Author's Note: Many thanks to Aibhinn, who did her usually perfect and speedy beta on this one for me. All characters belong to J K Rowling - I'm just borrowing. ;) Originally written for the Live Journal HBP ficafest challenge.
The celebration was making Ginny hot. It seemed impossible, but the room actually seemed filled with more people than it should be and she kept getting jostled around. She finally grew tired of pushing elbows out of her way and made for what looked like a nice quiet corner that held what looked like a nice quiet chair.
She sighed as she sat down, and pulled her hair into her hands, holding it up. She wished (and not for the first time since the evening had begun) that she had worn her hair up, instead of down, but Harry had been insistent. He had told her, in a moment of downright poetry, that he 'liked the flicker and colour of fire in her hair'. And of course, after being married to the git for a few years, Ginny found she was unable to put up a fight to most of his requests, and she had complied with his wish that she keep her hair long and unencumbered.
She looked around the old Gryffindor common room and smiled. It had been a stroke of pure genius on Hermione’s part to host the anniversary party here, in their old stomping grounds. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d been back to the school, and this evening had been a perfect walk down memory lane. Surprisingly, it hadn’t been bad memories that had filled her head, but good ones.
She smiled as one particular memory now filled her mind’s eye as she let her gaze fall upon Harry’s profile across the room. He was laughing and sharing some sort of story with Neville and Susan Longbottom, and the sight of him enjoying himself made her smile grow even wider. She was reminded of a day not so long ago, a tiring day full of Quidditch and worry and so many other things that now, years later, seemed trivial and small. It was amazing to her that it had been here, in this room, that she and Harry had shared their first kiss, in front of everyone. That one moment in time had washed everything before it away and had made everything after it seem that much more real - that much more intense.
Ginny didn’t let herself get caught up with what had come after - the few deliriously wonderful weeks of the start of their relationship, the heartbreaking way Harry had left her at Dumbledore’s funeral, and the continuing war. The love they had both almost lost. No, instead she let her mind focus on that glorious moment of Harry leading her through the portrait hole, a dazzling, yet sheepish grin on his face as he looked at her - almost as though he couldn’t quite believe what had happened. She leaned back in the chair and closed her eyes, letting her hair fall behind the back of it. She let herself remember what had been, and still was, one of the happiest days of her life....
Harry grins at me even as he is still holding my hand, squeezing it tightly into his. His eyes are full of so many things, things I can’t even dare to believe, and yet, I knew before he kissed me that he felt them. Feeling a bit dazed myself, I merely answer his grin with one of my own and we head downstairs - no, correction: we float downstairs - and head out into the cool afternoon sun.
I think to myself, as we start to walk along the lake, that I have never seen the Hogwarts grounds look as beautiful as they do now: the way the water reflects the soon-to-be-setting sun and the deep, lush green of the nearby forest. The thought of all that green reminds me of the boy by my side and I turn to look at him, to find him looking at me, and I do something I haven’t done in front of him in a long time - I blush. His grin grows even wider.
“Don’t start,” I say warningly, and he shrugs, but I can tell he is pleased by this return of the blushing redhead and I frown. He stops walking and turns to me, pulling me close, and for the second time that day (that hour!) Harry Potter manages to race my heart. I forget to feel embarrassed, and I even forget to blush as I kiss him back with as much passion as I have in me.
We eventually break apart and his eyes are sort of funny now, a sort of dark flame in them that I don’t think I’ve ever seen on anyone before. He bites his lip as he looks down at me and for an instant I feel scared - not because I think he will hurt me, but because I know the flame that is touching him is touching me as well. I wonder briefly how my mother would feel about receiving a letter from Dumbledore regarding her youngest child getting detention for throwing herself at a boy on the front grounds of the school.
His hand, still in my hair, moves around and cups my face. His eyes search mine and I notice he is flushed and his lips look swollen. I did that, I think giddily, and smile up at him.
“Ginny, I....” He pauses and determination enters his eyes. “I’m just sorry it took me so long to do something. It drove me crazy to see you with Dean.”
I shush him, and put a finger to his lips - those lips that even now I want to feel again. I take a deep breath and nod my head, trying to control myself. He lets go of me and we continue our walk, hands still joined. Now it feels different between us - warmth is flowing from him to me (or is it from me to him?). It is a heat that I don’t think I want to wonder about too much, because I know we’re both too young for anything more. But with only two kisses, I know already that Harry has ruined me for any other boy - in fact, I have a hard time remembering what those other kisses felt like. But a part of me is glad for them; because without them I never would have been able to recognise that what I feel right now is real and true.
“I knew something had changed,” I say softly and glance at him. “But when, Harry?”
“I’m not certain.” He stops and I can tell he is thinking hard. He grins at me after awhile. “The summer, I think. I didn’t like when we got back to school and you went off to sit with Dean. But I didn’t know what it meant till later.”
