It was the day Harry and Ginny were both dreading. When they went down to breakfast, her letter from Hogwarts was already on the kitchen table.
"I'm not going back," she stated firmly.
"Oh yes you are," Harry said equally as firmly. "You need to finish your education."
"But you didn't!" He towered over her, but just like the other times they fought, she refused to back down.
"Which is why you need to go back."
"But what's going to happen to us?" Harry sighed. He should have figured that that was why she wanted to stay behind.
"We'll make it work. I'll write to you everyday and you'll be back for Christmas, and maybe I'll coincidentally be in Hogsmeade the same weekends you will." Ginny smiled. She snaked her arms around his waist and buried her face in his chest.
"I'm going to miss you," she mumbled.
"I'll miss you too." She took several deeps breath as she enjoyed the feeling that being with Harry gave her.
"Umm, am I interrupting something?" Hermione asked tentatively several minutes later, completely ruining the moment.
"No," Harry replied, even though he knew that it was a lie. He turned his attention to Ginny. "Say we go to Diagon Alley together and get your school supplies?" Hermione bounced Teddy up and down on her hip.
"That sounds like fun." He slid his hand down Ginny's' back to her ass.
"Hey! Behave with the baby in the room!" Hermione scolded.
"Sorry," the young couple said in unison.
"Can you take care of Teddy for today?" Harry asked.
"Sure, Ron can play babysitter." He and Ginny looked at each other. "Don't worry; I'll keep an eye on them. You guys go and have fun."
"Lemme get my purse, and then we can go." Ginny skipped out of the kitchen with a smile plastered across her face. She looked like a little school girl, happy and cheerful.
"No problem. You guys deserve a chance to have some fun and go on a date."
"I owe you."
"I'll hold you to that." Teddy whimpered as he tried to reach something on the table with his pudgy little hand. "No, no, no, you're going to stay right here with me." Ginny returned with her purse. She could barely contain her excitement. It had been a while since she and Harry had gone out on a real date.
"Okay, Ron's still asleep," she informed Hermione.
"Don't worry, I'll tell him where you are." Ginny slid her hand into Harry's, and they Disapparated. Teddy's head whipped around as he tried to figure out where they had gone. Hermione couldn't help but laugh.
"Come on, cutie, let's get you some breakfast."
Diagon Alley was fairly crowded for a weekday morning. as Harry and Ginny walked down the street hand in hand, people stared and whispered to their friends, but the couple simply ignored them. For the first time being out in the public eye since the Last Battle, things weren't all that bad. The first stop of the day was to get Ginny's new school books.
"You have your list, right?" Harry asked.
"Damn, I knew I forgot something." His face fell. Ginny smiled up at him. "Don't worry, I'm only joking. I have it in my purse." She pulled out a piece of parchment and handed it over. "Merlin, you need to lighten up!"
"You better be." She paused. "Now, let's get started so we can get this over with."
A little while later, Ginny was browsing though the selves of worn books in search of the books on her supply list when she felt Harry's arms snake around her waist. He rocked her side to side slightly.
"Do you know how amazing you are?" he whispered in her ear. His warm breath tickled her flesh, sending shivers down her spine.
"I've been told that once or twice."
"Well it's true." He planted small, loving kisses on her cheek and neck.
"Harry! People are watching us!" Ginny shrieked.
"And?" She let out a frustrated sigh as she continued to scan the selection of books for the necessary titles.
"Ah-ha! Found it!" She grabbed the last book with her free hand and added it to the stack in her arms. Harry gently attempted to pry the pile from her arms.
"Here, I've got it."
"Harry, no," she attempted to argue.
"Ginny, give me the books. I'll take care of it for you." He pried the books out of her hands and walked to the cashier before the heated discussion could escalate to a full-blown argument.
When Harry and Ginny got to the street outside, they were greeted with a dreamy voice calling out, "Harry! Ginny!" Luna rushed over and gave both of her friends a hug. "What are you doing here?"
"Shopping for school," Ginny replied with an over-dramatic, disappointed tone. Luna, however, was all smiles.
"Same here." Right away, Harry could tell that she and Ginny were going to want to talk for a while.
"Hey Gin, I'll be back, 'kay?"
"Yeah, okay." He gave her a quick goodbye kiss, said goodbye to Luna and disappeared down the crowded street. His goal was the small knickknack shop at the end of the street. He wandered around the shop looking for something special to give Ginny before she left for Hogwarts. A beautiful heart pendant on a delicate matching chain caught his attention. It was perfect; there was no doubt about it. He grabbed it off the shelf and paid for it quickly.
On his way back to Ginny and Luna, Harry passed by George's shop. Remembering his promise to Bill, he went inside.
"Welcome to-Harry!" George exclaimed when he saw Harry. The two exchanged a brotherly embrace. "What brings you here?"
"Ginny and I are shopping." He paused. "And your family is worried about you." George clenched and relaxed his jaw several times before answering.
"Ahh, you're my latest babysitter."
"No, I'm just a concerned friend who's here to help you." Shrugging, George went back to work. Harry trailed after him; he refused to give up just like that. He remembered what he had been like after Sirius' death.
"I don't need help, I'm fine," the older one argued. Harry helped him unload a box of new merchandise.
"Do you want to talk about it?" He didn't get an answer right away, and he didn't push it. Things were going to happen in their own good time…with some prompting of course.
"Does the dull, aching pain ever go away?" George sounded like a lost child, and his eyes reflected that.
"Not completely, but it does fade. You lost your twin brother, its okay to be upset."
