A/N: Like I said, I'm just getting in some fluff practice, reviews are SO SO SO SO SO SO appreciated.
Harry and Ginny strolled down Diagon Alley hand in hand, enjoying the unusually warm February afternoon and the even more unusual occurrence that neither of them had to work. Harry had called in sick that morning so that he and Ginny could take a trip to Diagon Alley and kill both the obligatory Valentine's Day date and buying Ron a birthday present with one stone.
Obligatory Valentine's Day date... It was almost funny, how incredibly busy their lives had become. Ginny, who had taken the aptitude tests at Auror Headquarters last September and was now midway through the notorious First Year, was well aware that her evaluation in September would determine not only her rank but her starting pay as she joined the official ranks. Being the girlfriend of Harry Potter had not been easy in this respect—many people seemed to be under the impression that she was only an Auror because he was. It was no good telling them that she had served as a member of the Order of the Phoenix for a year while Harry had was off Voldie-hunting, or that being an Auror actually resulted in them having less time together... gender equality was a bit behind the times in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, unfortunately.
Undeterred, Ginny had been working tirelessly, adding more and more overtime hours into her schedule and taking particularly troubling cases home with her at least twice a month. Harry, in a fit of uncharacteristic sensitivity and foresight, had anticipated this from the start. The only problem was, he had no idea what to do about it, and he needed some help at that point. Hermione's suggestion was to discuss their priorities ahead of time in order to ensure that they were on the same page, so Harry and Ginny made a list. What had started out as a thorough inventory of all the things, big and small, that mattered to them had by now been whittled down to eating, sleeping, having sex, talking, working, and bathing as the pressure on Ginny had increased.
Harry also had the sneaking suspicion that she was determined to do as well as he had in his first year. He had also worked very hard, but it had been a lot easier for him because at the time Ginny was still in her seventh year at the newly-reopened Hogwarts and Harry had been living alone, meaning that by this time last year, working had only to compete with sleeping, eating, and occasionally bathing. It would be a tall order: less than twenty people in the entire history of the department had been given his status upon completion of their First Year, and he suspected that his success had been largely aided by his 'impressive extracurriculars,' as they called them. Not that Ginny didn't have her own list of 'impressive extracurriculars,' but for as much as an entire year in the service of the Order of the Phoenix had given her invaluable experience, they both knew it just didn't have the same ring to it as 'defeated the most evil wizard of all time in seven different pieces.'
"Where're we going?" asked Harry as Ginny suddenly began pulling him across the street, and before she replied he had his answer.
"But I thought we said we weren't going to get him anything Quidditch-related for a change..."
Ginny had stopped, her nose almost pressed against the glass window front of Quality Quidditch Supplies as she gazed at something with the very expression she usually reserved for Harry.
"So beautiful..." she said, as though it almost pained her. In the window was a display of several vintage broomsticks—early Cleansweeps, amongst some others.
"The Moontrimmer," she murmured. He looked appraisingly at it. It was a long slender thing, its tail was perhaps slightly smaller in proportion than your average racing broom, but it looked nice.
"Best broom ever made," she said reverently.
"No way," he said flatly. Nice-looking though it may be, it was not the best broom ever made.
"It is!" she countered, and her tone gave Harry the impression that not very many people had ever agreed with her on this issue, "It was the best broom ever made!"
"Yeah, in 1901."
She set her hands defiantly on her hips. "You are aware that this broom is the forerunner of your beloved Firebolt, aren't you?"
"How do you figure that?"
"The ash handle," she said, ticking things off on her fingers, "the balance—"
"Okay—first of all the ash handle is in no way what makes the Firebolt better—and it is better, I might add—"
"The revival of personal craftsmanship—"
"—And what's the point of balance if you can't go more than—"
"But balance is what sets Firebolt above the Nimbus, you know that—"
"See look, it says right here—sixty miles per hour!"
"Who cares about speed—it flies high enough to catch those..." she was waving her arms madly over her head now, red-faced and frustrated.
"Jet streams?" Harry offered, unable to contain a very small smile, "You're claiming that this thing can use jet streams to its advantage?"
"Well now you're just making stuff up," he said, crossing his arms over his chest with a maddening air of superiority.
Her frustration reached breaking point as she let out a noise somewhere between a screech and a roar and actually stomped her feet. He, on the other hand, was rather enjoying himself. She gave him a very forbidding look.
"Well fine then," she said, turning on her heel and walking away from him.
"Ginny I was—" She made a rude hand gesture over her shoulder, "Ginny!"
She began walking faster. He caught up to her and turned her around, and was shocked to see that her eyes had turned a bit pink and she was blinking furiously. "Ginny are you—crying?"
"No!" she sniffed, with as much venom as she could muster, "Why do you care?"
