Lilies In Autumn


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

Chapter 09 - This Life


Ginny gazed at the calendar on her desk with an expression of extreme distaste. The annual Ministry ball was coming up in just under two months and she would have to try and gauge how big she would be by then. Ginny couldn't even begin to guess. When she'd carried James, by her eighth month she'd been so large, Harry could stand behind her and wrap his arms around her waist. Barely. His fingers were just able to lace over her protruding navel. With Albus, she'd been quite a bit smaller - to the point where she could still wear clothes she'd worn when she was six months gone with James on the day she delivered Albus at thirty-four weeks. She stuck her tongue out at the calendar and figured she'd have to take a stab at the size. As much as she disliked shopping at Madam Malkin's, at least dress robes could be charmed to expand as she did. Muggle clothing didn't quite work the same way. It didn't take to charms very well.

Whatever Ginny decided to wear, she'd have to go and do it soon. The last thing she wanted to do was shop for clothes while eight months' pregnant.

Maybe after Hermione has her baby, we can go together. She'll need something to wear as well... Ginny mused, idly doodling on the square that marked the last Saturday in June. With a sigh, she glanced at her watch and started in surprise. She had to leave soon and go to Appleby for the game. She didn't enjoy the games as much as she had before. Ginny carefully weighed everything she said before she opened her mouth, lest she find it printed in the paper the next morning. And as much as she enjoyed discussing the finer points of the game with Roger, even that was something she no longer did with as much liveliness as before, if at all.

'Bloody hell, I'm going to be late,' Ginny muttered, rummaging through her desk for her credential tags. She snatched up her bag and headed for the lift, cursing under her breath. If she hurried, she might be able to make it for the pre-game warm ups. She waited impatiently at the Floo on the ground floor of the Prophet offices, tapping her toes on the worn linoleum, waiting for the rather elderly wizards who covered the Wizangamot to shuffle through the line.

She scooped a handful of Floo powder from the large urn next to the hearth. 'Arrows Field!' she exclaimed, holding her bag firmly to her side. She'd been late once, when she had started working at the paper and her bag ended up in a pub in Aberdeen when she'd lost her grip on it. In moments, she staggered onto the hearth of the Floo that connected the Prophet to Arrows Field, just under the press box. She waved her tags at the witch at the bottom of the stairs and began to climb the several flights to the box. Several shouts signaled the beginning of the warm ups, and Ginny huffed in irritation at herself for missing the beginning of it. She could always tell how a team was going to play by how their warm up went. If the Seeker seemed sluggish, or if the Chasers let the Quaffle slip through their fingers. If the Beaters' aim was slightly off. If the Keeper wasn't as sharp as she usually was...

Ginny hurried up the stairs to the press box and skidded to a stop just inside the entrance. She glanced nervously around the box, and found an empty chair on the other side of the box, heading toward it with an impersonal nod to Roger. Lora Capaletti, who followed British and Irish Quidditch for the Canadian wizarding newspaper, the -Spyglass, waved at Ginny with an impish grin on her face. 'Find out what you're having yet?' she asked, as Ginny settled into the chair next to Lora.

'Next week,' Ginny said with a sigh.

Lora eyed Ginny calculatingly. 'What do you want?'

Ginny blew her hair from her eyes. 'I don't know.' She shifted a little, stretching as she did so. 'I wouldn't mind another boy. I grew up around nothing but boys. Some of my best friends are boys...' She trailed off wistfully. 'Sometimes, I think a girl would be nice, though. Just to balance it out a bit. To toilet train someone who's not going to dribble all over the floor...' She wrinkled her nose at Lora. 'Sorry. I'm sure you don't want to hear about how James doesn't always make it into the toilet when he wakes up in the middle of the night.'

Lora shuddered delicately. 'That's disgusting.'

Ginny laughed. 'That's not even the half of it,' she assured Lora.

Lora leaned a little closer. 'You missed it earlier,' she whispered. 'That Vane bitch came in a few minutes before you got here.' Lora giggled softly. 'Everyone went silent and stared at her until she left.'

Ginny's mouth dropped open. 'Seriously?'

'Seriously.' Lora gently nudged Ginny's shoulder. 'It's hard enough to be a girl in here, without the petty crap from people who don't work in here.' A line appeared between her eyebrows. 'How did my little sister put it...? Oh, right. We've got your back.'

