How Wizards Do Money: Ginny Potter
Ginny Potter hadn’t expected her life to change so much after having children.
In some ways, it was because she herself was the youngest of seven; she had never experienced an infant sibling who cried and wouldn’t stop, she had never seen toddlers throw tantrums or cling to their mothers (she had done that herself, of course, but it was long pushed out of memory), and she had never known her mother in the life before seven children, when Molly Prewett was thinner and quicker to curse and did not always look just a little bit tired.
Ginny expected parenting to come easily because everything else in her life had come so easily: she grew up in a happy home surrounded by a warm and caring family; she met, at 10 years old, the magical and wonderful boy who would grow up to be the man who loved her; she was clever at school and quick with spells and made it onto a professional Quidditch team after a single tryout.
After James was born, timed perfectly to arrive during the Quidditch off-season, Ginny realized that not everything came easily. Or, to put it more directly: just because you tried to do something didn’t mean it would actually happen.
She expected to breastfeed James, assumed it would be as simple as that, but it wasn’t, and suddenly she and Harry had a house-elf running out to buy boxes of formula. She thought that there would be a few sleepless nights, but she was absolutely floored to learn that newborns needed to be fed every two to three hours, and even after that stage passed James was reluctant to sleep, his tiny voice crying out for the warm and caring family Ginny knew she was supposed to provide but did not know how to create.
She did the right things but they did not feel like the right things; she cooed, cuddled, rocked, and walked James from one end of the house to the other, wondered if it would be all right to leave James in his bassinet for an hour while she tried to do sit-ups on the floor and prepare for the next Quidditch season which, at that point, she assumed she would play, wondered if it would be better to take a nap than to do the sit-ups, wondered why she felt so removed from everything that was happening to her, like she was watching it from above, on her broom.
The one thing that Ginny didn’t have to worry about was money. Harry still had his fortune, would always have it, and because of that she thought less about the cost of boxes of formula and diapers they were buying than about the amount of time they took from her day. Today she would cuddle her baby and read to her baby and feed her baby and bathe her baby and feed herself and bathe herself and read to herself and exercise herself and think about getting back to work herself, and in the end only a few of those things happened.
Where was Harry, during all of this? Terrified. He hadn’t grown up in a loving home, and his only concept of fatherhood was so profoundly aspirational that he found himself avoiding it completely. He knew how to be a father in the sense that you took a picture with your arms around your child’s mother, and then your child looked at the picture later.
Ginny didn’t go back to the Holyhead Harpies Quidditch team, but in the end it didn’t have anything to do with any of the sit-ups she did or didn’t finish. She missed the season because she became pregnant again, unexpectedly. She was, at first, angry at her body for doing something without her telling it to—but at that point she was almost used to her body doing things without her explicit instruction. She thought of the year she was inhabited by Tom Riddle. She wondered how a parent could accidentally raise a Tom Riddle. She had always assumed she would raise another Harry Potter, but now she wasn’t completely sure who James would become. He was definitely his own person, someone neither she nor Harry knew fully.
It was very hard for Ginny to talk to her mother about all of this. Molly Weasley was still, and would always be, grieving her lost son, and because of that she only saw beauty and love in Ginny’s tired eyes and unbrushed hair and in her grandson’s spit-up flecked bib. She wanted Ginny and Harry to feel a happiness equivalent to the loss she carried with her.
Fleur, of course, had already gone through the infant and toddler stage, but Ginny and Fleur would never become friends and in fact Ginny went most days without thinking of Fleur at all. Ron and Hermione were in their own world, thrilled that Hermione was pregnant for the first time. Ginny wanted to wave her hands and warn them.
Albus Severus Potter and Rose Weasley were born within a month of each other. Having Ron and Hermione go through the newborn experience almost in step changed things; when Hermione had trouble feeding Rose, Ginny was able to provide the comforting voice to reassure her that it would be fine to supplement with formula. When Ron took paternity leave, Ginny asked Harry if he wouldn’t like to take some leave himself. The four of them had held each other up through years of fear and war, and now they began supporting each other again, in a different way. They taught each other how to be who they were, and they taught each other how to be parents.
You know the rest of the story. Ginny transitioned into a part-time writer for the Daily Prophet and eventually became the Senior Quidditch Correspondent. Harry could never become the father he never had, but he learned how to be a father to his own children, and he and Ginny worked together to create a warm and caring home. Hermione managed her household with brilliance and efficiency while she continued working for the Ministry on issues of social justice. Ron seemed like, for a moment, he would be left out; but then one day there he was, the world’s happiest dad.
One day Ron came to Ginny, looking a bit nervous, holding something in his hand that Ginny couldn’t quite see. He said “I’ve got a question for you, and I don’t want you to think about it too hard before answering. Just tell me what you really want. If you could go back and do it all again, be a professional Quidditch player, maybe wait a bit longer before having kids, would you do that?”
“No,” Ginny said. She didn’t even have to think about it. “I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Previously: Gregory Goyle