Chapter 20

"So that's it, then? This is where the village was?" Ginny was standing in front of the large map on the wall of the library at Grimmauld Place. She tapped the area in question with her finger. "You think it's really real?"

"The talisman is real," Harry pointed out. "And according to Narcissa, Adais Malforne's diary is real."

"We've got to get that diary," Ginny mused. She gathered her long, red hair and twisted it up on the back of her head. "I suppose…" she trailed off in thought.

"Oh no," Harry said, recognising the speculative look in her eyes, "we're not going to concoct some elaborate plan to sneak into the Malfoy Mansion ala Fred and George."

"What do you suggest then?" Ginny fought not to whine. She loved a good sneaky plan.

Harry crossed his arms over his chest, determined to be stern. "I'm sure we can get it through legal means."

"How are we going to do that?" Ginny shook her head. "We agreed – no one can know what we're on to here – not even Bintliff. It's too dangerous. If you ask someone else to get the diary they might read it. We can't risk anyone else knowing the location of that village."

Harry narrowed his eyes at her. "I'll think of something. Going to the Mansion and asking for it comes to mind."

Ginny laughed. "What, you think the house elves are going to hand over their master's possessions to you? Besides, Pansy probably already has her son fully entrenched in the Malfoy throne. He's been named heir you know, it was in the Daily Prophet today."

"I'll get it," Harry said stubbornly.

Ginny turned fully and smiled at him mischievously. "Care to bet on it?"

"You want to wager with me about this?"

"Sure. If you can get it without using nefarious means, then you win."

"What do I win?" Harry was suspicious.

She shrugged. "Name your terms."

Harry knew exactly what he wanted but he didn't want to show his hand just yet. "I don't want to state my terms right now, let's just say that you'll owe me a favor that I can claim at any time."

Ginny's chin lifted. "Fine, but if I win, you have to help me break into Fred and George's potion lab at their shop."

"Their potion lab? Why would you want to do that?"

"It's a matter of pride," she explained. "They brag about how no one can break their wards and enchantments. I want to prove I can." She'd been dying to get a crack at them since she'd seen the extent of the protection they'd placed over the lab at their shop. Her brothers were so smug; they needed to be taken down.

He laughed. "Fine, Nix. It's a deal." They shook on it and Harry checked the time on his wristwatch.

"I've got to run. I told Ron I'd meet him at the pub in ten minutes."

"Yeah, I'm going to go over to Hermione's and help put the babies to sleep."

Harry shook his head. "I can't believe she's letting him out of the house so soon."

"It's been over three weeks since they brought the babies home," Ginny said, "they're probably driving each other crazy."

He grabbed his jacket from the wing chair by the fireplace and sliding a hand around to cup the back of her neck, gave her a soft kiss on the lips. "I'll be late."

"Are you going to come home half-pissed?" Ginny cocked her head at him. This was the first time Harry had gone off to a pub with his mates since they'd moved in together. It made her feel surprisingly domestic.

"Maybe. You up for some half-drunk lovin' if I do?" Both arms slid around her waist and he nuzzled her neck. She grinned.

"Gee, you make it sound so romantic." Ginny's hands moved over his shoulders and slid around to his back. She let him continue to kiss her neck while she slid her hands down to his bum. She palmed each cheek and squeezed, hoping he didn't notice the quick spell as she did it. A small orange light flared in the room, but Harry was too busy to notice.

"Harry," Ginny tried to shove him off. "You're going to be late. My brothers will be waiting."

"Phoenix," he groaned.

"Go on," she shoved him off and he stepped back a few steps, his face disgruntled.

"It's pretty unfair for you to send your boyfriend off horny to meet your brothers," he stated, slipping on his jacket and preparing to Apparate. He disappeared with a soft pop, the sound of Ginny's laughter echoing in his ears.

The rest of the Weasley brothers were already gathered around a pub table when Harry arrived at The Leaky Cauldron. The plan was to officially celebrate the birth of Ron's sons – it was tradition to celebrate the birth of a new Weasley in this manner and had been since Bill's eldest had been born shortly after the War had ended.

But the guest of honor didn't look so good. Ron was currently slumped face first on the table, an untouched shot of Firewhiskey in front of him.

"Is he…snoring?" Harry asked incredulously as he pulled out the last empty chair and sat down between Charlie and George.

"Fell asleep five minutes ago," George said. "It's got to be some sort of new record. I mean, he hasn't even had any liquor and he's already passed out. I'd be proud except that I've a reputation to uphold." He leaned forward and banged heavily on the table. "Wake up, mate! You're in a pub for bloody's sake!"

The glass of Firewhiskey sloshed its contents onto the table and Harry rescued it, tossing it back easily while Ron jumped up from his prone position on the table and upon recognising his surroundings, rubbed his eyes wearily.

"Bastard," he mumbled to George. "That's the first decent kip I've had since the twins came home."

Bill motioned to the bartender Tom for another round of drinks and then said, "Get used to it, brother. It gets worse before it gets better."

"Poor Hermione," Ron said dully. "She gets even less sleep than I do. S'not like I can nurse them for her."

Fred clapped Ron heartily on the back. "Well at least you don't have to worry about shagging for awhile. Three more weeks to go, eh?"

Ron groaned and tossed back a slug of whiskey that Tom placed in front of him. "Who feels like sex anyway? We're both exhausted beyond belief. Hermione barely has time to shower, let alone dress in something other than sweatpants and t-shirts. And even that would be okay except that one or both of us is usually covered in baby spit or shit. It's not attractive at all."

"I warned you," Fred singsonged.

"Wait a minute," Harry frowned. "What's this about 'three weeks to go'?"

The Weasley brothers stared at him and then one by one, hooted with laughter.

"Ah, Young Harry," Charlie put a hand on his shoulder. "Haven't you ever heard of the "Curse of Six Weeks?"

"No," he said cautiously.

Percy shook his head. "Sometimes I am surprised at the lack of education of today's-"

"Shut it, Perce," George said good-naturedly. He put a hand on Harry's other shoulder. "Harry…mate…Defiler of My Sister, let us educate you. After a woman gives birth, she cannot –" he paused dramatically – "have sex for six weeks."

"Six weeks?" Harry repeated blankly.

"Six weeks," the table chorused, and gave a collective shudder.

"Actually it can be longer than that if she's…er…had a difficult delivery," Percy informed him.

"Longer!" Ron stared at his brother in horror. "Blimey, you don't think Hermione –"

"I'm sure she would have mentioned it," Bill assured him.

"But how you can be sure?" Ron looked around wildly. "She's been so tired; it might have slipped her mind. Dammit, where's a Floo? I've got to settle this."

"Actually, I think you should wait," Harry objected. "She and Ginny are probably trying to get the babies to sleep right about now."

"Damn," Ron sat back down in his chair and flung back the rest of the whiskey. "Guess you're right."

