A/N: 7 billion years later I have finished my Hinny follower celebration fic. It was a labor of love for all of you guys, and also hinny xD I couldn't have gotten this done without annikaleigh24 over on tumblr. She's amazing and you should follow her and see all her beautiful art (fan art too!). I really hope you all enjoy this! Also, it's a modern muggle AU.
Harry's lost count of the days when he grabs his keys, storms out of the cottage, slams the door without bothering to lock, and peels out of the gravel drive without a backward glance.
He pulls off at the first petrol station he sees and fills the tank of his almost too old tin can of a car 'til it's brimming. A stop at the bank and he sucks as much money as allowed before the activity is deemed 'suspect' and stuffs it in the glove box.
And then it's just a matter of getting out of town as the sun rises, cresting over the horizon and licking golden and warm across the rolling hills as he breaks free and lets his foot push the gas without reservation.
Which is a mistake, he realizes, when flashing lights appear in his rearview and he's pulling off to the side before he remembers he's got a wad of bills in his glove box and a soon to be pressing need to open said glove box.
Still, he can't find too much nervousness in him, considering he'd broken both legs a week ago and woken up the next morning without so much as a bruise.
In the early morning light, he can just make out the orangey red hair peaking from beneath the officer's dark hat. "Speeding a bit there, eh?"
Harry grins, tame enough that he won't come off as a serial killer. "Sorry about that," his eyes dart toward the name tag, "Officer Weasley."
Weasley's blue eyes narrow as he probably tries to guess whether Harry's under some sort of illegal influence or just out on an ill advised joyride. Harry manages to shuffle the glove box contents enough that his recent withdrawal isn't too conspicuous, and Officer Weasley departs to run Harry's paperwork. Despite his confidence that any ramifications will be short lived, Harry nearly lets out a whoosh of breath when the officer returns and hands over the license and registration. "Watch your speed, eh Mr. Potter? We get lots of pedestrians 'round here."
"Of course, sorry about that," Harry shrugs, "Guess I let the open road get to me."
The officer lingers a second, and Harry's really hoping he's not rethinking his leniency when he steps toward the side of the car again, "Are you – Potter, like the author?"
Ruffling his hair awkwardly, Harry squints over the half-rolled up window. "Depends, does it count for or against me?"
Officer Weasley rolls his eyes and hands over the notepad tucked in his belt. "Just write a note for 'Ginny,' would you?"
Laughing, Harry scribbles out something vague but friendly, letters sharp slashes on the page, and signs his name in a messy but legible scribble. "Something for your sweetheart?"
A nauseated expression slides across Weasley's face and Harry thinks he'd like to be friends, if today wasn't completely pointless. "No. My sister."
"Sorry for the unwanted mental picture, mate," Harry snickers and Weasley growls, "Off with you before I give you a citation for – something I'll make up."
"Watch it or my next book'll be about a crooked small town cop named Measley."
"At least make me a mage," the officer says with a grin, waving as he trots back over to his patrol car and disappears back toward town.
With a sigh, Harry pulls back onto the gravel road and toward, anything but yesterday. If he can even call them yesterdays anymore. Once you've lived the same day for half a year, it all gets a bit blurry.
For the next few hours, the scenery passes in strobing greenery and flashes of sunlight through dense tree lines, repetitive enough that Harry's eyes are immediately drawn to the dinky Volkswagen left on the side of the road, and then a few beats later, a slow moving figure striding purposefully in the same direction he is, gas can in hand.
He slows, debating the level of creepiness he'd be putting out if he pulled over and offered her – he looks closer and confirms it's a woman – a lift. Figuring he knows he's not a danger, and even if she turns out to be some manic killer he'll just wake up again in his slightly moldy rented cottage, Harry slows next to her and lowers the radio and his window. "Can I help you at all?"
She turns abruptly, braid whipping around her shoulders as she raises her dark sunglasses. "Excuse me?"
Harry wavers somewhat in his devil-may-care attitude and the car comes to a complete stop. "I er- I figured we were going the same way?"
"I know self defense," she states, crossing her arms in a way that's more haughty than nervous, "and I have brothers – lots of them."
"I'm an only child and I took krav maga lessons on a groupon once," Harry answers with a smirk, "since we're making introductions."
She quirks one bright, orangey brow, stepping a little closer. "You know, telling me you took 'my body is my weapon' classes isn't particularly comforting."
Their eyes lock for a moment before she lets out a gust of breath and murmurs something that sounds like 'what the hell do I have to lose?' and then she's trotting around to the passenger's side and settling in with her rusty gas can in her lap, freckled thighs and cut off shorts bright against the dark cracked leather seats.
"I'm Harry, by the way," he offers, getting the car back up to speed on the abandoned highway.
His new passenger scowls at the radio as some new pop song comes on and switches to another station playing throwback jazz, then looks at Harry, practically daring him to question her choice with her gaze. Shrugging, he can't help the smile that ticks the corners of his lips as she settles back against the plush seat. "Ginny."
Harry bites his lip, wondering how likely it would be for more than one Ginny with orangey red hair to exist in such a localized area. His eyes dart over to his passenger for a moment. "Is one of your many brothers a policeman, by chance?"
Ginny's eyes narrow. "Yes, and he would go rogue to avenge my death," Harry can't help the laugh that burst from his lips and her scowl gets less genuine, "In case you were wondering."
"He pulled me over earlier – for speeding."
"And kidnapping me is some kind of long-game revenge, eh?" Ginny guesses, trainers tapping along to the beat of the radio.
"You got me," Harry smirks, sliding his hands around on the steering wheel absentmindedly, "Actually, though, you came up."
Grimacing, Ginny turns to face him, one foot tucked beneath the other leg. "Bloody wanker – I'm sorry – I love my family but," she blows a stray hair from her face and readjusts her sunglasses, "They could make meddling an Olympic sport."
Harry's not sure how to respond because this has strayed far from, 'I'm your favorite author would you like to snog since you're fit and I only have one day to live' territory, but Ginny's plowing ahead so she doesn't notice his fumbling, "And you are attractive so he's at least got that better than Percy with his swotty – "
A flush rises on Harry's cheeks as he cuts in, "You think I'm attractive?"
He's trying to look at her and watch the road, because he's fairly certain this conversation and pulling over are going to get him throat punched, and Ginny stares at him, like she's really trying to decide her answer. And then her chocolate eyes widen and she's flushing, her face glowing like the setting sun. "You – "
Over the years, he's gotten fairly used to the 'I've just recognized you from the poncey photo on your book jackets' face, but Ginny's is definitely his new favorite. "That's why you came up."
Getting herself together, Ginny slants her gaze toward him, spine straight and voice dry. "I've read one or two of them, sure."
