a little over two years earlier
The Hog's Head Inn was mercifully devoid of almost any patrons when Harry pushed open the door. A chill winter wind followed him; the shrill whistle of it ended abruptly, and a new sound reached his ears. Normally, this would have had all of his instincts on alert. Half his life had been spent either fighting Voldemort or attending the Auror Academy, and it seemed to Harry that a part of him was always on alert.
But his first sweep of the room with his eyes had already told him what he needed to know. Two red-headed men sat in the furthest booth. One of them was laughing, and the other was holding his head cradled in his hands and moaning every thirty seconds. The only other living being in the room was Aberforth Dumbledore, who was staring at the pair with an interesting blend of amusement and disgust.
"I heard there was an emergency," Harry said, striding forward. "Hey, Ab, could I get a butterbeer? Warm, of course."
Aberforth grunted, and a dusty bottle flew toward Harry with surprising force. He managed to catch it, grinned at Aberforth, and found his way to the booth. "So," he said, flopping down, "what is going on?" Ron was still chuckling, and George grabbed a tall glass that held some sort of thick orange liquid, and slammed it down.
"It's ten in the morning!" Harry said. "Don't you think it might be a little early for a drink?" He cut a look of concern toward Ron. For a year after Fred's death, George had had a little too much fondness for firewhiskey, and it had taken him another six months to pull himself out of the bottle. It wouldn't do for George to tumble back into it, especially now that George's wife was pregnant.
George gave him a withering look out of bleary, red-shot eyes. "It isn't alcohol," he said. "It's a hang-over potion."
"Was here all night," Aberforth grunted, bringing another glass of the orange cure. "Slept on the floor."
"First decent night's sleep that I've had in weeks," George said, dropping his head back in his hands and tugging at his red hair. Ron laughed again, and his brother shot him a baleful look. "Sooner or later, you're going to be in this same exact situation," he spat. "And you will get zero sympathy from me. No. Sympathy."
This only seemed to make Ron laugh even harder. "Not for years and years. And years. We're very careful," he said. Then he turned to Harry and thumped him on the back. "Glad to see you, mate. Think you can help me with this poor sod?"
Harry, who had no idea whatsoever what was going on, looked at his best mate uncertainly. What sort of emergency was this? No one was maimed or hurt. Ron didn't seem particularly concerned with George's behavior. Even Aberforth was more intrigued than anything; the old bartender was eyeing them and wiping down the closest table with a grimy cloth.
"What the hell's going on?" Harry finally asked. A sudden thought struck him. "If you two are still trying to make sure I don't get laid, I'm going to grab that bottle and shove it up your—"
"No, no," Ron stuck up his hands hastily. "Didn't we swear to Ginny we wouldn't try any more tricks? This has nothing to do with you—"
"Good," Harry interrupted peevishly. Ron and George had been known to try all sorts of things to make their sister's sex life difficult. Most of it had been all in good fun – or so they said – but Harry still remembered the pinching boxers quite vividly. That had ended over a year ago when the brothers had inadvertently caused the destruction of the Potters' master bedroom. Ginny, who had just returned from training camp for the Harpies, had been livid. "Because we're married now, and if you don't think we—"
"We know," Ron said earnestly. "And you know we were just pranking you, it was all George's idea—"
"Way to throw me under the Knight Bus," George snarled.
Harry looked at him, startled. George was possibly one of the most good-natured men of Harry's acquaintance. But there was no hint of humor in his brother-in-law's face. There was no glimmer of fun in his eyes. And the tone of his voice was surly. On the other hand, Ron was laughing…
"What's wrong with you?" Harry asked bluntly.
George didn't answer, just chugged his hangover cure.
"Remember that time," Ron started reminiscently, "when we were all at the Burrow for Easter, and Ginny and Hermione came home from Hogwarts? And how we put a charm on your bed so you couldn't get up in the middle of the night?"
"I still maintain that I only had to get up to go to the bathroom," Harry lied through his teeth. That had been one of Ron and George's first successes. Luckily, Easter had come late that year, and the weather had been just warm enough to make outdoors sex possible.
Ron ignored him. "Remember how mad you were that your little plans were foiled?"
Harry maintained a stoic silence.
