It was hours after the battle before they finally managed to drag themselves back to the Burrow. Harry had hoped to stay in Gryffindor Tower, but there wasn't enough left of it to sleep there. The tower had been the only true home he'd ever known and its destruction, added to far worse tragedies, seemed to fall on Harry in one enormous mind-numbing pile. He was just too exhausted to face it all.
Mrs. Weasley made chamomile tea for everyone and they sat in stunned silence at the kitchen table, staring at the steaming mugs. Mr. Weasley silently passed around a bottle of Ogden's and everyone, even Ginny, poured some in their tea. George disappeared up the stairs almost immediately, followed shortly thereafter by Ginny and Hermione. Finally, Harry managed to get to his feet and began the seemingly endless climb up the stairs with Ron dragging slowly behind him. When they finally made it to Ron's room, Harry fell face first across the cot without even bothering to take off his clothes or shoes.
Downstairs, Ginny lay on her back staring at the ceiling. She was so exhausted she didn't understand why she couldn't sleep. The whiskey, which now lay warm in her belly, wasn't helping at all, but she knew it was supposed to. She could tell from Hermione's breathing that she wasn't asleep either. Ginny wondered if the boys were faring any better. The moment she thought of him, Harry was all she could think about. Suddenly, it seemed unbearable being separated from him.
She sat up in bed. "This is ridiculous!"
Hermione came up on one elbow. "What are you—?"
Ginny ignored her. She grabbed her wand and pulled on her dressing gown and marched out of the room. She tiptoed up the stairs, careful to avoid the steps that creaked. She didn't even bother to knock on Ron's door, and opened it to find Ron sitting up in bed staring at his hands. Harry was face down on his cot.
Ron looked up her.
"Hermione needs you," she said.
Ron leapt to his feet, his wand flying from the nightstand into his hand. "What's happened?"
Ginny held up her palms. "She needs you," she said soothingly. She tilted her head toward Harry. "He needs me."
Ron paused for a moment and Ginny was afraid he was going to protest. Instead, he just nodded and moved past her, quietly closing the door behind him.
Harry didn't stir. Ginny pulled her wand from her dressing gown pocket and Impervioused the door, then she transfigured the camp cot into a simple, wooden-framed, double bed. There was barely room for it in Ron's cramped bedroom, so Ginny transfigured Ron's bed into a chair and pushed it aside. Harry slept through all her work. Finally, she pulled off her dressing gown and then slipped her nightgown over her head, and dropped them next to the bed, with her wand on top. She slipped in next to Harry and pulled up the covers. Now, she could sleep.
Downstairs, Ron tapped lightly on Ginny's bedroom door. He was anxious to see Hermione but nervous that she might not appreciate the intrusion - he wondered if he might be better off sleeping downstairs on the old sofa, but he'd already knocked.
Hermione opened the door, and stood there in a blue, cotton nightgown. Ron tried unsuccessfully not to notice it was V-necked, with lace on the collar that showed just a hint of cleavage and the top of a pale white scar. His eyes darted back up to hers and it seemed like they stood there for a long time just staring at each other.
"Ginny said you needed me," Ron whispered. He could feel himself blush as he said it.
"Always," Hermione whispered back. She took his hand and gently tugged. He closed the door behind him; she stepped into his arms. He held her and rested his cheek against the top of her head. He reveled in the feel of her, warm and solid and alive in his arms. For a moment, he remembered her screaming at Malfoy Manner and he held her tighter, crushing her breasts against his ribs as the side of her face pressed into his chest.
They stood like that for a long time. "I don't reckon Ginny's coming back," Ron murmured.
Hermione pulled away from him, her eyes wide. "Not surprising, I guess."
Ron shifted on his feet. "I could…sleep in Gin's bed…if you'd like."
Hermione furrowed her brow.
Ron knew that look. She was considering, deciding. He didn't dare guess the outcome of her deliberations. After all, he'd abandoned her with Harry in the middle of nowhere and taken ages to get back to her. She'd been rightly furious, but then they'd been friends again, and finally, a few hours ago, they'd kissed, a proper passionate kiss—but was that just the heat of battle? He knew he wanted that again—wanted all of her really, as much as she was willing to give—but now, here in this darkened bedroom, it all seemed a little fast. If it seemed a little fast for him, surely, she must feel it was way too fast, right? He knew Harry and Ginny had gone passed this point when they were together at Hogwarts last year. He assumed they were upstairs picking up where they'd left off, but as Hermione bit her lip, he had no idea how his evening was going to go.
Harry had to pee. He didn't even bother putting on his glasses before stumbling to the loo in the darkness - his feet knew the way. It wasn't until he was washing his hands that he was awake enough to realize he'd actually gotten out of bed and wasn't just dreaming.
