Ginny nervously paced the small confines of her bedroom, her palms slick as she clenched and unclenched her fists. She could do this. She’d fooled her mum on numerous occasions with her ability to calmly look in her eye and lie. She’d learned from the twins that holding her temper was key. When she lost her temper, she also lost her head and blurted out entirely too much information. She just had to play it cool.
She was staying the night with Luna.
That’s all she had to say. Luna had even sent an invitation so that her mum could see it. She’d be away for the night, and the only part that was a lie was the fact it wouldn’t be with Luna. Her mum wasn’t a fool, and she’d give one of those piercing stares if Ginny talked too much. Ginny always felt compelled to talk when her mum gave her that look. It worked better than Veritiserum.
She wondered where her mum had learned to make that face. Ginny would bet some of these captured Death Eaters would spill their guts if her mum stared at them the way she stared at her children.
It was two days after Christmas, and The Burrow was much quieter and emptier once again. Charlie was still home, although he was out at the moment with some old friends. After Hermione had left for Australia to visit with her parents, Ron and Harry returned to Grimmauld Place. Her mum hadn’t wanted to let them go, insisting Harry would need looking after while he recovered, but the boys weren’t to be deterred. When Ginny went to visit, her mum had used the Floo to call every half hour to check on them, despite the fact Ron was also there. Her mum obviously didn’t trust his ability to chaperone.
It infuriated Ginny since Hermione was living there with Ron and Harry, and her mum didn’t seem to expect Harry to act as chaperone for them. The unfairness burned at her insides, licking at her temper. But she had to keep control.
Oddly, it was Ron’s offhand remark that Harry was having trouble with the stairs that convinced her mum to let her go. Undoubtedly, she was envisioning Harry sprawled at the bottom of the stairs — and given Harry’s track record, she had a point.
Ron was scheduled to work an early shift in the morning, however, so Harry would be quite alone. Her mum was under the impression one of his fellow trainees was coming to stay with him, and Ginny hadn’t corrected her.
Once she made it out the door, she’d be free until dinnertime the next day. Her mum would think she was at Luna’s. Even Harry thought she was spending the night with Luna. Ginny couldn’t wait to see the look on his face when she turned up at Grimmauld Place instead.
Harry was who she wanted, and she was tired of denying it. She was ready — at long last, she was ready. Still, she couldn’t help that her stomach was fluttering with nerves, and her dinner was threatening to make a reappearance. With a determined set to her chin, she closed her rucksack and slung it over her shoulder. Schooling her face, she calmly walked down to the kitchen.
Her mum wasn’t even there, and Ginny felt a flicker of annoyance that all her preparation had been for naught.
A knock at the door made her look up. Luna had her face pressed to the glass, oddly smooshing her nose and causing the glass to fog. Ginny pulled it open.
“Hi, Luna!” she said brightly. Luna had a way of putting her in a good mood.
“Hullo, Ginny. How was your Christmas?” Luna asked, glancing around the kitchen as if she’d never been there before.
“Eventful as always,” Ginny said breezily. “How about yours?”
“Mine was quiet. I don’t have all those brothers to cause so much drama. Daddy invited some friends, though, so I enjoyed it,” Luna replied. “One of his friends gave him a lead on where we can find another Snorkack horn. Daddy had one, but the Death Eaters destroyed it, so we’re leaving on Thursday to begin our search.”
Harry had told Ginny the story of visiting the Lovegoods and the exploding Erumpent horn, but Ginny thought it best not to mention it. Luna was doing her a great favour, after all.
“Oh, will you miss our New Year’s Eve party, then?” she asked instead. Despite Fleur’s pregnancy sickness, she’d still managed to help Harry plan a spectacular party to welcome in the New Year. A fresh start for all of them.
Luna nodded. “If we’re lucky.”
Ginny frowned, knowing Luna didn’t mean that the way it came out. Before she could reply, however, her mum finally entered the kitchen.
“Oh! Hello, Luna dear. How are you?” she asked.
“Fine, thanks,” Luna said, blinking owlishly.
