"Harry," someone whispered on the edge of his consciousness.
He moaned and rolled over, sure that the sun had not even risen yet. 'I must be dreaming,' he thought sleepily.
"Harry," the voice persisted, sounding more insistent.
"What?" he finally asked, opening his green eyes and slapping his hand around on the bedside table. Finding his thick, horn-rimmed spectacles, he put them on and gazed blearily at his wife, who was sitting on the edge of his side of the bed, holding a candle.
Smiling through his sleepiness, he could not help but think how beautiful she looked, illuminated by the flickering orange light. On her face was an expression that went straight to his heart. She looked pensive, he decided, and radiant all at once. Even after all this time, he could still not believe that she was his wife.
She stared at him for a few moments, as though waiting for him to say something else. When he didn't, she finally spoke, her voice barely above a whisper. "You prat," she said affectionately. "You forgot again, didn't you?"
He glanced surreptitiously at the small clock on the bedside table as he cast around in his mind for what, exactly, he had forgotten. It was four-thirty in the morning, which was early even for Ginny, who often rose early enough to tend to household business before going off to work at St. Mungo's.
"C'mon," she said softly. "Remember."
It wasn't their wedding anniversary, he knew that much, for they had celebrated that nearly three months before. It wasn't Ginny's birthday, or his own...he wondered suddenly if this was a momentary bout of insanity caused by the hormones that Fleur Delacour Weasley had told him were present in every pregnant woman.
"It has nothing to do with the baby," Ginny said, rolling her eyes as she touched her protruding belly fondly. Ever since Fleur had given Harry some rather rudimentary (in Ginny's opinion as a Healer) instruction on the ins and outs of pregnancy and its effects on the body, he had been prone to thinking that every single thing she said and did was affected by it. "C'mon," she prodded, "think. Our garden...the rain..." She let her voice trail off as she waited for him to wake up enough to remember.
Harry felt a smile slide slowly over his face as he remembered that night. She had come to his house - this house, as a matter of fact - and had convinced Dobby to let her in against Harry's express order that no one was to be admitted. She had told him off grandly and then, somehow, they had ended up dancing to silent music in the middle of a downpour. He would never be able to recall all that had happened that night, but neither would he ever forget how it had felt to be in her arms after months of self-inflicted solitude.
"Coming back to you?" she teased, enjoying the look of pure happiness and calm on her husband's face. Even three years after their reunion and four after the defeat of Lord Voldemort, true peace seldom showed itself on his features.
"It's three years today since you rescued me," Harry said, carefully pulling her into his arms and down to lie beside him on the bed. "And it's four years since - "
"No, Harry," she interrupted him. "Other people might be celebrating that anniversary, but not us. I'd rather remember the happy things, wouldn't you?" She stroked her belly absently as she spoke, for it contained their greatest hope yet. Though she kept her tone serene, Harry could hear the small note of sadness as she alluded to the other anniversary that marked this day, and he knew that now, of all times, she missed her mother more than ever.
"Three years," he said softly, "since you came back into my life. Three years of the happiest memories I've ever had. I love you, Ginny Potter."
"I love you too," she replied, snuggling closer to him and pulling the blankets over them.
"Let's not go to work today," she added sleepily, enjoying the warmth of being in his arms under their soft white duvet.
He laughed suddenly as he remembered that even though they were celebrating the third anniversary of their reunion, the rest of the Wizarding world would be celebrating fourth anniversary of the defeat of Tom Riddle. The sound of his laughter was hollow even to his own ears. "Ginny, no one's going to work today, remember?"
"Right," she said only slightly more alertly. "It's Potter's Holiday. I'm sorry I woke you so early, love."
Harry groaned. The Ministry of Magic had immediately named the infamous day of Voldemort's defeat after him, and he hated the sound of it and always had. Three years ago, when Ginny had first come to his home on the one-year anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts, they had made the decision that they would give Voldemort's name no importance in their home, even to celebrate his death. That had been a day of sadness for both of them, and even now, they could find little about that battle that was worthy of celebration.
