No, it wasn't that bad to be honest.” Ginny remembered the day Harry had come home and told her about his meeting with Dudley. The two had gone out for a cup of coffee and had got on well enough. “But I'm still going to catch Dragon Pox, aren't I. Anything I can do to prevent it Hermione?” Hermione had tears sliding down her cheeks, and her cheeks were flushed.
“I'm sorry Harry, no. I'm sorry.”
“You can stop apologizing now, it's not like it's going to be that bad. If the kids can do it, so can I.” Ginny took his hand underneath the table, and gave it a squeeze. She leaned over and whispered in his ear.
“You're right, it won't be that bad, because I'll be playing Mediwitch.” Harry was sure he could feel his temperature rise, and he was positive it wasn't due to a fever. Not yet.
A/N: Wow, just wow. That's all I have to say about the response I've gotten for this story, which has been nothing short of amazing. I love you all, each and every one of you. Readers, reviewers, fans, detractors... you've all made these last few days incredibly special for me, as responding to your reviews has been a blast.
This chapter is not my favorite bit of work, but it is also not the way I originally planned on using it. It was going to be the last chapter, with a whole bunch of details coming out during the dinner. But then I got to thinking, isn't it much more fun to show what's going on rather than just tell what's going on? So I've decided to lengthen this out a little bit, and take a few more sidetrips like we did with the Ministry. As such, this chapter is a little light on resolutions, as I'm saving them for the next two chapters, which... if everything goes as planned, will end the fic. But of course I reserve the right to change my mind!
I appreciate your taking the time to read this, and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in a review. I hope this chapter hasn't been too much of a letdown for those of you eager to see Harry and Ginny. There's more to Harry's unemployment than Ginny would have you think, and we will find out what Ginny does for a living at some point, so no worries.
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