Lilies In Autumn


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

Chapter 13 - Just Call Me Mummy


James lay on his stomach on the floor of the sitting room, a box of crayons scattered around him, scribbling on a blank piece of paper. Albus was quietly playing with a pile of wooden blocks, warily glancing at James from time to time. James could be deceptively docile, something Albus had learned at an early age, and decide he wanted to play with whatever Albus had. Ginny sprawled in an armchair, her feet propped on an ottoman. She didn't recognize them, swollen as they were. She kept an eye on the boys, her wand held loosely in one hand, ready to put a Shield charm between them, if she had to. Going out the back garden was a little more than Ginny could handle alone. There were too many potential catastrophes for the boys to crawl into. The sand pit alone was worth at least two thrown handfuls of sand, three temper tantrums, and two crying fits from sand in one of their eyes - all within the first ten minutes. She needed at least one other person to help her run interference.

Ginny sighed and shifted a few times, wiggling her toes. The Ministry ball was next Saturday and she hadn't had a chance to find something she could wear that wouldn't make her look like she was wearing the marquee from Bill and Fleur's wedding. And forget wearing shoes. She hadn't been able to wear a pair of shoes that didn't feel three sizes too small after an hour in two weeks. Harry was going to undergo that little procedure Shanti told her about, if she had to Stun him and bodily drag him into St. Mungo's. Ginny didn't understand how her mother had been able to do this six times. Three was quite enough for her.

'Hiya!' Hermione's voice floated from the kitchen.

'Hi,' Ginny sighed.

'How is it, then?' Hermione walked through the kitchen door, sending Rose to play with Albus, and dropped her bag on the floor next to the sofa, as she sat down. She pulled a small object from the bag and set it in an open space between the armchair Ginny occupied and the sofa. Pointing her wand at the object, it swiftly expanded until a travel cot appeared. She laid a sleeping Hugo in it and gave Ginny a wry look, before waving her wand in Ginny's direction.

Ginny felt a wave of coolness wash over her and she sighed in relief. 'Thanks,' she breathed sincerely. 'It's beastly in here.'

'Why don't you go outside?'

Ginny pointed to James and Albus. 'Reasons one and two.'

'Ah. Say no more.'

Ginny gazed at Hermione contemplatively. 'What are you doing tomorrow?'

'Oh, the usual. Wake up, feed Hugo, give him a bath and change him while Ron gets Rosie up and dressed. Eat breakfast. Feed Hugo again. Take Rosie to the play park for a bit before lunch. Feed Hugo. Give Rosie her lunch. Put her and Hugo down for a nap. Eat my lunch. Read a bit while I've got a few hours to myself. Feed Hugo. Play with Rosie for a while. Help Ron with dinner. Give Rose a bath and put her to bed, while Ron gets some time with Hugo and gets him ready for bed. Feed Hugo, then collapse into bed, wondering if I can handle the next four months without going mad, counting the days until my maternity leave is over.'

Ginny's mouth twitched. 'A simple "nothing" would have sufficed,' she said dryly.

Hermione laughed. 'Yeah, all right. Nothing. Why?'

'Are you going to the Ministry ball this year?'

'Sadly, yes. I think Ron's going to pack sandwiches in my handbag, though. He's taking requests.'

'Do you have anything to wear, or are you going to make do with something you've worn before?

'Can't fit into what I wore last year,' Hermione snorted. 'I have to go find something,' she muttered darkly. 'Hate shopping for clothes.'

'Want to give Mum a call and see if she'll watch the heathens tomorrow for a few hours so we can find something to wear? I don't care if I have to use my entire month's pay to buy a dress, just as long as I can avoid Madam Malkin's.'

'What about that one you wore when you were pregnant with James? To that Quidditch thing.' Hermione Summoned two glasses from the kitchen. She tapped the rims of the glasses and they filled with water.

Ginny picked up one of the glasses and took several long swallows. 'Thanks. I tried it on last week, actually,' she said. 'Doesn't fit. There's so much cleavage, I look like a prostitute. A very fat prostitute.'

'We could get you a nun's habit from a costume shop,' Hermione countered.