Ron rolled his eyes. "Now imagine that—"
"Multiplied by a thousand!" George suddenly roared, knocking over his glass and spilling the viscous liquid all over the table. "A thousand million!" A manic light suddenly flared in his eyes. Harry watched, riveted, as George's temperament switched from surly to insane in the blink of an eye. "This fucking – I had no idea—"
"You should've known," Ron said wisely, apparently perfectly capable of understanding George's gibberish. "Remember when Bill was going through this exact same thing."
"I didn't know it would be like this!"
"What the hell?" Harry said weakly. The world had made so much sense this morning, too. It was Sunday. And Sundays meant lazy morning sex. This Sunday hadn't been any different. Yesterday had made sense, too. Ginny had had a playoff game, which meant frantic, explosive sex on the first available flat surface (which, last night, had meant the little table in their entryway). In fact, the entire week had made absolute sense. It wasn't until Pig had tapped on the living room with a note from Ron attached to his leg that things had gone south.
"I'm sorry," George said fervently, staring at Harry intently. "I'm sorry for every single prank. We were just having a laugh, I swear! It was my duty as her brother to at least pretend to put up a token resistance to Ginny's… you know… the fun stuff—"
"Pretend?" Harry said indignantly. "Those pinching boxers didn't feel like a pretense!"
George muttered something under his breath. "And now… all that is coming back to haunt me. It's retribution, you see, for thestupid decisions I made in the past."
"You're a lunatic," Ron said reasonably. "It's normal with pregnancy, isn't it?"
"I'll tell you what isn't normal!" the volume of George's voice rose to a shout. "Not having sex for months and months isn't normal! Wanking out in the garden so your wife won't know you're getting a little relief isn't normal!"
George continued on, but Harry's mind had stuttered to a halt. Women couldn't have sex when they were pregnant? A wave of sympathy for George suddenly crashed over him. Babies took nine months from start to finish, didn't they? Maybe it took a little while to figure out a baby was happening, but after that it was hands off?
Harry tried to imagine going almost a year without sex. Cold sweat immediately broke out on his forehead. Do I really want kids? he asked himself. Immediately, he felt a twinge of guilt. Before they got married, he and Ginny had discussed it. Yes, they wanted kids. Not now, perhaps, but eventually, they did want kids.
Brief snippets of remembered conversations floated through his mind. He remembered Fleur going on and on about childbirth and how painful it was, and how unfair it was that Bill hadn't had to deal with the agony. Well, what's a year without sex? he thought indignantly. The thought itself was agonizing. It was probably why he'd never heard anything like this before, Harry reasoned. If husbands knew they couldn't make love to their wives when they were pregnant, the human race would've died out long ago.
Horror struck him. "Your poor dad!" Harry whispered. Ron and George ignored him. But it stuck with him. Harry's father-in-law had gone through this six times!
Dazed, Harry looked at George. "George, you have my deepest sympathy." The words came right from his heart.
Ron tossed him a rueful grin. "See?" he turned to George. "This is why we don't talk to Harry about sex. Look at him. That's our sister he's thinking about not having sex with!"
George's head thudded on the table. "Can we please not talk about it anymore? It just makes it worse."
Harry pulled himself together. George was making the ultimate sacrifice – and Harry knew a thing or two about sacrifice – for the sake of progeny. Changing the topic was the least Harry could do to ease his brother-in-law's pain a little. And besides, starting a family (which would likely include just one child) with Ginny was far in the future. Years, possibly. Meanwhile, Harry would make the most of those years. They'd have lots of sex now, and when they had to abstain for the sake of the baby, Harry would be able to pull out all the memories.
They would sustain him.
They would have to.
There was one word to describe April: exhausting. It was this that was truly Ginny's first clue. In the mornings, it was all she could do to drag herself out of bed, thank Merlin that the Harpies hadn't made it to the Quidditch finals this year, and make herself some toast. Afternoons, when they used to be used to visit friends or fly around on her broom, became filled with naps and lounging around on the sofa, listening to the wireless.
