Chapter 12: Epilogue

Thu 26 Dec 1996

Though it had seemed like forever to Harry, in reality, it was only the third day after waking from his injury, and only six days after the Final Battle. Ginny had been up one day less, but was just as eager to leave as Harry was.

As they readied to go home, Harry talked Sirius into letting him go home to number twelve Grimmauld Place via The Burrow. With their trunks shrunk to lunch box size, the two youngest Weasleys, their mother, Harry, his godfather, and Hermione Flooed to The Burrow. Hermione's parents were to come over and pick her up that evening, as Molly had invited everyone over for dinner.

They had barely come home to an empty house when a flash of light came from the back door. Purely on instinct, Harry's wand came out and he cast a Bludgeoning spelling towards where the light had come from. The spell went through the back door, breaking the glass in it, and hit a man who had been standing there. The man had not even finished falling when a Stunning spell from Ginny hit him in the face. When the man thumped to the ground, and the tinkling of broken glass came to a halt, Harry and Ginny were the only two with their wands out, though the others quickly drew theirs afterwards.

Carefully walking over to investigate, Harry found the man had a camera. Well, he still had one if a person counted all the pieces on the ground. The photographer was out cold. Just because he did not like the invasion of privacy, Harry Vanished all the pieces of the camera.

"Does anyone recognize him?" Harry asked.

"My guess would be a photographer from the Daily Prophet," Sirius suggested when no one else said anything. "I think we should Obliviate him and send him off somewhere." No one objected to that either, so Sirius did the spell. Harry and Ron carried the unidentified man to the fireplace, while Sirius did a Reparo on the back door.

"So, where are you going to send him?" Ginny asked.

"How about the Leaky Cauldron?" Harry suggested.

Sirius smiled as he grabbed some Floo powder. "No Harry, let's not bother Tom with this." As he threw the powder into the fireplace, the Defense teacher spoke "Knockturn Alley" and the boys hurled the photographer in.

"Hey, good thinking," Ron said. Harry and Ginny agreed.

"Sirius?" Harry asked in a thoughtful voice. "Could we disguise ourselves and go shopping this afternoon? I'd really like to pick up some Christmas presents. Harry did not think he would get the same answer he had received at the beginning of the school year, since Voldemort was no longer alive, but he was not totally sure.

"Sure, Harry. Though I would strongly suggest you and Ginny become brunettes, and you should hide your scar." Sirius looked thoughtful as he considered the possibility some more. "You should also probably not give your name out to anyone you don't already know, just to be safe."

"You make it sound like it's still unsafe for me to go," Harry said.

"Well, there's unsafe, then there's unsafe," his godfather said with a grin. "Now that Voldemort is gone, mortal safety is no longer an issue. But since you're the ones that offed him, you should be prepared to be surrounded by people wanting your autograph, trying to shake your hand, and so forth. Of course, there are a few odd Death Eaters on the loose, but there's not many and they weren't the good ones anyway."

Ron spoke up. "Why don't we eat lunch and then we can all go?" That got a few chuckles over Ron thinking with his stomach, but everyone agreed to that plan.

"Ah, Sirius? Something else just ocurred to me." Harry's godfather raised an eyebrow at his godson's quizzical look. "Ginny and I just did some major magic and no owls have come with notices for use of Underage Magic. Why not?"

Sirius grinned. "You noticed that, did you? Well, after Arthur started reading all the articles about you two, he realised that you would be having some difficulties not experienced by the normal underage wizard and witch. So, he convinced Minister Bones to grant you waivers on that restriction, as long as you don't abuse it." Harry's face lit upon hearing that, while Ginny looked shocked.

Ron muttered, "Some people have all the luck."

A hearty laugh came from Sirius. "Ron, you're about to be seventeen in a few months, so you're not missing much. Harry will be seventeen not that long after this next school term is over, so no big deal for him either. But Ginny, she's reaping the reward."

Ginny's smile became larger as she considered her good fortune, but she was quickly brought down to earth by her mother. "Don't even think of using that privilege for cleaning, young lady. That is to help you protect yourself when you're out. Here at home, it will be life as usual." Despite her protests, Ginny was unable to change her mother's mind.

After lunch, Sirius escorted Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione to Diagon Alley. Molly stayed home as security wasn't a big deal, and she had to make dinner tonight for everyone. The couple walked around in disguise, no one being the wiser. Harry and Ginny decided to buy Christmas presents together, to help get everyone used to them being seen as a couple. They all even went by to see Fred and George at their shoppe, which was doing a booming business. It was hard, but they managed to get the twins not to blurt out their names.

By late afternoon, everyone wanted a snack, so they stopped by Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour. It was all going well until Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnigan saw them and came over.

"Hey Ron, Hermione. Hello Professor Black," Dean called out as the two boys walked up. Seamus also greeted them. Then Dean looked at Harry and Ginny; although it took a few seconds, he figured out who they were because of their friends' presence. "Harry, Ginny, I didn't recognized you at first."

"Ssh, Dean," Harry told him. "You weren't supposed to immediately recognize us." The damage was already done as a few heads were looking over their way, looking for the famous "Harry and Ginny".

"Oh, right, sorry about that," their friend replied. "Hey, I'm glad to see you're all right though. It was really pretty sad to go home for Christmas knowing you two had been hurt in the Final Battle."

"Thanks Dean," Ginny told him. "We just got away from Madam Pomfrey this morning."

The boy looked at his ex-girlfriend and smiled, until his eyes caught sight of the ring on her finger. "Ginny? Is that ring for real?"

She looked down at it, slightly embarrassed. "Uh, yeah. Harry proposed to me and gave it to me on Christmas." It was a bit awkward with her former boyfriend, but Harry squeezed her right hand, which gave her more confidence and allowed her to smile and look up.

"Right," Dean said a bit nervously as he was feeling a bit awkward too. Looking over to his friend, Seamus just smiled and clapped Harry on the shoulder as he offered his congratulations. Dean offered his too, "Yeah, Congratulations you two. I hope it goes well for you. Take care of her Harry. Ginny's a great person."

Harry smiled at Dean and did his best to not remember how he had felt about Dean asking Ginny out first. "Thanks Dean, and don't worry, I'll take very good care of her, though it will be a while before we get married."

Dean nodded. "Well, we gotta go. We'll see you all back at school." He and Seamus left.

"Shall we go too?" Sirius suggested. Everyone agreed, so they all got up and left.

They were barely outside when they heard, "There's Harry and Ginny!" Instantly, people started walking towards them calling their names and wanting their autographs. There also seemed to be a few that wanted to shake their hands, or maybe it was just to touch them as Harry felt several hands touch him that weren't Ginny's.

Learning to Apparate had never been a big deal to Harry, but he wanted to know how very badly right now. He really wanted to get away and he could easily see Ginny felt the same way. Sirius, as well as Ron and Hermione, were all trying to help keep people back, but it was very difficult.

Not knowing what else to do, Harry pulled his Firebolt out of his Magical Broom Bag. Ginny saw what he was doing and moved to stand behind him, so they could mount the broom at the same time. Harry did his best to hover straight up without hurting anyone, and then he quickly flew above the crowd and over a few buildings, and landed in an alley behind the shoppes.

"Now what?" Ginny asked as Harry put his broom back into the bag and into his pocket.

Harry put his hand on her head, then on his and they both disappeared. "Since we're now Disillusioned, we can walk around the corner and go into the twins' place and use their Floo to go home. I was careful to fly over their shoppe so we'd be near it."

"We should probably tell Sirius so they don't worry," Ginny's disembodied voice told him.

"Yeah, good idea. I'll send a Patronus message." He did that, and they walked back out into the main street. It was easy to follow the plan, and they were back at The Burrow in a few minutes. The other three took another ten minutes to make it back to The Burrow, by which time Harry and Ginny had filled Molly in on what had happened.

"Wow, that was a madhouse!" Ron exclaimed when they arrived.

"You're telling me." His best mate sounded really put out. "I can't believe all that."

"Why not Harry?" Hermione asked. "You heard what a big deal it was the first time you stopped V-Voldemort. Now that you two have killed him for real, you shouldn't be surprised at the reaction. There's been at least one story about you in the Daily Prophet every day since it happened. The day after the Final Battle, as they called it, almost the entire paper was about the battle, the Order of the Phoenix, and most especially, you two."

Harry and Ginny both snorted at the same time, which also caused them to look at each other and laugh a little. Harry finally looked back at his friend and told her, "That's easy for you to say Hermione, but we haven't seen all those papers."

"Oh, that's not a problem, Harry," Molly told the boy. "Arthur saved a copy of them all for you, as he thought you'd like to see it." The woman also looked a bit proud about it too. "In fact, why don't you sit down and read them for a while. You should be able to look at most of them by dinner time."

Molly went into the other room and came back with almost a week's worth of issues of the Daily Prophet. Harry and Ginny took them into the living room and sat down to start reading them. Sirius also glanced over them a bit, though he had already read them. Ron challenged Hermione to a game of chess. Except for the occasional exclamation from Harry and Ginny, it was a quiet room.

A little after six in the evening, the Grangers came over to fetch Hermione. They greeted everyone pleasantly. Arthur came home a few minutes later. The topics of victory and the returning peace occupied most of the dinner conversation. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, except for Harry and Ginny, who were quiet for most of it. They just wanted to go sit by the fire in the living room, and enjoy each other's company, as well as the peace and quiet of the evening. They did not really want their new celebrity status.

