Her mind was focused on returning to the Burrow, a thankful thing, otherwise Ginny was sure she would have splinched herself. The worst of her return was that on arrival she stumbled and fell to her knees. Unable to muster the strength to get to her feet she stayed where she was and stared at the flattened grass around her. With all the comings and goings at the Burrow it was hardly surprising that this area had a distinctly trampled look. She’d never thought about it before but this day she felt a modicum of regret for that fact.
Continuing to run her fingers through the grass, Ginny wondered why she couldn’t summon the anger she knew she had every right to feel. She’d always been able to justify Harry’s actions before. He’d said some cruel things to her in times past, specifically the morning after that disgusting scene with Dudley (but in that circumstance she probably would have reacted similarly). Nor was it the first time that he had left her, but this was the first time Ginny felt that Harry was utterly indifferent to her feelings. Her hand clenched involuntarily and she pulled out a clump of grass. She stared at her hand blankly.
As she forced unwanted thoughts from her mind some of her shock over Harry’s words also started to ebb and Ginny began to consider things in a slightly more logical way. She couldn’t deny that she had known from the minute she walked into Grimmauld Place that he was not in his right mind. The mere fact he was staying in Sirius’s house was as clear a sign as any, even if she completely ignored his pre-lunch inebriation, a behaviour she’d never seen or expected before. On top of that, to simply blurt out that she was expecting their child was foolish beyond measure. She hadn’t really expected him to jump for joy and say that all was forgiven, had she?
Sighing deeply, Ginny threw down the handful of grass, got to her feet and brushed the dirt off her pants. Difficult as returning to Grimmauld Place was going to be, she knew that it would be far worse if she and Harry didn’t talk about the baby like rational adults.
Summoning the concentration to achieve a perfect Apparition was harder than Ginny remembered. Every time she tried her head would start swimming with all manner of thoughts about what she was going to say to Harry once she got back to Grimmauld Place. It was enough to make her stop and reconsider whether she wanted to return in the first place, but she’d been avoiding this conversation for too long already. If she couldn’t Apparate she was just going to have to use the Floo Network.
Looking up at the house Ginny saw her mother watching out of the window. She felt another heavy sigh escape her lips. The anxious and expectant expression on Molly’s face surely meant that she was going to come running out of the house any second with a barrage of questions. As she thought this Ginny half expected to see the curtain fall back into place and her mother come running out, but nothing of the kind happened. Watching a little closer she realized that her mother’s eyes were fixed on a point behind her. Spinning around she was only mildly surprised to see Harry standing several feet back.
“How long were you going to stand there without saying anything?” Ginny asked without inflection. She wasn’t yet sure how she felt about Harry following her, particularly because she hadn’t heard him arrive. These days she liked loads of warning before people appeared behind her.
“After what you did I didn’t think it wise to startle you. Dead on aim isn’t always a good thing.” Ginny thought she saw the trace of a smile on Harry’s face as he watched her, rubbing the purple bruise on his jaw.
“Sorry,” she replied simply.
“I think I deserved it.” It was like a light had been turned off. The small smile disappeared to be replaced by a frown and Harry looked down at the ground, shoving his hands in his pockets. The pause between his comment and question allowed Ginny’s mind to run away with her. Harry’s frown was enough to tell her that he was angry with himself for what he had said back at Grimmauld Place. So angry that he had come here to see her in spite of saying he wanted to stay away. That had to be a good sign, didn’t it? “How long have you known, Gin?”
“Since the night Colin was abducted,” she answered after her own brief pause. She knew that Harry would remember the night well enough. How could he not when it was the night that Bellatrix Lestrange and Lucius Malfoy had stormed the Quidditch pitch polyjuiced as two mediwizards, cast the Dark Mark and then Disapparated with Colin. What concerned her was how he was going to react. That Quidditch game had been several months before. Once he realized exactly how long she had kept quiet he might be angry, and he would have every right to be. When Harry said nothing for a full minute Ginny prepared herself for an outburst.
“I guess I should have seen it,” he said. “Now I think about it all the signs were there. I’m sorry I didn’t pick up on them sooner . . . “ Again there was far more unsaid than said. Ginny wondered if he was thinking that things between them might have turned out different between them if he had figured it out.