There were two words to describe May: exciting and terrifying. It was, ironically enough, the second of May when Ginny found out – for sure, for sure – that she was pregnant. It was during an uncomfortably awkward moment during an uncomfortably awkward Ministry event. Kingsley had once again come by to apologize for the ridiculous memorial, and to state that he thought Victoire Weasley's birthday party that afternoon had been much more fun. Harry looked so miserable, Ginny would have taken off all her clothes and danced naked on the table to distract him. Instead, she whispered four little words ("I think I'm pregnant"), and watched what remaining color he had drain slowly away. Funnily enough, it was Ron who managed to get them all away before the press caught wind of it ("After all, I don't want my godson getting trampled," he said); and it was Hermione who brewed the potion that would tell them for sure. It was all Harry and Ginny could do to just stare at each other. It was right about then that the terror and excitement had kicked in.
There were three words to describe June: sweaty, hungry, and confusing. It was abominably hot. Harry, who had, for some reason, become a fanatic about seeing to her comfort, had covered their little cottage in cooling charms. But she had to go outside sometimes, didn't she? Especially to track down her husband, who spent an inordinate amount of time in the garden. The hunger wasn't quite as bad as the sweat, although that might have been because Ginny was a Weasley by birth, and the Weasley family had an ancient tradition of enjoying meals. But there were different kinds of hungers; not all of them could be sated with food. Harry, who was generally her partner in this, had been strangely absent. Which led right into confusing.Ginny had no idea why Harry didn't want to touch her anymore, why he spent so much time in the garden, why – if they didseem to be about to make love – he would jump up and declare he was about to embark on some type of home improvement endeavor.
The terror and excitement from May was still with her. The sweat, hunger, and confusion from June stuck around as well. In fact, they all seemed to grow rather than retreat. And Harry – curse the little bugger – hadn't touched her in two months. Clearly, her discomfort was all his fault.
It was no wonder that almost the whole month of July could be explained in two phrases: bloody infuriating, and murderous rage.
"She's trying to kill me."
Harry stared at the back of the house, at the door his wife had just slammed and locked. And he had no idea what he'd done this time. His mind reeled, tracing back all of his actions today, trying to find the misstep. He'd left the toilet seat down—check—he'd cleaned the dishes in the sink, rather than letting them sit and smell up the kitchen—check—he'd even picked his dirty socks up off the floor—check.
There was no reason for her to get all shirty with him. In fact, it was him who had all the right in the world to be annoyed, and bloody frustrated. After all, it had been eight weeks of scuttling off to the garden every time he felt that growing desire to make love to Ginny. He'd repainted the nursery, assembled the cot—even though Ginny said it was far too early to begin such preparations—organized the attic, refinished the wood on the banister, and repainted the broom shed.
The next six months just might kill him. There was only so much DIY he could manage. He supposed, though, he could put in extra hours at the Ministry, but he didn't want to. He wanted to be home with his wife.
Six months. Twenty-four weeks. One hundred and sixty-eight days. Four thousand and thirty-two hours.
Harry pressed his thumb and forefinger into his eyes, blotting out the whirling numbers in his mind. How had any of the men in the world survived as long as they had? George had one child. Percy had one, and another on the way. And Bill…Bill had two! And they all seemed so happy about it!
And Ginny's behavior lately was just so…odd. She'd been so affectionate lately, running her fingernails along his scalp and raising goosebumps all over his body, rubbing up against him.
And then today. Today he'd come out of the bathroom to find her standing in the hallway wearing nothing but a flimsy, silky thing that barely covered anything. He'd whimpered and very nearly retreated into the bathroom to take care of things—showers in the Potter household were reaching epic length lately. But Ginny's fingers, walking up his arm and across his shoulder had stopped him.
"Don't you think it's hot, Harry?" Harry swallowed and cleared his throat before answering. "Er…I can do another cooling charm. I'd be happy to take care of that." His mantra of days, although he had stopped counting seconds and minutes because it was far too disturbing to count that high and too hard to remember where he left off, ran through his head. Her hand fell away from his shoulder and she glared at him. "Cooling charms?" "Yeah. And I can run and get you some ice cream. Is there a flavor you're particularly craving?" Her jaw set and she backed away, crossing her arms over her chest. It didn't help Harry at all because the position accented her cleavage. He swallowed thickly and tried not to remember how wonderful the skin at her collarbone tasted. It wouldn't do to get all worked up right now, in the middle of the hallway. She was quiet for a long time, staring at him in that way she had, and Harry knew he was in trouble. "Chocolate. I want chocolate. With extra fudge."
