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Chapter 14
Epilogue

George leaned back from the table and placed his new hat atop his head, “Thank you Victoire, you did a great job helping your Mum pick this out.”

“You like it?”

“Most definitely,” he pulled his blonde niece onto his lap.

“Watch what it does,” she reached up and tapped the hat twice, and it erupted into a blaze of sparkly lights.

“Even better!” George laughed. “Did you have anything to do with this?” he turned to look at Bill.

“No, but I wish I could claim it. She thought Fred would like it,” Bill answered.

Angelina stepped next to George and handed him their son. “So, do you think he likes it?” he looked down to Victoire.

She carefully peeled the blanket away from the sleeping boy, “He’s still asleep.” Her mouth settled into a frown.

“It’ll grow on him,” George assured her. “I want to thank all of you for coming tonight. I know its hard to get a brood like this together.”

“I wish we could have done it on your actual birthday,” Molly sat in the chair next to George.

“Only a week late - almost a record for this crowd.” George looked around at his entire family gathered in the Weasley kitchen. “I definitely wasn’t sure you were going to make it.” He gave a pointed look at Ginny sitting across the table from him.

“I wouldn’t have missed it. After all, I knew what Ron and Hermione were giving you. I had to watch you open that.” Yawning, Ginny reached back and took Harry’s hand, placing it in the middle of her back. Taking the hint, Harry began to massage her lower back.

“Past your bedtime already?” Ron teased his sister.

“Not really. I just wish we could teach him when he’s supposed to sleep,” Ginny glared down at her ample stomach.

“How much longer do you have?” Audrey asked.

“Any day now,” Ginny smiled.

Gradually, the family members made their way into the sitting room. Dominique and Victoire curled up on the couch as the adults continued their conversations. Ginny took a deep breath and linked her fingers with Harry’s. She dropped her head onto his shoulder.

“Tired?” Harry looked down at Ginny.

“A bit,” Ginny took a deep breath. “Maybe we should go.”

Harry helped Ginny up from her seat on the love-seat.

“Going so soon?” Molly looked curiously at her daughter.

“I haven’t been sleeping well. Sorry, George.” Together, Harry and Ginny stepped into the floo.

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“Do you think I fooled anyone?” Ginny looked up at Harry with concern.

“Not your mum,” Harry shook his head. “I wouldn’t be surprised if she steps right through that floo. How are you feeling?”

“My back is killing me,” Ginny leaned over the chair and clutched it for support.

“Kreacher!” Harry called out. When the elf appeared before him, Harry addressed him, “Can you draw a warm bath for Ginny?”

“Of course,” Kreacher nodded and disappeared.

Ginny began to make her way up the stairs.

“Do you need any help?” Harry called after her.

“No, I just want to try to relax. I’ll let you know if I need anything,” Ginny gave a hesitant smile.

Harry walked to the window and stared out into the night. He couldn’t believe it; he was going to be a father.....tonight.

The flames in the floo turned a brilliant green, and Molly Weasley stepped out. Frowning at her son-in-law, she asked, “How far apart are her contractions?”

“Based on how often she was squeezing my hand, about five minutes,” Harry averted his eyes.

“And you didn’t say anything?” she accused. “Where is she?”

“In the bath,” Harry pointed up the stairs.

“Well, at least she’s doing something her healer told her,” Molly muttered as she marched up the stairs.

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Ron stepped out of the floo and reached back to take Hermione’s hand. A gentle spring breeze ruffled the front curtains and brought the scent of wildflowers into the living room. Hearing footsteps on the stairs, he wasn’t surprised to see his mum scurrying into the room.

“Good morning,” she whispered, greeting Ron with a hug before turning her attention to Hermione.

“How is Ginny?” Hermione asked.

“Oh, she’s doing wonderfully well! They both are,” she beamed with tears in her eyes.

“When did he finally make his appearance?” asked Ron.

“Not till 5 a.m.”

