A/N: combo of a prompt and inspiration from blvnk-art over on tumblr! She does amazing HP fan art (lots of perfect hinny 3). Hope you all like it!
A/N 2: IT'S A MIRACLE. ALMOST 24 HOURS trYING TO PoST
Harry's pretty capable, as far as new fathers go. No major injuries or illnesses to report, and he thinks James seems pretty happy, all things considered. So when Ginny goes to spring training for almost a month, he does alright. Aside from missing Ginny like – something he would miss a lot. Sleep deprivation is not particularly conducive to similes. Or grooming. Between a full workload with the Auror Office and handling James on his own every night, certain things get shunted to the side. And it's a pretty easy choice if he's deciding between shaving and taking a kip for a quarter of an hour.
Which is why Ginny comes home to her husband lying spread eagle on the floor with the tiniest Potter splayed across his chest, playing with his newly grown beard. "Alright Potters?"
James claps his chubby hands and topples back against Harry's now raised thighs in excitement.
Quickly, Harry catches James around his middle and soon enough has his entire family wrapped in his arms. Ginny's warm and firm under his hands, freckles and just a touch of sunburn across her shoulders, her chocolate eyes sparkling in that way that lets him know he's not the only one who's been lonely.
James pitches toward Ginny, his kiss overly wet and gummy, while Harry nuzzles her damp hair. "We missed you."
Ginny takes James into her arms, showering him with kisses before using her free hand to scratch at Harry's beard. "This is new."
Harry shrugs, holding her hand to his cheek. "Grooming takes a back seat when no one's around to care. Plus James likes to play with it."
Attention drawn by hearing his name, James' hands rub up and down Harry's rough jawline, his smile wide. Harry takes his fickle son back and the trio moves toward the cozy kitchen where Harry has dinner waiting. "I'll shave it off after we eat," he settles James into his highchair, "Since James will be going to sleep. And we will not."
She considers him for a moment, hands on her hips, eyes narrowed. "Don't."
Pausing mid-ladle, Harry frowns in confusion, and Ginny steps closer, her arms wrapping around his middle as she nuzzles his prickly jaw. "Don't shave."
The ladle falls into the pot with a clatter. "Really? Harried dad does it for you?"
"Harry the dad always does it for me," Ginny murmurs, pressing her lips to his pulse point before pulling away and shooting him a meaningful glance. And she's talking nonsense with James before Harry can do anything more than gape.
After dinner – where Harry and Ginny catch up, James babbles while they listen raptly, and Ginny eats three bowls of stew – James begins drooping against Ginny's shoulder, eyelids heavy and cheeks rosy. "Think he's ready to go down?"
Harry nods and makes to take him but Ginny waves him off, kissing James' downy head. "Let me. I've missed the little scamp."
While Ginny's putting James to bed, Harry tidies the kitchen, pours two tumblers of firewhisky, gets the wireless going, and settles in on the couch while Ginny's singing voice warbles from James' room. It's quiet for a time before Ginny returns, and she's let her hair down and changed into Harry's favorite of her pajamas. Because there are pajamas and there are pajamas. And these are definitely the latter. Ginny saunters across the room and sits as close as she can without actually sitting in his lap, leaning forward to grab their drinks with a dangerous smirk. "So, beard and long hair, eh?"
It takes a minute for his brain to recover from the feel of Ginny pressed against his side like this – which, she's his wife so shouldn't he be less of a dolt? – but he does. "It was grooming or sleeping so."
Ginny nuzzles at his temple. "Well I rather like it."
Harry tilts his head toward her, their noses brushing, breaths mixing. "Now I don't know how things work with the Harpies, but if my wife comes home and – "
And then her lips are on his, warm and confident. "Believe me, your wife and I are on the same page at the mo'."
She puts their drinks on the side table, and tips Harry backward on the couch, Ginny looming overhead, her fiery locks draping in tendrils around them. Harry's hands slip up her back. "Same page, eh?"
Her fingers stroke along his rough beard and into his wavy, overgrown hair. "Yeah."
After that night, Harry doesn't really require more convincing to keep the beard and hair. At all. Even Ron's teasing at Sunday dinners isn't enough to have him reaching for a razor. Especially when Ginny pulls Harry out to a secluded copse of trees in the Burrow's yard and reminds him exactly how much she likes his new grooming choices.
He even manages to rework his Harpy face paint to incorporate his new beard. Which is good because his face probably turns purple when the Tutshill beater grabs Ginny's braid and nearly tugs her directly off her broom. The resulting shouts from the family box delight James, who joins in with clapping hands and flushed cheeks, and they don't calm until Ginny sinks her penalty shot cleanly, sending a salute to Harry across the stadium.
And he essentially thinks the issue is over, after James falls asleep and Ginny spends the night getting a bit tipsy while listening to Harry growl about 'pricks who think Quidditch isn't violent enough.' But they manage to comfort each other suitably enough, if he does say so himself.
