Lilies In Autumn


Story Summary:
Lilies don't just bloom in the spring. Harry and Ginny welcome Lily into their lives.

Chapter 03 - Asking For Trouble


Harry blindly reached across the bed for Ginny. It was cold, and Ginny produced enough heat while she was sleeping so that it reminded Harry of sleeping with a hot water bottle. Of course, she made up for it by putting her cold hands and feet all over him when she was conscious. 'Gin?' He sat up, reaching for his glasses. She wasn't in their bedroom. Sighing, Harry pushed the bedding back and swung his feet to the floor. 'Ginny?' He went down the corridor, the carpet runner muffling his footsteps. He checked on James, then Albus. Both were asleep, and Ginny wasn't in either of their rooms. She wasn't in the room where Teddy slept when he came to spend time with them on the weekends and holidays. He heard a muted thump from the attic and frowned. The door that hid the narrow stairs that led to the attic was slightly ajar, and Harry swiftly went up the stairs to investigate.

Ginny knelt among a welter of cartons, their contents spilling over the sides. She looked up when the floor creaked under Harry's feet. 'Where is Teddy going to sleep?' she asked softly.

Harry crouched next to Ginny. 'He'll be going to school in a little over a year. We can figure out something until then and when he's home for holidays. We can have the boys double up and Teddy can sleep in James' room, or Albus and the baby can share. We can put the baby in with us.'

'He's going to feel like he's being pushed out...'

'Ginny, we've got months before the baby comes,' Harry said, trying to pacify her. 'We'll explain everything to him before then. Teddy knows we love him.' Harry looked around the attic. 'What are you doing up here at this time of night?'

'Couldn't sleep,' Ginny admitted. 'Started thinking about logistics. It's getting to be a lot complicated around here.' She paused and glanced at Harry. 'I blame you, you know.'

'I know.' He fingered a small jumper that was draped over the edge of one of the cartons. 'Why do have the boys' baby clothes out?'

Ginny shrugged. 'Just sorting through them. What we can keep or what needs to be relegated to dusting furniture.'

Harry poked a finger into a box. 'Most of these are practically brand-new.'

'Yeah.' Ginny dipped a hand into the box and pulled out a fluffy red jumper. 'Mum made this for James his first Christmas.'

'He wore it what? Twice? Before he outgrew it?'

Ginny smiled wistfully. 'Yeah. I think Albie managed to wear it for a month or so before he outgrew it, too.' She carefully folded the tiny jumper and set it on her lap. 'He was so small when he was born...'

'Do you remember the day James learned to climb out of his cot?' Harry grinned ruefully. 'We ripped the house apart looking for him, and ended up finding him in the cupboard in his room, sound asleep.'

'I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown.' Ginny laughed. 'Oh, the first time Albus took something from James. James was so surprised he forgot to make a fuss about it.'

'He's fussed plenty since then,' Harry told her.

'Yes, he has.' Ginny looked at Harry. 'We're going to be okay, aren't we?'

'If we can handle the Dynamic Duo downstairs, your brothers, tyrannical editors, criminals with petty vendettas, and ten year-old godsons, we can handle adding a baby to all of this.'

'Well, when you put it like that...' Ginny reached into the box again, and pulled out tiny Muggle-style sailor suit. 'What's one more thing to the chaos?'

Harry mimicked her actions and dipped a hand into another carton, and fished out a blanket. 'In this family? That's almost asking for trouble...'

Ginny laughed. 'You can say that again.' She held up the outfit. 'I can't believe Albie was ever small enough to fit into this. It's what he wore when I brought him home.' Ginny sniffled as she folded the tiny garment and added to a small pile of things to keep. She saw Harry squint at her suspiciously. 'It's dusty up here,' she said defensively.

He smirked at her. 'Sure, if you say so.'

'I'm actually starting to look forward to this,' Ginny said. 'But I think it's because I'm surrounded by all this baby rubbish, remembering how sweet the boys used to be. And it's forming a blockade around all the crying, fussing, nappies, and general pandemonium.'

Harry carefully folded the blanket and added it to the pile that Ginny had deemed acceptable to keep. 'Are we going to start telling people?'

