Ginny sat, curled up like a cat, in an armchair of the living room of the Burrow with a book. She had returned from Paris two days ago, the same day Ron woke up.
Everyone had let out a collective sigh of relief when Ron opened his eyes. Ginny was especially grateful for his recovery, as she didn't think she would handle the loss of a brother very well.
He was due to return to the Burrow tonight before going back to his home with Hermione tomorrow, but it was almost midnight and neither Ron nor Hermione had shown up yet.
Ginny glanced towards the door, impatient for her brother's return. However, the door remained as still as it had been for the past few hours. Ginny frowned. She had never been the patient kind.
Inadvertently, Ginny's gaze drifted to the sofa opposite her chair and the wizard sitting in it. Well, sleeping in it would be the better term. Harry looked so peaceful when he slept. He looked almost happy, and Ginny knew there were no nightmares causing him pain at the moment.
Resisting the urge to get up and snuggle next to Harry for a little nap of her own, Ginny looked back down at her book. She didn't know why she picked this book up; she wasn't much of a reader. She rarely read for pleasure and usually only picked up a book if she had to. Deep down, she simply didn't trust the damn things. Ginny knew it was a silly fear she had, and that not all books were bad, but she couldn't bring herself to trust them as much as she had in her childhood.
Sighing, Ginny closed the book and set it aside. She wasn't in the mood to read anyway. For lack of anything else to do, Ginny stood up and walked to the kitchen to make some tea.
Removing the tea cosy, Ginny placed the teakettle on the stove. She rather liked making tea the Muggle way because it was therapeutic it its own respect. As she reached for the box of jasmine tea, Ginny heard the sound of a door opening.
Her head whipping around, she listened closely. Sure enough, moments later, she heard the exact voices she had been waiting to hear.
Tea forgotten, Ginny ran into the other room. She stopped short at the doorframe and watched as Harry welcomed both Ron and Hermione back. They were so strong together. It looked like nothing could hurt them when they were like that. Ginny smiled.
As she caught Hermione's eye, her smile widened and she ran towards them. "Hermione. Ron," Ginny breathed as she hugged each of them in turn.
Ginny stepped back and looked the two of them over. They were holding hands, standing very close to one another and looking slightly flushed. Eyeing them suspiciously, Ginny asked, "All right, you two?"
Ron seemed to flush deeper at that. Hermione grinned, looking somewhat guilty. "We're just happy to be away from the medical wing. I could use some tea, does anybody else want any?"
"I just put the kettle on a moment ago," Ginny said, gesturing towards the kitchen and eyeing Hermione even more suspiciously. That had been a not so subtle change of subject.
"Great," Hermione said. She gave Ron a peck on the cheek and started to walk towards the kitchen.
Ginny looked over at Harry to see if he had noticed anything unusual with Ron and Hermione. However, he looked utterly oblivious to it. In fact, he looked as though he was about to fall asleep right where he was standing.
Stifling a yawn, Harry uttered, "Well, now that you're back, I'm going to go to sleep. It took you long enough to get here, mate. I swear, you have no consideration for others." Harry shot Ron a smirk. "'Night." He glanced at Ginny, making tingles shoot down her spine, much to her chagrin. "Goodnight, Ginny."
"'Night," Ginny breathed at Harry's retreating back.
There was a loud knocking on Harry's door, waking him up. "G'way," he muttered at the door. It seemed as though he had just set his head on the pillow. There was no way it was time to get up.
"Harry!" Ron practically yelled, rushing into the room. "Get up, this is important." There was an urgency in Ron's voice, making Harry sit up instantly.
"What happened? Who is it?" Harry asked fearing the worst. If there had been another attack… And he had been sleeping, when he could have been doing something to help.
"No, Harry. Nothing like that," Ron replied. Harry noted that the urgency in Ron's voice was accompanied by a great deal of excitement. So this was good news, for once. Ron continued, "Get up and get dressed." He paused to think. "Wear something nice. But be downstairs in five minutes. We have to hurry." With that Ron turned to leave the room.
"Ron, what's going on?" Harry managed to get in before the redhead could reach the door. Harry looked at the clock. "Its three in the morning, can't this wait?"
"No," Ron said at once. "This can't wait another minute. Especially since a lot of people are here. We‘re doing it tonight. Come on!" And with that, Ron ran out the door leaving Harry in quite a confused state.
"What?" Harry yelled after Ron with no answer. He had lost his head. Two days after waking from that blasted coma and he had gone crazy.
