Chapter 1. Well, I'm still recovering from the huge blow to my pride from what I did with my last story, but I feel more confident about this one. Enjoy!
As always my disclaimer declares that I, sadly, own nothing!
260 Jaunthill Lane, Hogsmeade. This was the address most girls (and some guys) between the ages of 12-23 would kill to know. And why is that? Well the answer is quite simple really.
This was the address of Harry Potter.
Now, you might find this name familiar. Perhaps you have heard it somewhere before. Yes, there are the usual stories of great heroism and self sacrifice… not to mention one cute little butt. But to the man himself, this was all a load of tripe.
Harry Potter unlocked the front door with his wand, the setting sun bearing down on his back as the bustle of Hogsmeade passed behind him. When he had first moved in there right after graduation, everyday he would cast a glance over his shoulder and smile at the many witches, wizards, hags and assorted eccentrics that would walk past, loving its difference to the stuffiness of Privet Drive. But now, after seven years of living there, the novelty had worn off, and all he wanted to do was get inside.
He entered the house with a sigh of relief and shut the door behind him, pausing only a moment to remove his cloak and hang it up before heading straight to the kitchen for a much needed Butterbeer.
On his way through the living room, he smiled as he spotted his roommate at the table surrounded by parchment and broken quills.
"Hermione, may I take this opportunity to define the term 'Sabbatical' to you?" he sang, going to the fridge.
Hermione smiled, but continued to write on her very long piece of parchment which was already flowing over the table. "I do not need quoting from a dictionary from you of all people." She said simply.
Harry grabbed a Butterbeer and sat himself down next to Hermione, eyeing all the paperwork scattered around her. "Er, somehow I think you do. You shouldn't be doing all this work you know." He said, picking up a short piece of parchment and looking at it absentmindedly. "What would Mr. Husband say if he knew what you were doing?"
Hermione rolled her eyes. "I didn't listen to him in school and I certainly don't intend to listen to him now." She said, her eyes still fixed on the parchment as she wrote.
Harry watched her for a moment, wondering how it was she could write fluidly and neatly and talk all the same time without missing a beat. Perhaps it was a woman thing.
"Well, you should at least listen to me. Put all this work away and get back on the sofa like a good girl." He said, eyeing her.
"Harry I'm pregnant, not dying." Hermione laughed, sub-consciously rubbing a hand over her large belly. "There's nothing stopping me from sitting here and catching up on a little work."
"This is little?" he asked incredulously, swiping a hand across the stacks of papers. "What is it you guys do down there anyway?" he asked.
Hermione smiled. She was working as an Unspeakable and therefore couldn't tell anyone anything about what it was she did on a day to day basis. Even her paperwork – which both Harry and Ron had tried to sneak a peek at more than once in the past – had been charmed so that only she could read it. She never spoke of what she did, even to them.
"Now if I told you that, I'd have to kill you." She said airily.
"Hmm, says the pregnant woman who can't even see her own feet." Harry said, putting his feet up on the chair beside him. "Have you heard from Ron?"
"Yes, Pig arrived today with quite the essay for me. The poor dear… it took him a good hour to recover from the effort." Hermione giggled. "Anyway, he said to say hi to you and that he wishes you were there, but is glad you're not."
Harry snorted and took another sip of his drink. "Such is the life of a famous Quidditch player eh?"
Ron was currently away with his team playing an overseas match in Australia. He had stubbornly refused to leave at first, owing to Hermione's condition, but after much coaxing and promises of immediate owling if anything happened, Harry and Hermione had convinced him to go with the Cannon's. He was, after all, their star Keeper. So, Harry had become the 'man of the house' once more, taking care of his best friend to the best of his ability.
"So, how was work for you today?" Hermione asked.
Harry sighed, took his glasses off and rubbed his eyes. "Boring actually. I've been in my office filling out forms for the new trainees coming in at the end of the month. Tonks took me out of active duty for the day." He grumbled.
Harry had become one of the Ministry's top Auror's in the short amount of time he had been working there. He had gotten top marks on his exams and was very good out in the field. And not because of his name or the scar on his head, which admittedly, did come in handy more than once.
He looked at Hermione for a moment, before frowning. "You know, most women with 'a keg in the fridge' wouldn't be seen dead working on unspeakable assignments."
"Yes well, I'm not most women." Hermione said. "And the next time you feel like referring to my child as a large amount of alcohol, don't." she added.
