9. Summer's End

They got up very late the next day. Rashid and Ronja were up at their normal time of course, and Remus got up with them. He would be able to sleep in the next day. He kept them busy, until the others got up one by one. Harry showed his friends the way down to the ground floor, where they found a lovely, sunny dining room. It had large glass doors to the Inner Courtyard and now Hermione, Ron and Ginny could see that the fortress was rather larger than the building let on. The largest part of it was a long wall around the island, mostly directly on the water, and the inside of it was grown over with a huge lawn, lined with rose beds. The wall was overgrown with ivy, wisteria and climbing roses. There were battlements along the top of the wall with several small turrets containing staircases. There were small paths covered in gravel and pebbles, along the flower beds. The main building looked to the southwest, so the other side of the building had the morning sun and the whole afternoon, a large part of the courtyard was sunny. There was a terrace along the dining room and one of the living rooms. It held a table which waited for the guests, covered with their luncheon, rather a very late breakfast, supplemented with bowls of soup, risotto and stew. They were all hungry and dug in. After the meal, Ronja and Rashid got some of their toys and played on the lawn. The teens went to get their bathing suits on and afterwards lounged on lawn chairs and either read or just talked. Remus decided to go and take a nap.

Sirius read the Daily Prophet. He showed them the pictures and the article that had been published about the event the day before. There was a close-up of Sirius, a photo with him and Remus greeting one of their guests and a photo of Harry and Ginny dancing together. Naturally there was a caption that asked whether Miss Virginia Weasley was Harry Potter's next girlfriend.

Harry still had some homework to finish and Ginny and Ron had brought theirs as well, when it got too warm in the afternoon, they went to get their stuff and worked at the table outside, which was now in the shadow. Hermione still sat on a lawn chair and was deeply immersed in Harry's Animagus book. She looked around, didn't see any of Sirius and Remus and said:

"You know what? This book contains all the necessary information to find the books that would allow us to actually become Animagi. What do you say? Do we try it? I'd love to become one."

Ron couldn't believe his ears. Hermione wanted something so badly that she considered breaking the rules?

"Do you actually suggest we should do that - unregistered?"

"I bet there are a load more unregistered Animagi around than registered," Ginny remarked.

"I think so, too. After all we found out that Rita Skeeter is one, too. So who knows how many are out there."

Harry grinned. Then he said:

"I'm quite sure that Sirius meant us to try and find out more about it. He just gave me a general book to rouse our curiosity. I'm also quite sure we could do it."

"In any case we can read up on the stuff, that won't do us no harm and it will certainly help our Transfiguration skills," Ginny said, grinning, too.

Later, Ginny decided to go and also take a nap. She still wanted to catch up some sleep after the late night. Harry watched her leave and felt his blood leave his head again. He was a bit confused about it, why did he feel so light headed when he watched Ginny, but felt nothing of the sort looking at Hermione, who was sporting a very sexy bikini, showing off her tiny waist, her well rounded buttocks and especially her nicely developed breasts. Ron couldn't take his eyes off her.

"I think I fancy Ginny," Harry said, all of a sudden.

"About time, too," Ron shot back.

"What do you mean with that?"

"She's been waiting for that for the past four years, that's what I mean."

"You should tell her, not us, Harry," Hermione said gently.

"That was just a kind of rehearsal," Harry said with a lopsided grin.

Ron and Hermione laughed.

"And a bit sudden, if you ask me," Ron said.

"Well, what do you expect? It's come to my realisation rather suddenly," Harry reasoned.

"Yeah, maybe, but you'd better go and tell her, before your courage is gone again, go on! She wanted you to follow her anyway..."

"Do I only get the slight idea, that you want to have me out of the way?" Harry teased.

"If that were the case I could tell you bluntly or ask Hermione inside, now couldn't I?"

There was nothing to say against Ron's logic. Harry got up, sighed audibly for them and stalked off. The two remaining teens just grinned after him.

"Ginny will be even more in the clouds now! And we'll have to put up a fluff warning on the board at the common room," Ron said, groaning.

Harry's heart pounded. He didn't even see Sirius who passed him on the stairs, he headed straight up the stairs and into his tower. It was perfectly still. He knocked on Ginny's door and when she didn't reply, dared to open it and peek inside. She had taken off her bikini and had laid down on her four poster bed in the nude. Harry just took one short look, then closed the door again and knocked louder.

"Ginny!" he called.

She woke up, called back:

"Coming!"

And opened the door a few moments later in a long t-shirt, that was more like a mini dress.

"Hi, Harry. Something up?"

"I just wanted to see you..."

"Want to come in?"

"Mhm..."

She opened the door fully and he came inside, still in his swimming trunks. She stood before him in all of her cuteness and he remembered her the night before, when she'd been standing next to him, holding his hand and going through that endless line of people who were introduced to her.

