Chapter 16: Preparations

"Good morning, my beautiful wife."

Ginny turned around from the documents she was looking through and saw Michael stride through the door with a smile that gave her chills. It was a smile she remembered very clearly and she wasn't exactly happy to have it directed on her again. In fact, she had hoped never to see it again.

She took a deep breath and walked toward him. "I would appreciate if you would keep those kinds of comments to a minimum on this case. I understand what we have to do, but that doesn't mean I have to listen to your snide remarks for the next several months."

"Are you finished?" Michael asked casually. Ginny looked up into his eyes and saw the fierceness of his emotions. She stepped back away from him and he stepped forward to close the space. "I know that this is our job, but that doesn't mean I am going to let this opportunity pass me by. You told me yourself that you aren't engaged to Harry yet, you are just living with him. That means that as your 'husband' for the next few months I am going to remind you every waking moment we have of what you and I used to have."

"What we had together? You can't be serious!" Ginny cried indignantly, "All I had with you was fear for my life and Natalie's. I couldn't handle your rage and jealousy."

"We were good together, sweetheart. I remember your soft moans when we were in bed..." he whispered and Ginny's pulse jumped fearfully.

"My soft moans, don't you mean my moans of pain and cries of agony?" she asked bitterly. Michael laughed and stepped towards her, causing her to back up into the wall. Fear stole into Ginny's eyes and she looked away from him quickly, hoping that he would get tired of his game and walk away from her. "If you want to take a look at the files on the table, it explains exactly what the details of our case are. If you notice, they already set up jobs for us at the business offices of the murdered muggles. We start tomorrow morning, but Mad-Eye suggested that we work together today to set up a plan of action."

Michael reached out his hand and brushed gently through her hair. Ginny beat his hand away furiously and flung herself hard against the wall, though still in his reach. They looked at each other, Ginny breathing heavily, her fear palpable in the air. He chuckled and walked back toward the table, sitting himself in one of the comfortable office chairs in front of the desk. "You were always more beautiful when you were terrified," he said in a husky voice.

"Damn you, don't touch me! I only agreed to go on this mission because Mad Eye said he needed us. I am not going to let you do this to me again!" Ginny screamed at him.

"Do what, Ginny? You aren't going to let me give you the pleasure we both know you crave?" Michael asked with a sly grin.

"Pleasure? Is that what you call it?" Ginny almost laughed, it was so sick the way his mind worked. "You actually believe that I enjoyed your abuse?"

"That's the reason you stayed isn't it? Don't lie to yourself; you craved the pain as much as the pleasure. You enjoyed it," Michael said simply. Ginny shook her head and wrapped her arms around her waist.

"I did not enjoy it, the only reason I stayed is because I was too frightened of what you would do if I left you. After what happened to... I could let you hurt and degrade me, but when you..." Ginny stopped, she couldn't say anymore. Just the memories were making her sick to her stomach. "I had to risk it."

Michael's eyes burned into hers, angry and menacing. "You can lie to yourself all you want, it won't change the fact that you wanted what I gave you. You'll never be satisfied with Harry, he won't even marry you. You are just a temporary whore that is warming his bed."

"Stop saying that!" Ginny hissed through gritted teeth. "Harry loves me and he loves Natalie. Just because he hasn't asked me to marry him doesn't mean he doesn't want us in his life."

"You just keep telling yourself that. I remember our wedding night, sweetheart. It isn't something you can forget is it?" his eyes burned into hers and Ginny felt her face flush brightly. It wasn't something she wanted to think about. Even that first night she should have realized what type of person Michael was, he had pressed her so close to the pain/pleasure line that she hadn't known what to think. Harry had never hurt her during their lovemaking; he had always been gentle and loving, even when their passion had risen to a fever pitch. He had never even wanted to hurt her. Soon after marrying Michael, Ginny had discovered that her husband didn't feel satisfied unless he had hurt her a little. At first she just thought he was rough, that he didn't understand what he was doing. It had taken her a long time, almost a year before she realized Michael's true nature.

"Harry is a better man than you will ever be. You can't measure up to him, so don't even try," Ginny snapped at him. She was starting to feel ill, being around Michael always did that to her. She was tempted to go and tell Moody she couldn't do this, but she didn't want to let Michael win... she couldn't let him win.

Michael's eye twitched and Ginny flinched. She knew his signs, knew he was getting angry, but she didn't apologize. She wasn't married to him anymore; she didn't have to let him walk all over her ever again. She walked away from the wall and sat herself down in the chair beside him. "Did you want to get started on our assignment?" Michael asked lightly, as if he was trying to control his temper.

"I think that would be for the best," she replied on the same light note. She turned and looked into his eyes and had to force herself not to flinch. Merlin, these were going to be a hard three months.

"Are you getting ready for a hot date?"

Ginny had been sitting at her desk, practicing her disguise spells in front of a tiny mirror when a familiar voice came from behind her. Ginny turned to see a fellow auror, Chrissie Martin standing in the doorway of her cubicle with a wry smile on her face. Ginny blushed and set the wand down, forgetting to change her hair color back to its bright red hue.