"Ginny!" he said, still unable to really take the issue seriously, "It's a broomstick!"
The resentment faded, as she seemed to have come to her senses, and now she looked rather sheepish, which for Ginny was far more dangerous emotional territory—the touch of humiliation or embarrassment brought out a rather nasty instinct for cruelty in her. She blinked faster and avoided his eyes.
"I'm sorry," he said, wrapping his arms around her and kissing the top of her head. She didn't move.
He sighed, "All right fine—if I admit that the Moontrimmer was a forerunner of the Firebolt and therefore clearly the best broom ever made until that time will you please come home with me now and have some lunch?"
She sniffed, and then pulled away. "What about Ron's present?"
She smiled, wriggling her hips a little, "I'll screw you."
...And with a crack they were gone.
In the following weeks, Moontrimmers faded from Ginny's thoughts—the one on display in the window of Quality Quidditch Supplies had been sold just a few days after she and Harry had visited—it's sale made the Daily Prophet, as it had been bought by some weedy-looking rich collector for seventeen hundred Galleons, and the man now owned a model of every professional broom ever made.
Harry, for his part, had given every indication that the broom had slipped from his mind the moment they'd apparated away. But it really hadn't. Silly though it may have seemed at the time, Ginny was more attached to the very idea of that broomstick than most people were to their Quidditch teams. He supposed he understood now why Ginny had never clung with any tenacity to any team but Gryffindor, or why she seemed rather indifferent about the position she played: Quidditch was without doubt the best sport there was, but it wasn't the game that made her feel alive so much as the flying itself. He reckoned he could relate to that.
So in the months to come, Harry had, with the utmost discretion, begun hunting around broom showcases and collector's conventions, looking for another Moontrimmer. But his progress had been somewhat impeded in that no one could know that he was looking for one, or indeed, that he had even taken any particular interest to broomsticks at all.
Because Ginny wasn't stupid—she knew how expensive something like a Moontrimmer was. There was no way Harry could buy her one and pass it off as an ordinary Christmas present, and Ginny's pride and dignity were such that being presented with one had the real potential to become a very sticky situation. The immediate truth was that her salary—or lack thereof—was such she could not possibly return the gesture, probably, for several years, and in any case he knew that the idea of spending so much money on something that wasn't absolutely necessary for her was a strange cross between binding generosity and something she just couldn't relate to. Harry knew all ofthis.
But the look in her eyes as she gazed at the thing wasn't easy to forget. Nor was the fiery way she had defended it, despite the fact that she'd probably never even ridden one before—or then again maybe she had, Harry supposed he didn't know. In any case, he wanted her to have it. He had a feeling that if she saw it, before she had time to forbid him from buying it, she'd love it so much she'd forget about the money issue. And so in the months to come Harry went out of his way—sometimes a very long way out of his way—to disguise the fact that he was up to something.
As such, Ginny had absolutely no idea what awaited her at home—technically Harry's home—when she left the Auror office one Friday evening in mid-June. It was a beautiful, balmy night—as the orange streetlights cast blue shadows on the pavement, which was still warm from the hot sun that had beaten on it all day long, she wondered with a vague feeling of anticipation if Bill and Fleur's baby would be coming this weekend: the due date was now less than two weeks away. She fully enjoyed being an aunt, and was looking forward to having another baby around to coo and swoon over, as Max was two years old already and eager to stand on his own two feet whenever possible.
Harry, meanwhile, was a nervous wreck—pacing back and forth in his flat and muttering to himself like he was planning to invade Poland. When he stopped and gave even a moment's thought, he really couldn't understand what had come over him: what had possessed him and made him think that he could get away with what he was about to pull... And yet he was powerless to stop himself, as he set about casting various little spells and charms and making sure everything was in order for tonight.
The first part of his plan was one thing: one thing he had been planning for some months. That in itself was pushing the limits of what she would be comfortable with. But when he had obtained the present earlier than anticipated, it became harder and harder to wait for Christmas, or even her birthday, and he found himself trying to manipulate some kind of situation that might warrant the giving of such a gift.
But the plan he had actually come up with was so ridiculous it was appalling -- one of those ideas that you definitely don't run by Hermione. He smiled grimly at the thought of his own indecency. If he could pull this off... it would be official: he would be the smoothest little bastard in the history of magic.
Harry heard the front door open and close and felt his pulse begin to race.
"Honey, I'm home!"
Ginny laughed—she always thought that line was really funny, for some reason.
He heard her footsteps into the kitchen where he now sat, eating a bowl of cereal to quell his nerves while he read the newspaper and did his best to appear nonchalant.
"Who's here?" she asked lightly, breezing across the room and kissing him on the cheek as she deposited her purse on the table.
"Hm?" asked Harry, feigning distraction.