Harry smirks. "I got the impression you're quite the fan, Miss Weasley."
"Awfully presumptuous," Ginny shoots back.
Shrugging, Harry feels the first bit of genuine happiness he's had in a long time begin murmuring to life in his chest. "Who else wants an autograph?"
"I meant the Miss Weasley bit," Ginny answers slyly, "I could be married."
His heart thuds in his chest, painful, but he forces the teasing smile back to his lips, though he grips the steering wheel a bit too tightly. "Are you? I think I should know if I'm going to be taken out back for kidnapping some huge angry bloke's fit wife."
"You're avoiding the question, and I actually do prefer not dying if possible." Had enough of that for one lifetime, Harry thinks wryly. The entertainment tends to wear off after the first half dozen times you accidentally die and still wake up the next morning.
"No husband," Ginny answers, playful, and Harry's mouth opens on another question she anticipates, "No boyfriend, no fiancé."
Harry lets out a breath he didn't realize he was holding and he can't really bring himself to reach genuine affront at Ginny's low laughter. She pulls her braid over one freckled shoulder and fiddles with the end. "How about you, Mr. Reclusive Author? Anyone keep you company in seclusion?"
"You should be a reporter," Harry answers, his heart finally out of his throat and muscles relaxing at Ginny's barking laughter as he responds, "But no, it's just me, and a few thousand pages of poorly done manuscript."
Harry pulls off the next exit, having already mindlessly passed a few where petrol stations were indicated, apparently both too invested in flirtatious teasing to notice. As the car comes to a stop near an empty pump, they sit in silence, apart from the random ticks and clicks of the car settling around them and the occasional whoosh of cars passing.
Ginny fiddles with the rusty can for a moment before twisting in her seat, biting at her lip so white fissures spread across the pale pink. "You – is – are you heading anywhere in particular, then? Research?"
Blinking slow, debating how much he should say, Harry shrugs and lets his fingers play with the stray threads sticking up from the center console. "I just started to feel a bit – claustrophobic? Like I was – "
"Trapped," Ginny finishes, nodding as her eyes lock with his.
And like some muscle memory long forgotten, Harry finds himself leaning across the console, his palm cupping Ginny's jawline, his eyes catching on her starburst freckles as they slip closed.
Their noses brush, close enough that Ginny's increasingly shallow breaths ghost across his lips. Until three loud honks sound behind them and they break apart with a jolt, both flushed and avoiding eye contact. Ginny fumbles the door handle, mumbling something about getting a move on, and Harry drops back against the worn leather as the door closes.
The next morning, Harry wakes early as usual, but listless, and lays in bed until the sun's well and truly risen, and then putters around the rest of the day, messing the house with half finished meals and haphazardly discarded trash and clothes. It's not as if it'll matter tomorrow.
It seems rather than reinvigorating him, the change of pace yesterday – if he can call it that – simply served to depress him, the pointlessness of his existence hanging over his head like a dark cloud. No matter the change – large or miniscule – it seemed he'd be stuck in an endless loop until some outside force decided to pity him, or tired of their plaything. And if a day spent watching Harry lie around in filth didn't bore them well – he was running out of ideas.
Slumping over to the couch, Harry twists the wireless on and flips to his favored station – he'd long ago memorized the nightly line-up of songs – and drops to the cushions with a sigh. The mind-numbingly boring and hideously soppy ballad he's heard at least once a day for half the term of his time loop imprisonment comes to a close and the DJ returns, taking another call, which should be Dana from Birmingham with the on-again off-again fiancé, but instead, a familiar voice comes across the radio waves.
Harry doesn't hear much of her request, too caught up in trying to figure out just how Ginny could possibly have interrupted the schedule he had so precisely memorized, when she was just another part of the endless pattern. Until the guitar and drums pick up, jarring him from his thoughts, and he's halfway to the front door, keys in hand before he can think about it.
By the time he settles in the car, radio switched to the same station as if the song could pull him closer to Ginny, rising tempo bringing his heart to a rapid pace, reality sets in. Whatever odd set of circumstances led to Ginny's pattern changing today, Harry's got no way to know where she is and really not much to go on in terms of figuring things out.
Expelling his breath in one long exhale, Harry lets his head drop back against the headrest, notes swirling around until he's half convinced he'll be drawn to Ginny by some magnetic pull if he just starts the car. The song winds to a close, morose and final when the guitar goes silent and the low hum of the whistle fills his ears.
He manages to go a week of repeated days, mostly spent puttering around the house and trying to find meaningless things to do that won't require too much effort – considering their destiny is to be erased the following day – without pursuing Ginny Weasley.
He's got a good memory, but not enough to remember twenty pages of manuscript, so he's basically given up on writing for the moment. Still, reading is good. And over the course of his entrapment, he manages to work his way through the A's in the fiction section at the local library with relative ease.
But after Ginny, his mind tends to wander in a way he's generally associated with the infatuation of youth. Which, he's not old, but probably too old to be dumbstruck to the extent that he nearly crashes his car when he sees her striding down the cracked sidewalk, hair knotted at the back of her head and scowling, hands clenched by her sides.
Before he can stop himself, Harry begins searching for a spot to slip his car into, debating whether he'd rather just abandon the vehicle – it'll be back tomorrow – in favor of speed. But his decision is made for him as a spot opens up and he swoops in easily, tires just brushing the curb, and he's out of the car before the air conditioning stops dripping onto the pavement.
He has to wriggle through a few more pedestrians than he'd expect in a town small as this, but he manages to catch up to Ginny quickly enough. Brain power apparently completely devoted to fancying a certain red head, Harry doesn't consider that grabbing at her elbow to stop her and half shouting 'Hey' is a good way to earn him a black eye, but he learns quick enough, once he's sprawled on the concrete, glasses bent but luckily not broken.
For his pain though, he gets a sky full of Ginny, freckles sprinkled across her skin like constellations and hair a halo of orange and gold as her concerned face fills his sky. "Bloody hell, have you got a brain?"
"It's a bit addled at the mo,' if I'm honest," Harry mumbles, pressing at his rapidly bruising cheek as Ginny helps him sit up, narrowing her eyes at the more nosey passers-by.
The fourth time Harry's hand almost gets crushed by a pram wheel, Ginny offers her hand, tugging him to his feet. "How about we get you inside?"
She tilts her head toward the nearby diner Harry's eaten himself into oblivion at least a dozen times and he can't find a reason to refuse. Once they're seated at one of the worn but clean booths, plastic menus in hand, Harry asks the waitress for a daily special and a cup of Earl Grey while Ginny orders a bowl of oatmeal and coffee. The waitress departs with a small but friendly smile, completely oblivious to the fact that she's sat across from Harry in this very booth on more than one occasion and cried her eyes out about her boyfriend who died just before A levels. It's strange, kind of like when you see someone from the past and they've made an imprint on your life and you learn your role in theirs was simply filling space, but Harry's got used to it over the months. Had to really. But it's hard to forget, when he sees the smile doesn't reach her eyes.