"Did I tell you today, that you are beautiful?" he said.

She smiled.

"Just now. Come, sit on the bed..."

The bed still felt warm where she had been laying. Harry sat down, crossed his legs and was all of a sudden painfully aware that he didn't wear much more than she did. He looked at her again and then he came out with:

"I was sorting out a lot of things, Ginny, and the most important was that I like you a lot. I fancy the way you look, the way you are, you're always there, quietly, but there and whenever I need you, you're not far. I want to be there for you the same way, if you will let me."

That knocked the wind out of her. She looked at him with big brown eyes opened wide. That was almost a declaration of love, she thought. She put her hands on his knees, leaned forward and kissed him lightly on the lips.

And that did it for Harry. The rest of his blood shot down somewhere else and he blushed when he noticed that there would be nothing with which he could hide his erection. Ginny just smiled at him and embarrassed him even more by looking him over, from his unruly hair over his face, his shoulders, torso, navel and... 'Uh oh,' she thought and then: 'Am I the cause of that? Wow.'

Harry collected all of his courage and pulled her close, kissing her again and this time both of them parted their lips. Five minutes later they flopped down on the bed and held each other tight and Harry had forgotten that she was able to feel his erection very well.

Ginny really wanted to caress him there. She wanted to feel more of it, but she held back. 'He'll think you're a slut,' she kept thinking like a mantra, but feeling him hard against her made her feel something in the same area.

The heat of the afternoon made them all tired and since they hadn't got too much sleep the night before both dozed off in each other's arms.

Sirius had gone down to join the others again when he had been almost toppled over by Harry. He looked after him and asked Ron and Hermione, what had gone on with him.

"Oh, he just got a call from his hormones, I think," Ron said.

"What?"

"He's gone to talk to Ginny. Don't be so demeaning, Ron!" Hermione chided.

"Oh. That's very nice to hear. I'm very happy for them if they should get together."

"I think, Mum will be thrilled. She'd nothing rather than have Harry marry into the family," Ron said.

Sirius grinned.

"Now them getting together doesn't mean they will last that long, but if he's anything like James, he falls once - and hard."

"Was Lily his first love then?" Hermione asked.

"Oh yes. The first one that counted anyway. Before he had a girlfriend or two, but I don't think there was anything beyond rather chaste kisses."

Hermione and Ron laughed. They had become more comfortable around each other during the summer and Hermione knew he wouldn't take much longer to speak about his feelings, but she was perfectly fine with letting him boil for another little while. They were both very easy with Sirius who loved to have them all around. He was glad to see that Ginny had been allowed in their tight group, which would take out all the tension once Ron and Hermione got together. Which he had expected for a long time already. He sat back on his lawn chair, only to be attacked by a very cold, wet and sandy Rashid. Rashid had been playing in the small water basin and then in the sandpit, that Remus had brought along from his old house.

"Ooohmph!" Sirius groaned, but he grinned. "Well, hello, young master Lupin! What are you up to? You're lucky I'm in my shorts, I really wouldn't have liked that much sand on my normal clothes."

"Daddy, I cold. Want dry!" Rashid pleaded.

"Oh, that's something else. Let me dry you up and clean you, but then you can't go into the sand pit anymore, Rashid, okay?"

"Okay."

Rashid was completely naked. The summer's sun had tanned him nicely and he looked like a real little angel. His tiny body was nicely toned, a bit of baby fat still formed a tiny belly and his light brown hair already fell to his shoulders. Sirius cleaned him with a few spells and pulled him into his lap. Rashid dropped down on Sirius' naked chest and mumbled something Sirius couldn't understand, but it sounded blissful, when Sirius stroked over his back in small circling movements. Just like the night before with Ronja it was clear to him now that this little boy was fast becoming his son. When Remus turned up later on he went right back inside to fetch the camera. He took a few pictures of Rashid cuddling with his new Daddy. The boy turned his head and saw his father coming and his smile lit up the little face so that Remus' heart rushed out to him. He sat down on the lawn chair next to Sirius.

"Hey!" he said.

"Hello, love! Slept well?"

"Perfectly, thank you. I'm getting hungry now."

"Me too," said Rashid.

"Good boy. You need to grow!"

"Who gets to call Harry and Ginny down to dinner?" asked Ron with a mischievous glint in his eyes.

"Me! I'm going to get dressed properly. So will you two, I don't like half naked people at the table," said Sirius.

"Oh fine, we're going already!"

"Good. I'll go and put Rashid in his pyjamas, okay, Remus?"

"Fine with me. Ronja just needs to slip into her dress. Strange that my tomboy all of a sudden likes all of her dresses so much..." Remus remarked.

"She wants to show off for Siri," said Hermione.

"That could well be. See you all in a while!"

