A/N: I do apologize for the long wait with this chapter and the wait with all the others, things have been crazy around my house of late. Hopefully, I can get back to a more regular schedule again soon. As some of you have noticed, 8 one-shots popped up recently. Yes, they were a summer competition. No, I could not post them as one or two chapters to a new story. Yes, they will be part of a new story, much like this started out. The next one-shot will be up soon(ish), and yes, it will follow in with that story. Up next (besides the aforementioned one-shot) is Birth Bond. As Always, Thanks for the R/Rs.
Chapter 15: That Takes the Cake
Harry and Ginny lounged on the sofa in the sitting room waiting for Professor McGonagall to arrive. Ginny rested her head on Harry's collarbone as he stroked his hand through her hair. She took a deep breath, trying to calm her nerves. She was worried about what she was going to tell their Head of House and how the stern professor would take the news. They had stayed up quite late discussing it with her parents, Sirius, and Marlene after the party and then again after they had arrived home from Godric's Hollow. She and Harry felt it was the right decision, and so did her parents. Sirius and Marlene had also agreed. It was just convincing McGonagall that worried her. Ginny sighed as she looked at the normal clock above the fireplace. It was almost time.
The floo burst into green flames right on time. McGonagall was nothing if not punctual. The stern professor greeted them with a small, rare smile.
"Mr. Potter, Ms. Weasley," she nodded.
"Professor," Ginny sighed as she sat up. Harry continued to stroke her back for reassurance.
"Something wrong, Ms. Weasley?" McGonagall asked with a hint of concern in her voice.
"I don't feel ready to take my OWLs," Ginny told her honestly with a shake of her head. McGonagall said nothing. She raised one eyebrow slightly, waiting for a further explanation. "We discussed it last night and the night before with my parents and…"
"And Sirius and Marlene," Harry added. Ginny glanced at him with a quick little smile.
"We all feel that at least a little studying would be good before taking them, Professor," Ginny stated.
"I see," McGonagall nodded. She paused, making Ginny feel a nervous flutter in the pit of her stomach. McGonagall then graced them with another small smile. "Miss Lovegood felt the same way."
"Really?" Ginny asked in surprise.
"Yes, Ms. Weasley," nodded McGonagall.
"We also think…" Ginny started but trailed off.
"That… because of our bond that Harry could take the OWLs for the classes I have, but he doesn't, like Ancient Runes," Ginny explained further.
"That…" McGonagall stopped with a thoughtful look as she stared at Harry for a minute. "That is an interesting idea."
"So, you agree?" Harry asked uncertainly.
"Yes, Mr. Potter," she nodded. "I was actually here, not to give you your OWLs, Ms. Weasley, but let you know we have rescheduled them for the beginning of August."
"Brilliant!" Ginny smiled, letting out the breath she didn't realize she was holding. "That way Harry can help me study, and I can help him."
"Quite," McGonagall nodded. "With that settled, I shall make the arrangements for Mr. Potter, and I shall see again on 3 August."
"Thank you, Professor," Ginny smiled with a nod.
"Thanks, Professor," Harry added.
"Of course," McGonagall nodded. "I am of the opinion that the Headmaster was trying to rush things. And so were Professor Marchbanks' thoughts on the matter. Worry not, as your Head of House, I have already argued on your behalf. Good day to you both."
"Well," Harry grinned as McGonagall disappeared into the green flames, "that was easy."
"You know what's even easier?" Ginny asked with a smirk as she turned to him.
"What's that, love?"
"This," Ginny purred as she pushed Harry down on the sofa and began snogging him senseless.
"Agh! Not again!" Ron complained as he walked in from the kitchen. Harry and Ginny looked up annoyed. Ginny raised her hand to start yelling at Ron with a pointed finger only to have a blue arc shot out of her finger to strike Ron in his center. Ron let out a high-pitched squeal as he dropped to the floor.
Harry and Ginny looked at each other with astonishment for a few seconds. Ginny glanced back at Ron, then shrugged before turning back to Harry to continue what she had started.
"Harry!" Sirius called up the stairs at the Burrow. "Stop snogging Ginny and come on! We have things to do."
