Lilies In Autumn


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

Chapter 10 - Many Hundred Miles


Hugo, as it turned out, didn't just resemble his mother. He also had his father's voracious appetite - a trait he shared with his older sister - and Ron's peculiar ability to sleep through everything. When both forces collided, Hugo could fall asleep midway through his meal, and no amount of gentle shaking, foot-tickling, back rubbing, or anything else meant to waken him would work. While the schedule seemed to work for Hugo, it played havoc on his mother. Hermione had learned to loosen her grip on exact routines, but Hugo's patterns didn't necessarily sit will with a nursing mother.

Hermione had expected to return home, Hugo in tow, a few days after his birth, like she had with Rose. She was wrong. She was ordered to stay in the hospital for a week, so she could recover.

The most time she'd ever spent in the hospital prior to this particular week, had been at the end of her fifth year. She hadn't quite understood why Harry hated the hospital wing so much. Until now.

'Do you always hold your patients hostage?' she huffed to Shanti two days after Hugo's birth.

'When they've lost as much blood as you have, then yes.' The Healer completed her examination. 'And when they've had the magical equivalent to a Caesarian and a hysterectomy, absolutely.' Shanti gave Hermione a hard look. 'You need to recuperate, and you need to be able to do it without trying to balance a toddler and a newborn.'

'How did you do that exactly?'

'Severing charm,' Shanti replied promptly.

'You can do that?' Hermione said in surprise.

'Yes. But it doesn't happen often. And it's not something routinely taught until about the fourth or fifth year of training. And only if one specializes in obstetrics and gynecology.' Shanti made a few notes on Hermione's chart. 'It's not as dangerous as it sounds, though. Just something like the last option in our bag of tricks.'

Hermione felt the blood rush through her ears. She reached blindly for the glass of water Ron had left for her earlier. Swallowing several gulps, she lowered the glass and gazed at Shanti. 'What would have happened if you hadn't done that?'

'You might have died. Hugo, too.'

Hermione's face grew pensive, as she turned that new bit of information over in her mind. The pattern of the blanket over her knees blurred, but she blinked rapidly. 'Thank you.'

Shanti hesitated for a moment, then settled on the edge of the bed in blatant disregard to Healer customs. She'd seen Hermione through far too much to pretend to maintain any sort of detachment, professional or otherwise. 'Can I ask you something?'

'Of course.'

Shanti rubbed a fingertip over the knee of the trousers of her scrubs. 'I know having children meant a great deal to you, and I was wondering...' She looked at Hermione. 'Does it bother you?'

Hermione shook her head. It was something Ron had asked her yesterday. 'No.' At Shanti's skeptical expression, she continued. 'No, really. I had thought maybe one more after Hugo, but there was a point when we didn't think we'd ever have Rose, much less Hugo. So, no. I'm more grateful than you can ever know that I have them.' She pushed her hair away from her face. 'It's just now it's not even an option...' Hermione rubbed her nose and smiled weakly. 'At least your trainees were able to learn something.'

Shanti shook her head. 'Ron said you'd say something like that.'


Ron gazed down at Rose, standing on a footstool in the bathroom. He didn't know how Hermione managed to deal with Rose's hair every day. And yet, every day, Rose wore a neat halo of curls. Somehow, he just managed to make her look like he hadn't so much as waved a comb in her direction in days. 'Mummy will just have to get over it,' he muttered. 'At least you're dressed in something that sort of matches.' Stripes do go with flowers... don't they? He supposed he could blame Rose for her rather outlandish outfit, comprising of a green and blue striped shirt and a pale yellow pinafore spangled with bright pink flowers. He had laid out two shirts and two pinafores, just like Hermione had instructed. Rose, however, was the one who had picked the combination. 'Ready to go see Mummy?' he asked.

'Uh-huh.' Rose nodded vigorously, making her bright curls dance around her face. She hopped off the stool and ran into the sitting room, where her bag sat next to the door. It was stuffed with books, an ordinary Muggle notebook, full of blank paper, and several much-abused crayons.