Sirius went upstairs and put Rashid into the tub and washed him, then dried him and dressed him in his pyjamas.

"Here, your slippers, Rashid. The floors are too cold to be barefoot inside. That's the good boy! Now we go and chase Harry and Ginny up, okay?"

"Okay."

Sirius knocked on Ginny's door, but got no reply. He opened it a bit and peeked inside. Harry and Ginny were both on the bed, fast asleep. Sirius sent Rashid inside to wake them up. He hid behind the door. Rashid crawled up on the bed, started to hop up and down until Harry and Ginny started to stir. Ginny caught him, laughing and tickled him. Rashid squealed and that woke Harry. Who blushed to the roots of his hair. Ginny laughed and stroked his cheeks.

"No need to blush, Harry. Would you two gentlemen leave me, so I can get dressed? It must be dinnertime."

Harry checked the watch and said:

"That's right. I'd better go and get dressed, Sirius doesn't like half naked people at the table. Come with me, Rashid?"

Harry stood up and held out his hand, which Rashid grabbed, then they left the room. Harry just caught a glimpse of Sirius who went to his bedroom to get dressed. Harry blushed again, but grinned. He knew he'd never live it down, especially once Sirius knew that they had fallen asleep.

Finally they all met in the dining room. Sirius of course teased Harry and Ginny. So did Ron, but Ron teased his sister more than Harry. They shared a fun dinner and moved to the living room upstairs where the library was. Remus went to take the children to bed. Ron challenged Sirius to a game of chess. Harry, Ginny and Remus when he came back, settled for a game of Wizard Chinese checkers. Hermione strolled around and got a better look at the books. She picked one and settled into one of the sofas to read. When it got darker, Sirius flicked his wand and the candles in the room sprang to life. He pointed his wand at the fireplace and lit a nicely crackling fire.

Harry leaned back in the sofa. He sat next to Ginny who just worked out a very complicated route across the board for one of her pebbles. Remus watched her and then noticed Harry looking at her dreamily. All the while Harry thought how happy he was now. He knew he had Ginny and she took a lot of his fear of Voldemort away. He knew he had a home to return to next Christmas and it would be the first time he would leave Hogwarts at Christmas. He sat up and buried his hand into Ginny's long hair, lightly massaging her shoulders and neck. She sighed and looked back at him. Her smile gave him another jolt in the mid-section of his body. He could melt in that smile, he just knew it.

Ron had heard his sister and looked around. Then he concentrated again on Sirius' next move and said:

"Get a room, you two!"

Harry just grinned. He watched Remus make his move and waited for his turn. This surely was as good as having his parents back. This was what he had imagined happiness to be and he savoured every second consciously. Hermione watched him from her perch on one of the comfortable armchairs. She had picked up the camera and shot several pictures. The film was already nearly full, just from one day at the castle. Sirius was quite happy to see that, he was only starting to make himself some new happy memories.

Finally, Ron and Hermione were the first to go back to their rooms and to bed. Sirius called Sniffles and went out with her. When they got out to the courtyard she looked up at him expectantly and he grinned:

"You've got me all figured out, haven't you? Okay! Here comes Padfoot. Last one at the end of the lawn loses!"

Sniffles ran off, Padfoot dashed after her and the two dogs enjoyed a nice little run around the lawn. Then Sniffles peed and pooped nicely in the spot she was supposed to and they returned inside. Sirius transformed back and said:

"You're a very nice little girl, Sniffles. Now it's time to go to sleep, okay?"

The puppy dashed up the stairs ahead of Sirius and sneaked into Ronja's room and into her dog bed. Sirius took the opportunity to check on his daughter and found everything okay. Harry and Ginny came up the stairs. He wished them a good night, before he threw a glance into Rashid's room. Rashid slept just as peacefully, though Sirius often wondered, how he could sleep in such a twisted position. Sirius smiled and pulled the door almost close again. He went to his own bedroom, undressed and slipped under the covers. Then he waited for Remus who had made the round to check that everything was okay.

Remus joined him a few minutes later. They made love, slowly, intensively. Sirius couldn't wait for the evening to come each day, to feel Remus again deeply embedded in his body, heat permeating between them, tongues licking every bit of skin they could reach, hands rubbing and stroking body parts. They were all arms and legs then, entangled and hot. Just as often it would be Sirius who gave Remus that feeling of being filled up to the brim. Their sighs and cries didn't leave the bed which was firmly covered in silencing charms that allowed them to hear, but not to be heard.