Remembering how emotional Ginny got nowadays, however, he chose not to pursue the subject. He forced a grin and turned to her. "I'll show you Potter's Holiday," he said wickedly, and he leaned over her and kissed her with all the passion he still felt.
The master and mistress of Potter Manor stayed in bed until almost ten o'clock that morning, enjoying the respite from their busy lives, no matter what the reason. Ginny had only just completed her training as a Healer, and even as she neared the end of her pregnancy, she often spent twelve hours or more in the Critical Catastrophes Wing of St. Mungo's Hospital. She did her job with an almost religious fervor, bringing patients back from the brink of death, insanity or incapacitation with a skill belied by her young age. She was fast becoming as respected as some of the much older Healers, but Harry sometimes wondered privately whether she was trying to make up for the fact that she had not been able to save her mother or brother the night of the Final Battle. He would never have dared to ask her, however. These days even the suggestion that something she had cooked was not-quite-perfect was enough to bring her to tears.
Harry's life was as busy as hers had become, though in a very different way. Even after over a year's absence from the game, the Quidditch enthusiasts had nearly gone into a frenzy when he had entered his name into the draft, having finally realized that it was the only job he really wanted. When he was chosen to replace Aidan Lynch as Seeker for Ireland and realized he was to play alongside Troy, Mullet and Moran, the unstoppable Chasers he had watched at the Quidditch World Cup before his fourth year in school, he had felt a wild happiness only marred by the thought of what Ron would have said if he had known.
He and Ginny both had moments in which the loss of their friends and family was even more poignant than usual, but as they had built their life together they had found that these moments had become fewer and farther between, and though the lost would never be forgotten in Potter Manor, remembrance began more and more often to take the form of celebration and fond memories rather than pain.
Harry knew that a career in professional Quidditch could only last a few more years at best, but he also knew that he would have several options open to him when he could no longer play. Even with her busy schedule at the hospital, Ginny had attended nearly every single one of his matches for the first two and a half years, but because Apparation and Floo travel were not recommended for pregnant women, she had not seen the last few games he had played.
He shifted lazily, careful not to disturb Ginny, when he heard the creak of the heavy wooden door announced that Dobby was, yet again, checking to see if they had awoken. Resigning himself to the fact that the house-elf would not be at ease until he was certain his master and mistress were okay (for Dobby could not remember the last time they had stayed in their bed so late), Harry sat up and nodded slightly, indicating that nothing was amiss.
"Breakfast, Dobby?" he asked hopefully, for not all of their time that morning had been spent sleeping, and he had worked up quite an appetite.
"Yes, Mr. Harry Potter, Sir," Dobby replied in a screaming whisper. "Will Mrs. Wheezy Potter have some breakfast as well?"
"She will," Ginny replied blearily, smiling as she sat up, carefully keeping herself covered with the duvet. "Thanks, Dobby."
"What would you like to do today, Mrs. Wheezy Potter?" Harry asked, grinning at her. No matter how hard she tried or how many times she insisted, she could not get Dobby to call her by her first name, or even to call her simply Mrs. Potter.
"Hmmm..." she pondered as she leaned luxuriously back on the extra-fluffy pillows Harry had bought her (at Bill's suggestion) when she had started becoming uncomfortably large in the late stages of her pregnancy.
Dobby reappeared with their breakfast before she answered, setting it solicitously on the small table in front of their bedroom window, which faced right into the garden where they had fallen in love for the second time. Ginny loved that window, and she eagerly looked forward to eating a leisurely breakfast with Harry on this day, looking out onto the place at which they had found one another again.
After Dobby had gone, Ginny threw back the duvet, exposing her very full breasts and exceptionally large belly, and began the awkward process of getting out of bed to don her dressing gown before they ate. It took some maneuvering by both Harry and Ginny to get her to the side of the bed, but as she slowly brought her feet around, she suddenly winced and leaned forward, gasping.
