Disclaimer: not mine
Harry was sure that Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were going to kill him as he Flooed over to the Burrow the next morning. Sirius and Minerva followed soon after, and before he was prepared, they joined Ginny and her parents in the sitting room.
Though confused, Molly had impressed upon Ron the need for privacy, and understanding that it had something to do with the conversation Harry and Ginny had had with Minerva and Sirius the day before, Ron agreed, heading back up to his room.
Bill had left to go spend the day with Fleur, and as the twins no longer lived at home, the house was quiet as the small group settled down into their seats, after Minerva warded the room against eavesdroppers.
Molly frowned as she did so, and once they were settled, she wasted no time in questioning the situation. "What's going on, here? Why did you need to speak with us?"
Minerva and Sirius looked to the two teenagers, and, gulping, Harry proceeded to explain to the Weasleys about soul bonds. When he finished, he took a deep breath and looked at Ginny's parents. "Almost two years ago, Ginny and I kissed for the first time, and our soul bond began to solidify."
Molly gasped and started crying, while Arthur just nodded like he had expected it from the way the conversation began.
"Oh, my baby!" Molly sobbed. "You're both too young!"
Ginny shook her head. "Mum, age is just a number. Neither Harry nor I have been a child in a while. I thought you understood that, after you agreed that we would be involved in this war. This soul bond has nothing to do with age. It means that Harry and I were destined to be together. We were meant to be together, from the moment I was born. Neither of us was forced into something we didn't want, mum."
Harry nodded. "Mrs. Weasley, soul bonds are created completely from love. I know we're a little… younger than most, but I know that I love Ginny, and I don't need this bond to tell me that I want to spend the rest of my life with her."
Mrs. Weasley's crying intensified, but now it was from happiness as she lurched forward and gathered both teenagers in a tight hug. "Oh my babies," she whispered.
Harry swallowed harshly as he heard her include him in that statement. Molly and Arthur had been like surrogate parents for him, ever since that first summer he had escaped to the Burrow. He was understandably emotional to hear that she was including him when she thought of her children.
Pulling back, Molly whipped out a handkerchief and dabbed at her eyes.
Harry took a deep breath, and looked at his… in-laws. Wow, that would take almost as much getting used to as thinking of Ginny as his wife. "According to the Goblins, Ginny and I are married." He had to pause for a moment as Mrs. Weasley let out a gasp and another sobbing cry. Ginny reached out and grasped Harry's hand, squeezing tightly. Harry looked over at her and smiled softly. He turned back to Molly and Arthur. "Under their laws, I'm entitled to my inheritance, and as my wife, Ginny shares in my wealth. I made the executive decision not to receive my Lordship ring, since that would draw unnecessary attention. If we wanted to, we could move into Potter Manor, and no one could say anything about it." He saw Molly and Arthur about to object, so he hurried on, "We don't want to alienate anyone. We don't want to put any of you in an uncomfortable position. Even with this bond, we know we're still young. Neither of us is planning on moving out any time soon."
He cleared his throat, and felt a knot in his chest loosen at the proud smiles Sirius and Minerva were wearing. "That being said, you need to understand that we're not children. We'll promise to exercise responsibility and restraint, and you'll agree to treat us like adults."
Molly opened her mouth to speak, but Arthur cut her off, nodding his head. "That sounds like a reasonable deal." Molly looked at her husband beseechingly, but Arthur sighed and shook his head. "No, Molly, he's right. They're not children anymore, and we can trust them to be responsible." He looked at the two teenagers. "I don't want to lose my baby girl. Now, I think you were right to not accept your Lordship ring just yet, Harry. And in the same vein, it would undoubtedly call undue attention if you were to call us mum and dad, but perhaps you should start calling us Molly and Arthur. And may I say, welcome to the family, son."