Ginny felt the knot that had resided in the pit of her stomach slowly disappear and pulled her notebook out so she could start taking notes on the people flying by the press box. She hoped she and Harry were right and that it would, in fact, be forgotten. Come to think of it, Aiden Lynch is due for a major cock-up with his latest eye-candy wife, Ginny mused, chewing absently on the end of her quill.

The players descended to the field to take their place on each end of the field, Appleby on one side and Holyhead on the other. A hush rippled over the stadium and the announcer began to introduce the Harpies. As the players took a lap around the stadium, a roar rose from the crowd, and a familiar fluttering sensation surged through Ginny. The quill dropped from her fingers as her hand spread over her abdomen.

Ginny's attention turned inward for a moment, and her face brightened. Hi there, she thought. You're going to be Mummy's Quidditch star, aren't you? With a brief caress of her fingertips over her stomach, Ginny's attention returned to the game.


Ginny tiptoed into James' room, and ran her hand over his thick, dark hair. Her fingertips momentarily traced over the contours of his face, as she contemplated the features that had emerged from his baby-soft face. The shape of Harry's eyes and the sweep of his long lashes brushed over the cheekbones that held the promise of Harry's. Her mouth and her father's chin. The hand that lay curled on the pillow next to his face were the same long, slender hands that Ginny had seen in photographs of her uncles Fabian and Gideon. Harry's hair. She had seen a few photographs of Harry's mother, where her long hair had been swept up or back, revealing her ears. Ginny delicately traced the edge of James' ear. He had Lily's ears, set neatly against his head. She leaned down and pressed a kiss to his forehead before she left and went across the corridor to Albus' room.

The dim light created flickering shadows on the walls from the still-bare limbs of the trees in the back garden. Even now, at just two months shy of his second birthday, Albus was the spitting image of his father. Not that they had any photographic evidence to back them up, but there were a few surviving photographs of Harry's father from his childhood. Everyone had always told Harry how much he resembled James, so every now and then, Ginny would hold one up to Albus and compare the two. She remembered the slightly pinched expression Harry had worn when he first took the train to school. She took comfort in the idea that it was one thing that Albus and Harry would not have in common.

Harry had picked up Teddy after school earlier that day, and while she knew Teddy wouldn't appreciate it, Ginny tiptoed into his room as well. Even in deep slumber, the tips of his hair were still bright turquoise. She often wondered if it changed according to what he dreamed. Like that silly Muggle thing Harry got me as a joke one day... What was it? Ah, yes. Mood ring... Like Albus, he strongly resembled his father, but with traces of his mother about him. Her fingers brushed the heavy hair from his eyes. He was just as much her baby as the others. Watching him gave Ginny a clear picture of what Remus must have looked like when he was happy before Fenrir Greyback. Especially when he was awake and his grey eyes sparkled with laughter, without the spectre of sadness and pain that so often marred Remus', even in his all-too-infrequent moments of joy.

Ginny left Teddy's room and slipped down the corridor to her bedroom. Checking on her boys as soon as she got home from a game was a habit. She didn't sleep well if she omitted it from her routine. She missed being able to put them to bed, so her nighttime round was the next best thing for her.

She softly closed the door behind her and crossed to the small armchair, knowing a clean set of pajamas or a nightdress would be waiting for her, with a Warming charm. She gratefully stripped off her trousers and jumper and donned the waiting nightdress. It slid in warm folds over her head, the scent of the laundry soap slightly stronger for the warmth. Without bothering to turn on the bathroom light, Ginny hastily brushed her teeth and eased into the bed.

'Hey,' Harry whispered, as she pulled the quilt over her body, making her jump in alarm.

'I thought you were asleep!' Ginny hissed.

Harry shook his head. 'Not yet. Just came to bed.'

'You're up late,' Ginny observed.

Harry shrugged with one shoulder. 'Had to wait until the boys went to bed to finish grading the new trainees' exams.' Harry snorted in ironic laughter. 'If I had wanted to grade papers, I'd have taken the Defense job at school.' He rolled over to his side and laced his fingers through Ginny's. 'How was the game?'

'All right. The Harpies crushed Appleby after about half an hour of faffing about. They read their moves, then all but anticipated every bloody play Appleby had. It was tragic, but Appleby didn't have enough offense or defense to mix things up properly.' She yawned, and wriggled against Harry until her bottom fit snugly against his groin, pulling his hand around her stomach.