"No need to get excited," Fred looked at Ron in amusement. "Thought you didn't feel like shagging anyway."

"I'm pretty sure that won't be the case in three more weeks," Ron said dully. "We've never gone this long before."

"Six weeks," Harry echoed. "I can't even fathom…" His voice trailed off as he imagined six weeks without being able to be inside Ginny. He hadn't been having sex that long but he was pretty sure it was the most important thing he'd ever done thus far. "I can barely go six hours," he murmured.

There was a silence at the table and Harry looked up to find each one of the Weasley brothers glaring at him in various stages of disgust and irritation.

"What?" he said defensively. "Oh, you can talk about sex with your witches, but I can't talk about it with mine?"

"Considering that your witch is our baby sister," Bill said evenly, "we'd prefer to remain in the dark about this one."

"But that's not fair," Harry protested. "I finally have some sex stories to share, after years of listening to all of yours, and you won't let me tell them? That's rubbish! I mean, I get to sleep with a Fire Goddess for crying out loud. Do you have any idea what it's like shagging someone who is descended from a group of Celtic warrior women?!"

George pursed his lips thoughtfully. "Normally, yes we would be highly interested in such a thing; but considering that said Fire Goddess is our sister, I'm with Bill on this one."

"I've had to listen to you talk about Hermione," Harry pointed a finger at Ron accusingly. "She's as good as my sister. You don't think that was disgusting? I shudder to think about it even now."

Ron narrowed his eyes at him. "You didn't change Hermione's nappies when she was a kid. It's different."

"You didn't change Ginny's nappies," Percy told Ron in astonishment. "We did. You were way too young."

"Still, we've all spent a good deal of time trying to keep her away from dodgy blokes," Ron stated. "It'd be weird."

Harry huffed and sat back with his whiskey glass. "Fine, but let me say this: If you guys knew what your sister was capable of -"

There was a chorus of outcries from the table as Ginny's brothers drowned out the rest of his sentence.

"Gaelic!" Harry raised his voice, laughing. He pulled George's hands down from his ears. "She chants in Gaelic! It's bloody sexy too. And she usually sets things on fire!"

Fred let his own hands drop from where they'd been covering his ears. "She sets things on fire? How does that work?"

"Gross," Charlie said, tossing back the last of his Firewhiskey. "Don't answer that Harry."

"They don't burn," Harry told Fred. "They catch on fire – her power is too much, you see, it has to escape – but she can still control it. They don't burn unless she wants them to."

"Wicked," Fred breathed. "Damn, I wish she'd come to work for us. The things we could do with her."

"She's not a side show act," Harry said irritably.

"Right. Sorry."

Bill finished the last of his glass and motioned to Tom. "The next three rounds are on you, Potter. I'm going to need it after this conversation."

"I'll go get it," Harry grumbled, pushing his chair back. "I need to go to the loo anyway." He stood up and stepped around the table towards the back of the bar when George gave a sudden guffaw and nudged Ron.

Ron looked up from his half-empty glass and when he saw what George was pointing at, he poked Percy who let loose with such an uncharacteristically loud roar of laughter that Harry couldn't help but turn around.

"What's so funny?"

Charlie stood up and moved behind Harry, his gaze moving downward and he too exploded in laughter. Soon all the Weasley boys were laughing at a very confused Harry.

"What?" He asked exasperatedly. "Is there something on my arse?" He turned in circles, straining to see what they were laughing at, but the sight of Harry Potter stretching around trying to get a look at the back of his jeans sent them into gales of laughter that soon spread to the surrounding patrons. An older couple enjoying their supper laughed merrily at him, while a group of young witches twittered like birds behind their hands.

"Will someone please tell me what is going on!"

Bill finally took pity on him and conjured up a large mirror on a nearby wall. Harry walked backwards towards it. He looked over his shoulder trying to see what everyone else saw.

Emblazoned on his arse in flashing green letters was written, "Property of Ginny Weasley."

Miles away, rocking a fussy baby boy to sleep in Ron and Hermione's cottage outside of Hogsmeade, Ginny lifted her head with a start and looked around in alarm.

"What is it?" Hermione asked.

"Nothing," she said cautiously. She cocked her head, listening. "I could have sworn I just heard someone shout my name."

Later that night, after many more shots of Firewhiskey and two sobering charms, Harry Apparated directly into his bedroom. He'd put up with ridicule all night over the message Ginny had left on his arse – he had tried to remove it, but eventually had to concede that it was there until Ginny decided to take it off. The trousers would have to stay in the closest until then.

He moved quietly to the side of the bed where Ginny lay on her stomach, her even breathing betraying a deep sleep. She slept with one arm curled under her pillow and one leg stretched out, the other bent up towards her chest. Harry cautiously moved the sheet draped loosely over her – with Ginny in the room, there was never a need for heavy blankets – and slowly slid his wand out from under his sleeve. Pointing the wand at one perfect butt cheek, he wrote his revenge message on her skin. Using a special spell Fred and George had taught him, he tapped the area lightly and the message became as permanent as he wanted it to be.

Leaning down, he pressed an open mouth kiss to the skin, his tongue flickering over the words, his teeth nibbling gently.

"Mmmm…" Ginny stirred beneath him. She rolled over to her back, exposing her front and smiling sleepily up at him. "You're home."

Fighting back a smug chuckle, Harry quickly toed off his shoes and shucked his clothing. He lay over her like a blanket, his hips moving to nestle between her welcoming thighs while his hand trailed over her hip and palmed the cheek he'd just kissed.

It would be days before Ginny would see it.

Ginny was sitting at the kitchen table drinking a cup of tea and eating a few biscuits forced on her by Dobby when he discovered that she had skipped lunch. She heard the soft pop of Apparation in the front hallway and soon the footfalls of Harry as he walked to the kitchen. He didn't have to ask where she was in the house just as she had not had to ask who had entered their home. They were always attuned to each other's location.

She looked up from the Daily Prophet when he entered the room, a welcoming smile on her face. He grinned back rather smugly at her and withdrew a book from inside his robes. Draping the robes over an empty chair and sitting down across from her, he slid the black book over the table towards her.

"I win."

Ginny stopped the book spinning towards her and picked it up. There was a moment of silence while she curiously fingered the cover and then peeked inside.

"Harry!" she gasped. "It's Malforne's diary! How did you get this!"

"It was really very simple," Harry said, leaning back in his chair and folding his arms behind his head. "It took me awhile to figure it out. I eventually realised I was making things too difficult."

"So how did you get it? Stop dragging it out," she said impatiently. "Just tell me."


Ginny's mouth dropped open. "Dobby? Dobby got it for you? But how –"

"He used to work for the Malfoy's," Harry reminded her. "I asked him if he could still get access to the mansion. He popped over there while I waited outside in case he had any trouble. He knew exactly where to look. The whole thing took less than five minutes."