Harry looked around his room sleepily before going to the wardrobe and pulling out some nice looking robes. They had a burn mark on the sleeve, but it was the best Harry had with him. He dressed quickly and went downstairs to find out what the hell Ron was going on about.
When he got to the bottom, he found Ginny looking in a mirror, pulling up her hair. She was wearing a dark green dress that went just past her knees. Very tiny straps held it up. It wasn't the prettiest dress, or the cleanest, but on Ginny it looked amazing.
"Oh, good. You're up," she said looking over at Harry. "They're doing it in the living room."
"Doing what, exactly?" Harry asked cautiously.
Glancing at him from the corner of her eyes, Ginny explained, "They're getting married."
"What? Married?" Harry knew they were planning on getting married eventually, but this didn't make any sense. It was the middle of the night, in the middle of a war. Had they just decided to do this a quarter of an hour earlier?
Ginny stopped fussing with her appearance. It was up in a simple ponytail, her fiery locks just grazing the nape of her neck. The light from a lamp made it seem as though it really was on fire, and Harry found it difficult to tear his eyes from the flames reflected in her hair.
"That's the plan. I guess with what happened to Hermione the other week, they wanted to do this as quickly as possible." She paused. "And we're here. Neville is too, as is a good portion of my family." Ginny laughed slightly at that, although she looked a bit sad. "As many people as we'll get together at once, I suppose. Plus, there are a few random people. Mum decided to wake everyone in the house for this. Apparently there's no time to get everyone at Grimmauld Place, or she would've gone and got everyone there, no doubt."
Harry smiled grimly. "I thought she wanted them to have a ‘proper' wedding?"
"Well, yes. She wasn't happy, at first. They ended up having to promise her a big wedding with a grand reception once this whole thing's all over. Funnily enough, she gave in. I think she's just excited her baby boy's getting married," Ginny finished with a voice that was a perfect imitation of her mother. She rolled her eyes in exasperation and started off towards the living room, the corners of her lips somewhat upturned.
There wasn't a need to explain what ‘this whole thing' meant. Harry knew. Everyone knew what ‘this thing' was. It was just easier to call it that than to call it what it actually was, a war. Harry forced thoughts about the war out of his head. He wouldn't think about that now. At least not for the next few minutes. Not when his best friends were getting married.
Married. Harry stood next to the mirror Ginny had just been standing in front of, thinking about what his friends were about to do. It was unreal, yet right. It somehow made him feel old. He didn't think he was old enough to have friends who were married.
"Harry!" a familiar female voice shouted from behind him. Harry spun around to find a very happy looking Hermione. She was wearing a simple off-white dress, her hair was down, and her messy brown curls falling just below her shoulders. She had a silly looking grin plastered on her face. Harry felt he should wish her some sort of congratulations but before he had the chance to say anything, Hermione had flung herself at him and caught him in a tight hug.
"Hey, Hermione," Harry said, slightly shocked. "Er, congratulations."
Hermione pulled away, she was biting her lip slightly. "Thanks. You should go in, we're going to start now."
Harry smiled and nodded, turning towards the living room. However, he didn't get farther than a step. He stopped short when he heard Hermione yelp slightly and he quickly turned to see what was wrong. Yet, as soon as he turned towards her, he wish he hadn't, and quickly looked away. Apparently, Ron had snuck up behind Hermione and had begun nuzzling her neck.
"Ron, you're not supposed to see me now," Hermione chided, turning around to push Ron away. Although, Harry thought, she didn't look like she was trying too hard.
Ron groaned loudly, "But I've already seen you today. I don't want to let you out of my sight."
Harry began walking away again, slightly embarrassed for being witness to what seemed to turning out to be a very private conversation. However, before he was able to take two steps, Harry was stopped by Hermione's protests. "No, Harry. You have to take him away." Ron gave a loud protest at that, only to be told off straight away by Hermione. "Ron, you have to go. It'll just be a moment."
Harry raised his eyebrows at his friend before grabbing his elbow and leading him away.
Five minutes later, Harry stood in the living room next to Ron by the mantle, the makeshift alter. Hermione stood across from Ron, with Ginny standing next to her. Sitting amongst the various chairs strewn about the room were Mrs. Weasley, Bill, Fred, Neville, Terry Boot, and Mundungus Fletcher, as well as two faces Harry recognized, but couldn't remember their names.
Hermione's parents weren't there. Harry knew that upset her, but they couldn't leave their safe house. They had been attacked once and survived. Harry doubted they would survive a second attack.