They lay quietly for several moments before Ginny said into the soft silence. 'He moved today.' She felt Harry's hand stretch over her swollen abdomen, and lightly circle over the silky cotton of her nightdress as she fell asleep.


Harry glanced around the waiting area for what felt like the hundredth time and repressed a sigh. It wasn't like Ginny to be late for an appointment with the Healer. If anything, she was disgustingly punctual. His fingers tapped an impatient tattoo on the arm of the chair, and he glared at his watch, as if it would make Ginny magically appear in the entrance. 'Come on, Ginevra,' he muttered. 'A bet's a bet...'

Heaving an irritated sigh, he picked up one of the magazines that seemed to occupy every horizontal surface. He and Ron liked to pinch one when they were waiting for Hermione or Ginny, then compare which one was sappier or had the more unrealistic visualization of parenthood in their photographs. They then proceeded to doodle things like spit-up stains, toys on the floor, and all manner of general chaos, just to make things a little more realistic. This one was living up to Harry's rather jaded expectations. Two smiling blonde babies sat side-by-side in a pose he and Ginny could only make Albus and James do with liberal bribes of Chocolate Frogs. He chuckled and flipped the page over. The mother rocking her child with a beatific expression on her face nearly made him laugh out loud. Every hair was in place, her nightdress was neatly pressed and clean. That little detail alone made Harry snort in derision.

'I'm sorry!' Ginny's stricken voice gasped breathlessly in Harry's ear. 'I was just about to take the boys to Mum's and while I was putting Albie's shoes on, James climbed up to the counter and got into the honey and before I could stop him he had honey all over himself, the counter, Albus...' She thrust her hand through her hair, nearly pulling several strands out. 'So I had to take them back upstairs, clean them up, sit them both in the sitting room, while I cleaned the mess in the kitchen, then took them over to Mum...' She grinned ruefully. 'Even with magic, it takes a while.'

'Yeah, I remember. Honey does not come off anything easily, even with Scouring charms.' Harry remembered the one time Teddy had upended a pot of honey over the kitchen floor at his old flat.

'Took three just to get it out of James' hair...' Ginny sighed. 'So how late am I?' She tilted his wrist and looked at his watch. 'I'm not even late!' she exclaimed. 'And there you were huffing and squirming like I was half an hour late.'

'Normally, you're twenty minutes early, at least,' Harry pointed out.

'Well, I would have been if your son hadn't decided to explore the contents of the honey bear,' she retorted. Ginny strode to the desk and told the welcome witch her name.

'Why is he always my son if he's been bad?' Harry mused aloud.

Ginny flipped her hair over her shoulder. 'Because unlike some people I could name, I was a perfect angel as a child.'

Harry hauled himself to his feet and followed Ginny down the corridor to an examination room. 'I find that hard to believe,' he scoffed.

'It's true,' Ginny told him.

'Yeah, right.'

'If you could just wait out here while Mrs. Potter changes,' the welcome witch intoned.

'Why?' Harry asked. 'Because if it's to keep me from seeing her naked, that ship sailed a long time ago.' He grinned as the witch blinked at him in bemusement, then walked away.

Ginny pulled her shirt off and shook her head. 'Must you do that to all the newbies?'

'Yep.' Harry settled into the chair next to the exam table and began to fold Ginny's shirt. 'Toughens them up for later when they're faced by the barbarian horde that is the rest of the family. Especially for George or Bill. Those two can turn anyone into a pile of goo with their verbal sparring ability. I had to learn to how to do that to defend myself.'

'All in the name of self-preservation, eh?' Ginny tossed her trousers to Harry, who caught them deftly and folded them. She drew the pale-green gown over her head and sat on the edge of the table.

'Good afternoon, you two,' Shanti said in greeting. 'How are you feeling?'

'I'm a little tired,' Harry volunteered. 'But other than that, I'm all right.'

'I was talking to Ginny,' Shanti sighed.

'I'm fine,' Ginny said. 'Getting some heartburn occasionally if I eat too much.'

Shanti nodded as she strapped a monitor cuff to Ginny's wrist. 'Hmmm. Your blood pressure's a bit elevated, but not enough for me to worry about right now. If it gets any higher, you're going to have to take it easier,' she informed Ginny.

'Easier said than done,' muttered Ginny. 'Scrubbing honey off a wriggling four-year old doesn't make for an easy afternoon.'

'So, are you ready to find out what color to paint your nursery?'