When he turns back to Ginny, she's chewing her lip and fiddling with the silverware, pale green paint on her nails chipped back from the tips. She takes a deep breath and Harry can see she's struggling with where to start. And since he's had more time to get used to the idea that he's not trapped alone anymore, he steps in.
"We've met before."
Ginny eyes him hesitantly. "Maybe."
"No definitely. You've got a family that could 'make meddling an Olympic sport,'" Harry starts, and Ginny shushes him, eyes searching the room behind him before she twists in her seat, eventually settling back down.
She scowls. "Keep your voice down. My meddling family owns this place," she pauses, "Probably shouldn't have even come in here with you, but mum's running errands and won't be in until two-oh-three. Exactly."
Harry dips his head in a nod. "She gets caught in the grocery with the pickle jar avalanche?"
Ginny snorts. "She still smells like brine after four showers."
The waitress brings their breakfasts over, leaving once Harry nods his thanks and Ginny sends her a familiar smile. Harry's slicing into his sausage when Ginny lets out a sigh. "So, have you any clue why we're the only people who've noticed we can't get out of this day successfully?"
"Maybe we're in hell," Harry posits, laughing lightly and Ginny's smile lights up the room.
"Are pickles one of the plagues?"
"Maybe they're getting creative with the scourges nowadays," Harry jokes back, and Ginny swipes a potato from his plate, not looking the least bit sorry. And suddenly he feels the painful shards that have formed in his chest over the last months softening, warmth seeping into the cold places he'd thought would never thaw.
Ginny's scraping the last of her oatmeal from the bowl when Harry glances around, as if expecting someone to jump from the shadows and stop him, and murmurs, "Wanna get out of here?"
Her spoon drops with a clatter and Harry throws too many bills on the table, and then they're clambering into his car and driving for who knows where.
They spend a few hours driving aimlessly, stopping at quick shops for drinks and snacks when they get peckish. They've just finished a picnic of various Styrofoam-like cakes, Mars bars, and too many fizzy drinks when Harry drops back against the grassy spot they claimed to watch the sun set.
His eyes go hazy as he stares into the swaying branches overhead and Ginny slides down next to him, leaves catching in her hair.
Harry rolls onto his side, arm pillowing his head and Ginny shifts to mirror him, blinking slowly so her lashes skim her freckles. "Don't let it go to your head, but I think this is one of my favorite versions of today."
They stayed out well after dark, getting devoured by mosquitoes and splashing in the shallows of a nearby creek Ginny selects for it's clear waters and slow current. Some part of Harry feels like it's natural to just drive them both back to his cottage and spend the night wrapped around each other before waking up the next morning, warm and content.
But even if that was in the cards, he'd still wake up alone and bereft. Because that's really been half the struggle since this started. Each day he habitually reaches for the far side of the bed, only to find it cold and empty, and then he's torn between hiding beneath the covers and running from the house before he can remember what it is he misses so much it feels like a hole's been ripped in his chest.
And it may sound a bit crazy, but when he's with Ginny and her smile appears like a bright slash across her speckled skin and her voice is brash and full of laughter, he almost feels like the broken pieces of him are knitting back together, itching like a healing wound that you want to poke at to see just how bad it hurts.
All this means that he has to fight his impulse to ask Ginny to come home with him, knowing that losing her – the only bright spot to appear in his life since this all started – is incomprehensible. So he'll bide his time, let her lead, and hopefully not lose his mind before they figure things out.
Which is what he keeps telling himself on repeat as he leaves his house as the town moves about their late morning errands, and drives himself toward the little house where he'd dropped Ginny off last night – or more accurately, this morning. When he knocks on the door, it pushes open under his fist, creaking lightly as Ginny calls out from down the cluttered hall and stumbles in the process of pulling on her second sandal.
Harry tries to suppress his snort of laughter, but wasn't particularly successful if Ginny's scowl is anything to go by. "Enjoying my pain?"
Raising his hands defensively, Harry steps back and presses his shoulders against the door, pushing it closed behind him. "Definitely not laughing at you tripping yourself with your own shoe."
Her scowl rises to a legitimate glare and Harry forces his face into an expression of penitence as Ginny wanders into the kitchen. "Tea? Something to eat?"
Harry shrugs, "What's easy?"
They end up sharing a couple of sandwiches and a packet of crisps Ginny managed to wrangle up, conversation easy and comfortable, even in its lulls. As Harry brushes the crumbs from his fingers, he leans back in the rickety chair, thoughtful. "So what's the plan for today?"
"I figured we'd compare notes and make some sort of game plan," she pauses and crunches on a crisp, "what were you doing that day we met the first time?"
Focusing a bit more than necessary, Harry uses the pad of his finger to pick up some stray crumbs from the table, sprinkling them on his empty plate.
"I was going to just drive as long and as far as possible," he smiles at her, small and a bit self-conscious, "but I got a bit distracted."
Ginny flushes a little. "Sorry."
Harry ruffles his hair and lets his eyes drift up toward hers. "I'm not."
After some discussion, they decide that Ginny should get over to Harry's as early as possible in the morning since his house is closer to the town limits. And further deliberation confirms that their earliest wake up time is six o' five, since Harry had been in some fit of madness that made him think he was an early bird writer the last night he got to start a new day. Because for some reason, he thought his writer's block would be broken by waking at an ungodly hour and puttering around uselessly in the dark rather than doing the same four hours later.
Regardless of Harry's previous ill-conceived notions about the time his muse would wake, he's grateful for the early start and they're off by half past six. They stop at the first petrol station they see and Harry fills the tank to brimming. By the time he's returning from the quick shop with two cheap coffees in hand, Ginny's in the driver's seat and smirking triumphantly.
She takes a long drag of the proffered drink, heedless of Harry's warnings about burning herself, before passing the cup back and peeling out of the station. Gleefully, Ginny rolls the windows down and pushes the sunroof open while yelling for Harry to turn up the radio. Her laughter is infectious as the light from the rising sun's rays and Harry's awake without his coffee.
He's so unusually full of bubbling laughter that Harry nearly forgets to warn Ginny about her brother's checkpoint, remembering at the last moment as they clear that first hill. "Ease up there, speedy. Your brother's around here somewhere."
Ginny sighs and rolls her eyes, "What a little wanker he is," but still slows to a more legal pace and they drive, singing along to the radio and talking about nothing and everything until the sun's fully risen and Ginny's stomach grumbles.