Ron followed her, running his hand through his own hair, trying to put it into some sort of order. He took Rose to the hospital to see Hermione for a few hours in the mornings. Rose woke up at six every morning, no matter how late they put her to bed, and could get rather tetchy in the afternoons and needed a nice long kip. Ron knew she hadn't inherited that particular trait from anyone in his family. Most of them were night owls. Except for Molly and Percy, and neither of them was cross after lunch. He thought maybe she got it from Jane. Hermione's mother could get somewhat grumpy in the middle of the afternoon, but Ron had always attributed that to the fact that most of Jane's patients were school-age children and had appointments after they got out of school for the day. But the first time Rose threw a temper tantrum worthy of a Weasley when she couldn't find her green crayon between lunch and her nap one day, Ron had begun to rethink his perceptions about his mother-in-law.

He stopped to pick up a bag filled with food, unwilling to subject Hermione to the slop St. Mungo's called food. They had tried it before, when Hermione was carrying Rose and somehow, they had managed to cock up toast. It amazed Ron that a hospital couldn't manage to make more appealing meals. Then again, he reasoned, it must be part of a master plan to get everyone out of the hospital sooner, rather than later. 'Ready, Rosie?' Ron held out a hand to his daughter.

'Goin' on th' Tube?' she asked brightly. Rose loved traveling on the Underground. If Arthur came to keep an eye on her for a few hours, they rode the train together in companionable excitement. At least it had given Arthur a crash course in traveling the Muggle way. And it went without saying that he loved every minute of it.

'Yep.' Ron refrained from heaving a sigh as they went slowly down the stairs. Rose was in something of an independent phase, and refused to let anyone carry her down the stairs, insisting she could do it.

'Gonna see Yugo?' she asked, her tiny brows knit in a frown of concentration as she took the steps, one at a time to the ground floor.



Ron smothered a smile and opened the door. 'Give me your hand, Rose-bud,' he said, holding out his own hand. Rose reached up and wrapped her fingers around his index finger. He led her down the street to the station, half listening to her bright chatter as they rode to the station at Holborn. When they came to the window that contained the mannequin wearing the same awful green pinafore it had before. Ron shifted the bag containing Hermione's breakfast and lunch into his other hand, and swung Rose into his arms. 'Hermione Granger-Weasley, please,' he said softly, under the guise of leaning close to the glass. The mannequin beckoned, and Ron stepped through the glass.

Ron briskly walked down the corridor, keeping a firm grip on Rose, who was squirming in his arms, impatient to get down and walk on her own. 'Want down,' she whined.

'In a minute,' Ron sighed. Evidently, that was not the answer Rose wanted to hear, because she began to wriggle incessantly, until Ron was obliged to set her on the floor or drop the bag with Hermione's meals. 'You have to hold my hand, Rosie,' he called after the girl, who raced down the corridor, making a beeline for Hermione's room.

'Hi, Mummy,' Rose said as she ran into Hermione's room.

'Good morning, Rosie.' Hermione smiled at her daughter. 'Who picked out your clothes?'


'That explains it, then.' She looked up as Ron walked into the room. 'I thought you were laying out clothes for her?'

Ron set the bag on the table next to the bed. 'I was,' he said in exasperation. 'I gave her two choices, just like you said. That,' he said, pointing to Rose, 'is what she picked out. I put out two shirts and two pinafores.'

'Did you match the shirt to the pinafore or do it separately?'

'Didn't know I was supposed to do that...' Ron mumbled. 'I told you I'd be rubbish without you.' He opened the bag and pulled out a Muggle plastic container of food. 'Here...'

Hermione pried the lid off, and began to eat the mixture of sliced strawberries and blueberries in the small bowl. 'You're not rubbish at it.' She handed Rose a strawberry. 'At least she's wearing clothing.'

'That's supposed to make me feel better?'

'Remember when Katie had Sophie?'

'Yeah. So?' Ron folded his arms over his chest.

'I thought George was going to have a nervous breakdown trying to handle Fred and Jacob on his own for a few days. They were lucky to leave the house in something other than their pajamas.' Hermione chewed a blueberry thoughtfully. 'Actually, I think they ended up staying in the same set of pajamas for two straight days...'

Ron snorted and conjured a tray, and began to arrange the rest of Hermione's breakfast on it. 'Yes, but there are two of them. George was outnumbered.' He set the tray over Hermione's lap.