Harry swallowed and cleared his throat before answering. "Er…I can do another cooling charm. I'd be happy to take care of that." His mantra of days, although he had stopped counting seconds and minutes because it was far too disturbing to count that high and too hard to remember where he left off, ran through his head.
Her hand fell away from his shoulder and she glared at him. "Cooling charms?"
"Yeah. And I can run and get you some ice cream. Is there a flavor you're particularly craving?"
Her jaw set and she backed away, crossing her arms over her chest. It didn't help Harry at all because the position accented her cleavage. He swallowed thickly and tried not to remember how wonderful the skin at her collarbone tasted. It wouldn't do to get all worked up right now, in the middle of the hallway.
She was quiet for a long time, staring at him in that way she had, and Harry knew he was in trouble.
"Chocolate. I want chocolate. With extra fudge."
Harry seized the excuse to leave the house and find a little relief in the garden. And Ginny locked him out.
He'd never seen her as a cruel person. True, she could take the piss with the best of them, but she rarely did things that would harm the person she was pranking. But this…this was borderline. Surely, she couldn't know how much he was suffering. Perhaps it was the pregnancy hormones that erased all desire for sex from women, but it seemed to only intensify the feelings for Harry.
He slumped to one of the benches he and Neville had built last week in the back of the garden and stared at the house.
Seeing the way her belly was starting to round slightly, feeling the firmness of it against him when they slept only made Harry's body respond all the more to her. And her breasts! They'd grown over the past eight weeks until she'd complained, just the other day, that she needed bigger bras. Harry's eyes seemed drawn to the fleshy mounds that overflowed the lacy cups and strained at her shirts.
He was in very big trouble.
Six months. Twenty-four weeks. One hundred and sixty-eight days. Four thousand and thirty-one hours.
Wanking in the garden wasn't nearly satisfying enough. The shower was better, but he couldn't spend hours in there everyday. His skin was always wrinkled like a prune lately.
He needed to go and get Ginny's chocolate-fudge ice cream, but Harry was far too worked up to concentrate on not sending bits of himself all over England if he Apparated.
"Nothing for it," he huffed. He spun his legs over the bench so that his back was to the house. The bushes behind the bench, surrounding the large tree, would shield his activities from view.
Recalling the way Ginny had looked in the hallway this morning, her skin radiant and her eyes flashing, made his whole body shiver. Quickly, he undid the zipper on his trousers and lowered them just enough to allow his erection relief and escape.
His movements were rough and almost punishing. Perhaps if he didn't enjoy it, he wouldn't need to do it so much.
He hadn't wanked this much since Ginny had gone back to Hogwarts for her final year, leaving Harry to his Auror training courses.
The memories of making love with Ginny came easily to his mind, but they were faint, as if they'd happened years ago, rather than just months. Harry gave a brief huff of annoyance and threw himself into one of them, reliving every movement as his hand continued to stroke.
He came with a grunt of satisfaction that was short-lived. After having shared the real thing for so long with Ginny, his hand was a poor substitute.
Six months. Twenty-four weeks. One hundred and sixty-eight days. Four thousand and thirty-one hours.
"This better be twins," he muttered as he cleaned himself up and kicked dirt over the evidence of his activities. "One girl, one boy, because I'm not doing this again."
Harry entered the Burrow and resisted the immediate urge to duck behind the sofa. Ginny sat with Molly on the love seat, and by the glare she cast his way, Ginny was not happy to see him. Luckily, he'd gotten quite used to her glaring at him, and he only stumbled a little. Deciding that giving her hello kiss was imprudent – he liked having the full use of all his appendages – he bypassed the two women and headed for the kitchen.
Just as he slid in, he heard Molly say, "Ginny! That was your husband!"
The door swung shut, but Harry had a vested interest in figuring out why, exactly, Ginny seemed so angry with him, so he immediately pressed his ear to the door. A burst of laughter behind him, however, made him miss what Ginny said.
"Are you regressing, mate?" Ron asked.
Harry turned to glare at him. George, who stood next to his brother, continued to laugh. "Do you even know what that word means?" He asked acidly. Months of repressed urges and two weeks of Ginny either driving him mental with desire, or simply driving him mental, had made his temper a bit short.
