He looked at the woman opposite and smiled as she spoke.
“Do you remember what you were thinking two years, three-hundred and forty days,” she asked pausing to look at her watch before adding, “and two hours ago?”
“Of course I do,” the man replied. “We were standing in front of a door, much like this one.” As he spoke he stepped forward and ran his fingers down the grain of the wood, pausing as he came to the round, tarnished, brass door knob. “Who’d have guessed where we would end up back then?”
“Not me, that’s for certain,” she laughed as she fumbled with the large bunch of keys in her hand, searching for the right one for the lock. Finding it, she inserted it in the key hole and turned it, the levers clunking loudly as they fell into place. “Right, after you then,” she said as she took a step backwards and swept her arm round elegantly in an arc.
“Bloody chicken,” the man muttered good naturedly as he grabbed the handle, twisting it and pushed the door inwards.
Or attempted to.
“Ruddy thing’s stuck,” he commented, before placing his shoulder against the ancient wood and shoving, managing to push the door open just far enough for them to squeeze through.
* * *
The reason for their difficulty entering was immediately apparent, when they had to kick their way past the piles of mail, mounting up on the other side of the door.
“Let’s have some light shall we?” he said, flicking his wand in the direction of the room.
“Language, dear,” she chastised lightly, “isn’t going to help, so why don’t you go and try to find some candles while I clear up this mess behind the door.”
“Yes, dear,” he said contritely, his mock salute, he thought, going unnoticed in the gloom.
“What did I say I’d do to you if you did that again?” she replied distractedly, her back turned to him as she knelt down by the door, using her wand to wrap the mail into bundles, before levitating and stacking them at the side of the entrance.
“I know you, Harry, that’s how.”
“Would it help if I said sorry?” Harry asked, his tone light.
“It’d help if you found some candles!”
“Right. Candles coming up,” he replied, opening a nearby cupboard while using the tip of his wand to provide enough light to search by. A delighted grunt burst forth when the first thing that he came across was a full box.
After lighting them, he floated them to the corners of the room, the initial dim glow getting brighter as more candles were added. Finishing his task, he could take in for the first time what the light revealed.
What he saw made him swear again.
Standing up, his wife turned to him, “I thought I said swearing wouldn’t help?” Then she followed his gaze and let fly with her own string of invectives.
“Feel better?” he asked.
“Much,” she replied.
“It’s not quite what we expected, is it?”
“Not really, no.”
“Well, come on, let’s have a proper look round. You never know, it might not be as bad as it seems.”
“If you say so,” she replied taking his offered hand. Together they went round and inspected the property for the first time.
The property they were viewing sat directly behind the one they had owned and lived in for almost the last three years.
When they had first moved in, a seemingly endless parade of witches and wizards had rented the unit behind, thinking that being a neighbour of ‘The Boy Who Lived Twice’ and his wife would be an easy route to their friendships’; they never stayed much more than a few months at most, when they found out that this wasn’t they case.
Then, for the last year, the place had remained mostly unoccupied, apart from the occasional unsavoury character taking advantage of its placement off the main thoroughfare – there were visible reminders of this everywhere Harry looked - but they were soon dispatched by Harry’s contacts within the Auror regiment.
So when the building had come up for sale, just as they were beginning to talk about needing a bigger place, they had immediately put in an offer - not even bothering to inspect the place - which was thankfully accepted straight away.
Once accepted, plans were drawn and submitted to knock the two properties together, creating one larger unit. One of the few advantages of being The Chosen One, meant that Harry was able to avoid much of the red tape that bogged down and delayed most applications received by that department.
The planning permission and the keys had both arrived separately that morning, but work had meant that they had to wait until now - in the early evening - to take their first look round.
The inspection had confirmed their first fears, plaster was peeling off the walls, revealing the stonework beneath; units and cupboards either half hung off the walls or lay in pieces on the floors - where there was flooring; in some rooms the floorboards were loose, in others missing altogether, and the smell, particularly on some of the upper floors, was beyond foul.
* * *
As they re-entered the first room, the woman said, “It’s perfect, isn’t it?” before linking her arm into his and resting her head against his shoulder and sighing pleasurably.
“Yes. Yes it is.” Harry agreed.
“Or it will be at least, once we’ve sorted out this mess you’ve got us into,” she said, while swatting him playfully on the arm.
“Me?” Harry rejoined. “I thought this was a joint decision, Gin, shared responsibility and all that?”
“And it will be again,” replied the redhead with an impish grin, “just as soon as we’re done! And don’t call me Gin, you know I hate it.”
“Well then, it’s a good job I’ve got two old school friends who just happen to be builders and just happen to be available to help us out then, isn’t it?” he said cheerfully.