Harry felt himself choke up just a little at Arthur's gentle smile, and Ginny leaned into his side, grinning at her father's attitude. Molly's crying hadn't subsided, but she hurried forward and gathered her daughter and new son-in-law in a firm embrace. "Please," she sniffed, "call me Molly. I'm so sorry, it's just so much to take in."
She pulled back, and Ginny leaned forward slightly. "I know, mum. But you have to trust that you raised me well. And Harry's a good man, you already know that."
Molly sniffed again. "I do trust you, Ginny. I'm just not ready to let my baby go."
Ginny smiled tearfully. "I'll always be your baby, mum. But I'm not the little girl who used to run around the yard chasing butterflies anymore." Harry snorted lightly at the mental image, and Ginny dug her elbow into his side. "I've grown up, and I know I've still got a ways to go, but you need to have faith that I'll make the right choices."
Molly's crying started anew, and Arthur nodded approvingly.
Minerva and Sirius were impressed by the level of maturity the two teenagers were displaying.
With the heavy discussions over, the adults sent Harry and Ginny off to find Ron, while they stayed behind to talk more about this new development.
"Why did they wait so long to tell us?" Molly asked, wiping her eyes with a handkerchief.
Sirius raised an eyebrow. "How would you have taken the news if your thirteen year old daughter told you she was married?" he asked rhetorically.
Arthur snorted. "We would have locked her in her room until she graduated," he agreed ruefully.
Minerva nodded, her stern gaze compassionate. "They didn't feel like they could tell us, because we wouldn't have understood back then. I think it's a good thing they waited until they felt safe. And I am glad that they trusted us eventually."
Arthur nodded his agreement. "It can't have been easy for them. But that doesn't really matter. We can't change it, and personally, I don't think I want to." Molly looked over at him, confused, and Arthur took her hands in his, his expression serious but compassionate. "Can you think of anyone better than Harry for our girl, Molly?" Molly sighed and shook her head. Arthur's smile widened. "Harry will be sure to keep her as safe as she'll let him." He chuckled. "But let's face it, we raised a spitfire."
Molly joined in, in his mirth. "That's true," she allowed. "And you are right." She looked around at Sirius and Minerva as well. "You're all right. I made the decision over a year ago to stop treating my children like… well, children. They're going to be involved in this war whether I like it or not, so I have to believe that they will be able to defend themselves. And if I believe that, then I have to believe that they are old enough to make their own decisions. But I'm not ready to be a grandmother just yet," she stated firmly.
Minerva paled slightly at the implication, but Sirius just shook his head. "Harry won't let that happen." He saw their confused expressions, and he sighed. "There's no chance that Harry will even consider the possibility of starting a family until Voldemort's dead. He won't want his child to grow up the way he did." They all saddened at the mention of Harry's childhood, and Sirius sighed. "I taught him the contraceptive charm, as well as both potions, just in case; I trust them, and I know they'll be responsible."
Molly looked like she wanted to be angry with Sirius, but couldn't quite manage it. She nodded ruefully, and stood up, hurrying into the kitchen. In true Molly Weasley fashion, when she was feeling upset, she turned to the only activity that truly calmed her: cooking. She was sure the teenagers would appreciate some freshly baked scones. After all, Ron and Harry were growing boys, and Ginny had a very healthy appetite. Her appetite could rival Ron's at times, though thankfully, her table manners were much better.
The day of Ginny's birthday, the Weasleys hosted a party at the Burrow. All of the Weasleys besides Charlie, who was still in Romania, and Percy, who still hadn't reconciled with his family, were there, as were Fleur, Harry, Hermione, Susan, Neville, Blaise, Daphne, Luna, Minerva, Sirius, and Remus.
As they were eating outside in the bright August sun, Sirius gave the teenagers some unwelcome news.
"I spoke with Dumbledore the other day," he informed them, "I won't be coming back to teach Defense this year."
This statement was met with protest by all of the teenagers, who had truly enjoyed the classes with the Marauder.
Sirius shook his head at some of their questions. "Albus didn't say much, just that he had someone else lined up for the year."