"I'm working on a new concealment charm for a mission Moody gave me on Friday. Unfortunately I'm one of those people that can't just show my face to anyone, I'm not exactly anonymous," Ginny said with a sigh.

"No, I can't imagine that you would be after the final battle," Chrissie said thoughtfully. She took a seat in Ginny's cramped cubicle and stared at Ginny's transformations. She reached out a hand and touched the silky black strands curiously. "If you go with the dark hair you need to get rid of the freckles. They give you away."

Ginny flushed and touched her wand to her freckled skin. Instantly her face was a pale ivory, free of any blemish or distinguishing mark at all. Ginny realized she wouldn't even have to change the color of her eyes if she didn't want to, she couldn't even recognize herself. She turned to look at Chrissie and the girl gasped and clapped a hand to her mouth. "What's wrong?" Ginny asked, looking at her dark haired, pale skinned reflection.

"I didn't mean to gasp, but you look gorgeous, Gin. Not that you didn't before," Chrissie said hurriedly. "I just meant that this is a completely different look for you, yet you pull it off so well."

Ginny tossed her hair over her shoulder and gazed into the mirror. "This look will have to do; I don't have much more time to think of something different." She sighed and looked up at the clock hanging above her tiny cubicle. She gasped and jumped out of her chair. "I have to run, Harry has practice in fifteen minutes and I have to make sure I have Natalie before he leaves."

She grabbed her jacket and rushed out of the office, waving goodbye to Chrissie. "Give Harry my love!" the girl teased.

"I can't do that, I'm a jealous woman," Ginny teased back as she ran around the corner and into the lift. Harry's teammates were going to kill her if he was late again.

"Harry?" Ginny walked into the house and set her keys on the small table beside the door. "Harry, are you here?" She didn't receive an answer and she was a little disappointed. Usually Natalie was there to greet her at the door, launching herself into her mother's arms. Ginny sighed and looked down at the table where she had just laid her keys. There was a note propped up against a picture of the three of them that had been taken at Natalie's birthday party. She picked the note up and saw it was from Harry.


I took Natalie to your mum's. I hope you don't mind, I needed to get to practice and I thought it might be nice if we spent the evening with just the two of us. We won't get to spend much time together during the next couple of months and I was hoping to have some time alone. I love you.


Ginny set the note back down on the table with an eager smile and walked up the stairs, heading to the suite of rooms that she and Harry shared. It had been a long and trying day at work, if she was honest with herself she wasn't really looking forward to her mission as much as she had thought she would be. If only she wasn't being forced to be Michael's partner! She could foresee a lot of trouble if he continued to harass her. She was looking forward to a night alone with Harry.

She turned the doorknob and stepped into the dark bedroom, throwing off her cloak and falling back onto the bed, exhausted and disheartened from her day with Michael. Ginny rubbed her tired eyes and took a deep breath, trying to clear her thoughts and think of the night ahead of her. She and Harry hadn't had much time alone together since they had made the move into Potter Manor and she smiled as she imagined the pleasure they would both receive.

She rolled onto her stomach and looked at the door in the corner of the room that led to a connected bathroom. The bathroom featured a large sunken marble tub and Ginny thought longingly of soaking her aching body in a nice bubble bath while she waited for Harry. After all, she deserved a little time to herself, didn't she?

Harry walked into the bedroom that he shared with Ginny tired but elated after his grueling practice. He knew that his team had what it took to win the League Cup, he could taste it. The Cannons had flown well all week, putting more effort into their moves than he had seen all season long. He had been surprised to see even Malia playing as though her life had depended upon it. She had even laughed with the team as they made their way back to the locker room. He had to admit that it lifted a burden off of his shoulders; he had been worried that he would have to replace Malia if she couldn't control herself. Harry hadn't wanted to let her go, she and Kyle were the best duo of Beaters in the league, or at least they had been before the tragic events of the past year. He was more than happy to see that everything was starting to work out again.

A sound from the bathroom caught Harry's attention and for the first time since coming home he thought about the night ahead of him. He had set everything up so that he and Ginny could have a night alone together. It wasn't that he didn't love his daughter; it was the fact that he and Ginny hadn't had much time for each other since moving into Potter Manor. He wanted Ginny to have something to hold onto while she was working this case. He knew how focused she got, he remembered how hard she would study when she was at school and he knew this wouldn't be any different. He wanted to give her something special and he hoped this would suffice.

He heard another splash coming from the bathroom and he made his way across the room and opened the adjoining door. Ginny was lying in the bathtub facing away from the door. Her long curly hair was pulled up into a wispy sort of bun, wet tendrils curling down the back of her neck. Harry felt his pulse quicken, the sight of her always made his body react and tonight was no different. She was humming to herself, flicking the bubbles on the surface of the water. It was obvious that she hadn't even heard him come into the room and that made Harry smile. He quietly stepped up behind her and pressed a soft kiss to the back of her neck.

