Chapter 4

Ginny had tried to make her and Harry's first Christmas together as festive as she could. She'd bought a Christmas tree and ornaments to decorate it and strings of fairy lights to illuminate it. Harry had followed Fred and George's lead and captured a garden gnome, forcing it into a long red dress with attached wings and adorning the tree top. She'd baked Christmas biscuits despite the protests of their house elves and bought Christmas gifts for everyone in her family, Teddy, and Andromeda, wrapping them in gaily colored papers and adding ribbons and bows. They'd exchanged gifts, too: Harry bought her clothes and jewelry, whilst she gave him some Quidditch supplies – a polishing and maintenance kit – and clothing. The clothes he'd been wearing seemed more like Cho's taste than Harry's. She noticed he wore the things she'd gotten him much more often than the others.

Now that their family had grown and the boys were observing their surroundings, Ginny pulled out all the stops. Winky and Bibby helped her string cranberry and colored popcorn garlands for the tree. At Harry's puzzled gaze, she told him she'd learned about the edible ropes from Caroline Sutter, a Muggleborn friend in her year. Jingle hung decorated pine swags over many of the pictures hung throughout the house. She'd bought Christmas-themed pictures and swapped out some of the landscapes that hung the rest of the year.

Once she finished redecorating for the season, Harry commented, "It sure looks like Christmas in here! I like it." Then he moved from the room again, the boys cradled in his arms, and left Ginny with a warm feeling inside.

Finally, Christmas morning arrived. Harry sat near – but not too near – the decorated tree, Jamie sitting up in his Daddy's lap. Jace was doing the same in Ginny's lap, and the two babies were waving teething rings at each other and babbling their own private language. Around the young family were the open gifts they'd received – mostly soft toys and clothing for the twins – and the crumpled, colorful paper that had once adorned the packages.

Harry had given Ginny a pair of gold hair combs embellished with jade flowers, ostensibly in the names of Jamie and Jace. His own gifts to her were a gold horse pendant – her patronus – in full stride, a pair of diamond stud earrings, and, her favorite, a Lightning Bolt model Firebolt with hazel twigs for quick-as-lightning responses to the flyer's steering.

Ginny's gifts to Harry were a selection of books, both wizarding and Muggle, on potions and finances. She had been surprised upon learning, shortly after their marriage, that Harry had decided to master the art of potions making since learning that both his paternal grandfather and his mother had been very, very talented at the subject. He also received a new dragon-skin jacket Ginny ordered through her brother Charlie and portraits of his parents and paternal grandparents that she'd had painted from pictures found in the album Hagrid gave him years before. Needless to say, they were not able to converse; still, Harry seemed appreciative of them and was debating where he would hang them.

"It sure didn't take long to unwrap everything – not nearly as long as the wrapping," Ginny sighed, bending slightly to place a soft kiss of Jace's downy head.

Harry smirked. "I don't think the boys are finished yet."

"Yes, they are. They've opened everything I wrapped."

"Everything you've wrapped," Harry conceded. "Accio Jamie's and Jace's wrapped gifts," he commanded with a twist of his wrist.

Two rectangular packages zoomed from the back of the tree. Harry caught them deftly, one in each hand, before either boy could be hit.

Ginny scanned the size of the boxes and frowned. "Harry, surely you didn't –."

But with his Daddy's help Jamie had torn the Santa-bedecked paper from one of the packages to reveal a box containing a child-sized toy broom.

"No, Harry, they're much too young! They aren't even walking!"

"So these will be waiting for them."

"Harry," Ginny repeated, clearly exasperated.

"Ginny," Harry mimicked her. "You got one today. Now we all have one. The family that flies together, plays together, and stays together."

Ginny glanced down to find that Jace's tiny fingers were busy unsuccessfully attempting to remove the shiny paper from the box balanced on Ginny's knees.

"D'you want them going out and stealing our unrestricted brooms to learn on their own?" he queried.

"I want them to be more than five months old!" she retorted, anger creeping into her voice. "You didn't learn until you went to Hogwarts!"

"Wrong," he said, his voice suddenly devoid of inflection. "Sirius gave me my first broom for my first birthday." At her disbelieving look, he added, "I found a letter from Mum to Sirius thanking him for my broom and telling him how much I loved it."

He pointed to Jace, who was now looking up at his Mum with puppy dog eyes Fred and George would be proud of. "You're upsetting the boys," he accused. "Look, Jace is ready to cry."