"So the curse holds true," Harry sighed. "Is it too much to ask for some consistency?"
"Yep," Ron replied completely seriously, as he helped himself to a third piece of cake.
Hermione rolled her eyes fondly, but kissed her boyfriend's cheek, while Neville snorted and Harry shook his head.
After lunch, Ginny opened her presents. Bill and Fleur had given her a pair of dragonhide boots, much like the ones Bill had given Harry for Christmas a couple of years ago. Molly and Arthur had given her a new set of dress robes, dark blue that shimmered and sparkled in the light. They would accent her figure beautifully, and were much more suited to her body than the other set she owned, the robes Harry had bought for her for the Yule Ball her third year.
Hermione had given her a book on Arithmancy, while Neville gave her a book on Herbology, and Susan, a book on Transfiguration. Sirius and Minerva gave her a book on phoenixes, Sirius with a subtle wink and a nod.
Blaise and Daphne teamed up to get her an impressive writing set, with different quills and bottles of ink, all in a beautifully crafted carrying case. Luna gave her old friend a yearlong subscription to the Quibbler.
Harry went last, and gave his girlfriend a diamond and sapphire tennis bracelet that made all the females gasp as she unwrapped it. Harry put it around her wrist as he explained. "I found this in my vault. It belonged to my great-great grandmother."
Ginny smiled as she admired the bracelet around her wrist. "It's beautiful, Harry, thank you so much."
Harry returned the smile, and gave her a kiss, before Ron suggested they go play some Quidditch.
At the next meeting Sirius and Minerva had for their circle of confidants, Snape brought them some interesting news. "Albus has asked me to teach Defense this year," he informed them all brusquely, looking around the room.
The teenagers, predictably, were the most startled, but they were all confused by Albus' decision. For years, Albus had been refusing to give the position to Severus, so what had changed his mind?
Snape shrugged at their questions. "I don't know why now," he said. "Albus just told me he had someone lined up for Potions, and wondered if I was still interested in the Defense position."
He shook his head as he leaned back in his chair. Truthfully, he had never really been interested in the Defense position. He had only applied for it in the beginning because the Dark Lord had ordered him to. And then, later, it was more to annoy Albus than anything else. He much preferred Potions.
They spent a few more minutes discussing the headmaster's motives, but no one really had any idea what Dumbledore was thinking, so they moved on after a while.
Fred and George had brought up their progress on listening devices at the last meeting, and they were still working on it, but hoped they might have something to test out by the end of summer. They knew it could be important, so they were spending more time on this idea than on inventing new joke products.
"As soon as we have something we'll let you know, and you can hopefully get it in place," George said, looking at the new Defense professor. "So far the issue we're having is getting it to keep running without active magic. We did a little research, and know that the muggles use…" he looked over at his twin for help with the name.
"Tabberies?" Fred asked, tilting his head to the side.
Hermione snorted. "Batteries," she corrected. "Most batteries can last months or years before they die. Why do you need to find an alternative to magic?"
Harry sighed. "If the device has active magic powering it, a scan could pick it up. If it used passive magic, it shouldn't show up unless someone actually searched the room physically and found it."
George nodded. "We'll keep working at it, and we'll get it."
Harry smiled. "I know you will. Just keep us updated."
Fred mock-saluted. "Will do, boss," he chirped.
Harry rolled his eyes, as they moved onto another topic.
A few days after that, Minerva intercepted Ron and Neville as they headed into the dining room for lunch after an intense dueling session.
"With Professor Snape's appointment to Defense Professor, Albus has re-hired Horace Slughorn, the former Potions professor, to take Severus' previous job. Horace is quite happy to take NEWT students who achieved an E on their exam. I felt it might be prudent to ask the two of you if you are interested in continuing the class this year."
The two teenagers looked at each other for a moment, before they nodded their agreement, and Minerva smiled slightly. "I will pick up your textbooks today then, and get them to you tomorrow."
