Summary It's been seven years since Harry has seen or heard from any of his friends; now at Ron and Hermione's wedding he will discover a secret that has been kept from him for too long…
Rating R (for sexual scenes and abuse)
Disclaimer I am not JK Rowling. All the characters you recognize belong to her… while the others belong to me.
Promises to Keep
CH: 1- Coming Home
"I'm glad you could make it mate, the wedding wouldn't have been the same without you."
Harry grinned at Ron, his best friend for the past fourteen years of his life, and then he turned his attention to the Burrow. It had been almost seven years since he had been here and he was startled to see all the changes.
"It's so different, why?" Harry asked and Ron smiled broadly.
"Mum and dad have added to it in order to fit the entire family. After all Charlie, Bill, Fred, George, I and Ginny and our spouses will all live here, it's almost a tradition in our family," Ron said and Harry grinned again. He could just imagine dozens of red headed children running around the garden and playing with the gnomes. Then he belatedly caught what Ron had said and his face fell slightly.
"Ginny did get married then?"
Ron turned and watched Harry's face. He knew that once Harry had loved Ginny beyond anything else, but he hadn't known that he still loved her that much. His relationship with Padma really had cut all his ties with his friends, he hadn't even told Harry about Ginny.
"She married Michael Corner two years ago. She has a little girl now, named Natalie," Ron was trying to word this carefully. Ginny wasn't ready to see Harry yet, but she was going to face it bravely. Their break had killed her once, and Ginny swore that she was going to die again once she saw him.
"How wonderful for them," Harry said and Ron could tell how this news hurt his friend. Dammit, Ron thought miserably, He still cares about her.
"Let's go inside Harry, everyone is anxious to see you."
As Harry walked into the kitchen he had to laugh, there were at least two dozen children in the kitchen between the ages of four months and seven years. Harry couldn't believe how many of them there were, it seemed like the Weasley's really did have problems not having kids.
Molly saw him standing in the doorway and she ran to him and held him tightly in her arms. "Oh Harry my dear, we've missed you so."
"How have you been Mrs. Weasley?" Harry asked as he kissed her plump cheek. She shook her finger at him in a reproving sort of way.
"I'll have none of that formal stuff in my home Harry, its mum to you," she reminded him and Harry grinned. She turned back to the stove and whatever she was cooking. "Just introduce yourself to the children dear."
Harry looked around at all of them and saw that they were looking right back at him, with either blue or green eyes. He was trying to put parents to each of the children and it wasn't too difficult for the most part. The four children with light brown skin belonged to Fred and Angelina. Her dark skin seemed to have been the dominant trait, but they were all beautiful nonetheless.
Percy's three were also easy to spot because the two boys were reading books while the younger sister tried to imitate them. She was a cute little thing with her mother Penelope's curly blonde hair. "Book too," she was wailing and Harry grinned as the oldest boy picked her up and sat her on his lap to read to her.
He was drawing a blank as he looked at a pretty girl with raven colored locks and brown eyes; she seemed to be upset about something. He saw a small girl with silvery blonde hair walk up to the raven haired girl and took her hand. They whispered something to each other and then the black haired girl smiled at Harry.
"Harry, I'm so glad you made it!" Hermione said as she entered the kitchen with two small babies in her arms. Harry raised an eyebrow in Ron's direction at the sight of Hermione and the babies. "This is Fred jr. and Seren, they are barely four months old," she whispered softly and kissed each of their heads in turn. Fred began to scream and Harry laughed, he was just like his namesake.
"I missed you Hermione," Harry said and kissed his friend on the cheek. It felt so good to be home again, Harry thought and then he stopped. Home again, is that what he said? Yes, it was home, the only real home he had ever had had been with the Weasley's and it felt so right to be there again.
"We missed you too Harry. Let me introduce you to the children," she said and instantly all the kids gathered around and smiled up at them. "You know Charlie's twins, Brigette and Lucas…"
Soon Harry had met the entire group of children except for the raven haired little girl in the corner. It was going to take tremendous effort to get all the names straight especially because there were two Jessica's (One of Fred and the other of George) and there were three sets of twins excluding Fred and George. He knew that the little dark haired girl must be Ginny's daughter, even though she looked too old, five years to old in fact, to be Ginny's daughter.