Until he gets home the next evening to James' chatter and Ginny banging around in the kitchen making something with lots of garlic and cheese, if his nose is to be believed.
He discards his shoes and outer robes before padding into the kitchen to pick up a squealing James. "Hello fam – Gin."
Ginny turns from the stove, her hair cut into a messy style, longer pieces tickling her cheekbone and the shortest in blunt wisps over her ears. A light blush rises on her cheeks as she goes about finishing dinner. "I reckon we can't both go for long hair at once."
Harry settles James back into his highchair and rounds the counter, bringing Ginny to a halt. "Let me see it, yeah?"
By the time her face tilts toward his, her eyes are challenging. "I'm not about to let people get a leg up on me because of my hair of all things."
His hand rises to tuck some of the untidy layers behind her ear, thumb caressing her cheek. "You look like a right badass."
"What else is new?" Ginny answers, haughty, but some of the stiffness leaves her shoulders. She dishes out pasta into three bowls, the last being James' favored animal themed one, a birthday gift for the youngest Potter from Dudley. "I was all gung ho and then I realized all my hair was gone."
Harry leans down and presses his lips to hers, short but heated. "Well I love it."
Ginny gives him a short peck. "You'd better, sir."
Primarily, the only changes to anyone's lifestyle are pretty positive as side effects go. Harry's grooming takes much less time, and so does Ginny's. Plus she doesn't have to remind him to get haircuts – although Molly bemoans the loss of another child to the scourge of 'scruffiness.' The only real difficulty – if it can be called that – comes up on the morning of Ginny's next big game.
She comes striding out of the bathroom and stands at the foot of the bed where Harry's still dozing, naked as the day she was born. "I can't wear my lucky charm."
He smirks, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. "I'm sure you could clench and – "
Ginny pelts him in the face with one of their discarded pillows. "You have to wear it today."
"I might need some convincing," Harry rumbles, voice still warm with sleep as he lets his eyes linger on her bare form.
"No time," Ginny answers breezily, "Maybe you'll get a reward tonight."
And before Harry can negotiate the terms, Ginny slingshots a hair tie – her 'lucky charm' – at Harry's face with professional accuracy. "Wear that in your hair or carry our defeat on your lanky shoulders."
Harry twists his hair into a messy cross between a ponytail and a bun and slips from beneath the covers. "You know this makes me your lucky charm?"
Ginny snorts, rolling her eyes playfully. "Sure."
He's behind her now, arms wrapping around her middle as he nibbles at her ear. "You know, some people rub their lucky charms."
Sadly, when James' cries sound from down the hall, things haven't progressed beyond Ginny's hands kneading his tense back muscles, while his travel in enjoyable circuits, and a rather intense snogging session. She pulls away and smacks his bum playfully. "Guess that's the extent of my lucky rub."
He kisses her short and simple, tightening the knot on his head perfunctorily and he's off toward the door, winking flirtatiously, "We'll finish up later. Can't go back on my one hundred percent satisfaction guarantee."
She's got on her underthings now as she props her hip against their dresser, brows wiggling. "One hundred percent?"
"See you tonight, Weasley."
"You're on Potter."
Really, work was the only place Harry's new grooming choices might have presented a problem, and that's simply logistical rather than some sort of enforced code of dress. Which is good since beards are kind of a big thing with wizards. And it's not like Dumbledore's held him back from fighting the dark arts. His hair is dealt with easily enough, wrapped up in a bun that sits close on his head. Besides, the new style has – for whatever unknowable reason – managed to garner more respect and fear from allies and enemies alike.
Although updos do tend to get uncomfortable and achy once you're twenty-three hours into a stakeout that seems likely to stretch another twenty. Still, if it wasn't a headache it would be something else, which means it's definitely not enough of an inconvenience to surrender that look Ginny gives him when he's fresh from the shower, hair dripping down his chest. So Harry hunkers down, pulling his cloak tighter around his neck to keep the rain out somewhat, and lets his eyes resume their circuit of the bunker's entrances and exits.
Chilly droplets still manage to worm their way down his face and past the collar of his clothes, sending a shiver up his spine that has nothing to do with the menacing tremor of dark magic that creeps across the sparse countryside.
He glances around, quick and practiced, and finds his fellow aurors signaling their readiness to move at his call. And before he knows it, they're in a full on battle with the traffickers, bloody and unpredictable.
It's really a miracle that he makes it with nothing more than a few gashes and bruises, and he's certainly had worse – in fact anything other than dying and staying dead he could probably top before he turned eighteen – but that doesn't mean a still healing slice from shoulder to tailbone isn't highly inhibiting. Which is why he floos Molly and asks her to keep James overnight, since Ginny won't be back for another day or so.
She's been at Holyhead, doing promotional shots and interviews since she got selected for the Quidditch World Cup team, so Harry'd sent her off with a kiss – and a little something more – assuring her things were light at the office and he had everything perfectly in hand.