'I was thinking about that,' Ginny said slowly. 'I want to wait a few weeks.'

Harry felt a flash of irritation. 'Why?'

Ginny's head snapped up at the tone of his voice. 'It has nothing to do with me being upset or because Hermione's pregnant, too,' she said mildly. 'It's just so early. At most I'm only a few weeks along,' she tried to explain. Harry's brows knit in frown. 'What if something happens?' she asked. 'What if we tell everyone I'm pregnant and two weeks later I miscarry?' She toyed with the edge of the sailor collar. 'Like Bronwyn last summer,' she added in a low voice.

Harry's hand drifted to Ginny's and he wrapped his fingers around her cold ones. 'Gin, that was a coincidence. Not even Bronwyn could have predicted that.'

'She wasn't even eight weeks gone,' Ginny whispered. 'I can't be more than a month...' She blinked rapidly and began to bite her lip in an effort to stifle the tears that sprang to her eyes.

Harry pulled Ginny into his lap. 'It's okay,' he murmured into her hair. 'We can wait a while longer.' He could understand Ginny's desire to not jinx anything. Both Charlie and Bronwyn had carried shadowed expressions for months afterward.

'I don't want anything bad to happen,' Ginny said tightly.

Harry's arms tightened around Ginny, his hands laced over her navel. 'We'll wait, then.'


At breakfast the next morning, Ginny absently reached for the teapot in the middle of the table, blinking in surprise when her fingers closed on empty air and not the handle as expected. Harry had snatched it from under her hand. 'You've already had a cup,' he said reprovingly. 'Only one a day.'

'You're joking,' Ginny blurted in disbelief. 'You're turning into the caffeine police already?'

'What's caffin police?' James asked, his mouth full of toast.

'Where Daddy won't let Mummy have more than one cup of tea,' Ginny replied with a scowl at Harry. 'Swallow your food before you talk, James,' Ginny told him.


'Because people don't need to see what you're chewing,' Ginny said patiently.

'Why?' James crammed a piece of bacon into his mouth.

'Because it's gross,' Harry said, wiping bits of egg off James' face.


'Because it's all mushy and gooey.' Ginny picked up Albus' cup and pried the no-spill lid off Albus' cup and poured in more juice, diluting it with water.


'Because that's what happens when you chew food,' Harry answered with a sigh.


'James, eat your breakfast,' Ginny said wearily. 'It too early in the morning for this.'


'Because it's only nine in the morning and Mummy didn't sleep much last night,' Harry said to his offspring, rubbing his forehead.


'Don't you dare say it!' Ginny hissed to Harry, pointing to the back of James' head. 'Remember what happened with Albie? He blurted it out to everyone at the dinner table!'

'Yeah...' Harry ran a hand through his hair. 'So... No talking about the b-a-b-y in front of James.'

'Or Albus,' Ginny cautioned. 'Never know what's going to pop out of their mouths these days.' She Summoned a wet dishcloth from the sink and began the process of wiping Albus' face and hands. He didn't like it, and squirmed ferociously, growling in anger. 'Too bad, chum,' Ginny said unsympathetically, swabbing the smears of strawberry jam from her youngest son's face. 'You're not going to Grandmum's with goo all over you.' She lifted Albus from the high chair and set him on the floor. 'Go to Daddy,' she told him, sending him to Harry with a light swat on his padded bottom.

Albus wobbled across the floor and clutched handfuls of Harry's pajama bottoms in his hands. 'Up, Dahdee!' Albus demanded, tugging a little on the soft flannel.

Harry swung the little boy into his arms. 'And what am I supposed to do with you, eh?' He nuzzled the untidy black hair sticking up wildly around Albus' head.

'Well for starters,' Ginny said, waving her wand at the table, clearing the dishes and setting them to wash themselves. 'You can change his nappy, so I can go take a shower, then I'll get them dressed while you shower.'

'All right,' Harry sighed. 'Come on then, mate. Let's go put a dry nappy on your bum.'

'Bum!' Albus shouted. 'Bumbumbumbumbumbum...' he chanted, bouncing gleefully in his father's arms.

'He says that in the middle of Christmas dinner, I so blame you,' Ginny tossed over her shoulder, as she left the kitchen to go upstairs.

