It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, and the room was filled with bright, summer light. Outside, it was unusually warm, perfect for a day at the beach. They hadn't been to the beach for what seemed like years, as it wasn't safe to be out on the coastline while Death Eaters were prowling about and the future was uncertain. But all that had changed in March. And now, here she was, four days before her seventeenth birthday, getting ready to go to that long-forgotten piece of English coastline with the one person with whom she was desperately in love. His black hair and green eyes had pulled her under his spell so many years before, and there was nothing she could do to fight it. Harry Potter had captured her heart, much like he captured a Golden Snitch on the Quidditch pitch, ending all of the meaningless games between them, awarding him her heart, and he, hers.
Ginny knew that she loved Harry with all her heart, and she was relatively certain that he loved her right back. Actually saying those words, however, was turning out to be more difficult than she thought. She didn't want to just come right out and say it. She also didn't want to say it in the middle of their ever-increasingly passionate snog sessions that they managed to sneak in during Harry's weekend visits to The Burrow. If she did that, she decided, he might get the wrong idea and think that's all she cared about, and it wasn't. She loved all of him, from his uncooperative hair to his quirky smile to his guarded vulnerability. In her mind, there would be no other bloke for her.
She finished putting her things in the beach bag and looked in the mirror. How am I supposed to bring this up? she thought to herself. What if he doesn't feel the same way? Ginny finished braiding her hair and fastened it with an elastic. She stuck her tongue out at her reflection and wondered if she should wear a different bathing suit. Hermione convinced her that the bikini she had on looked wonderful and still was proper. Mum hates this one, she told herself. But she had to admit it did look good on her. She took off the T-shirt and assessed herself. The periwinkle blue was a nice colour for her since she'd got tan over the course of the summer. The top didn't show too much but was still sexy, not too easy to remove. Her eyes went to her stomach, which was fluttering with butterflies. The bottom of the suit covered what it was supposed to without making her look like one of those women on a Brazilian beach.
"Get a grip, Ginny!" she told her reflection in an annoyed tone. "It's just the beach with Harry." She smiled. Thoughts of lying on the beach with the waves crashing against them filled her mind with images she hoped would come true. I love him. I just need to tell him. It's that simple.
"Ginny! Come on!" she heard Ron bellow from downstairs. "Hurry up!"
"Coming!" She stepped back into her shorts and pulled her shirt over her head before heading down the stairs, carrying her sandals in her hand and the bag slung over her shoulder.
She was greeted at the bottom of the stairway by Harry's wide eyes and lecherous smile and by her brother's flabbergasted appearance, mouth open and all.
"You look great!" Harry gathered her in his arms and kissed her with just a hint of what he was feeling. "New?" She blushed. "I like it." He kissed her again.
"Come on, you two. I don't want to watch your little soap opera right now." Ron shook his head at his sister.
"Ron, Hermione has the same suit, and I recall you having much the same reaction to it as Harry did."
"Well, that's different. I know what's underneath." Hermione punched his shoulder.
"So does that mean I can, too?" Harry asked with a hopeful look on his face.
"Why do you think we're going with you?" Ron replied.
"So I can drive the damn car while you and Hermione can snog in the back seat." Harry got his own punch in the shoulder. "Ouch!"
"I swear, you two are...." For once, Hermione was at a loss for words.
"What are we?" Harry asked. "I'm curious to know what you think Ron and I are. Enlighten me."
"Walking testosterone! Come on, Ginny. You and I can sit in the back this time." The girls ran out of the house, laughing as they ran to the car to wait for Harry and Ron.
Ginny opened the door, and she got inside. "It's a little crowded back here. How do you do it in here?"
"Ron does a fabulous Enlargement Charm," Hermione replied dreamily. They both laughed again as Ron and Harry got to the car and loaded up the boot.
Ginny loved Harry's car. She was a little confused as to why he needed one, but he explained that he wanted a little bit of Muggle in his life, along with the fact that Dudley was always waxing poetically about his dream car, and now Harry could actually afford to have something Dudley didn't. The car was a sleek, red model with a moon roof that Harry had charmed to open up like a convertible. "Much more cost effective," he had claimed when Ginny questioned him about it. The radio played some great Muggle radio stations and had a nice assortment of CDs to play as well. She loved rock music and the old Big Band music her parents listened to on the Wireless. He was a good driver and was able to forge a pretty good driver's license, which was charmed to be undetectable.
"Shall we then?" Harry transfigured his glasses into sunglasses, started the engine and pulled away from The Burrow. He opened up the roof and let out a howl into the summer air as they sped away, going much too fast for the gravel road.
Ginny and Hermione put their arms in the air and howled in return, enjoying the wind on their faces. Ron rifled through Harry's CD collection and finally settled on his favourite hip-hop song. Harry groaned as the music began to thump with the bass Ron always liked to turn up.
"I hate that crap, Ron," Harry reminded him.