"Thank you Professor," Neville said, with Ron nodding his thanks as well, before the two hurried down the table to join their friends.
When Neville told them what Minerva had said, Sirius put down his fork. "I remember Slughorn," he commented. "He was the Potions professor when I was in school."
"Is he any good?" Harry asked curiously, while Hermione shot him a look over his choice of words. Even though she had been wondering the same thing.
Sirius sighed. "He's certainly competent," he allowed. "You should know, however, that Slughorn has his favorites. He had this club, called the Slug Club. He had this knack for picking out those who would become famous or successful, and he would gather kids whose parents or relatives were well known. He was a man who enjoyed the finer comforts in life. Very well connected, and a box of crystallized pineapple could ensure you a good recommendation from him." Sirius rubbed the back of his neck and shrugged. "I don't want to put you off him before you meet him, but you should be aware that he will undoubtedly try to 'collect' you for his club. You too, Susan," he looked over at the girl. "And perhaps the rest of you, as you are all the best in your years. I just want you to be on your guard."
Harry grimaced. "Great," he muttered. More people who looked at him and couldn't see passed his damn scar.
Sirius leaned forward and nudged Harry's hand, causing his godson to look up. "Don't judge him before you meet him," he advised. "But be aware of who he is, and don't just trust blindly."
Harry nodded. "I never do," he replied, a hint of steel in his voice that reminded all of them of the reason why the teenager couldn't just trust anyone.
They finished their meal in silence, and headed off to spend the rest of the afternoon having fun. Sirius told them that they needed some fun to alleviate the stress, and sent them outside to enjoy the summer sun.
The week before September First, a large gathering took place at McGonagall Castle – an end of the summer party where most of the circle Sirius and Minerva had gathered were in attendance. In fact, the only person from that group who wasn't there was Snape.
They spent the day outside, playing Quidditch, enjoying in the impressive lunch spread the house elves had put together, and having pleasant conversations with their friends.
It was towards the end of the afternoon when Bill stood up, clearing his throat and calling all the attention towards him. "I'd like to say something," he started nervously, looking at all the eyes on him. He coughed, and looked down to his side, where Fleur was sitting, smiling beatifically. "Fleur and I, well…" he looked at the ground, before taking the part Veela's hand in his, and looking back at the group. "Last night I asked her to marry me, and she accepted. We're engaged."
Molly started crying as she jumped up to hug her eldest son. "Oh, my baby, I'm so happy for you!" she sobbed, clutching him tightly.
Arthur stood as well, and joined his wife and son. Bill was looking a little short on breath as his mother held him, but he reached out and accepted his father's handshake, his expression happy.
Molly let go and reached out to Fleur, gesturing for her to join them and share in the joy. "Oh, welcome to the family dear," she sniffed as she hugged the young woman.
Fleur's responding hug was just as tight. Her family was in France, and truth be told, she had been feeling rather lonely without them. But Bill's parents had always made an effort to make her feel welcome, and she was so happy that they were pleased for her and accepted her into their family so willingly.
When Molly stepped back, Bill put an arm around her shoulders. His easy grin made it clear to the group as he accepted their congratulations, that he was utterly content.
"Oh, we'll have to start planning!" Molly gushed, resting a hand on Fleur's arm. "We can have the wedding at the Burrow, and we'll have to look at dress designs…" she trailed off, muttering under her breath about lace verses satin, and necklines, while Bill and Fleur looked at each other, beaming.
"Calm down mum," Bill pacified. "We just got engaged last night. We haven't even set a date yet. We've got time."
Molly cut off, and looked at her eldest son. She sighed and nodded, still smiling happily.
They spent some more time talking, with Bill and Fleur the center of attention, before the group broke up, everyone heading home for their beds.
I know this chapter's a little shorter than previous ones. I could have kept going, but this was a natural place to end it, so I didn't fight it.