Ginny's gaze dropped to her younger son's. His little lips were quivering and his eyes began to fill with tears. A glance at Jamie showed he was similarly affected.

"It's just time for their feeding," she countered, getting to her feet. "They're overstimulated. After their nap we'll go to Mum and Dad's."

Harry sighed audibly as Ginny prepared to nurse. As she helped Jace latch on she decided that whilst Harry changed the boys' nappies later she would hide the brooms until her sons were much older.

One evening a couple weeks before Jamie and Jace turned a year old, Harry told Ginny as he drew her into his arms in bed that he wanted to start on another baby. She wasn't so sure; she hadn't been at her pre-pregnancy weight with the boys very long and wanted to savor it a bit longer, but he silenced her protest with a hot, thorough kiss. Since he neglected to tell her he had not cast the contraceptive charm before having sex with her she was very surprised when she began having morning sickness again. When she confronted him, he only noted that she had agreed to have his children and had not set time limits when she did. She retorted that, since he had gotten his way this time, she did not want to know the sex of this baby or any future offspring before birth. He shrugged and agreed. She agreed that he could give the child a middle name if she chose the first name. Even though Ginny thought they might have arranged a truce, she knew that Harry would just go about their married life as usual.

Harry said nothing when Veronica told them Ginny was pregnant with just one baby, but Ginny was palpably relieved. Her due date was the beginning of April, and four babies in less than two years would have been just too much.

Some of her family seemed surprised when they broke the news at a Sunday dinner, but just as many were not. Hermione was disappointed because she and Ron were getting married the Christmas before. Ginny wryly told her best friend that she didn't mind being five months pregnant at their wedding if Hermione did not. Hermione calmed down and agreed that Ginny would still make a lovely matron of honor but she had to make sure her dress fit. Harry was, of course, Ron's best man, some of his brothers were groomsmen, and the rest were ushers because Hermione didn't feel she had enough close friends to have six bridesmaids.

Ginny was definitely showing at Hermione's and Ron's December twenty-first wedding, but luckily Hermione selected something that flattered her swollen belly. Harry paid for a two-week honeymoon in New Zealand, a place Hermione often expressed an interest in visiting, for the newlyweds. The reception lasted beyond the newlyweds' departure, but Harry and Ginny corralled their sons shortly afterward and Flooed back home.

If Ginny and Harry had thought that Jamie and Jace's first Christmas was more hectic than either had ever experienced, it paled next to the reality of two toddlers aged seventeen months. The boys regularly exhibited bouts of accidental magic, summoning one ornament or another that they fancied from the tree. Wrapping paper routinely disappeared from gifts ("Honey," Mrs. Weasley reminded Ginny, "I did tell you not to put wrapped gifts under the tree." Ginny just glared at her Mum.) and stockings 'fell' from the mantle into waiting little hands. Locking the door to the lounge didn't stop the 'little thieves,' as Harry amusedly called them, and the lounge remained unlocked after the doors were first exploded.

When his wife opened her mouth to berate his casual acceptance of the boys' mischief, he cut her off by saying, "You'd think they were magical children or something." It was enough to make her deflate, a reluctant grin worming its way across her face, and from then until Christmas (thankfully just a week) she showed her sons more patience.

Christmas morning was filled with an overabundance of joy and laughter. Jace, the quieter of the two, ran out of energy well before his slightly-older brother, crawling into his Mummy's lap, sticking two fingers into his mouth, and closing his eyes. Jamie continued his manic celebrations for another half an hour before suddenly plopping onto the carpet and falling asleep within minutes. Mummy and Daddy looked at each other with a slow grin and got the sleeping toddlers into their cots for a mid-morning nap. Daddy led Mummy into their bedroom but eschewed the nap.

Ginny had been having very light contractions most of the day of eleventh April but didn't think much about it until her water broke as they were changing for bed. As before, Ginny stood under a hot shower, rotating so her back got the benefit for awhile, and then her chest and stomach. Veronica arrived an hour later.