"Yeah, I know what it means," Ron said affably, not rising to the bait. "Do you? Because we used to go around eavesdropping on everyone back in the glory days. And you used to look exactly like that."
Molly Weasley's shout blessedly quieted her youngest son.
"Oh, shit, you're in for it now," George said with barely repressed hilarity. "What'd you do? Throw a group of kids from the local orphanage out into the snow?"
"It's July," Harry snapped, straightening. "Too hot for snow." Indeed, it was too hot for pretty much anything. Too hot, even, for Ginny to wear clothes around the house, apparently, except for those damned filmy little sundress things that floated and billowed around her. Shaking his head to clear it, he pressed his ear to the door once more.
Unfortunately, Ginny's voice was not quite as loud as her mother's. Harry got the sense that the two women believed he had done something quite awful, but he couldn't make out what it was. Deciding to let it go for now, as it was liable to drive him insane, he reluctantly decided to give Ron and George his full attention.
This was not difficult to do. Both of them held heaping sandwiches, piled with all sorts of delicious things. "What're you two doing?" Harry asked. "Aren't we eating in half an hour?" He was well aware that most Weasleys had a bottomless pit for a stomach (his own wife included), but this was a bit much.
"Yes, but Audrey's in charge of the main entrée," George said. He took a huge bite and chewed thoughtfully. "We Weasleys will eat anything—"
"But only if it's edible," Ron said.
All three men winced when Molly yelled.
"I think I'll take one of those," Harry said thoughtfully. It's better not to know what's going on in the other room, he told himself. Even if they're talking about you. It's just better not to know. Forcing himself to relax, Harry even tried to hum a little as he made his sandwich. "Nothing is wrong," he muttered under his breath. "Everything is great."
"Keep telling yourself that," Ron snickered.
Angelina's shout made Harry drop his entire sandwich on the floor. For a moment, he just stared at it. "On second thought," Harry said wearily, "can I just have some firewhiskey instead?"
"Five second rule," Ron said, picking Harry's sandwich up and taking a bite.
Ron stared down at the travesty. How could one woman destroy so much? The worst part was, Ron knew - knew! – that before she'd got her hands on it, it had had the potential to be something truly great. But no. Due to Audrey's meddling, the perfectly good ingredients were a jumbled mess. It could not even be described as dinner. Up until Percy had brought Audrey home, Ron thought camp food during the great Horcrux Hunt of '97 was the worst it could get.
But no. This was far, far worse.
A hand clamped on his shoulder. "You're a good friend, Ron," said Harry.
"I am?" Ron asked, startled, his attention ruthlessly drawn away from the abomination on his plate. "I mean… of course I am."
"Any other bloke would be laughing it up," Harry said sotto voce, with a nod toward George. George was, indeed, laughing. "But no. You're suffering right along with me."
Ron smiled weakly. "You know me, mate," Ron said. "Your pain is my pain." Surreptitiously, he handed over a tiny flask to Harry. "Drink some more," he advised. To be honest, his best mate didn't look so well. Either he'd eaten more than a few tiny bites of Audrey's food, or he wasn't bearing up at all well under Ginny's anger.
In fact… Ron looked slowly around the table. Ginny was surrounded by the women in the family; all of them were united. All of them glared at Harry as though he were the scum someone accidentally tracked onto a pristine floor. Ron felt like saying something in defense of his best mate, but had no clue what Harry'd done to draw their ire.
"Blimey, mate, what'd you do?"
"It's more what he hasn't done," muttered Angelina.
George leaned over toward them, and gestured toward the women. "You get the feeling we landed ourselves right in the middle of a war?" He made absolutely no effort whatsoever to keep his voice down. The girls, in one motion that had to have been practiced, folded their arms across their chests.
A memory struck Ron, and he momentarily forgot about what was going on. "Remember when we used to play Death Eaters and Aurors?" He pointed at the girls. "Fred would've been impressed with their intimidation tactics."
"This isn't a game, you idiot!" Hermione hissed at him from across the table.
Ron blinked at her, startled. "Now, see here," he said, folding his own arms across his chest. "There's no call to be rude.That's just mean. I don't call you a blasted know-it-all, do I?"