Ginny gazed at the chipped varnish on her toes and glanced at Hermione. 'That might actually be a possibility.'


Harry lay in bed shivering. He'd didn't remember Ginny's Cooling charms being this cold in the Soho flat when she was pregnant with James. He pushed the bedding back and lunged for the bureau, scrabbling for the bottom drawer. He dug out a worn and shabby jumper and put a Warming charm on it, yanking it over his head. 'How can you not be cold?' he demanded.

Ginny flopped onto the bed, arms and legs outstretched in an attempt to get the cool air on as much of her as possible. 'It's not that bad,' she sighed, shoving as much of the quilt to Harry's side of the bed as possible.

Harry eyed Ginny, clad only in a camisole and her knickers. 'That's all you're going sleep in?'

'You can sleep in Teddy's room,' Ginny growled.

'I'll just get some socks, then,' Harry muttered. Dealing with the dark and narrow stairs at night that led to the attic was an activity for people under the age of twenty. He rummaged for a pair of socks and pulled them over his feet, diving back into the bed. 'Are you sure you're up to the ball this year?'

Ginny turned her head on her pillow. Harry's face was covered up to his eyes. She laughed to herself and pulled the quilt down to expose the rest of his face. 'Truthfully?'


'Yes and no.'

Harry sat up, wrapping the quilt around him tightly. 'Hang on, I'm a little confused. Are you up to it or not?'

'Can we go, make an appearance, then leave early?' Ginny asked hopefully. 'Between the swollen feet, the heartburn, feeling like a furnace all the time, I'm not sure I want to spend all evening around people.'

A moment of silence stretched between them. 'I have never wanted you more,' Harry finally said sincerely, before Ginny's pillow smacked him square in the face.

'Oh the romance, right?' she said with a chuckle. It slid into a gasp of pain and she pressed a hand to her chest.

'Heartburn?' Harry asked.

Ginny nodded. 'Yeah...'

'I'll be right back.' Harry slid out of bed, tripping over the quilt tangled around his feet. He stopped to kick the quilt from his feet and stumbled into the bathroom. Ginny had begun to keep a box of bicarbonate of soda in the cupboard in there. She had gotten tired of making the trip into the kitchen every time she got heartburn at night - a frequent occurrence the past few months. He dumped what looked like enough bicarbonate of soda into a glass and filled it with water. As he handed the glass to Ginny he smiled at her. 'They never say it's like this.'

Ginny lowered the glass and wiped her upper lip with the back of one hand. 'What is?'

'Marriage. All those Muggle novels I've read. They end with the wedding, but never get into things like stretch marks, heartburn or swollen feet,' he mused.

Ginny hooted. 'Of course not. If they did, nobody would ever get married.' She upended the glass and drained it. 'Thanks.' She set the glass down on the night table. She reached for Harry's hand and twined her fingers through his.

Harry brought their joined hands to his lips and pressed a kiss to the back of Ginny's. 'You know I love you, don't you?'

Ginny glanced at the glass, cloudy with the residue of the mixture of water and bicarbonate of soda. 'Yeah, I do.'

'I know I don't always say it,' he muttered, the back of his neck flushing a dull red.

'You don't have to,' Ginny murmured. 'But it's nice to hear it once in a while.' Ginny tilted her head toward the bed. 'Better get some sleep I have a feeling it's going to be one of those weeks...'


'I wanna go!' whined James, his lower lip comically thrust out in displeasure.

Ginny pulled James' other foot into her lap and pushed his foot into his shoe. 'Not this time, Jemmy,' she sighed. 'Grandad's going to be there,' she added enticingly. 'Maybe he'll take you into the village for an ice cream after lunch.'

'Not Albie or Rosie,' James insisted. 'Jus' me!'

Ginny frowned at James. 'Then you'll have to bring something back for them,' she said crisply. 'Or I'll tell Grandad no ice cream.' James' small face scrunched in displeasure. He'd seen the small cake for Albus' second birthday in the pantry earlier and howled in fury when Harry had told him he couldn't have any until tomorrow. Needless to say, it had put James in something of a testy mood.

'No...' he huffed

'All right, then,' Ginny told him. 'I'll tell Grandad no ice cream.'

