A/N: Happy September 1st, 19 1/2 years later! Off to Hogwarts with all the kiddies.
Harry peaks through the door – bathroom much in demand for the large family on mornings like this – and checks to see who's currently monopolizing the shower. But instead of a cloud of steam, he gets a more pleasant view of a certain Weasley daughter's pale, freckled back.
He clears his throat and she startles, smacking her head into the countertop. It's early enough that she's fairly justified in assuming she'd be alone for a bit longer, but Harry can't hold back the teasing grin that slips onto his face. "Alright, Gin?"
"Don't be an arse. I'm trying to get done before all you boys start making chaos. Guess I have to get up before the sun for that."
She's scowling, but her lips are ticked up at the corners, that freckle that bleeds over onto her mouth provoking him as she saunters closer. "Are you going to make my morning difficult, Harry James? Or are you going to give me a hand?"
A flush rises on Harry's neck at the particular emphasis she places on the end of her question. Not that he's got a problem with…things or that they haven't certainly 'gotten to know' each other well enough, but it's a lot to deal with before half eight in the morning. She leans in close, nose brushing his as she rises on tiptoe, and his hands automatically come to her waist. "I'm nothing if not chivalrous."
He sucks in a gasp when her lips dance across his, barely there contact, until she presses a kiss to the corner of his mouth. "Well, would you like to know what I really need?"
His lips skate across her jawline, hands knitting through her recently shorn locks where they just brush her shoulder blades. "Always."
Ginny kisses his chin, her arms looping around his neck. "Zip me up?"
Looking into her dancing eyes, Harry quirks a brow and leans down, reaching for the bottom of her zip and somehow managing to pull her even closer, but somehow not close enough. "This seems counterproductive."
And then his mouth slants over hers, warm and sure, as Ginny's searching hands bring goosebumps in their wake across his bare back. She's just backed herself against the counter and is halfway to sitting on the counter when a rather forceful knock sounds at the door and Harry's forehead drops to her shoulder as laughter shakes her ribs. "Yes?"
"Al won't let me feed his owl!"
Harry snorts against Ginny's neck while she forces seriousness into her voice. "Lily dear, you're in charge of the family owl," Harry begins nibbling across her clavicle and Ginny shoves him, "You can get your own when you start at Hogwarts."
Lily murmurs something low and quiet that's even more muffled by the closed door. After a moment of hesitation, Harry steps away from Ginny with a sigh and cracks the door open to find his youngest half dressed with sleep rumpled hair and mismatched socks. "Didn't catch the end of that, Lily-Lu."
That's when she turns those big brown eyes, wide and sad, on him. "I want to go."
Kneeling down so he's closer to her height, Harry rubs Lily's back comfortingly while Ginny finishes her morning rituals behind him. "You'll go soon enough. Mum and I need someone around to take care of us."
Lily rolls her eyes in that way only children can but she kisses Harry's rough cheek and sighs, "Alright, I'll stay," she raises a finger and points between his eyes, "But just for you and mum."
And then she darts away, luckily before her parents descend into giggles. As Harry makes to stand, joints popping, Ginny holds out a hand and smirks down at him, "Need some help there, Grandpa?"
He rises to fill height and prods her shoulder once, twice, "Don't think I haven't seen you squinting at the morning paper, Grandma."
Ginny frowns and pushes past him into their bedroom. "The print's getting smaller."
"Yes dear," Harry answers, dry, as he twists the shower on and sheds his pants before he steps under the chilly spray.
The rest of the morning at the Potter home is a rush of half-eaten breakfasts and partially packed trunks, the highlight of which is catching Albus in his failed attempt to smuggle the family cat, Bezoar, in with his school things.
As the aforementioned feline scrambles from the trunk and darts under Lily's bed, Ginny ruffles Albus' traditional Potter hair and straightens his collar. "You know it's just one pet, Al."
He shrugs and swipes under his nose, head hanging. Chewing her lip, Ginny tugs Al into the war zone that is their kitchen, which is luckily free of all other living beings aside from Lily's fish, Gerald. Guess pet-naming ability is hereditary.
After double checking the their seats for back to school gifts from George, Ginny settles Albus in one seat and sits in her own. "Anything you want to talk about, love?"
Another shrug and Ginny's wondering how much worse having actual teen sons will be, but he mumbles out, "Just. I'm gonna miss you," her heart breaks a little, but she forces her expression to remain placid as he continues, "And dad and Lily."
Blinking away tears before he can see, Ginny rubs her thumb across his freckled cheek. "Were we going to be shoved in next?"
His smile is real now, watery, but that toothy little grin she's loved from the first moment she saw him. And those green eyes, his father's eyes, blink up at her, sparkling with more mischief than tears now. "You're much too big," he pauses with a playful smile ticking at his lips, "Got to wait for the lesson on undetectable extension charms."
Ginny kisses his forehead, lingering there and taking a short inhale, his scent tart and soapy and something that's just boy, before she pulls away. "Maybe after Christmas hols?"