“Hindsight is twenty-twenty,” she muttered, now wearing her own frown. Her own doubts about Ikey’s news, and how she and Harry were going to handle this situation had stayed Ginny’s tongue for all those months. She’d spent the last fortnight wondering how big a mistake that had been. If she’d been honest and forthcoming from the off they probably wouldn’t be here now, picking their way through awkward silences.
“Gin, are you all right?” The concern in his voice was genuine, but the question was one of the last she wanted to answer at the moment. Biting her tongue almost to the point of bleeding, she forced herself to avoid saying that she was not OK. Perhaps once Harry came to his senses, and she dearly hoped that would be sooner rather than later, things might be all right again. Deciding to stick to her decision not to resort to her teenage pestering ways, Ginny merely nodded.
“But I can’t imagine you followed me home to make sure I arrived safely. So why are you here?”
“To apologize for what I said earlier. I obviously upset you.” Harry touched the purple mark on his jaw again. “I didn’t mean to imply anything, Gin, honestly, it just sort of slipped out.”
“An unfortunate habit of yours,” she replied. It was an attempt at a joke that fell flat. To recover she asked a question she’d been formulating since she’d decided that her pregnancy was real. “You know my deep,dark secret now Harry. How do you feel about it?”
“Well . . . “ he started, scratching his chin as he appeared to contemplate the question. He was frowning once more, but this time Ginny thought it was because he was concentrating on his answer. “I honestly don’t know. It’s a lot to take in in a span of less than half an hour.”
Ginny nodded in agreement. She couldn’t argue with that point since it had taken at least a week for her to accept Ikey’s news as true. Thinking of things in that light she realized with absolute certainty that she had been foolish in the extreme to expect anything akin to a rational reaction from Harry when she barged into Grimmauld Place. Harry needed some time to decide what he was going to do, and she was now determined to give it to him.
“Why did it take you so long to tell me?” Harry asked after a while.
Again Ginny had to hesitate before she answered. This was the question most likely to lead to an argument. In the best of circumstances Harry would accept the truth. In the worst case scenario he might not believe her, instead choosing to think there was some validity to those Rita Skeeter type stories and that the baby might not be his after all.
“For several reasons,” Ginny started to say, speaking slowly. She tilted her head down, only able to watch Harry from the corner of her eye. “I didn’t believe it myself at first. Then there never seemed to be the right time to tell you. It’s not an easy thing to say, you know, especially when you were running out the door to go and track down Death Eaters. Would you really want that on your mind when you need your wits about you?” She knew that she was being defensive, but a terrible mix of guilt and fear was bubbling up in her stomach.
As she spoke, Ginny saw the expression on Harry’s face turn from simple curiosity to understanding. By the time she had finished talking he had gone so far as to back away a few steps, a troubled expression on his face
“What is it, Harry?”
“Malfoy might be in Azkaban right now, Ginny, but Bellatrix Lestrange is still free and up to her old tricks. Did you hear what she did to the Eiffel Tower?” He didn’t wait for Ginny to answer. “She’s got it into her head that she can resurrect Voldemort, and she won’t let anything or anyone stop her. You already saw what she tried to do to me, thinking that I still had some of Voldemort’s powers.” He pulled back his fringe to reveal the renewed redness of his legendary lightning bolt scar. “And then there’s Briony -”
Ginny let out a tiny hiss. She knew far too much about Briony Wright for her own liking and she didn’t want to hear about that woman any more.
“I just mean that they had her working as a spy in her own department without her knowledge. What do you think Bellatrix Lestrange would do with this information? She might decide that the baby has some of Voldemort’s powers, too.”
“That’s crazy. Who in their right mind would think that?” Ginny asked before she could stop herself. It was common knowledge that if there was one thing Bellatrix did not have, it was her sanity. She’d tried to kill Harry mere weeks ago in some stupid plan to bring back Voldemort. Thankfully Harry had been lucky and escaped her knife before help had come, but it had been that which had made up his mind to leave again. He’d told Ginny as much the morning he left.
“Exactly. She’ll do whatever it takes, including coming after my family. I don’t want you to be involved in any of that, Gin. It might even be safer if you said this wasn’t our baby.”
“No!” It wasn’t a shout, but the word came out much louder than Ginny intended, sending a few nearby squirrels scurrying away, and causing Harry to jump. Her hesitancy and guilt had given way to a fierce determination. “I’ll accept your decision to leave, no matter how wrong I think you are. I can even accept it if you don’t want anything to do with the baby, but one thing I will not do is to lie about who his father is.”