And he did, for the first half of the week, until they got a call from one of the DMLE field offices that they'd finally gotten a trace on the group in the highlands that's been trafficking in stolen goods, beasts, and people for the last six months. So he packed an ever-cheerful James off to Molly and Arthur for some grandparent bonding time while he led the team.
It was supposed to last no longer than half a day, which meant he could have James home in time for dinner, but it turned out they didn't have quite enough tangible evidence to actually convict the perpetrators. A disappointment that ended with Harry sprawled across their empty bed, muddy boots kicked off in the hallway, and James getting an impromptu Weasley sleepover.
He's only been asleep for an hour or so when a thump sounds from the entryway to their cozy cottage and Harry's on his feet with a wince, wand in hand. Slowly, Harry pads down the hallway, avoiding the creaky boards with mindless ease as he sneaks up behind the hooded figure that somehow got past their wards. A feat he's not sure how anyone could accomplish until the interloper turns and blinks at him slowly with her wide, chocolate brown eyes, as she slips the hood from her head to reveal her wild red locks. "I usually expect a less violent welcome, but I guess marriage means compromise."
Harry sighs and leans back against the wall, pulling away with a wince when his injury flares with pain.
Ginny scowls, dropping her cloak and bag to the floor, and crosses the entryway in two strides. "What happened?"
Fighting the inclination to shrug, Harry chews his lip. "Just a bit of an abrasion."
She blinks, unimpressed. "A work-related 'abrasion'?"
Harry winces again. "Maybe?"
"Oh Gin, don't worry. It'll be a light week! I can handle James for a few days. No need to worry about us," Ginny imitates with a scowl, "Sound familiar?"
There's a pause as she glances around the darkened cottage. "And I assume you left him with mum, no reference to a possibly life threatening injury? Didn't ask Ron to come poke you and make sure you don't die in your sleep?"
"They sent me home from Mungo's! If I was in any danger I'd ask for help!" Harry bites, "I'm an adult."
"Is that why you skulked around and decided to keep me out of the loop?" Ginny growls, aim going astray when she attempts to heat the kettle and stinging Harry's arm.
Harry narrows his eyes. "I wasn't skulking. It's called being considerate. And you did that on purpose."
"If I did it on purpose, you'd know, baby," Ginny fires back, pulling two mugs from the cupboard.
He boxes her in against the counter. "Don't call me 'baby' in a non-flirtatious context."
Ginny's chin tilts up and her eyes flash – angry with a hint of something else – and her hands grip his shirtfront. "Or what? Going to challenge me to a duel? You're hardly up to par at the mo'."
"I'm a highly trained auror, Gin," Harry murmurs.
Ginny tosses her hair, looking entirely unaffected. "And?"
Their eyes lock, breaths mixing and Harry whispers. "Back garden. Now."
Once they're in the yard and Harry's cast a few charms to keep the noise and any stray spells contained, Ginny comes to stand at his side. "Sure you don't need a rest, big shot?"
He huffs a laugh, chest puffing out. "Hardly, Miss. Standard dueling rules?"
"Sure. If you're afraid of my scrappiness."
Harry snorts and counts off as they pace apart, both turning in the same split second and sending off a volley of spells, ducking and dodging as necessary while avoiding James' scattered toys.
And despite Harry's injuries, he manages to hold his own, giving as good as he gets. Until they get an arms length apart and Ginny manages to grab his loose bun and aim her wand at his throat. "See? Long hair is a liability."
Her hold doesn't last long as Harry kicks her leg out from beneath her and land her flat on her back, knocking the air from her lungs as she takes him down with her, all in a flurry of limbs and yelps. "So's cockiness."
Their wands tossed off to the side, the duel – which hardly followed the rules – seems ended and Harry lets his head drop to Ginny's throat where her pulse throbs with exertion.
Ginny's fingers knit through the sweat damp hair at the base of his skull, scratching lightly. "I thought the secrets were over Harry."
Quiet settles for a moment as they catch their breaths. "I guess – I try."
A snort. "Obviously not hard enough."
Harry hums, thoughtful. "I'll work on it."
"Yes you will."
"Yes I will," Harry answers with a laugh, before pressing a kiss to her chin. Ginny nudges his cheek until his lips are hovering over hers, dipping down, mouth pressed against hers. Her hands grasp and stroke along everything she can reach, careful to avoid his tender back.
Harry's just working his way down her neck and toward the low collar of her vest top when Ginny sighs, "Harry."
He nudges the fabric down with his nose and murmurs low, "Yeah?"
"The ground hurts."
And suddenly they're all childish giggles and flushed cheeks and leaves in hair, until Harry tugs Ginny up from the ground. "Care to hit the showers, Weasley?" he pauses at Ginny's smirk, "Got to go easy on your poor injured husband."
She laughs. "I'll be gentle."