Luna’s dreamy nature had always made her mum uncomfortable, the same way it did many people. Ginny could see it working now. Her mum was looking desperately for something to do with her hands. She lifted a plate from the counter.
“Would you care for a biscuit, dear?” she asked.
“No, thank you. We still have loads leftover from Christmas,” Luna said vaguely.
“Did you pack everything you need, Ginny?” Mum asked, directing her attention back to where she was comfortable.
“Yes, Mum,” Ginny said, feeling somewhat exasperated. After all, she wasn’t five. She gave her mum an impatient hug good-bye, and said, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“All right, girls. Have fun.”
Ginny and Luna walked to the Apparition point, and the next moment found themselves looking up at Luna’s crooked house.
“No problem,” Luna replied. “I’m certain you’ll cover for me when I want to sneak off with my boyfriend, too.”
“Er… d’you have a boyfriend then, Luna?” Ginny wasn’t certain what was going on between Luna and Simon. Luna was always so vague, but Ginny’s curiosity was killing her.
“No… but I will eventually. I have someone in mind,” she said.
“It wouldn’t be Simon Teevens, perhaps, would it?” Ginny asked in a sing-song voice.
“No,” Luna said, staring at her blankly. “Whatever gave you that idea?”
Ginny stared back, nonplussed.
“I’m not certain I’m ready to share everything with someone yet. I’m still learning about me,” Luna said.
“Whoever he is, he’ll be lucky to have you,” Ginny said, smiling.
Luna beamed. “It’s so nice to have girlfriends to talk about chatting up boys. It’s almost like we’re normal.”
“We are normal, Luna. Just — unusual things have happened to us,” Ginny insisted fiercely.
Luna nodded solemnly. “You should go, though. Harry must be eager.”
“He doesn’t even know I’m coming,” Ginny said, her nerves returning in a rush. “He’s still hurt, and I don’t want to leave him on his own for too long. His leg hurts him more than he’ll admit, and he keeps trying to get around without that walking stick. And Dean is dropping by tomorrow to begin painting, so someone needs to direct him to Teddy’s room.”
She stopped abruptly, aware she was babbling. Luna stared at her with a rather pitying expression.
“I don’t think Harry wants you there to worry or to direct Dean. I think he wants you there so he can get in your knickers,” Luna said matter-of-factly.
Ginny couldn’t help it. She gulped. Perhaps she should’ve taken a potion to steady her nerves.
“Don’t worry. I’m sure Harry will be gentle, and I’ve heard it can be highly enjoyable,” Luna said.
Ginny felt her face go scarlet and cursed her Weasley colouring. “Thanks for helping me with my parents, Luna. I hope you have a wonderful time on your holiday.”
“You don’t need to worry so much about what your parents will think. They had seven children. They must find sex highly enjoyable, too.”
Ginny reared back, horrified. “Don’t say that, Luna,” she cried, revolted. Oh, that was not the image she needed in her head before starting this journey. She shut her eyes tightly, trying to block it out, but it was no good. It was stuck there now.
Luna merely laughed. “Good-bye, Ginny,” she said as she strolled up the pathway toward her house.
“’Bye, Luna,” she said. Taking a deep breath, she Disapparated and appeared a moment later in London.
It was bitingly cold and windy in the city, the air far more bitter than it had been in Ottery St. Catchpole. Harry was able to Apparate directly onto the doorstep at Grimmauld Place so that he was within the wards and couldn’t be seen. Ginny wasn’t as confident with her precision, so she appeared in a small, dark alley a few doors down, out of sight of any Muggles. She’d only received her license a week before returning to Hogwarts, so she still hadn’t had a lot of practice with Apparition.
She secured her rucksack on her shoulder and quickly walked out to the street. The streetlights hadn’t yet come on, and the sky was streaked a dusky pink. She took a moment to appreciate the freedom of walking along the pavement. Several Muggles passed her, unaware, hurriedly on their way home from their various places of work. Ginny liked the anonymity of blending in amongst them.