The trip took no time at all and was much more enjoyable than Apparating. The salty sea was palatable and fresh. Ginny got out of the car and was immediately scooped up by Harry, who twirled her around several times before setting her down on the soft sand and kissing her firmly on the mouth.
"Happy birthday!" Harry kissed her again.
"It's a bit early, you know." She watched his lips form a smile around those beautiful teeth.
"Well, I can't be here for that, now can I, when I have classes all week." He gathered her close, and she sank into the warmth of his arms.
"How am I going to handle school without you? Hogsmeade weekends are still up in the air; I'll just die, Harry," she said in a lost, little voice.
"No, you won't, Gin. You've faced stronger stuff, by far." He lifted her chin so she was looking up at him. "I made Remus and Tonks promise to keep a close eye on you for me."
"Feeling a bit protective, Harry?"
"Yeah, also wasn't hard since he's your Head of House now."
"You're kidding! When'd that happen? McGonagall said she could do it still."
"Well, she'd rather have someone else do it now." He picked her up in his arms and spun around again, making both of them dizzy. "Where's your brother? He challenged me to a game of chicken, and I won't let him back down!" He unceremoniously dropped Ginny near the pile of items that Ron and Hermione had taken out of the car and left, unwatched, about ten feet away.
Well, she thought, at least he didn't drop me in the sea. She busied herself arranging the blanket several times and sat down to think. She rummaged around in the cooler for a bit and found one of the fizzy drinks Harry called Coca-Cola. She drank her pop while she studied some shells she found and soon realized they'd been gone for twenty minutes.
Where the hell are they? Ginny got off the blanket and shook it, removing the sand. After folding the blanket neatly, she began to follow three sets of footprints that led her toward the beach. They turned left around a sand dune, down a small hill and led her to a large, sandy spot where she was greeted by a loud chorus shouting, "Surprise!"
Her hands flew to her face. She hadn't expected this at all. Harry stood a few feet from her with a satisfied look on his face. He closed the distance quickly, and she jumped into his arms and wrapped her legs around his waist, kissing him over and over again, not caring who saw them. She only saw Harry, and she loved him. Whistles and hoots from the others brought them both back to the real world, and he let go of her, causing her to slide down his body. Ron didn't look amused at all. Too bad. This is my party!
Luna had brought a cake that looked surprisingly normal with chocolate icing and red letters spelling out "Happy Birthday, Ginny" on the top. It was delicious and was soon devoured by the horde. Ron and Harry had carried over their things and mingled the contents with bottles of Butterbeer, fizzy drinks, wine, ale and even some bottles of Firewhiskey, which Neville had stolen from his grandmother's liquor cupboard.
Ron turned on Dean's portable CD player, which was running off of Muggle batteries, and cranked up the music, bringing everyone to their feet. The party was soon in full swing, and she felt like she was in heaven, she was so happy.
As the day wore on, a huge bonfire was built in the sand, and they roasted frankfurters, which were soon a crowd favourite. Dean started a game of cricket, but Harry and Ron decided to use their brooms to field instead of running.
"That's not how you play, Ron," Dean told him. "You need to chase the ball."
"Well, then, where's the fun in that?" Ron shook his head.
As the sun began to set, they gathered around the fire, listening to the music and talking about their plans for jobs, school or wherever life was taking them. Ginny settled back into Harry's warm arms, feeling safer than she had for years. She noticed Dean walk over with a package in his hands.
"Here, Ginny, happy birthday." Dean looked at her for an awkward moment and handed her a small package wrapped in sparkly paper. Harry excused himself and walked over to talk to Seamus and Neville.
"Thank you, Dean." She opened the package and found a small pin of a Golden Snitch. "It's beautiful." Ginny didn't know if she should hug him or not. They'd been so distant and awkward for the past year.
"Glad you like it. Padma helped me pick it out for you." The dark-haired twin of Parvati strolled over at that moment and put an arm around him. She smiled at Ginny.
"You have excellent taste, Padma." She hugged them both and turned around to find the Creevey brothers behind her.
Snap! Colin took her picture before she could prepare herself. That's not going to be a good picture.
"Happy birthday, Gin!" Colin handed her a present from the both of them and strode off toward the beverages.
Ginny was in the middle of the crowd for what seemed like hours. She'd got new Quidditch gloves from Ron and Hermione, a book of Shakespearean sonnets from Parvati and Lavender, and a potted plant from Luna and Neville. She really didn't understand Colin and Dennis' gift of a locket for her Pygmy Puff, Arnold, but she appreciated it none the less. But all she really wanted though was to be alone with Harry.
She looked around the crowd of her friends but couldn't find him. Ron was standing with Seamus, Neville and Justin Finch-Fletchley, and she approached the group.
"...moving in with Harry?" She caught the tail end of Seamus' question to Ron.
"Have you seen Harry?" she asked them.
"Uh, yeah. He's over there with Hermione and Lavender," Ron answered, looking a little distracted. He obviously was enjoying his fame as a new Keeper recruit for Puddlemere United.