"But – but…that's still nefarious!" Ginny exclaimed. "You had him steal it for you!"

Harry considered. "Not exactly. The deal was neither one of us could get it through nefarious means. I didn't get it – Dobby did. He just gave it to me."

"That's semantics!" she spluttered.

He shrugged; a smug look on his face. "Doesn't matter, Phoenix, I won. Admit it."

She scowled at him and crossed her arms over her chest. "Fine. You won. What's this favor I'm supposed to do for you?"

He shook his head at her slowly, fighting back a grin. "Not yet. I'll claim it when I'm good and ready." He stood up and grabbed his robes from the back of the chair. "By the way, have I told you how much I just love your arse?"

"No," Ginny said suspiciously. "Why?" She'd been suspecting payback for her little prank the night he'd gone out to the pub with her brothers and was a little unnerved at his lack of response thus far.

"Well, I do," he confirmed, "love your arse that is." He stopped at the doorway and winked back at her. "Makes me feel very possessive."

There was a jolt of electricity through their magical connection when he winked at her and Ginny jumped when it sizzled on her left butt cheek. She frowned at him, rubbing the spot and resolving to find a mirror at her earliest opportunity.


A tapping on the window alerted Harry to the owl outside the bedroom window, and he slid out from underneath Ginny as he climbed out of bed. Naked, he opened the window and took the letter from the proffered beak. It was a Ministry owl as evidenced by the stamped seal on the outside of the scroll.

"I don't have any treats up here," Harry informed the owl who was eyeing him expectantly. "But if you fly down to the kitchen, Dobby will give you some."

The owl merely eyed him with disdain before spreading its majestic wings and taking off from the windowsill. It did not fly down to the kitchen, but rather flew north back towards the Ministry of Magic. Harry shrugged and closed the window again.

Quietly so as not to disturb Ginny, Harry retrieved his robe from the foot of the bed and sat down in a nearby chair to read the letter. He turned it over in his hands, unreasonably dreading what was inside. Letters directly from the Ministry were never good. His orders were usually hand-delivered in the form of Roderick Bintliff; the only official letters that came from the Ministry were demands from Scrimgeour that he found it politically difficult to ignore. He didn't have a good relationship with the Minister of Magic, but the man knew when to press Harry and when to not. The only exception so far had been Scrimgeour's insistence that he appear in the Tri-Wizard Tournament – Harry would never give into that pressure.

Sighing, he broke the seal on the parchment and scanned the contents. It was quick and direct, and Harry knew with a sinking feeling that he had to take this one seriously. He crumpled the parchment in his hands and looked back up at a still-sleeping Ginny. This was not the time to be leaving her, but he couldn't take her with him. Someone had to stay behind and continue their investigation. He smoothed the missive back open. He would hate being away from her.

"Harry?" Ginny lifted her head from the pillow, her eyes blinking at him sleepily. Her arm slid across his side of the bed, seeking him.

"Over here, Phoenix."

Ginny shifted, her eyes finding him in the pre-dawn light. "What're you doing over there?"

"Got a letter from the Ministry," he answered, holding up the letter as evidence. "It's from Scrimgeour."

"What does he want at this hour?" She sat up, the sheet pooling to her waist, her long red hair sprinkling over her chest.

Harry grimaced. "He wants me to go to New York for the Ministry."

Her eyes widened. "Now?'

He nodded tightly. "I'm to leave tonight. He's arranged an international Portkey for me at 7 p.m. It would be," he hesitated, searching for the word, "- prudent for me to go."

"But why?" Ginny's brow wrinkled in confusion. "You hate him and he hates you. Why would you do something he asked you to do? Especially now when we're in the middle of something big? You know how close we are to figuring out what makes the talisman work."

"I know." He picked at the wax leftover from the seal of the scroll. "But I owe the Americans. I can't just ignore it this time."

"Why do you owe them?"

He sighed and ran a frustrated hand through his hair. "A couple of years ago, Bintliff sent me over to work with the American Ministry of Magic in New York City. Officially I was there to improve diplomatic relations and cooperation between our Auror Departments, but unofficially, I was to observe the trouble they'd been having with a group of wizards who were terrorising the public wizarding areas." He rubbed his tired eyes with his palms. "They called themselves 'Black Death' or some other such nonsense, but really they were just a gang of teenage wizards who'd gotten out of control. Americans restrictions on underage magic are looser than ours – you only have to be fifteen to do magic outside of school."

He leaned back in the chair, the ministry letter dangling over the side. "They were capturing witches and pulling them into alleys and raping them. It was awful. People began to be afraid to go out at night and when they started moving into the Muggle areas…" He shook his head. "Well, you can imagine how the British Ministry would be worried about such a thing. They're constantly worried another Death Eater group is going to spring up somewhere and elect a new dark lord. So I went over to keep an eye on things."

"And…" she prompted.

"It got out of hand," he said shortly. "The American Aurors were doing their best, but America's been living in a sort of bubble and they were ill-equipped to handle a group of organized wizards bent on breaking the law."

"So what did you do?"

He blushed. "Well, I lost my temper for one. Several times, in fact. And then I may or may not have conducted my own private investigation that resulted in a very public capture of three of the group's ringleaders as they were about to rape a Muggle girl."

"Lots of memories had to be charmed, and their Auror Department looked inadequate," Harry finished. "Relations between the ministries since then have been tenuous at best. I got into trouble with Bintliff and we both got into trouble with Scrimgeour. I may not like the man, but he had every reason to be upset with me that time."

"So now you have to go and make nice with the American Ministry? Why would they want you after that?"

His mouth tightened. "Cause I'm still Harry Potter."

"Oh." There was sympathy on Ginny's face and she looked so sad for him that Harry's heart swelled. He would never get used to having someone who cared so much for him.

"It's okay." His voice softened. "I'm used to it."

Ginny sucked in her breath bracingly. "How long will you be gone?"

He winced. "Two weeks."

There was a beat of silence and then: "Two weeks!" Ginny's voice was incredulous. "Harry, we're in the middle of an investigation here! You can't just leave for two weeks!"

"I can't help it, Nix," he said. "I messed up the last time I was there and I've got to fix it."

"Bloody Americans," Ginny snapped. "They should just be happy you caught the bad guys for them!"

"It's politics," he said plainly. "And I embarrassed them. I didn't mean to but I did it anyway. I have to go."

"Harry," she said sharply. "We've got information that we have to move on now. We can't sit on this for two weeks. Someone else is out there looking for the same thing and if we don't move now, they may get before us."

"I know," he said urgently. "But I don't know what else to do, Nix. My hands are tied here. There's a hierarchy here and whether or not I like to admit it, I work for the Ministry – which means I work for Scrimgeour. He doesn't even know half of what I do for Bintliff, which benefits everyone involved. If occasionally I have to do something I don't like to keep him off my back then I'll do it."