When he returned to Ron's room a few minutes later, the moon had come out and he could see that the room was not at all as it had been. For a moment, he thought he'd taken a wrong turn, but Ron's was the only room on the fifth floor. There was a body in the bed, a big double bed—not the camp cot, and not Ron's single that had been there before. There was also a chair where there had never been a chair. He started to wonder if he was dreaming after all, especially as he moved closer to the bed and saw what looked like Ginny curled on her side asleep. He reached for his glasses, hooking them over his ears in a gesture that was sure to wake him, but instead he saw clearly Ginny's bare back, pale and smooth in the moonlight.
Downstairs, Hermione sat down on the edge of her bed. "I don't…"
Ron understood her reluctance, but he couldn't help feeling disappointed. He was trying to think of something sensitive to say when she completely surprised him.
"I don't want to sleep alone," she said quietly.
His disappointment melted away and Ron couldn't help the grin that spread across his face.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Don't jump to conclusions, Ron."
The grin disappeared.
Hermione chuckled softly. "Boys. Sex is ever present with you lot, isn't it?"
Ron sat next to her on the bed. "An expert on blokes now, are you?"
"Well," Hermione shrugged, "I was Harry briefly last year. It's very distracting being male, what with everything all out in front, dangling between your legs, ready to pop up at any moment. It's not all tucked away like our bits. No wonder you two could never concentrate in school."
Ron was torn between laughing or being utterly disturbed at how familiar Hermione had apparently become with Harry's body. He decided that was a path he didn't want his mind to travel. "Well," he said, leaning toward her. "I like that your bits are all tucked away. Gives me something to go looking for, eh?"
"Ron!" she said, in a loud whisper, swatting him lightly on the arm, but she didn't pull away.
He decided to be bold and leaned in further to capture her lips with his own. Her soft sigh as she pressed against him let him know he'd made the right choice.
Upstairs, Harry stood staring at his bed, still not quite sure he wasn't dreaming. He decided he didn't care. He pulled his glasses off and set them on Ron's dresser. If this was a dream, it was a good one. He slipped out of his clothes and slid into bed, hesitating a moment before curling himself around Ginny, his belly against her back. As his cock settled into the cleft of her bottom, he couldn't hold back a low moan. She stirred and he bit his lip, sad for the loss of contact and sure she would say he'd taken liberties. Instead, she rolled over in his arms and slid her hand up the side of his face. She pulled him into a kiss. Her mouth was warm and wet, and his heart sang with the joy of it. Her breasts grazed his chest and his hand went instantly to cover one of them. It was her turn to moan. Oh, how he'd missed touching her. As her hand slid down his belly to grip him, he was awash with delicious sensation. This was so much better than at school with all the fumbling through heavy robes. He couldn't get enough of her, and she seemed to feel the same. They kept bumping into each other in their hurry, so frantic to touch and kiss and lick that they were clumsy. Finally, he got a good grip on her and rolled over on to his back. She sat up, straddling his belly, and looked down at him. He knew when her gaze stopped at the burned flesh and massive bruise on his chest. She moved her hand and he was afraid she was going to touch it, but instead she slid the backs of her fingers along the unmarred flesh around the wound and looked up at him.
"You really died," she whispered, her bottom lip trembling ever so slightly.
"I got better," Harry whispered back. "I feel very much alive right now." He moved his hands up her thighs and she slid lower on his body until he was between her legs where it was hot and wet, and the enormity of it hit him, and it seemed oddly more significant than his recent death. He looked up at her. Ginny seemed to have the same thought. She panted as she gazed down at him.
"I…" Harry faltered. "Are you sure?"
She didn't answer, but instead held out her hand and called her wand. She cast a non-verbal spell and there was a momentary glow. She dropped her wand. She reached between them to shift him into position and, without a word, sank down on him. Harry was overwhelmed with the hot, wet grip of it. This was better than her hand, better than her mouth even. This was amazing. Without thinking, he thrust up and deeper inside her. Her low moan stilled him.
"Are you alright?" he gasped.
Ginny bit her lip. She was luminescent. Her red hair spilled over her shoulders and was black against her pale body in the moonlight. She paused for a moment, steadying herself with a hand on his chest, she nodded and then she did something wonderful: she tilted her hips and slid back and then a little forward. The sensation, that bit of friction, shot through every nerve in his body and Harry was happy, so very happy, to be alive.