I squeeze his hand. “Well, I'm glad you finally did.”
“So am I.” His voice is full of something that I can’t place and I marvel to myself - all the years of having feelings for Harry and never, never did I ever think it would be so easy...so right. I have so many things inside me that I want to tell him, but I don’t - not because I don’t trust him, but because I don’t trust myself not to tell him everything in my heart. I hear Hermione’s sensible voice in my head telling me to just let things happen, and I smile to myself as we walk on.
We talk about the match briefly, his eyes full of life and I see how proud he is when I tell him how I caught the Snitch. We kiss again, more than a few times. He laughs heartily when I mimic the way Ron almost dropped the Quaffle again at the start of the game, and I get a toasty feeling in my heart that spreads all the way to my toes. I love the way Harry laughs - when he really laughs - so full and honest. He doesn’t often laugh like that with anyone, and I feel pleased that I can bring it out of him. We make it all the way around the lake and I still feel as if I am floating; as if nothing can ever make me land again.
We stop short, near a tree that sits at the edge of the water, and Harry nods at it. We sit down, still holding hands, with me sitting across from him. We grin at each other, and amazingly enough, I do not feel silly or insipid or any other churlish thing someone might think if they saw us grinning like idiots. Harry looks more than pleased with himself and with us, and I think to myself - I’ve waited forever for this and I am not going to waste one moment with him.
“So, I reckon I should make this official,” he says after a while, grinning widely again. I raise my eyebrow at him and give what I hope is a cool look.
“I should hope so, Potter. Otherwise, I might have to hex you, no matter how well you kiss.”
He chuckles and looks down at our hands, running his thumb across my knuckles.
“We’re together, yes?” He asks this rather hopefully and needlessly, considering I‘ve spent the last hour snogging him senseless.
A sassy reply is on the tip of my tongue but I can’t resist the rush of perfection that pushes through me; I simply giggle and nod my head.
“You can’t imagine how happy that makes me,” he says softly and leans forward. He touches my chin with his hand and pulls my head forward. I look deep into his eyes and feel myself shiver.
“Oh, I think I have some idea,” I say quietly, suddenly serious. For some reason I want to make him understand that this moment is everything that I have always hoped for - but he won’t let me, because suddenly he’s kissing me again and I’m lost once more. And after we finally part and head up to the castle, I think it’s okay that I haven’t told him. Because something tells me Harry knows anyway.
“Hey, sleeping beauty? Didn’t anyone tell you it’s rude to fall asleep at anniversary parties?”
Ginny smiled and opened her eyes to see two very mischievous green ones staring down at her.
“That’s only if it were my anniversary party, not my brother’s.”
“Oh, my mistake.”
“It’s your fault, anyway, Harry. You’re the one that made me wear my blasted hair down. It’s so hot in here.” He offered a hand to her and she stood up, shaking her head.
“Hmm. It is rather stuffy now, isn’t it? I think Hermione over-invited people. Who knew this many people would be happy she married your brother five years ago?” Harry looked around as though mystified.
“Are you kidding? The end of the famous Granger-Weasley war was more important than you defeating Voldemort. Honestly, Harry, don’t you pay attention?”
Harry laughed. “Right. Sorry. I forgot. Well, why don’t we get some air. Take a walk around the lake for old time’s sake?”
Ginny smiled. “Funny you should suggest that. I was just having a nice pleasant day-dream about the first walk we ever took together around the lake. Do you remember it?”
They started to make their way through the crowd toward the front door. Ginny was a bit annoyed at the way Harry could make it through without too much trouble; if she’d been in the lead she’d have been manhandled twice already. She suddenly hated being short.
Harry grinned as he pulled her out of the portrait hole. “Remember it? What do you think kept me going during the war?”
“The love, sacrifice and support of your friends?” Ginny asked, raising an eyebrow at him.
Harry slipped his arm around his wife and smiled. “Well, that too. But in my darkest hour, Ginny, it was all about you and the life we could have together if I could just make it through.”
They reached the Great Hall and headed outside, the night air crisp and cool. Ginny stopped on the last step and looked up at the sky, counting the stars. Harry waited, watching her. When she looked back down at him she smiled and leaned forward, slipping her arms around his neck.
“You know what I regret about that first walk around the lake?” she asked, resting her head against his.
“That we were both too young to do anything with all the passion we felt.”
Harry smirked and raised his eyebrow at her. “Well, we’re not too young now....”
“Is that a proposition, Mr Potter?”
“Would you be open to responding to such a thing if it were, Mrs Potter?”
Ginny giggled and bit her lip. Harry moved forward and kissed her gently, but it soon turned into something more - and now, here at this place, Ginny knew exactly what to do with the warmth that flowed between them. She embraced it and she loved Harry. And he loved her right back.