'Does she go to bed on time?'


'Eat what you tell her to?'

Ron shrugged. 'Mostly. I had to hide the Every-Flavor Beans.'

'Then I wouldn't worry about whether or not her clothes match. I doubt she knows or cares.' Hermione buttered the toast and spread it with marmalade. 'She loves you. That's what counts.'

Ron's ears turned pink. 'I'm going to get Hugo,' he muttered, before turning out of the room, and went down the corridor. He poked his head into a room. A grandmotherly-looking witch was moving between a few cots that lined the walls.

'Good morning, Mr. Weasley,' she said softly, smiling genially. 'You're here for Hugo?'

'Yeah.' Ron slipped into the room and walked to the cot where Hugo lay. 'How's he doing?'

'Just lovely,' the witch beamed. 'I wish all the babies in here were this good.'

Ron bent to pick up the baby. His fingertip traced down Hugo's nose. It did resemble his. 'He's really all right?' he asked uncertainly. 'There's nothing wrong with him from the other night?'

The witch peeked at Hugo's sleeping face. 'None so far. He's doing very well,' she assured Ron.

Ron carried Hugo into Hermione's room. Hugo's bottom pushed against Ron's hand few times and a rumbling sound came from him. 'Oh, that's just brilliant,' Ron informed his son. 'Learn to belch like that, and we'll have you recorded and playing every time someone opens the door at the shop.' Hugo's face turned red and it scrunched in his sleep. 'Oh, don't do that...' Ron begged.

'Don't do what?' Hermione looked at Ron bemusedly.

'I'll flip you for the nappy change,' Ron said enticingly.

'I wan' help!' Rose slid off the foot of Hermione's bed.

'All right.' Ron pointed to a cupboard. 'Bring me a clean nappy from there.' Rose tugged open the door and grabbed a nappy, knocking over the rest of the stack, and carried it back to Ron, who had laid Hugo on the spot on the bed Rose had vacated. 'Thanks, Rose-bud.'

'You're going to need another one,' Hermione remarked, taking a sip of tea.

'Right.' Ron pulled his wand from his pocket and flicked it at the cupboard, making another nappy float across the room toward him. 'Hey, Rosie? See that bottle?'


'Could you bring it over?'

''kay...' Rose reached into the cupboard and clutched the bottle of talcum powder with both hands, walking back to Ron.

'One more thing, Rosie,' Ron told her. 'See that facecloth next to the nappies?' At Rose's vigorous nod. 'Can you bring that to me, too?'

'You know, this would be faster if you just collected all that yourself,' Hermione said dryly.

'True, but when do you think she's ever going to want to help like this again?' Ron replied. He deftly unwrapped Hugo from the blanket, making a face at the mess that had leaked from the nappy and currently dribbled down Hugo's chubby leg. 'Oh, that's disgusting...'

'Ewwwww!' Rose's small face scrunched in obvious distaste and she scurried to the head of the bed.

Hermione craned her head a little. 'That's normal,' she pointed out.

'Well, yes, for the poo, but it's everywhere,' Ron said in slight desperation, as he began to gingerly dab at the mess that coated Hugo. He spared a glance for Hermione. 'How are you feeling?'

'Better. Don't hurt quite so much, but Shanti's making me take Blood-Replenishing potions three times a day.'

'What about the other thing?' Ron continued, as he kept his eyes glued to his hands, swiftly tugging the soiled nappy from under Hugo. 'Now that you've had time to think about it...'

'I still stand by what I said yesterday, Ron,' Hermione said. 'It's fine.' She toyed with the edge of the blanket. 'Well, not fine, really, but it's not the end of the world.'

Ron sprinkled talcum powder on Hugo's bottom, and wrapped the clean nappy around him, pinning it clumsily with one hand. 'Here,' he said, scooping the baby into his hands, and depositing him in Hermione's arms. 'I'll go fetch a clean blanket and another one of those bodysuits,' he murmured, and started for the door.

'Ron?' Hermione's voice stopped him as his hand landed on the doorknob.


'I love you.'

The corner of Ron's mouth tipped up. 'I love you, too.'