'Noooooo!' James wailed. 'I wan' ice cream wi' Grandad!'

Ginny pushed James' foot off her lap. 'One... two...' she began warningly.

James' mouth snapped shut. Stubborn as he was, he was also a quick study. It hadn't taken more than a few times to learn that when Ginny started counting, he was going to spend some time on the second step of the staircase. James hated the step. It didn't matter how much he cried, screamed, or yowled, Ginny and Harry both ignored him. If he tried to leave the step, they firmly put him back on it. The few minutes he spent on the step felt like an eternity to his almost four-year old self. 'Ice cream wi' Grandad,' he said in a small voice. 'We brin' some back f' Rosie an' Albie,' he added reluctantly.

'Brilliant,' Ginny muttered. She turned her attentions to Albus, who was industriously filling Harry's old school bag, shrunk to a manageable size for him, with toys to take to the Burrow. 'That's enough, Albie,' she said. 'Grandmum has plenty of toys for you at her house.'

Albus shook his head, making his fluffy black hair fly around his ears. 'Wan' deese,' he said, wrapping his chubby fingers around the strap of the bag. 'Gots Pyay-ooh,' Albus informed his mother seriously.

Ginny ran a hand through her hair. She knew the suggested minimum age on the package of Play-Doh was listed as three years, but Albus could entertain himself for ages. The biggest risk was he might try to eat it, like he'd tried to do the first time Harry let him play with the stuff. The worst that had happened then was Albus had gotten an upset stomach and his nappy was festooned with purple and green-streaked poo. It had actually distressed Albus' parents more than it had Albus. 'Fine,' she finally said. 'Take it with you, but for God's sake, don't eat it, all right?'

'No eadh,' Albus promised solemnly.

'Fantastic.' Ginny slung Albus' bag securely over his small shoulder and held out her left hand. 'Take a finger,' she instructed. James' hand snaked out and wrapped around her index finger, while Albus's took her smallest one. 'Ready?' she asked, taking a handful of Floo powder form the flower pot on the mantle. She tossed the sparkling powder into the flames. 'The Burrow!', she cried as she stepped into the emerald flames, clutching Albus and James tightly as the flames whirled around them.

She stumbled out of the fireplace at the Burrow, nearly pitching to the floor, but Arthur had been waiting for them. He caught Ginny before she could do more than trip over her toes. The boys immediately let go, and tumbled across the hearthrug, giggling madly. They enjoyed the arrival when they traveled by Floo. 'Hermione's not here yet,' Arthur said. 'You look done in already,' he observed. 'Go in the kitchen and get yourself a cuppa, eh?'

'Thanks.' Ginny set her bag on the floor next to the sofa. 'How did you manage to get a day off in the middle of the week like this?'

Arthur snorted. 'I'm hardly ever ill,' he stated. 'I've loads of sick leave, just sitting there. When I retire, they're going to owe me money for my unused leave.'

'Why don't you retire?' Ginny asked curiously.

'Your mum won't let me,' Arthur replied promptly. 'Says all I'll do is tinker in my tool shed all day. Or be in here, underfoot, trying to get her to do things the Muggle way, just to see what it's like.'

'She's probably right.' Ginny grinned at her father.

'Probably,' Arthur agreed. 'Most of my staff is able to handle at least one day without me,' he said sheepishly. 'They get all that Muggle stuff more than I do and if something does come in that needs to be sorted, the more senior members can make sure it's done. These days, it's mostly charms or hexes on ordinary things teapots or the like. Most of the time it's a family dispute. Siblings playing tricks on each other, and the object gets packed away in a carton and forgotten, then the whole box is donated wholesale to some Muggle church rummage sale or a boot sale.'

Ginny shook her head. Arthur was almost maniacal about checking to make sure anything non-magical had any and all enchantments lifted when it left their possession. She headed for the kitchen, but stopped and doubled back to where Arthur was crouched on the floor, admiring Albus' collection of Play-Doh pots and plastic cutters. 'Hey, Dad?'


'Could you take James down to the village after lunch later?' she asked, widening her eyes significantly. 'Like we used to do?'