"Hungry there, eh?" Harry teases, poking at her side.
"Just for that, breakfast is your treat."
Harry sighs, shaking his head in mock distress, "Those take away diner pancakes are really going to break me, Gin."
Her eyes light for a moment, at the strangely familiar nickname, but it's gone before he has a chance to question it, and then she's pulling into the lot and setting the car in park. "Is that a challenge, Potter?"
Despite her threats, Ginny orders a couple of bacon butties, same as Harry, and they tromp out to the car, takeaway boxes and handfuls of napkins in hand. Harry beats Ginny in their race across the pavement, sliding easily into the driver's side seat while she scowls.
Eventually, she relents and circles to the passenger seat, exacting her revenge by taunting Harry with how much easier it is to eat when you're not driving, assuring him that she let him win on purpose. He's using his forearm to keep the steering wheel steady while he attempts to peel the wax paper away and ends up with a lap full of bacon instead, fighting down a blush when Ginny reaches into his lap and grabs one of the offending pieces and pops it in her mouth. "Want some help there?"
Clearing his throat, Harry nods, not trusting his voice at the moment, and hands his butty over. Which was a mistake.
Because, apparently, Ginny's version of helping is taking every other bite for herself and 'accidentally' missing his mouth any chance she gets. He ends up with a mess of sauce and bacon grease and whatever else smeared on his face and he really wants to be mad. But the second he looks over at Ginny, all contrite and brown eyes wide and sorrowful, he holds out one hand and turns his gaze back to the road before he does something soppy like smile. "Napkin please."
He watches from the corner of his eye as she scrambles around for the napkins that have somehow spread through the car in the last quarter of an hour, waiting for the opportune moment – and then he's making the shot and somehow gets a breakfast potato down her shirt.
It's silent, apart from whatever wailing, guitar-strumming musician is singing on the radio, and Harry's trying to figure out how this was crossing the line when Ginny speaks, low and even. "Pull over."
The turn signal echoes in his ears and Harry's half afraid he's lost his last grip on sanity in his endless hell of an existence and half pissed that she's somehow thinking she's got some high ground, and half ready to laugh that this is something to ruin a friendship over. Which is too many halves, but Harry really can't be bothered with maths when Ginny's got her eyes turned explicitly away.
He pulls far off the road, into a little grassy spot with swaying trees he'd say were prime napping real estate if he weren't so focused on whether Ginny's about to throat punch him.
Slowly, she finally turns and leans across the center console, thumb swiping at the corner of his lip. "You've got – just," she licks a napkin and rubs his cheek, "there."
Harry blinks, seeking her gaze which she has studiously pinned to his chin, then murmurs, "So've you."
Her eyes close and she takes a steadying breath, shifting closer. "Yeah?"
"Yeah," he barely whispers, leaning into her palm.
He can't quite tell, at this point, if she's trying to lull him into a false sense of security or if she legitimately wants to kiss him. But honestly, he doesn't want to take a chance, so he's willing to risk a face full of breakfast food if there's also a shot Ginny's going to kiss him.
Sadly, Harry never gets a chance to find out, interrupted as they are by three distinct raps at the tinted window. "Hate to break up the party – "
"Bloody hell," Ginny groans, dropping her forehead against Harry's shoulder. He has to fight the shiver that tickles up his spine when her breath brushes his collarbone. Another two knocks, and a slightly impatient 'Oi!' have Ginny pulling away and dropping back against her seat, head bouncing on the headrest. "It's my brother."
Harry frowns. "Is he stalking me?"
Ginny growls and leans across Harry, fried potatoes falling down her front and into Harry's lap as she rolls the window down a sliver. "Bugger off, Ron."
There's some spluttering and then two blue eyes surrounded by freckles Harry's realizing are a family trait appear in the small crack. "What – who's this Gin? Does mum know?"
Ginny pinches Harry's side when he starts to snicker and Ron doesn't seem to take his laughter too well either, if his impatient gaze and terse tone are anything to go by. "Well? Absconding off with my sister in the – "
"Can't say the dead of night when it's not even half past eight, Ronnikins," Ginny teases.
"I can say "Ginny's run off with a strange man' into my mobile," Ron grunts, seeming less and less the imposing officer and more like a typical sibling.
"Talking to yourself again, Ron dear? Not so good for the psych evals," Ginny answers, false distress dripping off her honeyed tones.
Ron lets out a growl of frustration. "You're coming back to town with me."
Harry feels a bit bereft when Ginny pulls away again, fiery gaze focused entirely on her brother. "And just why would I do that?"
"Because I can tell mom who 'accidentally' broke her Celestina Warbeck Christmas album."
Which is how Harry and Ginny and up on their way back into town, covered various in breakfast foods, with a police escort. It's quiet, music low and conversation thread lost in the confusion, until Ginny speaks, head pillowed dejectedly against the chill window glass. "We could've just kept going, y'know? S'not like mum will remember tomorrow."
Harry slants his eyes toward Ginny, driving more carefully than usual considering their road company. "What if tomorrow was the day we finally got to see tomorrow?"
Ginny snorts. "Guess Ron wasn't going to let us leave anyway."
"Also true," Harry agrees, fingers itching with the impulse to grasp her hand in his, to give her fingers a comforting squeeze. But despite everything, despite the fact that he was halfway to snogging the life out of her twice, he hesitates and the moment passes, and the silence rests, heavy but comfortable.
Until Ron pulls off at the Weasley home where Harry'd picked Ginny up the previous day. Ron trots up the front steps as Harry turns the car off, waiting, while Ginny lingers. "Ready to meet some more Weasleys?"
"Why not?" Harry says with a light shrug, eyeing Ron as he lingers in the doorway, arms crossed.
Ginny sighs, shaking her head as she exits the car, a teasing tilt to her lips. "So young, so naive."
Harry follows Ginny from the car, ignoring Ron's curious gaze as it rakes over his egg, cheese, and bacon covered form, and enters the house behind her. After cleaning up in the bathroom, slightly awkward and tense in the close quarters of the guest bath, they end up seated around a long, scrubbed wood table surrounded by mismatched chairs. Ron flicks the kettle on and hangs his jacket in the front hall, boots thudding against the creaking planks on the floor. "Everyone'll be 'round soon."
"Everyone?" Ginny chokes out, and Harry feels his nerves rising for the first time.
Ron's looking too gleeful and Ginny's slipped her hand into Harry's, squeezing too tight to be relaxed. Once Ron disappears into the kitchen, whistle on his lips and swing in his step, Ginny drops her forehead to Harry's chest, sending his heart thudding. "Alright, Gin?" Harry manages to murmur.
