Chapter 9. I already knewA/N. Ok folks, this is the end. Thanks a lot for sticking with me until now. Hope you like this chapter; it has references to a sensitive matter, and I apologise in advance if it offends you in any way. As I said, these characters are down to earth. They suffered, grieved, made bad decisions, learned from past errors, worked hard to earn respect and some gold, fought to be together and now that they're facing unplanned parenthood, they are assaulted by doubts. This chapter does not try to open a debate about abortion, but I felt that was something they would consider (though I must say, my opinion is identical to Healer O'Reilly's). My head canon is that, given the fact that James Sirius was born only a few years into Ginny's career, both he and Albus Severus were not planned. I think she tried to keep on playing after James, but gave up when Albus was on his way and this was a hard decision for her. As predicted in this chapter (which is what usually happens in real life), being parents was not easy for them. But eventually, if you work hard, and have a bit of luck, it's totally worth it. :-D
A big thank you to Ginny Guerra, who kindly offered to Beta this chapter.
This story is dedicated to my beautiful daughters, who are mainly delighted that I'm their mother in spite of my many peculiarities. Specially to my eldest, who was the first to enjoy this, and forbade me to upload any chapters she had not read yet because she wanted to be the first.
Disclaimer: if you recognize it, it is not mine. Kudos to JK Rowling.
"You… you knew? Since when do you know it? I just confirmed it yesterday!" Ginny exclaimed.
"Gin, please, I may not be the smartest person in the world, but I have eyes, and I notice things. I've been dropping hints all morning, but you just giggled," he said with a calm that he did not feel inside.
"Those were… hints? I thought you were oblivious! But how… when did you know?" she stuttered.
"On the past days, you've been acting strangely. At first I blamed it on the awful end of the Quidditch season; I know you really wanted to play in the European league and that match against the Cannons swept the team's chances away. But you're not one to cry over a spilled potion. After a few days of sulking, I expected to see you putting your misery back and focusing on the holidays and the next season, as you always do. Instead of that, your anxiety grew, so I began to watch you closely. At the Burrow, you went to the herb garden to pick up the camomile you like to use on the potion you take every period to alleviate symptoms. You brew it personally because it's your gran's recipe and you don't want the Harpies' potioneer to have it, it's supposed to stay in the family. But you didn't brew the potion. I know you do it on the first day of your period because it has a short life."
Ginny was gaping at him, surprise etched in her face. "I… I had no idea you knew me so well…"
Harry smiled. "Give me some credit, Gin. We've been living together for three years now, and I've been known to pay attention every once in a while to the things I'm fond of," he teased her.
"So that's why you knew: because you noticed my period was late."
"That's only one reason. It's not the first time your period is late because of stress. But then you began to run out of the kitchen every time I cooked and started to take your meals outside in the terrace. I've been around enough pregnant women, both at the Burrow and at work, to know what that means. And, Merlin, Gin, my eyesight may not be great, but I'd have to be blind to not notice that your breasts have… well… WOW." He blushed hard, and snickered when he saw Ginny's face mirroring his. She shook her head, as if trying to dispel the embarrassment.
"But then, if you knew… why didn't you tell me? What were you waiting for?" she inquired.
Harry squirmed in the bed. That was the quid of the question. He took a deep breath.
"I was waiting for you to tell me. I didn't… I wanted to…," he exhaled the breath and stared Ginny in the eyes. Be a Gryffindor, you git. "I didn't want to count on it until I knew what you had decided about it."
Ginny looked stunned. Harry almost could hear the wheels turning in her head. Surely, in a moment, she was going to ask…
"Decided about… what? The baby?" she said in a small voice.
Harry closed his eyes and braced himself. "Gin, we may be married, but you're not my possession. It's your body, the one that's changing as we speak. It's your career, the first to be affected. You'd have to spend at least a year off the game, between the pregnancy and the postpartum. From my point of view, only you get to have a-a say in the issue. I-" he swallowed and kept on- "my role is supporting you no matter what you decide."
If possible, Ginny looked much more shocked than before. "But then what you're saying… do you want to… do you think not keeping it is the best option?"
"I… I don't know, Gin. This is big. It's going to change all our plans. The European Championship will take place next summer. Everyone's betting on you to play for England, but if we have the baby, your place in the national team is not guaranteed. Are you sure you want to risk it?"
Ginny fixed her stare on him. Harry felt his insides twist in a knot.
"Harry, what's this all about? You're not telling me everything."
The knot tightened and he gulped. "I saw you yesterday, at the O'Reilly's."
Ginny paled and glared at him. "Were you following me?"