Harry laughed, put his glasses back on and stood up. "Well, if there are no other tidbits of information to share, I think I'll go have a nice warm shower." He said stretching to the ceiling.
"Actually, there is something." Hermione said, finally looking up with blurry eyes.
"Yeah. Ginny's coming to stay."
Harry's mouth dropped open. "What?"
"I said Ginny's…"
"Yes, I heard you." Harry cut off. "But, why? When was this decided?"
"She's on holidays and wanted to come home for a few months. She didn't seem terribly fussed about staying at the Burrow, so I offered her the extra room here." Hermione said. She had expected Harry to be casual and happy about their friend coming to stay, but instead he had a frown on his face. "Is there a problem with that?"
"No. It will be good to see her again. It's just…" he trailed off.
"Just what?" she pressed.
Harry ruffled his hair. "Well, I would have preferred it if you had talked to me about this before you went handing out invitations."
Hermione tried not to show her surprise. "Harry, I didn't think it would be this much of an issue. It's only Ginny after all."
"Yes, but I live here too. And such decisions should be brought to me so we can talk about it."
"Are you saying you don't want Ginny here?" Hermione asked incredulously.
"Of course I'm not saying that! I'm just saying that it would have been nice if you had asked me before you decided anything. God, it would have taken you ten minutes to owl me about this Hermione!" Harry said irritably.
The pair glared at each other for a while, equally irritated with the other's stubbornness and inconsideration, before Hermione finally cracked and sighed.
"You're right. I'm sorry I didn't owl you about it." She said, shifting a little in her seat with a wince. "I thought you would be happy about seeing Ginny again after so long.
Harry sighed and deflated. "No, I'm sorry. I'm being a pillock… of course it's alright for Ginny to stay here." He said with an apologetic smile. "I just don't like being out of the loop."
"I know. I'm sorry." Hermione said. She opened up her arms and Harry dropped to his knees in front of her and hugged her, saving her the trouble of standing up. "I just didn't think this would be an issue."
Harry shook his head, pulled back and gave her a peck on the cheek. "Ignore me, I'm tired and cranky and in desperate need of a shower." He said, standing up. "Yes, Ginny will stay here and it will be fabulous. Although now I'll have to start being even tidier, what with two Weasley women living under my roof."
Hermione laughed. "Well, I'm glad you feel so accommodating."
"When's she arriving?"
"Oh, in about two hours actually."
Harry stared at her.
"Oooh, you are so lucky I don't kick impregnated witches."
A good hour and a half later, Harry had had his refreshing shower, gotten changed into his favorite pair of jeans and red shirt and decided very reluctantly to drag his arse to his room and do some research for his new assignment.
As he sat at his desk with his headphones on, his mind stubbornly drifted away from his work to the centre of his teenage hormonal dreams.
He had not seen her in three years since Arthur and Molly's Anniversary dinner. Since she had left school, she had been living in Romania, working with Charlie at one of his Dragon camps. From what he had heard on the grapevine, she was very happy with her life and her job. Charlie had never been as proud of anyone as he was his little sister, as she possessed the same passion and energy for her work as he did.
But now she was coming back to England, and it threw things back out of proportion for Harry and his personal life. He had, very late in the game, finally woken up and realized the way he felt about Ginny. Of course, he did nothing about it for many reasons. One of those, being that she had clearly gotten over him by then… and the other that she would have been far too much in danger if he had.
At the time he had realized his feelings for her, he was in the middle of a war. It had been a very hard and dark time in his life, and he had pushed everyone away from him, determined not to let them get caught in the crossfire of such a personal battle between him and the Dark Lord, and that included Ginny. When the battle had been won, he had just assumed it was just too late to do anything about their situation and left it at platonic.
But what did it mean now? They were different people with different lives. They were no longer teenagers looking over their shoulder in case of attacks. But Harry knew he still didn't have the time for things like that. He had work to do. The life of an Auror was hardly any better than the one he had been living back then.
So, resolving to push romantic thoughts of his best friend's sister to the dark recesses of his heart, he dipped his quill in the inkpot and changed the song to one he particularly liked.
The music was energetic and Harry knew the words to mostly all of the songs on his CD. Music helped him work, and he wished sometimes he could take his Discman into the office with him when he was up for a grueling afternoon of filling out paperwork.
He had lost track of time when a hand came out of no-where, plucked his glasses off his face, put them in his hand and covered his eyes. He jumped as the person lifted the left earphone away from his ear, kissed him on the cheek and whispered. "Guess who?"