Harry listened to Hermione and Ron say their vows to each other. They were simple, and not too mushy, thankfully. They were actually somewhat touching, and Harry inadvertently found himself looking at Ginny. After a minute, she seemed to sense his gaze and looked back at him with her twinkling brown eyes.
Damn it, she was beautiful. He didn't want to think like that, it would only lead to no good. But Harry couldn't help it. She was beautiful. And smart, and brave, and just so damn wonderful.
Harry forced himself to look away as Ron and Hermione touched wands together. Harry could still see Ginny out of the corner of his eyes, but he made himself focus on the couple, who now only had to kiss to cement their bond. Hermione was biting her smile, looking expectantly at Ron, who was looking terrified and thrilled at the same time. They stared at each other with so much love bursting through their eyes, Harry found he had to look away.
Was there nowhere safe to look tonight?
Harry was happy for them, of course, but there was also something else he felt. He was bitter. He knew he was, and he felt ashamed because of it. Harry knew he would never have anything like what Ron and Hermione had. He just knew he wouldn't. He couldn't, for reasons Harry had gone over time and time again in his head. He was too busy with the war effort, and he was most likely going to be killed in the end with Voldemort. It wouldn't be fair to who he fell in love with, if he was able to find that non-existent person in the first place.
Although, a voice in the back of Harry's mind tried to remind him, maybe that person wasn't so non-existent. Maybe that person was closer than he thought. Harry looked down at his feet, feeling a bit warm in the face. He hastily pushed his glasses up his face, hoping those thoughts would be pushed back too. He told himself once again how unfair it would be to her.
Harry looked up again when the room burst into applause. It appeared the two had finally kissed. They hastily broke apart at the sound of cheers, both a bit red in the face. Hermione turned to face the gatherers.
"Well, you can go back to sleep now. Sorry we woke you up," she apologized softly.
"Nonsense, nonsense," Mrs. Weasley said, heading towards the newlyweds. She embraced them both. She was smiling, yet beneath the smile was something that seemed almost akin to pity or grief. "First, a toast or two in celebration. Accio." A tray of assorted tiny goblets filled with a red liquid came flying into the room. "It's not champagne, but it will do."
"Oh, you really don't have to," Hermione replied. Ron simply stood there mutely. He seemed too amazed for words, his eyes glued to Hermione in a shocked silence.
"I won‘t hear of that," Mrs. Weasley said, passing out the goblets. "Just a few words from the best man and maid of honour at the very least."
Harry plopped down on a chair in the empty living room feeling the remnants of the red wine pulse through his veins. Fred had just gone upstairs, leaving Harry as the last ‘guest.'
However, just as he closed his eyes to welcome sleep, he heard the stairs creaking, the telltale sign someone had come back down. Harry reopened his eyes to see Ginny re-enter the room, now dressed in pyjamas that consisted of yellow shorts and a blue tank top. On her feet were a pair of blue socks with tiny Snitches flying around them.
"Monty," Harry greeted her.
She smiled and raised her eyebrows. "James." Ginny sat down in the chair next to Harry's. "What are you doing down here?"
"Ron and Hermione are in the room I sleep in. There's no way I'm going back up there tonight," explained Harry, and Ginny laughed. "What about you?"
"Can't sleep," she said, stifling a yawn. She brought her knees to her chest and started rubbing her bare legs as if to warm them up.
"Cold?" Harry asked.
Harry stood up and took off his robe. He had thought to throw on trousers and a shirt earlier, thankfully. He stepped toward Ginny and wrapped the robes tightly around her figure, feeling her gaze fall upon him. He immediately felt a warmth spread from his neck up his face, and he wished he hadn‘t let himself get so close to her. Yet, he couldn't move away. He fixed his own gaze at a spot just above her shoulder.
The way she looked at him sometimes was intoxicating, and it made it hard to control himself. Out of the corner of his eyes he could tell she was giving him that particular look right now. It was warm and inviting, almost expectant, and bloody irresistible. Harry quickly shut his eyes so he wouldn't have to see it.
He didn't want to feel this way about Ginny; he didn't want to feel this way about anyone. However, with every encounter, Harry found it was becoming more and more difficult to deny his growing passion for this particular redhead.
Harry tried to move away and go back to his the safety of his chair; there he could fall into a slumber and think about Ginny without any consequences. However, he was frozen. He didn't want to move away, and he didn't.
Gripping her shoulders tightly, Harry inhaled deeply. She smelt amazing, as usual. Like honey. Harry's entire body tensed, unwilling to move away though his brain was screaming that he should return to his own chair, to safety.