“Dean and Seamus agreed to help, then?” said Ginny, her face lighting up.
“Yeah, they can’t start until next week, but they are going to pop ‘round the store tomorrow and go over the plans with us.”
“You’ve thought of most things, haven’t you?” Ginny asked, pulling him closer.
“Uh huh,” replied Harry as he leaned into kiss his wife.
Deepening the kiss, his hands started to roam, finding the small strip of skin between her skirt and T-shirt, causing his wife to moan and break the embrace.
Breathlessly, she admonished, “Well, maybe not everything, otherwise you’d have started this somewhere a little more comfortable to finish it...” However this didn’t stop her trailing kisses down the side of his neck.
“What makes you think I haven’t thought of that,” he growled wrapping one arm tight around her, and with a couple of waves of his other arm he used his wand to close and lock the door before Side-Along Apparating them to their bedroom.
* * *
The next day found a blissfully happy husband and wife team running their shop, “Quality Quidditch Supplies” in Diagon Alley.
Most customers didn’t notice the difference in the two, but some did, and challenged either or both of them about it, the standard reply being “Well, it’s nearly our anniversary; we’re allowed to be happy!” before they bounced off to serve the next customer.
The anniversary they were referring to was the date they had both quit highly successful Quidditch careers to ‘settle down’ and begin to build somewhere to call home. It had been a spontaneous decision, taken at the after match party celebrating another cup win for their team, the Wigtown Wanderers. Amongst the invited guests was a certain elderly wizard, Fillmore Speed, then the current proprietor of Diagon Alley’s main Quidditch shop, who let slip that this would probably be the last time he would be attending such an event as he had decided the time was right to sell up and retire, and without planning it, thinking about it, or discussing it with each other or working out the implications, Wigtown Warrior’s star Chaser and Seeker looked at one another, nodded and grinned. By the time they had left the party, they had retired from competitive sport, instructed their solicitors to negotiate on their behalf and were looking at the prospect of a sizable hole in their savings, but both felt an equally sizable weight had been lifted off their shoulders.
* * *
Midway through the afternoon, the bell above the door signalled the arrival of Finnigan and Thomas Esq. Magical Builders Extraordinaire (their words, not necessarily those of the witch or wizard who employed them.) However, as Seamus had said when another friend, Ron, had queried them over it, “An’ why not? We are bleedin’ well good at it!”
Harry motioned them through into the back room and Ginny followed, leaving the store’s staff in charge, while they went over the plans with their old school friends.
“So, what we’d really like to do,” said Ginny looking at Harry and smiling, “is be open for our anniversary, do you think it’s possible?”
“Well, ‘tis gonna be tight,” stated Seamus after a quick conversation with his business partner. “But, aye, we think so. Seein’ as ‘tis you an’ Harry.”
“Excellent,” replied Harry, standing up and shaking both his friends’ hands, “We’ll see you on Monday, then. But before you go, how about a shot each of vintage Firewhisky to seal the deal?”
“Harry, my boy,” exclaimed Dean clapping him on the shoulder, “I like your thinking!”
* * *
Work on the project began as arranged the following Monday, with Ginny spending most of her time with Seamus and Dean, while Harry concentrated on running the store, and temporarily moving all the spare stock into one of the twins Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes storehouses.
The following days were long and backbreaking and not a little stressful. Most evenings, Harry and Ginny didn’t even sit down for their evening meal (which was more often a quickly prepared snack) until almost midnight, and were up again by five the following morning to prepare the shop for business - major building works created more dust than even the best dispersal charms could cope with, so for an hour or two each morning Harry and Ginny found themselves with their sleeves rolled up and wands out, getting rid of what had settled during the night.
Thankfully, while hard work, it was fairly simple, so it allowed the couple a little bit of time together to talk, without some pressing need or tiredness interrupting. Without it - they both agreed - one or both of them would snap before the damn thing was finished.
Seamus and Dean were - Harry and Ginny soon agreed - as good as their opinion of themselves: Bleedin’ good at their job. While the pressure was on to get the work completed in time, they were always confident of finishing on time and that confidence filtered through everyone; suppliers, contractors, and their staff all just got their heads down and got on with the job.
Even when the wrong panelling was delivered and Ginny, who was suffering from lack of sleep, started to tear-a-strip off the poor delivery guy, Seamus calmly - and bravely, in both Harry and Dean’s eyes - interrupted her tirade, and had the correct goods delivered within the hour and with a discount on top.
Still, as the work drew to a close both in the expanded store and their new flat above, and they could start to move stock and furniture in ready for the big day, the two of them couldn’t help sighing in relief when it was certain that not only would they be ready in time, but finished a full day early.