"Ginny!" Harry exclaimed in alarm. "What's the matter?"
She took a deep breath as the pain passed and then looked at him in mock exasperation. "Harry, love, I'm nine months pregnant. What do you think is the matter?"
Harry's green eyes widened as he jumped up, nearly pulling Ginny off the edge of the bed. "You mean...you mean..." he stammered , sure that nothing in his life had ever caused him as much fear as the expression on Ginny's face as another contraction seized her.
"Yes," she hissed, trying to remember the breathing routines that Fleur and Charlie's wife Veronica had been practicing with her for the past three weeks. "Let go of my hand and go Floo my...I mean, get a message to Fleur, won't you?" She tried to smile as the pain passed again, but they both knew that she had almost asked him to call for her mother, and a twinge of pain passed through each set of eyes, a silent wish that things had been different.
"Will you...I mean, are you...should I..." Harry continued to stammer, looking down at her without understanding how she could be in complete agony one moment and then smiling at him the next.
"I will and I'm fine, Harry, and yes, you should," she answered calmly even though beads of sweat were beginning to form on her forehead. "I'll be okay. I just want to get my dressing gown on before everyone gets here."
Harry fairly ran to the wall where the large purple garment was hung, grabbed it, and gave it to her. "Stay in bed," he said, trying to sound confident. "I'll go Fleur Floo." He stopped for a moment after this statement and looked rather confused. "I mean..."
Ginny giggled before another contraction seized her and her laugh turned into a groan. "Hurry," she urged, gritting her teeth.
Cursing himself inwardly for not installing a fireplace in their bedroom, Harry hurried towards the heavy door, only to have it fly open before he actually reached it, an over-excited Dobby jumping up and down on the other side.
"Oh, Mrs. Wheezy Potter needs her flower-sister," he squeaked. "Dobby heard what is going on and Dobby has seen all of these signs before!"
"Dobby," Harry said, surprised that he hadn't already thought of this, "would you please..."
"Dobby already called for the Mrs. Wheezies," the house-elf interrupted. "They is getting their supplies and is right on their ways, Mr. Harry Potter, sir!" He beamed broadly with the pride of having anticipated his master's request and fulfilled it before he had even been asked.
"Right," Harry said, determined that he should take control of the situation somehow. He had never seen a child being born before, and he thought that the amount of pain Ginny seemed to be in couldn't possibly be normal. A worried expression on his face, he went back to her and helped her struggle into her dressing-gown.
They had no sooner gotten the zipper pulled into its place when Ginny groaned again, a large wet stain appearing on the lower half of the front of her gown. Harry gasped, knowing now that something just had to be incredibly wrong.
"Bloody hell," Ginny muttered, and then, catching the expression on her husband's face, hurriedly said, "It's okay, Harry, my water just broke. Remember, Fleur told you about that. It's not pretty, but it's what is supposed to happen. Will you go get me another gown, please?"
Harry hurried to the wardrobe while Ginny stood up awkwardly and cast a drying spell on the bed. A large, yellowish stain remained, and she looked at the pretty white duvet with some regret before shrugging and removing her soiled gown.
"Dobby!" Harry called as he helped Ginny into the second gown, this one a bright, canary yellow - a gift from Fred and George. As he waited for the house-elf to answer him, he silently prayed that no prank had been set onto this gown and thought that he really should have chosen a different one. It was too late now, however, for as he heard the pitter-patter of Dobby's large feet down the hall, he also heard the unmistakable voices of Fleur and Veronica, the wives of the only two Weasley brothers who had gotten married.
"Eet is finally time, ees eet not?" Fleur said calmly as she entered the room, glanced for a moment at the disheveled bedding and the articles of clothing that had been tossed wantonly onto the carpet throughout the course of the morning, and then put her attention onto Ginny.