Through some miracle, the entire Potter tribe manages to make it to King's Cross Station with minimal drama and all the necessities before eleven o'clock. Harry handles another brief questioning moment with Albus and prevents James from completely embarrassing Teddy and Victoire, before the trio of Potters make their way back to Godric's Hollow for a full lunch.
Despite taking the day off for September first festivities, Harry gets called in on an emergency at half past two and slips on his work robes and kisses the Potter women goodbye with promises to return as soon as possible.
Notwithstanding his best intentions, it's well past seven when he's flooing home, odd silence ringing throughout the house. Briefly, he considers the likelihood that Ginny and Lily went out to dinner, giving him up for a lost cause, but the comforting smell of pastry wafts through the house, peaking his interest in food like he hadn't thought possible after the rather macabre crime scene he'd been called to at a vampire den in Sheffield.
Forgoing his messy inclinations because he's a father who sets an example, Harry kicks his shoes off in the front room and pushes them in the appropriate spot against the wall. He flicks his wand, frowning at the trail of mud he left from the fireplace, and generally neatens the mess he made, before wandering further into the house in search of his girls as he removes his outer robes.
A twinge of fear sparks in his chest with each empty room he finds, but everything seems perfectly normal in its general 'lived in' feel the Potters have perfected, and nothing really marks the scene as the sight of a burglary or some other criminal endeavor.
He flicks the light in Albus' room back off, eyes lingering on the framed photo of him with the two boys at one of Ginny's last professional games with the Harpies, all decked out in green and gold while James raises a triumphant fist and Albus grins toothily from Harry's shoulders.
Finally he wanders into his and Ginny's shared bedroom, lit with a yellow glow from the small lamp on the nightstand, and finds Ginny curled on her side of the bed, a recent photo of the family at Weasley Sunday Night Dinner perched on the side table, her fingers just brushing the edge of the frame.
Slowly, so as not to wake her abruptly, Harry pads across the room on tiptoe and settles on the edge of the bed, carding his fingers through her fiery locks. "Gin?"
Her nose wrinkles in distaste at being disrupted, but she snuffles in that childish manner James inherited and blinks her eyes open, momentarily confused in that way afternoon naps always manage. "Harry."
As Ginny closes her mouth around a yawn, Harry lets his hand rest on the bed behind her and presses a kiss to her shoulder. "Lily?"
"Mum and Dad thought she might like a sleepover, since she's left behind this year," Ginny answers, sighing as she stretches, her dress slipping over her décolletage in a rather torturous manner if you ask Harry.
Still, he manages to tear his gaze away, only to find Ginny's laughing eyes watching him patiently. "Having fun there, Mr. Potter?"
"Not yet, Mrs. Potter."
Sitting up, Ginny prods Harry until he shifts enough that she can set her feet on the floor and stride toward their shared closet, letting her dress drop to the floor around her feet.
She bends in that way she knows very well drives Harry up the wall and puts away her day clothes, trading them for her lazy night at home uniform – an oversized Harpies jersey and a pair of Harry's old sweatpants. "Dinner before dessert, dear."
Harry flops back on the bed and wriggles his trousers down his legs, belt dropping to the floor with a click. "No kids to set an example for tonight."
Ginny peers around the doorframe, hair half braided down her back and smirks. "That's why you're getting dessert before midnight."
As he putters about the room, tidying his discarded clothes, Harry calls out, "What time do you think we'll hear from the boys?"
Flicking off the light in the loo, Ginny starts toward the kitchen with Harry in her wake. "Not for a couple hours yet, I'd say," she sets about getting plates from the cupboard, "Even after Al's sorted, they'll still have the feast."
"He was a bit worried about that today," Harry begins, pulling two butter beers from the fridge, "the Sorting that is."
Ginny pauses mid slice into Molly's beef wellington, a slight frown on her face. "He was alright when they left though."
"Because your lovely husband handled it," Harry jokes, but his face settles into a more serious expression soon enough, "he got it in his head that we wouldn't want a Slytherin in the family."
"Poor kid, James' teasing is a bit much at times," Ginny sighs, settling in at the corner next to Harry.
"As Teddy and Victoire learned this morning."
"If they can handle Rita Skeeter, a thirteen-year-old boy's nothing."
Harry takes a hearty forkful and savors the moment, warm and filling. "Anyway, I told Albus we'd love him either way. Slytherin or no."
"If we still loved him after the vanishing toilet incident, Hogwarts House tensions will be nothing," Ginny laughs.
Harry toys with the flaky crust on his beef wellington, thoughtful. "It's not really the same as it was, with us though. Is it?"
Ginny sets her fork down and her hand finds his across the table, her thumb stroking across the back of his hand. "Unless you've neglected to tell me about another homicidal maniac bent on subjugating the world, I'd say not."
Snorting, Harry blows out a breath and tucks back into his meal. "All's well, eh?"
She smiles, small and warm, "All's well."