She left the group and headed over to Harry, putting her arms around his waist as she got there. He smells like salt and sand, she said to herself. Lavender and Hermione looked at them and quietly took their leave.
He slowly turned around and looked at her with his amazing green eyes. "Enjoying the party?" She nodded. "Good. I've got one surprise for you yet." He took her hand in his and led her off to a quiet spot near a cliff. "Have a seat," he said as he sat down and pulled her down with him. She landed softly in the sand beside him.
"I haven't received my present yet," she told him softly. She leaned in and started to kiss him slowly and warmly. To her chagrin, he pulled away.
"Not yet. You get your present first. Or do you want to work for it?" He pulled her in for a kiss, which she stopped.
"You know how much I love presents, Harry. Come on, don't make me wait or I'll tickle you," she warned.
"Depending on where you tickle me, that's not exactly a threat, is it?" He caught the wrist that was heading toward his shoulder for a quick and playful smack. "Patience, patience."
"Fine, then. Oi, woman, settle down!" He smiled that smile that made her insides just melt. He reached back and pulled out a little package from his rucksack that somehow got over here. She snatched it out of his hand in a move worthy of his Quidditch career.
She tore off the wrapping paper to find a silver and gold frame around her favourite picture of the two of them, taken at the party her family threw for him, Ron and Hermione when they finished Hogwarts. Harry had his arms around her in the picture, and she kept looking up at him, as if waiting for him to kiss her. She had seen this frame in a shop in Hogsmeade but couldn't afford it. A tear slid down her cheek as she looked up.
"I love it, Harry." He bent down and kissed her softly, and she could taste the Butterbeer on his lips and smell the salt in his hair.
"Look on the back," Harry instructed.
She turned it over and found an engraving that read: "Ginny—You are the power that I knew not, and my reason for doing it all. Love, Harry." She smiled as her tears faded.
"I love you, Harry." There, I've said it. She took a deep breath and waited for an answer. She saw him swallow and continue to stare at her. It felt like hours had passed before he spoke.
"I love you, too, Ginny, with all my heart." She never felt such joy in her life until then and hoped this moment could be frozen in time. She saw tears in his eyes, too, and reached up to wipe them away. Their lips met, and their mouths opened with a new fervour that only love could bring. He pulled her tightly to him, and she climbed into his lap and wrapped her legs around him again.
Their hands went to each other's hair, and her braid came out and tumbled around his hands. She knew he loved her hair, and kept using the same flowery shampoo just for him. His right hand moved around to the front of her and hesitated at her bikini top. He broke away from her, breathing heavily.
"Not now, Ginny. Your party is right over there." She could see he was having a difficult time controlling himself, but he never looked hotter than he did right now.
"'Okay," she said, not believing that the sound came from her mouth. She was filled with desire, and it showed in her voice. She swallowed hard and hugged him, putting her head against his chest. "Are you all right?"
He looked at her and laughed. "Well, yeah! Any guy would be after a kiss like that!" He kissed her nose. He smiled again and helped her up from the sand as she clutched the frame. Together they walked hand in hand back to their friends.
"Where were you two?" asked Neville. His eyes quickly fell to the ground, turning red in the cheeks.
"Sorry, Neville. Harry just gave me my present." She squeezed Harry's hand. "What's going on?"
"Harry! Ginny!" The three of them turned to see Ron coming towards them. "Oh, hey, Neville. You've got to see this! Dean's pissed off his arse, and he's singing love songs to Padma. Bloody sod needs to get home."
The four of them reached the group, and there was Dean, wearing nothing but his short swim trunks, mooning over Padma Patil like a lovesick puppy, singing an old love song. He held the empty bottle of Firewhiskey in one hand and held Padma close to him. Too close.
"Looks like she's enjoying it, doesn't it?" Harry asked, resting his chin on Ginny's head and squeezing her around the waist. Ginny felt safe there in his arms. She closed her eyes, never wanting this day to end.
As the sun disappeared into the horizon, people started to leave, bringing an end to Ginny's good mood. This was the best birthday ever, she thought. She looked over at Harry and saw him look over at her from over the top of his glasses as he bent down to pick up some empty bottles. He looked so cute.
"Thanks, for coming. The cake was great." Ginny gave Luna a quick hug, and she and Neville strode toward the cliffs hand in hand. Harry and Ron came up on either side of her. "When did that happen?"
"You mean you missed that one?" Ron looked shocked as he looked at her. "He asked her out at the beginning of July, right, Harry?"
"Yep," Harry added. "Never seen him so happy. Or so confident."
"Or so randy!" Ron and Harry laughed.
"You two are terrible! Do we have to go?" She squeezed Harry's hand and held him back as Ron took off toward Hermione. "Can't you get a Time-Turner, and then we can just keep doing this over and over again?"