Arthur stared at Ginny in obvious bewilderment for several long moments until his face cleared and he nodded vigorously. 'Oh, right. Of course.' He glanced down at Albus. 'And the other two?'

'Bring something back for them.'

'I think we can do that,' Arthur said with a smile.


Hermione glanced at Hugo in the carrycot and did a double-take. He had managed to work one of his socks off and was contentedly sucking the toes of his bare foot. Hermione started to pull his foot from his mouth, but decided to just leave it. It wasn't as if he'd been running down the street in his bare feet, and of all the things he could managed to shove into his mouth, his toes were the least of her worries.

Rose stood in front of her, clutching her miniature Cannons robes in a death grip.

'Rosie, darling, you can't wear those every day,' Hermione patiently explained, while inside, she was ready to scream in frustration. It was the same argument every day for the past month. Sometimes, Hermione or Ron could get Rose to relent and wear something else.

'Wan' weh Cahn'ns!' Rose stubbornly maintained, her tiny brows drawing together in a truly ferocious scowl.

Hermione checked her watch and sighed. She was running late and was sure Ginny was already at the Burrow waiting for her. 'Fine...' She knelt to help Rose pull the robes over her pinafore, trying not to visibly wince at the combination of lurid orange robes and Rose's bright red hair. 'Go get your bag, Rosie, okay?'

Beaming in pleasure, Rose picked up her small bag that was crammed with books, and went to stand next to the fireplace. 'Le's go, Mummee!'

'In just a moment.' Hermione slipped the sling over her head and lifted Hugo from the carrycot, slipping him into the sling. She pulled her wand from her bag and jabbed it at the carrycot, shrinking it so it could fit into the bag. After stowing the shrunken carrycot, and picking up the bag, she stood up and motioned to Rose. 'Come on, Rosie, we're not Floooing to Grandmum's today.' Rose's face fell slightly - she loved Flooing - but she took her mother's outstretched hand and held it tightly.

As soon as they reappeared outside the back garden gate of the Burrow, Rose dropped Hermione's hand and ran into the kitchen. 'Gran'mum!'

Molly smiled and held her arms out. Rose ran directly to her, flinging herself into Molly's lap. Molly reached for a biscuit on the plate between her and Ginny and offered it to Rose. Glancing up at Hermione, who trailed in more slowly after Rose, she flicked her wand at the cupboard, and a cup and saucer sailed to the table. 'Rough morning, then?' she asked.

'A little,' Hermione murmured, sitting at the table and pouring tea into the cup. Ron was still hovering. The solicitous concern was grating first thing in the morning and she'd snapped at him, and things went downhill from there. Bickering was their -modus operandi much of time, but it usually wasn't as sharp as it had been that morning. Ron had stormed out in a fit of pique, and Rose had pitched a temper tantrum of monumental proportions when he wasn't there at breakfast. It had put Hermione behind a great deal and she was nearly an hour late meeting Ginny.

Molly gave Hermione a long, calculating look. 'Take your time, the both of you.' She picked up her cup and took a sip. 'What are you two girls planning on doing?'

Ginny held out a foot, and pointed her toes. 'Shoes,' she sighed. 'I think we're going to have to stop at Madam Malkin's anyway. The last time I tried to charm my shoes to accommodate my feet like this, they never quite fit the same afterward I lifted the charm. And I don't think I can wear flip flops to a ball.'

'Why don't both of you get dress robes at Madam Malkin's and be done with it?' Molly asked.

Both Hermione and Ginny made faces of disgust. 'Oh Mum, dress robes are so old-fashioned,' Ginny laughed.

'Better to be old-fashioned, than gallivanting about London in your condition in this weather,' Molly retorted.

'We'll hardly be gallivanting, Mum,' Ginny snorted. 'There's only so many places that carry things that will fit over all this,' she drawled, sweeping a hand over her belly.

'And on that note,' Hermione said, draining her tea. 'Let's go while everyone's distracted.'

'Good idea,' Ginny murmured. She and Hermione slipped out the back door. 'See you in a bit, Mum.'