She climbed the steps of number twelve and let herself inside. The wards were designed to let her in, so the doorknob turned as soon as she’d touched it. It was blessedly warm inside, so the Heating Charms were working, at least. Although most of the house was dark, the grand entryway gleamed as the light from the candle-lit chandelier reflected off the marble pillars and the grand mirror adjacent to the door.
Harry hated this spot, but Ginny actually liked it very much. It was so very different from The Burrow, and it made her feel elegant and grand every time she walked through. Pausing, she listened intently, ready to hide her bag should she hear her brother’s voice. The house was unusually quiet, however. She knew Ron had planned to go out and meet George after he and Harry had eaten dinner. Although he’d never admit it, Harry had been tired and seemed happy to use his bad leg as an excuse not to go out.
So, he was upstairs alone, unsuspecting, and she was here. This was it.
Despite her nerves, Ginny wasn’t second-guessing her decision to come. Her nerves came from the unknown rather than any concern about what she was about to do. After her discussion with Harry on Christmas Day, she knew there was no one else for her. Yes, he had his flaws, but who didn’t? He was a beacon for danger, and that was something she’d have to live with, but his bravery was part of what attracted her. He’d always stand up for what was right, even at great personal cost.
He’d been through so much, and he was such a good person despite it all. She was well-aware that he struggled with his own demons, but so did she. She wanted to be there for him as much as he’d been there for her. He was the only one who knew why the sound of dripping water or a rooster’s cry could make her shudder. He let her be strong and fierce without being intimidated by it, but also freely gave a hug or support without making fun of her for needing it.
She’d spent her whole life being babied and belittled by her brothers. Everyone felt the need to take care of little Ginny, even if she did everything in her power to show that she didn’t always want to be taken care of. Harry let her take care of him, something he rarely let anyone else do, and she appreciated that more than he’d ever know.
They could always lean on the other.
Ginny climbed the stairs to Harry’s room. The door was slightly ajar, so she could see him sitting up in bed reading some sort of manual with a Ministry seal on the cover. His hair stuck out at all angles, and even as she watched, he ran his hand through it. Whatever he was reading was frustrating him. He had his leg propped up with several pillows — a sign of weakness she knew he’d have never shown if he expected anyone to call.
She pushed the door open, grinning, and said, “Hello, bright eyes.”
Those wonderfully bright eyes looked up, round and startled. It took him a moment to process what he was seeing, and his brow furrowed. “What are you doing here?”
“Well, that’s not the greeting I expected,” she said, dropping her bag and walking over to sit on the bed, facing him.
“Sorry — you know I’m always happy to see you, but… I thought you were spending the night with Luna,” he said. She found the crease that appeared on his forehead oddly endearing.
She shook her head. “That’s just what I told my parents.”
“Told your parents,” he said slowly, and she could see him working it out, but still unwilling to trust what his brain was telling him. “Why would you do that?”
“So they wouldn’t expect me home,” she said, enjoying toying with him.
Harry swallowed visibly. “But you’re not staying with Luna.”
Ginny shook her head.
“So… you’re going to stay… here?” he asked, somewhat breathlessly.
“Well, if you don’t want me to stay, I can always go back,” she said, fighting back a laugh.
“No!” he said, suddenly grasping her arm. “I want you to stay. I do. I really do.”
“Good then,” Ginny said, staring at him. The thudding of her heart was painful.
He visibly swallowed again, and something about the fact he was obviously nervous, too, reassured her. She leaned over and kissed him softly. He tasted like chocolate.
“You’ve had treacle tart,” she said, pulling back and grinning.
“Your mum sent some home with me,” he said, the awkwardness gone. He pushed his manual off his lap so it landed in a heap on the floor, forgotten. “Can I get you some? D’you want something to drink?”
He pulled the pillows out from beneath his leg and tossed them to the floor, too, as he swung his legs over the side of the bed as if to rise. Ginny pushed him back by his chest.
“Stay there and off that knee. I’ve brought everything,” she said. Summoning her rucksack, she pulled out a bottle of elf-made wine and two wine glasses wrapped in cloth. “There was plenty left at The Burrow, so they won’t miss this one.”
She used magic to pop the cork, and poured them each a glass. Harry settled himself back against his headboard, and held up his arm for her to slide in beside him.