One thing did nag at Harry though, and he decided he needed to know. "I know almost everyone got injured in some way, but did everyone in the Order make it out?"

Arthur looked at him with a grave face. "No, Harry. I'm sorry to say that you won't be seeing Alastor Moody, Hestia Jones, Dedalus Diggle, or another chap you probably didn't know, Jonathan Herbert. On the other hand, almost everyone who was injured is well now. Tonks left St. Mungo's yesterday, and Remus Lupin should get out tomorrow. He had a few complications from his, er, condition." Arthur wasn't sure if he should say "werewolf" in front of the Grangers.

Harry looked at him and nodded, before he got up and left for the living room with a long face. Ginny also rose, but softly said, "If you'll excuse us," before she went after Harry to comfort him.

"I don't understand. Harry knew and kept telling us it was a war; and in war these things happen," Ron said.

"Yes, he knows that," Sirius said solemnly, "but that doesn't change how much he cares, or the fact that he didn't want anyone else to die before he could get rid of Voldemort. It's easy to forget there can be sadness even in victory."


Sun, 5 Jan 1997

The Sunday afternoon before the second term of the year was to start, instead of taking the Hogwarts Express like everyone else, the Gryffindor foursome Flooed back to school. Sirius had made the arrangements so they would not have to deal with reporters and others on Platform 9 ¾.

After they put their trunks up in their dormitories, they went back down into the common room. Harry looked at his other two best friends and asked, "So, what did you plan to do until everyone else gets here?"

"Don't know," Ron said. "How about a game of Exploding Snap?"

Harry closed his eyes and slowly counted to three before he would allow himself to speak. Ginny squeezed his hand and rescued him. "No Ron, he was asking what you and Hermione plan to do for the afternoon. I think he was was planning on us sitting here by the fire, though we could go somewhere else if you two are going to be here."

"Why?" her brother asked.

"Because," Harry said with a slight note of exasperation in his voice, "I want to spend some time with my fiancèe. I haven't had the chance to snog her senseless recently." Ginny giggled and Ron looked less than pleased to hear that.

Hermione rescued her boyfriend. "No problem, Harry. You two enjoy the fire. Ron is going to explore the dungeons with me while there are no Slytherins here."

"I am?"

"Yes, you are. Let's go. See you two in a few hours." She practically dragged Ron out the portrait hole.

"Finally," Harry said as he pulled Ginny over to the couch and onto his lap. She giggled softly, threaded her hands thru his hair, and silenced him.

---

Several hours later, Hermione and Ron returned, along with a number of other Gryffindors who had arrived on the train. They made much ado about Harry and Ginny's feat, and how it had taken a Gryffindor to take down Slytherin's heir. Harry and Ginny did their best to get through it all quickly, and they were relieved when it was time to go to dinner.

The Gryffindors followed their famous couple down for dinner. Ron and Hermione were also at the front and chatting with their friends. As they descended the last of the stairs, they saw the rest of the houses coming towards the large foyer in front of the Great Hall.

Harry was thinking about dinner and how hungry he was when he heard, "Avada Kedavra!" After the first word of the curse, he shoved Ginny forward, while doing his best to step backwards and to hold his other friends back. The green bolt went right in front of his face, hitting the wall off to his side. It would have hit him or Ginny if he had not reacted as quickly as he had. Without thinking, he wandlessly shot a Banishing spell at the blond Slytherin pointing his wand at them from the top of the stairs leading down to the dungeons.

The look of livid anger on Draco Malfoy's face stayed as a Freezing hex from Ginny hit him before the Banishing spell had moved him more than a few feet. A large thud and tinkling was heard a few seconds later as the frozen boy landed at the bottom of the stairs.

Harry now pivoted towards Ginny, to stand back to back with her. His wand was menacingly moving back and forth as his eyes scanned for more danger. He particularly watched the other Slytherins who had stopped motionless on the stairs. Harry was also sure Ginny was scrutinizing those that were behind him and in front of her.

The entire area was silent as everyone regarded the scene; a silence which was broken by several sets of feet, which belonged to Professors McGonagall, Dumbledore, and Flitwick.

"Mr. Potter? What's going on?" Any other question Professor McGonagall had froze on her lips as she saw the intense and dangerous look on Harry's face -- a look that promised immediate and deadly action if the wrong thing happened. She had no doubt this was the look that had faced down Tom Riddle.

As gently as she could, Minerva McGonagall tried to calm the boy. "Harry, you and Ginny are safe now. There are three teachers here who will not let anything else happen." She saw his intense gaze leave her and sweep the area one more time, before he looked over his left shoulder to meet Ginny's questioning look. The girl nodded and the two students relaxed, although their wands were not put away. It was obvious to the professor that while Harry trusted her, he trusted his and Ginny's safety only to themselves.

Harry slowly walked over to the top of the stairs and looked down. McGonagall noted his expression hardening again, and he trained his wand at the Slytherins. Before she could say anything else, she heard him say, "Cover me." Ginny turned and moved to the top of the stairs. As Harry reached a seventh year boy, he pointed his wand at him and demanded, "Show me your forearms."

The boy looked outraged, but it was Professor McGonagall that spoke. "Mr. Potter, you can't do that."

"Yes, he can," Ginny contradicted her Head of House. Her non-wand arm pointed, though she did not remove her gaze, or her wand, from the Slytherins. "Look."

Minerva moved over to the stairs near the first Slytherin and looked down. She was aghast to find that Draco Malfoy was now nearly a dozen chunks of ice, never more to be a living human being. After she got over her shock, she looked at where Ginny was pointing and saw Draco's frozen arm. She finally understood; there for all to see was a crystallised Dark Mark.

When the boy in front of Harry did not move, Harry wiggled the end of his wand and thought about a Levitaion spell. The robes moved from his arms to show clean skin. Harry moved down the line to the next student in either the sixth or seventh year.

Pansy Parkinson made a scene, but finally showed clean forearms when Harry threatened to stun her and look himself. Harry was a bit surprised when Crabbe, Goyle, and Nott also came up clean. Near the end of the line was one last seventh year boy who refused to roll up his sleeves: Marcus Turtledove.

When Harry started levitating his sleeves, Marcus roared and rushed towards Harry, but he never made it. He was hit with a stunning spell. Harry looked up and smiled at Ginny, who winked at him, though her wand was still pointed downward to cover him. As Harry moved the boy's robes aside, he saw another Dark Mark. Binding the Slytherin in ropes, he levitated the prisoner back to the foyer and deposited him at McGonagall's feet.

"Yes, well, perhaps you're not really paranoid after all, Mr. Potter," the professor said softly, mildly shocked. "Filius, if you would please, place a fire call to have some Aurors come to take custody of these Death Eaters. I'm sure they will also want a statement from Mr. Potter and Miss Weasley."

After a short pause, McGonagall pulled out her wand and placed it on her throat and spoke, "Sonorus. May I please have your attention. I was going to use the feast to announce this evening that I am now Headmistress of Hogwarts, while Professor Dumbledore will teach Transfiguration for the rest of this year." Murmurs broke out at that announcement. "But I believe the start of term feast will have to wait until tomorrow evening. Mr. Malfoy and Mr. Tutledove have committed criminal acts which will not be tolerated at Hogwarts. There will also be no retaliation against Mr. Potter or Miss Weasley for defending themselves. If you do, you will face suspension at the least, and quite probably expulsion and criminal charges for attacking another student. Everyone, please return to your houses. Dinner will be brought up to you shortly. Quietus."

McGonagall waved Sirius over, who had only just come to the foyer from the Great Hall with the rest of the professors. They had already been in the Hall ready for the feast. "Albus, will you please accompany the Gryffindors back to their Tower. I know Sirius should do that as their new Head of House, but I think he will probably want to be here."

"Certainly, Minerva." Dumbledore helped the prefects herd the students to their appropriate place.

"Sirius, please keep Mr. Potter and Miss Weasley here. They will need to give a statement before they return to the Tower. If they ask, please impress upon them that they are not in trouble for defending themselves, but we do have to follow the proper legal procedures."

"Yes, Headmistress." Sirius went over to Harry and Ginny, who were still standing over to the side, trying to decide if they needed to go or stay.

Minerva turned to see what else needed to be done, when Filius returned with three Aurors, two of whom she already knew. "Kingsley, Ms. Tonks, and ..."

"This is Victoria Goolsby," Tonks introduced. "She's my new partner."

"Vicky Goolsby, Professor." She shook hands with the Headmistress. "I'm Nymphadora's new partner."

"Right Vicky, sorry, I guess we're even," said Tonks, but it was obvious that she had done that on purpose. "What happened here, Professor?"

McGonagall told them about the attack, as well as the result of Harry's impromptu search for the Dark Mark.

Tonks looked at her teammates. "Kingsley, why don't you take the mess down there. You're a man, and beside I'm theoretically related to him in some people's eyes. Vicky, I'll let you take the statements from the heroes. I'll take this one tied up here and any other statements."

Sirius was watching it all with interest. Harry and Ginny were fine, so he did not need to do anything there. Instead, he watched the Auror with dirty blonde hair who looked only slightly older than his cousin as she approached them. He had vague memories of a young witch with her name four years behind him when he was a student at Hogwarts.

"Hi, I'm Vicky. You're Sirius Black aren't you?"