He forced his eyes open, hoping that this would shake him from this trance. However he found he was staring straight into Ginny's deep brown eyes. At her gaze, Harry's body began to relax as a warmth started to flow through him like water. Her eyes were mesmerizing and he felt himself inexplicably drawn towards them, knowing full well that he should stop.
The problem was, he couldn't.
Harry, too exhausted to fight what felt so right… so natural, gave in. He felt Ginny shudder slightly as their lips brushed softly against one other. His hands rose and cupped Ginny's chin, pulling her deeper into the kiss. She moaned slightly as Harry opened his mouth and ran his tongue slowly across her top lip.
He did not object when she pulled him onto the chair with her.
Hermione lay on her side next to Ron's sleeping body, watching him. He looked so peaceful when he slept. Especially tonight, with that silly grin still plastered on his face even through sleep. It looked like nothing could touch him.
Hermione wished he really was that invincible. It would make her life easier, to have that sort of comfort. She knew this could all be over in a heartbeat. They both knew that all too well. It had been a major reason for their getting married two hours ago. They didn't know how long this would last, and they would make the most of it for as long as they could.
Hermione hoped they could make the most of it for a very long time.
The sound of Ron's deep breathing was soothing and Hermione was very content to just watch him sleep. Not just content, but happy. She was lucky to be able to do this. Others were not so lucky, she knew. Hermione let her eyes fall onto Ron's face. She knew that face better than she knew her own. His strong chin. The curve of his lips. His long nose was splashed with freckles, freckles she had memorized long ago, dotted his pale face. She carefully brushed a stray lock of hair from his face, the red glistening in the light of the full moon.
The full moon.
Hermione looked out the window and thought of Remus, who was now undoubtedly locked away for his transformation. Her heart went out to him, and she desperately wished things could have been different for him. She couldn't even imagine how much he had suffered. And still did suffer.
Moony, the last Marauder. The only one who hadn't died or betrayed them.
Professor Lupin, who had helped her so much during the last few years. He had taken all three of them, Harry, Ron and Hermione, under his wing when they joined the Order of the Phoenix.
Remus, who had become her friend. Remus, who lost his best friend not just once, but twice.
Hermione wanted to scream out against the injustice placed upon that man.
She hadn't wanted to get married during a full moon. She wanted Remus to be there. But she had wanted a lot of people to come to her wedding who hadn't been able to be there.
She sighed and wiped the silent tears from her cheeks. That would have to wait for when this war was won; Hermione refused to believe the outcome could be anything but victorious anymore. She was married to Ron now, which was what mattered. There would be time for celebration later, as now was not the time for such frivolities.
Forcing her eyes away from the glistening window, Hermione looked back down at Ron. Her husband. She shivered at that thought. Her husband. She had trouble believing her own luck sometimes. She had found the only man she knew she would ever love at such an early age. Although it took a very long time before they became romantically involved, once they had, they never looked back.
She had almost lost him several times, more so in the past few years. And he had almost lost her. She knew in her heart what they had done earlier that night was right. This marriage couldn't have waited another day. Not when either one of them could be gone in a few hours.
She wrapped her arm around Ron's bare stomach and pulled herself close to his warm body, her head snuggling into the nook of his neck. She felt him move at this sudden tight embrace, one of his calloused hands quickly reaching for her shoulder.
"Hermione," Ron mumbled, sleep entangled in his voice. Hermione couldn't hold back the sob that escaped her. Immediately Ron's grip on her tightened as he asked, concerned, "What's wrong?"
Hermione only tightened her grasp on her husband before whispering, "I love you, Ron."
Ron seemed to tense in confusion momentarily before kissing her forehead gently. "I love you too."
Bright. Much too bright.
Ginny eased her eyes open, shielding them with her hands. Her neck hurt. She brought a hand to her neck and let things slowly come into focus.
She was still in the chair she fell asleep in, although Harry was no longer there. She wondered if last night had been a dream.
The sun was just peaking in through the window, directly into her eyes. It must be early. Ginny leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees. Stretching her neck and rubbing her eyes, Ginny listened for any noise to signify she wasn't the only one awake. Seconds later, sure enough, a banging noise emitted from the kitchen. Ginny stretched up and made her way slowly to the door.
"Mum? S'going on?" Ginny mumbled, entering the cluttered kitchen.
"Oh, Ginny, dear. Did I wake you?" Mrs. Weasley asked, fumbling with a used coffee filter.