“Did Ron end up going out with George?” she asked, sipping her wine.
“Yeah. I think they’re testing a new product at the shop. Actually, they usually come back here afterwards,” Harry said, looking a little worried.
“Well, you’d best lock your door then,” Ginny said calmly.
Harry stared at her, and she noticed his hand shook slightly as he raised his wand. “Colloportus. Silencio,” he said, his voice a little raspy.
Ginny took another sip of her wine. The past few times they’d been together, they’d barely been able to keep their hands off one another. Now, with the prospect of the entire night and no interruptions ahead of them, neither seemed to know how to start. She looked up to see Harry draining the last of his wine, and she smirked.
“Need a little fortitude, do you?” she asked impishly.
Harry flushed, but refilled his glass and topped hers off. “Are you certain, Ginny?” he asked in a very low voice and not meeting her eyes. “I mean, you can change your mind — and at any point — and that’s okay. You can stay here without… without, y’know.”
Ginny took a rather large sip of her own wine before putting the glass down. “Harry, if we’re going to do this, I think we should at least be able to say it. I want to make love to you. Only you. I’ve never been more certain.”
Harry put his glass on his bedside table and took her in his arms, kissing her fiercely, possessively. It only took a moment before the awkwardness and uncertainty disappeared. Harry’s hand instinctively reached for the clip holding her ponytail and released it, allowing her hair to spill around her shoulders without breaking the kiss. His hands drifted down to the hem of her shirt, and with only a moment’s hesitation she could feel them on her bare skin. Butterflies pooled in her belly, as they always did when he touched her this way.
Within a few intense moments and kisses where she felt as if she couldn’t get close enough, each had shed their clothing down to their underwear, and Ginny felt Harry’s hand caress the bare skin on her hip. She gasped, clenching her fingers in his hair and making him press his hips against hers. He pulled back for a moment, his intense green eyes staring into hers, pinning her with his gaze.
She didn’t want the contact broken, however, and she raised her head slightly so she could reach his lips again. Harry returned the kiss, but his hand fumbled for his wand, aiming it towards the light.
“No!” Ginny said, gasping as she wrenched from the kiss. “Leave the light on. I want to see you.”
She watched as colour flooded his features although he conceded to her request and only dimmed the light so that the room remained lit. Ginny’s lips felt swollen, and she struggled to regulate her breathing, all the while wanting him to continue making her breathless.
He looked up at her, his eyes somehow both eager and anguished. “You’re so very beautiful. I don’t want to hurt you,” he said.
“You won’t,” she replied, gently brushing some of his fringe aside so his scar was clearly visible.
“Trust me. I know a spell,” she said, feeling her own colour rise.
Actually, Hermione had shown her the spell. Both girls knew if Harry thought he had to hurt her first, it could take him ages to get on with it. Hermione had solved the problem — for both of them.
Using her own wand, she cast the two spells Hermione had taught her.
It triggered Harry’s memory because his eyes widened slightly, and he, too, used a contraception spell that she recognized.
“Where did you learn that?” she asked, puzzled. Hermione had told her there was a spell for wizards, too, but she hadn’t thought Harry would know it. She’d stressed to Ginny that it was best to always keep that control, so she should be certain to cast it every time.
“George taught me,” Harry said, flushing.
Ginny paused a moment, gaping at him as she digested that information. “George? My brother taught you how to— He… what? When?” She knew Harry and George had grown close, and George had always been the least overprotective of all her brothers, but still… This seemed incomprehensible to her.
Harry shrugged. “I still think he’s going to want to beat me up because it’s you… but he’s been giving me advice. Too much advice, actually…” Harry said, trailing off.
Ginny couldn’t help it. She snorted, easily picturing how much George would enjoy tormenting a much more reserved Harry about this. Harry was probably lucky it was her with whom he was contemplating this. Otherwise, George would’ve shown no restraint.
“I don’t want to talk about George,” Harry said, his breath warm on her neck before he began kissing her once again.