"Look," he said, coming over to sit next to her on the bed. "We've got the talisman. Whoever else is after it isn't going to be able to do anything without it. And you'll be here; someone has to stay here – we can't just leave it entirely. You can continue the investigation yourself."

Ginny huffed, hiding her pleasure at his confidence in her. Harry leaned over, pressing soft kisses to her bare shoulder, following the curve of her collarbone until his tongue flicked out to trail along the side of her throat.

"N-not fair," she stuttered. "You can't win the argument by doing that. It's not on."

"All's fair in love and war." Harry shifted, looming over her, forcing her to lie back against the mattress. He kissed her deeply then, one hand cupping her face firmly as she wilted beneath him.

"Git," she said shakily, when he'd stopped. He smiled and Ginny caught her breath when she saw the love mixed with desire in them. "Fine," she groaned. "I'll stay behind. But you better find a way for us to communicate, Potter. Cause if something goes wrong, I'd better have a way to tell you."

The intense look he was giving her turned to worry. "Maybe you're right. Maybe you're not safe staying here alone. Whoever is out there has already killed once. I don't want them coming after you."

Ginny raised an eyebrow at him and with a sharp crackle the headboard of their bed caught on fire. Harry looked up in partial fear as the hangings caught until Ginny snapped her fingers and the fire disappeared. He was amazed to find the headboard and hangings intact with no burn marks visible.

"Okay," he swallowed, looking back down at her. "Point taken."

She grinned and he couldn't help but bending down to kiss those smiling lips. His hand slid down over her skin, over the sheet wrapped around her until he reached the apex of her thighs. He cupped her through the cloth, nudging her thighs apart so his fingers could press into her through the sheet until he could feel the leftover wetness from last night.

"Mmm," he groaned. "I'm not sure I can go without you for two weeks."

Ginny, who had been melted against him, her hips arching underneath the blanket, suddenly stiffened. Her eyes, which had been closed, flew open and she gasped.


"What?" He lifted his head. "What's wrong?"

Ginny lay still, not sure how to explain herself. She tossed Dumbledore's words over in her head, remembering their conversation and the fact that she hadn't yet explained it to Harry.

"Harry," she began carefully, "I'm not sure we can be apart for two weeks."

He took his hand from between her thighs and rolled partially away from her. "What do you mean?"

"Um…well, it's just something Dumbledore said." She couldn't look at him. "It wasn't that I was keeping it a secret exactly, it was just that I'm still unsure what he meant and well, I didn't want to tell you until I knew more."

Harry sat up fully then and he looked down at her sternly. "What did Dumbledore say?"

"I'm not sure what it means," she said earnestly, "but he did say something about distance."

"What. Did. He. Say."

She blew out a breath, her hair fluttering around her face. "Well, I told him about sharing magic with you and asked him if he knew what the gold aura was." Her fingers twisted in the bedclothes. "He said he had only heard theories, but that it was widely believed our auras wouldn't blend like that unless…unless…"

"Unless what, Ginny?"

"Unless our souls had also merged," she finished in a whisper. "Which means that the more we share magic, the more our souls bind themselves to each other." She looked at him. "Souls are not meant to be apart, Harry. Every time we've merged magic over the last few months, and the gold aura appeared, our souls were feeding each other. It's more than sharing power – soon we won't be able to be apart from each other very long."

Harry stared down at her in disbelief. This was life-altering news and she'd kept it from him?

"How positive was he?" He demanded.

She looked uncertain and sat up, clutching the sheet to her chest. "He was fairly certain he was remembering correctly, but the real problem is that there is no way to verify the information. He couldn't remember where he'd read it – just that he'd heard someone theorize about it once."

Harry stood up, his face angry. "If he knew sharing magic would do this to us, why did he encourage us to do it at school? When we were just teenagers!"

Ginny shook her head, looking troubled. "He didn't know it would do that to us. You don't understand. The sharing magic part of it is separate from the soul binding. It's possible to have one without the other. He had no way of knowing that our auras would insist on combining. It makes sense though, doesn't it? I've always felt a connection to you."

Harry stared back at her, equally troubled. "Are you saying we're soul mates or something? I thought that stuff was just for cheesy romance novels."

"I don't know," she said frustrated. "I don't really understand it myself. I suspect the term 'soul mates' doesn't apply to us. A soul mate is supposed to be someone who carries the other half of your soul. It's one soul split into two. Our souls," she gestured between them, "chose to combine. It was a basic elemental decision."

"Fire and Earth," he mumbled to himself, beginning to pace back and forth next to the bed. He stopped suddenly. "What happens if we're apart," he asked flatly. "Are you going to die if I leave for two weeks?"

She lifted her hands and let them flop back down to her sides. "I don't know. I expect we might become weaker the longer we stay apart, if our souls can't feed off each other like they've become accustomed to."

"Great," he said flatly. "So the longer I leave you here, the less able you'll be to protect yourself. That's just great." He strode over to the wardrobe and yanked open the door angrily. He pulled out a suitcase and threw it to the floor before beginning to rummage in the wardrobe for clothes. "Not to mention the fact that since our souls are possibly melded into one this also means that if I die, you die or something else horrible." He tossed clothes haphazardly into the suitcase and turned to the chest of drawers.

"Are – are you angry?" Ginny asked hesitatingly from behind him.

He stopped pawing through his underwear drawer and took a deep breath, trying to calm himself down. His hands fisted on his socks and he kept his back to her, his head hanging down between his shoulders.

"I'm sorry," she said quietly. "I should have told you right away."

"Yes," he answered just as quietly. "You should have. That was a nasty way to spring that on me."

"Does it bother you?"

He turned around then, his anger slowly disappearing when he saw the forlorn look and regret on her face.

"To be bound to me like this? Without a choice?"

He hesitated, thinking over what he wanted to say. "It doesn't bother me – not like you're thinking anyway. And I AM very angry that you kept something from me. We've talked about this before, Nix. You can't keep doing this. I'm your partner, in every way that matters. And this affects me too. You should have told me."

"I know." Shame was written on her face. "I'm sorry. I – I just, well…I guess it was kind of scary to think about."

He nodded. "I'm scared too. But mostly because I can't stand the thought of something happening to you. I know I have to go, but if I leave, something could happen to you. And frankly, the thought of our souls choosing to meld without telling us is a little freaky."

"Although, I suppose it could be considered a subconscious move," he added dryly.

"I can't help but feel a little like the choice was taken out of our hands," she confessed.

"Yeah," he nodded and moved back towards the bed. He sat down next to her and placed an arm around her shoulders. "But since our souls are a part of us, we sort of did make the choice," he reasoned, thinking out loud. "And I would choose you, Phoenix, every time."

"Me too," she whispered. "In fact, I chose you when I was only ten, so I win."

He laughed and fully letting go of his previous anger, he pushed her back onto the mattress again, his body covering hers. His hand slid down to take its earlier position between her legs and he kissed her, deciding that if his life had to spin out of his control, at least he would do it with her.