In the most unlikely of times, Harry smiled though it lasted for mere seconds before he turned away and started walking back and forth, trampling the grass even further. Ginny prepared to battle his seemingly spur of the moment decision.
“Gin, be reasonable -” he started.
“This is not up for debate, Harry. If you don’t want to, or don’t feel that it’s safe to be involved in your son’s life, that’s your decision. I didn’t tell you about the baby to make you feel guilty for leaving. I am quite capable of managing on my own, thank you.” She wasn’t sure that this was entirely true, but Ginny didn’t feel much like mincing words today. She’d thought that Harry’s comments back at Grimmauld Place had been the worst of what he was going to say, but she’d been wrong again.
“It would be the safest thing to do -” Harry started again, now digging into the ground with the toe of his shoe..
“Who are you?” Ginny interrupted furiously. Harry recoiled as though she had slapped him. “I never thought I’d see the day when you, of all people, wold deny your own child, shocked or not.”
“I don’t want to. I’m just trying to think of your safety. Yours and the baby’s. If you don’t want to -”
“I don’t,” Ginny interrupted again. “And I never will, so don’t bring it up again.” She knew that her own desire to have Harry change his mind about leaving might now be making her see things, but she could have sworn that he was relieved at her emphatic words. He stopped digging into the ground with his foot in any case and quickly glanced at her quickly.
Even if she had agreed to Harry’s stupid idea, Ginny wasn’t sure that it would be possible to obtain anyway. Harry looked so much like his dad that it was easy to confuse the two of them. What if the same were true of his child? Any story that she could make up to explain that away would likely attract the sort of attention that Harry wanted to avoid. She said none of this though, and waited for him to say whatever was on his mind now.
“This isn’t going to remain quiet forever, Gin. When people find out, you’re going to have to make sure you’re careful. Even if Bellatrix Lestrange doesn’t do anything, you know that others like Rita Skeeter will make a huge deal out of it.”
Ginny nodded. She had also considered this fact. People were still too interested in Harry’s life to leave his child alone. This was another of the many reasons she had found her pregnancy so hard to deal with. She and Harry were having a hard enough time getting the media to leave them alone. Having to fight the same fight for another tiny being wasn’t something she was sure she was ready for.
“I’ve handled this whole thing like a complete prat,” Harry continued. “I deserved a hell of a lot more than this.” He touched the purple mark on his jaw again. “And you’d be right to think I’m a hypocrite after what I just suggested, but I want you to know that I want to be here for you and the baby.”
This statement confused Ginny. Harry had just finished telling her they couldn’t really be around each other, and that it would be best if she lied about their child’s paternity, and then turned around and said that he wanted to be involved.
“I don’t understand,” she said softly. “Do you want to be involved, or don’t you? It can’t be both.”
“Yes. I mean no,” Harry stumbled, breaking eye contact with her again. He scratched his neck before speaking. “I just mean that I know things are different. Now that you’ve told me about the baby I can’t just walk away, and I don’t think you expected me to. I guess what I’m saying is that I’d still like to be friends, if you think we can manage it.”
“Friends?” Ginny asked. The word sounded alien to her.
“Yeah. I know it’s not going to be easy, but it’s the best way. Don’t you think?” His attempt at certainty failed completely. Harry reached out and put his hand on her shoulder in what he must have thought was a comforting gesture. Ginny watched him do this with the same sense of detachment that the word friends had brought forth.
“Whatever you think is best,” she replied flatly.
“Have you told anyone else yet?” he asked, withdrawing his hand and sounding disappointed.
“No. Mum knows, of course, but the rest of the family doesn’t. I’m going to tell them today.”
“I think Hermione might suspect, too,” Harry supplied. “She’s been saying some things that make absolute sense to me now.”
“She probably does.” Ginny knew exactly what Harry was talking about. She had also been privy to those comments. Hermione could be far to perceptive for her own good. “D’you want to be there when I do?”
“If you wish. Do you think I should?”
“No,” Ginny answered, thinking that it might be a tad dangerous for Harry to be there when she told her brothers she was pregnant. They might not take to kindly to that fact, particularly when they found out that she and Harry were no longer together. “No. I’m sure that it’s a very bad idea. Let me tell them first. Things will be safer once they’ve got over their shock.”
“OK,” Harry said uncertainly. He turned to leave again, but stopped mid-step and looked at her curiously over his shoulder. “Are you sure it’s a boy?”