He laughed. "Yes, though hopefully I look at lot better than the picture on my poster."

She smiled back. "Actually, I had forgotten about that. I was thinking about the article in the paper over the summer about you being cleared."

"Oh yes, that was a much better photo of me, but the real me is better still. Perhaps we could discuss that and anything else you'd like over dinner sometime soon?"

The two looked at each other for a few seconds, until a polite cough interrupted them. "Uh, don't we have something to do here?"

Sirius looked down at his godson. "Don't interrupt a man at work Harry. You should know that by now."

A light laugh interrupted their conversation and they turned to look at the Auror. "Harry is right, but I think I am free this Saturday evening."

Harry was not sure which he was happier about: giving their statements so he and Ginny could go back to the Tower and eat, or his godfather finally starting to date again. Even Ginny agreed that Sirius was quite the charmer.

It was not until the next day that Harry and Ginny found out why Draco had attacked them. Because of the Final Battle, Draco had been made an orphan. His father had been killed by Harry and Ginny in their lion forms, while his mother had been killed by Bellatrix Lestrange. A Killing Curse meant for Sirius had missed and hit Narcissa Malfoy, her sister, by mistake.


Sat 25 Jan 1997

Harry was dressed in his new dress robes, and he was waiting in the common room for his favourite combat partner -- who was about to be seriously late if she did not hurry up. While he contemplated which girl in the room to ask to go up and get his partner, he noticed a vision of loveliness in dark blue dress robes coming down the stairs. Her hair was swept back, and it cascaded down her neck in soft waves. She also seemed to have a small amount of make-up on, just a hint to enhance her natural beauty. He suddenly did not care about a stupid awards ceremony; he wanted to take his Ginny away and spend time with only her.

Ginny smiled prettily at him and kissed lightly him on the cheek. "You're looking pretty good yourself Harry, though you probably should close your mouth."

He had not even realised his mouth was open, but he closed it while he continued to stared at her. Harry finally found his voice. "I -- I didn't think you could be any prettier Ginny, but then you do this. You're absolutely gorgeous."

"Thank you Harry, but wait 'til you see me in a long white dress."

"I'd rather see you without the dress," he replied.

She laughed and grabbed his arm so he'd escort her out the door. "Harry, I think we should leave before we corrupt anyone here." She nodded at her brother, who was shooting daggers at his best friend. Hermione had to cover her mouth to keep her laugh in.

"That's all right, I can take care of him with one arm behind my back," Harry bragged as they walked out the portrait hole. Ginny laughed again, while Hermione almost had to bite her fist to contain herself, lest she upset her boyfriend even more.

At the Headmistress' office, they, along with the Professor McGonagall and Sirius, Flooed to the Ministry of Magic. They were seated at a table up front, along with Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Professor Dumbledore, and Severus Snape, of all people.

Snape was an interesting character now. Harry still considered him to be a greasy git, but he was actually tolerable most of the time. The Potions master still ignored Harry and Ginny, which was fine with the pair. More importantly, the teacher actually kept the peace in the classroom and did not let the Slytherins have an advantage. Still, all of that new found goodness did not stop the Head of the Slytherins from disparaging Gryffindors from time to time.

When the ceremony started, Minister for Magic Bones made a speech about what a wonderful time this was with the war over. Every member of the Order of the Phoenix was brought up and given an Order of Merlin, Third Class.

Albus Dumbledore received an Order of Merlin, Second Class award for his leadership. Severus Snape also received that same award for his work as a spy and being instrumental in starting the Final Battle.

All too soon, the moment Harry had dreaded arrived. He and Ginny were called up to receive their Order of Merlin, First Class award. The number of flashbulbs going off was insane and he was completely blinded. A part of him considered this would be a wonderful opportunity to off him and Ginny, but he trusted all the Order members in the room would protect him. Both he and his fiancèe were relieved to return to Hogwarts.


Fri 27 Jun 1997

As breakfast ended, all the students in the castle hurried to their dorm rooms to bring their trunks down, and in some cases, finish packing too. It was time to go home for the summer.

The carriage ride to Hogsmeade was quite delightful. Everything along the way was green, the birds were singing, the sky was blue with only an occasional wispy cloud making an appearance. It was the type of day that demanded you enjoy it. Harry was only too happy to oblige.

Harry happily helped Ginny with her trunk before getting his into place. He knew they had some minor prefect duties on the ride home, but nothing too strenuous. He planned to spend most of this time with his fiancèe on his lap and talking with his friends one last time before they went home.

Ginny did not have to be told to sit on Harry's lap -- that was her favourite place. She loved being near him. Touching him still made her feel "right" and "complete"; she never tired of it. As soon as Harry made himself comfortable, she made herself comfortable on him.

Ron dropped onto his seat, with Hermione next him. "I still can't believe you said your OWLs were easy, Ginny."

His sister laughed. "OK, some of the electives were a bit difficult, especially the Ancient Runes one, but the core classes were easy, Ron. All you had to do was study for them." He snorted his disagreement.

"Ginny, you're forgetting something," Harry added. "We've already learned most of what we'll cover in the rest of our school years for those classes already. If it hadn't been for all of our tutoring last summer and most of this year, it would have been a lot harder."

"That's right Harry," Hermione agreed. "You also worked with Dumbledore on the Theory of Magic book. The work you've done in the draft I read shows me you understand it better than everyone else here except maybe for Professor Dumbledore. That's bound to help you. Is the book going to be on sale soon?"

Harry smiled at her. "I suppose you have a point, Hermione. Yeah, I think they said it should come out on the 25th of August, if I remember correctly. Dumbledore told me they already have pre-orders for over five hundred copies, and that doesn't count school orders."

Neville and Luna joined them at that point. Harry found it amusing that the two always seemed to hang out together, but did not date. Still, he considered them friends and was glad they were around. The six had a fun time until they arrived back in London.

As the train started to slow down at the end of their journey, Ginny leaned over and kissed Harry. He sighed with pleasure. That was also when he realised for the first time that Ron had not given him a hard time about that at all. Harry was happy that his best friend had finally come to terms with Harry being Ginny's fiancè, and had let go of his protectiveness for his sister. It was helpful Harry was feeling good, he was about to need all the help he could get.

The scene at Platform 9 ¾ was even more chaotic than normal. In addition to all the parents waiting to meet their children, there was a small army of reporters. Harry groaned and again wished he knew how to Apparate. As he would be turning seventeen this summer, he knew he would be learning how to do so soon, but if he had his way about it, it would be in the next two weeks so he could avoid situations such as this.

Still, that did not help his current situation. In fact, almost anything he could think to do would cause problems, generally because people would panic and cause a stampede.. He looked at Ginny.

"I think we should stay here until it calms down, Harry. Once the platform isn't as crowded, we can disillusion ourselves and go out," she told him.

"Yeah, that would work, but they know who our families are and are bound to be watching them," he argued as he looked discretely out the window.

"Then we just get them to leave and meet up with them later."

"You really think your mum will do that?" He looked at her expectantly.

"OK, you've got a point," Ginny admitted. "She won't want to leave until she has all her children with her, you included."

"Why don't you have her come onto the train and Side-Along-Apparate you home one at a time?" Hermione suggested. "I plan to Apparate home from here." She was proud of herself for having already passed the test.

A smile came over Harry as he turned to his friend. "Neville, mate, good friend of mine. Would you give a message to Mrs. Weasley on your way to your Gran?"

"Sure Harry, I'll tell her to come find you here."

"Thanks Neville!" Harry and Ginny both told him. Unbeknownst to each other, they were both thinking, I hate being a celebrity.


Fri 4 Jul 1997

Harry had been home for a full week, but that had not stopped him from seeing Ginny every day. Usually, he went to her house, at her mum's insistence. That normally worked out best as she had to finish her chores first, and Harry could use wandless magic to help her get done faster. He had learned that wandless magic could not be tracked. That also encouraged her to start trying to learn it for herself.

With Sirius' help, he had also started working on Apparating. He had already managed moving a few feet, so he felt he would have that skill mastered in another week or maybe two.

But there were no lessons today. Today Sirius was going to take them to a Muggle beach. Harry hoped that they could avoid their celebrity status there. By ten in morning, the two of them and a friend were Flooing over to Ginny's, with two beach umbrellas and blankets in hand. Ginny had lunch in a picnic basket all ready to go. She was in a long T-shirt and sandals waiting for them.

"Ginny, this is Vicky," Sirius introduced the woman with him when they arrived. "If you don't remember, she was the one who took your statement after the incident with Draco Malfoy."

The blonde Auror smiled. "Hi Ginny. It's good to see you again."

"Hi Vicky. I do remember you. You're going with us, I take it?"

"Yes. Sirius invited me. I hope you and Harry don't mind." Both teens shook their heads. They both also wondered how much Sirius had been seeing her, as the older couple seemed to be on pretty friendly terms.

"Great," Sirius said as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a sock. "If everyone will grab onto this, we'll go." When everyone touched the sock, he activated the Portkey. A few seconds later, they were in a stand of trees at the edge of the beach. "Let's go find a nice spot." Sirius led them toward the beach and the water.

When they were fully on the beach proper and had found a spot away from most people, they put their things down. Sirius put up the umbrellas, while Harry and Ginny spread out the blankets. To Sirius' amusement, the second blanket was a good twenty feet away from where Vicky was standing and waiting. He decided not to make a big deal out of it, as he probably would have done the same thing if he had been in Harry's shoes.