At 4:23 in the morning of the twelfth, Mark Evan made his way into the world, his lungs every bit as good as his older brothers. After Ginny settled the infant to her breast Harry kissed her forehead and thanked her for his newest son, eyes soft. Again this time, only Ginny's parents had been called in, and they waited until dawn before calling the other Weasleys. Jamie and Jace awoke shortly after seven o'clock, their usual morning routine, and following a quick breakfast were taken to their Mum. Less than two years old, they didn't know the limitations of babies, so they were disappointed when he couldn't get down and play with them. After that Jamie and Jace didn't pay him much attention until the first time they saw him nursing, and then they were full of questions that Ginny did her best to answer. To her relief Harry finally came to rescue her by ushering the twins outside.

Their grandparents, uncles and aunts were back in their own homes the next time the two toddlers saw their new brother. Like his older brothers, Mark's hair was dark but as he grew it calmed down and wasn't nearly as messy as his Daddy's. His eyes didn't change except to become a more vivid shade of blue, while his brothers' eyes had changed to the same green of their Daddy's, though not the same shape. Mark was a placid baby, to Ginny's relief, since his older brothers were a rambunctious handful, and could sleep through almost any noise.

With Mark's birth Harry seemed to relax a little, though Ginny couldn't tell what had brought it about. He smiled at her and joked with her more. His compliments to her were still more about what she did than personal, thanking her for being such a good mother to their sons or for being a good hostess, things of that nature. If she yearned for the personal compliments she kept it hidden, telling herself that even these compliments were an improvement.

One night the November after Mark was born, Ginny had to wake Harry from a nightmare; he'd had them off and on since even before the War, but it had been well over a year since the last one. He wouldn't talk about what the troubling dream pertained to, instead taking the comfort Ginny offered with her body. In their haste neither thought about the Contraceptive spell. A month later Ginny's telltale morning sickness started again. Both of them were surprised because they thought they had been assiduous in casting the protection, only later recalling the night of broken sleep after Harry's night terrors.

Harry wasn't upset about it, of course; not so secretly he was quite glad. He did try to comfort her in his own way, but his attempts fell flat. As with Mark's conception, though, it only took Ginny a couple days to find joy in the unexpected and look forward to the new little one's birth.

Over the winter Harry was talking with Fred and George about a recent visit with Neville Longbottom and told them that he and Hannah, his wife, had installed an in-ground pool at the old Longbottom estate. The three men put their heads together and decided to work as a team to install their own pools. Once Ron and Charlie heard about it, they wanted in on the idea. In May they broke ground on the Potter pool; even Jingle was of help. Excavating the form for the pools took the longest, and the men were at it all day for that, but they were still done in six days' time working in the evenings. Though Harry managed to work during the day, also, since he didn't have to leave the house for employment, and the Potter pool was ready for use in less than a week. Not for the first time Harry thought how wonderful magic was.

Fred's pool was finished by the first week of June and George's started the third week of the month. Ron's was next and finished by mid-July, whilst Charlie's was done early in August, with almost a month left in which temperatures were good for being in the water. Bill helped all of his siblings and Harry but said since he and Fleur were raising their children by the sea he had no need for one, adding that if they ever moved he would call in the favor in no time.

Though each family had only one pool built, they had sectioned the pools into two areas with a concrete wall and steel gate between the two. One side was much shallower than the other and was specifically for less than six years old and non-swimmers. Even when Harry was at the home of one of her brothers helping out, Ginny was able to allow Jace, Jamie, and Mark to splash around in the pool whilst she sat in a lawn chair with a beach umbrella attached so she wouldn't get overheated. She welcomed her sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, and Teddy to join her and her children whenever they could, and no matter how many of their cousins were there, the three little Potters played hard. One of the big advantages of having the pool was how little the house got messy, even with little wet footprints through the kitchen and up the stairs.

The seventeenth of August, mid-morning Ginny began having strong contractions. Harry Floo-called Angelina and asked her to bring Fabian over to help keep the children occupied. Angelina countered with an invitation for his sons to come to her and George's house and stay as long as need be. Molly arrived before Veronica and took the three boys to Angelina's one at a time by Floo.

By dinnertime Angelina had told Harry that the three would be staying the night. Molly took pyjamas for them and came back with Mark, who had decided he wanted his Mumma and Dada. Harry put a muffling charm on his and Ginny's bedroom and got him settled for the night, telling him that Mummy wasn't feeling well but would see him in the morning.

Ginny swore this baby either was shy or didn't want to come out, because Michael Prewett, otherwise known as Mickey, did not make his way into the world until shortly after one in the morning. It had been her longest labor and delivery, and she hoped it would be her last. When Mickey was a couple weeks old, however, she agreed that she might be agreeable to "one more."