"Let's just leave – just get in your car and get out of here," Ginny says, slightly manic as she paces the entryway, "Then we can ditch it next town over and – "
Grabbing her shoulders, Harry pulls Ginny to stand in front of him. "I don't particularly relish the idea of getting into a high speed chase with your brother."
Ginny sighs, "He won't remember."
"Unless tomorrow is actually tomorrow," Harry volleys, quirking his brow and earning a scowl from Ginny.
"Is that going to be your new buzz-killing mantra, because I don't like," Ginny grumbles mulishly.
"I'm actually not generally cautious but I'm trying to turn over a new leaf – "
"Sounds like a terrible idea to me Ferd," a new voice chimes in. When Harry turns, he finds two identical, stocky, and grinning red heads wriggling their brows at Harry's closeness to Ginny.
"I think ol' Ginnikins brought home a beau, Gorge," the one on the left with the darker spray of freckles across his nose mock-whispers.
Ginny's face heats and her eyes go a bit dangerous, so Harry steps forward and offers his hand in an attempt to keep the peace.
And pulls it away at the last moment, a smirk lighting on his lips. "I may be new here, but I was raised by pranksters." Harry narrows his eyes at 'Ferd's' proffered hand and they have a bit of a staring contest before the twins let out cacophonous laughter.
"We'll let you have that one, my good sir, and also surrender our true names," he points to himself, "Forge," and his brother, "and Gred."
Ginny shakes her head, an endeared smile on her face and slips her arm through Harry's elbow. He can't help but feel it's natural, and she seems comfortable enough too, not even batting an eye as she pokes her free fingers at each brother in turn, "Fred, George," Ginny gestures toward Harry's chest, "Harry."
George, the brother with slightly more orange-y hair nods, and appears thoughtful for a moment, before he claps Harry on the back. "Raised by pranksters you say, eh?"
"Nice rhyme there Georgie," Fred joins in, leading them toward the kitchen with a jaunty spring in his step, "Tell us about your mischievous heritage."
Harry smiles. "The four of them called themselves the Marauders – though really Mum should be included too."
And if Harry's chest warms when Ginny stays close the rest of the afternoon, he's not going to apologize.
Family spills in gradually, some phoning in their interrogations – Ginny's oldest brother's abroad with his wife and daughters – or dropping by on their lunch breaks for an abbreviated 'discussion.' The latter of which being Percy, who Harry learns is both a workaholic and prat when he simultaneously insinuates – if outright accusation can be called such a thing – that Harry's just trying to latch on to Ginny's fame (this doesn't hold up long once he reveals his full name) and that Ginny's behaving like a scarlet woman to get a wealthy man (which is also odd because Ginny's hardly needful at the mo'). Harry's incensed on Ginny's behalf more than his own, and apparently so are Fred and George because Percy unknowingly leaves without a wallet and with a dossier full of broken eggs. After the door's shut behind Percy, Ginny turns toward the twins. "Really? Eggs the best you got?"
Fred shrugs. "Short notice – we were more in 'scare the beau' mode today."
"Worry not, Ginny, we'll finish him off tomorrow," George picks up, patting her shoulder comfortingly – and remarkably without leaving a sticky note or joke product behind. Harry muses this is likely more from fear of Ginny's wrath rather than a kindness in her apparent state of distress.
Which is more intense than he'd have guessed, given the circumstance. That is, until her brown eyes meet his, sad and a little wistful as she sends him a half smile and addresses her brother, "Thanks Georgie. I know you will."
And it clicks, there won't be a tomorrow. If he hadn't caught her drift – which, Harry does have to wonder how someone he's only known for a handful of days has the ability to communicate so easily without words – Ginny settles next to him on the couch and lets her head fall to his shoulder. "Sorry – it's just. It settled in on me that this is all so pointless," Harry nuzzles her hair, scent flowery and light, and she continues, "We could've been caught in in flagrante delicto and it wouldn't even matter."
"I have a feeling whatever your family would've done to me would be memorable enough to make it matter even if I wake up physically alright tomorrow," Harry murmurs, unable to help himself from pressing a kiss to her hairline.
"Weasleys do tend to have rather traumatic tempers," Ginny murmurs, her arm banding over his middle as she slumps further against him.
After a brief and accidental kip on the Weasley's cozy settee, Harry and Ginny's apparent endless luck continues when they wake to find three new Weasleys arrived, discovering their repeating day landed during one of Charlie's – the scarred and intimidating animal conservationist Weasley brother – quarterly visits. Perhaps expected, given his life spent studying animals in the wild, Charlie spends the first three quarters of an hour of his visit observing Harry from afar as he interacts with Molly and Arthur – not quite breaking into obvious disapproval, just scrutinizing him like he's an unknown and possibly dangerous species.
So by the time Harry's faded into the background of attention as Ginny's mother gives the five-minute warning for supper – food perhaps the only thing more interesting than giving the third degree to Ginny's maybe boyfriend – Harry decides to poke the bear, so to speak.
"I don't think we met officially – I'm Harry," he tries, offering his hand while Charlie remains silent a touch longer than comfortable.
Still, he does answer and it's not what Harry expected, "You're not dating my sister."
A statement, but not threatening, just – observational. Harry doesn't answer, for a moment, unsure whether Ginny prefers to play this as a secret new boyfriend situation since they haven't really got to talk about things and she has been rather affectionate all afternoon. But Charlie seems undeterred. "You want to be, but you're not."
Harry weighs his options a bit, but this may be his only chance to talk to someone about Ginny who knows some segment of the situation and knows Ginny, so he throws caution to the wind and takes a leaf out of Ginny's 'no one will remember tomorrow' playbook. "Yes." He didn't decide to become a love poet – baby steps, honesty is progress.
"I think she might too," Charlie answers, expression unreadable as the family continues clamoring in the kitchen.
Rather valiantly, Harry fights the urge to do some sort of victory dance as his heart beats out a conga and his neck heats. Still, his verbal ability seems to tank in the face of romantic discussion. "I er- that is- good?"
"You seem alright, as blokes go," Charlie says, a smirk finally rising on his lips, "Aside from the stammering and excessive sweat around your temples."
Harry swipes at his face and frowns when he realizes Charlie is not in fact taking the mickey. "Thanks? I think?"
"Just watch yourself," Charlie answers, smile flashing dangerously and making him look more like Ginny, "I have access to large cats with even larger appetites."
For a second, Harry weighs his options, but decides to play a bit of hardball and pats Charlie on the shoulder, "And my godfather's Sirius Black."
Their gazes lock and Harry thinks he might've gone too far – name dropping a relative with dubious reputation as a threat – but Charlie lets out a loud bark of laughter and nudges Harry toward the kitchen. "You just may survive this family – and Ginny."