Harry smiled and pulled his headphones off so they hung around his neck. He would recognize that cocky, sweet, female voice anywhere.
"Hmm, well you can't be Hermione because she can't stand that close to me without having to stretch her arms out as far as they can go." He said playing along. "You'll have to be Ginny Weasley."
He heard her laugh and she removed her hand from his eyes. He blinked, put his glasses back on and turned around to finally clap eyes on her.
He felt his stomach clench.
There she stood at her tallest height of 5'6, her red hair very long with bleached blonde streaks through it from the sun as it hung over her shoulders. Her face was the friendly one he remembered with a very nice tan. She seemed to be in possession of a few more freckles, but her face didn't seem too weathered at all. She had acquired a bit more muscle and it seemed as well, but not intimidatingly so. She was looking up at him with those big brown eyes and she was absolutely gorgeous.
But of course, he didn't say that.
"Ginny." Harry said, trying to act casual. It was hard to do so when she smiled at you like that.
Ginny laughed. "Enough staring, more hugging please!" she said, looking at him expectantly.
Harry snorted and stood up… but nearly strangled himself as his Discman went clattering to the floor, his headphones hanging uncomfortably around his neck. "Ow! Oh, bugger." He groaned.
Ginny smiled and bent down to help him pick it up. "Clumsy. This is a new trait for you." She said.
Harry laughed. "Mr. Smooth, that's me." He said. He placed his precious music back on his desk and they stood up. "Wow, I can't believe you're here." He said, giving her a smile.
Ginny slipped her arms around his neck and hugged him warmly. "It's been too long Harry."
Harry wrapped his arms around her tiny waist, enjoying her closeness. She smelt like outdoors and a little like smoke, but that was to be expected.
She pulled back and put her hands in her pockets. "I'm sorry; I didn't mean to interrupt your work. Hermione told me I should just come right in."
"Oh no, that's fine. Nothing that can't wait." He said, waving a hand dismissively at his desk. "I lost track of time, otherwise I would have come out to greet you. How long have you been here?"
"Oh, I just got here." Ginny said casually. "Cant you tell?"
Harry laughed, noticing that she was indeed still dressed in attire suited for Dragon handling. "Well, that's okay. With you looking like that and Hermione dressed in tents all the time, we'll make a right sight for outsiders."
Ginny laughed and Harry led her back out of the room, down the hall and to the living room where Hermione was currently sitting. She was reclined on the sofa, a book propped against her belly as she ate out of a tin of sardines smothered with tomato sauce.
Ginny looked at her incredulously, but Harry didn't even bat an eyelash as he told her to make herself at home. "So, this the nutritional regime we prize ourselves on, is it?" she asked Hermione.
"Leave me alone, I'm physically challenged." Hermione said, still reading her book as Crookshanks waited patiently beside her.
"You'll get used to her." Harry called from the kitchen as he began pulling food out. "She's either on the sofa, on the loo… or on the sofa wishing she could get to the loo."
"I beg your pardon? This from a man who sits in front of the wireless for hours in nothing but his underwear, listening to the Quidditch."
Ginny smiled as she watched Harry and Hermione pass a friendly banter. When she had first heard that they were still living together, she had been shocked. Harry living with a married couple expecting their first child had seemed rather unusual, but witnessing it first hand it didn't seem all that out of the ordinary.
In fact, sometimes, she even found herself very jealous at the way they interacted with each other.
"So, what's for dinner?" Harry asked.
"Oh, do you want help?" Hermione called, shifting a little in attempt to sit up.
"No, stay there."
"How about me? I don't just want to sit here and do nothing." Ginny said.
"No, you're the guest. You must be tired after apparating so far. Just relax and try to ignore the smell of sardines." Harry said, conjuring more bowls and food with flicks of his wand. "I am neither tired nor impregnated."
"I should sincerely hope not." Hermione said, giving him a smirk.
"So Ginny, what do you want?" Harry asked, summoning more utensils out of thin air. "I'll cook you anything you like."
Ginny raised her eyebrows. "You can cook?" she looked to Hermione. "He can cook?"
"You'd be surprised. He can actually boil water now." Hermione responded.
Ginny laughed as Harry threw Hermione a nasty look. "Well,' Ginny said, letting her eyes trail freely up and down his body 'it seems that your good looks aren't the only thing that's developed nicely in my absence."
Harry looked over at her, feeling stunned. Was that a flirtatious compliment? Or was she teasing? As he looked at her, all he could see was that she was smiling at him with that humorous quirk to the corner of her mouth.