Once they were settled, T-shirts and sandals came off. Sirius was quick to notice Vicky's purple bikini. They had started spending time together after they had met six months ago, and both considered themselves "attached", though no formal dating arrangement had been made. Because he was watching Vicky, Sirius missed Harry's reaction.

Harry had just pulled off his T-shirt, when he saw Ginny pull her long T-shirt cover-up off. He froze, mesmerized by her yellow bikini. He'd seen her in a one-piece suit the previous summer at The Burrow when they had gone swimming in the nearby river, but she had filled out since then.

Ginny coyly looked at him and softly said, "If you like what you see Harry, then you should follow me." Kicking off her sandals, she turned and started walking towards the water. That caused Harry to come back to life; he kicked off his own sandals and ran after her.

Harry caught up to her in waist deep water and tackled her. They came up grinning at each other just as a wave broke over them. There was no longer a dry spot on them. Harry grabbed her about the waist and pulled her over, so they could share their first kiss of the day.

After playing in the water for nearly half an hour, Ginny jumped up in front Harry and wrapped her legs around his waist and her arms around his neck. She clung to him as they bobbed in the waves.

"I'm having fun today. Are you Harry?"

"Hmm, let's see. Nothing to do today but hold onto a beautiful girl... yeah, I'd call that fun." He kissed her again.

"I'm glad. I have an idea that could make it more fun. If you're brave enough," she teased him.

He grinned. "Now that sounds like a challenge. I've fought dragons and Dark Lords, so I can't imagine not being able to handle whatever you throw at me."

She laughed. "Do you think you can handle my mum?"

"Sure, I got her to agree to let us get married when you turn seventeen, before you finish school. I'd say that means I can 'handle her'."

"Ah, but Mr. Potter, can you convince her to let us get married when I turn sixteen?"

Harry looked a bit shocked at that. "What? Like in, ah, five weeks?"

"Yes. Do you think you can convince her?"

"Don't know. Other than the one obvious benefit, why?" Another wave came by and pushed them a little, so Harry shifted his grip on her by grabbing her bum to help hold her up.

"Hey now Harry, none of that. You haven't fulfilled your end of the deal yet," Ginny lightly protested.

"Ginny, I've touch that before, and what deal are you talking about?"

"I thought that if you could talk my mum into letting us get married this summer, I'd let you touch anywhere my bikini doesn't cover." She gave him a questioning and coy smile.

"Hmm, since I've already touch everything but the few important parts, I'm not sure what that really gets me. I'm not afraid of your mum, but I don't know that the reward justifies the risk." He smirked a dare at her to answer the unspoken question.

She answered the question by appealing to his hormones. "Harry, the only way you are going to get me into bed with you, or anything more than what you have now, is if those other two rings are on our fingers after a proper ceremony. So if you want that soon, you're going to have to convince my mum to let us get married this summer. Otherwise, you're going to have to wait a whole 'nother year." To put more pressure on him, she wiggled around so he could feel more skin to skin contact, before she applied the final leverage. "And I know how much you like feeling us touch, the rightness of the feeling. Can you imagine what it will be like when we make love, Harry?"

Harry groaned at that thought, and dropped his head down. That put his forehead at the top of her chest and the view reminded him of something else he'd like to have. "You don't fight fair Ginny," he finally said.

Ginny laughed at that, but she also grabbed his head and lifted it up so he could look her in the eyes. "I'll tell you what Harry, you promise me you'll ask her tonight, and I'll let you spread lotion all over me now, everywhere that's not covered by my suit."

He gulped at that. "All right, deal," he told her somewhat breathlessly as he thought about that. He started walking her back towards their blanket to collect on her promise, while he thought about how to convince Mrs. Weasley. After all, it sounded like he did not have to make her mum say yes; he just had to ask the question.

---

As Sirius finally took his eyes off Vicky and started to settle in under their umbrella, he noticed that Harry and Ginny had reached the water and had started playing. "You know, this Muggle beach was a good idea. They can be normal teenagers here. No one knows anything about 'Harry and Ginny' here."

"Yes," Vicky agreed. "I never thought about what it must be like to have everyone know you until you told me about when you all went to Diagon Alley after Christmas, and the chaos that ensued. Then seeing more articles in the paper on them, when they'd done nothing more than try to live normal lives really drove the point home. It must be really difficult for them."

"It is. They'll always have to careful where they go, and probably always have to live under a Fidelius Charm." Sirius sighed. "It really is unfair after all they have done for the Wizarding world; the wizards won't leave them alone to be normal."

"But from what you told me, they aren't normal. You make Harry sound like can do anything with magic, and Ginny is almost the same."

Sirius laughed. He watched his charges play and hold each other in the water for a moment. "While I know there are some things Harry can't do, I would not be surprised at anything he told me he did. Other than the Unforgiveable Curses, I think he could do anything he put his mind to. He's got the raw natural talent and power, and he's learned a lot over the last year. I'd swear there are some things he can do better than Albus Dumbledore."

"Are you referring to their new book?" she asked.

"You know about that?"

"Duh, I've already pre-ordered a copy. I can't wait to read it."

"Oh, right, you were a Ravenclaw, so I guess that makes sense," he admitted.

"Hey!" the Auror objected. "I thought you were the one who didn't like stereotypes? Beside, a girl has to talk about something on long stakeouts. Answering the 'who am I' and 'what am I' type questions are some of the best because they are so open ended."

"Sorry, you're right," he apologized. Then he brightened. "Would you like to see a beta copy of the book?"

"You have one?" she was amazed.

"I do indeed. One of only about three until they come out. It's what Harry was using to proof the book, and he asked me to help him. I brought it along, let me get it." Sirius dug it out of the small bag he had brought and handed it to her.

She handled it reverently and read the cover:

Advanced Magical Theory
By Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter

When she tried to open it, it would not budge. "What's wrong with it?"

It would not open for Sirius either. "It worked for me last night. I was reading the most remarkable theories about the differences between Muggles, Squibs, and Wizards, and why the groups are different. It had something to do with DNA and code order, whatever that is." He puzzled over the book some more, but it would not open.

As he was giving up, he saw Harry leading Ginny by the hand back to their blanket. "Hey Harry! Something's wrong with your book, it won't open."

Harry grinned at him. "Nothing is wrong. It's merely charmed so you can only read it when you're alone." The smile quickly left his face when he felt two cool hands on his back. Ginny was rubbing something on him. "What's that?" he asked her.

"Suntan lotion. I got it from Hermione. She suggested it might be fun to use when I told her we were going to the beach." Ginny continued to run her hands all over him, and Harry had to agree that Hermione was correct. When she finished up, Ginny handed the bottle to Harry. "Your turn, and don't miss any places. I burn badly." She lay down on her stomach and made herself comfortable.

Glancing at his chaperones, Harry saw the two of them exchange amused looks. Harry did his best to figure out how he could have maximum fun with this, but not get into trouble. The first thing he did was to wandlessly apply a Sun Block charm on her just to be safe. He did not fully trust himself to get all the places that he needed to, especially while others would be watching him. He started on her back. When he got to the more intimate places, he decided to sit to her side and block the view of his hands with his body. Neither Sirius nor Vicky said anything to him, and Ginny was careful to keep her moans of pleasure very soft. Harry was looking forward to applying more lotion when she rolled over to lie on her back.

---

Dinner that evening consisted of four couples, as Mrs. Weasley had convinced Vicky to stay, and Ron had invited Hermione over. Harry really enjoyed it, especially as it gave him time to try and gauge Mrs. Weasley's mood. He thought he had an idea on how to convince her. Ginny had also given him one small idea. It would not be enough by itself, but it should help his idea.

After dinner, Harry made his first move. He pulled Ron aside and pulled five Galleons out of his pocket. "Ron, do me a really big favor and take Hermione out for some ice cream or something for at least two hours. Here, it's on me." Harry placed the coins in his friend's hand.

"What? You trying to throw me out of my own house? Why should I take her out for ice cream?"

"Ron, I don't care if you take her out for Firewhisky, you're both seventeen. But I need to have a conversation with your parents, and I need it to be just the four of us."

Ron was not upset, but he could not figure out what was going on. "Look Harry, you've already asked for her hand in marriage. What more is there?"

Harry sighed. "Tricky wedding details, mate. Please help me by going? You know you want to spend time alone with Hermione anyway."

After a moment, Ron reached down and separated three of the Galleons from the small stack, and put those back into Harry's hand. "OK mate, just for you. Good luck with mum." He then turned to get Hermione so they could Apparate away on an impromptu date.

As Harry turned, he saw Sirius standing there watching. "Do I get the rest so I'll leave too?" he joked with his godson.

"Sure, why not?" Harry joked back and offered the three coins.

Sirius laughed and ignored the offer. "Vicky, let's go. There's a great Muggle club I want to show you." He went over to his date to pull her away from helping clear the table.

Harry looked over and saw Arthur watching him. Deciding to test the waters, he went back over to the table and sat back down again.

"What's so special that you want to discuss it alone, Harry?" Arthur asked. It was just the two of them as Ginny was helping her mother in the kitchen.

"Well, Mr. Weasley... Uh, Ginny and I want to know if, uh, if you would," Harry paused before rushing to say, "give us permission to marry when Ginny turns sixteen this summer."