Harry had just fallen asleep, when Ginny tiptoed into his room, closed the door behind her quietly and crossed the distance to the bed. She climbed into the big bed, which had almost see-through curtains of some very light material. Harry had let them down, while the window was wide open, to prevent mosquitoes from entering. Ginny looked at him for a moment. He was completely naked, it was much too warm to bear any fabric on one's body and Ginny decided that he was right. She shed her thin nightgown, dropped it on the floor, parted the curtains and climbed into the bed, replacing the curtains carefully. She stretched out next to Harry, draped her arm around him and snuggled close. He pulled her close in his sleep and it didn't take her long to fall asleep next to him. He woke up several hours later, when it had cooled down and he shivered. That was when he noticed who was in his bed. He was shocked at first, but then looked at her in the dim light and found her stunningly beautiful. He pulled up the thin blanket to cover them both and snuggled close again, to fall asleep again.

When the day dawned they started to stir. Ginny woke first and she felt that she was rather in Harry's arm now than Harry in hers. She looked him over. And then she felt him and of course he had an erection again. She smiled and tried to feel it consciously. She decided she liked the feeling. She stirred a bit, so he woke up as well. He noticed their state of undress and that they now were both awake and blushed. But she only kissed him.

"Good morning," she whispered.

"Good morning, Ginny..." he replied and kissed her again.

She embraced him and pulled him close. While she let her right hand roam over his back and into his hair she said:

"This feels nice, Harry!"

"What? I think my brain's gone for a vacation," he muttered, the sensations from her stroking hands causing him goose bumps.

She grinned. She liked the feeling of having this power over him. She pulled him even closer and they kissed again. Harry now brought his own hands to action. For the first time he consciously felt her rosy buds on his chest and it gave him another jolt. He sighed and whispered:

"You're making me feel dizzy!"

"Your skin feels so nice, Harry, I don't think I'll ever get enough touching it..."

"Yours makes me go crazy, Ginny, you're so beautiful and this," he lifted himself up and touched her nipples with his fingertips upon which they hardened a bit more, "just tops everything I've ever felt so far."

"Maybe it can be topped," she said carefully and moved her leg against his erection.

His eyes went wide.

"You want that?"

"I want that. I know the contraception spell, Charlie told me how it works."

"We're not allowed to use our wands..." he reminded her.

"Who will notice? This is a magical household, there's so much magic in here no one will really differ which wand did what."

"Oh - haven't thought of that. But it makes sense," he grinned and hoisted himself up to get his wand from his trunk. When he came back he asked:

"And how's the incantation?"

She guided his wand and told him, then they both spoke it. Harry put his wand on the nightstand. He looked at her out of his bright green eyes, which she found bottomless. Ginny pulled him close again and started to caress him more intensely. He followed her movements and asked her:

"Do you have any experience in this?"

She shook her head.

"I wish I had. No, really, but we're a big family, and when I was seven I once walked in on my parents. They didn't even notice me, they were so far away. I was quite shocked!"

"Wow. Do you think they still do it?" Harry asked.

She laughed.

"I hope so! Just because they don't want any further children doesn't mean they don't want to be with each other anymore, does it?"

"You're probably right with that. I don't have any idea about all of these things, you know."

"I know. I'll guide you and what we don't know about it we'll find out, okay?"

"You're gorgeous, Ginny! Sorry that I never saw that before. I must have been blind."

"No, you were just very young. We still are. We have a long time ahead of us to explore all of this."

"I love you, Ginny Weasley. You're one wonderful girl!"

Her breathing stopped for a moment, but her heart was pounding even more. She looked at him shyly, then she pulled him in for another kiss. When they parted, he asked:

"How long does the spell work?"

"Several days. But if we want to do it again tomorrow we have to cast it again. Just to make sure, Charlie said."

"Thank you, Charlie, wherever you are right now," Harry said.

Ginny giggled. They continued to caress each other, it felt so good. Then all of a sudden, Harry caught one of her nipples between his lips and teeth and that brought her to life! She guided his hand down to where it felt the best and directed him in his rubbing her most sensitive spot. She was really hot in no time. He looked up from sucking at her nipples.

"Wow, Ginny, this just tastes like nothing else. Do you feel as good as I do?"

"Yes! If you take it as slow as you do now it will be very nice."

"I hope I can hold out that long!" he said already panting.

Then she touched him with her hand and he gasped. He hadn't been touched there ever unless it was his own hand and feeling hers sent jolts of pleasure through him. At first it felt sharp like a knife breaking through his skin, then he got a bit used to it and started to thrust against her. She pulled him to another kiss. He looked into her eyes and she turned on her back, pulling him above her and said:

"I'm ready, love, come inside!"

He needed no other invitation and all of a sudden he knew exactly what to do. Entering her seemed the most natural thing in the world. And everything crashed down on him as he began to thrust, softly, carefully, tentatively, more determined, increasing in speed, more forcefully and finally, falling over the edge and crying out loudly, he found release. Ginny had to wait for a while until he had come down from his trip. But then she gently guided his hand back to that spot, which he continued to rub until she found her climax as well.

