"You're sure you don't mind living so close to your parents? It's just, I know you've talked about wanting to have some distance from them and I want us to be sure. I don't think we can actually back out now but maybe if we faked our deaths..."
"Don't be silly. This place is perfect. Besides, I don't think it matters how far away we move. You know they'll all be popping through the Floo at all hours regardless. Ron's never met a door that he won't willfully avoid knocking on."
They stood just outside of the gate, looking inward. Their hands were clasped, perhaps a little tighter than they would be normally. Ginny turned, gesturing down the lane.
"And I love this neighbourhood. I grew up here. We're close enough that I can walk to Luna's place. The countryside's so empty that we can go flying without worrying about being spotted. It's perfect. This is perfect. Stop worrying."
"Ok. Sorry. I can't stop worrying that something's going to go wrong. The payment won't have gone through, or the previous owner will change their mind, or we'll have the wrong key, or the house will fly off without us, or it'll suddenly transform into a bog."
"Then we'll build a new house on the bog. What's wrong, Harry? You're not usually the voice of anxiety."
"I just…" He paused and sighed heavily. Ginny gave his hand a small squeeze. "It's nothing, Ginny. Let's go inside. I'm excited to see if the kitchen is as nice as I remember."
They walked through the gate. The fence was partially overgrown with ivy and needed a fresh coat of paint. There was a large, empty patch in the corner of the yard; the seeds for the future garden had already been purchased. The walk to the house was chipped and uneven in patches, buckling up where tree roots had grown underneath. The offending tree was massive. Thick branches sprawled out, dense with foliage. Harry could already envision the treehouse he wanted to build. Teddy would like that. Hopefully, they could even build it together, some weekend when the boy came to visit.
They reached the front door. It was painted a bright red, with a gleaming golden mail slot in the middle. Ginny pulled the key from her pocket and put it in the lock. She quirked her eyebrow at him and a sly smile crept onto her face.
"Well, Harry? Should I risk opening it? This is the part where the house flies away, right? Do you remember how to cast a Cushioning Charm? In case we have to jump?"
Harry smiled back and pulled his wand out. "I'm ready, dear. Let's do this."
Ginny threw the door open and the pair burst inside. The front room was dark and empty. Harry flicked his wand and the lights turned on. Suddenly, a solid mass collided with him and he was tackled to the floor.
"Oh no! You're under attack, Potter. Your enemies have gotten to your beloved wife and turned her against you!"
She rolled on top of him, trying to keep his arms pinned. He managed to wiggle one free and started to tickle her side. She shrieked and toppled off, trying to escape the flurry of fingers. He continued the barrage without mercy, causing her to squeal loudly as she tried to crawl away.
"OK. OK. Stop. Please. I give up. Please," she gasped.
The tickling ceased and Ginny rolled away. Both of them laid still on the floor, breathing heavily. Out of the corner of his eye, Harry noticed Ginny's hand twitch towards her pocket. They both leapt to their feet, raising their wands simultaneously. Both pairs of eyes stared down the length of their partner's wand. They held there, wands extended, until their eyes locked. Ginny cracked first, the breath she had been holding rushing out in a loud laugh. Harry couldn't hold in his laughter either, and both wands clattered to the floor as their owners doubled up with mirth. Bodies shaking with laughter, they reached for each other and tumbled back down onto the floor. They lay there for a while, gasping and giggling, each enjoying the feel of the other's arms around them.
Eventually, they quieted. Ginny scooted her head onto Harry's shoulder.
"You know what's nice about living in a house?" she murmured.
"Not having to worry about bothering the neighbours."
"We could have used a sound muffling spell before."
"But we never remembered to, did we?"
"Except when Ms. Upstairs was holding her tap lessons for elephants. Came in handy then."
"Say what you will, but those elephants were dedicated and punctual. Model students, really."
They lapsed into silence, and lay still, staring at the ceiling, which had been painted the same dubious shade of chartreuse as the walls. The emptiness of the room started to crowd in on them until they each, nearly independently from the other, began to get up.
"I suppose those boxes won't start to move themselves by themselves without us," Ginny said.
"I'm not sure that sentence made sense."
"Oh hush, you know what I mean. We have a lot to do, Harry. Mum wasn't kidding about wanting to know the instant we get settled. I'm afraid if we don't finish fast enough, she'll come to… help. And then we'll never get to decide how we want the cookware arranged."
Harry grunted an acknowledgement and rose, pulling Ginny up as well. He gathered their discarded wands and handed Ginny's back to her. She flicked it at the front door, which sprang open. Harry followed her outside.
They walked back down the path to the moving van parked by the side of the lane. They had rented it to avoid raising suspicion in their old neighbourhood. Nearly all of their belongings had been magicked into a few small, light trunks but they had spent most of the previous day making a show of packing some of their less visibly magical possessions into the van. With a flick of her wand, Ginny had the contents of the van on the move towards the house. She grinned, life was going to be so much simpler now they didn't need to worry about nosy Muggle neighbours.