A small smile formed on Harry's mouth. "Wish I could, Gin, but I don't like messing with time. It's freaky." He brushed her hair off her face and tucked it gently behind her ear. "Had a good time?" His hand gently caressed her cheek.
"The best. Thanks." She just stared at him, getting her fill to satisfy her until he came to visit the next weekend.
"You are so welcome." He bent down and kissed her gently on the lips, taking his time, sensing she didn't want to leave. "We better go. Ron's standing over by the car, trying to figure out how to use the horn."
"Didn't you disable that?" She giggled. "He doesn't know that, does he?"
"No," Harry began, "but Hermione looks a little anxious to get in the back, if you know what I mean."
Hermione was trying to make Ron kiss her and had practically shoved him on the bonnet of the car. "She drank way too much," Ginny observed.
"Who do you think gave it to her? He is SO not sitting in the backseat. I just cleaned the upholstery from the last time. Race ya!" He took off toward the car, leaving her in his dust.
"Unfair, Potter!" Ginny huffed as she reached the car, sliding into the backseat before Hermione could say anything.
"Ginny! Come on!" Hermione had Ron's hands all over her body, and all Ginny could do was shake her head and smile. "You are so mean!"
Hedwig landed in the window with a note around her leg and cooed softly into Ginny's open window.
"Morning, Hedwig." She reached up and nuzzled the white owl's beak and began untying the note. She then reached over to her bedside table and gave her one of the owl treats she kept there, just for this purpose. Hedwig flew to the top of Ginny's bureau and settled in for a nap.
Ginny snuggled back down into the covers and opened Harry's morning note. She smiled again as she saw his scraggly handwriting.
Today I have Potions for Detection, and it's a lot better than it was with Snape. Smith actually allows mistakes, and then we need to perfect our process before the next class.
I miss talking to you. I miss sitting in front of the fire with you. I miss everything about you. I hate that training started a whole month before Hogwarts and our time was cut short.
How are you? Did your mum get on your case because we were on the Floo for so long? You really need to get a phone. I would have thought your dad would have had one by now.
Did you get your Hogwarts letter yet? See if you can do your shopping alone on Saturday and then, maybe, stay here and I can take you to the station. My schedule is light Monday and Tuesday, so I can skive off just to be with you. Tell your mum I'll be good.
Send Hedwig back before lunch.
He started sending her notes every morning, starting on her birthday, and she couldn't think of a better way to start the day. Ginny opened the drawer of the table and added the note to the pile. She shook her head at the thought that even though he came to visit her every weekend, he still managed to write to her first thing after he woke up. She wondered what it would be like to wake up looking at his face as he slept, to watch him wake up and then kiss him as the sun crept in through the windows. She smiled again at the thought of spending the weekend with Harry at his house but had a sinking feeling that her parents wouldn't let her. Ron wouldn't want her there, either. She was sure she and Harry wouldn't get much privacy anyway, with Ron living there until Quidditch season started in October.
"Ginny! Owl for you!" her mother called from downstairs.
Ginny looked at the clock and saw it was only seven thirty. Damn my family of early risers. I hate waking up before nine. She threw back the covers and gave Harry's picture a kiss and gazed at the picture he gave her for her birthday. Putting an elastic in her hair, she set off down the stairs and into the kitchen.
"Morning, dear," said her mother, giving her a strong cup of coffee. "Hogwarts letter." Ginny took the heavy envelope from her and sat down on the sofa, curling her legs under her. It was the typical letter, but toward the bottom, there was a new paragraph.
"Mum, there's a Winter Solstice Celebration this year! Professor McGonagall is much more festive now. Oh, I hope Harry can go!" Her mind raced back to the Yule Ball of her third year; Harry looked incredible in his new dress robes.
"Well, won't that be nice!" she said without looking up. "Oh, dear." Ginny looked up and saw a strange look on her mother's face. She was holding her own letter in her hand.
"What is it, Mum?" She got up and stood beside her.
"Charlie wrote. He's getting married." She sat down heavily in the chair.
"What?" Ginny took the letter from her mother's hands and read the letter herself. Yep. Charlie and his live-in, Amanda, were getting married in January. "Wait, Mum, it says a baby's coming in February!" There goes all hope of me staying with Harry, she thought.
"What? Let me see!" Her mother took the letter from her and began to reread. "Arthur! Get down here!"
Not one to want to witness a row between her parents, she refilled her coffee cup and headed back up to her room. She quickly dressed and took her coffee and a book out into the garden, sitting on the bench. The weather was wonderful, and it looked like it would turn into another glorious day. Inside, however, was a different story, and she decided it was a wonderful day to be outside.
"Harry Potter's!" She threw some Floo powder in the fireplace and sat in front of the fireplace eating an apple while waiting for Harry. "Harry! Where are you?" The door of the room closed, and he walked into view wearing tracksuit bottoms and a towel. "Nice outfit." Real nice.
"Shower. So what's up?" He dried his hair with the towel and threw it into the corner. He is such a slob.