So, opting to be on the safe side, he simply smiled and went back to his cooking.
After they had been stuffed full of the roast dinner Harry cooked, caught up on each other's lives and also gotten sick of the smell of Hermione's cat-food dinner, Harry decided to take Ginny on a proper tour of the house. She had not been there in the whole time they had been living there, and she was pleasantly surprised at the size of the estate.
"And this is your room. One of the best in the house." Harry said, opening a door for Ginny.
She rolled her eyes. "That's what you said about all the other rooms." She said, reaching for her massive duffle bag.
"Oh, you want help with that?" Harry asked.
"Nope, that's okay, I got it."
And, as Harry found out, she had. Ginny lifted the huge bag off the floor with one hand as if it weighed nothing. It made him feel a little inferior and intimidated as she waltzed straight past him into the room, dumping her bag at the end of the double bed.
"So, is this okay?" he asked, leaning against the doorframe and watching her as she flopped down on the bed.
Ginny laughed. "Are you kidding? Moaning Myrtle's bathroom would be cozier compared to the tent I've been living in for the past month."
The room was the smallest of the four in the entire house, but was still not what you would consider cramped. It was the size of a master bedroom and had many furnishings that made it feel warm and welcoming; despite the fact no-one used it. It did not possess the aura of someone in there like most bedrooms did, but Ginny seemed far from noticing that at this point.
"It beats being back home at the Burrow." Ginny said, sitting up.
Harry frowned. "What's that meant to mean?"
"Oh don't get me wrong, I love the Burrow with all my little Weasley heart. But…I'm 24 years old Harry, and don't need nor really want my mother fussing over me like a madwoman." She said with a small smile.
Harry nodded, not completely understanding.
"Besides,' she continued, leaning forward 'I'm sure it's going to be much more fun staying here with you."
Harry didn't know what she meant by 'you', but kept his hopes under the rug where they belonged. "Well, I can't make promises on that. What with Ron out of the country, Hermione unable to move more than ten steps without having to detour towards the toilet and me always at work…"
"Huh," Ginny laughed. "Maybe I should go stay at the Burrow."
"No." Harry said a little quickly. The words were out of his mouth before he realized she had only been joking. "I mean, er…"
"Hey!" came Hermione's voice from behind them. "Settling in alright?" she asked Ginny, poking her head in the door.
Harry let out a silent breath of relief, having never been as thankful for her superb timing as he was in that moment.
"Yeah, Harry just finished giving me the tour of your house." Ginny said. "And may I say it's amazing what you three bought on such a modest budget. I can't believe I never took the time to come visit earlier on."
"Well, that's your own fault for not accepting our invitations sooner." Hermione said. "Anyway, I just waddled down here to tell you both that I'm off to bed. My feet are killing me and little bubba is playing soccer with my belly button again." She chuckled, rubbing her stomach fondly.
Ginny let out a womanly squeal, jumped up from the bed and rushed to Hermione. She threw her arms around her and hugged her as tightly as she could, before looking down at the mound between them.
"Can I kiss my new nephew or niece goodnight?" she asked.
Harry smiled as Ginny planted butterfly kisses all over Hermione's belly and whispered something. It was very cute to see Ginny fawn over the part of the body Hermione had been whinging about for the past three months.
"Okay, than enough baby attention." Hermione said, shooing the redhead away.
Harry leant over and kissed her on the forehead. "Just go relax and I'll see you in the morning."
Once she had bid them both goodnight once more and walked delicately off down the hall to her room, Harry turned back to Ginny finding his discomfort of being alone with her intensify.
"So, er…" he muttered, rubbing the back of his neck. "I'll let you get settle then. If you need anything just come get me. Toilet's down the hall, and feel free to help yourself to anything in the kitchen if you get hungry and..."
Ginny smiled. "Harry, you're rambling."
"Oh, am I?" He laughed. "I'm just tired and I have a million witness reports to read before tomorrow and it's really boring and I'm being a horrible host and…"
"Oh, right." Harry said, shutting his mouth. Ginny was smiling at him and he felt rather embarrassed.
Urgh, I feel like I'm sixteen again. He thought irritably. I'm a 25 year old man, I should be past this.
"Well, I'll see you in the morning then." Harry said.
Ginny leant against the doorframe as he walked off, shaking his head and muttering to himself. She giggled, shook her head as well and went back in her room to get changed.