Just as he was getting up to introduce himself to her he saw a familiar flash of copper gold curls shining in the doorway. Mrs. Weasley, Hermione and Ron all watched this interaction, it was seven years since they had seen each other and they could all feel the heat that was still there between them, even without their eye contact.
Harry turned and found that breathing was impossible because she looked so damn good. Her hair streamed over her shoulders and down her back, it was longer than she had ever worn it before, but it looked great. Even her chocolate brown eyes were a deeper color than ever, marriage must agree with her, he decided and then his heart dropped a little. All he could think of was the last time he had seen her and how her hair had been spread out on the grass and her lips had been rosy and swollen from his kisses…
"Hello Harry, it's been a long time," she said in her breathy voice and held out her hand. As soon as he enclosed it in his he felt that all too familiar rush of heat travel up his arm and settle in his heart. He still loved her, of that he was completely certain and it was devastating to know that she would never be his again, ever.
"Too long," he agreed and placed both hands warmly around hers. He was trying to be as close as possible while still keeping his distance. He wouldn't ruin her marriage like he did to Malia. He shoved that thought out of his mind and drew his hands back.
"Have you met the children?" she asked and gestured to the Weasley clan.
"Yes I did, it's amazing how fast they have grown up. I remember listening to you sing lullabies to Charlie's twins and Bill's little Emily when you thought they needed to sleep," he said softly. Ginny's eyes gave a startled expression and she turned to Ron, begging without words to know what to do.
"You remember that?" she finally asked and Harry nodded. Ginny looked uncomfortable and the room suddenly felt too small, oppressive and he couldn't stay in it or he would suffocate. He was feeling Ginny's feelings, just like he had when they were together at school. Whenever one of them had been sad or lonely the other appeared and made it better with one small word or gesture. Harry knew exactly what she needed but he was afraid to ask because she was married.
"Do you want to go for a walk?" he blurted out and Ginny's eyes registered surprise, she hadn't realized that they still had a connection, but she would shortly. In all actuality she couldn't refuse him because a walk in the fresh air was exactly what she needed. She answered with one word.
"How have you been Ginny?" he asked as they strolled through gardens that they had been through many times before, holding hands like people deeply in love. Now they stood feet away from each other and Ginny hugged herself tightly as if she were cold.
"I passed Auror training at the top of my group, I graduated a year early," she said and Harry felt two conflicting emotions, pride in her abilities and pain that he had lost her over one year of training.
"You have done well for yourself then?" he made it a question, hoping that she would tell him about her daughter and about her marriage.
"I am happy with my life Harry, can you say the same about yours?" she asked and Harry felt the cool words like a slap in the face. He knew what she was referring to and it was heartless of her to bring it up.
"I have been named player of the year for the past four years in a row, I've belonged to Chuddley for seven and I've won them the cup for the past six. I'm successful," he argued and Ginny stopped, looking into his eyes.
"I didn't ask you if you were successful Harry, I asked if you were happy. I already knew that if you played Quidditch you'd be successful. Charlie even said you are a better player than he ever was. Do you have someone to come home to every night, someone you love and who loves you in return?" she asked and Harry's heart didn't just plummet, it disappeared entirely. She was talking about her husband when he knew that she knew he still loved her.
"I'm not happy, Ginny; I'm not going to lie to you. I wish I had someone to go home to like you do. You are very lucky," he said and Ginny nodded.
"I would die for my family, and I know that my parent's want you to come back and be their son again but it isn't going to be the same. You and I aren't the same people anymore Harry, we don't…" she broke off because she couldn't find the right words to say.
"You're right, we are different, and we have lived our lives like we said we would but we have ended up at a different point than we wanted to. We were going to get married and have a family, but that dream is gone now isn't it? You love someone else more deeply than you ever loved me," Harry said and he knew it was the truth, he could see the love shining in her eyes for Michael.
"Can't we just be friends Harry?" she pleaded and Harry nodded. She began to walk back to the house but he caught her arm and pulled her back to where he was.
"I'll let you go after you answer one question for me Ginny," he told her and she sighed. Whatever it was, she could tell by the look in his eyes that she wasn't going to like it.
"I want to know why."