"Only every day of my life!" Hermione cried.
Ron waved his hand. "But I don't mean it."
His mother intervened, which was just lucky, because Ron had seen Hermione reach for her plate. Not that Ron was opposed to a little food fight – Audrey's dinner didn't serve a higher purpose, such as making its way to Ron's belly, after all – but whenever he threw food at his wife, he damn well knew why he was doing it. Now was not one of those times.
A few minutes passed in blessed silence. Everyone took the time to push food around plates and regroup. Harry turned his back on the girls and took another long gulp of firewhisky. Ron eyed him. "Maybe you should slow down a little, mate," he offered. In truth, Ron didn't blame Harry. Ginny was sitting like a queen on her throne, surrounded by staunch allies, and looking at Harry as though she wanted to lop off his head. Both his heads.
"What's going on? I know the witches are upset, but what'd Harry do?" George asked in a very loud whisper. His voice was mostly serious, but there was a twinkle in his eyes. He was obviously enjoying himself.
Angelina chose to answer him instead. "I have a friend," she said loudly, "whose husband thinks she's ugly when she's pregnant. He thinks she's fat. He's so disgusted by her that he won't even touch her."
Ron gaped at her, then gaped at Harry. Harry was slack-jawed and looked mildly disgusted. "What an idiot," Harry said dismissively. Ron agreed whole-heartedly. "She should toss him." He then gave Ginny a look so full of longing and frustration that Ron could feel the tips of his ears start to burn. Ugh, he thought, that's the last thing I need to see.
For some reason, this seemed to take the wind out of Angelina's sails. All of the witches exchanged glances. And well they should, Ron thought. They all need a stay in the Closed Ward, they do.
"Well, I have a friend whose horror stories about his pregnant wife would turn any man's pubic hair dead white," George said with relish. Ron choked on a laugh. Before their mother could do anything more than swell like a bullfrog, he continued. "My friend's wife locked him out of the house – completely starkers, mind you – for an entire day. And she had his wand!"
"Which one?" Ron chuckled.
Harry laughed appreciatively, but everyone else ignored him.
"Well, maybe if your friend hadn't spent all his damn waking hours in the garden—"
"Well, maybe if my friend's wife had been less of a damn raging shrew—"
"Harry spends a lot of his time in the garden, don't you, Harry?" Ginny said suddenly. Ron was glad she'd interrupted George and Angelina. Their tempers were a bit too close to the surface. They were talking about a couple they knew, after all.
"He does?" Hermione said, surprised. "I've never pegged him for a gardener. That's Neville's job."
"Uh," Harry said, quite eloquently in Ron's mind.
"Well, no matter," Hermione said. "No matter how old one is—"
"And Harry's positively ancient," Ron's dad said dryly.
"I just meant that just because Harry wasn't interested in gardening before, doesn't mean that he can't be now," Hermione said stiffly. "I'm sure he'd become quite good at gardening if he worked hard at it. Perhaps he could ask Neville for some pointers, or I'm sure there are plenty of books he could read on the subject."
George and Angelina were now laughing so hard that Ron could not help but think they were a good match indeed. Mental, the pair of them. Fighting one minute, laughing the next.
"I'm sure Harry's always been interested in gardening," George gasped.
"Uh, yeah," Harry said uncomfortably.
"Yeah, he's a real master… gardener," Angelina chortled. "Although he's been watering the wrong flowerbeds lately."
Harry groaned and the thump his head made when it hit the table was quite impressively loud.
"I think a lot of young men go out to the garden rather then brave their pregnant wives," his mum said, glaring quite fiercely at his dad. "It's almost like someone advised them to do it, isn't it? Funnily enough, my friend's husband used to do the same thing."
Oh shit, Dad's in for it now, Ron thought, though why his mum would be that mad over a friend, he had no clue.
"I'm sure he was only interested in a bit of self-preservation, Molly," his dad said soothingly. "I think everyone at the table should be grateful your friend had more than one child."
"Yeah, sure, Dad," Ron said uncertainly.
"Very grateful," Harry said fervently. "Although I think I have a friend who will have only one child—"
"Hey!" Ginny said, sounding deeply injured. "Your friend has always said he wanted a big family!"