“As certain as I am of anything these days,” Ginny replied in the same quiet voice she had used earlier. She waited for challenge, or for Harry to ask her how she knew. He said nothing further, but nodded jerkily and then Disapparated. Ginny stood watching the spot where he had stood mere moment before, thinking about all that had occurred, before she returned to the house.
• • •
Ginny had been avoiding telling her family about the pregnancy because she was afraid it turn into a nightmare, particularly when the inevitable questions about Harry came up. Angry, frustrated or saddened over his decision, she was still unwilling to let him face her family. Some of her brothers had been known to cast spells first and ask questions later.
Despite her desire to do just that, Ginny did not lock herself in her room for the rest of the afternoon. Instead she helped with some of the household chores, using the repetitive tasks as time fillers while she thought about how she was going to tell the rest of her family about the baby.
By dinner time she was still ill-prepared. She had decided only to tell them this evening after their meal, and as a consequence her appetite was gone. When someone commented on it she would force down a few spoonfuls of soup but then would return to staring at her plate and listen to the rather impassioned debate going on about this new group of pureblood supporters. Normally she would have joined the conversation, but then Harry would usually be involved too, and he was not here.
Ginny had mentioned nothing to her mother about what she was or was not going to say to the family that night, but she had a feeling Molly knew her offer to clean up was a stall tactic. As everyone filed out she turned back wearing one of her knowing looks.
“We’ll just wait for you.” It was not a question and so Ginny could only nod.
The entire family was crowded into the sitting room when she finally entered. They seemed relaxed, giving no appearance of expecting an important announcement. Rather than disrupt them immediately, Ginny watched unobtrusively for a moment.
Molly was busy supervising the knitting of a large afghan while she talked with Fleur and Hermione about Merlin only knew what. Ron, who was sitting beside Hermione on the sofa, was engaged in an intense hess game with Charlie while the rest of her brothers were cloistered in a corner with their father, continuing their debate about the current political climate. From what Ginny cared to take in, they were al in agreement that Declan Fohn was an imbecile.
“Ginny will agree with us, won’t you?” Fred piped up, being the first to spot her. “You don’t think that we should have to listen to all his rubbish before judging him to be a nutter do you, Gin?”
“I was only saying that we shouldn’t be hasty in making decisions,” Percy replied defensively. “Rushing to snap judgements without all the facts is how prejudices are formed. That is something you can agree on, can’t you Ginny?”
She simply shrugged, having no desire to get involved in a political debate.
“Are you all right, sweetie?” Arthur asked in a concerned voice. “You look like you’re about to faint. Maybe you should have a seat.” He hadn’t been speaking loudly, but it had been enough to get the attention of everyone in the room and they all fell silent, turning to look at her. Ginny felt her throat go dry as she shook her head in answer to the question.
“No, but I do have something that I wanted to talk to all of you about,” she said in a slightly shaky voice that piqued everyone’s interest at once.
With ten pairs of eyes focused nearly unblinkingly on her Ginny felt her nerves getting the better of her, and only now fully appreciated what Ron and Hermione had gone through in this room only eight months before when they told the family about their engagement. She avoided looking at either of them as she cleared her throat, having to repeat this act more than once before she could think of speaking.
“I . . . er . . . really don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t be direct, so here it is. ‘ The first time she tried to say the words out loud no sound came out. Ginny had to clear her throat a third time, and then she forced herself to speak the words in a loud voice. “I’m pregnant.”
At first it seemed like this was an inconsequential bit of news, for no one gave any outward reaction to it at all, but then Percy broke the silence.
“What does Harry say about all this? And where is he tonight?”
Ginny felt herself frown. For the second time today the very first question asked was the last one she wanted to answer. Looking at Percy she could have sworn that he already knew what she was going to say. It was inexplicable how he could now though, given that she hadn’t known herself until mere hours ago. She might have thought he had overheard the conversation had she not already known that Percy had been at the Ministry all day.
Everyone was silently waiting for her reaction. Seeing this, Ginny felt her nerves increase and she didn’t want to answer. She just wanted to forget the whole thing, but knew it was too late now that she’d let the pixie out of the cage.
“He . . . er . . . said he’d be there for me and the baby, but we’re not together anymore,” she mumbled these last words while studying the intricate patterns in her mother’s knitted afghan.
“He left?” This, too, was Percy’s question. He seemed the only one able to speak at all. This lack of reaction might have been a blessing in disguise, but for the fact that everyone still looked stunned. Once they had an opportunity to digest what she had said they wouldn’t keep their opinions to themselves.