Ron lifted Rose from the bathtub and set her on the rug, wrapping a towel around her. He briskly dried her, then sent her to her room with a light swat. By the time he had dried the splashes of water from the floor and followed Rose down the corridor, she had pulled open a bureau drawer and was industriously digging through it. She emerged clutching her Cannons robes. 'Want to s'eep in deese!' she exclaimed, waving the robes over her head.

'You can't, Rosie. You need to sleep in this.' Ron held out Rose's small nightdress.

'Want to s'eep in Cahnons!'

'You'll get too hot,' Ron cajoled.

Rose stamped her feet, her face screwed up with all the fury she could manage. Which, considering who her father and paternal grandmother were, was a considerable amount. 'Want to s'eep in Cahnons!' she repeated.

'All right?' Harry peered around the door.

'She's supposed to sleep in the nightdress. Hermione said she needs to sleep in the nightdress,' Ron said doggedly.

Harry glanced down at Rose, who had managed to get the robes partially over her head. He squatted next to her and helpfully pulled them over her head. 'There you are, Rosie.'

She beamed at him. 'T'ank you, Un'le Harry.'

'You're welcome.' Harry ruffled the bright red curls.

'You're not helping,' Ron told Harry in a low voice, picking up Rose and setting her into the cot.

'And you need to pick your battles,' Harry retorted.

Ron handed Rose a book. 'Good night, Rose-bud.' He kissed her cheek.

'G'nigh, Daddy.' She began to leaf interestedly through the book.

Ron left the room, and closed the door, leaving it halfway open. He sighed and let his shoulders slump. 'I don't think I could do this alone.'

'You're doing fine,' Harry assured him.

'Yeah. I'm doing so brilliantly, people on the train kept giving me looks when they saw Rosie's dress today and I can't even convince her to wear her bloody nightdress,' Ron growled. He stalked into the kitchen, where the shirt he'd worn the night Hugo was born sat soaking in the sink.

Ron pulled the dripping shirt from the water, and started to scrub at the pale blue cloth. The handprint was still a ghostly outline on the right sleeve. 'Why won't it come out?' he asked. 'I've tried everything. Magic, Muggle methods in some book I found. And it still won't come out!' he said desperately. 'It's my fault,' he mumbled. 'It's all my fault.'

Perplexed, Harry pulled the soaking wet shirt from Ron's unresisting fingers. 'What's your fault?'

Ron stumbled to a chair and fell into it. 'Hermione. It was my fault.' He rubbed his wet hands over his jeans.

Harry slowly sat in the chair next to Ron's. 'I don't understand. It was just a difficult birth, right?' Ron hadn't told them anything at the hospital other than that it had been a difficult birth and they should go home. Harry hadn't been so sure about that. He had seen the fine tremors that ran through Ron, shivering as if he were cold.

Ron ran his hands through his hair. 'I should have kept my hands off her... I shouldn't have...' He gulped audibly. 'Shagged her so close to her due date,' he murmured, his ears going bright red. He raised his eyes to Harry's. 'It had to have been me. She was so careful.'

'Ron, it's not like you bound her up and forced her. She was a willing participant.' Harry paused for a moment. 'At least I hope she was...'

Ron gave Harry a look. 'Of course she was,' he snapped. He propped his elbows on the table and slid forward until his head rested on the top of the table. 'It's the only thing I can think of.'

'Why does it have to be something you did?' Harry asked. He and Ginny had done this after Albus was born - spending hours trying to figure out what they had done that would send Ginny into preterm labor.

Ron shrugged listlessly. 'Because if I can say my wife nearly died because of me, it would make some sort of sense.'

Harry inhaled sharply. 'She almost died...?'

Ron nodded miserably. 'Yeah. Shanti said she nearly bled out - is that the right phrase? - before she could sort everything out.' He cleared his throat.

Harry sat quietly, digesting this bit of information. 'What happened?' he asked.

'She... she... Well...' Ron shifted uncomfortably. 'She had this...' He gulped again. 'Everything was going so well, then she started bleeding, and I had to leave...' Ron took in a deep breath. 'Her uterus ruptured,' he admitted. 'Shanti did everything she could but there was too much damage.' Ron's breath hitched, but he continued. 'We can't... Even if we wanted to... Hugo...' Ron's throat closed around the words and he lifted his face from the table, swiping his sleeve angrily across his face.