Eight days later:

It wasn't that Ginny had noticed a weakening necessarily; it was just that she tired a lot easier. Yesterday, anxious for a break from poring over her talisman research, she and Dobby had gone to Potter Glen to begin a good spring cleaning. Dobby had apparently been anxious to get his hands on the place since Harry had discovered he owned it, but Harry had never encouraged him, worried that it was too much for one elf. When Ginny asked him to help her, the elf's eyes had lit up at the prospect. Ginny thought later that perhaps she should have asked Harry if she could go poking around his ancestral home, but since he wasn't there to ask, she did it anyway. The two of them had begun at the attic and after only a few hours of sorting through old furniture, clothes and other junk, Ginny had to take a break while Dobby was still going strong.

The feeling of being tired all the time had come upon her gradually. With Harry gone, she should have been getting MORE sleep, not less. But it was hard to sleep without him next to her, and she'd discovered that nothing woke her up quite like a morning shag. Merging magically was not quite feasible over such a long distance – it took too much energy.

Instead, Ginny had thrown herself into deciphering the talisman. Harry's stroke of genius weeks earlier combined with Adais Malforne's description of some of the markings on the cave walls he'd visited so long ago had unlocked the key to translating it. She was anxious to finish.

She was pretty sure the language was some form of ancient Mayan. She had glossed over the dead languages of Central America when Bintliff had first brought the talisman to them, but she hadn't found a correlation. But since they'd determined the tale of "The Lonely Wizard" took place in an ancient Mayan village, she'd revisited the books. What she'd finally discovered at the Hogwarts library was something similar – not exact – but enough that, combined with the diary, she could work out the differences herself.

Except that she wasn't Hermione and decoding ancient scripts didn't come naturally to her. She spent hours at the Hogwarts library. One time Dobby had finally come after her, insisting that she return home. Since Harry's absence, the house elf had charmingly insisted on keeping an eye on her. She suspected Harry had asked him privately to do so; but she couldn't be mad. Dobby was too good and kind and eager.

She hadn't told Dobby that she thought someone was watching her.

She felt the prickle of awareness between her shoulder blades whenever she stepped out of the house. The other day, shopping in downtown London with Tonks, she thought she'd caught a glimpse of something dark ducking behind a corner when she'd turned around suddenly. It had looked like someone wearing robes…maybe dark red ones.

Even now, sitting in the Hogwarts library with books and parchment floating around her head as she tried to organise her research notes, she felt eyes on her. She looked around cautiously but saw no one. If someone was watching her, they were damned good. She was going to be very angry if Harry had ordered someone to keep an eye on her while he was gone. She didn't think he'd be that foolish, but then he'd let her go to Paris for four years without telling her that he loved her because he was afraid for her safety. He wasn't very logical when it came to protecting her.

Ginny waved her hand and the parchment zoomed to the table where it began shuffling itself together in the pattern she was holding onto in her head. The books remained floating in the air, waiting for her to reach for them.

She frowned down at the pile of parchment. There was a pattern here, she just knew it. Most of what she'd translated so far described what the talisman did. It was the other side that she was having trouble with. It was a spell, she was sure of it. But the words she'd translated didn't make any sense. She was missing something vital. Something simple.

She shuffled the papers together, comparing it to the book open in front of her. There. Her finger poised on one marking. That marking kept appearing and she wasn't sure she'd translated it correctly. In some places it seemed to mean one thing, in other places, something else.

She frowned, bending over the drawing Adais Malforne had made of the talisman when his group had first found it. She compared the marking in the diary with a copy that Harry had made of the talisman. Her finger traced the markings. There. Right there. That was different. She went back to the diary. Well, now she felt stupid. No wonder they translation hadn't made any sense, they were two different markings! It was a subtle difference – one that was barely apparent on the current talisman.

With renewed interest, she worked quickly, translating feverishly, checking and double checking her work. After another hour, she sat back in her chair in shock. But that would mean…wait, what was the date? She stood up, scrambling for the watch she'd taken off earlier. June 15. She tripped over the chair legs as she hurried to the library desk where Madame Pince was stamping books in her usual disapproving fashion.

"I need to know the date of this year's Summer Solstice," Ginny said quickly.

The librarian examined her over the tops of her glasses. "There's an almanac that should have the date."

"Where is it?" Ginny said desperately. "Can you show me?"

Madame Pince sighed dramatically and directed Ginny to a large tome in the Reference section. Ginny thanked her and paged through the almanac looking for the information.

"Solstice, solstice…" she muttered to herself. "There. Page 14." She turned to page fourteen and searched rapidly. "Shite." Only five days left.

Ginny slid the almanac back on the shelf and hurried back to her table. She had to get to Harry. She turned the corner and slid to a stop. A dark figure was bending over the table, leafing quickly through her research.


The figure – it was a man – looked up in surprise and scowled when he saw her. Ginny immediately noticed several things – one that he had the shading of both sides of the talisman that Harry had made; and two that he was wearing dark red robes with a patch that over his left breast that proclaimed him an Auror.

Ginny didn't waste any time pulling out her wand. She immediately cast a spell without thinking, pleased when the man clutched the arm holding the tracing. The parchment dropped to the floor, but Ginny immediately summoned it to her. The man, whom she did not recognize, pulled out his wand but she summoned that as well. He gave a roar and lunged for her. Going with her instinct, Ginny ducked and pivoted. He crashed into the wall behind her which she pinned him against with magic. Ginny moved quickly, lashing out with her leg. The kick caught him across the jaw and he moaned. She stood on one foot, her other leg pinning him against the wall, her foot pressed across his solar plexus.

"Who are you?" She pressed harder against his neck; he gasped for breath. "What are you doing here? Have you been following me?"

"The talisman," he choked, twisting in an attempt to get away from her foot. She pushed him harder into the wall.

"Who sent you?" He shook his head, refusing to answer. "Who sent you!"

All too late, Ginny noticed the fingers of his right hand creeping towards a button on his belt. She lashed out with her hand to fling his arm away, but he pressed the button at the same time and his body began swirling away in a Portkey. She flung her arms up, her eyes flashing gold as power burst through her, into the vortex created by the Portkey. She let him go, instead reaching out to grasp the edges of the vortex. She wrenched them back open, her muscles straining as she fought to hold it open, the Portkey wind blowing her hair away from her face.

She watched as the man's eyes widened and for a moment she was tempted to follow him into the Portkey to finish what they started. But she'd settle for finding out where he landed. He swirled through the Portkey tunnel, his amazed gaze locked on hers. When he landed with a thump on a marbled floor, Ginny stuck her head in the magical hole she was keeping open, and examined the room he was in. She heard voices and then a door opening and the Auror scrambled to his feet, shouting at whoever was entering the room to stay back.