They looked at each other. Ginny smiled. He felt totally spent and naked. She caressed him tenderly.

"That was... that was, wow, I'm at a loss for words, Ginny. I love you! I love you, you've just given me the greatest gift!"

She held him close. She hadn't lied when she told him that she'd had no experience, but she had at least someone who she could talk to and her mother had been more open than she had expected. And Molly had warned her not to expect too much in the beginning. When Ginny had asked her what she meant, Molly had looked her straight in the eyes and explained that most young women had to warm up to physical love and that it didn't just come all by itself. "You have to work on it. Men don't know much about that, it's up to us women to teach them - and in the process condition our own body. You'll find out one day..."

So Ginny braced herself with patience. She was pleased that he did seem to be interested in her to show him what she liked. They'd soon get past the awkward stage, she thought and smiled at him again. He suggested:

"Why don't we ask your parents whether you can stay here until the end of the vacation?"

Her face lit up.

"That would be great! I think we could do that, when they come next Sunday."

"I've got a family and a love! Who would have thought that, when I went home from Hogwarts being so miserable six weeks ago!"

"You deserve it, Harry! You deserve to be happy! We've got hard times coming ahead and you need this island and this respite here. Mum will understand and Dad is very lenient with me anyway. They will be very pleased to hear we're together."

"Do they have to know about this?" Harry asked timidly and kissed her on a nipple.

"Only if they ask, Harry. I'm not going to lie, but I don't think they will ask - just yet," Ginny said and grinned.

"Phew! I'd feel terribly embarrassed!"

"Why? It's not like we're doing something that is unnatural! Or even forbidden..."

"Well, we're not sixteen yet! Technically it is forbidden."

"Do I even care? I loved it. It may not have been perfect yet, but that's just a matter of time - and of repeating the process and finding out. It feels very powerful, don't you think?"

He nodded. From where did she get all that wisdom. He decided to ask:

"Who told you all this? I know absolutely nothing about these things. And it felt unbelievable. That moment I dropped over and exploded! I want to feel that over and over again, Ginny. With you!"

"I love you, Harry!" she said it for the first time and he relished it. Secretly he had waited for her to say it and now that she had, he felt like he didn't have to fear a thing in this world anymore. If Voldemort waltzed in and killed them right now he would die a happy young man. Though of course he would prefer to stay alive for a while, so he could feel this all over again.

They were fetched out of their intimate moments when Sirius called them down to breakfast. Ginny got up very reluctantly, but she did, pulled her nightgown over her head and went down to wash up and get dressed. She wore shorts and a t-shirt and had cute sandals on her feet, when she turned up at the breakfast table half an hour later. Harry came shortly after her, having left her the use of the bathroom first. He sat down next to her and leaned closer for a kiss on her cheeks. She smiled up at him and Remus and Sirius both stared at them. Sirius swallowed. They both looked very flushed, he thought.

"Could it be that the two of you have got something to tell us?" he asked.

"Well, we can tell you tons of things, Siri," Harry offered with a grin.

"Just one thing, really..." Sirius queried them.

"Anything in particular?" Ginny asked nonchalantly.

"Oh yes, something in particular," Sirius prompted.

Harry and Ginny broke out laughing and looked at the two adults. Then Harry took Ginny's hand, kissed her fingers demonstratively, looked over at Sirius and Remus and declared:

"Yes, Ginny and I are in love with each other..."

"Yay! Before the school starts again, Siri, I won!" Remus grinned.

"Oh that's a bet I gladly lose!" Sirius replied and kept beaming at Harry and Ginny.

The rest of the week everyone else kept bumping into Harry or Ginny snogging or sitting together arm in arm or hand in hand, working together on the last of their essays and generally avoiding the rest of the company because they were company enough for each other. Every night, Ginny would go up to Harry's room, they closed the door and slept together.

When Sunday came and Molly and Arthur Weasley turned up to accompany Ron, Hermione and Ginny back to the Burrow it felt like they had already been together forever. On the second morning, Sirius had called Harry to the side and asked him whether they had done anything yet and Harry just said he knew the necessary charms. Sirius was relieved. He didn't want Ginny in trouble. Neither did Harry, though Harry wouldn't have minded to become a father at that early age. They carefully cast the charm every night to be sure. After several nights, Ginny admitted to Harry that she would miss it terribly at Hogwarts.

"Not only making love with you, but also sleeping next to you. That's the most cosy part..."

"I'll greatly miss that, too. And I'll miss you terribly if you have to go back to the Burrow on Sunday."

Arthur and Molly didn't need to be told about their daughter finally having her love dreams fulfilled. Both had known how deeply their child had loved Harry since her first year, both had grieved for her, fearing that Harry might seek and find his love elsewhere. But the moment they stepped out of the fireplace and saw Harry and Ginny stand together, hands connected, faces glowing with happiness they both knew.