“Ginny? Did I hear you right? You and Harry are no longer together?” Percy repeated his question, drawing her full attention away from Hermione who, like Harry had said, didn’t seem surprised at the news of the pregnancy. She was also frowning though, and Ginny was sure she had not been aware of Harry/s decision
“You heard right,” Ginny said, tearing her eyes away from Hermione and reluctantly looking at Percy Like the others, she could see that he had not fully processed this information, but he was coming to a conclusion she was sure she wasn’t going to like. This, more than a desire to get anything off her chest, made her speak up again. “But it was something decided long before he knew anything about this. It was a decision brought about by other circumstances. I’m not going to talk about those right now.”
The very last thing Ginny wanted was to have this conversation turn to the exact details of why Harry had deemed it prudent to leave. Thus far it was only her mother who knew all of the lurid details, and that was the way she wanted to keep it. Everyone else would be better off not knowing.
“I knew it,” Percy said loudly, making everyone look at him in shock. He ignored their surprised expressions. “I knew something like this would happen. I have been saying for years that he’s unhinged, haven’t I? This latest rubbish just proves it.” He turned to face Ginny directly. “I’ve been warning you that something like this would happen, but you didn’t listen Now look at where this has landed you.”
“Percy -” Molly started to reprimand him, but his words had finally snapped everyone out of their paralysis. Bill was the one to interrupt.
“She wasn’t alone in this, Percy. And as usual you’re blaming the wrong person. Harry’s the one who abandoned her.”
“No, it’s not like that,” Ginny started to protest. Harry had been the one to leave of course, but hearing Bill say it with such contempt wasn’t really right either. It wasn’t like Harry had made his decision with full awareness of her situation. And even now it wasn’t like he was walking away from her entirely. Despite some missteps, hadn’t he told her just that morning that he would be there for her, whatever that meant. For all the attention her words received she might as well have said nothing.
“You’re right, she wasn’t alone in this. We’re all to blame for not looking out for her,” Percy fired back, his usual pompous attitude starting to slip as he stood face to face with Bill. “If she hadn’t been so infatuated and enthralled she might have seen that Potter is bad news and has been for a long time.”
“Percy, that’s enough.” Ginny, like both Bill and Percy, turned to look at their father, whose jaw was set in a hard line. He didn’t look directly at any of them, instead choosing to clean his glasses – his way of buying time. They waited to see if he had anything else to say. Eventually, after examining his glasses and putting them on again he let out an exhausted sigh. “Your anger is understandable, boys I have to admit I’m not all that impressed with Harry myself, but that doesn’t mean we should start arguing amongst ourselves. The important thing is that we’re all here to support your sister.”
Ginny knew her mouth was slightly agape. She’d been most worried about her father finding out about the baby; his disappointment would be the hardest to handle. Bill and Percy on the other hand were looking at their father incredulously.
“Dad?” Bill asked uncertainly.
“I hope, father, that you are not forgetting what Potter’s done. Even if we leave out the Avada Kedavra curse, he’s repeatedly hurt Ginny. He’s even gone as far to allow those horrible stories about her being a trollop continue without comment. I cannot believe you -” Here Percy turned to face everyone in the room, landing on Ginny last. “Would be content to let her continue seeing someone like that!”
“Let me?” Ginny asked, feeling her trepidation evaporating as she listened his words. “I’m sorry, Perce, I didn’t realize it was still the fifth century. Mum and dad didn’t let me do anything. I chose to be with Harry, who, if you will recall, killed someone who was trying to kill him and would have done all of us in at the first opportunity. It wasn’t exactly unjustified, nor was it easy on him. You weren’t there in those first months after Voldemort’s death, so don’t start acting like you were.”
“She’s still defending him,” Percy said, letting out a disbelieving laugh as he looked around the room again. Ginny followed his lead and saw that both of her parents along with Fleur were watching this face-off with apprehension. Hermione was eyeing Percy with disapproval and everyone else looked angry. Bill, who had been pulled back into his seat by Fleur, looked the angriest. “You’ve lost your sense, Ginny. I never thought I’d see the day.”
Hermione cleared her throat, making everyone look to her now. She hesitated on the verge of speech for a moment, clearly taken aback by the rapidity with which she had become the center of attention, but then she squared her shoulders and said what was on her mind.