'Could have been worse,' Harry muttered. 'I could have said arse...'

'Ahs!' Albus smiled widely.

Harry shook his head. 'Brilliant...'


Harry followed Ginny into the kitchen, holding James firmly by the hand. 'Sorry we're late,' he said. 'Somebody,' he said pointedly, looking down at James. 'Somebody had to feed Ginny's owl too many Owl Treats.'

'It wasn't pretty,' Ginny added, plopping Albus into his high chair.

'Making you re-think that wall-to-wall shag carpeting in the kitchen, eh?' George asked brightly.

'Get stuffed, George,' Ginny muttered, averting her face.

'Then again,' George mused. 'Shag isn't very good for the kitchen... Ow!'

'Oh, I'm sorry... Was that your foot?' Katie murmured in a guileless voice.

Undeterred, George plowed on. Fred wouldn't have let them live this down... 'Maybe the two of you can clear the table after,' George said in an undertone to Ginny. 'Bloody heeeeee....' George inhaled sharply and bit off the end of the word.

'Did I kick you?' Ginny asked in honeyed tones. 'I could have sworn it was the table leg.' She glared at George. 'Drop it already, will you?'

George sullenly rubbed his shin under the table. 'Fine. Deny a man his only pleasure.'

'Pardon me?' Katie asked archly.

'Sounds like you're sleeping on the sofa tonight, George,' Charlie said with a grin on his face.

'Seriously,' Bill chimed in. 'Joke's gotten a little stale. Time to move on, bro.'

Percy was eyeing Ron worriedly. Ron had turned green around the edges, and his fingers tightened around his fork. He scooted his chair down a little, lest Ron throw up on him. 'Why does that joke make Ron look like that...?'

Ron shook his head emphatically. 'Nothing, Percy.' He carefully avoided looking at Harry or Ginny.

The table was unnaturally silent.

Until a small voice piped up. 'Mummy? What's shag?' Jacob asked, his sky blue eyes bright with curiosity.

Katie smiled with an expression of smug satisfaction. 'Oh, payback is sweet.' She patted her son on his head. 'Ask Daddy, dearie.'

Jacob turned to his father, who was slowly turning pink. 'Daddy, what's shag?'

Hermione stifled a giggle. 'This is going to be good....'

'Erm... Well... It's...' George tugged at his collar, a slow flush creeping up his neck and face. He looked down to see his younger son staring up at him with avid interest. 'When two people... Uh...'

'It's a carpet, Jacob,' Harry cut in. 'It's fluffy, like Aunt Hermione's kitty.' He glanced up at George. 'You so owe me...' Harry told George.

George blew out a breath. 'Yeah. Thanks, mate.'

'Could we please change the subject?' Molly asked exasperated. 'The table isn't quite the place for this kind of conversation.'

'Thanks, Mum,' Ginny said.


'Shhhhh.' Harry glanced up at Ginny coming down the stairs early on Christmas morning. He pointed to James, sprawled across the hearth rug, soft snores emanating from his open mouth, the battered black dog he insisted on sleeping with at night, tucked into the crook of his elbow.

Ginny joined Harry on the sofa, tucking her feet under her. 'How long has he been down here?'

'No idea.' Harry wrapped an arm around Ginny. 'I woke up and heard Al start to work up a fuss, so I got up and got him settled back down. I thought I'd look in on James, and he wasn't in his bed. Came down here.'

'Waiting for Father Christmas, eh?'

'Yeah.' Harry smiled a little wistfully, grateful his son could do something as innocent as try to catch Father Christmas delivering gifts.

'Ron used to do that until Fred informed him Father Christmas didn't exist the Christmas Ron was seven. Ron was devastated. Spent the whole day shut up in his room, just absolutely miserable. Didn't even fuss that his jumper was maroon.

'Blimey, he must have been upset if he didn't complain about the jumper.'

'Oh, he was. Refused to talk to Fred for two weeks.'

Harry regarded James for a moment. 'He's not going to believe in the whole Father Christmas thing much longer,' he said with a hint of sadness. 'I never had that luxury...'

'You just hate to see them grow up,' Ginny said.