“So, love,” said Harry as he closed the door and leant against it after waving Dean and Seamus off, with a hefty tip and a crate of butterbeer in thanks, “fancy trying out our new bed.” He waggled his eyebrows suggestively.
“Too right,” replied Ginny, “I intend to make full use of it!”
“We’re going to sleep for a week, aren’t we?” grinned Harry in reply.
“Well, tomorrow anyway,” said Ginny “We do need to be up for the opening, remember?”
“Suppose so,” replied Harry in mock dejection, before brightening up. “Hey, I wonder if I can convince Dobby to supply breakfast in bed?”
* * *
“That was perfect,” said Ginny, dabbing the corners of her mouth with a napkin.
“Yup, this is certainly an improvement on recent mornings,” agreed Harry, who was leaning back against the headboard, his arms clasped behind his head.
“Urgh, don’t remind me!” said Ginny who was as much of a morning person as her brother Ron.
“Well, back to normal tomorrow.”
“I hardly think tomorrow’s going to be a normal day,” laughed Ginny. “What with every witch, wizard and their Niffler expected to call in, it being our opening and anniversary and all.”
“I think it’s going to be the new international broom section that’s going to interest them more than the anniversary, though.”
“For some of them, probably,” said Ginny with a sly grin.
“What do you mean?” asked Harry, confused.
“Some of them might be interested in other things, anniversary things...”
“Well, I know it’s three years since we quit playing Quidditch and opened here, and I suppose we have been aiming for this, but that was for us, because it was what we wanted.”
“Harry, do you remember what you were thinking two years, and three-hundred and sixty-four days ago? Why we picked that day?”
Harry, paused for a moment, and then swore.
Ginny responded by clutching her sides in laughter. “Oh, I’m so glad it wasn’t only me,” she managed to say before almost rolling off the bed.
“Y... you forgot.”
“Well, we’ve both been busy,” replied Ginny, “though if you ever let the twins know…”
“No fear!” agreed Harry quickly, “I can’t believe we both forgot! When did you remember?”
“When Dobby brought breakfast in, it reminded me of the morning after our wedding.”
“So, erm gifts...” said Harry warily.
“I think that this year we should call all this,” Ginny swept her arm around the room, “and the new shop below, our gift to each other, don’t you?”
“Perfect,” replied Harry grinning. “But I am going to take my wonderful wife out for a meal at some point.”
“You won’t find any argument from me.”
“Good,” said Harry, pulling Ginny in close.
“So,” responded Ginny, taking the opportunity to kiss her husband, “tomorrow is our fifth wedding anniversary,” she continued as she trailed kisses down his neck, “and our third as business partners...”
“Both, equally important,” agreed Harry with a moan as his wife kissed a particularly sensitive spot.
“Agreed,” replied Ginny. “However, on balance, there is something I prefer about third anniversaries...”
“What’s that?” replied Harry distractedly.
“It’s when you get leather.” she replied with a wink.
“You wicked witch,” replied Harry, before his wife cut off any further comment, by bringing her lips to his.
* * *
Two months later and the newly expanded store was a raging success; business had been so good they’d had to take on three extra staff to cope, and Harry was just waving the last of them out of the door at the end of the day when Ginny returned from running errands.
“Hello, love,” he beamed, kissing the top of her head as she bobbed under his arm. “Get everything you wanted?”
“Yes, I did actually,” replied Ginny an odd note to her voice.
“I can see that,” said Harry laughing. Looking at the pile of things his wife was carrying, he rescued a long parcel that was about to slip out of his wife’s grasp.
“That’s one of the more interesting things,” replied Ginny with a small grin, “why don’t you open it?”
Harry tore the wrapping off to reveal a sign designed to go above the shop door.
“It’s a door sign,” said Harry in confusion. “But we already have one. Dean brought it round on opening day.”
“Why don’t you read it, Harry,” answered Ginny sweetly, coming up behind her husband and wrapping her arms around his waist.
Quality Quidditch Supplies
Number 67 Diagon Alley
Proprietors: H & G Potter and Son
Then he grinned.
Then he spun round suddenly, hugging his wife tightly to him, “I’m going to be a dad?”
Ginny’s grin matched Harry’s. “Yes, love, you are.”
Harry was almost bouncing in his excitement. He did, however, manage to contain himself long enough to ask, “When?”
“Seven months today,” replied Ginny.
“Yes,” finished Ginny, “it turns out our new son is a fan of anniversaries, too!”
* * *
As this is a challenge fic, I can’t thank them by name, but many thanks to my pre-beta and beta for their hard work on this one.