Neville and Ron snickered as a disheveled Harry and Ginny came slowly down the stairs hand in hand. Sirius broke into a wide, teasing grin as he watched them descend. Marlene rolled her eyes at her husband as she swatted the back of his head.
"In a hurry or not, don't rush them," Marlene told him crossly. "Or do you not remember the jolt they gave you last time?"
"We were finishing a study test," Ginny grumped at Sirius.
"Then we snogged," Harry added with a goofy grin.
"Oi! Shut it you!" Ginny turned her annoyed look on Harry, who raised his hands quickly.
"Not like we couldn't tell," Hermione chimed in. Ginny sent a glare toward her.
"Someone's grumpy," Luna giggled, earning her a frown from Ginny.
"Some of us were rudely awakened at half four in the morning by a howling dog," Ginny turned her glare back to Sirius. He cringed as he took a few steps back from her. "I told you before, it's easier on everyone if Harry wakes me up, not an overgrown child in dog fur."
"Duly noted," Sirius agreed with raised hands. "You ready, Harry?"
"Be there in a mo," Harry waved to Sirius. He turned pulling Ginny into a hug. "Love you."
"Love you, too," Ginny smiled before kissing Harry. Ginny raised her index finger to Sirius. A crackle of static rent the air followed by a yelp from Sirius. Ginny broke her kiss with Harry to look at a hobbling Sirius. "Consider that an advance on what will happen if you do that to me again."
Marlene was trying to hide her laughter as she steadied Sirius. Ron and Neville were not even trying to hide their laughter. Luna and Hermione were trying and failing, to hide their giggles. They even heard Molly snicker from the stove.
"I'll see you later, love," Ginny smiled calmly at Harry.
"Try not to get too annoyed with your planning session?" Harry asked.
"No promises," Ginny sighed. She gave Harry another quick kiss before gently pushing him toward the other boys. "Now, get out of here before I take you upstairs again."
"Yes, love," Harry chuckled with a wink to her as they heard Ron groan loudly.
Ginny waited until the boys and Sirius were through the floo before turning to her mother with a warning look. Molly held her hands up before putting a pot on the stove for tea. Marlene sat down at the table looking expectantly at Ginny as she sat down next to her.
"No wedding plans today," Ginny announced firmly with another look at her mother. "We have other things to plan, but we're waiting for one more to arrive."
"Oh?" Hermione asked with a curious look as she and Luna sat on the other side of the table.
"Who?" asked a confused Marlene. Ginny was about to open her mouth, but the floo burst into green flames.
"So nice that you could join us, Lady Longbottom," Ginny smiled as she stood to greet her.
"Oh, pish-posh," she waved. "You, young lady, are my soon-to-be-god-granddaughter-in-law. You may call me Gran. And no need for formalities, ladies. Augusta, or Gran, will do fine from the rest of you, as well. We are family, or close friends of the family, no need for all the pomp and flattery."
"Welcome to the Borrow, Gran," Ginny smiled. "Tea?"
"Please," Augusta nodded as she sat beside Marlene. "And how are you, dear? I was so happy to see you again when you came into the Ministry with Sirius the other day."
"I'm doing just fine, Augusta," Marlene smiled as she patted her hand.
"Gran," Ginny smiled as she set the tea down, "This is Hermione Granger, and I believe you already know Luna."
"Yes, I do," Augusta smiled fondly at Luna as she took the younger girl's hand. "I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Hermione."
"Pleased to meet you, too, milady," Hermione nodded.
"Aht-uh," Augusta shook her head.
"Augusta," Hermione blushed. "Sorry, I just…"
"Gran," Ginny spoke up, seeing Hermione squirm. "Hermione is like a sister to Harry."
"Oh, well," Augusta waved. "You may call me 'Gran', as well, young lady."
"Thank you, Gran," Hermione smiled.
"And how are you today, Molly?" Augusta asked.
"Oh, very well, thank you, Augusta," Molly smiled as she sat down.
"So, my dear," Augusta smiled more as she turned to Ginny, "what is our agenda for today?"
"With everything that has happened the last couple of years, Luna and I wanted some help planning a party for Harry and Neville for their birthdays to make it as memorable as possible," Ginny answered.
"Oh, well," Augusta grinned, "you have asked the right people to accomplish that, haven't you?"