Molly took a moment during the afternoon to take her daughter by side. They had a bit of a conversation and Ginny had told her everything. She was so happy to be able to pour out her heart, that she just had to tell someone. And then she went to get Harry and the two of them asked if Ginny would be allowed to stay until school started.

"You may stay, Ginny. But you need to come home at least two days before school starts to prepare."

"Thank you, Mum, thank you so much!"

Ginny hugged her mother who just said:

"I think you have done well, Ginny. You've grown so much in these past few days, you know!"

"Mum, I've had an important experience..."

"Ginny! You're only fourteen! Are you sure you were ready?" Molly asked.

"Yes, Mum, I was sure. You were right about everything and it's slowly coming to work out. Thank you for giving me so much good advice, Mum."

"Now, there's that important bit called contraception, Ginny and Harry! You can't do this without..."

"I've got some good advice from others, too, Mum. Charlie taught me the spells a few weeks ago."

"Oh!"

"We haven't done anything without it, believe me. I've still got four years of school and I don't want to miss any of it!"

"And you're aware of it. - I'm quite relieved, Ginny. Well, we can't take it back anyway. I can somehow understand you two, you really have a wonderful home here, Harry, and I can imagine how romantic it all is, but in two weeks you'll be going back to school!"

"We're looking forward to it, Mum. But we'd like to have those two weeks together."

"Alright, have them! With You-Know-Who lurking around you'll have to use every moment of peace you can get!" Molly said with a bitter tone.

"Mrs Weasley, we'll get rid of him, I know we will! We'll all do what it takes to reach that goal," said Harry and hugged her.

"Oh, Harry! You are so grown up already. Don't hurt my child and take good care of her, will you?"

"I love Ginny, Mrs Weasley, and I won't hurt her if it can be prevented. And I'll do my utmost that no one else can hurt her. Only we know that trying is sometimes not enough."

Molly held Harry very tightly. She loved the boy like she loved her sons, sometimes she had thought she loved him even more, if only for that fact that he had never had anyone who loved him. She ruffled his hair and said:

"Very well, Harry. I entrust you with Ginny. I have known that she loves you for quite some time and I'm very happy that you return her feelings. Let's go and tell Arthur."

Sirius and Remus were quite happy to keep Ginny until the end of the break and promised to bring her to the Burrow two days before September 1st. After the dinner, which was again a very cheerful affair, since the twins had also come with their parents, Molly, Arthur, Fred, George, Ron and Hermione left for the Burrow, where Hermione would stay for another week or so.

Remus and Sirius never saw much of the two teenagers anymore. They were happy to be together and spent a lot of time in Harry's room, or in a secluded corner of the garden. It amused the adults more than it unnerved them. They were less touchy to stumble over the snogging couple than Ron was. They just got more fodder to tease them lovingly.

Two days before Ginny was to leave for the Burrow, Anna came for a visit of several days. Her belly had grown considerably and both her children noticed it. Remus and Anna sat them down and explained what was in that belly. They both were quite astonished. Ronja had already forgotten how it felt when Rashid was under way. She still remembered what her parents had told her about how it worked though. And she was quite curious when Anna told her to lay her ear on her belly and feel or maybe even hear the baby inside.

Rashid didn't quite grasp it yet, but Remus just dropped it and prepared himself for more questions, now that Anna would show up again in intervals. She had noticed with amusement that both her children didn't only mean Remus, when they talked about Daddy. That was new. And it did give her a pang of jealousy for a moment. But then she was quite glad that her children seemed to be perfectly happy with their reformed family.

It was Remus who brought Ginny back to the Burrow. She had put her things together and walked down the stairs to the fireplace with a heavy heart. She missed Harry already. When they reached the Burrow, Remus consoled her:

"Ginny, it's only two nights! Then you'll be together again for the whole time until next year! I know how you feel, believe me, I felt the same, when Siri and I had to part during the summer breaks."

She hugged him.

"I love you and Siri, Remus! You are both so supportive and understanding! I've had three wonderful weeks, the most wonderful time in my whole life and I'll never forget it!"

"You won't, I know. Have a good time and you're welcome to write a few lines now and then when you're back at Hogwarts!"

"I will. Bye, Remus!"

"Goodbye, Ginny."

Remus returned to his family. They watched Harry mope around for the last two days of the holidays, but they didn't mind, as he was just missing Ginny, he wasn't very moody or snapping at them. They gave him a few extra hugs, which he accepted.

Harry had his trunk packed and Hedwig would be sent to Hogwarts with a letter, so she didn't need to go into the cage. Sirius shrunk Harry's trunk and all of them flooed to the Leaky Cauldron. From there they took the tube to King's Cross station. For the first time in many years Sirius crossed that barrier to Platform 9 ¾. They reached the busy platform with twenty minutes to spare. Hermione was already waiting for her friends, her prefect's badge neatly on her school robes, which she wore already.