Arthur Weasley smiled. "I see Harry. Actually, I've been wondering if you would ask this."

"You were?" Harry was taken aback by that.

"Yes. It's not hard to tell that you and Ginny feel each other is very special. I suppose your 'glow' helps with that." Harry looked a bit embarrassed, but he did not look away either. "I also remember being seventeen and talking with Molly's dad. Once we got to the point of deciding we wanted to marry, it didn't seem to come fast enough." The father looked a bit wistful as he thought back in time.

"So you're all right with it?" Harry ventured.

"I didn't say that, Harry." The boy's face fell as his hope waned. "I said I understand your feelings." Arthur considered Harry, and he also thought he could have a lot of fun with the boy, but in reality, he could not bring himself to do anything of the sort. Harry had always been very candid with him, even asking if he could date Ginny. "To be honest Harry, while I would prefer you wait until next summer, I suppose I could allow it for a good enough reason." Harry perked back up. "I have one condition for you: if you can convince Molly, I'll give my permission too."

That was a bit devious of him, but he knew Molly would have all the same concerns he did, and Harry was going to have to convince her anyway, no matter what Arthur said. He was also curious if Harry could really convince his wife. Molly could be very stubborn, but then he had seen Harry do some amazing things.

"Yes sir," Harry finally replied. "I was expecting to have to do that anyway."

The older man smiled at him. "Why don't you sit here for a few minutes and gather your nerve. I'll retrieve some tea and the women, and we can talk about it." He got up and headed to the kitchen.

Harry took a few deep breaths. He had a plan. The question was, could he do it? It was very hard magic, the hardest he had ever done, but he had already done it once. As far as he was concerned, it was his only hope for success. A little more than a minute later, the other three came back to the table with cups and a teapot.

Ginny looked at Harry. He gave her a small smile and nodded. She sat beside him and kissed him lightly on the cheek before she whispered, "I know you can do it Harry."

Molly Weasley put a cup in front of everyone. As she poured, she addressed her future son-in-law. "Harry, Arthur tells me you have something you want to talk to us about."

Harry looked up at her with a nervous smile. He decided to employ Ginny's hint from the beginning. "Yes, Mum, I do."

The matriarch smiled at him. "That's nice to hear, Harry. I'm glad you think of me that way. What's so important?"

"Well, Ginny and I would like to get married at the end of this summer after she turns sixteen." Harry held his breath and hoped he could weather the initial storm, but he was surprised at Mrs. Weasley's reaction.

"Why do you want to do that, Harry dear?" Molly asked very pleasantly.

"We, uh, we know that we can only marry each other, and we so enjoy each other's company, that we'd like to go ahead and start our life together," Harry explained.

Molly looked at him, and did not fail to notice that they were holding hands, as was usual for them. In fact, as she thought about it, it was only the rare occasion when were not touching in some way. "I understand what you're saying, but I still don't see why you need to rush into this."

There was no getting around it; Harry was going to have to do his magic trick. "I can demonstrate if you'd let me."

"Demonstrate what, Harry?"

"I can show you what Ginny and I feel." Ginny gasped, so he turned to her. "I've done it once with Dumbledore during our research. I think I can do it again."

"If you're planning what I think you're planning, how can you?" Ginny asked.

"It's the most difficult magic I've ever done, but Dumbledore says I have the best grasp of Magical Theory of anyone he's ever met. I have to try, Ginny." He looked at her and waited for her consent.

"It won't hurt you?" He shook his head. "And you'll be back to normal when you're done?" He nodded. "All right, I trust you then."

He smiled at his fiancëe. "When I ask, please turn out all the lights in the room. OK?" She nodded. Turning to her mother, who had been silently watching them, he said, "Mum, I'm going to attempt to show you what Ginny and I feel. This is very difficult, so please be patient and follow my directions carefully."

"You won't get into trouble for doing this?"

"No, Mum." He took a deep breath. "Now, pull out your wand and let me hold your other hand. Can you do a Patronus Charm?"

"I only get mist, I can't do a full Patronus, but I can do the Patronus Communication Charm," she told him.

"That will do. Please send me a message; it can be anything you like."

"Very well." She went through the motions and cast "Communio Patronus!" With his eyes shut, he asked her to do it again, and she did.

"Put your wand down now," he said with some strain in his voice as he let go of her hand. After a few seconds, he held out his hand again and whispered, "Take my hand."

Molly slowly reached out, not sure what to expect. What she found surprised her: She felt a magical surge as she touched Harry's hand, and it felt good. In her surprise, she pulled away and suddenly felt sad. Harry's hand sought hers and grabbed her hand, she felt happy again. She felt the world become right; it was like she was seeing everything in a new way and it made sense like never before.

"Turn out the lights," Harry whispered and Ginny complied.

In the sudden darkness, Ginny made a startled noise. "Your hands!" There in front of her, where her boyfriend's hand touched her mum's hand, there was a glow like when she and Harry touched.

The glow went away, and Harry's tired voice called, "Lights?" Ginny relit the candles. Molly's face held disappointment and sadness, as Harry pulled his hand back from her and reached out for Ginny. The girl smiled and gave a satisfied sigh as she felt her boyfriend's normal touch again.

"What is it, Molly?" Arthur asked. He thought he understood what had happened, but he had no idea how Harry had done it. When she sat there and did not answer, he looked at Harry. "What did you do Harry?"

With a tired voice he explained. "I temporarily changed my magic to be like Mum's. That's why Ginny and I like to hold hands. Our magic is sympathetic, or you could say it resonates with the other. I showed Mum what it was like."

Molly finally looked up at her daughter. "Ginny dear, is that how you feel all the time?"

"Yes, Mum. It's wonderful, isn't it?" Her mother nodded. "The world is -- right -- when we we're together."

"And it was so sad when he left," she admitted. She was rubbing her hand that had held Harry's. Without realising it, she started reaching out to Harry again; but when she touched him, she suddenly found there was no special feeling. It was gone.

"I'm sorry Mum," Harry told her. "I hope I didn't hurt you."

"It will be all right in a while, Mum," her daughter added. "The feeling does eventually wear off, though you won't be able to forget the memory -- at least I haven't been able to forget."

Her mother nodded and sat very quietly for a few seconds, before she looked at Ginny. "I have one condition. You must not allow the family reputation to be tarnished. Your brothers and friends will understand, but many others may not. We may not have a lot that the outside world can see, but we've always had a good reputation. You must uphold that."

"You're afraid that people will say we're forced to marry because I'm pregnant, aren't you?" Ginny queried. She got a nod from her mother, who was still absently rubbing her hand.

"Thank you, Mum," Harry finally said. "We'll consider how to do that. How about you and Dad come over for dinner tomorrow night and we'll talk about it. Hopefully, Ginny and I can come up with something, or perhaps Sirius will have an idea." They agreed.

Ginny walked Harry into the other room, where the Floo was. "Thank you, Harry!" she whispered into his ear as she gave him a hug. "I knew you could do it. I'll come over to your house tomorrow and we can start planning." Harry left after a very lingering kiss.


Sat 5 Jul 1997

Ginny did not make it over during the day, her mother had sent her grocery shopping, as well as assigned her a few too many chores for her to get free. So Harry did not see her until she came over with her parents and brother.

Dobby did an excellent job on dinner, even Ron was complimentary. The wedding and Molly's restriction was the main topic of discussion. No decision was made, but Sirius came up with a very good point, or so Harry thought.

"Molly," Sirius looked at her as they started on dessert. "I fully understand why you're asking for the restriction you have on the wedding, but I think you're putting Harry and Ginny in an impossible-to-win situation."

"How's that?" Arthur asked. "It seems very straightforward to me."

"As I said, I fully understand. The problem is that in order to comply, these two would have to be able to control how others think, or what their opinions are. I've found thoughts and opinions to be like rumours, you can't control them."

"Oh, I see what you're getting at," Arthur commented. "Hmm, yes, very good point. I should have seen that myself. That would mean the restriction would have to be removed, or the wedding would have to be postponed until next summer."

Ginny was not happy with that, but she could not refute it either. After dinner was finished, she asked her parents, "Since I didn't get to come over today to talk to Harry, can I please stay after dinner to talk to him?"

Her father looked at his watch. "It is only a little after eight. I suppose you can, as long as you come home immediately after you've discussed this topic. No going on about everything under the sun. Understand?" He knew she and Harry loved to sit and talk; he had found them on the back porch swing late at night often enough to know.

"Thanks, Dad!" She gave him and her mum a hug before they left with her brother. Sirius let them grab a couple of Butterbeers and go the library. There, they cuddled on the couch and started talking about how to make Mrs. Weasley happy so they could get married soon.


Sun 6 Jul 1997

Arthur Weasley looked at the clock on the bedside table. It showed that it was six in the morning. There was no use fighting it; it had become a habit to get up at this time the other six days of the week. He put his bathrobe on before he went to get his morning tea. This was the one day of the week Molly slept in, so he would have an hour to himself.

As he was about to descend to the kitchen, it occurred to him that he had no idea what time Ginny had come home last night. He assumed that she had, but he also knew she could go up and down the stairs noiselessly, so he did not really know for sure if she was home. While he trusted her, he also felt he would not be doing his fatherly duty unless he checked on his little girl. Therefore, he went up to her room. Peeking through her open door, he saw an empty bed that had not been slept in.