"Whose broom is that by the door?"
"Oh," said Harry, returning to the paper, "It's mine..."
There was a silence. He looked up to find her raising a questioning eyebrow at him.
"Yeah—you know, I just thought I'd buy myself another one." He stretched a bit and walked casually over to the sink with his bowl, "Only, I haven't quite figured out how to ride the two of them at once so... until I do, I guess—it'll just be yours to use."
He turned to face her and fought a smile valiantly as Ginny's eyes widened beyond belief. A frisson of frenetic excitement traveled through her: she seemed torn between thanking him properly and running out there to examine the broom properly. She decided on the latter—nope, the former—and bounded back across the kitchen to give him a searing kiss that had barely gotten started when she broke it off and dashed out to the entryway. Harry waited nervously... surely she should now be able to see through the disassociation charm he'd placed on the broom and notice what it was...
"YOU LITTLE SHIT!"
He choked on his laughter, adoring the happiness he could hear in her voice but being unable to enjoy it fully as he waited, still on the pretense of busying himself at the kitchen sink, for the rest of the deal to unfold. The sound of feet met his ears as she scampered back into the kitchen and wrapped her arms around his waist from behind, planting little kisses on the back of his neck interspersed with giggles as she murmurred fervently, "...you little shit..."
"Well, if you don't like it..." he said unnecessarily as he turned around to face her, holding her chin in his hands and drawing her closer until she looked like a cyclops. He cracked a grin as she continued in her incredulity.
"You... I can't believe you bought... me... god, a Moontrimmer..." she whispered dizzily.
"Whoa, whoa," he said, straightening suddenly, "I didn't buy you anything. That broom is technically still mine."
"Oh ho, what?" laughed Ginny, eyes sparkling, "Am I going to have to earn it?" she wriggled her hips suggestively.
"That does sound... nice."
She smiled wickedly and he swallowed again, this time steeling himself.
"But actually, I had something else in mind."
She smirked, "Really, what's that?"
"Well, there's this favor I was hoping you could do for me..."
Ginny stopped smirking but was receptive, believing him to be semi-serious, and said rather slyly, "Well—that depends. How big a favor are we talking about?"
"Huge," he said, heart galloping in his chest, "Absolutely giant."
She made a show of considering carefully. "I dunno... is it going to be a lot of bother?"
He nodded. "Most likely—I'll owe you one for the rest of my life, I swear, and I wouldn't ask it of you but I really don't know what else I'll do."
His mouth was dry. He gave her what he hoped was his most endearing smile, and Ginny assumed an unreadable expression to hide her mixed emotions. "Okay, what?"
He pulled the little box out of his pocket, flipping it open with a velvety snap as the look in his eyes deepened.
Her body trembled in disbelief. The moment had gripped her so suddenly, she was so taken by surprise that for a few split seconds she honestly didn't know what to say. But then she took a moment to register the expression on his face and suddenly marrying him was just the only thing for it. The answer Harry had been hoping for got smooshed against his lips—unintelligible and unmistakable as she threw herself into his arms and gave him the best kiss of his life.
He set her back on her feet and slipped the ring on her finger as they stared into each other's eyes—hardly believing themselves and yet knowing, as if high on Felix Felicis, that this was exactly the place to be, tonight and every night for the next hundred years or so.
They fell against each other again, lips meeting as a wave of the warmest emotion Harry had ever felt swelled up inside him, and every part of his body felt alive and certain that things were going to be just fine. An overwhelming thankfulness that he could never have imagined took hold of him, wiping him clean of all regrets. He couldn't hate -- no one -- not one single thing in all his miserable past, because all of it brought him here, to this moment, and that was enough.
...And later that night, when Harry and Ginny had decided to take a break from their celebrations, they took the broom for a ride, staring up into the thick black sky and breathing the peace of life. In London below them it was raining; from the flat the stars couldn't be seen anyway for the glare of the city lights. But here above the storm, thunderheads looked more like cotton candy, not even the moon could drown out the stars, and it really seemed, in that moment, that this entire world of mist and silver glow was there, in all its splendor, to be just as glorious as they felt.
"So..." Ginny said at last, leaning back against Harry leisurely, while he concentrated on making sure they didn't both fall off.
"Hm?" he asked, distracted, and not entirely by the stars.
"How did you even get a hold of one of these?"
"Oh well, you know..." he said, shrugging, "I poked around a bit—called a few people—all the inventor's grandchildren..."
She giggled, "Harry you're shameless."
There was silence. She craned her head back at him, eyebrows raised, and he gazed unflinchingly back.
"What—you think I'm going to deny it?"
She laughed, and eventually they floated back down to earth, and life resumed, but pieces of that night over the moon—that exhilarating high, would last them the rest of their lives.