The Leaky Cauldron was cool and dark, two things Ginny very much appreciated after the blinding summer sunshine. She peered through the dim pub, searching for a table in a corner. 'There's one,' she muttered, elbowing Hermione in the ribs. They wound their way through the crowded pub, dropping their carrier bags on the floor behind the table. Hermione pushed one of the extra chairs toward Ginny, and she propped her feet in it with a sigh of relief.

'Oh, thank Merlin you're here!' said Hannah. She hurried to their table and grabbed Ginny's hand, tugging on it. 'I need your help,' she said in a low voice. 'It's Dean.'

'What's the matter?' Ginny asked, swinging her feet to the floor, and allowing Hannah to pull her to her feet.

Hannah led Ginny to one of the private rooms to the side. 'He's been holed up in there for two days, and Merlin knows where he was before that.' Hannah paused and looked at Ginny. 'I was about to send an owl. I know this isn't a good time for you, but he's really in a bad way...'

Ginny sidled to the door Hannah indicated and knocked firmly. 'Dean?' There was no answer. She tried to open the door, but it was locked. 'Right. I need my wand.'

'Here.' Hermione pressed Ginny's wand into her hand.

Ginny jabbed the wand at the door, and it swung open slightly. She pushed it open wider and found Dean sprawled across a sofa, a bottle dangling from his fingers. 'Dean?'

Dean's head slowly turned and he squinted through the darkness of the room. 'Leave me alone.'

Ginny glanced at Hannah and Hermione. 'Go on,' she whispered. 'I've got him.' She slipped into the room, and closed the door. 'Hiya...'

Dean lifted the bottle, and upended it. He seemed surprised to find it was empty. 'When I found out my dad wasn't my father, I wasn't angry at my mum.' He let the bottle fall to the floor, where it landed with a muffled thump. 'Well, I was angry she'd never told me about him and tried to hide it from me. And for the longest time, while I was looking for him, I thought he was just some arsewipe who got tired of being married and just left my mum and me. And I hated him for it.'

'If you hated him, why did you bother looking for him?' wondered Ginny.

'Because I had to know,' Dean grunted, attempting to sit up. 'I wanted to try and find him, and go show him I managed to become a good man without him. Just so look him in the eyes and tell him I didn't need him. Then when I found out he was a wizard, I thought maybe he did just leave, because things were bad then, to protect my mum, since she was a Muggle... But, then why didn't he come back?' Dean's voice cracked. 'I thought, why didn't my father want me?' he added, sounding like a hurt child. 'Because what kind of father doesn't want his own kid?'

Ginny didn't reply. She knew Dean wasn't looking for an answer.

'It wasn't until I started working on the memorial that I thought he might have died.' Dean scrubbed his hands over his face. 'I don't even know what I feel now.' He slumped forward. 'At least I know what happened to him...' Dean's voice trailed off and he fell to the side, snoring softly in the dark room.

Ginny got to her feet and maneuvered Dean until he was lying on the sofa once more. She conjured a fluffy blanket and draped it over his body, then left the room. Hannah and Hermione were at the table, chatting quietly. Ginny braced her hands on the table and dropped into her chair. 'He's asleep,' she told Hannah. 'Or passed out, I'm not sure. Send an owl to Seamus later. He can come collect Dean and take him home.'

'Is he going to be all right?' Hannah asked.

Ginny stared broodingly into the glass of water at her place on the table. 'Eventually.'


Ron sprawled on the edge of the sofa, glancing impatiently at the bathroom door. 'Come on, Hermione, we're going to be late!'

'I'll be out in a minute!' Hermione called through the tightly closed door. She bit her lip and grimaced at her reflection in the full-length mirror on the back of the door. She didn't see the scar across her right breast anymore. It was a souvenir from the battle in the Department of Mysteries and the spell Dolohov had shot at her. It had long since faded into thin silvery lines she hardly noticed. She didn't mind the extra weight she still carried around her waist from carrying Hugo. It was part of the process, and besides, with enough Lycra, she could beat it into submission.

Of their own accord, the fingers of one hand trailed across the livid scar bisecting her abdomen. It could have faded by now, if she used the salve they'd given her at the hospital, but she every time she opened the small pot, her finger hovered over it, unable to go lower. Moments like this, when she caught sight of herself naked, she mentally catalogued everything she had done during the pregnancy and wracked her brain trying to figure out what she had done wrong.