"Charlie's getting married and having a baby." She took a bite of her apple and watched the look on Harry's face change. Priceless.
"You're kidding. Does Ron know?" He looked out of the room and shut the door.
"I don't know. You want to tell him?"
"Rather not. He's in a mood tonight."
"Lovely. I can just imagine."
"So tell me." Harry pulled a cushion off a chair and lay down on it. "I'm all ears."
"They're getting married in January, and the baby is due the first half of February." She took another bite of her apple.
"No way. How're your parents taking it?" he said, his eyes growing wide.
"Not well. This was the first they'd heard of it, and Mum was livid. She almost Apparated to Sweden to confront him. Dad calmed her down, and they were on the Floo with him for about two hours. That's why I'm late. After this, I'd be surprised if I ever get to be alone with you anymore. They brought up Ron and Hermione, too." She grinned wickedly.
"Really." He slid closer to the hearth. "What'd they say?" he asked, returning her wicked grin.
"Okay," she whispered, "Mum said something about having Ron locked in his room until he decides to grow up and marry Hermione." She stifled a laugh. "She also thought that Moody could brew up some kind of potion to take away his libido. Like forever." She looked over her shoulder to check for her parents. "But Dad was the voice of reason and told her they hadn't perfected that particular potion yet."
Harry fell back on the floor laughing. "Oh, that's what his mood was all about. Ron had a Floo call. I bet it was your folks."
"Yeah, I'm surprised they haven't Floo'd you yet."
"Let's hope not. Your mum can be rather persistent," Harry reminded her.
"Tell me about it."
"Oh! I got the room done." Harry was remodelling the drawing room.
"Really? Out of the way, Potter." Ginny slid to the inner edge of the fireplace, and her head was inside the old drawing room, only it wasn't the drawing room anymore. He had moved Mrs. Black's old bed opposite the fireplace and put new curtains on the canopy. A wardrobe was on the wall between the French doors and the bathroom door. Armchairs were in front of the fireplace with a little table between them. "Impressive. Well done, my man."
"Well, I had a little help from Hermione. She picked out the, uh, bed stuff." His face began to flush a nice shade of pink. "Dobby brought Kreacher over to help out, too. He wasn't too happy that we were able to remove Mrs. Black's portrait from the wall. God, it's so much quieter around here now."
"You got it off! Why didn't you tell me?" Thank Merlin she's out of there!
"Oh, sorry. Remus met an American Auror who gave him a new spell to try, and he took the damn thing off a couple days ago. Sorry I forgot to mention it. I know how much you loved her." He chuckled.
"Thanks. She was a bit of an annoyance, wasn't she?"
"A bit. Your understatement blows me away, Gin." Harry turned to the door, and Ron came into view.
"Hi, Ginny." He looked rather sour. "You 'bout done?" He threw himself onto the bed. "Hey, how come you get the comfortable mattress?"
"Ron, it's my house, and when you start cooking and paying rent, you can have a better mattress, too."
"What's the matter, Ronniekins?" Ginny asked sweetly. "Did Mummy and Daddy have a little talk with you?" Harry joined in her laughter.
"Shut it, sister." He got up and sat next to Harry. "Charlie and father just don't fit together real well for me yet."
"Or was it Mum's threat to chemically castrate you with a potion?"
"Oh, that's so funny," he said sarcastically. "It's your turn next, you know." He pointed at his sister. "Fred and George got it after me, and I think Harry's on the list, too."
"Hey! I, at least, keep my trousers on!" Ron threw a towel at him.
"But do Mum and Dad know that?"
"Ron! Don't you go lying to them! You know I haven't had sex with Harry!"
"I do now. Thanks for reassuring me." He smiled broadly.
"You vile little Niffler!" Her temper rose, and Harry was noticeably quiet. Too quiet. "Harry! Say something!"
"What am I supposed to say? You want me to lie to him?" He was starting to laugh now. "But in my dreams we have. You want me to tell those?"
"NO!" Ron and Ginny yelled at the same time.
"Fine, fine. I guess I'll just have to treasure them all by myself."
"Ginny! I need to speak with you!" Mrs. Weasley called from the kitchen.
"Wonderful. This will be fun. Good night, Ron."
"Whatever. Mum scared Hermione so bad she left. Yeah, it'll be a great night." He left the room, leaving the doors open.
"Well, have a good chat. I love you."
"I love you, too, Harry. I'll fill you in tomorrow." She pulled her head out of the fireplace and steeled herself for a wonderful talk with her parents.
"Thanks, Hedwig." The owl took its treat and went to its regular spot on top of the bureau. Ginny rolled onto her stomach and read this morning's note.
So how'd it go? Your parents, I hope, haven't sucked all the love out of you. Ron told me your mum was a bit miffed at Charlie and Amanda, but he did say that they were going to Sweden for the wedding.
