Author's note: Not quite epilogue compliant, but that makes it more fun, right?
Harry was quite excited about his wedding night with Ginny. If by excited, one meant worrying about it to the point of being nauseated. To prepare for it, he'd sat through a long speech from Arthur, after which Hermione had been kind enough to erase his memories and replace them with hours of staring at Ginny's hair flowing as she walked. Thankfully, he had George to explain the finer points. Sort of. All he had to do what put his—no, he had to let her turn off the lights, get under the covers and get ready to—crap.
Through some sort of miracle, Hermione and Ron had been married for four months and she was already six months pregnant. Perhaps Harry could ask them exactly what he was supposed to do, if Ron was willing to talk about it. George had been nonspecific about how he and Ginny would spend their alone time, but Harry supposed that was to be expected. After all, even if Molly Weasley was giving Harry daily potions to boost his—what did she call it? Potency?—that did not mean the rest of the family shared her interest in the products of this marriage. At least, not enough to properly explain what was supposed to take place.
This was the only drawback to a magical education. It was bad enough that his cousin Dudley knew more about sex than Harry did (at least, that was the impression he had from listening to the filthy grunts through the wall his bedroom had shared with Dudley's) and, scarily enough, he might have actually done more than receive a sloppy kiss under some mistletoe and let a girl lead him through the basics for a few weeks like a first year learning to fly.
Ginny had been patient, but Harry was sure she'd been bored of his clumsy fumbling. They'd both found it easier to let everyone believe they'd gotten more than a little hot and heavy in those last few weeks of sixth year, but only Harry knew the truth. His own ignorance of things everyone his age was well-versed in was nothing short of pathetic. The way this wedding preparation was going, he was never going to get anywhere without embarrassing himself with Ginny. He wondered if the whole world would know if that was the reason she eventually divorced him.
He was determined that would not be the case. After some debate—and quite a few shots of firewhiskey—Harry Apparated to Hermione and Ron's house. He knew Molly might be able to hear the pop of his arrival across the valley that separated his friends' house from the Burrow, but he had to take his chances. The wedding was only a week away. That gave him six days and counting to learn what he needed to know or face having to start dating again. After that silly article in Witch Weekly counting down the days until he was "lost" to the eligible witches of the world, Harry knew he'd never be able to let himself face that.
Hermione opened the door before Harry had a chance to knock. She sighed and rubbed her stomach, gesturing for him to come in with one hand. He gave her a curious look.
"Molly spotted you before you made it up the walk," she explained. She glanced towards the fireplace on the far side of the room. There were a few specks of dust in front of it on the otherwise spotless hardwood floor. "It took quite a lot of fast talking to convince her you weren't here because you're nervous about the wedding. Honestly, if she thinks her hovering is going to get you married to Ginny any faster—" Finally noticing his expression, Hermione stopped, her hand stilling over her stomach. "What's wrong? Something is wrong, isn't it? I haven't seen you look like this since the night we went to the Department of Mysteries."
A night when he'd been prepared to do anything to save his godfather. This situation wasn't quite so dire, but he couldn't hide the dread that had been steadily increasing since he'd first stumbled over that marriage proposal. Having to repeat the words several times was nothing when Harry considered what he was about to confess to Hermione. He had to say something now, it was too late to back out. Especially with her worried expression making him feel guilty for putting her in that state. The last thing she needed was to worry over him in her condition.
"I just came for some advice," Harry said. Hermione's frown only deepened. He couldn't blame her. He'd said that sentence in the same tone one might say a beloved family member had died or Voldemort had managed to return.
"What is it you need help with?" When he said nothing, Hermione grabbed his arm and led him over to the sofa in front of the fireplace. Glancing at the now quiet space, she flicked her wand at the fireplace, no doubt ensuring that no one from the Burrow could eavesdrop.
"I want to know how to..." Harry stopped, letting his voice trail off as embarrassment overcame him.
"You want to know how to do what?" Hermione asked.
Harry jumped as Ron came into the room. He kept his eyes on his other best friend, his mouth pulling into a frown as he tried to gather his nerves. It had been one thing to attempt soliciting fatherly advice from Arthur Weasley, it was quite another to ask Ginny's older brother for step-by-step instructions. George's vagueness was a clear sign of his own comfort with the subject. Ron had never been entirely comfortable with the idea of their being a couple, even if it meant he could call Harry brother. Harry was sure the last thing the redhead wanted was to picture, or even dictate, what the two would do together. Still, he had to ask. If he was still clueless a week from now, Ginny would probably wash her hands of him completely.