Ginny smiled broadly.
"Seriously, Pads, you're playing with fire," Harry told Sirius as they walked down Diagon Alley, or in Sirius' case limped. "Keep irritating Gin the way you are and you'll have more than sore leg."
"I can vouch for that, Sirius," Ron nodded as he rubbed his leg then his nose. "Bat Bogies are not fun. Not that Harry would know about those."
"One difference between you, Sirius, and Harry, Ron," Neville smiled. Ron looked at him quizzically. "Harry can get away with some teasing banter, you can't."
"She's zapped me before," Harry admitted. Sirius frowned at him. Harry shrugged. "But not as hard."
"Like she would ever hurt you," Ron frowned.
"Never said she would or wouldn't," Harry shook his head. "But I know what she will take and what she won't."
"Bond thing again?" sighed Ron.
"No, not really," Harry answered. "More I learn from my mistakes. Unlike others."
"Yeah, well," Sirius grumped, "Lesson learned, and message received. The hard way." The boys laughed at him as he grumbled under his breath again.
Harry paused looking into one of the shops. Ron and Neville gave him a questioning look. "Window shopping for ideas for Gin's birthday."
"Oh, Merlin," Ron moaned. "I almost forgot."
"That's a sure way to get yourself hexed, Ron," chuckled Neville as Harry paused at another shop.
"Any shop that catches your eye yet, cub?" Remus asked from behind them.
"Taking note of a few, Moony," Harry answered. "But we have to go Gringotts first."
"You might find something in your Vault," Sirius shrugged.
They walked in silence for the short distance to the big white building that was Gringotts. The Goblin guards nodded at them as they entered. Harry thought he say one of them turn hurriedly to some sort of speaker just as they crossed the threshold, but he wasn't sure. As they entered the Lobby, Griphook came running over to them with a broad smile on his pointed face.
"Mr. Potter, so glad to see again," Griphook bowed slightly. "And may I extend, on behalf of the Goblin Nation, our sincerest congratulations to you and your betrothed."
"Thank you, Griphook," Harry bowed back. "I shall let Ginny know."
"My thanks," he smiled. "Perchance, have you set a date yet? That way I can prepare all the needed documents for her to sign to give her access to your accounts."
"No, not yet," answered Harry. "We are planning the other details, though."
"Very well. I shall have them ready for you and her at a moment's notice," Griphook nodded. "What may I do for you today."
"A trip to the Vaults for each of us, and some gold exchanged for Muggle money," Sirius answered.
"Of course, Lord Black," Griphook bowed. "This way, please."
Harry turned as they were reentering the Lobby to see Fleur and Bill walking toward them. Harry smiled as he waved. Fleur pulled him into a hug before he shook hands with Bill.
"Regardless if you knew or not, Harry, but we wanted to thank in person," Bill grinned.
"What do you mean, Bill?" Harry asked confused. Neville and Ron exchanged bewildered looks.
"Beel and I 'ave bean promoted," Fleur smiled.
"And permanently assigned here to the London branch," added Bill. "Griphook came up to us this morning to tell us."
"That's great, Bill, Fleur," praised Harry. "But I didn't have…"
"We know," Bill nodded. "But we wanted to thank you either way. For some reason, your name carries clout with the Goblins and they want to make you happy and keep you pleased with them."
"Umm…" Harry swallowed as he shrugged. "I really don't know why."
"It is quite simple, Mr. Potter," Griphook appeared beside him again with the Muggle money. "When you reach your majority, whether before or after your nuptials, you will become Lord Potter, descendent of our oldest investor, Godric Gryffindor, and Head of the House Potter, which has always treated the Goblin Nation as equals and politely. For that, we shall extend to you the same courtesy. And that includes your family and that of your betrothed."
"But…" Harry started.
"No, no. Mr. Weasley and Miss Delacour are more than deserving of their new station," Griphook assured him. "And for Goblins, favoritism is not looked down upon as most Wizards do. It is expected with revered clientele."
"I think, I understand, Griphook," Harry nodded. "The favored get the best service and treatment. Unlike those who have thought to cross you."
"Correct," Griphook nodded. He held out the Muggle money for Harry. "Is there anything else I can help you with today?"