He was not sure whether to be angry or disappointed, but he knew what he had to do. As quietly as he could, he went back down to his bedroom and grabbed the first set of external robes he could find, and put them on as walked down the stairs. In those and his slippers, he Flooed to Sirius' house.

Arthur did not really hold Sirius responsible for this, but he felt the man should have kept a closer watch on what went on in his house. On the other hand, Arthur realised he did not keep that close a watch on Ron, as he was now seventeen, and perhaps that was how Sirius saw Harry as he was about turn seventeen in a few weeks.

As he wandered around the house, he heard voices coming from the direction of the library, so he went that way. Once he arrived, he stood there amazed that both of the teens were still awake and going strong.

"I'm sorry, Ginny, I'm not going to do that. It's just not safe."

"But Harry, it would satisfy mum's condition."

"I don't care Ginny. Your safety is worth more to me. I'd rather wait a year than put you danger, possibly for the rest of your life."

"Then we're stuck, I can't come up with anything else. Yet, I don't want to wait."

Arthur felt like should step in, as he was not sure he wanted to hear what might come next. "Ginny?"

A redhead popped up over the back of the couch and he saw two brown eyes look at him. The eyes disappeared and her father heard, "Oh bloody hell. What time is it, Harry?"

"A little after six, Ginny," her father told her. "What have you two been doing? I told you that you could have one conversation. There is no way you could talk about one topic for nearly ten hours."

Two heads became visible as they both sat up straight. "Actually, there has only been one topic: 'How to make Mum happy'."

The man sighed as he walked over and sat on a chair to join them. "What have you come up with so far?"

Harry looked at Ginny, but she told him to go ahead. "Well, we think Sirius nailed the problem when he said the condition hinges on controlling other's thoughts. So in general, there is no direct answer to the problem. No matter what we do, some reporter somewhere is going to accuse Ginny of being pregnant. In six months, that will easily be shown to be untrue, but it will still take six whole months. Even then, the reporter can just say we married because of a false alarm about being pregnant. So how big a deal is it to you to wait six months to show the rumors to be false?"

Arthur thought about that for a moment. "I don't think Molly would be happy about that. What were you talking about when I came in?"

"Another thing we could do is to make our magical, ah, connection, known. That should explain to everyone why we're getting married now, and would satisfy Mrs. Weasley's condition. Of course, some people will claim we're making it up and will still accuse Ginny of being pregnant. Some people just think the worst of others no matter what. Take Rita Skeeter for example."

"You mentioned something about danger. Why were you thinking that?"

"Well, Dad, I'm afraid that if people knew about our connection, then some loony would try to hurt me by hurting Ginny. And once the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, our connection would be known for the rest of our lives, not for just the next year," Harry explained.

"Hmm, I see your point. Considering how long it takes to put a wedding together, I guess that means it will have to be next summer." the father commented.

"Oh no, Dad," Ginny contradicted him. "We're planning a very small wedding. Just family and a few friends. It could be here, but at The Burrow would be better, as some of our friends aren't cleared for the Fidelius Charm here. By having such a simple wedding, we probably only need a couple of weeks to get it all in order."

"I see, but your mother is still not going to give her permission without you making her happy."

"Though Ginny isn't too keen about it, there is one other possibility," Harry threw out. "We treat this like a rumour. You can't control a rumour, but you can redirect one and minimise the damage."

"Interesting... What did you have in mind?" Arthur had no idea what Harry could do.

"My thought was to instead of waiting for the reporters to come to us and ask tricky questions for which there is no right answer, we go to the reporters. Or really, we go to one reporter we can trust to help us."

"How about Luna's dad?" Ginny suggested. "Assuming we can trust any reporter," she added under her breath.

"Yeah, he helped me get the real story of Voldemort's return out. Maybe he'd help here too. Hmm..." Harry thought about that for a moment. "Anyway, the goal is tell people we're getting married because we want to, and to make sure we bring up the subject of children. And we're going to say that we do want some, but we want them in four or five years because we have some other things to do first. We don't even have to say what, just say that we have plans that are easiest carried out if we don't have children."

"Very interesting Harry. That just might work. Let's explore this some more later. Ginny, it's half past six, so if we hurry, we might make it home before your mum wakes up."

Ginny gave Harry a quick kiss and left. With the help of her dad, she avoided trouble with her mother, though she paid the price by being very tired all day.


Thu 31 Jul 1997

Ginny's alarm clock went off at fifteen before four in the morning. She slapped at it as she tried to remember why it had gone off that early. She vaguely remembered putting a silencing charm on her room so the alarm would not wake anyone else. She wondered what Harry was doing now, then she remembered.

Harry had told her to come over at four for an outing, though he had not said what they would be doing. All her pestering had got her was a "You won't be sorry" answer. Ten minutes later, she had done the bare essentials in order to leave. Besides him providing breakfast, he had also told her they would not be seeing anyone else, so she did not have to worry about looking extra nice.

A couple of minutes before the appointed time, she left a note on the kitchen table to tell her mum she would be back before lunch. She had told her mum yesterday she was going out with Harry for the morning, though she had purposefully failed to say it would be this early. That done, she Flooed to Harry's house.

"Happy birthday Harry," she told him just before she kissed him good morning.

Harry was waiting for her, along with a picnic basket and a blanket. "Thanks, Gin."

"Isn't it going to be hard to have a picnic breakfast in the dark?" She had to ask.

He smiled at her. "Don't worry. We have something to do, and by the time we're done, the sun will be coming up and we'll have a leisurely breakfast. Come on." He grabbed her hand and led her out the front door. Grabbing her tightly around the waist with one hand, he concentrated, and they Disapparated away.

As they came back into normal space in what looked like a park, Ginny rounded on him. "Harry, that wasn't nice. You should have warned me. That felt awful."

"Yeah, Apparition isn't nearly as pleasant when you're not the one in control, but it is nice to be able to go where you want, when you want."

"Hey, wait a minute. You don't have your license yet. I can't afford to get in trouble like this. Even Dad would have a fit about this." She was concerned about getting into trouble since he worked for the Ministry of Magic.

"It's OK, Ginny. I will get my license this afternoon. But when you think about it, licensing is to make sure you've received the proper training. They can't really track Apparition, or they would have caught the Death Eaters far too easily. Anyway, no talking above a whisper until we get back home," Harry cautioned her as he led her down the street.

"Where's here, Harry?"

"We're in Little Whinging. I'm about to have give a small birthday present to myself."

"What are you going to do?"

"I'm about to casually cause a nightmare," he confessed with a mischievous whisper. "We want to go over here," he said and pointed to a spot that was surrounded on both sides by bushes. Harry spread the blanket on the ground, then proceeded to make himself comfortable. "Come on, sit down," he commanded her.

She sat, though she also expressed her doubt. "Harry, we can't just have a picnic in some Muggle's yard."

"Sure we can," he told her confidently. "I'm going to do a few things, then I'll put an area Disillusionment Charm over us, and we can have breakfast and admire my handiwork." With that said, a look of concentration came over him, he held out his hands towards the house across the street and whispered a spell.

At first, Ginny did not notice anything different about the house, until she looked closely at the woodwork. The paint was now peeling very badly. "Harry, why are to doing things to that house? You're not going to be hurting any Muggles, are you? That will get you into very big trouble."

"No worries, Ginny. No Muggles will be physically hurt with my work, though I do hope mental and emotional distress will result." He next caused some of the roofing to disappear, followed by some shutters losing a hinge, which caused them to hang very crookedly.

"Harry, you didn't tell me why you're specifically targeting that house."

Another spell caused the bushes on one side of the house to grow wildly, while yet another spell caused some of the others to appear dead. "That, my dear Ginny, is the home of one Vernon Dursley -- abusive uncle extraordinaire." He put out his hand again and the grass in the front garden grew to be nearly two feet tall.

"Oh," was all she said. She had heard a few stories about his childhood. In some ways, she was surprised that he was not trying to physically hurt his relatives. She thought that perhaps he felt this to be a worse sort of punishment , so she just sat there and watched him work.

Large holes appeared in the front garden, while the pavement leading to the front door now undulated as if good-sized roots were underneath pushing up. The car in the front driveway took on multiple colors, one on each panel, as if it was put together with spare parts. She also noticed that all four wheels disappeared and the car was lowered to the ground. Harry had sweated to make that happen without too much noise. As he seemed to be finishing up, holes appeared in the windows, as if rocks had been thrown through them, and the front door opened and bent, so it would not close properly again. His last act was to conjure a sign for the front garden so everyone could see it. The sign read "Condemned".

"There, now some cover for us." He did another spell, and the world around them went slightly out of focus, though she could still make out most objects and read the new sign. "You want to walk out towards the sidewalk to make sure it all works?"

She got up and walked towards the street. A few feet beyond the blanket, she felt like she had passed through a cool barrier. Turning around, all she saw was grass and bushes. Smiling, she walked back to where she knew he was, and after going through the barrier again, she saw him and all their stuff. Sitting down beside him, she whispered, "Very nice Harry. I assume you plan to stay here and see their reaction."

"I wouldn't miss it. Want some juice?" He started digging in the picnic basket. The sky was starting to lighten.

It took another hour, but the neighbourhood started to wake up. Not long after lights started coming on in the surrounding houses, a few cars started to come down the street as they took their owners to work. Every one of them slowed in front of the Dursley's. Harry smiled to himself.