"It's about the wedding...sort of." Harry looked down at his hands. His face was warm. He was probably turning as red as the Gryffindor scarf around his neck. He couldn't believe he was asking Ron of all people. Not long after he and Hermione had started dating, she'd written out a full instruction manual with weekly lessons for him. And now he was an expert. Of a sort. "I don't know what to do." Harry cleared his throat.
"As you know, Ginny and I have never..." His voice had begun as a whisper before trailing into a squeak. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, willing himself to continue. A strange sound reached his ears; it was abruptly cut off. Harry looked up to find Ron laughing silently, Hermione's wand trained on his throat. His face was suffused with color and fat tears rolled down each side of his face.
"I'm sorry for him," Hermione said. She leaned forward and touched her hand to Harry's wrist. "After all this time, he still finds it difficult to be an adult about these things."
"So do I, but for different reasons," Harry stated. He turned to Ron. "Happy now? You're finally better than me at something. Even if you had to have a tutor." He stood to leave.
Ron followed him to the door, grabbing his own wand to remove the Silencing Charm. "I'm sorry Harry, but there are fifteen-year-olds who know more about it than you do. Why do you think Umbridge was so intent on keeping us from within a few feet of each other? Most of the basics you can figure out on your own."
"Like you did?" Harry resisted the urge to grin smugly as Ron's smile dropped.
"Look, mine was a special case. Hermione said Lavender had let me get away with bad technique all that time and she had to reteach everything I knew." Ron paused briefly. "But at least I knew some things. You had, what, two or three kisses with Cho?"
Three, if one counted the two he had lied to his roommates about. Harry nodded.
"And those weren't very good, even if she didn't cry after the first."
"The crying wasn't about me," Harry reminded him.
"Exactly my point," Ron said. "She wasn't even thinking about you that whole time. Merlin knows what Ginny was thinking about when the two of you first started dating. Probably something about how she had to make it good because you were about to run off and get yourself killed by Voldemort. Couldn't let you die without having at least one halfway decent snog."
"Ron!" Hermione had her wand trained on him again. Harry had the feeling that if her stomach wasn't making it so difficult for her to move quickly, she would've jumped up and smacked him on the back of the head.
"Not that you didn't try, I'm sure," Ron said. "It's just that Ginny had practice before you." He rolled his eyes to one side, one corner of his mouth lifted. "Come to think of it, I'm surprised she didn't get bored with you. I once overheard her say Dean taught her things she'd never heard of—of course I had to hex him one after that, and I got that stupid detention with Umbridge but—" Ron looked back at Harry and took a step back at his friend's expression. "Right, well, that's not the point, is it? You need to figure out what goes where and how or my sister will turn you into Harriet Potter before you can blink." His face took on a look of contemplation again. "I suppose a Shield Charm will work just as well when you're starkers, if you're sure to keep the wand right next to the bed. You know, just in case."
"I don't think you can help me," Harry said. Even thinking of having this one give him advice was making him suddenly very tired. Harry didn't think he'd have the strength to beg Ginny's forgiveness if he actually took any advice Ron gave him and everything went very wrong.
"Nonsense." Ron clapped him on the shoulder. "Come over and sit and we'll get started." He turned into the room. "Hermione!" She jumped as he shouted her name across the small space. "Give the men some room, love. I've got to turn Harry into a man."
Harry thought it was a miracle she only rolled her eyes at her husband as she pushed herself into a standing position. She gave Harry a small half-smile of sympathy and then waddled towards the kitchen. Harry just barely stopped himself from begging her not to leave.
"I'm not going to bore you with an explanation of what's under a girl's clothes." Ron paused. "You do have an idea, right?"
"Yes," Harry said slowly. "I do have some vague idea." There was no point in getting into how vague that idea was. He'd had enough of Ron laughing.
"Right, well you know which parts to play with first?" At Harry's blank expression, Ron turned and bellowed, "Hermione! We're going to need some help here."
Harry winced, not only from the volume in his best friend's voice, but from the embarrassment of the message that rang throughout the house. It was no wonder Arthur volunteered to put permanent sound barriers around the house as a wedding gift. Harry had always thought he didn't want to accidentally hear anything Ron and Hermione were doing if the wind blew just right. Come to think of it, that was probably part of the reason. The other, undoubtedly, was that Ron failed to have a conversation at a normal volume when he was excited about the subject. Harry only hoped this last shout was Ron giving up. This was hardly the type of conversation he wanted everyone within 100 kilometers of the house to hear. Hermione really should've let her father-in-law do the spellwork, even if it meant constant paranoia about Molly finding a way to plant Extendable Ears that reached as far as her own living room.