"No. Thank you, Griphook," Harry bowed. "Have a plentiful day."
"You as well, Mr. Potter."
"Tell Ginny we said, 'hi'," Bill grinned. "Oh, and tell mum we'll be at Sunday dinner."
"You got it, Bill," Harry smiled as he shook hands again. Fleur pulled each of them into a quick hug with a kiss on each cheek, leaving Neville and Ron blushing as red as Ron's hair.
"On to Muggle London?" Harry asked as Remus and Sirius pulled Ron and Neville away from following Fleur.
"That's the plan," Sirius nodded. "We need to visit the exercise equipment store and the camping store."
Harry and Ginny lounged on the grass in the shade under the big oak tree by the pond. The sun shone brightly overhead after being overcast for their morning workout with Sirius and Tonks. Their morning study session for their OWLs was a grueling set of lessons on Ancient Runes and Arithmancy. Harry absently played with a lock of Ginny's red hair as she drew little patterns with her finger on his chest. Molly had shooed them out of the house after lunch so she and Marlene could set up for Harry and Neville's party later that evening. They lay there quietly, just enjoying the peace and quiet they both knew wouldn't last. Whether it was their normal day to day routine of training and studying or just the raucous Weasley household, moments like this were hard to come by. With the war coming, they knew even the normal chaos of their family would soon turn into a sheer panic if anyone had to go and fight Death Eaters, or Voldemort.
Ginny sighed contentedly as she nuzzled Harry's shoulder. "Love you, Harry."
"Love you, too, Gin," Harry kissed the top of her head. "This is what I want for the rest of our lives."
"So do I," Ginny sighed again as she leaned up, kissing him deeply.
A loud bang startled them apart. Instinctively, they pulled their wand, searching for the source. Harry frowned as he heard laughter from above them. Ginny looked up with a scowl that would even frighten her mother. Ron was nestled on a thick, high branch laughing at the surprised looks that he didn't notice turn almost feral. Ginny raised her hand to hex her brother.
"Allow me," they heard Charlie grumble as he raised his wand.
Ron's laughter suddenly died as he was lifted off the branch. He flailed his arms and legs as if that would cause him to land softly. Ron gave a loud squeal as he was levitated over the pond. Ron started to plead with Charlie, but Charlie only grinned as he dropped his younger brother forty meters out into the center on the pond. With a large splash and shriek, Ron hit the water. Harry and Ginny laughed as Ron resurfaced with his hair in his eyes and looking very much like a drowned rat.
"Thanks, Charlie," Ginny grinned as she hugged him.
"Anytime," he nodded. "Mum told me to fetch you when I arrived."
"Oh, that time," Ginny looked surprised. She turned to Harry, kissing him quickly. "I have something to do. See you in bit, love."
Ginny didn't even give Harry a chance to reply as she ran back to the house. Harry looked at her retreating form with a confused look. Ginny was blocking her emotions from him, which only confused him more.
"Anyway, happy birthday, Harry," Charlie slapped his shoulder.
"Uh…thanks, Charlie," Harry answered a bit distractedly as he continued to stare at Ginny as she reached the house. He saw her look back at him. Even at this distance, he could tell she was grinning impishly at him.
"Ginny's helping mum with something for the party," Charlie waved it off as he turned Harry around as Ron finally crawled out of the pond. "And you, little brother, are heading for a huge hexing if you keep that up. Besides, mum was looking for you. She wants you to do something."
"Yeah, like I can do it soaked," complained Ron as he flung water everywhere. Charlie raised his wand again, blasting Ron with a drying charm.
"Oh, dry up," joked Charlie.
"Funny," frowned Ron.
"Now, get going," Charlie frowned back at him. "Unless you want mum or Marlene to come looking for you."
Ron paled at that and ran for the house. Charlie chuckled as they watched Ron.
"So, uh… why did your mum send you out here?" Harry asked, still a little unsure of Charlie. Of all of Ginny's brothers, Charlie was the only one Harry didn't know very well.
"Relax, Harry," Charlie shook his head. "Mum sent me for those two, and I wanted to get to know you a bit better. I mean, you're going be my brother-in-law and well… I don't get home much."
Harry nodded. "I'd like that. Honestly, I feel the same way."