'Absolutely!' Harry leaned forward, his face alight with curiosity.

Shanti's eyebrow rose. 'What's the bet?' she asked, familiar with the Weasley family habit of placing bets on births.

'The bet was whether or not I was pregnant. Harry won.' Ginny leaned back against the elevated end of the table, while Shanti draped a sheet over her body.

Unable to repress a snort of laughter, Shanti laid the tip of her wand against Ginny's abdomen. 'One hundred fifty-five beats per minute,' she said to the quill suspended over the clipboard. She slowly began to move the wand across Ginny's skin. 'Come on...' she said coaxingly. 'Sometimes, they won't cooperate,' she told Ginny, as the wand continued its path over and down. 'Don't be shy little one...' Suddenly the wand stopped and Shanti spun the clipboard around to face Harry and Ginny. 'There she is.' She pointed to a small face that was covered by tiny hands.

Harry tore his gaze from the image of the baby. 'Did you say she?' he stammered.

'I did.'

'Are you sure?' Ginny breathed, transfixed by the picture of her child.

'Fairly sure.' Shanti's fingertip drew a circle over the baby's lower half. 'Nothing there that screams out "boy".'

'Lily,' Ginny said softly.

Startled, Harry's wide eyes met Ginny's. 'You want to use Lily?' he asked hoarsely.

'Yeah, I do.' Her trembling fingertips reached out to the clipboard and traced the curve of the baby's head.

Harry pressed a kiss to Ginny's temple. 'Thank you.'


Ron pulled his hand from Hermione's grasp. It felt like she'd broken every bloody bone in it. He replaced it with his other hand, and shook the abused one, to restore the circulation. He was sure something was going to happen. It had been too easy. The whole pregnancy had been far too easy. A little nausea in the beginning, but nothing debilitating. She'd felt fine the entire time. Even the labor was progressing smoothly, with no surprises. This can't be right, he thought.

Shanti's peered over Hermione's bent knee. 'Ready to have this baby?'

'God, yes,' Hermione groaned. 'I must have been insane to do this without painkillers.'

'You're doing fine,' Shanti assured her. 'All right... Push...'

'Is there a head this time?' Ron asked anxiously.

Shanti chuckled slightly. 'It appears to be.'

'Brilliant,' Hermione ground out through her teeth. 'Can I finish having the damn baby now?'

'Absolutely,' Shanti murmured. She frowned suddenly, and Ron felt his blood freeze. Shanti's hand shot out, palm up. It was covered in blood. Bright red blood. 'Sleeping Draught. Now!' she snapped. It made Ron blink. He'd never heard her speak that way. Not even when Rose presented in a breech position. 'Hermione, I need you to drink this,' she said, handing the vial to Ron.

'Why?' Ron looked down at Hermione, clutching the vial in his hand. Hermione was pale and her eyes wide and dark in her drawn face. She repeated her question, pushing Ron's hand away from her face. 'Why do I need to drink that?' she demanded.

'I need to get the baby out now. And I need you to take that draught.' Shanti caught Ron's eye and nodded. He gulped and held the vial to Hermione's lips.

'Come on, hen. Drink it...' Hermione's hand wrapped around Ron's wrist and she tilted the vial up, pouring the contents down her throat. She blinked sleepily a few times, then her hand fell away, as she went into deep slumber.

Shanti jabbed her wand at the bed, and the head slowly lowered until Hermione was flat on her back. 'Ron, I need you to leave.'

Ron stubbornly shook his head. 'No. I'm staying.'

'Ron, the baby doesn't have time for me to argue with you.' Shanti stood up and grasped Ron's sleeve with one of her bloody hands. 'Leave. Now.' She pulled him away from the bed and propelled him toward the door. 'I'm going to do everything I can, but I can't do it if you're in here.' She none-too-gently pushed him out of the magically opened door into the corridor.

Ron stood in the corridor, staring at the door of Hermione's room. He numbly turned and walked into the waiting area and dropped into the chair next to Harry. Most of the others were sleeping. Hermione had gone into labor at dinner time, and it was now past midnight. Harry's face brightened when he saw Ron. 'Is it over?' he whispered, so as not to awaken Ginny, James, or Albus.

Ron shook his head, staring unseeing at the intricate inlay of tile under his feet.

Harry breathed sharply at the sight of the bloody handprint that encircled Ron's bicep. 'What's going on?' he asked.