"Harry!" she called happily and flew into his arms.

He hugged her and greeted her with equal enthusiasm.

"Are the Weasley's late as usual?" he asked.

"It looks like it. You don't want to sit with the prefects, do you?" she asked a bit anxiously.

"No, not particularly, why?"

"I'd prefer to sit with Ron and Ginny."

"So do I!"

Malfoy passed them. He threw a very nasty look at Hermione's prefect's badge. Harry couldn't but pull his out at that moment and pin it to his t-shirt. That was enough to send Malfoy packing. They were prefects and could take house points if need be, and he didn't dare risking that even before he reached Hogwarts, or Snape would be after his blood.

Sirius grinned.

"Well done, Harry! Here, let me resize your trunk!"

"Where's Hedwig, Harry?" Hermione asked.

"She'll fly to Hogwarts. Should please her more than a trip cooped up in her cage."

"Oh, of course. There's George!"

The Weasleys were coming through the barrier, and in the next moment, a ball of long red hair was throwing herself at Harry. He grinned the broadest smile Sirius had ever seen on him and held her tightly. They kissed and from that moment on the world could have blown to pieces they wouldn't have noticed. Sirius grinned and Remus smiled at them. Arthur and Molly joined them and shook their heads.

"Hello, Sirius, Remus! Tell me, did Harry mope around as much as Ginny did these past two days?" Arthur asked with a comical despair.

"Oh yes, he did!" Remus and Sirius said with one voice.

"We had better shove them into the train, or it will leave without them," Molly said and laughed.

They checked that all four and the twins were on the train, then gave them the usual last advice for the coming school year and watched the train leave the station and gain speed. Slowly, Molly turned around and remarked:

"Now it's going to be eerily quiet again," Molly said wistfully.

"We still have Ronja and Rashid to keep us occupied, though of course Ronja will go to school during a good part of the day," Sirius said.

"You're going to feel terribly lonely too, once yours are all away at school, believe me. I miss them so much. Now Ginny has grown up so fast. I only hope they stay out of premature baby trouble!"

"Don't call for it, Molly. They're really too young," Sirius warned.

"Not that Dumbledore wouldn't be delighted!" said Arthur brightly.

"I wouldn't put it past him, actually, don't give him any ideas!" Molly said hotly.

"I won't."

"Voldemort would have to erase a complete family again," Sirius said, "that would undoubtedly be a bit more difficult than Harry alone."

They walked back and talked for a while and then apparated to their respective homes.

Epilogue - Christmas

After Rashid's birthday on 28th November Remus started to get restless. The baby would be due several days before Christmas and Harry was due to come home on the 21st December. The house was perfectly ready for both, Harry and the baby. Remus had a worse bout of nesting drive than any expecting mother. Sirius was greatly amused about it and kept calming his husband down.

The last few weeks Anna had spent at Ketwick Black Castle. She was quite happy to be pampered by all the house-elves, Remus and Sirius. Every afternoon, when Ronja came home from school the first thing she asked, was:

"Is the baby here?"

"No, Ronja, not yet," was the usual reply.

Until the 19th. It had started soon after Ronja had left for school. Sirius and Remus took Rashid and Anna to St. Mungo's and after several hours of labour she gave birth to a little girl. She was doing quite well, was cleaned and set up for a long rest in her room, while Sirius and Remus took care of the baby from the beginning. They showed her to Rashid, who looked at his little sister in wonderment, she was so small. He looked up at Remus and remarked that she was so tiny.

"Yes, love, the same as you were when you were born. You were exactly as tiny. Even almost the same weight and length," Remus said tenderly.

"Does she have a name?" Rashid asked.

"Yes. Her name will be Ratna," Sirius explained.

"Ratna. Then we all have names beginning with an R," Rashid exclaimed.

"That's right! You do! Oh well..."

"Ronja, Rashid, Ratna. You've picked some unusual names, but they all sound very nice," Sirius said.

Ratna was examined thoroughly and after it was determined that she was healthy she was allowed to be brought home with her Daddies. They went by way of visiting Anna to give her a hug for the last goodbye. They did not expect to see her often in the next few months. Then they brought their precious Christmas present home. When Ronja came home, her question was finally answered in the positive. She squealed delightedly and demanded to see her little sister. Remus took her up to his bedroom, where Ratna was sleeping peacefully in her crib. Ronja peeked over the rim of the crib and cooed:

"Ooooh, she's so tiny, Daddy."

"Just like you and Rashid were, darling. She's even a bit bigger than you were after you were born," Remus explained for the second time on that day.