"That's before my friend's wife started deliberately torturing him!" Harry cried.
Ron mentally ran down the list of all the friends Harry had who had children. The list was remarkably short, of course. Harry and Ginny were young; they married early and started a family early. It could be one of the older Aurors, Ron mused. Or! Malfoy got married a few years ago, didn't he? What if it was him? Although why Harry would name Malfoy one of his friends, Ron had no idea.
"Maybe if your friend would garden a little less, and spend time in the house a little more, she wouldn't torture him!" Ginny shouted. "A couple of months ago, you wouldn't have called it torture"—she pointed at Harry, and even Ron could see the threat—"you would've said I'm trying to seduce you – which is exactly what I've been trying to do – and you would've been all for it!"
Ron was deeply confused.
Apparently, Harry was feeling exactly the same way.
"I think I'm missing something," Ron and Harry said at exactly the same time.
Harry's mind whirled as he tried to piece all of this together. The firewhiskey wasn't helping and a dull headache was building at the base of his skull. Maybe it was easier if he tried to figure out this whole friend situation and figure out how it related to him.
"So…your friend has a pregnant wife?"
Ginny narrowed her eyes and gave a firm nod.
"And this friend seems less than interested in…er… He spends a lot of time out in the garden?"
George and Angelina were chortling at the end of the table and Ron was watching the whole exchange with a look of almost-pain on his face. It all made this so much harder to unravel in Harry's head, but he tried to concentrate.
"An inordinate amount of time," Ginny clarified.
The pieces were beginning to come together. "Well, perhaps this friend is under the impression that he's been doing the noble, sacrificing thing by staying out in the garden. That it was all for the best since nothing can happen, you know, between your friend and his wife until after the baby comes."
Ginny's glare turned deadly. "Where the hell did you get an idea like that?"
He couldn't help it. Harry looked directly at George who paled under his sister's wrath.
"Uh…" George dodged out of Angelina's way as she reached across the table to swat his head.
"You told him what?"
"Wait a minute!" Ron stood up, bumping the table with his thighs. "We're talking about sex?"
Molly began to splutter and puff up again, but Harry ignored her scolding of Ron. He could only look at Ginny, plead for her to understand. He was doing the right thing and he was suffering miserably for it.
"And you really thought that…we couldn't?" Ginny asked. She stood slowly and Harry met her half-way across the kitchen.
"I had no clue," he explained. "George said he couldn't when Angelina was pregnant. I just thought…"
The earlier anger on Ginny's face drifted into annoyance and Harry took a chance and reached for her.
"Oh, Harry. Sometimes you can be such a prat. You should know not to listen to any of my brothers."
"Oi!" Ron bumped the table again and began arguing with George.
"You're not angry anymore?"
Ginny thought about it for a minute. "Not really at you, but we'll talk more later."
Harry winced, but pressed on. "And we can really…have sex?" He whispered the last part, afraid to further inflame the heated conversation taking place behind them.
A slow smile spread across her face. "Of course we can, Harry. Why do you think I've been trying to seduce you?"
His whole insides twisted into a knot of pure pleasure and Harry pulled his wife to him. "Hang on!"
They arrived in their living room after a hasty, unexplained departure from the Burrow and Harry immediately pressed his face to her neck. His lips attacked her and Ginny had to brace herself to keep from tipping over.
"I can't believe you thought we couldn't have sex until after the baby was born!"
Harry emerged from energetically kissing down her chest and blinked at her. "Do you blame me?"
"No," Ginny grumped. "I blame George, and probably Ron a little, but he's mostly clueless, so I'll let him slide this time."
Harry smirked and returned to his task, divesting her quickly of the sundress she'd been wearing.
"Less talking, more involvement."
She chuckled at his demand and pulled his shirt off, knocking his glasses to the floor in the process.
"I'll repair them later," Harry said. He lifted her into his arms and headed for the stairs, only to hesitate and glance back at the sofa. Ginny could read the indecision in his expression. Along with the desperation.
Poor, sacrificing, prat of a man.
No wonder he'd been so out of sorts for weeks. Ginny did feel slightly guilty for how many times she'd tried to entice him lately, but not enough to apologize for it. If Harry had only come to her, they could have been having glorious sex just as much as they always had.
