After all this angst, I felt like I needed to write a little bit of fluff.

Harry Potter descended the stairs to the Burrow as quietly as he could, trying not to wake the house's sleeping inhabitants. They were especially crowded this Christmas Eve; the Grangers were spending Christmas with the Weasleys in order to get better acquainted with their daughter's future in-laws. Even though some members of the family, such as Bill and Fleur, weren't arriving until the next morning, it still made for cramped living. It had been almost impossible for Harry to find a way to slip a note to the person he needed to talk to without being seen. It had seemed to take forever for the rest of the household to go to bed; after what had seemed like hours of waiting, he finally heard Mrs. Weasley's familiar tread on the stairs.

He paused at the bottom landing and took a deep breath. After the final battle with Voldemort, he had thought nothing else would ever frighten him again. He was finding out now that he'd been wrong; asking this question was going to be one of the most nerve-wracking things he ever did. Mainly because if the answer was no, he didn't know what else to do with his life. Knowing it was now or never, he rounded the corner.

In the living room, Mr. Weasley sat alone in a worn armchair, lost in thought as he steepled and unsteepled his long fingers. He glanced up as Harry stood in the doorway and threw the younger man a small smile, much more reserved than the expression he normally wore.

"Have a seat, Harry," he said, nodding with his head to an empty spot on the nearby couch. Returning the smile a little nervously, Harry obliged, and Arthur continued speaking. "You wanted to see me about something?"

"Yes, sir," Harry began, then paused to collect his thoughts. Normally, Arthur would have taken advantage of the silence to admonish him for his use of 'sir', insisting on being called by his first name, but the formality of the situation seemed to dictate otherwise. "Sir, it's...it's about Ginny." He paused again, half-hoping that Arthur would jump in and say something along the lines of 'oh, of course, Harry! Go right ahead and marry her, nothing would make her mother and I happier!' but no such reassurance came.

"Yes?" the older man finally asked. Harry took another deep breath.

"I was wondering if I might ask your permission to...well, that is to say...I want to get married. To her. Ginny, I mean," he blurted out, feeling more foolish by the minute.

To his dismay, Arthur didn't reply. Instead, he took off his spectacles and began polishing them slowly, thoughtfully, on the edge of his robes. Just when Harry didn't think he could bear the silence any longer, the other man spoke.

"I had a feeling it was something like that." He replaced his glasses on his nose and gave Harry a serious, almost stern look that seemed uncharacteristic of the normally lenient father. "She's very young, you know. You both are."

"I know, sir, but we wouldn't be getting married until after school was out. And we've both been through a great deal for people our age." Harry had been afraid of this argument, and he was prepared. He was also prepared for questions on how he would support Ginny, where they would live, if he was sure he wanted to settle down so soon, and all the other stereotypical questions that fathers asked their son-in-laws-to-be.

Mr. Weasley got to his feet, making his way towards the fireplace as he spoke. "Marriage isn't always easy, Harry. It's something you have to work at. You can't give up whenever problems arise."

"Yes, sir," Harry said, sitting up a little straighter. Mr. Weasley smiled slightly at him.

"Then again, I've never known you to give up on anything before. I just want you to know what you're getting into. A man has to be there for his wife, no matter what happens. It's even more important to be there for the bad times than for the good." For a moment, the redhaired man's eyes fixed on a portrait of Fred and George, and Harry suddenly thought of Mrs. Weasley crying brokenly over Fred's body, her husband doing all that he could to console her even though his own heart must have been breaking, too.

"Harry," Arthur said, his tone a little gentler than it had been. Harry realized that Mr. Weasley's gaze had shifted, not to him, but to a picture on the mantlepiece of himself and Mrs. Weasley. Both of them were very young; Arthur's hair hadn't started to thin yet, and Molly was several pounds slimmer than Harry had ever seen her in real life. "Do you love Ginny?"

"With all my heart," Harry said, not hesitating a moment. He flushed slightly after the words escaped his mouth; he had been prepared to talk about the practical aspects of marriage, not the emotional side of things.

Arthur tore his eyes from the photograph to fix his gaze intently on Harry. "Will you love her fifty years from now as much as you do today?"

Harry met the older man's eyes without blinking. "Yes, sir."

Seconds of silence passed as Mr. Weasley studied Harry, as if making sure that he really did mean the words he spoke. Finally, the older man held out his hand with a smile.

"Then you have my blessing, Harry. I'm sure I speak for Molly and myself when I say that we'd both be delighted to have you as an official member of this family."

Harry practically leapt to his feet in his eagerness to shake Mr. Weasley's hand. "Thank you, sir. You won't regret this," he said, grinning from ear to ear.

"I know. Now, you'd better get some sleep. Andromeda's bringing Teddy by first thing in the morning, and you're the first person he'll want to see," Arthur said, grinning in a much more relaxed manner than he had been at the start of their conversation.

"Yes, sir," Harry said, and Arthur shook his head in response.

"Harry, I won't ask you to call me Dad if you don't want, but you'd better at least get used to calling me Arthur," he said. Harry paused for a moment. He had never had anyone to call Dad before; although he had no memories of his own father, he had always reserved that title for the man he'd never really known. But the Weasleys had been as good as any parents he could ever have asked for.

Before he could overthink things, Harry went with his instincts and threw his arms around Arthur in a hug. "Thanks, Dad," he said quietly.

Arthur returned the hug, smiling as they broke apart. "Just take good care of my little girl," he said. Harry nodded solemnly in response.

"I promise."

Harry retreated quickly up the stairs, knowing he wouldn't be getting much sleep that night.