Ratna chose this moment to wake up and wail for food. Remus lifted her gently out of her crib and summoned the bottle, ready and warmed. He sat down on the bed and held Ratna while he gave her the bottle and the baby suckled contentedly. Ronja watched.

"May I do that sometime, Daddy?" she asked.

"Sure. Just not today, she's still too small, okay? You can also help us bathing her."

When Ratna was fed, Remus brought her down to be with the family during the evening. They had set up a hanging crib in the living room, where she was safely out of the reach of Rashid and Sniffles.

Hedwig arrived with a letter from Ginny and Harry. Sirius took it from her legs and then wrote a quick note that Ratna had been born that day, the time and how she looked and that they were all delighted, even the children. Hedwig had already taken notice of the new family member and hooted only very tenderly. Sirius fed her in the kitchen and then asked her:

"Are you up for another trip to Hogwarts, Hedwig? I promise, we'll soon have another owl, so you will get more rest!"

She stuck out her leg and he attached the letter. Then he stroked her and said:

"Thank you, Hedwig. You are one great lady owl! How about we get you a mate?"

He brought her to the window, opened it and released her.

Of course it wasn't easy to be woken from sleep three or more times every night, and Sirius started to feel it even after only a few days. But as soon as he held his little daughter in his arms every kind of bad feeling he might have had when she woke him vanished. He and Remus had shared the work from the beginning, each giving the other a full night of sleep while the other took the baby every time and then they switched the next night.

So, on the late afternoon of the 21st, all five Black-Lupins stood waiting for Harry at King's Cross station, baby Ratna snugly pressed to Remus' body in her sling. As soon as the Weasleys and Hermione had reached them they wanted to have a look at the baby. Molly and Arthur were there to get their children and had a good look at Ratna as well.

"Ooh, but she's cute as a button," Molly cooed.

"Not when she wails, believe me," Sirius, who had been doing the previous night watch, muttered.

Molly laughed.

"I know the feeling, Sirius. But it will be over so fast, believe me! Enjoy her as long as you possibly can."

"We do! If we can stay awake. She's just so sweet, we love her already, only it's a bit exhausting still."

"Yes, it is, I know."

Hermione saw her parents coming towards them and beckoned them over. She introduced them again to Remus and Sirius and they oohed and aahed over Ratna as well. Soon the party broke up, though, as it was a bit dangerous to present themselves on the silver platter for the Death Eaters to attack. Christmas Dinner had already been planned and they would all meet at Ketwick Black Castle for it, as there was enough space for them all.

Harry and Ginny were still inseparable. On the way to the Leaky Cauldron Harry talked a mile a minute about how happy he still was with her. They flooed back to Ketwick Black Castle, where Remus set Ratna down into her hanging crib and Harry brought his bag up to his room. Sirius had been shopping for him and there were several pairs of new trousers and jeans, sweatpants, pyjamas, shirts and sweaters for winter. Sirius had also bought two sets of daywear robes for Harry. He took off his school robes, got dressed into a new pair of trousers and pulled a t-shirt over his head, then he looked at the robes Sirius had bought for him and decided to try another colour than black for a change. There was a dark green robe and a blue one, Harry chose the dark green one and when he arrived back down in the living room, Remus and Sirius gave him a content once over.

"That looks good on you, Harry!" Remus remarked.

"Thanks for it, I think all of the clothes you bought for me are wonderful!" Harry said and dropped down on an armchair happily.

Shortly after that he got to hold Ratna for the first time. Harry felt strange feelings bubbling up inside of him when he looked at the baby in his arms. So tiny, yet already a person.

Later that night he had a conversation with Sirius. They talked quietly while Remus had gone up to take the children to bed. He would come back and get Ratna after that and retire to the bedroom to get some sleep, even if it would be interrupted. Sirius offered a cup of coffee to Harry and both enjoyed it quietly for a while. Ratna was sleeping for the moment. Sirius still looked at her like she was a miracle. All of a sudden he turned to Harry and said:

"Harry, it's just been half a year. I've been back together with Remus for half a year and thanks to his children it feels like I've never been gone from him. They won't let me a moment of time to ramble about Azkaban. They force me to concentrate on them, on Remus and myself, on you, on life. For the first time in my life I can understand what drove your Dad and your Mum to do what they did at 18 and what I never really understood back then: get married and start a family. It's been the most amazing realisation in my life and when I told Remus, he just smiled and kissed me. I always saw myself staying together with Remus for the rest of my life. But that wasn't the same as settle down, start a family, even though in our case that could only have been through adoption which was probably out of the question because Remus is a werewolf, that wasn't in my life planning for a long time - if ever. Now I wouldn't want to miss it for anything. I feel like this family gives me the strength I will need to get through this war. We have been out fighting several battles already and the knowledge that at home there are two, now three little people waiting for us to return to them gave us more power, more strength, more will to survive and more love!"

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