So would you like to come over this weekend? I promise Ron will be nice. Besides, I would love to see the faces of everyone as we snog outside the Express. He didn't say anything about you getting to Hogwarts at all, though, and it is only twenty minutes away. We could take the car. Please, ask them. I finished the kitchen, too, and I wanted to save that one for in person. Don't make me beg. Have a good day, and Hedwig can stay there until you talk to them.
I love you,
Ginny tucked away the note and went back to sleep. Why does everyone I know get up so bloody early?
She got up an hour later and went down for her coffee. To her surprise, her father hadn't left for work yet.
"Morning, Dad. Hey, Mum." She gave them both kisses on the cheek and sat down at the table. They were both staring at her. "What?"
"I didn't think you'd be talking to us this morning," her father stated. "You weren't exactly happy with us last night."
"Ron briefed me on what his conversation was about, and this house isn't exactly sound proof, you know." She poured herself her coffee and grabbed a muffin.
"Yes, well, Charlie and Amanda would like us to visit them next week to talk about things. Then we need to talk to McGonagall about you missing the first few days...."
"No! I barely know Amanda, and I want to go to school! I haven't even bought my stuff yet. Please, don't make me go." Please, let me stay here. With Harry.
"Ginny, we can't leave you here."
"Mum, I'm seventeen, and I can take care of myself. I thought I'd proven that to you both." She looked from her dad to her mum, trying to decipher their expressions.
"So what would you do?" asked Mr. Weasley.
"Stay with Harry." Her reply was barely audible.
"What? After we talked to you last night? I really don't think it's appropriate, Ginevra," reproached Mrs. Weasley.
"Mum, come on! We haven't done anything!" She noticed her father's uncomfortable expression. "I thought you trusted me. I thought you trusted Harry, too. Do you honestly think we'd try anything after what you said? Ron already puts the fear of God into him when we're together, so it's most likely he'd be chaperoning anyway. If I go to Sweden, I won't be able to see Harry for months." She put on her best puppy-dog face. "Please."
"Arthur, help me out here." She looked at her husband and her daughter, waiting for an answer.
"Molly, she does have a point. Or two. I didn't get the impression from Charlie that he expected her to go. I trust both Harry and Ginny, but we do have to let them make their own choices." Ginny had never loved her father more than at this moment.
"Fine. You go to Diagon Alley on Saturday and then make sure you get on that train. I don't trust that car of his, Ginny." Ginny fairly leapt from her chair and embraced her mother.
"Thank you, Mum. Dad. I love you both!" She ran up the stairs to write Harry a note back.
She and Harry drove off Friday in his car, excited about spending four days together. He held her hand the entire drive to London.
"Damn, I hate traffic," Harry swore as he honked the horn at the car in front of him. "This is one thing that I wish didn't come with a car." He looked over at Ginny and saw that she had fallen asleep.
"Did you say something?" She blinked her eyes several times and realized where she was. "We there yet?"
"Almost. About three miles now."
"Oh. That was fast." She put in her favourite CD and tapped her foot to the music.
They pulled up in front of number twelve Grimmauld Place a little before eleven and got out. Harry got her trunk out of the boot and set it on the kerb. He looked both ways, waved his wand and his front door appeared in between the other two houses.
"I'm so tired. Driving takes a lot out of you." Ginny covered her yawn.
"Don't you mean sitting in the car? I was the one doing all the driving, you know. Here, hold the door so I can get the trunk." Once inside, he levitated the trunk upstairs, went around the corner, past the two bedrooms and took her things into his bedroom.
"Harry, aren't I staying in here?" She motioned to the room she usually shared with Hermione.
"You don't want to stay in here with me?" He looked so disappointed. "Those are both full of junk anyway."
"Fine, but Ron...." He stopped her with a kiss.
"Is at Hermione's tonight. I told him to bugger off and leave us alone tonight."
"But I told my parents that I'd behave."
"Ginny, nothing will happen that you don't want to happen."
"It's not that I don't want it to happen; it's just stopping that worries me." He took her hand and led her into the old drawing room.
Her eyes widened at the new look of the room. Seeing it from the fireplace didn't do it justice. The walls were painted a deep burgundy and had oak wainscoting underneath the dado rail. The massive window had dark blue brocade curtains that matched the ones on the bed, which was huge. She swallowed hard as she stared at the bed. This will be difficult, she thought. The duvet was blue and burgundy paisley print, and there were at least ten fluffy pillows on it. I love pillows, and he knows it.
"Wow. It's beautiful. Just don't let Mum see your little love nest. She won't care that the potion's not perfected yet." They grinned at each other.
"You hungry? I can show you the kitchen?"
"No, thanks. I'm just really tired, okay? Don't feel bad, Harry, really." Ginny kissed him quickly, and he looked better.
"That's all right. I've got some work to do for the days I'm missing, so I'll be up a little while anyway. Loo's through the pocket door, or the one upstairs has a tub." He started to turn red again.