'Does anybody else know this?' Harry asked, Summoning a tea towel.

Ron shook his head. 'Besides Hermione and me? No.' He took the tea towel Harry offered and scrubbed it over his face, and blew his nose. 'Please don't say anything,' he pleaded.

'Not even to Ginny?' Harry asked uneasily.

Ron sighed and carefully folded the towel. 'All right. You can tell Gin, but that's it.'

Harry's eyes closed. 'I'm so sorry,' he said softly, remembering all the ups and downs Ron and Hermione had gone through in order to have Rose.

Ron stood up and tossed the towel into a basket. 'It's okay.' He started toward the door. 'I wish people would stop saying that,' he grumbled. 'Like a little "I'm sorry" is going to make up for it.' He stopped and turned around, his hands clenched into fists. 'Don't get me wrong,' he began hoarsely. 'I'm thrilled that I have two healthy children, when I thought at one point I'd never even have one, but...'

Harry reached out to Ron and grabbed his arm. He didn't say anything, but pulled Ron into a tight hug. Ron's hands started to pull Harry's arms away, but they closed painfully around Harry's wrists and he began to cry. Harry said nothing, but silently stood with his arms wound around his best friend, rocking him gently. Ron's hands fell away from Harry's wrists and his arms wrapped around his shoulders. After a few more minutes, Ron pulled away. 'Thanks,' he murmured.

Harry's hand squeezed Ron's shoulder. 'Anytime, mate.' He maneuvered Ron to a chair and made him sit down. 'Did you want more...?' he asked uncertainly, knowing how much the idea of a large family had terrified Ginny.

Ron snorted in ironic laughter. 'I don't know. To be honest, I thought after Rose was born she would be our only child. Then when she got pregnant again, we were both so surprised by it that the only thing we discussed about it was whether or not we had wanted more children after Rosie.' He rubbed his face a little. 'We've never really talked about what we wanted to do after Hugo.' He shrugged morosely. 'I guess that decision's been made for us, hasn't it?'

'Don't you think you ought to talk about this with Hermione?' Harry asked.

Ron sighed. 'I did. The day after Hugo was born. She says she's all right with it, but I think she's always harbored a secret desire to have more than two children.'

'What about you?' Harry persisted.

Ron shook his head. 'No. I know what it's like to have a lot of brothers and sisters...' He glanced at Harry. 'I know you and Hermione have this romantic idea of what it's like to be in a large family, but you have no idea. No offense,' he added.


'I never thought I'd say this, but Percy was right about what it feels like. I do not want to put any child through what we had to go through. You two have really only seen the good that can come from having such a large family.'

'That's what Ginny said, before Albus was born,' Harry murmured absently.

'And she was right,' Ron mumbled. 'I thought you were nutters for having a third.'

Harry smothered a chuckle. 'Believe me, after dealing with James and Albus all day, I think we are, too.'


Harry crept into the house, hoping he didn't wake anyone. He'd left Ron and Hermione's flat and spent a few hours wandering around London. He couldn't picture Ron without Hermione. He tried, but the two of them were inextricably bound to one another. Somehow, he thought if one were to die, the other would follow. Not that Ron would have committed suicide over Hermione's death. Sure, he'd live for his daughter, and his son. But he wouldn't be the same. Harry reckoned Ron would slowly fade away, a little bit at a time, until he just disappeared.

He ascended the stairs and turned automatically into James' room. He pulled the light quilt over James and spent a few minutes watching his eldest son sleep. James slept with an abandon Harry envied. After running his hand over James' head, Harry went to check on Albus, who was sleeping with his thumb firmly embedded in his mouth. Something must have happened earlier. He doesn't suck his thumb unless James teases him. Harry reached into the cot, and gently pulled Albus' thumb out of his mouth and used the edge of the blanket to wipe the saliva off it. Albus' lips smacked sleepily a few times, then he settled back into slumber. Smiling a little, Harry slipped into Teddy's room. Lily's room, soon. He started guiltily as he realized he hadn't started converting the attic into a room for Teddy. Maybe I can ring up Dean, Seamus, and Neville, and with Ron and me, we can get it out of the way in an afternoon. Teddy's sandy hair flopped over the pillow, the tips a shimmering shade of purple. Harry felt the old impotent rage gurgle in his stomach. He hadn't felt it in years. Not since Teddy was Albus' age. Slowly, Harry inhaled, and blew out the breath as he pulled out the chair at the small desk, and sat on it. He understood why Tonks followed Remus into the battle. If he'd been in her shoes, he probably would have done the same thing. Regardless, it didn't make him any less angry that his beloved godson had to grow up without at least one parent.