“I know this is all unexpected, and you all – no – we all, have Ginny’s best interests at heart, but I’m sure that Harry had his reasons for doing what he did. We may not agree with them.” she conceded when there were angry noises from around the room. “But I can tell you with absolute certainly that Harry wouldn’t walk away from something like this lightly. Maybe we should let him explain. What do you think Ron? Where are you going?”
Ron was on his feet and already exiting the room before Hermione had asked for his opinion. He paused for half a second as he passed Ginny, enough to look at her apologetically. He completely ignored Hermione, forcing her to also quit the room as she ran after him. Ginny started to follow as well, having a feeling that Ron might be on his way to find Harry, but she paused in the doorway as talk broke out behind her.
“He’d better not show his face here,” Bill said with venom. Fleur muttered an admonition in French. “I don’t care. It is a stupid, cowardly thing for him to do to her. I admit it’s not something I expected he would do. I’ll bet he told her it was for her own protection, and she’s just eating it up.”
Ginny felt eyes boring into her back, but she didn’t turn around. Instead she continued into the kitchen sure she had no hope of catching Ron.
“We’ve got you covered, Bill,” one of the twins said. “We can send over a kit of our more potent products in case he is foolish enough to come back here.” No trace of humor existed in that statement.
Ginny paused again, mid-step, and closed her eyes, wondering what she had done in telling everyone. Hopefully Harry would be on guard against just this sort of thing. Hearing her mother starting to tell off whatever twin had just spoken, Ginny continued out into the back garden where she was just in time to see Ron shake Hermione’s hand free of his arm and disappear. She stomped her foot in frustration and then followed suit.
The babble of voices carried out of the house and though she could not hear what they were saying, there was no mistaking that the conversation inside was growing heated again. Having no wish to participate in an argument, Ginny was happy to remain outside watching the sun sink lower on the western horizon. She hoped that wherever he was, Harry was coming to his senses. If he could just see that he was being ridiculous about his whole line of thinking about their relationship then everything would be OK.
Mostly everything, Ginny thought, running her hand over the tiny bulge in her stomach. There was still a baby coming after all. She turned her head to look at the spot where she’d talked to Harry only hours before, feeling a queasiness that had nothing to do with her pregnancy.
“ . . . Not overreacting.”
Bill and Fleur were exiting the house, and obviously still disagreeing on the evening’s excitement. When they saw her they both stopped and shared a look. Without words Fleur took Riley from Bill’s arms and disappeared back into the house.
“We’d wondered where you’d gone off to.” Bill spoke first. “I guess you tried to follow Ron?”
Ginny shrugged but said nothing, choosing instead to turn back to look at the place where she and Harry had stood talking. Bill came to stand beside her, staying silent for a minute. “So . . . you’re really pregnant?” he asked slowly.
“I really am,” Ginny replied flatly. “Due the end of February” She chanced a glance at Bill, whose jaw was clenched shut as though to prevent himself saying anything. None of his anger seemed to have dissipated. He was clearly holding in a tirade.. Even being present earlier when Bill had raised his voice to Percy, Ginny was shocked to see the anger on her brother’s face.
“I’m sorry,” she said automatically, feeling the last of her anger at Percy give way to shame and guilt.
“I hope you’re apologizing for what you said to Percy, not for your condition,” Bill replied with a warning in his voice. “We’re all shocked about your little announcement, Ginny, but these things happen. What I want to know is how can you still stick up for Harry after what he’s done to you now? Why do you let him keep doing this to you? And are you going to let him keep getting you into increasingly dangerous situations until he gets you killed?”
“Don’t,” Ginny said softly, willing herself to remain calm. Without realizing it Bill had just said the same thing Harry had when he left two weeks earlier. She could already feel her lower lip starting to tremble so she bit it, but it didn’t do any good. She silently cursed and turned away to wipe her eyes.
“We just don’t want anything to happen to you.” Bill put his hand on her shoulder and continued in a slightly softer voice “I know you’re probably in denial right now and that’s why you said everything that you did, but Ginny, Percy was right. Your attachment to Harry is a little unhealthy.” Before she could protest he went on. “You have to see that. It’s been that way ever since you were little. We thought you’d managed to get everything in perspective but we were obviously wrong.”
“I just don’t want to condemn him right away when there are valid, if misguided, reasons for his decisions. You don’t know the whole story,” Ginny responded.