"I know. I've been here before, just never alone. With you." She looked at him with wide eyes. What is he waiting for? Why won't he kiss me?
"Good night, Gin," Harry said, kissing her quickly on the lips, and went out the doors and down the stairs. She sat on the bed and took a deep breath. What am I doing? she asked herself. Why do I lose my head every time I'm with him? Just make it through four days, Ginny, and you'll be all right. She got up and opened her trunk, quickly removing her nightdress and dressing gown, then stopped. She held her nightdress up, examining it. Too sexy? Or too dowdy?
"Oh, stop it! Harry's a gentleman!" She went into the bathroom and changed. Back at the bed, she wondered what side to sleep on but just got in, taking a place near the right. The duvet was soft and cool, and she soon fell asleep.
She woke up, and the clock said it was after one. The light in the loo was on, and she heard Harry brushing his teeth. She sat up against the pillows and saw his pile of dirty clothes by the wardrobe. She turned away quickly and started to examine the paisley pattern of the pillowcase. The light turned off, and the door slid back into the wall.
"Oh. Did I wake you?" Harry was only wearing striped pyjama bottoms. He pulled back the covers and got into the bed.
"No." She snuggled back down into the covers and turned on her side toward him.
"Are you all right, Ginny? I get the feeling you're a little uncomfortable. I can sleep on the floor if you want."
She shook her head. She didn't know how to say what was on her mind. She bit her lower lip and closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. "So?"
"What's next?" She traced his lips with her finger.
"Sleep. Isn't that the next logical step?" She could tell he was lying.
"You've never been a good liar, Harry." Her finger went to his ear. "Are we going to lose our virginity tonight, or what?" Her words seemed like they sucked the air right out of his lungs.
"No! You want to?" He sat up quickly, his eyes wide as dinner plates. "No. The other rooms really are full of junk, and Ron's room is a disaster area. And I sold a lot of stuff from the other rooms. This wasn't a big seduction plan, Ginny, although it had crossed my mind." She opened her mouth to say something, but he put a finger on her lips to stop her. "But after my chat with your parents, it kind of put a damper on the situation." She laughed. He leaned over and kissed her gently. Oh, that feels good, she thought. Ginny opened her mouth and deepened the kiss, surprising herself in the process. He pulled her close into his chest and felt his hands burn through her nightdress. He began to fall on his back and pushed her away from him.
"This may be harder than I thought." He smiled and turned a light shade of magenta. "Can we just get some sleep?"
"You stay over there, then, Ginevra, okay?" She nodded her reply and moved over toward her side. "I love you."
"And I love you. No big seduction plans. Who are you trying to fool?" She rolled onto her side away from him and heard him laugh as she closed her eyes.
She woke up again at four and noticed that somehow, she had drifted to the middle of the bed and Harry's arm was around her waist, holding her next to him. Oh, that feels nice. She turned around to face him, managing not to move his arm, and took the opportunity to look at him.
His long, black lashes rimmed the eyes that showed every one of his feelings when he was awake. They were her favourite part of him, because they let her see everything, all the emotions, all the strength and all the pain that defined Harry Potter.
His mouth was partly open, and she listened to him breathe, sounding like waves against a beach, taking her back to her birthday party at the seashore. His lips. Oh, what his lips could do to her: thrill her, enflame her deepest desires, make her want to cry with happiness, and feel as if she was the only woman in the world.
She lifted the duvet off him and looked at his chest with curious eyes. He rolled over onto his back with a moan, giving her greater access to peruse his chest. She smiled at the small amount of chest hair Harry had, and was just itching to run her fingers over it. It was black and springy, and gave him a truly masculine look. She, of course, had seen her brothers' chests at home, but his was different, but good. They were red and hairy, while he, well, was not hairy. She laughed at her own little joke.
His arms were strong and starting to show signs of definition in the biceps. She felt safe in those arms and never doubted for a minute that they would always try to protect her. They were loving arms that, even though they had killed, were never raised in anger toward anyone else.
Then there was the scar, which had faded over time but was, none the less, his calling card. Even before people said his name, or looked in reverence at him, they saw the scar. She traced a finger over it, noticing the texture of the smooth skin. She hadn't expected it to feel that way; she thought it would be rough or at least a little bumpy. He had once hated the scar because of all the memories that came along with it, and the intense pain he had experienced because of it. But now, she thought he rather forgot about it and had stopped trying to cover it up with his hair.
His hair. What a mess! Despite his best efforts to coax it into submission, it disobeyed him at every turn. The growth slowed down quite a bit, and he could actually retain a haircut longer than three weeks, but it still was as unruly as ever. It no longer fell onto his face and hid those gorgeous green eyes of his.
It was amazing how relaxed he was, and she decided that he was beautiful. She remembered how he used to hold all of his tension in his face by clenching his jaw, furrowing his brow and squinting his eyes. She much preferred this version of Harry; he was able to just be himself and tell the rest of the world to bugger off and leave him alone. He was finally able to enjoy life and all that went along with it. He certainly deserved it. She wouldn't wish his burdens on anyone, not even Draco Malfoy.