Ginny jumped, splashing water all over the floor and consequently all over Harry. He backed up quickly but still a little too late, the front of his body was soaked through with warm bath water. She turned to look up at him and a sheepish grin spread over her face. "I didn't know when you were going to be home so I decided to relax a little," she admitted motioning to the bubble bath.

"You had a hard day?" he asked softly. He reached out a hand and brushed a stray curl behind her ear. Ginny's face softened at that instinctive action and she closed her eyes to savor the sweet moment.

"It's much better now," she replied, her heart in her eyes. Harry leaned down and gently kissed her, letting them both savor the moment. Ginny's hands crept up his chest and then locked around his neck, pulling him tight against her. Her tongue slipped between his teeth and he moaned hungrily, moving his against her own. He felt his body weakening and he attempted to brace his hands against the side of the tub. Unfortunately for him the water Ginny had splashed over the side made the surface slippery and Harry slipped face first into the foamy water.

He came up gasping for air and trying hard not to laugh; every time he did he swallowed more of the bathwater. Ginny was shrieking with mirth as Harry finally sat back in the tub and pushed his sodden bangs out of his eyes. "That wasn't exactly what I was planning on," he admitted as he looked down at his saturated clothing. Ginny reached out and grabbed a handful of his wet shirt, pulling him to her.

"We can make it work to our advantage," she whispered with a mischievous glint in her eyes. His heart attempted to jump out of his chest at the point and he found it increasingly hard to breath. All he could do was nod as his lips moved in on hers…

Later as they lay in bed together, dried off and sated, Harry ran his hands tenderly over her shoulders. He loved to touch her soft porcelain skin; he never tired of counting the freckles that dusted her shoulders and face. It was one of the things he found glorious about her. He had once heard freckles referred to as angel kisses and he couldn't blame the angels for wanting to kiss Ginny's skin. He had that urge himself more often than not. He smiled to himself as he leaned down and brushed his lips against her shoulder, unable to stop himself from touching her again.

"Mmm," she made a soft noise of contentment in the back of her throat and ran her fingers through his hair. "Harry…"

He lay on his side, propped up on his elbow so he could watch her. "Yes, love?" he asked in a soft, husky voice.

Ginny leaned up and kissed him softly, letting her lips play over his. It was a sweet kiss, full of fulfillment and love. It wasn't like their kisses had been an hour ago, hungry, urgent and more than a little wild. Harry loved that about her though, the fact that every kiss was different than that last. She made his life exciting; he couldn't believe that he had let her slip away all those years ago. She was his heart and soul, everything that made him who he was. He never would have won the war with Voldemort as a teenager if he hadn't had his memories of her; the promise of being with her after it was over. He was just so lucky that he hadn't lost her for good.

He pulled away and looked deep into her eyes. They were filled with passion, even after their earlier lovemaking in the tub and then again here in bed. Ginny was insatiable it seemed, but it didn't bother him. He loved knowing that he was the only man who got to see her this way. He doubted that Michael had ever known the absolute passion and abandon that Ginny was capable of. Ginny's ex husband hadn't treated her like a person, but like a possession that he could manhandle whenever he felt the need. Jealousy, greed and intense anger had ruined their marriage, but his loss was Harry's gain.

"Have I told you yet today that I love you?" he asked as he traced her lips with the tips of his fingers. He couldn't stop touching her, it wasn't his fault. She was just so delectable.

"I think you shouted it loud enough for the house elves to hear about a half hour ago," she reminded him teasingly. Harry chuckled and kissed her again. Oh Merlin how he loved her. She could always make him laugh.

He nuzzled her neck, brushing his lips against the sensitive skin of her throat. "Be safe tomorrow," he whispered. He hadn't really wanted to discuss her impending mission but it just seemed to slip out. He was scared for her, worried that this might come between them. Already she seemed to be pulling away from him, she hadn't told him about her day even when he had asked her in general terms. She had changed the subject quickly and he had let her. He didn't want to push her even farther away, not when he had planned this night just so they could hold onto what they had for a little bit longer.

It wasn't that he thought he was going to lose her, it was the fact that he knew how fragile their relationship still was. Ginny wasn't exactly back to the girl he had known in school. Her self-confidence was still weak at best. Harry wished he could find her ex-husband in a dark alley way and take his frustrations out on the man who had destroyed the woman he loved. He knew that the smallest thing could break down all the work that he and Ginny had made together. She was slowly becoming stronger, all she needed was to be reminded that he loved her and wasn't going anywhere.

"I know you can't tell me what's going on with your case," Harry began softly, avoiding her eyes because he knew what he would see there, "I just want you to know that each night when you come back home, I'll hold you in my arms and love you just as much as I did the night before, if not more."

Ginny caught hold of Harry's chin and forced him up to look at her. There were tears in her eyes, but she didn't look upset at him. She looked… touched. "I can't begin to tell you how much that means to me. You know I love you too, don't you?"

Harry nodded; he couldn't speak for the lump caught in his throat. Instead her just wrapped her in his arms and crushed her to him. She wound her arms around his wait, laying her cheek on his chest. They didn't move for a long time, content to just hold each other. It was the calm before a storm, though neither of them knew how bad it was really going to get.