As an answer to her question, Ginny began to pant as another contraction ripped through her body. She had had thought she was prepared for the pain of childbirth, but, having never had a baby in her life, she had not really had any idea just how badly it would hurt.
"Zis ees nussing," Fleur said in that dismissively arrogant voice she still sometimes used. "Just wait until ze -"
"Don't call it nothing, Fleur," Veronica, a down-to-earth young woman who had no patience for any kind of theatrics, snapped. "Or don't you remember screaming for pain-relief potions about five minutes into your labor?"
"Jean-Luc was a very beeg bébé," Fleur said defensively as Veronica asked Dobby for a bowl of cool water and some rags for Ginny's forehead. As Ginny panted her way through another contraction, Fleur seemed to come back to herself, for she was usually very sweet now unless she was unusually stressed.
As the two young women fussed around Ginny, wiping her forehead with the cool cloths Dobby had provided, whispering soothing words when contractions were at their peak and casting drying charms on the sheets as they threatened to become soaked with perspiration, Harry stood near the window, watching the scene with a growing amount of alarm. Never in his life had he wished for his mother, or her mother, more desperately than he did at that moment. Seeing her in that kind of pain was like watching her being hit with the Cruciatus Curse every three minutes, and he could barely stand it.
After what seemed like an eternity, Harry could keep silent no longer. "Shouldn't we Floo for a Healer?" he asked.
"A Healer's not going to help us much unless something goes wrong," Veronica said matter-of-factly. "Pain relief charms and potions aren't allowed in childbirth because of the possibility of accidents that could harm the baby."
"It's okay, Harry," Ginny said between contractions. "Will you send Dobby to Floo my dad?"
"'e already knows," Fleur said gently. "Bill told him as soon as we got ze message from ze 'ouse elf."
"He'll be here soon, but you know he can't come into the room," Veronica said, for Wizarding tradition decreed that the father of the baby was the only male who could be allowed in the room when a woman was in labor.
"I know," Ginny began before another contraction stopped her mid-sentence.
The labor progressed in this way through the rest of the morning, the afternoon, and into the evening. Ginny had become less and less patient with all of them as the contractions had grown closer together and she got less respite from her pain. At one point, she demanded something called an "epidermal," a Muggle remedy which supposedly took away all the feeling in the lower half of a woman's body during childbirth. She had learned about it during the brief study of Muggle medicine that was a required part of her training as a Healer.
"Now, Ginny, you're a Healer," Veronica had answered in her most sensible and down-to-earth voice, "you know better than to try Muggle remedies for anything. You just never know how they are going to work, and besides, doesn't your baby deserve the best?"
Ginny panted through yet another contraction and glared at her for an answer.
"It's going to be okay, Ginny," Harry said in what he hoped was a soothing sort of voice. "It's - "
"Yeah?" Ginny asked him in her brief time between contractions. "And just what do you suppose you know about it, Potter?"
Harry was taken aback. So far, though she had seemed to be in a lot of pain, she had been fairly friendly and seemed to be looking forward to the birth of their baby. He couldn't understand why she was angry at him all of a sudden.
"Just stay with her," Veronica whispered when it looked like Harry was about to move back to his spot by the now-dark window. "Distract her."
By this time, Fleur had retreated into the adjoining nursery to 'make ready for ze bébé,' or at least, that was what she had said. Harry strongly suspected that she had grown tired of caring for an increasingly agitated and sweaty Ginny, and everyone in the room was just as glad that she had found somewhere else to be.
A sudden cry from Ginny snapped Harry's attention back onto his wife with the force of the strongest Summoning Charm imaginable. He was concerned to see that tears were now running down her face as she tried to breathe through another contraction, but a slight nod from Veronica, who had given birth to two children already and who had helped her three sisters give birth to theirs as well, assured him that nothing was amiss. As horrible as it seemed, what Ginny was going through was completely normal.
"Ginny," he whispered, squeezing her hand. "Look at me." It was all he could do to keep the concern he felt for her from breaking his voice, but he was determined to distract her, just as Veronica had suggested.