A little before seven, a shout came out from the house in front of them. There was Vernon Dursley standing red-faced while he looked out over his front garden. When he saw his car, his face became scarlet and purple, and he started cursing up a storm as well.

"Yes!" Harry quietly hissed. Ginny grinned with him. The next hour was priceless to Harry.

When all three of the Dursleys were outside, Harry whispered to Ginny. "Wait here, I need to do one last thing to the inside of the house, then we can go."

"What are you going to do, Harry?" she asked with a bit of worry in her voice.

"Pack up and wait for me," he answered, before he pulled out his Invisibility Cloak and put it on. Watching carefully, she saw a path being made in the grass away from where the Dursleys were arguing about what had happened and what to do about it. After a while, the front door moved slightly on its own, so she knew he was inside. She packed up all their things and put the blanket on top of the basket.

Deciding she could do more, she concentrated very carefully and wandlessly shrunk the basket and blanket. She put them into her pocket and continued to wait. All that work to learn how to do wandless magic was starting to pay off, though she was not nearly as good as Harry was.

A couple of minutes later, she heard a small explosion come from inside the house. That worried her greatly. She wondered what to do when she heard, "Ready to leave?" next to her.

"Harry?"

His head appeared. "In person, Gin. Where's our stuff? We can't leave any evidence behind."

"I wandlessly shrunk it and put it in my pocket."

"That's my girl. Here, let's get you under my cloak so I can take down our Disillusionment Charm and leave."

"Harry, what was the explosion?"

"Oh that." He smiled. "That was the sound of my, ah, bedroom for the first eleven years of my life being destroyed. They seemed to have stored some nasty cleaners in there that spontaneously combusted -- a shame really."

A minute later, they were back at Grimmauld Place. It was only half past eight. Sirius was not up yet, so they occupied themselves with each other for an hour before Ginny left him for the morning.

---

That evening, Harry and Sirius both Apparated to the Burrow, Harry having passed his Apparition test already. The new license was in his pocket. Inside, he found the Weasleys, including Bill, Fred, and George. Hermione, Neville, and Luna were there too.

He had a good time during dinner. It was the sort of evening he truly enjoyed: being normal with friends and family. Though he had requested no presents from everyone, he got a very small box from all his school friends.

"Go on Harry, open it," Ron encouraged him.

"Ron, I told everyone, no presents. I just wanted to spend time with people."

"It's really not much Harry," Neville told him. "Just a very small something for being our friend."

Not knowing what else to do, he opened it. He could have been knocked over with a feather. Harry turned it over several times, looking at it in wonder. "Is this for real? No, wait, you guys made this up."

"Why would we make that up, Harry?" Hermione asked. "You're famous. Surely you knew it was only a matter of time."

Harry did not know what to do with his own Chocolate Frog card, but there he was, receiving the Order of Merlin award and waving at himself.

"Here's something else for you, Harry." Ginny handed him a book wrapped in a ribbon and a bow.

This he had expected. He knew Ginny would get him something no matter what. That was just how she was.

Opening it, he found a large collection of newspaper articles. "It's every article I could find on you beating Voldemort, Harry, for both of your victories over him." As he quickly flipped thru it, he noted that the last page was not an article. It was a letter from Ginny.

He carefully closed the scrapbook, and then drew her into a hug. "Thank you, Ginny. Will you look at it with me later, and read your letter to me?" She agreed.

Harry loved them all. This is why he had defeated Voldemort.


Fri 15 Aug 1997

This was the day Ginny had dreamed of for so long, beginning when she was just ten years old, though it had been mostly a childish fantasy then. She was trying to finish getting dressed for her wedding, which was to start in half an hour. As she looked at herself in the mirror, she knew she was ready, except for the birthday presents from Harry.

She picked up the diamond earrings, necklace, and bracelets, and put them on. Harry would not say whether he had had help in picking them out, but she did like what he had got her. Looking down at her dresser, she saw her birthday present from all of her school friends. Leaning against her jewelry box was a Chocolate Frog card with her picture on it. Truth be told, she was really kind of proud of it. Not every girl got their own Chocolate Frog card. She was thankful they had used the photo from her Order of Merlin ceremony, as she thought that she looked nice in those robes.

Ginny wondered if she should go down yet, but Hermione had promised she would come get Ginny when it was time. After all, Hermione was the maid of honour.

Looking out her window onto the back garden, she saw all of her brothers, minus Ron, setting up things under her mother's watchful eye. Ron was probably with Harry.

She also saw Neville and Luna. That caused her remember the interview they had given to Mr. Lovegood yesterday. It basically went as planned, except for one small part. After Harry had "volunteered" the information about them not planning for children for at least five years, Mr. Lovegood looked at them thoughtfully for a few seconds before he asked, "Trying to prevent bad rumours Mr. Potter?"

With a smile, Harry had replied, "Just trying to make sure people know the truth, Mr. Lovegood." The newspaper owner had smiled at that and promised to help them as best he could.

As she saw a couple of her professors walk into the back garden, she heard a knock at her door. "Ready, Ginny?" Hermione asked as she stuck her head in. "Oh Ginny, you look fabulous. Harry won't be able to take his eyes off of you, not that he isn't that way all the time anyway."

Ginny giggled and went with her friend. She could see everyone assembled by the back door. Besides her whole family, Sirius and Vicky were there for Harry, as was Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks. Both couples had just announced their engagement. Of course, Bill had also recently announced his engagement too. It was to the French Tri-Wizard Champion, Fleur Delacour. Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall, along with Neville and Luna, rounded out the audience.

At the wedding arch was a man from the Ministry of Magic to marry them. Her dad had arranged that. Her brother Ron was also there, standing beside the man who made her want to do all of this: Harry James Potter. He looked entirely too handsome in his black dress robes, with his messy and sexy black hair. He stood there, shifting slightly from one foot to another, his muscular power and grace evident to her. She had so many plans for him tonight, like ...

"Ginny, are you ready?" Her dad startled her.

She looked up at him and saw her teary-eyed father. "Yes Dad, I'm ready." They started their slow march down the aisle after Hermione.

Harry was not nearly as nervous as he thought he would be, but he could not stand still either. After glaring at Ron for his "Patience, Harry" comment for what seemed like the eighth time, he looked up to see Ginny standing at the back, her dad walking over to her. She was gorgeous. No, that was too mild a word. What came after gorgeous, he wondered. Stunning, yes, that was it. Just looking at her beauty almost knocked him over. And very soon, she would be his in a way that would bind her to him, and him to her. His forever. His Ginny.

As she started to come down the aisle, he reflected that he was glad he had had only one shot of Firewhisky last night. Ron and his brothers, along with Neville, had taken him out. Harry had one shot of the fiery drink, just so he could say that he had done so, then he had not drunk one more drop for the rest of the night. He almost had to hex Ron and Charlie though, in order for him to escape becoming smashed at their insistence. He had wanted to be normal and in complete control for this day; he had wanted this day to be perfect for Ginny.

As Arthur handed her to him, Harry almost lost himself in her beautiful brown eyes right then. He wanted nothing more than to sink into her eyes and live there. Before he realised it, the official was asking him something. Knowing there was only one question to answer, he said, "I do", even though he had not heard the question. Harry put his mum's ring on her finger.

Harry heard the official ask Ginny if she, Ginevra Molly Weasley, would take this man and become his wife. She also said, "I do." She put his dad's ring on his finger. He knew what came next, and so he slowly moved towards her as the official made the pronouncement that ended the ceremony.

Their arms went around each other, their eyes closing at the last possible moment, and then their lips touched. He was kissing his wife. Nothing else in the world matter to him at that moment.

Ginny saw those beautiful green eyes close, just before she felt the kiss. No matter how much practice they had over the last year, this was a kiss she would not forget. She felt the softness of Harry's lips against hers, and more importantly, she felt Harry's magic enter her, and she released herself to him, to become one with him.

Albus Dumbledore watched the two young lovers seal their ceremony with a kiss. He was not surprised to see an aura surround them, though he was surprised at the intensity of it; he could hardly look at it. He hoped they did not pass out and collapse. After nearly half a minute, he was starting to wonder if someone was going to have to go up and attempt to pull them apart, but he also knew that was something that was potentially dangerous to the person that tried it. Fortunately, he did not have to worry any longer, because they finally parted, though they still held one another.

Slowly, they turned to the audience and seemed to remember there were others present. With embarrassed grins, they walked back down the aisle to start the reception. Before they left on their honeymoon to a remote cottage in a Muggle resort in the Swiss Alps, Albus thought he needed to go have a short talk with the official. The man needed to forget the aura he had witnessed. Albus was sure Harry and Ginny would appreciate that.


Mon 1 Sep 1997

Harry and Ginny managed to make it onto the Hogwarts Express without being accosted by any of the small army of reporters on Platform 9 ¾, but only because of multiple glamour charms, and because they pretended not to be together. They had been back in the country for only two days, just enough time to get their supplies for school and otherwise get ready to return to Hogwarts. The two were to start their sixth year classes.

On the train, they found Neville already had a compartment, so they took off their glamours and joined him.

After putting up their trunks, the three talked until Ron and Hermione joined them. As usual, Luna soon arrived, as she felt more comfortable with them than with anyone else in her own house. Because she was Head Girl, Hermione left for the front of the train as soon as she could. Harry and Ginny waited until the train started moving to make their way to the prefects' carriage.