He looked back up at her, and despite the fear in his eyes at her display of power, he looked back up at her and grinned slowly. He held up a piece of parchment clutched in his right fist and she realised with a sinking clarity that he was holding part of the copy of the talisman that she'd summoned from him earlier. She frowned at her left hand which now held the other piece of what was in his hand. He must have snatched it from her just before the Portkey grasped him out of her hold.

Ginny didn't waste any time. He'd only gotten part of the copy, but she didn't know what other information the other side had. She let the Portkey close and turned back to the table. A snap of her fingers had the rest of the information zooming into the leather satchel lying on the ground. She didn't waste time going back to McGonagall's office and using the Floo. She simply closed her eyes and in a burst of flame, disappeared from the Hogwarts library.

Harry sat down on the edge of the bed in his Muggle hotel room and rubbed his aching head. Unlike the headaches of his youth, he was pretty sure this headache wasn't caused by Voldemort; rather it was caused by endless discussions on diplomacy and the monotonous drone of Ministry officials. His job was more about appearances than actual work, but that didn't make it less boring.

And he missed Ginny. His magic missed her, his body missed her, his soul missed her. If he'd doubted Dumbledore's words before, he didn't now. His soul, which had apparently been feeding off of hers for weeks, was now like an addict looking for a fix. He felt a restlessness inside of him, as if the power was seeking her and was frustrated when it couldn't find her. They'd tried to connect once, but the energy in maintaining the link over such a distance wasn't worth the effort. It seemed they'd found a limit to how far they could stretch thing after all.

He sighed wearily and removed his socks and shoes before standing up and taking off his robes and shirt. He'd just unbuttoned the top of his slacks when there was a bright burst of flame in the center of the room. It burned for only a moment before it disappeared, leaving a breathless, and glowing Ginny behind.


"Ginny?" He crossed the room in two quick strides and took her in his arms. "What are you doing here?"

"Had to come," she gasped, fighting for breath. She groaned and leaned forward to rest her body against his. "Damn, that took a lot out of me."

"Did you just flame across the Atlantic?" He was shocked at the thought.

"No," she said, panting for breath. "Been doing it in jumps. Bill told me…the coordinates of the Ministry Apparation points…to get across the Atlantic. I landed in Florida an hour ago." She closed her eyes wearily and Harry bent his knees to lift her up in his arms. He cradled her, one arms behind her knees, and carried her over to the bed where he set her down and removed the heavy satchel she was carrying.

"How did you find me? Did Bill give you those coordinates too?"

She shook her head and sank down onto the pillows. "No. Been following my instinct," she mumbled. "Could feel you, getting closer and closer until I knew where you were. My soul...felt like it was getting hungrier and hungrier."

Harry didn't know whether to be worried that she'd attempted such a foolish thing or astounded at her strength. He still had a lot to learn about this connection they shared.

"Is something wrong?" He asked in sudden alarm. "Why would you risk magical exhaustion to come here?"

She fought to open her eyes and when she spoke, the mixture of English and Gaelic betrayed how tired she was. He only understand bits of it, but got enough to comprehend that someone had been after the talisman. That she'd been followed since he left England over a week ago. She figured it all out, she said, and if they wanted to destroy the talisman, they only had five days in which to do it. There was more but he didn't catch it all before she lapsed into a deep sleep that he couldn't shake her from.

Frustrated, both at the lack of information and the fact that his body was raring to possess hers, he cursed softly and stood up. He lifted her gently and peeled back the blankets. He quickly removed her shoes and with a wave of his hand, banished her clothes to the other side of the room. His cock twitched at the sight of her naked flesh, but he ruthlessly shoved the arousal aside and covered her up with the blankets.

Harry picked up the bag he'd taken from her and carried it into the other room, shutting the bedroom door softly behind him. He turned on the desk lamp and opened the bag, determined to find the source of her sudden flight to New York.

The amount of research Ginny had gathered and organised since Bintliff had first handed the talisman over was astounding. In eight months, she had recreated an outline of the events surrounding the discovery of the talisman and had tracked down each member of the original fated expedition. A timeline she'd constructed showed the history of the talisman from its speculative beginnings to present day. Hermione would have been proud.

Harry let the last piece of parchment fall back to the hotel room table and sighed. Centuries of existence and all the talisman had ever done was spawn one of the most evil pureblood wizarding families in existence. It had to be destroyed; and if he understood Ginny's notes, it had to be destroyed in the same spot it'd been created on the dawn of the summer solstice.

Or, in other words, they had less than five days to track down an ancient and long-forgotten Mayan village in the middle of central Mexico.

Great. No problem. Piece of cake.

Harry groaned and slumped forward on the table, banging his forehead lightly on the edge. No wonder Ginny had run to him. He couldn't believe he'd ever left. He should have placed this mission above traveling to New York to placate the Americans.

He was startled out of his guilt and self-pity by the ringing of the telephone. He lunged for it, worried the ringing would wake Ginny.




"Harry," Hermione's voice was filled with relief. "Are you okay? Is Ginny with you? Is she okay?"

"She's fine," he assured her. He could hear one of the twins fussing in the background and imagined Hermione rocking the baby while pressing the phone to her ear with her shoulder. "She's exhausted from traveling so far, so quickly, but she should be okay. She's asleep right now."

"Thank goodness," Hermione sighed. "We were so worried. She showed up here two hours ago spouting some nonsense about needing to find you and wanting to tell us she was leaving. Harry, I don't think I've ever seen her more frantic. She would barely listen to reason. I tried to make her wait to see if we could get her an emergency Portkey, but she said that she couldn't risk anyone knowing she was going to you. That she was being watched."

Harry stood straighter. Ginny had mentioned that she'd been followed but he had been too concerned about her sudden appearance to dwell on it. Her words came rushing back now. Things were getting worse by the minute.

"What did she mean by that?"

"I'm not sure," Harry said carefully. "We're in the middle of something…delicate. She said something about it when she got here, but she was so tired…" His voice trailed off. A horrible thought had just occurred to him. If someone had been after Ginny, then they were probably watching him too. He looked down at the phone in his hand. He'd heard of phones being bugged with Muggle recording devices. Was someone listening in right now?

He felt foolish for the thought, but then he heard the gurgle of one of Hermione and Ron's sons on the other line and he realised in horror that if someone had been listening, they would be very interested in how much Hermione or the rest of the Weasley family knew. He put the phone back up to his ear.

"Hermione, let me talk to Ron."

"But Harry –"

"Now, Hermione." His tone brokered no room for argument.

She sighed and there was a scuffling noise on the other end before he heard, "What's up, mate?"

"Ron," Harry said carefully. "I don't know exactly what is going on, but Ginny and I have been working on something…tricky, and she may have been followed here –"

"Bloody hell –"

"Listen," Harry said forcefully. "If she was, then they probably know where she went before she left. Do you understand?"

There was a beat of silence and then Ron sharply said, "Yes." His best friend was no longer speaking. Ron the Auror had taken his place.