The feel of a hand on the back of his neck made Harry sit up suddenly. Ginny stood next to the chair, one hand rubbing absently at the side of her swollen abdomen. 'It's late,' she whispered.

Harry nodded and rose from the chair, shoving it back under the desk, with a discordant scraping sound, as the wooden legs dragged over the hardwood floor. Harry glanced back at Teddy, but he merely twitched a little and snorted, shifting his position, then relaxed. He followed Ginny out of Teddy's room and padded down the corridor to their bedroom, closing the door behind them. 'Feel all right?' he asked.

'Yeah.' Ginny rubbed her knuckles over her breastbone. 'Just heartburn.'

Harry's eyes narrowed. 'What did you eat?'

'Uhhh...' Ginny's eyes unfocused as she tried to remember. 'Leftover samosas from lunch yesterday, half of that insanely large bar of Honeydukes' chocolate you've got stashed in a drawer in the kitchen, popcorn with salt and butter, an apple, and two oranges.'

'All at once?' Harry gagged.

Ginny sighed crossly. 'No. I've been nibbling all night.'

'Feeling peckish, were you?' Harry reached over to the small bookcase and snagged the dog-eared copy of their pregnancy. He flipped through the pages until he came to the section on heartburn. 'Did you eat every forbidden food on the list on purpose?' he asked dryly.

'Not particularly,' Ginny retorted. She rubbed her breastbone once again. 'Isn't there any bicarb in the kitchen?' she asked fretfully.

Harry set the book down. 'I think so.'

'Could you get me some?' Ginny asked irritably.

'Oh, right...' Harry hurried down the stairs and returned, carrying a bright yellow box. Ginny took it from him and trudged into the bathroom. 'So, I saw Ron earlier.'

'How's he doing?' Ginny measured a couple of tablespoons of the bicarbonate of soda into a glass and added water to it. 'He hasn't been very talkative the past few days.' She upended the glass and began to gulp the mixture down.

Harry squirted a blob of toothpaste to his toothbrush. 'Not so good,' he said, sitting on the edge of the bathtub. 'Hermione almost died,' he told Ginny, his eyes fixed on the toothpaste. 'And he thinks it was his fault.'

'How would it be his fault?' Ginny leaned against the counter, stifling the belch that rose to the surface.

Harry began to brush his teeth. He spit the mouthful of foam into the sink and shrugged. 'In the face of the inexplicable, Gin, you latch onto the most logical explanation. And when you can't find a logical explanation, you choose the easiest.' Before he poked the toothbrush back into his mouth, Harry's eyebrow rose. 'I should know...' He meditatively brushed his teeth for a few minutes before rinsing his mouth out. He got to his feet and tossed his toothbrush on the counter. Turning to Ginny, his hand spread over her stomach. 'He said that she can't...' He shook his head, while his hand circled over Ginny.

Ginny looked down in confusion, until Harry's forehead rested against her middle. 'Oh...' she breathed, comprehension dawning.

'It's not fair,' he said, his voice muffled by the fabric of Ginny's nightdress. 'Magic can re-grow bones, heal wounds, and bring someone back from the brink of death, but when it comes to something like that it's useless.'

Ginny's hand stroked Harry's hair back from his face. 'Is Hermione going to be all right?'

'Physically? Ron says she'll recover.'

'That's not what I meant,' Ginny pointed out.

'I know.' Harry rubbed his face over Ginny's stomach. 'I don't know. But it rather depends on them, doesn't it? If they're okay with it.'

Ginny sighed and let her hands rest on Harry's shoulders. 'Don't dwell on it,' she advised.

'I'm trying not to,' he said.

'Come on, Harry.' Ginny urged him to his feet. 'Let's go to bed.'