Summary: In which Ginny develops an obsessive fascination with bubble wrap, and Harry surprises her with something very special.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter does not belong to me and you can't sue me anyway because I have exactly three dollars and fourteen cents in my wallet.
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They had agreed that living together was the best decision they had made the entire year. Ginny, who had spent the last year living at home, needed the independence. Harry, who had spent the last year living alone, needed the company. It was a beautiful compromise.
At the moment, however, the situation was not very beautiful. Strewn on the floor of their new flat were cardboard boxes piled four feet high, wobbling uncertainly. Harry and Ginny had originally planned to unpack the next day when they weren't so tired, but after a box fell on Ginny's head, nearly giving her a concussion, and after Harry nearly broke his ankle after tripping over a box, the two decided that for their mutual safety, they should unpack.
Ginny sat down on a box and glanced around the room, then at Harry. She sighed.
Harry began to sit down, heard something in the box crack, and leaped up hurriedly, managing to knock over a pile of boxes in the process. The boxes fell precariously close to Ginny, and she glared at him. He sighed.
"It's okay." Ginny swung her legs against the box. "I guess we should start unpacking."
"Yeah. We should."
"So," said Ginny. "I guess we should get started."
"I suppose so."
No one moved. Sighing heavily and rolling her eyes, Ginny got up and began to peel off the Spellotape on the box she had been sitting down. Harry sighed and followed suit with his own box.
"This is all your fault," Harry grumbled. "I only have four boxes. The rest of the three hundred boxes are yours."
"It's not my fault," Ginny snapped as she yanked futilely at the tape. "You know Mum insisted that I pack everything in my whole bloody house just to make sure I don't forget anything. And five of the boxes have food in them."
They worked in silence for about five minutes.
"Let's take a break," said Harry.
"No, Harry." Having unpacked one box, Ginny proceeded to open a much smaller and lighter box. "We'll take a break for lunch in an hour." She ripped off the Spellotape and opened the lid, then peered inside the box. She could see nothing except sheets of clear plastic covered with air-filled knobs.
"What's this, Harry?" she said curiously as she began to unfold the sheets of plastic.
Harry looked up. "Bubble wrap. Muggle invention, you know, to protect fragile objects. My Firebolt must be in that box. I remember Hermione being worried that a Cushioning Charm wouldn't last long enough, so she wrapped it in bubble wrap…"
But Ginny wasn't listening. She had discovered that when she squeezed one of the bubbles, it popped and produced a delightful sound. Amused, she began to pop more bubbles, and soon created a lovely rhythm of popping noises.
Harry shook his head in exasperation and carefully made his way toward her, picking a path between the boxes. "Give me that," he demanded, grabbing the bubble wrap. "We're supposed to be unpacking."
"Hey!" Ginny wrenched the bubble wrap out of his grasp, indignant. "That was incredibly rude. You can't just take something from someone whenever you feel like it." She hugged the bubble wrap to her chest protectively.
"Ginny," Harry said warningly.
She grinned impishly at him, still hugging the bubble wrap.
Harry groaned. Grabbing a corner of the bubble wrap, he tugged it toward himself.
Ginny screamed. "Harry, stop it! I want to pop all of the bubbles by myself!"
"Not fair!" Ginny shrieked, trying to back into the wall but finding her way blocked by still more cardboard boxes. "You've had your whole life to pop bubble wrap, but I've never done it before!"
Harry raised his eyebrows at her and reluctantly let go of the bubble wrap.
"Good boy," said Ginny.
"Look," Harry began, a bit desperately. "We really need to unpack, Ginny, or we'd probably both die from toppling cardboard boxes before the day is over. Can you please just let go of your precious bubble wrap for a moment and help me unpack?"
Ginny still held the bubble wrap protectively as she looked at Harry.
"Listen," he said. "I'll get you bubble wrap for your birthday, okay? Lots of bubble wrap, so it would take you days to pop all the bubbles."
"Okay." Ginny brightened a bit and released her death grip on her bubble wrap.
Harry laughed. "You're so funny, Ginny."
"Am I?" Ginny folded the bubble wrap and placed it back into the box. "That's good to know."
They returned to unpacking. Harry watched Ginny silently, a rare sparkle illuminating his green eyes.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -ONE YEAR LATER
Harry sat on the living room sofa, an enormous box placed before him. He fidgeted nervously and tried to flatten his hair. The birthday girl was obviously not in a hurry this morning. She'd been in the bathroom for—what—half an hour already? Harry tapped his foot impatiently as he waited.
At that moment, Ginny entered the room, hair neatly combed, skin glowing, brown eyes shining. "Good morning!" she said brightly. Her eyes fell on the massive box, and her mouth dropped. "That's a really big box. Is it for me?"
Harry nodded mutely, not trusting himself to speak.
"Can I open it now?"
He nodded again and managed to mumble a "happy birthday."
Ginny sat down on the sofa next to Harry and untied the ribbon on the box. Brimming with excitement, she lifted off the lid and peered inside the box.
Bubble wrap. Layers and layers of bubble wrap. Ginny looked at Harry in shock, not knowing what to say.
"Erm… thank you," she said, trying to sound sincere. It was a nice gift, it really was. It had been nice of him to keep his word about giving her bubble wrap for her birthday. But somehow—and she hated to admit this even to herself—she'd expected something more from him. They had lived together for a year, sharing living quarters, food, and saliva, and she thought that he would… that she meant more to him than… She dismissed the thought before she could finish it. It wasn't fair for her to expect anything elaborate from him.
"Thank you," she said again.
Harry looked slightly panicked as he caught sight of her pained expression. "There's something else in there," he said. "Take out the bubble wrap and unwrap it."
Ginny obeyed. Slowly, she unrolled the bubble wrap, which seemed to extend infinitely in length.
"It'll take a really long time for you to pop all the bubbles," Harry said, giving her a weak smile.
Ginny frowned and glanced at him. "Harry, are you okay?"
"What? Me? Oh, yeah, I'm fine."
She looked at him more closely. "Are you sure? You look… ill."
"Ill? Why? Me? No, of course not. I'm fine. Keep unwrapping."
Ginny cast one more concerned look at Harry and continued to unwrap the bubble wrap. Harry seemed to be hyperventilating next to her.
"Are you sure you're all right?" she said as the unrolling continued.
"Yeah. I'm fine."
Her fingers met the end of the bubble wrap. With surprise, Ginny looked down. A small, dark blue velvet box lay at the edge of the bubble wrap. She looked at Harry questioningly as she picked up the box and opened it.
It was a ring, a thin band of white gold adorned with a princess-cut diamond. Harry hurriedly got off the sofa and knelt down in front of her.
"Ginny. Will you marry me?"
Speechless, she glanced from Harry to the ring to the long trail of bubble wrap. A choked scream escaped her throat as she flung all her weight on him to hug him, knocking him to the ground.
"Yes! Yes, Harry, I will!"
Their lips met. Ginny closed her eyes and tasted heaven.
They had somehow managed to end up on the bubble wrap. Ginny laughed and pulled herself and Harry to a sitting position.
Bubble wrap was the best thing that had ever happened to her.
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