'Yeah. Wish you could keep them small like that.' Harry tilted Ginny's chin up and kissed her. 'Happy Christmas, Gin.'

'It's going to be a madhouse in here next year.'

'Yeah, it is.' Harry grinned. 'But it'll be fun.'


'Come on, Rosie... Just rip the paper off...' Ron begged his daughter. 'See? Like this.' He reached over her shoulder and tore a strip off the package she was painstakingly unwrapping.

Rose batted Ron's hand away, clutching the flat box to her chest. 'No! Mine!' she screeched, resuming her meticulous peeling away of the paper.

'She's worse than you are,' he muttered to Hermione, who was looking at him with a smug expression.

'You're being more of a child than she is,' Hermione said, amused. 'What's in that package, anyway?'

'You'd find out if your daughter would open it faster,' Ron complained.

Rose scowled at the box under the paper, her pudgy fingers attempting to pry the lid off the box. She shoved it toward Hermione, her round brown eyes, looking up beseechingly at her mother. 'Mummmeeeee.'

Hermione ran a fingertip under the edge of the lid of the box and lifted just enough of it off, so Rose could complete the task of removing it. 'There you go, Rosie,' she said nudging the box back to Rose.

Rose flung the lid across the sitting room and pulled out a welter of bright orange cloth. Her eyes widened. 'Oooohhhh. Cahn'ns!'

Ron caught Hermione's wry glance. 'What? She outgrew the ones we gave her for her birthday.' The back of his neck reddened under his wife's scrutiny.

Hermione shook her head. 'And you're the one who thought getting things like that for children was rubbish,' she said dryly.

Ron was helping Rose tug the miniature robes over her pajamas. 'This is different,' Ron explained.

'How is it different?'

'Because look how cute Rosie looks,' Ron said, turning Rose around to face Hermione. Rose was a nearly eye-watering sight clad in the lurid orange robes with the black double C logo, her fluffy pink slippers peeping incongruously from under the hem. The ensemble was topped with Rose's flaming red curls.

Hermione smiled at the pair of them - Ron sitting on the floor and Rose standing next to him, both of them wearing wide smiles. 'Very cute,' she said, kissing both of them.


George crouched down in the snow, a small photograph in his hand. He used his wand to attach it to the headstone in front of him. 'Sophie's just turned seven months old. She looks like Katie. The boys are great. They keep Katie and me on our toes most of the time.' George let a small bark of laughter escape. 'I think they might be more trouble than you and I were.' He brushed his fingers of the words "Mischief Managed". 'It's still not right without you at holidays. It's not nearly as fun to take the mickey out of anyone without you. It's still fun,' he said hastily. 'I don't want you thinking I've lost my touch or anything, mind. Just feels forced sometimes. Like I'm reaching for it.' George shifted slightly. 'You were always better at it than I was.' George's eyes closed against the gently falling flakes of snow. 'It's almost been ten years, and there are still times when I swear I could look up and see you walk through the door of the shop. Sometimes when I'm in there alone, it feels like you're standing next to me and I think I can hear you.' George smiled pensively. 'We do have the same voice.' He paused, his voice catching a little. 'Did have the same voice.' George rubbed his hand over his face. 'See? I still can't think about you in the past tense.' He leaned forward until his forehead rested against the top edge of the headstone. 'I miss you, bro. More than you know. Love you, Fred...' George swallowed heavily, trying to rid himself of the lump in his throat. Sighing, he pushed himself to his feet, and shoved his hands into his coat pockets. With one last glance at Fred's grave, he began to trudge back to the Burrow.

He slipped into the house, hanging up his coat in the scullery, bracing himself as he saw two blurs of energy launch themselves at him from the corner of his eye. He wrapped his arms around them, feeling the weight of the grief the he still carried lessen a little. 'Daddy, Granmum says to come give out pressens,' Fred told him, pulling on his hand.

'All right, I'm coming,' George said, letting Fred and Jacob tow him into the sitting room. He stooped and picked up the first package his hand touched. It was Ron's. He grinned slightly as he heard Fred's voice whisper in his ear. George held the package to his forehead. 'Hmmmmm. I predict this will be... maroon!' He tossed the squashy package to Ron.

Fred wouldn't have stood for anything less.