Ginny looked at him. "Don't you dare tell me it's going to be okay, Potter," she warned him in the same exhausted but fierce voice she had used before.
"I'm not," Harry said before pointedly consulting his wristwatch. "Ginny, do you remember what we were doing exactly three years and two hours ago?"
She cried out again as another contraction reached its peak. She had been in labor for almost eleven hours, and everyone who knew anything about childbirth knew that the delivery was near. This, unfortunately, did not include Harry, who was beginning to think that Ginny's labor would last forever.
Taking a deep breath as the contraction passed, she smiled at him with great effort. "Of course I do," she said, her voice wavering slightly. "We were standing like idiots in the rain."
"More than that," Harry prompted, squeezing her hand again.
"I want you to honor their memories," she had said. "Dance with me."
He would not forget those words for the rest of his life, nor the wonderful feeling of relief and love he had experienced as they had held each other, each of them finally finding something to latch onto against the despair that could have overwhelmed them.
"We were dancing," Ginny said. "And -aaaargh!" Her grip was suddenly so tight that it hurt his hand, and her entire body tensed as she screamed. Veronica, who had been standing on the other side of the room, hurried to her side as Harry heard the muffled shouts of alarm coming from the hallway where Arthur Weasley and all of Ginny's remaining brothers stood in wait.
Harry held Ginny's hand as tears streamed down both of their faces. Veronica ran her hand gently up and down Ginny's abdomen and back, finally pointing her wand and muttering a spell that Harry had never heard before, but was in fact known by most women who had either had babies or witnessed childbirth.
"It's time," Veronica said quietly. "Harry, help her sit up while I go get Fleur and calm the men down." This last mission, though it seemed trivial in light of everything else, proved to be harder than any other job that she could have assigned herself. Arthur, for whom Ginny, his only daughter, had already been a favorite, was nearly beside himself with worry. Though he had helped Molly through all seven of their children's births, he found this to be quite different and nearly unbearable. Her scream had rent his heart with fear, and it took Veronica's efforts combined with Fred and George's lighthearted assurances to convince him that, thus far, all was still well.
When she returned to the room, she found Harry sitting behind Ginny, her back reclined against his chest, and Fleur had at last proven her usefulness by positioning Ginny's legs in the required position and bathing her sweaty forehead with the damp cloths from the basin of water on the nightstand. Veronica nodded her approval, and the four of them began the hardest part of Ginny's labor, the part in which the personification of all of their hope would at last be brought into the world.
For over an hour, Ginny strained, pushed and shouted out her pain, struggling to deliver the baby she had housed in her body for over nine months. Harry felt as though the world had stopped spinning as he held her and waited, somehow forgetting about the baby in his fervent wish that his wife's torment would be brought to an end.
His heart dropped in his chest when he heard Veronica whisper to Fleur that it might be time to call in a Healer, for he knew that Healers were only brought in if something was going wrong. Please, he thought fervently, please just let her be okay. Please don't let me lose her, too.
Ginny could not see the tears pooled in his desperate green eyes as he prayed to whatever god might be listening, but as though she had somehow sensed his desperation, she pushed as hard as she could, forcing down her abdominal muscles in an attempt to finally bring her baby into their world.
"I can see ze 'ead!" Fleur cried triumphantly from her position on the floor.
"Come on, Ginny," Harry whispered into her ear. "We're almost done."
"Ginny, I want you to push on more time, nice and hard for me, okay?" Veronica told her confidently. "It's almost over, and you'll get to meet your son." Not for one moment did anyone suppose the baby would be a girl, for Ginny had been the last girl born to the Weasley clan, and Veronica and Fleur had both given birth to sons.
With one last cry of pain and then triumph, Ginny felt the baby slide from her, to be replaced by a strange feeling of emptiness.
Harry stared, dumbfounded, at the back of a small, blue baby as Fleur and Veronica guided it. He had never seen anything so tiny, and it seemed as though it was not even real, as though it were not alive. The moment this fear had run through his mind, however, the baby moved, and with a slight prod from Veronica, began to wail loudly.