"I think, just to be safe, you should grab the family and get to the place where we hid with the Order. The entire family, do you understand?" Ron had helped Harry with a lot of the enchantments and wards surrounding Grimmauld Place and he knew better than anyone else what the place was capable of. He was also the only other person alive who knew where Harry kept a special set of contingent plans for the house should it ever need to be hidden from wizards again.

"Yes, but what the hell –"

"I can't explain," Harry said. "Just trust me. It's probably overkill…but just in case you know."

"I know." Ron's voice was hard and Harry panged to think that he'd put that tone in his voice.

"I'll be in touch," Harry promised.

"How long?"

"Five days," he said. "Don't leave until we come home."

"Okay." Ron hesitated. "Be careful, yeah?"


"Take care of my sister or you won't want to return home," he warned.

Harry laughed. "I think your sister can take care of herself but I will. I wonder if whoever's been following her knows what exactly they've been trailing."

"I hope she gets a chance to show them." Ron's voice was feral.

Harry said goodbye and hung up the phone. He had no idea if he was overreacting but sending the Weasley's into safety was an almost gut reaction. He couldn't bear it if anything happened to them. He was sure Ginny hadn't been careless on purpose. It was her first mission after all.

Speaking of Ginny…he opened the bedroom door and peeked inside the room. She was still sleeping soundly. He closed the door and found his shoes. He was wired up now and couldn't possibly sleep, especially with her so close. He had noticed that she hadn't brought any bags with her except the one with all her notes and Malforne's diary. There were several shops on the lower levels of this hotel. He'd just pop down and get her a few things. She'd need it where they were going.

Before he left, he closed his eyes and sent his senses searching for evidence of any listening devices that might have planted in the hotel suite. He thought his search was thorough but since he was unsure exactly what he was looking for, he couldn't be sure he didn't miss something. His libido roared in protest when his senses encountered the white hot heat that was Ginny sleeping in his bed. Damn, he'd missed her.

Harry left the suite, but not before placing several alarms and wards on the door. No one could get in or out while he was gone.

Ginny returned to consciousness slowly. She stretched her limbs, feeling refreshed after her night's sleep. Snippets of the day before returned in full force and she sat up suddenly. "Harry!"

Throwing back the covers, she sprang out of bed and opened the bedroom door. "Harry?"

He was just entering the room with several shopping bags, but his head whipped up when she called his name.

"Ginny!" He dropped the bags and she moved towards him. They met in the middle of the room, Ginny immediately jumping up to wrap her legs around his waist, and Harry wrapping both arms around her. He shuddered, thankful to be close to her again. His magic soared, but he pushed it back, knowing they needed to talk before drowning in each other.

It was very hard to remind himself of this when a completely naked Ginny was currently wiggling her hips over his sudden erection while she pressed urgent kisses over his face, working her way down to his lips. Their mouths meshed and melded on a mutual groan. His hands roamed freely, anxious to feel every inch of her.

Several desperate snogs later, Ginny slid breathlessly down his legs and backed away. "Goddess, I missed you."

"I know." Harry's eyes were practically glowing with suppressed desire and he bit back another moan when she turned around to go back into the bedroom. The tattoo he'd secretly spelled onto her arse was still there; the "Property of Harry Potter" glowing with a faint green and flashing lightning bolt. She returned quickly, his robe wrapped around her.

"Are you okay?"

She nodded. "I'm fine. I'm sorry to scare you but I discovered –"

"I know," He said grimly. He waved his hand, casting a Muffilato charm on the room. "I read your research while you were asleep. We've got to get Mexico."

She nodded again. "There's more. Someone was following me the entire time you were gone –"

She was cut off by his nod. "I know that too, you managed to tell me before you passed out. And then Hermione called. After talking to her, I got worried about your family. I mean if someone is looking for us…"

Ginny's eyes widened. "Merlin, Harry, I hadn't thought of that!" She rushed to the phone and picked it up. "We've got to tell them to get to safety!"

"Relax," Harry took the receiver from her hand and replaced it in the cradle. "I sent them to Grimmauld Place. They'll be safe there until we get back from Mexico."

"Thank you," she said in relief. "I'm so stupid. I just wanted someone to know where I'd gone. I hadn't even thought of them going after Bill or Hermione."

"There's more," she said, twisting the ties of his robes in her hands. "I was in the library yesterday and went to find an almanac so I could figure out the date of the solstice. When I got back to the table, there was a man there looking through my notes."

"Who was he?"

"I think he was an Auror," she said honestly. "He had on Auror robes."

"It could have been a trick," Harry suggested. "A disguise."

She shook her head slowly. "I don't think so. We fought, but he managed to Portkey away. But I was able to look into the Portkey tunnel – he landed somewhere in the Ministry."

"I'm sure of it," she insisted at Harry's skeptical look. "I'd recognise that ugly green tile anywhere. He could see I was watching though and just as someone was about to enter the room, he shouted at them to stay away. I think he was afraid of revealing whoever was behind the door. It must be someone we know."

"Wait, how do you look into a Portkey tunnel?" Harry asked confusedly. "I didn't know it was possible."

"S'not easy," she said. "But it can be done. It was more instinct than anything else. I had to find out who had sent him."

Harry frowned. "If he's from the ministry – whether it's an official capacity or not – we can't trust anyone."

Ginny agreed. "We've got to get to Mexico really soon. What's the fastest way?"

"Portkey," he said absentmindedly. "I can make us one."

"Won't the ministry know?"

He shook his head. "No. Remus taught me the charm years ago."

"Wish I'd had one of those earlier," she said grumpily. "Instead of flaming halfway around the world."

Harry's face softened. "You shouldn't have done that. You could have killed yourself." He stepped forward and took her into his arms again. "But I'm awfully glad to see you." She smiled up at him and he kissed her again, unable to stop himself.

They broke away panting and she suddenly noticed the bags he'd dropped by the front door.

"What're those?"

"Oh." Harry released her and walked back to gather the packages. "I noticed you didn't pack any clothes so I went downstairs and bought you some things. You're going to need it where we're going."

"You've been shopping?"

"Well, you could parade that gorgeous body of yours in front of me, but I'd take exception to the concierge downstairs seeing it." He came near, dumping the packages on the sofa.

"You actually went into a lingerie shop?" She pulled out bras and underwear and held them up, eyeing the garments, then him. "And you had fun, I see." They were sheer and sexy, more for a corner of the bedroom floor than for good foundation support. Thoughts of rushing to Central America and searching for dead civilizations flew out of Ginny's head with a speed that should have been embarrassing.

His face reddened. "Hell."

She laughed lightly and went to him, her arms sliding around his waist. "Thank you. Your sacrifice will be rewarded."