Harry shook his head. "No. I- I was there, having tea with them. You knocked the front door. I didn't want to impose my presence with new visitors so I bade them goodbye and left the house through the back door, under the Cloak. But I saw you through the windows, before Disapparating. You didn't tell me anything when you got back, so I thought…" He paused, doubting.
"What did you think? " she asked softly.
Harry let his head fall. "That maybe… you went to seek advice for getting rid of the baby."
His words were met with a silence. Harry raised his head to gaze at her; she was looking at him with a strange expression.
"I have to admit, I've considered it," she said.
His mouth went dry. "And what have you decided?"
Ginny sighed softly. "That I had to tell you first, and hear what you had to say on the matter. Rose did a quick checkup on me, said that everything was fine so far. I... bursted in tears, so she fixed me some tea and let me blow off steam. We talked and then she sent me home with a leaflet and Vitamin Vials that I'm to take if I want to keep the baby, and a potion if I… don't."
"She didn't talk you into doing one thing or another?" he asked.
Ginny shook her head. "Rose told me that as a Healer, she had to stay neutral, and as a friend who had enjoyed motherhood as a choice and not an imposition, she wanted the same freedom for all the women".
"So… do you still have the potion?" Harry whispered.
"I told you, I wanted to discuss this with you first," she rolled her eyes and huffed, exasperated. "What's going on, Harry? It's not like us to be on tenterhooks, afraid to talk and running circles about a problem. What do you think? I know this wasn't in our plans. I know it would affect my career more than yours. I know we weren't even sure of wanting to have children, but the fact remains: there's a tiny Potter on the way. When we got engaged, we agreed to decide together when the occasion presented itself. That's just what has happened. Let's talk clearly, Harry: do you want to be a father or not? Because I'm not doing this alone."
The mere suggestion that Ginny thought he would leave her outraged him. "You wouldn't be! I was the one who told Remus to stick with Tonks and Teddy! I'd never-"
"I know you wouldn't, Harry! That's not what I'm asking you. I want you to be in this with me one hundred percent, and not just following my lead." She grabbed his hands and looked him in the eyes. "What were you doing at the O'Reilly's, Harry?"
Harry sighed. "I wanted to talk with them. Well, specifically with Patrick. He's one of the few people I can confide who's not related to you and he's a father himself. I asked him how he knew he was ready for children."
After Harry's accident three years ago, the two of them plus Ron and Hermione had met the O'Reilly's at a Harpies-Tornados match, which the couple and their family had attended as guests of honour, invited by Ginny as a way to thank Rose for all she had done for her at St. Mungo's. Patrick and Rose were cheerful, good-natured people and the six had quickly become friends despite the age difference.
"You went for advice, like me. I'm not surprised. What did Pat tell you?"
"Well, he said that both of them came from large families and wanted one of their own, so having children was never questioned between them. And there came a moment in their relationship when they simply did not want to wait more. But that even when you are convinced and totally going for it, you feel that you're diving in waters which you haven't the faintest idea you can swim. It's a leap of faith. For him, totally worth it but at the same time the toughest thing he's done in his life. Told me nobody teaches you how to be a parent, no matter how ready you feel, and only when your offspring kick themselves off home and begin to do well on their own, you feel something like having passed the exams, only no one hands you any marks or certificates. And then he patted me in the back, switched my tea for a tumbler of Firewhiskey and muttered something about teaching me some good air refreshing charms and always having a bottle of fine mead for the rough nights. No clue what he was referring to."
"Sounds like the type of thing my father should say," nodded Ginny. "So, after that valuable piece of mind Patrick gave you, have you decided anything?"
Harry bowed his head. "No… I don't know, Gin. I'm shit scared, to be frank. Half of me wants to cry of joy and the other half is paralysed with fear, and the 'what ifs' never cease to nag me. Raising Teddy is one thing; we always look up to Andromeda. But this one… this one's gotta be entirely up to us."
"Well, that's a start," she said. "I was the same until this morning, just before you woke up."
The mysterious sobs and giggles he had heard from the bathroom. "Yeah, you've been acting crazy all morning. I can't keep up with you. What happened in the bathroom?"
Ginny did not answer immediately. She seemed to be fighting an internal battle, biting her lip while staring at him. Finally, she looked to have reached a decision, for she nodded.
"You need to see something. I'll show you."
To Harry's bewilderment, she picked up her wand, banished the breakfast tray to the dressing table and conjured a piece of blank parchment. Ginny leaned against the pillows, bared her abdomen and placed the parchment over it.
"It's a very tricky spell. Rose used it on me yesterday. She refused to let me see the image, said that she couldn't influence my decision, but she taught me the incantation and warned me to use it only if I was sure of wanting… Well, I couldn't sleep, so I spent hours thinking and then I've been ages at the bathroom, trying this until I got it right. Still, I can't do it non verbally. Let's see if I can get it again…" She pointed her wand to the parchment, drew a circle with it and said," Revelio Matricis."
