They did not make love right away, although if they had admitted it to each other, it was on both of their minds. But as they came out of the Mirror room, holding hands and with faces shining with thoughts of each other, Harry knew that the rest of that day would probably be taken up with family and talk and very little time alone. Indeed, Hermione immediately stood up from the desk where she had been deep in conversation with several Unspeakables and rushed towards them with a look of expectant joy on her face. There was no need for explanation as she launched herself into their arms.
Ron, typically, was a little more subdued. All he said to Harry was, "All right, mate?" At Harry's nod, Ron cuffed him lightly on the arm and turned to his sister. "You okay?"
Ginny smiled at her brother. "More than okay."
"Well, okay then." Ron turned back to Harry the look on his face half smirking, half serious. "But if you ever . . ."
There was no need for him to complete the sentence. Harry held up his hands in mock surrender. "Never again. Don't worry." He turned serious himself for a moment.
"And Ron, umm, thanks. For trusting me."
Ron shrugged, embarrassed but pleased. And then, "Hey, you think mum has dinner waiting?"
Harry and Ginny barely strayed more than two or three steps from each other for the rest of the evening. Having found themselves, and each other, again, neither wanted to be apart from the other more than absolutely necessary. Harry felt like he had during his Sixth Year, in the first days after he and Ginny kissed: giddy with happiness, disbelieving his good fortune, and wanting to get Ginny alone as soon as possible for a good snog session. From the look in Ginny's eyes and the gentle touches she unconsciously gave him, a hand on his back, a quick peck on the cheek, Harry knew she felt the same way, and it warmed him to the deepest core of his being.
Harry was sure the other Weasleys noticed that each of them were eating dinner with only one hand while their others were clasped under the table, but no one commented. At least until Ginny, trying valiantly to eat with her left hand (she had refused Harry's offer to switch places), put her elbow into the butter dish.
"Honestly, sis, I thought your manners were 'butter' than that." George looked up from his own meal, his face a mask of seriousness. He had been so quiet that most at the table were momentarily unsure of his meaning. Ron was the first to break the silence with his snort, and soon the whole table was laughing, Ginny loudest of all. It felt so normal to Harry that he could barely stand it for a moment. He squeezed Ginny's hand tightly under the table and felt her squeeze back in understanding.
After everyone helped clear the table Molly shooed everyone away and set the dishes to washing before she joined them in the living room. Just as the night before, everyone relaxed into their activities and quiet conversations, but this time, Harry didn't feel uncomfortable or out of place. After sneaking an extra biscuit off the plate Molly had brought in, he walked over to where Ginny was standing, watching Ron and George, as they bent over an inventory list from the shop.
He came to stand behind her, his hands on her shoulders giving them a gentle massage. But even that little space between them felt too great, and she slowly backed into him, her back melding into his body, his chin coming to rest on her head. And he stood there silently for a moment, eyes closed, just . . . feeling. He couldn't have told anyone what he was thinking about, as he took long, slow breaths above her. He wasn't aware of when his arms left her shoulders and snaked around her front to clasp together just above her waist. He just felt right. For the first time in almost a year.
Although Harry went up to bed at the same time the rest of the family began saying goodnight, he knew he was not going to be able to sleep. Not even bothering to wait until Ron was fully snoring, Harry snuck out of bed and tiptoed down the stairs to Ginny's room. She must have been expecting him because he had barely made the landing when her door opened and Hermione slipped out, giving him a smile and touching his arm before disappearing up the way he had just come down.
Ginny was wearing pajamas and her robe, sitting on her still made bed. Harry went over and took her hand, quietly asking, "Do you want to take a walk?" She smiled and nodded and stepped into her slippers before silently following him out of her room and down the stairs.
In the kitchen, Harry grabbed bottles of pumpkin juice and the rest of the biscuits before carefully easing open the door and walking with Ginny into the balmy night.
There was no need for words as they followed the familiar path back to the pond. Instead of sitting on the bench this time, Harry conjured up a large blanket and several pillows on the grassy bank. He lay down and Ginny snuggled into him, her head comfortably on his chest, her breathing coming to match his.
After a couple of minutes of comfortable quiet, Harry spoke.
"I . . . I just can't believe we are here, I mean, after everything. Has it really only been four days?"
"More like a year and four days," responded Ginny, referring to their time apart. "But these last ones were definitely the worst."
"How about we never speak of them again?" Harry wanted nothing more than to forget it all, except for the fact that knowing what he had almost lost made him appreciated it that much more.
"Deal," said Ginny contentedly.
Another period of silence, while Harry tried to gather his thoughts for what he wanted to say next.
"Ginny?" The hesitation in his voice must have been obvious, no matter how he tried to mask it, for Ginny moved slightly against him and her voice had a slight air of alertness to it as she responded.
Quietly. "Ginny, I . . . I can promise you forever now."
She sat up then and looked into his eyes and Harry hastened to explain.
"Not that we need to, now, I mean . . . I don't want to rush anything or make you feel, uncomfortable or pressured or . . ."
Harry couldn't speak any more as Ginny had covered his mouth with her own in a kiss that only started softly and quickly intensified until all Harry's brain could manage to think was "mmphff," or something like that.
After more than a few thoroughly enjoyable minutes, Ginny broke apart from him and looked down with laughing eyes. "You daft boy, do you know how long I have been waiting for forever?" She turned slightly serious. "I'm ready, Harry. I'm ready to be us."
Us. The word carried more feeling and love in it than an entire library full of poetry and romance stories. Whatever happened next, Harry just wanted to relax in the thought of being part of an Us. He rolled Ginny over onto her back and balanced himself lightly above her, his stomach and chest just barely skimming hers.
Smiling into her eyes, Harry lowered his head down to hers for another kiss. He didn't rush, didn't push, just trailed his lips gently across hers and then down her neck, pushing back the fabric of her pajama top and breathing feather-light kisses over her skin. She sighed contentedly and untied her robe, letting it fall around her as Harry continued his ministrations to her neck and shoulders.
Then Ginny's small hands were under his own shirt, and then it was off, thrown to a corner of the blanket where hers soon followed, and Harry had to remind himself to breathe through the sight of her laying there in the moonlight, shivering only slightly in the breeze and looking at him with absolute trust.
Picking up his wand, Harry cast a number of charms around the clearing, and then over the two of them, before laying back down beside Ginny.
Harry both knew, and yet, didn't know, exactly where his life's path was headed. He was sure of the people it would include and that it would be filled with happiness and joys and occasional sorrow and never ending love. And he knew that he no longer had to focus on a single, finite end. Getting there, to that future, was just as important, even more important, maybe, than being there. And Harry intended to spend as much time enjoying the "getting there" as he could.
Mel's First Scavenger Hunt Clue #2: What is the one story mhersheybar has written in which she thing Harry and Ginny behaved exactly the way she wanted them to? (Hint - it's a one-shot).