"We can make it to the bedroom, Harry," she said, and wrapped her arms tighter around his neck while whispering things she wanted him to do to her in his ear.
Harry groaned and ran up the steps, jostling her about in his arms. His enthusiasm definitely helped erase a small bit of her annoyance at him.
"You can't imagine…how bloody infuriating…it's been…" he huffed. "Having to see you…prancing about…"
"I wasn't prancing about," Ginny growled. "It's not like I was naked!"
Harry glared at her and tossed her lightly onto their unmade bed. "Ahem!"
Ginny felt her cheeks heat. "All right, there was that one time…"
"And the flimsy little sundresses, the sexy lingerie, the rubbing up against me… I thought I was going to go mad."
She laughed and pulled him down onto the bed with her. "We have a lot to make up for."
"Eight weeks," Harry mumbled as he inspected her breasts closely. "Fifty-six days, Ginny."
"It was just as hard for me, Harry," Ginny warned. She rolled them until he was pinned beneath her. Not that he was protesting. "I thought…I thought you didn't want me. That you were disgusted by the way I've gotten fat, and—"
"That's absurd," Harry dismissed immediately. "I'm sorry that you thought it, but…" Some of the urgency of the moment drained away and Harry caressed her baby bump lovingly. "You're beautiful. More beautiful than ever, Gin. And I can't… I don't even know the words to tell you what I feel about you."
Ginny looked down at him and any frustration melted. They'd both been a bit stupid, not talking through things. But it was over now, and they were here, both mostly naked.
"Harry," she whispered, "you know we can have sex now?"
He nodded fervently.
"Then why, in the name of Merlin, are you still wearing your trousers?"
He laughed and struggled to remove them quickly. Ginny helped and they fell together onto the bed, tangling naked limbs together.
Sliding inside Ginny again was heaven. They had to be careful not to crush the baby in their enthusiasm, but Harry decided they were plenty creative enough to manage. And the way she was in his lap now, sitting astride him as he sat on the edge of the bed and used his toes on the carpet to move them drove him crazy.
They rocked together and Harry touched every inch of her he could reach, even caressing the backs of her knees, where she was particularly ticklish, and the shrinking divot of her belly button.
Ginny cried out his name when she climaxed and Harry lay back on the bed, lifting into her at a frantic pace until he released. All of the aggravation and tension fled from him and he lay limp on the bed, staring hazily up at Ginny.
She laughed and ran her hand over his belly. "Good?"
"Bloody fucking amazing," Harry breathed in response. "Best ever."
She laughed louder and leaned down to press a kiss to his chest. "That's just because you've been deprived for so long. But we still have weeks to make up for, you know."
Harry grinned up at the ceiling. "I'm going to need a sandwich."
Ginny laughed and moved curl next to him. She laid her head down on his shoulder. "Me too. Audrey's cooking is—"
"It makes you feel sad for the food," Harry finished. "That's what Ron said. He suggested we have a funeral for it, rather than eat it."
She snorted and traced a circle on his chest. "I'm going to need a sandwich, as well."
They both lay motionless until Ginny nudged his side. "Harry, I need a sandwich."
He huffed and sat up on his elbow. "And I suppose you think I should get it for you?"
Her sly smile made him laugh. "I am carrying your child. It's a lot of work, you know."
Harry leaned over and kissed her, nuzzling his nose against her cheek. "I think I can manage to cobble together something."
"And a bowl of chocolate fudge ice cream for afters," Ginny commanded.
Harry pinned her wrists to the pillow above her head and ghosted his finger along the sides of her breasts, making Ginny writhe beneath him. "What am I going to do with you?"
"Sex!" she cried. "Have lots and lots of sex with me."
He couldn't help but laugh. "And, now that I know we can make love, we can have lots of babies."
"A few," Ginny corrected. "But definitely more than one."
He kissed her one last time. "I'll get the food; you get ready for round two."
"I'll be right here," Ginny promised.
Harry heaved himself out of bed and grinned back at her as he walked out, completely naked.
"Aren't you going to get dressed, even?" Ginny called. "What if Ron floos? We did leave the dinner rather abruptly."
"He can piss off," Harry called back over his shoulder. "Him and George both!"