'I don't know.' Ron was visibly shaking with the effort to keep from screaming.

'Here, mate. Let me clean that for you...' Harry reached for his wand, only to have Ron jerk away from him.

'Leave it be!' Ron snarled softly.

'Okay... Fine...' Harry slid his wand back into the bag that held all the paraphernalia needed to keep two toddlers occupied for several hours. He could hear Ron's harsh breathing in the yawning silence that surrounded them. Ron folded his arms across his knees, and lowered his head to rest on them. Harry's hand rested between Ron's shoulder blades, and slowly circled, as if Ron was no older than James.

Time ticked over them and presently the door opened enough to allow Shanti to slip through. 'Ron?' she said softly, standing in front of them. Harry's eyes narrowed at the bloodstains on her customarily neat scrubs. Ron's lifted his face from his knees and quickly rubbed his unsoiled sleeve over his face, wiping the tearstains away. 'Come with me.'

Ron followed Shanti through the door. She stopped outside a room near Hermione's room. 'First of all, the baby's fine. You can go see him in a moment.'

'What about Hermione?' Ron didn't try to hide his obvious fear. 'Is she all right?'

Shanti's breath caught. 'I'm so sorry...'


Ron rubbed his hands over his face. Shanti had told him the last time she'd been in to check on Hermione she ought to wake up soon. But that had been over two hours ago and Hermione showed no signs of waking. He sighed and leaned back, stretching his feet in front of him.

'Ron...?' Hermione's raspy voice made him bolt upright.

'Hi...' He brushed her hair from her eyes. 'How do you feel?'

'Awful,' she croaked. 'I hurt all over...'

'Want some water?'

Hermione's tongue inched across her dry lips. 'Yeah...'

Ron held a glass of water to her lips, rather like he'd done with the Sleeping Draught earlier. 'Yeah, you're going to be sore for a while,' he said, carefully helping Hermione take several sips of water. He set the glass on the table next to the bed.

Hermione tried to sit up, but the room began to spin. 'Oh dear...' She collapsed back against the pillows. 'Make the room stop spinning,' she ordered weakly.

'Just lie back and get some rest, hen. You lost a lot of blood last night.'

Even in her weakened state, Hermione didn't miss the tone of Ron's voice. 'What happened?'

Ron rubbed his face once more. 'From what I can gather, it was something called a uterine rupture. Shanti says it's really, really rare for someone to have one with they haven't had something called a Caesarian.' He paused. 'Do Muggles really slice you open and take the baby out?'

'They can,' Hermione allowed.

'Oh. Well. She says if you've had one of those you can have a uterine rupture. Or if you've had twins. But since you've had neither...' Ron shrugged. 'She said it's just one of those things.' He swallowed heavily. 'There's one more thing, Mione.' His throat closed around the words. 'We can't have any more children,' he said through a lump in his throat, tears burning his eyes.

Hermione's eyes closed briefly, then opened, bright with unshed tears. 'Hugo?'

Ron exhaled explosively. 'He's perfect. Ten fingers and toes. Weighs eight pounds, ten ounces. Eighteen inches long. Doesn't have much hair to speak of.'


Ron sniffed and nodded. 'Of course it is. He's a Weasley.' He leaned forward until his head rested next to Hermione's. 'He looks like you. Like those photos of you your mum showed me.'

'Can I see him?'

Ron took a long breath and stood up. 'Sure. I'll be right back.' He slipped out of the room, and went into the larger room down the corridor. He bent over the cot that held his son and scooped him up expertly. 'Want to go meet Mummy?' he crooned. He carried Hugo to Hermione's room, and laid the baby in the crook of Hermione's arm. 'Hen, this is Hugo Nathaniel Weasley.'

'Nathaniel?' Hermione gazed up at Ron. 'When did we decide on Nathaniel?'

'We didn't. It just came to me sometime between one and three this morning. I didn't think you'd mind.'

Hermione slowly shook her head. 'Not at all...' She ran a gentle fingertip down Hugo's nose. 'I think he's got your nose.' Her voice cracked, and unable to stop herself, tears ran unchecked down her face.

Ron walked around the bed, and carefully slid into it, nestling Hugo between them. One arm slid around Hermione's shoulders and the other rested on top of the one that cuddled Hugo. He pressed his lips to the top of her head. 'It's all right, hen.' His eyes drifted shut and the tears he'd been unable to shed earlier dripped off his face and into Hermione's hair.