"It's not that I'm upset, I wish that I could change everything. I wish that it had been me or that I could go back in time and change it all."
"You can't though, believe me, I'd probably be in line ahead of you to do that."
"I know," George replied sadly.
"So you have to move on. Stop burying yourself in your work and go see your family." He smiled slightly at the thought of spending time with his family.
"Yeah, thanks, Harry."
"Anytime. Now, I should really get back to Ginny before she thinks that I went home. See you later, George."
"See 'ya, Harry." As Harry left the shop, he noticed a new glow around George. Already, he was feeling better.
When Harry got back to Ginny, she had her face pressed against the window of the broomstick shop.
"Where's Luna?" he asked, causing her to jump and spin around. Her face softened when she saw who it was.
"She had to go." Ginny turned her attention back to the display in the window. "Wouldn't it be cool to get one of those little brooms for Teddy?"
"Maybe for Christmas, Sirius gave me my first broom for Christmas, so it'll be like keeping the tradition alive." Ginny pouted.
"Yeah, that way he's a little older. Besides, he may have inherited his mother's grace." She couldn't help but laugh at the thought of Tonks riding a broomstick without some sort of mishap.
"Merlin I hope not." Harry entwined his fingers with hers.
"Come on, let's go." They began to walk down the street together without a care in the world.
As they walked pas the Animal Menagerie, Ginny asked, "Are you going to get a new owl sometime soon?" Harry shrugged.
"I dunno, Gin, why?"
"Because how will you get your letters to me if you don't have an owl? Are you seriously going to trust Pig?" He stopped walking and planted a soft kiss on her forehead.
"I promise you that I'll get a reliable owl before you leave." Satisfied, Ginny began to walk again.
Back at Grimmauld Place, Teddy was playing with his toys on the floor in the parlor while Ron and Hermione cuddled on the couch. There was a knock on the front door. Teddy's head whipped around with confusion written across his face as he tried to figure out where the noise was coming from.
"I'll get it," Ron offered as he untangled himself from Hermione and left the room. When he answered the door, he found his mother standing on the front stoop. "Are you here to yell at us some more?" he demanded much more rudely than was probably necessary. Mrs. Weasley looked extremely uncomfortable.
"May I come in? I want to talk to you and Hermione." He looked reluctant to let her in but finally buckled. It took a lot of guts to go back after making a mistake; he of all people knew that.
"Yeah, sure." Mrs. Weasley followed her son inside and to the parlor while going over what she wanted to say in her head.
In the parlor, Hermione was now on the floor playing with Teddy. She looked up when she heard Ron. Her face fell when she saw Mrs. Weasley. She got to her feet and adjusted her robes just to give her something to do with her hands.
"Hermione, I'm sorry for my attitude the other day," Mrs. Weasley started.
"Really, its fine," Hermione insisted because it was the polite thing to do.
"Not it's not!" Ron cried out. "You can't show up out of the blue and tell us how to live our lives!"
"I'm just trying to look out for you two. I don't want you guys to rush into anything you're not prepared for." By now Ron was seething.
"I love this woman with all my heart, and if you can't accept that, then that's too damn bad!"
"Ronald!" Hermione scolded. There was absolute silence in the room for a few seconds. She caught her breath and tried to figure out where to go next. "Please stop fighting. I don't want you guys to be fighting over me." She turned her attention to Mrs. Weasley. There were fresh tears running down the older woman's cheeks. "I love Ron, Mrs. Weasley, I really do. I don't know what I'd do without him. I'm sorry if you can't accept that. You're like a mother to me, and I appreciate that you're worried about us." She turned to Ron. "And you, you of all people should understand how difficult this had to be for your mother. Don't get mad at her over something like this." With her pleas still hanging in the air, Hermione rushed out of the room with her face buried in her hands.
Teddy cooed as he hugged his teddy bear to his chest, breaking the uncomfortable silence that he settled over the room.
"Mum, I'm sorry for yelling at you," Ron said quietly. "I was out of line."
"No you weren't. I guess I was worried that you were both going too fast. Hermione's a very special woman with a good head on her shoulders, and she's lucky to have you." Ron's face turned bright red.
Hermione sat alone in the kitchen with her head in her hands. She heard footsteps in the foyer and Ron saying goodbye to Mrs. Weasley, so she decided to go back upstairs. By the time she got up to the foyer, Mrs. Weasley was gone.
"Come here, babe," Ron cooed when he saw her, and he opened up his arms, inviting her closer. She happily wrapped her arms around his lean waist and rested her head on his chest. The steady beating of his heart was incredibly soothing to her. it was what calmed her down after one of her nightmares. He ran his fingers up and down her back, causing her to shiver. "Are you okay now?"
"Uh-huh…I just don't like you guys fighting over me." He tipped her face up to look at him with his two fingers.
"You're worth fighting for, got it?' He ran his thumb over her soft, moist cheeks. "I love you, and I'll always put up a fight for you." Hermione smiled weakly.
"I love you too."
At Diagon Alley, Harry and Ginny were just wandering around, window shopping. While she was busy looking in a window, he pulled out the necklace and fastened it around her neck.
"What the-" She reached up and fingered the gift as she turned around. She looked deep into his enchanting eyes. He looked like a young school boy in love. "Oh Harry, it's beautiful," she breathed as she carefully examined it. It was simple, yet stunning.
"It's for you for when you go back to Hogwarts so you can remember me."
"I love it!" Ginny threw her arms around his neck and pressed their lips together. As he happily returned the kiss, Harry couldn't help but think how everything had worked out for the best in the end.