When they neared the front car, Harry saw Hermione standing in the hallway talking to what appeared to be a Hufflepuff boy. Harry could not remember seeing him before, though he looked to be about the size of fourth or fifth year. The boy was talking a bit loudly, and they started to overhear what he was saying.

"... tell me, I'm sure all she did was flip her long hair to get his attention, then got herself pregnant to make him marry her. I doubt she even did anything useful in the fight against You-Know-Who. I'd also bet I could drop a bag of Galleons in her hand right now and she'd start going out with me instead. She's easy."

Harry saw Hermione draw her wand, but he did not wait for her. Drawing up his magic, he pointed his hand the boy and willed a spell. The Hufflepuff boy immediately started making "Eh" and other sounds, as if his mouth would not work right.

Hermione looked at Harry, but he did not have his wand out, so he merely looked at her with his best innocent face, raised his hands up to chest level and shrugged. At that time, the boy started squealing like girl and clutching at his robes. The Head Girl look back at the boy, and noticed that he now had large breasts on his chest, and he seemed to be grabbing at his pants, as if something was wrong. She looked back to Harry who was frozen in his shrug, only to see the Hufflepuff's robes suddenly transfigure into a pink bikini. The Hufflepuff filled out the string bikini like a girl, and it was immediately obvious why he was looking at his pants as if searching for something that was missing. She looked at Ginny, but her friend was just standing there with her arms on her hips, a very angry expression on her face.

About that time, Ernie Macmillan came along and saw what appeared to be one of his housemates. "Martin? Is that you?"

The boy nodded and started making unintelligible noises, as he tried to say something.

"Here, let me try to fix him," Hermione said. She did a "Finite Incantatem!", but nothing changed. He still could not talk, and he was still a girl in a tiny bikini. "I don't understand, that should have made him talk at least."

"I guess he'll have to wait until we get to school for Madam Pomfrey to fix him," Harry suggested.

"Yeah, probably so," Ernie agreed with a small chuckle. "Come on, Martin. Let's go find you a place to wait until we get to school." The Hufflepuff prefect led Martin away.

Hermione stepped up to Harry so she could talk quietly. "Harry, I'm sure you did something. If nothing else, I've seen you use that clothes-to-bikini transfiguration before," Hermione accused her friend.

"Hey, I'm sure others know that spell. Besides, I didn't even have my wand out," he defended himself just as quietly.

"Right, like that's a problem for you. I know you can do wandless magic."

"But you saw my hands the entire time Hermione. And what was that in your hand as I walked up? Hmm?" Harry asked her.

Hermione glared at him for a few more seconds before she turned around and continued her interrupted journey to the prefect cabin.

As people started moving on, Ginny leaned over to him and whispered. "That tongue sticking spell was pretty lame Harry."

"I know, but it was the first thing I could think of to shut him up that wouldn't really hurt him," he whispered back. "Your gender transfiguration was brilliant though. I'd always wondered how that could be useful," he told her with a smile.

"Thanks. I will say that your bikini transfiguration spell was a nice recovery. It really showed him, and everyone else, his, uh, problem," she smirked. "Now we'll see how he really feels about girl's problems."

"Yeah, well, I'm going to catch Martin alone sometime in the next few weeks, and while I won't hurt him, he and I are going to have a talk, and I will put 'the fear of Potter' into him," Harry told her emphatically.

"You mean 'the fear of Potters', don't you? I better be there for that Harry. It was me he was talking about."

"As you wish Ginny, but remember, he doesn't get hurt." They had come to the prefect compartment, so they entered for their meeting.

---

The Potters walked to Gryffindor tower after the start of term feast. It had been a pretty nice feast, except for seeing Martin the Hufflepuff come in near the end of it, which reminded them of what happened on the train. Ron and Neville were walking with them. Hermione was off taking care of Head Girl duties, along with Terry Boot, the new Head Boy.

Sirius had told them to expect to find a new door near the portal door to the exercise room, which was still there. That new door also hid a portal, but to one of the smaller guest rooms in the castle. Also, only they had access to it. The new door was easy to identify, so they excused themselves to check it out.

Inside the room, they found a room not much larger than Ginny's at The Burrow. But this room also had a small walk-in closet and a small private bath. Both of the Potters found it very acceptable. Ginny went over to the window and opened the curtain. Looking out, she saw the half moon reflecting on the lake. She smiled to herself at the lovely view.

Turning around, Ginny saw Harry lighting a fire in their small fireplace -- mostly for effect since it was not that cool yet. "I love it, Harry," she said as she walked over to him.

"I do too, Ginny." He could tell she was already thinking about little things she could do to the room to personalize it. He was sure that by the end of the week, the dresser would have little trinkets all over it and a few of their pictures would be prominently displayed.

"What do you say we try out the bed, Harry? You know, to make sure it's comfortable." The smirk on her face let him know that sleeping was about the last thing on her mind right now.

"Of course Gin, whatever you want tonight." They had been married just a little over two weeks, so they were sort of still on their honeymoon, or so he thought.


Tue 1 Sep 1998

It had taken Harry and Ginny nearly an hour after the start of term feast to take care of everything. The prefects seemed to have a neverending supply of questions. Part of the problem had been the new seventh year prefects for Gryffindor: Colin Creevey and Violet McWilliams. Those two had taken Harry and Ginny's places, so they were new to the job. That was part of the trials and tribulations of the Head Boy and Head Girl, or so the Potters assumed.

They finally made their way to their new quarters for the first time. While there was a small change from last year, it was not as big a deal to see them this year as their special room had been last year. After all, they had visited Hermione here many times last year.

This year, the Head rooms were theirs. In addition to the common room, which would be their living room, the Head Girl's room would be their bedroom, and the Head Boy's room would be their study area. The bathroom for the couple was also much bigger than the one they had last year. Not that they were complaining, because they had loved their "little apartment", as they had called it.

Harry took off his robe and draped it over the back of a chair. The Quidditch Captain's badge stared at him from beside his Head Boy badge. Ginny also removed her robe and placed it, and her Head Girl badge, next to his robe.

"I'm glad that's over with. I hope things will be reasonably smooth and normal this year," Harry said.

"I don't see why not," Ginny replied. "Other than all the questions, it really wasn't all that bad today."

"I suppose you have a point. I mean, we didn't find anyone insulting you on the train this year," he pointed out to her.

Ginny laughed. "After we got a hold of Martin last year and you had your little talk with him, he could hardly speak complete sentences."

Harry chuckled at the memory. "Yeah, but by the time you finished, I swear his pant leg was wet and he couldn't manage more than a whimper."

"Yes," she sighed at the fond memory. "I think we got the message across to him. Your suggestion for him to apologise to me at lunch the next day in front of everyone was a good idea. I think any doubters who were left at that point were cured."

"Seems like it," he agreed. "You know, all the Slytherin prefects seemed to be almost pleasant this year. They didn't give us a hard time at all."

"Yes, that was nice. I think the younger ones don't have the biases the older ones did. I hope I'm not being overly optimistic, but I think it will all work out." She started for the bathroom to take care of her needs there before going to bed. Harry followed her.

"I'm a little bit surprised McGonagall made me Head Girl," Ginny admitted as she finished brushing her teeth. "There were a couple of Ravenclaw girls who also had really good grades."

"She didn't dare not make you Head Girl, Ginny. After you told her last spring how much you wanted to be Head Girl, plus the fact that she knows you could hex the bun off her head off without thinking twice about it, she really didn't have a choice, did she?" Harry put his toothbrush up as well, and followed her back to the bedroom.

"I suppose you have a point," she agreed with some pride about her accomplishments. Then she switched topics on him. "You know, Harry, I can't believe what you did on the train during the prefect meeting. I really hope we got all the information across to them all, but it was hard for me to tell because I was practically in stitches half the time." She started taking the rest of her clothes off to get ready for bed.

Harry grinned at her. "I promised myself that if I ever made Head Boy, I would not have a boring meeting on the train ride." He also started getting ready for bed.

"You did that. You know, it's going to be a bit boring without Ron and Hermione around this year." She crawled into bed with nothing on, her usual nighttime dress for the last year.

"It will be different, but I'll try to think of something for us to do during our free time." Harry got into bed dressed like she was. Rolling over towards her, he leaned over her and kissed her. "I love you, Ginny. You make life worth living for."

As they broke the kiss, Ginny waved her hand and turned off all the lights. "I love you too, Harry. And Harry?"

"Hmm?"

"Because you were such a good boy with your good marks and helped get us these rooms, this night is yours for you to do whatever you want."

Memories of his wedding night came to mind. "Whatever?"

"Whatever."

"I love you, Ginny Potter!"

(-: And they lived happily ever after. :-)


A/N: I find it very sad the story is done, but it is. I really enjoyed wrting it, and I hope you enjoyed reading it.

Again, a big thanks to "GinnyMarie" for being my pre-beta, keeping me honest, and giving me a few ideas -- not to mention goading me into writing the Epilogue. :-)

Another huge thanks to to "cwarbeck" for being by beta-editor. If you thought the story "looked" good or read well, it's because of her wonderful efforts. Any remaining mistakes were all mine.

While there won't be a sequel to this story, you can read another of my stories titled "Choices", if you aren't already. My third story is finishing "alpha" now, and as soon as I can find a beta-editor and get it going, it will start uploading. It looks to be a 20 chapter story at this time. -- kb