The back door opened again and Fleur came out. Ginny turned to watch her balancing both Riley and Simon in her arms. Bill quickly went to her and took one of his sleeping sons into his arms. Ginny continued to watch, seeing that Bill and Fleur were having another non-verbal conversation. After a moment she couldn’t watch any longer and so she turned away again, once more focusing on the spot Harry had disappeared earlier. What seemed like seconds later, the click of Bill’s boots hitting stray stones in the yard announced his return.
“I’ve got to go, but please think about what I said.” Bill reached up and tousled her hair like he used to do when she was younger. Like Ron, he smiled apologetically before he took Fleur’s arm.
“Au revoir, Ginny.” Fleur, too, stopped and embraced her quickly before she and Bill Disapparated with the twins.
The echoes of their disappearance had barely faded when the back door opened again and the remainder of the family trouped out. They were relatively silent as they said their goodbyes and started to disappear.
“We meant what we said, Ginny,” Fred said. “You just say the word and we’ll have Harry feeling all measures of pain.”
“Don’t do anything to him, please,” she replied, hoping they were just trying to cheer her up in their way.
“You take all the fun out of our lives,” George stated before he and Fred both hugged her. “Well, if you need anything -”
“I know where you find you,” Ginny finished.
Soon only Charlie and their parents were standing in the yard with Ginny. Though she hadn’t heard him saying anything, Ginny could tell that Charlie shared Bill’s opinion of her pregnancy and of Harry. She was keen to avoid another conversation like the one she’d just had with Bill.
“I think I’m going to turn in,” Molly stated after a moment. Ginny wasn’t watching her but she heard something pointed in her mother’s tone.
“Yeah, me too,” Charlie said, returning to the house faster than his mother. He, unlike Bill it seemed, was uncomfortable in her presence Ginny wasn’t wholly comfortable either, knowing that she was now alone with her father.
“Nice night,” he said, coming to stand beside her.
“Yeah.” Even the weather was an uncomfortable topic of discussion. How they were going to talk now was a mystery. While she had fully expected the unwelcome reactions of her brothers, she hadn’t known what to expect with her father. Ginny didn’t want to chance saying something that would upset him (at least not any further than he already seemed to be).
“Your brothers didn’t take it well at all, did they?”
“No,” Ginny said, surprised by the question and how quickly her answer came, but even more so by the lack of shock in her father’s voice. “Did mum already tell you?”
“About the baby, you mean?” Arthur asked, once more taking off his glasses to clean them. “She told me of her suspicions months ago, the night you fell ill at the Quidditch. She’s pretty good at spotting that sort of thing, as you can imagine.” The faint smile was not only present in his voice, but also on his face as Ginny turned to look at him. She felt herself relax a little.
“Are you mad?” It was a question she needed and yet didn’t want to know the answer to.
“Mad?” Arthur contemplated this word for a moment. “I can say I am a little shocked at how quickly you’ve grown up, yes. Maybe I’m also somewhat unwilling to accept you are an adult and are prone to make adult mistakes. And I could even say I’m a little disappointed at how things have turned out for you, and how Harry’s acting, but I am certainly not mad.”
Bill and Percy had riled her up and, other than one moment when everything overwhelmed her, Ginny thought she’d held together rather well. She’d been prepared to accept anger and disappointment from her father, too. The sheer concern that she could hear in his voice, and see on his face as she watched him, confused her. She felt her strength begin to fail again and her throat began to burn. Her attempts to swallow proved unsuccessful and an involuntary sob escaped. She bit her lip again but was unable to stop it this time as the weight of everything that had happened in the last two weeks crashed in on her and she began to sob openly.
Ginny suddenly found herself in her father’s warm embrace and for the second time in a fortnight, she welcomed it. He might not be able to take away all the pain like he used to, but she felt reassured all the same.
A/N: I am so very sorry for the long delay in updates. I have no real excuse for it other than the fact that this chapter was among the most difficult I have ever written. I hope it doesn’t still seem that way, but I found that Ginny was either too whiny or too wishy-washy. Or Harry would seem too indifferent, something I don’t think he really is. I must have rewritten that Harry/Ginny scene at least a dozen times before I finished the chapter, and then I think I re-wrote it at least three times when I was typing it. Hopefully you all like it (or at least appreciate it).
I’m going to try to update more frequently but I’m starting back to school this week and so I don’t know how much time I will have for writing. I’ll try to write at least one chapter a month though – unlike in the past.