“Poor Ginny!” Ron shook his head.

“I think the better choice of words is poor Harry,” Molly laughed. “I’m not sure if his hand will ever be the same.”

“Do you think they’d mind if we go up?” Hermione peeked around Molly’s shoulder.

“Don’t stay too long. They’ve both exhausted. James hasn’t really slept yet,” Molly yawned.

“Mum, why don’t you go home for a bit? You look dead on your feet,” Ron stared at his mother’s tired face and ushered her toward the floo.

“We’ll stay here in case they need any help,” Hermione offered.

“Well,” Molly looked anxiously back and forth between the new arrivals, “it was a very long night.” She unsuccessfully stifled a yawn. “You’ll call if you need anything? You’re not exactly experienced at dealing with newborns.”

“We promise,” Hermione nodded as Molly stepped into the floo.

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Hermione knocked softly on the partially closed door.

“Come in,” Ginny called out.

Together, Ron and Hermione stepped into Harry and Ginny’s room. Ginny was propped up in the bed, her hair still damp; she fastened the top button on her nightdress as they walked in. A tiny bundle resting on her arm stirred and gave a small whimper.

“Shh, you’re going to wake your Daddy,” Ginny nodded to Harry reclining on their love-seat with his eyes closed.

“I’m not asleep,” he muttered.

“Sure you’re not,” Ginny teased.
“Long night?” Ron hesitantly asked as he sat next to Harry on the couch.

“A bit,” Harry nodded.

Hermione stood next to Ginny - staring down at the baby’s bright blue eyes.

“Would you like to hold him?” Ginny turned to Hermione.

“May I?” Hermione broke into a broad grin as she reached out to pick up her nephew. Clutching the baby to her chest, her eyes met Ron’s. “Do you want us to take him so you can sleep?”

Ginny looked gratefully up at her, “That would be lovely. He hasn’t figured out that he’s supposed to be very tired this morning. James, you be good for Aunt Hermione and Uncle Ron.” She leaned back into her pillow.

Ron came to stand at his wife’s side, “You two get some sleep. We’ll be fine for an hour or so. After all, we’re going to need the practice.”

Harry sat up and stared at his two best friends, “You’re not?”

“Just found out yesterday,” Ron’s excitement was evident on his face.

“I’m due in November,” Hermione added.

“Does Mum know yet?” Ginny asked.

“No, we were going to tell her, but she dissappeared from the party. Something about this little one deciding to make his arrival,” Ron nodded down at James.

“Sorry about that,” Ginny laughed.

“You didn’t do it on purpose,” Hermione shook her head and patted Ginny’s arm. “Go to sleep.” Ginny’s eyes drifted closed as Ron and Hermione took James downstairs.

Ron slowly walked around the room, talking softly to the little one in his arms, “Now, little man, you’re a member of a very special family. Your dad, he won’t tell you any of this himself - too noble of him. He’s a hero, but he’s not alone. You have a lot of heroes in your family, and your Uncle Ron is going to make sure you know all about them.......”

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A/N: I want to thank all of you for sharing this journey with me. Yes, both “Shattered Pieces” and “Darkness Rising” are complete now. There isn’t a third story to follow.

7/4/2009 - Update

Surprisingly enough, there was a third story to follow. I've just begun on the last installment to the trilogy, "Harry Potter: Secrets Revealed." It is a great departure for me, since it moves the characters into "after epilogue" territory. So far, it is developing at a much slower pace than most of my stories, but I'm hoping that gives it a richer plot. Please, don't hesitate to check it out!

I am still working on my YA series. I think I'll have the first book in the hands of an agent by late summer. In the not-too-distant future, I hope you have a chance to see a note from “N.E.P.” in an acknowledgment in your local bookstore.

Thanks for all your reviews, reads, and encouraging words in the journey. You, my readers, are truly the reason that “Darkness Rising” came into being.

Thanks a million!
-N.E.P.


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