Ginny let her head fall back, thrilling at the delicious tingle that went all the way down to her toes. Their bodies tangled, and Ginny could feel Harry’s heart thumping beneath his warm skin. Soon, there was nothing between them at all, and they were moving as one, uncaring about the uncertainty as they learned how to please each other.
Harry awoke slowly, unwilling to open his eyes and trying to snuggle back into the warmth of his bed. He turned his head to the side and something tickled his nose. When he attempted to rub it, he found it was covered by strings of long hair, and his memory came flooding back. Opening his eyes, he tangled his hand in Ginny’s long red tresses, luxuriating in the softness as he rubbed a strand between his fingers. Her hair was fanned out across her pillow (his pillow actually!) as she slept, and he spent a few moments just staring at the gentle rise and fall of her chest, amazed by the events of the previous evening.
She’d surprised him — pleasantly so — when she’d turned up at his door after he’d already gone to bed. He hadn’t been expecting her, but something about the fact she’d come — that she’d chosen him — filled him with a burning desire for this woman that he’d wanted quite a lot already.
She chose him.
Although he’d listened to all of George’s advice and read Twelve Failsafe Ways to Charm Witches from cover to cover numerous times, he’d still felt unsure about what he was doing. It hadn’t mattered though. Nature had taken over, and they’d worked it out together. Twice.
With a flush, Harry remembered when Ginny had asked him to leave the light on — it was still burning now. The fact he was skinny and scarred while she was beautiful and perfect hadn’t appeared to matter to her.
They were each other’s firsts, and Harry had never felt this close — this bared — to another soul in his entire life. It wasn’t just the lack of clothing — although he liked that part very much. She’d been part of him, and he part of her, and Harry felt more content waking up beside her than he’d ever thought possible. This. This is what winning the war meant.
A certain part of his anatomy was straining for her again, and he didn’t think he’d ever grow tired of waking up beside her. He wrapped his arms around her warm skin and pulled her closer, spooning her. She mumbled, deep in sleep and attempted to turn back toward her pillow (his pillow!). Harry began kissing that spot on her neck, just below her ear that he’d discovered drove her mad, and he felt her become aware as she pressed herself more fully against him.
“Morning,” she mumbled, a gentle smile spreading across her face as he nuzzled her neck.
He gently played with her breasts, testing their weight in his hands and enjoying the soft sounds she made as he did. He buried his nose in her hair, inhaling the sweet, flowery scent that had always attracted him. When Ginny gasped and arched her back, he could take no more.
He pulled her over so she was lying flat, and he positioned himself to join with her once again. As she moved beneath him, his breath caught in his chest. He sometimes had trouble with words, but this — this was a way he could express his love for her, and she understood. He could pour all the emotion, everything he couldn’t say, into each touch, each caress, and every sigh. He didn’t have to puzzle out what to say or how to say it. This she understood.
When they were finished and each lay panting beside the other, hands intertwined, she turned her head to look at him.
“Good morning,” she said again, grinning.
“Morning,” Harry replied, feeling as if he could easily drift off and sleep some more. “I like waking up this way.”
“Me, too,” Ginny said. “I think we should stay here all day.”
Harry smiled, lazily tracing circles on her bare hip. “We’ll need sustenance, but I’m game. It’s like any decent Quidditch move. It takes practice to make it perfect.”
Ginny let out a bark of laughter. “I’m like Quidditch, am I?”
“I think I’ve actually found something I enjoy even more than Quidditch,” Harry replied solemnly.
Ginny grinned, “Good answer. I’m starving.”
“And definitely a Weasley. Shall we go make breakfast, then?”
After they’d showered and dressed — and got slightly distracted once again — they’d made their way down to the kitchen. Harry knew he was very slow on the stairs, and he was aware that Ginny had noticed him wincing several times, although he’d tried to hide it. There really were a lot of stairs at Grimmauld Place. The Healers had said his leg would be healed in a week, but he wished he could make it heal faster. He leaned heavily on the walking stick as they descended, and tucked it away in a corner once they’d reached the kitchen.
It was spotless and nearly gleaming with a shine neither Ron nor Harry ever managed. Harry noticed Ginny looking around curiously.