"I was hoping for a fashion show." He wiggled his brows, and then kissed her, softly at first, and then there was no stopping it. "You have no idea how much I missed you," He breathed into her mouth. Ginny moaned in agreement and deepened the kiss, pawing his chest muscles. He opened the robe, sliding his hands over her warm flesh, and Ginny dissolved as his big hands rode her spine, cupped her buttocks. He pulled her to him, letting her feel the delicious hardness thrusting against his trousers and she ran a hand against him, magically lowering his zipper as she did so. She drove her hand inside.

"Are you trying to tell me something?" Harry knew they should probably get dressed and get going, but his magic was straining at the lids he was keeping on it. Making time to make love with her was suddenly paramount to the success of their mission.

"And here I thought you were so smart." He grew harder in her palm and she stroked him heavily as his mouth tore over hers, then down her throat, his breathing hot and fast in her ear.

"Come to bed with me," she whispered and pushed out of his arms, heading back to the room. She let the robe slide off her shoulders and to the floor, tossing him a sleek smile over her shoulder.

"Just the way I like you," he said, and scooped up the robe, following. In the bedroom, he closed the door and leaned back.

She faced him, easing back on the bed. "Come on, Potter. Get naked."

Harry grinned at her. "Yes, ma'am." As he did, she lay back on the mound of pillows, her own hands roaming her body. Seeing it made him harder, and he cursed when the knots of his shoelaces were stubborn.


He looked up.


Something in him settled, and he watched her twist on the bed. "Touch yourself," he said.

Her eyes flared a brief flash of gold and he watched like a greedy miser as her hands slid down between her legs. She spread a little and fingered herself for a moment, feeling sexy and decadent. His reaction was worth it. He went still as glass.

"You, too."

Harry stood at the foot of the bed, all muscle and naked, his hand on his erection, stroking himself, watching her dip her fingers to come back slick and wet. The sight aroused him to madness and he knelt on the bed in front of her. "That seems such a waste of fun," he growled and draped her legs over his thighs. "Watch me."

He dragged his finger down her divide, rasping over her plump little bead, then with two fingers pushed into her. She arched hard. "You're so hot and wet."

"Then do something about it."

"I can't wait to make you scream." Touching her was an erotic pleasure all its own. He could feel his soul screaming to merge with hers. It was an odd feeling, as if his soul was a separate tangible thing with a mind of its own. But then their souls had been feeding off each other for months without either of them knowing about it so he supposed anything was possible.

"You'll make me come if you keep that up." Her breath hissed out as he withdrew and circled the bundle of nerves. She flexed with each stroke, offering a view of every secret she possessed, and he wanted to explore her again and again and never stop. Harry leaned forward, kissing her mouth briefly before cupping her buttocks and bringing her closer. The heat of her sex pushed to his erection, making him want to drive into her like a madman.

Her thighs over his lap and around his hips, she was spread like a fine dessert, and he bent, taking her nipple deep into the heat of his mouth. He sucked and laved, his finger occasionally dipping between her thighs. She writhed, reaching between them to fondle him.

"You're playing with me."

"Oh, hell yeah."

"Keep going."

He laughed and his mouth moved down her belly, nibbled at her hip, then in one motion he scooped her up and laid his mouth heavily over her center.

"Harry!" She cursed something in Gaelic and came apart in seconds, her body rippling with pleasure. And he kept giving it, pushing two fingers deep inside her to feel her delicate muscles clamp him. Her lush moans caught in the chest, her panting made him long to hear more, and it was a long breathless moment before he lowered her to the bed.

"All that tension is finally gone?" he asked, grinning.

"Yes. I feel so noodley," she panted, laughing at herself.

"Mission accomplished."

She met his gaze, pulling him to her. "Yes, but that was teasing." He lay down with her and she reached between them, her fingers closing over him. She rode up and down, her grip gentle and measured, and his eyes flared a dark green before he was kissing her, drowning in her, pushing his tongue between her lips and sweeping wildly.

"Let's see what you like, Harry Potter, my hero."

"Oh, no, hero worship, again."

She sent him a feline smile. His hands were warm and tender as they swept her body, shaped her. "What shall I do with you?" Ginny mused.

She shifted and took him into her mouth, diving deeply and it made him dig his fingers into her shoulders. She tortured him, making him groan, grit his teeth, and when he was moving against her, she rose, motioning with her head. He obeyed and she put her hands on the headboard and met his gaze over her shoulder. The look on his face was indefinable.

Harry moved behind her; he nudged her thighs apart and slid into her in one long push.

She gasped at the thick, solid feel of him. It had only been nine days since they'd last done this, but it was nine days too long. "Oh, my…this I like."

Harry realised in a moment that he was actually living every fantasy he'd ever had and he slammed his eyes shut. There was a mirror a few feet away on the wall, subtly positioned for this. He nudged her. She looked, her pleasure rising at the view of them, his grip on her hips, the strain of desire on his face and rippling down his body. His hips thrust forward, hers pushed back. And still he kept his magic from merging with hers. The anticipation of it was a mixture of pleasure and pain.

They pumped and pumped, his erection thick and near bursting, her folds slick and gripping him like claws. Suddenly he stopped, and turned her around, entering her again, laying her flat and hovering over her.

"I want to see your face." Slowly he moved.

Sliding and pushing, hard skin met delicate softness, muscles bending for her when he wanted to slam, and becoming oblivious to anything but the sensations of being deep inside her. But it was his soul that kept him with her in this moment, and as he stared down into her now-golden eyes, he knew he'd never felt anything so intimate, so crushing. He was suddenly humbled. "Ginny."

"Oh, Harry." There were tears in her eyes. "You do this to me so well."

"We do," he said on a kiss. He was in tune with her, and he quickened, taking her with him as he sat back on his haunches, his strong hands guiding her hips, her feet planted on the mattress.

Their gazes locked, their bodies undulating.

The climax didn't come like the unleashed beast they'd experienced many times before, but in a steady spine-tingling pulse -- the climb unmeasured, but together. She cupped his face and slid on his erection, the base of him rubbing her just right, the head of him touching her womb.

"I can't get close enough to you.' She heard the frustration and passion in her own voice, a hidden plea for more than his loving.

"I know, I know baby." He cupped her face, understanding and wanting the same thing.

Ginny needed the link, the bond she'd lived without for what felt like a lifetime – even if it was less than two weeks. Her heart cried for it. "Mark me, Harry. Merge with me."

"Yes," he whispered against her lips, thrusting upward once and hard. Their magic melded seamlessly and everything in him ruptured, breaking apart for her, taking her inside himself. And Harry knew something had been cemented. He could feel it taking root inside of him, of them. They'd never had a fighting chance to be anything less, which was fine because he didn't want one.

Ginny trapped him to her, her heart tripping over itself as she leaned back, fusing with him, pleasure erupting in a fast slide to a wicked stop. Her nerves were raw and open, and she felt her body grip him, the full weight of him on her as they collapsed in a wild tangle of limbs.