Harry stared blankly at the sheet. At first, nothing happened. But on the second time Ginny repeated the spell, tiny dots in shades of red and pink began to appear in the parchment, in a fuzzy fashion that reminded Harry vaguely of a muggle television not tuned.
"What is this supposed to be, Gin? All I see is … dots, I'd say…"
"Keep watching," she replied.
Harry did so. Slowly, the blur of dots began to arrange themselves in a vague rounded figure. Harry saw a white bubble began to expand in the centre of it, and inside the bubble, first a tiny speck, then something slightly bigger, and suddenly…
What started like a speck had taken a blurry, little, yet unmistakable humanoid form in which the head and four tiny limbs were clearly discernible. To his utter amazement, the little being seemed to be moving quite a lot. Harry did not know what to make of most of the things he could see, but he supposed he could guess what the little cluster of dots in the middle, fluttering like the wings of a hummingbird, was.
"Is that…," he pointed at it, open mouthed.
Ginny nodded and spoke with a voice full of emotion. "Yes, that's our baby, and the heart is beating. Reckon he or she is actually the size of a raspberry, but the spell magnifies it so you can see it best."
Harry was only half-hearing her. His attention was fixed on the small figure inside the bubble. This was… A million emotions flooded his brain. Awe. Pride. A fierce sense of protectiveness. Joy, pure and bursting joy.
"… Rose's always been interested in Muggle Healing, or Medicine, whatever. Wizarding and muggle illnesses don't have much in common but she was intrigued by their diagnosis methods, to actually see what's happening inside the body, so she worked with a Muggle doctor and she finally found a spell that could replicate what they call ultrasuns or something like that…"
Of course, the fear had not left: fear for a zillion things that went from worry for the well-being of the tiny baby and Ginny, to concern for his ability to take care of him -or her, could be a girl, he thought with a jolt of surprise- and anguish for the uncountable dangers the world posed. But all that had sort of taken a back seat. Two things dawned on him: that, as he realised that, the fear and worry were never going to leave him, he also did not want to let this baby disappear from their lives. All of a sudden, their plans, their careers and other issues seemed unimportant. All that mattered was this unnamed child that had disrupted their lives.
"Harry? Harry… are you ok? Say something, please."
Her words finally broke through his bubble of mixed emotions and Harry tore his gaze apart from the piece of parchment and looked at Ginny. She gave him a tentative smile, then looked down at her tummy and muttered something. The image froze and she picked up the sheet and gave it to him.
"I've put a preservation spell on it, it should work like taking a photograph," she said when he took it.
Harry did not realise he was crying until a tear splashed on the edge of the parchment. In his haste for swiping it, his hand crashed with Ginny's; the two of them locked eyes, and after several moments of stillness, they both burst out laughing. They went on for minutes, until he felt stitches in his sides. Ginny was wiping tears and still cackling when he engulfed her in a hug and kissed her hard.
"We're going to be parents, Harry," she said when he broke the kiss.
"We really are," he whispered in amazement. "Merlin! I'm going to be a father! I'm… wow!" He ran his hands through his hair, and looked at Ginny, who was giggling. "Now I know how you feel."
"I'm glad to have you on the same page as me."
"So that's how you knew what you wanted? After seeing the baby?"
Ginny nodded, still grinning. "I just had to do it, I could not try to. When I finally got to see the baby, it was like the world turned upside down and then righted itself, only everything had changed places, you know what I mean? And all of a sudden the Championship, or next season, were not the things I cared for the most. It was the baby, and I simply knew I couldn't get rid of it. I know it's not going to be easy, and I am worried about a thousand different things, and it wasn't planned; but, hey, I also thought of all the awful things that ever happened in our lives without us having a say in it, like you with the prophecy that marked your life, or Lucius Malfoy dropping that wretched diary in my cauldron, and what if life, or fate, or whatever, decided to throw something at us that it's actually good? What if fate put that sandwich in our lives?"
"You do realise what a barmy theory that is, don't you?" he chuckled.
"Oh, of course, but who cares?"
Both of them laughed again. When they eventually sobered up, Harry took her hands in his. "Not all the things we didn't choose turned out bad, you know. For instance, meeting you and your family the first time I got to King's Cross."
"You getting banned from the last quidditch match in your sixth year…"
"Something like that," he smiled. "I reckon we didn't choose this, but it is going to be ok, you know?"
Ginny looked at him with her hard, blazing stare, and swiftly, she pulled him into her arms, hugging him tightly. She whispered in his ear.
"As long as we get to do it together, Potter, I'm sure of that."