Then Mrs. Weasley is bustling in, shooing them both into the kitchen and guiding Harry to the seat next to Ginny with a wink. Ginny offers him a slightly embarrassed smile and he pretends not to notice when she puts her elbow in the butter dish.
By the time they've finished filling their plates and everyone's discussing the events of the day over their impromptu family meal, Ginny leans toward Harry and presses her lips close enough that they brush his cheekbone when she whispers, "Charlie threaten you with the big cats?"
"Bring lots of boys home, Gin?" Harry teases.
She smirks at him, all apparent coolness, but he sees the way her eyes darken at the nickname he can't let go. "You're not that special."
Harry debates bringing out Charlie's pronouncement about the match, but he can't quite get the words out, keeping the idea, the thought, the fragile hope – if he's being honest – tucked away somewhere private and safe.
A decision that is beside the point, once Mrs. Weasley turns her gaze toward the two of them, heads bowed close and forearms brushing on the table. "And how was your day, Ginevra?"
Ron dunks his dinner roll into the gravy pooling around his roast and shoots a mischievous look at Ginny. "Yeah, Ginny. How'd you like that shoulder on the road? Good snogging territory?"
Ginny's jaw clenches and Harry's wondering how guilty it would seem if he stepped in, but Mr. Weasley lets out a harrumph from the far end of the table, cutting off in the middle of whatever he was saying to Charlie. "Ronald, you're not twelve anymore, teasing Ginny about boys is a bit childish, wouldn't you say?"
George snorts and Mr. Weasley goes about dressing his plate. "You've got to have some sort of filter, so only the best japes get through," he takes a bite of thinly cut roast and chews thoughtfully, "For example, I chose to leave jokes aside when I walked in on Hermione finally 'snogging the life out of you,' as they say."
The entire family begins shouting, jeering, and exchanging money, so the brunt of their attention is turned toward the second youngest when Mr. Weasley sends Harry and Ginny a small wink and pointedly turns back to Charlie.
It's over the bounty of dessert that the group at large finally does question Harry, although the main focus isn't the nature of his and Ginny's private activities. Mrs. Weasley's dishing out a second helping of treacle onto his plate, waving away his protests of a full stomach, when she asks, "So Harry dear, you're an author?"
Apparently, he gives the appearance of being taken aback because she adds, "Well once I heard your full name, I remembered Ginny talking about how she loved your writing – tried to go to a signing in Cardiff last spring."
Ginny's cheeks are flushed and the tips of her ears are turning red as her hair, so Harry tries to subtly let his hand slip below the table linens to squeeze her knee as he answers, "I wouldn't have objected to meeting Gin sooner," Ginny lets her hand brush his and he nearly chokes when her fingers knit through his, "As for the writing, I've just always had these fantastical worlds floating around in my head, so I'm glad it's fun for more than just me."
Seemingly satisfied for the moment, Mrs. Weasley nods shortly and focuses on making sure the rest of her brood is adequately stuffed. And it's nearing half past ten when the family starts trickling back to their homes. Ron claps Harry on the back as he leaves, earlier distrust forgotten in the wake of discovering their shared affinity for football and Harry's easy acceptance of Ron's fanaticism for a particular team with an apparent allergy to winning.
The elder Weasleys have already said their goodnights; already up too late for their early start to get the diner up and running, so Ginny walks Harry toward his car alone, the night dark and alive around them. "In a stunning twist, you seem to have won Ron over within the span of a few hours."
Harry nudges her with his shoulder, hands tucked deep in his pockets to keep him from doing something stupid. "I wasn't worried."
"Ah, so your shoulders rising to your ears and pursed lips on the way over here were just for my benefit?" Ginny sniggers and tucks her arm through his, apparently less concerned about pushing their unnamed boundaries. "But honestly, we can be a bit much – you seemed alright, all things considered."
"I'm used to crazy family – made me miss mine, if I'm honest."
Ginny squeezes his elbow. "Can I ask?"
The gravel crunches beneath their feet, a lone owl hooting in the distance mixes in with the cicadas that play nightly, but Harry's mind can't move past the warmth of Ginny's hand as it slides to grasp his. She nudges him a bit and his train of thought gets going again. "Oh they're away – supposed to just be a weekend but it's been – well you know."
Ginny hums and he continues, "The only time I've gotten to call was for about a quarter of an hour around one but it's not," Harry shrugs, letting the sentence drop as his throat closes up a bit.
Footsteps stuttering to a halt, Ginny pulls Harry into a tight hug, tucking her face into his neck as he automatically nuzzles into her hair. Her fingers knit through the almost too long hair where it curls at his neck, lips brushing his sweat-salty skin. "Glad we found each other then, eh?"
Harry nods, pulling back until their noses brush, and he wants to kiss her, probably more than he's ever wanted anything, but at least more than he's wanted anything he can remember in this universe. And yet, he can't bring himself to close the distance, however miniscule. They're all each other has, at this point, and he can't be sure about her perspective, but losing her is something he doesn't want to risk. And maybe those two misfires were a sign…
So he pulls away, ignoring what was maybe a bereft expression on Ginny's face, and continues toward his car, leaning against the cool metal to ground himself. He clears his throat. "Same time tomorrow?"
Ginny mimics his posture, easy enough that he thinks he might have imagined the sadness from before. "Where exactly are we going?"
"As far as possible."
"Is that right?" Ginny drawls.
It feels like his tongue's swollen up when he realizes how that may have sounded and her poker face is too high quality to get an accurate read when she doesn't want him to. "I – er – I didn't – "
Ginny pats his cheek, fingers cool and somehow familiar against his skin as she puts him out of his misery. "I know."
And it might be his own muddled feelings making him think it, but Harry almost thinks she looks disappointed.
Harry fidgets a bit, to try and stop the windscreen wiper from digging into his lower back, and only succeeds in making it stab his side instead. But it's only fair that all parts of him share in the pain of their defeat.
Ginny wriggles similarly next to him, eventually leaning forward and pulling her jacket off to ball it behind her and settling back with a sigh as she looks up into the same sparkling sky they'd seen for the last who knows how many nights. "So tomorrow, we fill a can at the last petrol station, eh?"
"Who knew they didn't have gas stations in the middle of nowhere?"
Pulling her sleeves over her hands, Ginny scoots closer and asks, "If I share my jacket-pillow, can we cuddle for warmth?"
Harry sits forward and Ginny adjusts the jacket so it's behind both of them, then holds his arm out in invitation. "I suppose I can suffer through holding you close, Gin."