Mickey was the first of their babies to have the red hair and, eventually, brown eyes of his mother. He was also the first of their children to truly be a fussy baby.

"Four sons, Ginny. How blessed am I to have four healthy sons? Thank you." He leaned over and kissed her forehead whilst she nursed their babe before kissing his newest son's downy head. "It looks like he's going to have the trademark Weasley hair."

Ginny was too tired to muster up comeback, though she did give him a beatific smile.

Because of the late hour, Molly and Arthur spent the night down the hall where they had some privacy for themselves, and after they left Ginny's side Mickey was laid in his cot near Ginny. Harry gave her a sponge bath before showering himself and crawling into bed next to her.

Mickey was a greedy eater and by Christmas was quite a chunk. He pleased his Mummy greatly when he began to sleep through the night shortly before then. Once he started crawling at barely six months, trying to keep up with his brothers, he began to slim down. He was walking by ten months old, and from there climbing onto anything he could pull himself up on. When weather warm enough to use the pool came around, Ginny had to keep a close eye on him because he kept trying to pull himself up on the wall between the kids' pool and the pool for swimmers. He was definitely their dare devil.

The twins were five and Mickey almost two before their family grew again. On the eighth of August their fifth son made his appearance, a second red head. His eyes eventually became the color of his father's.

As with the births of their four older sons, Ginny saw tears in Harry's eyes as he held their newborn, Joshua William, ready to give the squalling baby to his mother for his first nursing. "Thank you, Ginny, for this gift." Harry's voice was husky. Then he did something that surprised her: he kissed her, not on the forehead as usual, but full on the mouth. Ginny could only stare at him. The baby's flailing hand hit her breastbone and grabbed her attention. Turning Joshua slightly, she offered him her nipple and he latched on.

Harry, as always, watched, a bemused expression on his face.

When the baby was sated, Harry asked Ginny if she was ready to have company; she smiled tiredly, and he ushered Jamie, Jace, Mark and Mickey in first. The twins welcomed Joshua to the family vocally and with very quick kisses on his forehead. Mark, three years old and unable to remember Mickey's birth, and Mickey were impressed with having such a tiny baby in the family. Mickey squirmed to get out of his father's arms and into his mother's, and that's when Harry decided to lead his brood back out of the bedroom. All four boys were permitted to hug and kiss their mother before being taken back to their large extended family.

Molly and Arthur visited next, followed by Ginny's siblings and their family in chronological order. Bill and Fleur had two daughters – Victoire and Nicole – and a son, Norman, and came in first, leaving rather quickly. Ginny smirked as the thought that Bill might not want Fleur thinking about extending their family by one crossed her sleepy mind. Charlie, his wife Alicia, son Matthew who was about the same age as Mickey, and daughter Suzanne, born several months before Joshua, were next. Percy and Serenity, with Louise and Anthony, made an appearance after them. Fred as the elder twin entered with Angelina and their children, Gideon and Teresa; Angelina was pregnant with their third child due in early spring. George and Demelza were accompanied by their two, Fabian and Gerald (like Angelina, Demelza was pregnant, due early the next year), staying less than ten minutes. Ron and Hermione had a son of their own, Rupert, with another baby due before Christmas; they were the last to enter and stayed the longest. Harry, noticing that Ginny was wilting, had to ask them to leave. Hermione gave Ginny a good look and, horrified that they had not realized how very tired Ginny was, ushered her husband and son out, apologizing the whole way.

Harry took Joshua from Ginny's arms and laid him in the cot near her side of the bed. Before leaving the room, he admonished Ginny to get some sleep. Her eyes drooped shut and she was indeed asleep by the time the bedroom door closed behind him.

Things progressed much as they had with their previous four sons, only a bit more chaotic precisely because of those previous four sons. More than once Harry and Ginny, separately and together, thanked heaven for their house elves. Bibby, by now the mother of Jingle's two children, was adept at handling the children, all of whom knew they had to mind her.

As soon as Ginny was given the 'okay' by Veronica, Harry cast a contraceptive charm on himself and renewed his acquaintance with her body, and Ginny welcomed his attention.

AN: Thank you to all who have reviewed, followed and favorited! Just one more chapter that I will hopefully be able to upload Saturday evening.