He grinned. “Kreacher. Despite Hermione’s annoyance, he continues to stop by at night. In fact, since Christmas, I have a sneaking suspicion that Andromeda has been sending him.”
“Why’s that?” Ginny asked.
“She fussed over my leg nearly as much as your mum,” Harry replied sourly.
Ginny giggled. “Well, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Did you get him a good Christmas present?”
“Yeah. I got him a case to keep his locket in when he’s sleeping. I think he sleeps with it, actually,” Harry replied, remembering the embarrassing gushing Kreacher did after Harry had given him his gift.
“You gave him a jewellery box?” she asked, giggling.
A slow smile spread across his face. “I didn’t think about it like that, but I suppose I did.”
They prepared a full breakfast of toast, bacon, eggs and tomatoes, and while they were eating it, someone knocked at the door.
“That’ll be Dean,” Ginny said, wiping her mouth with a napkin. She put her hand out, holding Harry by his shoulder. “You stay there, I’ll let him in.”
Harry hated being treated like an invalid, but his leg did hurt, so he complied. He heard voices from the hallway before Ginny and Dean joined him at the kitchen counter. Dean’s expression looked somewhat guarded, and Harry couldn’t help but wonder what he was thinking at finding Ginny here early in the morning.
“Hi, Dean,” Harry said, reaching out to shake the other boy’s hand. “How are you?”
“I’m good,” Dean said, his eyes flicking back and forth between Harry and Ginny. Ginny had filled a plate and put it down in front of Dean, who began picking at it.
“Thanks,” Dean said. “I’ve left my brushes in the Entrance Hall, and I have the sketch of what you described. You’ll just need to show me to the room.”
“We can do that after we’ve finished breakfast,” Ginny said.
Dean’s eyes wandered around the gleaming kitchen, settling on Harry’s leg, which was propped on the chair beside him.
“What did you do?”
“Splinched,” Harry said sourly. He still couldn’t believe he’d been so careless, and hated having to admit it to Dean.
“Ouch,” Dean said, wincing. “I thought you were an old hand at Apparition. How did you get around last year?”
“He was overworked with the Dementors, so it’s completely understandable,” Ginny said, firing up at once. “He’s just lucky his partner acted so quickly.”
Not wanting to rile her up further, Harry let it go. Dean hunched over his eggs and began shovelling them in his mouth, not looking at either of them.
Harry suspected Dean regretted that things didn’t work out between him and Ginny — how could he not? She was brilliant. Still, he remembered how uncomfortable seeing them together had made him feel back in sixth year, and he was trying not to rub it in. Somehow, however, he found that he couldn’t help touching her. He kept reaching out to brush her arm, or hold her hand or tug at her glorious hair. It was as if his hands had a mind of their own this morning, and he kept having to pull them back without having consciously reached out in the first place. And for the life of him, he couldn’t wipe the daft grin off his face every time she glanced his way.
They finished their breakfast quickly, and Ginny began leading the way up to Teddy’s room. Harry didn’t want to use the walking stick, but the glare Ginny gave him let him know he didn’t have a choice. Half-way up the stairs, he had to concede she was right. He would’ve fallen headlong back down without the infernal thing, and that would’ve been more embarrassing than using it.
Ginny pushed open the door to Teddy’s room, and they all stared at the blank walls. Several cans of paint were stacked in the corner. The room had been completely renovated and reconstructed to get rid of the permanent sticking charms Sirius had left on his Muggle, bikini-clad girl pictures. The idea of saving one had crossed Harry’s mind, but he didn’t think it was appropriate for a nursery. He’d saved the pictures in a desk drawer. Perhaps when Teddy was older he’d appreciate them.
“You’ve seen Harry’s Patronus, yeah?” Ginny asked. “Think of that when you’re drawing the stag. The wolf is a representation of Professor Lupin, so if you could give it his eyes, that would be perfect.”
“Reserved yet wise,” Dean said, nodding. “What about the dog?”
“Think of the Grim — only friendlier. The Grim with a mischievous personality, I suppose,” Ginny said, causing Harry to snigger.