They spent the rest of the morning marshalling the boxes and furniture into the appropriate rooms. They hit a slight snag in their carefully planned organization when they realized that all of their toiletries had somehow gotten mixed with their potions ingredients, but they managed to get them all sorted without too much difficulty.
By mid-afternoon, they ran into another difficulty. It was lunchtime, and although they had the dining area set up, their kitchen was still in complete disarray. Luckily, they had friends with foresight. A box of sandwiches was delivered by owl just as they both realized that they were starving. The accompanying note said that it was part one of their housewarming present from the Granger-Weasleys who sent their apologies that they couldn't be there to help, but, honestly, who moves on a weekday anyway.
The kitchen continued to be a disaster well into the afternoon, as the couple quarrelled good-naturedly about the most effective way to organize their plethora of cooking gadgets. They had discovered a mutual love of cooking but busy schedules dictated that they take turns cooking. As a result, they both felt the need to determine where best to stash the measuring cups versus the cheese grater. Eventually, they compromised by putting everything away at random and agreed that they would put things back in the first place they looked in the future. That way, when they went to get something, it would be in the first place the other would look, and everyone would be equally inconvenienced.
After the hang-up in the kitchen, they decided that it would be faster to divide and conquer the rest of the boxes. Ginny went upstairs to sort out the bedrooms, while Harry resolved to tackle the study/library for a time. They worked fairly efficiently for several hours in this manner but, as evening drew closer with much still left to do, the threat of her mother's imminent arrival began to loom large over Ginny. Eventually, she knew that she was going to have to do something, or risk her mum "helpfully" unpacking the box of… things… that Ginny had yet to magically conceal in the master bedroom. So, she paused her work to give the Burrow a fire call.
"Well, I think we're safe from Mum for tonight. Freddy has a cold so she's over at George's helping out," Ginny said loudly as she came down the stairs. "Which room are you in Harry? This is so strange, there are so many more rooms than before. How will we ever kn-"
Her sentence cut off as she caught sight of Harry. He was kneeling in the middle of the sitting room, surrounded by a heap of unsorted items. His back was to her and his head was bowed over something in his hands. She had noticed that his shoulders were shaking slightly, and had stopped talking at the sound of muffled sniffling.
"Harry? Harry, are you alright?"
Harry gave a loud sniff and closed the book he had been holding. He didn't turn around immediately but responded, with his back still turned to his wife, "Everything's fine. Some of this stuff is really dusty. We should really-"
"Don't you dare, Harry." Ginny advanced on him and dropped to the floor beside him. "Don't lie to me."
He was still looking away from her determinedly but she scooted closer, putting her arms around his shoulders. She leaned close, resting her head against his.
"Don't shut me out. I'm here to help. I'm always here for you."
She felt the spot where her forehead met his cheek become damp.
"I- I- er," he sighed. "I'm sorry for lying. This has been such a happy day for us. I didn't want to spoil it."
"Talking about what's bothering you won't spoil anything, Harry."
He looked at her and got a blast of fierce, determined love and protectiveness that made another few traitorous tears leak from his eyes. He looked away, shifting his attention to the photo album he was holding. He flipped it open to the page he had been looking at. Ginny looked down at the picture. She couldn't contain a small, sad noise that escaped her lips as her eyes met those of Lily and James. The photo showed them standing, holding a baby Harry up between them, in front of their house in Godric's Hollow. They were beaming and waving at the camera.
"I'd forgotten that they were even younger than we are. When they bought that house. When we moved in. It made me feel…" Harry trailed off.
He felt like his head was a tangled mess of thoughts and emotions. He felt a rush of words coming as he was seized by another thread.
"And we have so many things, Ginny. Where did we get all of it? Our apartment can't have been big enough to hold all of this. Where are we supposed to put all of it? All of these things…"
He gestured around himself at the piles surrounding them. Ginny noticed that the majority of the items were things that belonged to Harry. Books, posters, trinkets, gifts, things that he had accumulated over the years.
"I guess… I guess I'm not sure where to put my things. I've never had a place before, Ginny. A place that's mine? A place I plan to stay… indefinitely? And I just… I just…"
Confused, sad green eyes met brown ones. Ginny held the eye contact as she processed everything.
"Well," she said finally, "I think I know what we can do with this picture."
She waved her wand and the picture pulled itself free from the album. It grew slightly larger and a frame formed around it as it sailed towards the wall. Glass popped into being in front of the picture as it fixed itself to the wall.
"Show off," Harry muttered, but Ginny could see fresh tears forming at the corners of his eyes.
She turned to the rest of the piles briskly, surveying what they were dealing with. She leaned against Harry but didn't look as he dabbed behind his glasses.
"I'm not sure where the best places for all of your things will be, Harry, but I do know one thing."
"You are not hanging a Chudley Cannons poster up anywhere in my house."