Taking a deep breath, Hermione turned away from the mirror and began to dress. She even flicked her wand over her shoulder, and the zipper rose up the back, rather than calling for Ron to come do it up. After one last glance in the mirror, Hermione twisted the doorknob and stepped into the corridor. She padded into the sitting room, and slid her feet into the pinching heeled shoes she tried to avoid at all costs.

Ron held her wrap out and Hermione let him drape it over her shoulders. His lips brushed over her bare shoulder. 'You look lovely, hen,' he murmured.

'Thanks, Ron.' Hermione smiled tightly.

Ron tipped her chin up with a finger. 'You all right?'

Hermione nodded and tried to smile again. 'Just been a long week,' she told him. 'Shall we? God knows we don't want to miss the rubbery chicken and flaccid vegetables,' she added dryly.

Ron snickered. 'Of course not.' He held out his arm. 'Come on, the sooner we leave, the sooner we can come back.'

'Sneaking out after the speeches, are we?' Hermione asked, pushing her earlier thoughts to the side.

'Absolutely. So we can come home, and have some real food,' Ron said fervently.

Hermione took a step toward the corridor. 'Mum! We're going!'

Jane appeared in the doorway, cradling Hugo. 'Have fun.'

Ron huffed. 'Yeah, right... We'll be home in a couple of hours. Three, tops.' He led Hermione to the front door, and they Apparated to the Atrium of the Ministry.


Harry helped Ginny into a chair. 'You look fine,' he said, for what felt like the hundredth time that evening, rolling his eyes.

'I saw that,' Ginny muttered. 'You're biased.' She picked up her water goblet and sipped it.

'I keep telling you, it doesn't matter if your bum is the size of Brazil, I'll still love you.' Harry folded himself into the chair next to Ginny. 'And I happen to like curvy women.'

Ginny choked on the sip of water, and glared at Harry, her eyes watering. 'Well, this is about as curvy as it gets,' she sighed, flexing her toes.

'Want to go home?'

'You have got to be joking!' Ginny exclaimed. 'I spent an hour trying on dresses before I found one that didn't make me look like I was wearing a circus tent. Then had to suffer the indignity of going to Madam Malkin's for bloody shoes that look like the ones Aunt Muriel wore! And it took me two hours to look this good. I am going to stay here, with my swollen feet, and poke at the inedible meal, listen to an arse-numbingly boring speech, then go home and eat some real food.'

'Hear, hear!' Ron set a glass of lemonade in front of Ginny and sat down. 'I put a ham sandwich in Hermione's bag for you,' he informed his sister.

'Oh, thank you!' Ginny breathed. 'Hand it over right now, there's a good boy.'

Ron dug into Hermione's handbag. 'I'm not five,' he muttered, passing Ginny the sandwich all the same.

'Never said you were,' Ginny assured him, biting blissfully into the sandwich.


Shouldn't have eaten that sandwich so fast... Ginny mused, pacing the length of the kitchen, rubbing her chest fretfully. Lily doesn't seem to like it as much as I did... 'Your Uncle Ron's ham sandwiches are delicious, little girl,' Ginny said aloud. 'You should be grateful he brought it, otherwise, we would have had to suffer with that awful chicken.'

Ginny stopped and rested her elbows on the back of Harry's chair at the table. Pain sliced through her, making her blood still. That's not heartburn... She slowly straightened and resumed her careful circuit of the kitchen. 'Okay, Lily, we are not having a repeat of what happened with your big brother. You are not coming early,' she ordered. Gritting her teeth, she added, 'You have to listen to me because I'm your motheeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!' she groaned. Panting, Ginny blindly groped for one of the chairs that ringed the scrubbed wooden table. Hanging on to it for all she was worth, she reminded herself to take slow, deep breaths. Okay, Weasley, it's nothing... It's just the chicken... The pain intensified. 'I don't think this is the chicken, Lily...' Her grip around the back of the chair tightened. I don't think I can make it up the stairs... 'Harry!' she shouted. 'Harry, help me...!'