She leaned forward and kissed him lightly on the lips, taking longer than she had intended. She opened her mouth and was shocked when Harry edged his tongue slowly into her mouth. He opened his eyes and moved his mouth across hers, tenderly exploring. She reached up and put her hands on his cheeks, rubbing her fingers across his rough face. He caressed her arms all the way down to her hands, sending little tingles up and down her spine. All too soon, he pulled away from her.
"Hi," he simply said. "Can't sleep?"
She shrugged her shoulders. "I was just looking at you."
"Really? Why?" His whispers reached into her soul.
"You're beautiful, Harry. I've always loved looking at you." He rolled his eyes at her statement. "No, really. You look so peaceful when you sleep. I was fascinated."
She started to inch closer to him, desperately wanting to kiss him and then some.
"Hey, stop it." He turned over to his bedside table and checked the clock. "It's not even five, Ginny. Go back to sleep. I'm tired. You at least slept most of the way over here." She laughed. "What was that for? I'm tired."
"Sorry, but it's just funny that a healthy eighteen-year-old boy would rather sleep than have some fun while his girlfriend's in bed with him." She started playing with his ear. "Ron would be shocked."
"No, Ron would be proud of me and ashamed of you," he corrected her. "I think if chastity belts were still in fashion, he'd get you one, Ginny." She scoffed at his comment as he batted her fingers away from his ear.
"Does he even know what they are?" She renewed the tickling of his ear.
"Oh, come on," he began, trying to defend Ron to his sister, "he's smarter than you think. Hermione HAS rubbed off on him a bit, you know." He grabbed her wrist. "Ginny. Stop doing that! How am I supposed to get any sleep while you're doing that?" He tried to hide the smile that was forming on his lips.
"So why fight it?" She moved over so that she was basically flat up against him.
"Oh, you are so bad, Ginevra." His smile widened. "But I promised your dad, and I don't fancy disappointing him."
"Don't tell him," she suggested, wiggling closer to him.
"I wouldn't, but he can read me like a book, Gin. I've never been able to lie to him, and I won't start now." He pushed her back to her side of the bed. "Go back to sleep!"
When Ginny finally awoke at nine, she saw Hedwig standing on the bed with a note on one leg and a flower on the other. Ginny smiled and untied them, softly ruffling the owl's feathers.
Good morning, Sunshine.
Don't keep me waiting down here in the kitchen too long.
She opened the door and went down the stairs to the kitchen, not believing what she saw once she was there.
"My God, Harry, it's fabulous!"
"Good morning to you, too." He rose from the chair and gave her a quick kiss. "Coffee?" She nodded and sat next to him at the table. "You like it?" he asked, tilting his head toward the kitchen.
"Wonderful. Hey, great coffee." She took another sip. "Where'd you get all this? It looks like the Grangers' kitchen."
"It is. They redid theirs, and I bought their old cabinets. I had them pick up the worktop for me, too. Maggie has great taste, and Edward's real handy with a drill." They both laughed. "No pun intended."
She looked around and admired the honey oak finish and the coolness of the granite worktop. She also noticed small appliances that weren't plugged into anything. "How'd you get those to work?" she asked, pointing at the coffeemaker and microwave.
"Something I learned last year from Flitwick. He's a genius, you know. Can charm anything to run without electricity." She'd never seen him so excited about a kitchen before.
"What's with you? When did you start to care about a kitchen? Don't tell me you cook now, too?"
"Since Ron eats more than you and I put together I kind of have to. Oh, by the way, he's coming back to go to Diagon Alley with us. So, you better get dressed." Ginny got up and kissed him like she did last night.
"Don't start, Gin," he told her. "He'll be here in about a half-hour."
September first came all too quickly, and soon Ginny was preparing to walk to Platform Nine ¾ and leave Harry. They drove over in his car even though it wasn't that far. She was almost tempted to tell him to keep driving. But she had promised her parents.
"Ready?" Harry took her hand, and they walked through the barrier onto the platform. The train stood before them, and the platform was bustling with activity.
"Harry! Ginny!" They looked up and saw Colin running toward them. He stopped and shook Harry's hand. "Here, I'll stow this for you, Ginny. You two take your time with the good-byes." They smiled their thanks and walked slowly toward the back of the train.
The whistle blew, and students began clamouring onto the train, and the parents of the tiny first-years began to cry as they sent off their babies. Ginny looked up at Harry again. "I'm such a mess, Harry. Let's just make it quick, okay?"
Harry bent down and kissed her hard, and his tears blended with hers. They forgot that they were in a train station and that hundreds of pairs of eyes were looking at them. She broke away and wiped his eyes, kissing him again lightly. She stepped onto the train and disappeared inside. She poked out her head from a compartment, shouting, "I love you, Harry Potter!"