However, despite his cavalier attitude, Harry can't seem to get his heartbeat regulated and his palms do feel a bit sweaty. But – whether as an act of kindness or simple ignorance – Ginny doesn't bring up Harry's nerves and simply pillows her head on his chest, one hand coming up to rest over his heart. Her breathing regulates so he's half convinced she's fallen asleep, until her voice sounds in the chill night air. "What made you become a writer, Harry? I mean, you said a bit about it last night with mum, but…"
She trails off and Harry's shocked to find that he doesn't even feel a moment of hesitation, where normally he'd be searching for a diversion to facilitate an escape. "I was always a bit lonely, when I was a kid."
Ginny's thumb strokes over his sternum, and Harry continues, "I love my parents, and my – well they're practically uncles – but for whatever reasons I never really had any friends that were mine."
"So you made some up?" Ginny supplies quietly, and Harry hums. She nuzzles into his chest. "Well I do enjoy your ladies."
Harry can feel a small, contented smile spread across his lips. "Is that right?"
"Yes. And I assume your mum serves as the inspiration – she must be quite the character."
"Bit of mum, bit of Tonks – she's like an aunt – bit of," he stops, brushing his thumb over her shoulder, "My daydreams I guess."
And it takes some doing to keep himself from thinking about how much Ginny's really like those daydreams. So in the name of his own sanity, as well as other less convoluted reasons, Harry shifts the focus of their conversation. "So what do you do? If I can ask."
"Well it's the off season, so I hang around with mum – next best thing to giving her grandbabies," Ginny says with a hint of sauciness.
"None in sight?"
She laughs and prods his side playfully. "Where do you think grandbabies come from? Just wander in like little gnomes?"
Harry sticks out his tongue mulishly, "I'm trying to – "
"You're trying to subtly ask if I'm interested in dating?" Ginny teases, making Harry's face heat.
"I thought we were exchanging life stories but whatever," Harry sighs dramatically, infinitely grateful for the darkness keeping Ginny from seeing his face. Silence falls between them and it's almost comfortable. Plus Harry's willing to ignore almost anything if it means he can hold Ginny.
"I am, " Ginny says, final and definitive, "Interested, that is."
Warmth blooms in his chest and Harry's smile feels rather goofy, but he can't bring himself to care. Still, he tries to keep his tone even when he nods. "Ok."
A beat passes and then Ginny's hovered over him, hands planted on either side of his ribs, face bright and milky against the night sky like a second moon. "Well?"
She goes a little unsteady and Harry grasps her hips, both unconsciously darting their eyes toward where he's touching her, and back. Harry clears his throat nervously. "'Well' what?"
Ginny blows a stray hair out of her face impatiently, still looming over him, apparently waiting for an answer. His thumbs stroke mindlessly over the sliver of skin revealed when her shirt rode up, and he can't help but notice the shiver that runs up her spine, letting it bolster him a bit. Though his voice is still quiet, hesitant. "Yeah. I think so."
"Rough break up?" Ginny asks, biting her lip.
Closing his eyes to gather his thoughts, Harry blows out a deep breath, not releasing Ginny – not that she's trying to get away. "I don't – do you ever feel like," he pauses and Ginny's still waiting, patient, "like something's not quite right?"
Ginny rolls her eyes and laughs, sliding off the hood of the car with a squeak and waiting for Harry to follow. As she's pulling a picnic blanket Harry hadn't known about from the boot, she begins spreading it in the flattest part of the field they managed to pull off into before the petrol ran out. "Harry we've been stuck in the same day for almost a year. Nothing feels right," she throws a glance toward him for a moment and says so quiet he almost misses it, "Well, almost nothing."
But she turns away so quickly and without really waiting for acknowledgement that Harry lets it pass, sticking to the main thread of their conversation. "I mean – odd, like you've forgotten something."
"I do feel a bit weird," Ginny answers, leaning back on her hands and pressing her shoulder against Harry's. "But different than – it's more like certain things just feel right when they happen – spending the evening with my family last night," she hesitates, almost imperceptibly, "meeting you."
Harry turns so abruptly it nearly sends them both sprawling back against the gingham blanket, but they recover rather well and Ginny doesn't take the opportunity to avoid the subject. Instead she turns to face him fully, and Harry's not sure how they got so close, so she's entirely pressed against his side and her nose brushes his. She gives him that half smile he's well on the way to being in love with and shrugs. "Meeting you – it was like I finally took a full breath. It was just – "
Harry dips his face a little closer, still not enough to actually be considered kissing, but if kissing and not kissing is a sliding scale, it's definitely more a kiss than it isn't. He blinks at her, their breaths mixing, and Ginny's lips twitch into a barely there smile. "You going to finish what you started, Potter? Or shall I – "
She doesn't get to finish her teasing, Harry's lips slanting over hers, his hand cupping her jaw, tilting her face toward his as he deepens the kiss. And he's lightheaded, mind swirling with Ginny Ginny Ginny. Until his mind is really swirling and he really does feel like he's going to pass out. Ginny must realize his predicament because she pulls back, hands cupping his face and eyes concerned. "Harry are you – "
He grabs at his head as it throbs, flashes of memory like lightning in front of his eyes and chills shuddering through his body. First, it's just bits of him and Ginny together, awkward but comforting, if a bit vague. Then a cottage, small but much less moldy. Ginny meeting his parents, Sirius, Remus, and Tonks. Their first Christmas together. Debating who to bring to pick out a ring and…headlines. Lots of headlines and rumors and drama and a fight. Stupid, but ending with him, alone.
Finally, he gets his thoughts straight enough to realize what this must look like to Ginny and he sees the worry on her face. Grasping her fingers in his, Harry drops his head to her shoulder; eyes squeezed shut against the light he can't escape. "I – It – S'alright. My fault."
Which is apparently not enough for Ginny because she's tipping him onto his back and yelling past the roaring in his ears as more memories come rushing back, meaningless to anyone else. Now, current Ginny's tilting his head back and pulling his lids up, but he can see it all, it's slowing and starting to follow some sort of logical train of events. At first, it seemed like hallucinations or some sort of odd recall of the last year. But now he knows he's remembering his real life – life before he – oh God.
Before he cocked everything up.
"Harry," Ginny pleads, pressing her ear against his chest, presumably to listen for his thudding heartbeat.
"I'm alright – just a lot at once," Harry grunts out and Ginny sighs against him. "Your kiss certainly packs a punch," he tries, forcing out a chuckle and Ginny pulls away, scowling.
"Care to share with the class Harry?" and when he makes to avoid the question, Ginny levels him with a glare, "And that wasn't a request."
Still, he wouldn't be Harry if he didn't try to hedge around and avoid his feelings for Ginny Weasley, so he pushes up on his elbows and turns his gaze to his dirt smudged shoes. "D'you ever – ever think some people are just too much trouble and they can't be worth the effort?"