“If the stag is Harry, and the wolf is Professor Lupin, who does the dog represent?” Dean asked.
“Sirius Black,” Harry said flatly. Although Sirius’ name had been cleared after the war, Harry often felt his suffering was overlooked amongst everything else that had happened. He didn’t correct Dean on who the stag really was. Somehow, that felt very private.
Ginny followed his lead. “This house belonged to Sirius, who was Harry’s godfather,” she said quietly. “The sky will represent Teddy’s mother, who was a Metamorphmagus.”
“A what?” Dean asked, turning toward her.
“It means she could change her appearance at will. For as long as I knew her, she fancied either bubble gum-pink or violet hair, so those colours need to be in the sky.
Dean nodded, looking back at his sketchpad. “Okay, so a versatile dusky sky. Anything else you can tell me?”
“The landscape around them should look like the Forbidden Forest — only less deadly. I don’t want to scare Teddy,” Harry said, visions of the vast number of deadly creatures running through the forest crossing his mind.
Ginny reached over and took his hand, giving it a light squeeze. He returned the gesture, knowing the forest troubled her, too. He’d died there, after all.
“This will take most of the week,” Dean said. “It’s a big room.”
“I’ll change the wards so you can come and go at will,” Harry said. “You’ll be here for the New Year’s Eve party, yeah?”
Dean nodded. “Yeah, I got the invitation,” he said, looking puzzled.
Fleur had insisted on sending out fancy invitations in an elaborate scroll. Harry thought they looked rather ridiculous, but she’d been pleased.
“Are we really wearing our Order of Merlin medals?” Dean asked.
Ginny snorted. “Yeah — if you have one, wear it. I think there will be more people there with them than without.”
“What else are we supposed to do with them?” Harry asked, grinning at Ginny’s excitement.
“Well, if that’s all, I suppose I’ll get started,” Dean said, beginning to lay out his brushes. His tone made it obvious that in order to work, he needed them to leave him alone. “I usually get immersed in my work as I’m painting, so I’ll let you know when it’s ready for you to see. It’ll most likely be the end of the day before there’s any real progress.”
“All right,” Ginny said. “Let me just bring you up a few bottles of Butterbeer in case you want them while you’re working.”
She’d left before Dean could respond. “I brought water,” he said lamely to the empty door.
Harry and Dean glanced at each other before quickly looking away. Harry searched for something to say. He’d never felt this awkward with Dean before, and he wasn’t certain what was causing it except the knowledge of what he’d just done with Ginny. He wondered if Dean could somehow tell.
“So… you and Ginny are still together then?” Dean asked, the silence finally becoming too uncomfortable for him, as well.
Harry frowned, puzzled. “Yeah, of course.”
Dean nodded. “I wondered when you came to Slughorn’s party. Ginny wasn’t getting owls anymore, so I thought you might’ve called it quits.”
“You believed what Rita Skeeter has been writing,” Harry said, irritated. How could everyone not know what that woman was all about by now?
Dean shrugged, not meeting Harry’s eyes. “My mistake.”
Harry wanted it to be crystal clear. “There hasn’t been anyone else but Ginny since my sixth year. I left to do what I had to do, but she was never out of my thoughts.”
“Here you go,” Ginny said, coming back into the nursery. She stopped in her tracks, staring warily between the two. “What’s going on?”
“Nothing,” Harry and Dean both said hastily.
Dean took the Butterbeers from Ginny’s hand. “Thanks,” he said, turning back toward his paint.
“We’ll be here if you need anything,” Harry said stiffly, taking Ginny’s hand and leading her from the room.
“Where are we going?” Ginny asked when Harry tugged her up the stairs rather than down. Judging by the amusement in her tone, he suspected she knew.
“Since we can’t play Quidditch, I know something I can do with a bad leg,” Harry replied.
Ginny giggled but followed him just the same — after all, they only had until dinnertime that evening unsupervised.
A/N: Honestly, what’s the point of magic if it can’t even make first-time sex good? ;) Soundtrack for Harry and Ginny’s night together is Bruce Springsteen’s, I’m on Fire.