Whispering thanks to the world and the heavens in general, Harry buried his face in Ginny's neck, holding her shoulders tightly as Veronica helped with the afterbirth and Fleur grabbed the clean blanket from the bureau to wrap the baby.
Fleur's gasp not even a moment later caused both Ginny's and Harry's heads to snap up. She had turned the baby over onto its back so she could use her wand to clear the mucus from its eyes, ears and mouth before wrapping it in the blanket and giving it to Ginny.
"Ginny! 'arry!" she exclaimed breathlessly. "Zis bébé!" She stopped, whether in horror or in wonder, no one could be sure. She cooed slightly as she turned her back on the others in the room and began wrapping the baby to present it to its parents.
"What's the matter with him?" Ginny asked, frantically trying to see what Fleur was doing.
"You must not call zis baby a 'him,'" Fleur said airily. "Ginny, 'arry...I would like you to meet your daughter." She finally handed the tightly-wrapped infant to Ginny, who gazed at the little red face in complete amazement.
"A girl," Ginny breathed. "A baby girl!" She suddenly giggled, all the pain of the past twelve hours instantaneously forgotten.
Harry didn't even hear her, for all of his attention was focused on the tiny, squirming bundle in his wife's arms. Atop the baby's head, he was happy to see a thatch of Weasley-red hair, and her eyes were as green as "fresh-pickled toads."
Veronica, who had helped all three of her older sisters when they gave birth, was using her wand expertly to clean Ginny and the baby, and Ginny was relieved when, finally, she was handed a pain-relief potion to sip, though she could hardly be bothered with it, so enamored was she of her new daughter.
"What will we call her, Harry?" she finally whispered, watching the baby's small hand reflexively grasp Harry's long finger, callused from long hours of riding his Firebolt at Quidditch practice.
"Molly?" Harry suggested, just as Ginny ponderingly said, "Lily?"
They looked at one another. "Hermione," they said together.
"We could name her all three," Harry suggested, putting his hand on his daughter's downy red hair and stroking the tiny head softly. "Professor Dumbledore had a lot of names."
"I wouldn't want to do that to any child," Ginny said. "Think of learning to spell it!"
"True," Harry said, but that didn't bring them any closer to finding a name.
They hardly noticed as Fleur and Veronica finished their sisterly duties and quietly left the room so the new family could spend time getting to know one another while they shared the news with the men waiting outside. For awhile, Harry, Ginny and the baby simply stayed like as they were, cuddled together on the bed, the two parents worshiping the new life that had been given into their care.
"It's so strange that she was born on this day, of all days," Ginny whispered as the baby dropped off to sleep.
"I think it's brilliant," Harry said, for their new daughter had just given an entirely new meaning to Potter's Holiday, and he knew that he would never again hate the name of the day.
A soft knock sounded on the door, and Harry rose from the bed to answer it. For the first time, he noticed what a superb job Fleur and Veronica had done with Ginny and the baby after the birth. Glancing back before he opened the door, he was stunned at the beauty of the pair of them, lying comfortably together amidst the folds of the soft white duvet. Not a hint of the stains caused by childbirth remained, and not the smallest bead of sweat remained on Ginny's face, which now looked serene and angelic as she gazed down at her daughter.
The knock sounded again, harder this time. "Harry?" Arthur whispered loudly through the door. "Can we come in?"
Harry opened the large oak doors that led into the corridor outside their bedroom. "Come in, Dad," he said, grinning at his father-in-law. The fact that his thin patch of red hair was quite as mussed as Harry's always was testified to the fact that Arthur had, as usual, sat running his fingers wildly through it the entire time Ginny had been in labor.
"About time," Fred said gaily, darting through the door around his father and Harry. "We've been out there for hours! And this a holiday, too!"