Downstairs, Ron was trying not to do anything stupid that might stop what was happening between him and Hermione. The kiss had turned into a proper snog as they lay facing each other on their sides. Ron's hand rested on her waist beneath her nightgown. He longed to move it further up to cup her breast, which kept grazing against him as they kissed. Hermione was quite good at kissing, he thought. Her mouth was not so slack as Lavender's had been. She explored with intention, nipping at his lips, running her tongue along his. Her hand was flat against his chest under his T-shirt. They had been at this for several minutes and his elbow was starting to go numb supporting his weight. He wondered if hers was doing the same. He knew it was when she rolled on to her back, the hand on his chest grazing his nipple as she tugged him with her without breaking their kiss. He'd thought at first that the nipple graze had been accidental, but as they settled down with him half on top of her, her fingers returned to circle the hard, little pebble of flesh, and he started to wonder if perhaps that was some sort of signal that she'd like him to do the same to her. Slowly, watching for any signs that she didn't want him doing this, he moved his hand to cup her breasts and let his thumb graze her nipple. She pulled her mouth away from his and he was about to move his hand when he heard her gasp, "Oh, Ron."
His own name said in such a sexy manner was almost his undoing, but he rallied and did something he had longed to do since he'd first noticed she had breasts. He shifted her gown and put his lips where his fingers had been. Hermione's back arched and her hips pressed into his, grinding against him. Ron slipped his other hand beneath her gown to worry her other breast while his tongue and teeth continued where they were. As Hermione writhed against him he marveled at her reaction. Lavender's breasts had been really nice, quite large—larger than Hermione's—but although he'd had his hands on them often enough, it had never elicited anything near this response. He kept at her until finally between his shifting and her squirming he lay nestled between her legs. They both moaned. Now that he'd given her something adequate to grind against, her pace quickened. Despite his pajamas and her knickers still separating them, she soon lay shuddering beneath him and he'd made a mess in the front of his pajama bottoms.
There was a moment of awkward silence. Hermione shifted up on to her elbows lowering her nightgown over her breasts in the process. "Um, that was…"
"Brilliant!" Ron finished for her and grinned.
She smiled back at him and nodded.
He leaned over and kissed her softly on the lips. "I love you, you know that?"
She pressed her palm against his cheek and kissed him almost chastely. "I love you too."
Ron, suddenly feeling serious, pressed his forehead against hers. "And I'm sorry. I'm sorry for every boneheaded thing I've ever done to you, most especially for abandoning you and Harry in the woods."
Hermione shook her head. "You came back. Rather spectacularly, actually." She was smiling, but there were tears in her eyes.
Ron gave her a half grin, but it quickly disappeared. "And I'm sorry I couldn't stop them, at the Malfoy's, from taking you. I'm so sorry." To his chagrin, a tear fell. He pressed his face against her neck so she couldn't see him cry.
"You couldn't have stopped that. It's not your fault," she whispered in his ear. He could feel her tears falling against his ear, and he couldn't stop his own, so they lay there for a long time, softly crying and clinging to each other.
Upstairs, Ginny lay slumped forward on Harry's chest as he gently stroked her hair. "I'm so glad you're back," she murmured against his skin.
Harry grinned and kissed the top of her head. "Me too," he whispered. "I've really missed you."
She kissed his chest and shifted into a more comfortable position for sleeping. "I've missed you too." She looked at Ron's alarm clock. "Oi, wake me in three hours."
The alarm clock winked at her. "Righto!"
Three hours later, Ginny slipped silently down the stairs. She paused outside her bedroom listening for any signs of movement before cracking the door. Ron and Hermione were spooned together and sound asleep on Hermione's bed.
Ginny walked over and gently nudged Ron's shoulder.
Bleary-eyed, he looked up at her. "Wha—"
"Mum's had a rough enough time of it lately without us giving her a heart attack on top of it, don't you think?" Ginny whispered.
Ron nodded, kissed Hermione's shoulder, and started to ease himself off the bed so as not to wake her. Ginny was already curled under the covers of her own bed as he walked out the door.
He made his way up the stairs as quietly as he could. He opened the door to his bedroom with some trepidation, but it looked much the same as it had when he left it, only Harry was shirtless, probably naked, and sprawled on his back on the tiny camp cot with a blanket thrown over the lower half of his body. Ron looked at his own bed and back at the cot. He sincerely hoped Ginny had transfigured something or at least had had the decency to clean up if they'd used his bed. He knew they couldn't possibly have gone at it on that rickety cot. Ron stripped off his pajama bottoms and pulled on a fresh pair before crawling back into bed. The sun was starting to come up and the first rays crossed the room to illuminate Harry's torso with its massive cursed wound and two love bites, one on his shoulder and the other much lower on his stomach.
Ron didn't want to think about how they got there and whether there might be others. Still, if his baby sister had to be shagging some bloke, better it was a good bloke and he didn't know of a better man than Harry.