"See," Charlie grinned. "This what I mean. Come on, let me show you something. Just…keep those blocks up. It's something for Ginny for her birthday. And from what I hear, it'll go great with yours."
Charlie led Harry around to the smaller of the two sheds behind the house. He showed the object he had been working on. Harry smiled. It was perfect. Charlie and Harry continued to talk about everything as they walked around the garden trying to stay out of the way of everyone else as the set up for the party. Charlie asked some questions about the memories the rest of the family had viewed from Ginny's first year. Harry answered them as best he could, albeit a little uncomfortably. Charlie reassured Harry that he was only looking for an understanding of the things he had seen in the memories.
Harry glanced up as he heard Ginny's voice holler at someone. Ginny smiled at Harry from by the picnic tables she was directing Fred and George to set up. Harry felt a warmth wash over him as Ginny gave him a hug through their bond.
"It's not just the bond, is it?" nodded Charlie. Harry looked at him quizzically. "You really love her, don't you?"
"Yes, I do, Charlie," Harry answered with absolute certainty. "We actually didn't even know about the bond until after we were already dating. The feelings came first, which lead to the bond being activated toward the end of term."
Charlie nodded. He grinned impishly at Harry then. "You do know she's had a thing for you since she was five? And what's this I hear about elbows and butter dishes?"
"Yeah, I knew," Harry sighed. "But a word of warning, don't bring up that last bit to her. You're likely to get hexed if you're lucky."
"And if I'm not?" gulped Charlie.
"Ask Sirius about his jolting experience, or Ron, for that matter," Harry grinned evilly at Charlie. The normally calm Charlie paled and broke out in a sweat that had nothing to do with the heat.
"I thought it was supposed to be the older brother intimidating the boyfriend," Ginny quipped as she joined Harry and Charlie.
"Oh, he's not scared of me, love," Harry smiled as he hugged her. "He's scared of you."
"I have a feeling, I'm going to regret this," Charlie breathed. "What are talking about with the jolts?"
"This," Ginny smirked as she shot a bolt at Charlie's feet.
Charlie jumped back in fright and shock. He paled further as he looked at the blackened, smoking grass at his feet. He gulped audibly with a look of terror on his face. "G…got it!"
The Weasley table was in full voice during the meal as the teens and adults laughed and joked with one another and their guests. Sirius and Remus were pranking the twins mildly, getting the same in return. Molly had given up scolding them about it after the third prank. Augusta was laughing so hard at one point that she almost fainted. The miniature prank war was called to a truce after that, but the laughter and jokes still filled the table.
Neville and Harry, as the guests of honor, had all their favorite foods served for the large dinner. After the two large cakes were eaten, it was time for the gifts to be presented to Harry and Neville. Most of Neville's gifts revolved around his love for Herbology, and most of Harry's were Defense and Charm books. As the gifts slowly dwindled, Harry and Neville shared a confused look as neither had opened anything from their respective young ladies. Ginny caught the look and nodded to Luna.
"Neville, Harry," Luna began getting their attention, "Ginny and I have something special for each of you."
"Gran and Marlene helped us find them," Ginny smiled as she set a swallow, long rectangular box in front of Harry. Luna placed an identical one in front of Neville.
Neville and Harry tore into the boxes with curiosity. As they lifted the lids, they both froze, turning to Ginny and Luna.
"They were your fathers' wrist holsters when they were Aurors," Ginny smiled as she lay a hand on Harry's arm.
"We thought you would like to have something of theirs to use on a daily basis," Luna explained.
"I…I…" Neville tried in a choked voice.
"Thank you, Gin," Harry choked out.
Luna and Ginny both jumped up to hug Harry and Neville as tears slowly slid down each of the boys' faces. As Ginny held Harry tightly, another pulse of Magic shook the table, almost knocking Neville and Luna to the ground.
"I'm just waiting for that owl to swoop in anytime, now," Sirius sighed.
"You and I both, Sirius," nodded Molly. "You and I both."
"Owl?" asked Ron.
"The Goblins will inform us when the bond completes," Sirius answered.
"Oh," Ron nodded absently. "Oh! The one saying they just got married."
"Honestly, Ronald!" Hermione rolled her eyes. "How do survive with such a keen grasp of the obvious?"