"Right you are, brother mine," George added. "Here we are, abandoning the shop on one of our busiest days..."
"Oh, shut it, you two," Charlie said as he came in and joined the rest of them around the bed. "Vero tells me you have a baby girl, Gin! Whad'ya think about that, eh?"
"She's wonderful," Arthur said softly as his sons made way for him at Ginny's side. He leaned over and touched the baby's head. "She looks just like you, Ginny. Except the eyes, of course. She's got her father's eyes."
Harry's heart twinged for a moment, remembering how many times Remus Lupin had said something almost identical to him while he was in school, but he no longer had room in his heart for pain on this day. He beamed.
"You did well, little sister," Bill said fondly, leaning to kiss the top of Ginny's head. He lowered his voice conspiratorially. "Don't tell Fleur I said so, but you were a right sight less noisy than she was."
Everyone chuckled, knowing that Bill had only dared to make that comment because Fleur and Veronica were safely out of earshot as they cleaned themselves up and prepared a meal for everyone.
"What's her name?" George asked, tickling the baby's nose affectionately. Though he had not yet gotten married, he of all the brothers was especially fond of his siblings' children. He had a real knack with them.
Ginny and Harry looked at one another. "We don't know yet," Harry admitted.
"Name her after Mum," Fred said quietly.
"We thought of that," Harry answered.
"But there's also Harry's mum, and Hermione, too," Ginny added, and the room was silent for a moment as they named the women they had lost, the women who should have been there to share in their joy.
Arthur's eyes pooled with tears even as he continued to smile. Even after four years, any reminder of his wife caused him to tear up, and he knew he would never stop missing her.
"Instead of choosing one of them," he suggested to the new parents, "why don't you choose a name that represents all three of them?"
"That's brilliant, Dad," Bill said softly.
"But what?" Ginny asked as she helped the nuzzling child to find her breast.
"Hope," Harry said quietly, and every set of eyes in the room turned to stare at him, silent as they all tried out the word in their minds.
"Hope," Ginny repeated ponderingly, looking at the baby as though she might tell them whether or not she approved of the name. She said nothing, of course, but only continued to suckle, her tiny red body pressed close to her mother.
"By George," said Fred, a wide grin spreading over his face, "I think Harry's done it! Hope is the very thing, isn't it?"
"By Fred!" George exclaimed in his turn. "I think you're right, brother mine. It's just the thing!"
"Stop it, you two," Ginny requested, though she too was smiling. "This is serious."
"It is," Charlie agreed. "But I do agree with Fred and George; I think Hope is the perfect name, because that was the biggest thing that Mum, Hermione and Lily all stood for. I know I didn't know your mum, Harry," he added, "but I do know that my mother and Hermione were always the ones who brought hope to the lot of us, and I have a feeling Lily would have been just the same. I think they would all have loved it."
"I agree," Arthur said seriously. "Harry, Ginny, what do you think?"
The two new parents looked at each other for a long moment, staring deeply into one another's eyes as they strove to reach a decision. Finally, as though they had held a long, private discussion, they nodded. "Hope," they said together.
"Hope," repeated Arthur, smiling as he held out his arms to his first granddaughter.
Hours later, Harry once again observed his wife by the light of a flickering candle, her face once again a perfect picture of serene radiance as she slept, one hand draped lightly on the white basket inside which Hope Potter slept peacefully as well.
You will never know the women you're named for, Harry thought as he laid his hand gently on the tiny chest, reveling in the soft rise and fall of her infant breaths. But even though they might not have known it at the time, they all fought for you, so that you could arrive here safe and beautiful. I hope they can see you now, baby girl, because I know they would love you as much as I do.
As Potter's Holiday came to a close at midnight, the candle finally flickered out on the sleeping family, two of whom had been through more than any man or woman their age should have done, and one of whom was new to this world. It somehow seemed fitting that on this day, the anniversary of the fall of the greatest evil in the world, came the birth of a family's greatest love, and indeed, their most cherished hope of all.