It was a few hours later when Ginny found herself pacing back and forth in front of Hermione's closed door, dressed in her flannelette pajamas and her mind trapped a the whirlpool of indecision. It was late, and she knew she should be in bed. But she wanted to talk to Hermione, and was unsure whether she could disturb her at this hour.
Ginny stopped her pacing and looked at the door. She sighed, raised her hand and finally wrapped her knuckles against the door.
"Come in!" came her answer.
Ginny smiled and pushed the door inward. Hermione's bed was against the wall on the left and she was lying on the right side of the bed, propped up with several pillows and a book once again resting against her stomach.
She looked up and smiled at her friend in the doorway. "Finally. I was beginning to wonder if you were just going to stand out there and pace all night."
Ginny blinked. "How did you…" she stopped and smiled. "You know, it doesn't matter."
Hermione grinned and shifted a little. "Couldn't sleep huh?"
"No, but its nothing against here. Trust me; that bed is like a cloud!" Ginny moaned. "I'll get over it in a few nights."
"I understand." Hermione said. "Come on, sit down." She said, patting the side of the bed that must have belonged to Ron.
"Are you sure?" Ginny asked, although she really did want to. "I'm not keeping you up am I?"
"Oh no, that's junior's job here as of late." Hermione said, patting her belly. "Come on, keep me company."
"Thank you!" Ginny said happily, crossing to the bed with a slight skip to her step.
Hermione snorted as Ginny slid under the covers and wrapped her arm around Hermione, looking at the book she was reading with distant interest.
"You miss ickle Ronnikins?" Ginny asked.
"I do. I miss how when I wake up in the middle or the night, he props me up on some pillows and rubs my back." Hermione said, wondering what it was her husband was doing now. She shook herself and sighed. "So, how's what's-his-name? Evan wasn't it?"
"Evan, yes. Well, we broke up months ago actually right before he got a transfer to Albania to a Welsh Green reserve. The timing was rather good."
"Oh, sorry." Hermione said, closing her book and smiling apologetically at Ginny.
"Ah, think nothing of it." Ginny said, waving a hand casually. "It was better all around actually. My heart just wasn't in it… despite him possessing one of the finest bodies in the Northern Hemisphere."
Hermione laughed. "Hmm, I wouldn't say that. Your brother does possess a fine pair of pecks himself." She said suggestively.
"Ew! Hermione!" Ginny laughed, clapping a hand over her eyes. "You just increased my time in therapy by another 4 years!"
"Would you rather I talk about Harry's physique then?" Hermione offered, giving her friend a look.
Ginny chuckled and shook her head. "Jesus, I've been back for five minutes and already you're starting on me."
"I beg your pardon? I saw the way you were looking at him all through dinner, and the way you followed him through the house at a conveniently slow pace so you could have a better view of his… 'Departing pose'." Hermione said slyly.
Ginny sat up and ran a hand through her hair with a smile. She did not, however, deny anything Hermione was pointing out.
"And besides, you're flirting with him so obviously that even Stevie Wonder would notice." Hermione added.
"Well then this Mr. Wonder, whoever the bloody hell he is, must be more attuned into this 'picking up signals' thing than Harry, because nothing I do seems to be grabbing his attention." Ginny said, feeling a little disappointed.
If the truth were told, yes, Ginny still had small (large!) feelings for her brother's best friend. How could she not? Over the years, her small girl crush had developed into something much larger; more intense. She had never spoken of it to anyone, but frankly it didn't surprise her at all that Hermione had figured it out.
"Oh believe me Ginny, he was definitely grabbing them. Er, that is… your advances." Hermione corrected herself quickly, blushing.
Ginny blew a stray strand of hair out of her face and rested her head in the heel of her hand, gazing up at Hermione. "Look, even if I did make myself more… obvious, there would be no point. It's been what, three years since we last saw each other? And even before that he hasn't shown any indication that he likes me in that way."
"Well, Harry's very good at hiding what he feels now adays." Hermione said. "But, maybe I can do a little undercover work. If you wanted."
"Undercover work?" Ginny laughed. "What are we, thirteen?"
"Do you want me to worm it out of him or not?"
"Yes! I do."
Hermione laughed and shook her head. "Then this proves to be an interesting few weeks."
"Yes." Ginny said, staring off into space as plan after plan formed in her petite little head. "Yes it does."
A/N – I know there wasn't a lot of Harry, but I promise there will be. Just bare with me, for I am the queen of the slow-reveal!