"Not – if you care about someone, you care about all of them," she eyes him, "If you've got something wrong with you it's not going to scare me away. I mean, that was scary but I just need a warning or – "
"No – Gin. Gin," he sits up fully and holds one of her hand in both of his, "We – this isn't our real life."
"But in our real life, it's our life."
Ginny turns to face him and folds her legs one over the other, "I was just snogging the daylights out of you so I'm at a bit of a loss as to why you think this is earth shattering enough to scare the daylights out of me."
"I – I wished our life away," Ginny's brows raise in question and Harry explains, "I thought you'd end up hating me because I get a lot of negative attention and it's just adding to – "
"S'not like I'm not famous too," she pauses, "I am still a footballer, right?"
Harry smiles for the first time since he had that mini freak out, "I want you to remember this, how I didn't lie to you and give you a coronary, over the next few days."
"So you wished me away."
"I just – I was skipping stones in that weird lake in the woods behind my cottage and I think maybe I threw Teddy's wishing stone?"
"I don't know who Teddy is, but given that wince, I'm guessing he's going to kill you."
"And it was after we'd had a bit of a blow because of some rumors, and I just thought you'd be better off if you'd never met me," Harry says, all in one breath, eyes falling shut.
And its silent a little longer than comforting, before Ginny finally answers, quiet, "Well that was dumb of you," she doesn't pause for more than a breath, "I think I'm quite capable of making decisions for myself and a little gossip isn't going to scare me away – how serious are we in our real life?"
There's a pregnant pause and Ginny growls, "You have a ring, don't you? We're almost engaged and you wished it away."
"Accidentally. And you were pretty livid."
"Are you this thick often, because maybe it isn't – "
Harry kisses her again; warm and sure, then pulls away and presses their foreheads together, breathing her in. "I'm sorry I wished us away and got us stuck in weird repeating day hell."
Tugging him down next to her, Ginny presses her lips to his temple and pillows her head on his chest. "I forgive you, but regular Ginny's going to be harder to convince, I reckon."
It's late when Harry wakes up, sun well and truly risen and heating his bed with its golden rays. But that's not what rouses him. No, it's probably the incessant knocking at his door and muffled shouts. Slipping from beneath the sheets and fumbling his glasses on, Harry pads down the hallway of his house, in only his pants, hair rumpled beyond belief and eyes bleary, and happily notes the fresh scent instead of the stale, moldy smell of his alternate universe rental property. He can half make out the figure waiting outside – red hair, freckled skin, and two brown eyes now staring him down. "Harry James open this door and explain yourself."
And despite his rising fear at having the brunt of Ginny's temper turned entirely on him, Harry can't ignore the thud of his heart, or the unbelievable need to have her in his arms, remembering him. He pulls the door open and before she can get past an accusing 'Harry,' he's wrapped around her, face tucked into her sweet smelling hair, hands grasping at anything he can find while he relishes the rightness of everything. Ginny must feel the few tears that squeeze past his lids, his shuddering breaths, because she lets her hands rise, one knitting through his messy locks and the other firm against his shoulders. "I missed you too. But we're talking about this," she nudges his head with her nose until they're face to face, and Harry asks, quiet, "Later?"
In answer, Ginny tugs his head down to hers, arms threading around his neck and sighing into his mouth. "The happenings of the next half hour will greatly influence my benevolence toward you 'later.'"
Harry nips at her ear and murmurs, "It's been – a long time. I'm planning on making the 'happenings' last at least an hour, Gin."
"Talk, talk, talk."
"I'm good for it."
Which, while Harry has as many failings as the next bloke, exaggeration of his abilities when it comes to Ginny is not one of them. So it's much later by the time they're sprawled across the bed, afternoon light low as Harry drags his fingers through Ginny's wild hair. His stomach grumbles loud and echoing beneath her ear and Ginny pushes up onto one elbow. "Hungry, eh?"
Harry grins lazily. "I've expended a lot of energy."
Ginny presses an errant kiss to the side of his ribcage and putters about looking for something to slip on, eventually settling on a freshly laundered pair of Harry's pants and a clashing plaid flannel. "Up you get. Breakfast for dinner isn't going to make itself."
It's not until he's cracking the third egg into the sizzling pan that Ginny broaches the subject, no jokes. "We do need to talk about things, Harry."
The fourth egg goes a bit wonky and they're not coming out without at least one broken yolk, which is obviously not Harry's biggest problem at the mo', but it is rather convenient, from his perspective.
And Ginny's well versed in 'Harry's perspective.' "I'll turn off that burner if I have to."
Harry prods the gooey whites once with the spatula and sets it off to the side, lowering the heat and clumsily settling the lid on top. "After yesterday – does that still count as yesterday?" Ginny's doing a remarkable impression of Hermione in sixth year when she found out he and Ron hadn't kept to the study timetable, and he knows he's just stalling.
"There's just been. There's been a lot this year," Harry starts, floundering a bit, "And your career is difficult enough as is – getting taken seriously and the World Cup is sooner than later – "
"I know my schedule, Harry James," Ginny murmurs, eyes soft, a contrast to her tone. Still, she comes closer and brushes her fingers along his arm, "If this is about Skeeter – "
"It's not nothing, Gin," Harry cuts in, "The more your press becomes about your are they/aren't they engagement, the less they'll cover what actually matters."
Harry can almost see Ginny's temper rise, and he knows he's got to cut this off before it gets back to where all this when to shite. "But. Ginny, I know it's your choice. And I know – I know you love me and we'll be fine."
"Only took a hellish year and a half of repeating days to get that through your skull, you numpty," Ginny grumbles, sniffing at the slightly too browned eggs as she takes them from the stove.
"It was never that I didn't want you. Sometimes, it just feels like I can't want you. Like all this," he gestures vaguely around them, mostly focusing on her and Ginny can't help the uptick of her lips, mirroring his as he continues, "I don't feel like I deserve to have it, to keep it."
"Well you don't," Ginny says short, smiling fully now, "I'm much too good for you, haven't you heard, you philanderer?"
The toast's both cold and burnt as Harry pulls it out of the toaster. "You forgot international drug lord."
"That hag is a liar and everyone – who matters – knows it," Ginny interrupts, dividing their 'breakfast' between two plates.
Harry holds his hand out across the table and Ginny lays hers across it, squeezing once comfortingly. He runs his thumb over the back of her hand. "I know. Just like I still know you're too good for me – " he doesn't let her answer yet, "but I've decided to run with it as long as you'll have me."
Ginny pulls her hand away and cuts into her eggs, kicking him lightly beneath the table. "Alright."
"Alright?" Harry prods, noticing the slight narrowing of her eyes.
"Alright – for now."