"No." Ginny glanced over at the clock. "Mum, it's six, what are you doing…" Ginny's eyes noticed their grandfather clock, the one that said what each family member was doing. Harry and Hermione had been added to it four years ago, and presently, Harry's face was under ‘travelling.'
"Where'd Harry go?" Ginny interrupted whatever it was her mother had begun to say.
"He didn't say exactly, but he seemed to be in a bit of a rush." Mrs. Weasley sighed, helplessly. "I did make him take a coffee and toast, though. Here, Ginny."
"Thanks," Ginny accepted the tea her mum had just offered and sat down at the table. So, Harry had left without saying goodbye. Without saying a word about what happened last night. And now he was gone, and she didn't know when she would see him next. Ginny silently cursed him.
She wanted to talk to him. Why had he suddenly felt the need to kiss her like that? Ginny raised her hand to her slightly sore lips. What had that been about? They hadn't done much more than just kiss. Although Ginny was sure that they would have if they had a bit more privacy than the living room at the Burrow. She had felt the way his body reacted to hers, and knew her own body would have readily complied had they been somewhere a bit more private.
Ginny didn't want to think about what would have happened if they had been elsewhere. That would've left her in too much of a confused state, as if she wasn't confused enough.
A sudden knocking at the door broke Ginny away from her thoughts.
"Hello? Is anyone there," came a familiar voice.
"Michael! Come in, come in," Mrs. Weasley said opening the door. "Would you like coffee? Tea?"
Michael Corner shook his head and entered the kitchen. "No, thank you Mrs. Weasley. I'm here officially. I need to talk to Ginny." He turned to face Ginny at that moment. "Oh, good," he said smiling faintly.
"Michael, hi. You look like hell," Ginny commented as he sat down across from her. There were dark circles under his eyes, and his robes were filthy. He looked as though he hadn't slept in a week.
"Ginny," Mrs. Weasley scolded, wiping her hands on her worn apron.
"Yeah, well. You don't look too great yourself." Michael smiled weakly.
"Thanks," Ginny said sarcastically.
Mrs. Weasley huffed suddenly. "Coriander," she muttered. Ginny must not have heard correctly.
Nodding, and looking quite dejected, her mum grabbed a small basket. "Don't say ‘what,' Ginny; its rude. We need some coriander for breakfast," she said, almost to herself. "I'll be out in the garden, Ginny. Michael."
Ginny watched her mother walk out of the kitchen door. Her mum had never taken Ginny's induction into the Order well, and Ginny figured this sudden need for fresh coriander had something to do with that. Usually Mrs. Weasley would find some excuse to not bear witness to Ginny‘s briefings of her missions. Yet, somehow, she would always know what Ginny was doing, and find a way to fuss incessantly over her.
Sighing, Ginny took a sip of her tea before looking back up at Michael and getting down to business. "What have you got?"
"I just came from Grimmauld Place. I told them what I know, and we put together a team for this. This is big. Really big. It could bring down Bellatrix and Rudolphus Lestrange, among others," he began. Three years ago, Michael became a Death Eater in an attempt to become a spy for the Order. Within a year, he had gained access to Voldemort's inner circle of Death Eaters. In the past two years Michael aided in the capture of ten Death Eaters in one way or another.
"The Lestranges? Michael! That's brilliant. How?" The Lestranges had been high targets of the Order ever since their escape from Azkaban seven years ago.
"They'll be in a small town in Ayr for a few days. I haven't been able to find out exactly what they'll be doing out there, but I don't think it's anything serious. They'll be staying at a Muggle inn starting tomorrow." Michael looked Ginny in the eye. "This is it, I know it." Michael pulled his wand and started conjuring up several maps.
Ginny thought for a moment. "Why are they staying at a Muggle inn?"
Looking her grimly in the eye, Michael said, "My guess is that they want to make a holiday out of torturing Muggles. Sick bastards." Michael shuffled through the maps. "Hermione and Ron are here as well, right? They're going to be a part of this raid as well, so they need to listen to this."
Ginny nodded and the importance of this mission struck her like a knife. "They're both upstairs" she said rising from her chair. "Hang on, I'll get them. You won't believe what they did last night."
A/N: I never planned to write this chapter the way it turned out, but Ron and Hermione gave me little choice. They told me they wouldn't take any more of my crap, and forced me to write their marriage ceremony at wand-point. Who was I to argue?
Big thank yous and hugs to Aggiebell, Gaineewop, Lady G, and my lovely beta, Jalyn.