Hermione hobbled back into the room, breathing hard from having to leave and return so quickly. "That took longer than I expected."
Ron frowned as she sat next to him. "What is that supposed to mean?"
"Well, just that you were supposed to teach Harry everything you knew that I didn't teach you." Hermione smiled. "Took longer than I'd estimated. But he still didn't even have time to get his seat warm."
Ron's face turned red. "I'll have you know I was quite the expert on—"
"Whatever you say, Ronald." She patted his knee and turned back to Harry. "I'm sorry it had to come to this. I honestly thought Arthur would've removed that stupid chastity spell before now, but when he read that article in the Quibbler about Nargles attacking underage girls who— Well, honestly, it's your own fault, giving that magazine legitimacy. Sometimes their articles make perfect sense and sometimes," Hermione frowned. She turned to Ron. "I'm not going to do this with you here. Aren't you supposed to be painting the nursery?"
"You said you were worried about me sniffing the paint fumes," Ron responded. It was clear from the pout he affected he was still offended by the comments she made.
Hermione sighed. "Ron, just open the window." She waited several seconds. "Now. Harry and I need to talk." When they were alone, she smiled at Harry and scooted closer to him on the sofa. "You really have nothing to worry about. Ginny loves you. There isn't much to get wrong and even if you do, she'll never tell you." Hermione gave him what was supposed to be a reassuring smile. Harry supposed it was. If one forgot that she'd just told him he could be the worst lover in the world and Ginny would lie to him about it forever. That was a part of the wedding vows they'd have to discuss at the rehearsal.
"All right, first thing. Forget whatever Ron told you."
She smiled. "Good. Voldemort couldn't kill you, but I'd hate for Ginny to pull off what he couldn't." She sighed and took Harry's hand in hers. "Now, tell me everything you know and we'll take it from there." Thirty seconds later, Hermione frowned. "I wonder what Ron did with that book I gave him. I could rework some of the charts for you."
Great. He was so hopeless, she couldn't use words. She needed pictures with blinking arrows.
"You could just give me that one," Harry suggested.
Hermione shook her head and smiled. "No, I cannot. Though it does work quite well," she looked down at her own burgeoning belly, "that one is particular to me. The basic principles chapters will help you, but not that chart on spots to—" Hermione cleared her throat and busied herself conjuring a glass of water. She took several large gulps. "Anyway, I can help you with Ginny, but you have to be willing to follow every step of the directions."
Harry nodded. "Of course. But how is it that you can tell me anything about what will please Ginny?"
More water. And blushing. Hermione found it difficult to meet Harry's eyes. "Well, you know we shared a bedroom quite a few times over the years," she whispered. She looked up again. Harry didn't have the first clue what she was hinting at. "Um...girls talk about these things," she finished. Harry seemed satisfied with this lie and didn't question her further. He merely conjured his own glass of water and waited for Hermione to determine her next step.
"I'll be right back. I'm going to deal with a few things in the other room and then I can start the spellwork," Hermione said.
She was scarcely gone a minute when Ron came back downstairs, a few spots of paint now dotting his nose and cheek.
"She scared you with the lecture on sensitive spots yet?"
Ron's grin didn't soften the question that immediately put Harry on edge. "The what?"
He fell onto the sofa and took up Hermione's glass. "It's not a big deal. Just stuff that'll hurt when you—oh, never mind. You'll hear about it." He finished off the water and Vanished the glass. "All right. I know you've got a question you can't ask a girl, even Hermione," Ron began. "Just ask me and I'll answer it. I'll leave all that mushy romance stuff for Hermione to explain."
Harry thought about this. Asking Ron just one question couldn't result in too many bad consequences. It wasn't as if he was going to ask him about technique, just general knowledge. This was probably all right since Hermione was going to tell him exactly what to do. But she could never tell him what it was like from the male perspective. She was smart, but she wasn't quite that smart.
"What—?" Harry found himself gulping water from his own glass. Ron was smirking. "What does it feel like?"
Ron tilted his head to one side, a slow smile curving his lips. "Warm apple pie."
Harry blinked hard. "Hermione feels like warm apple pie?"
Ron shook his head and his eyes focused on Harry. "Of course not. That'd be silly." He motioned towards the kitchen. "She's pulling it out of the oven now." He smiled and leaned close to Harry's ear. "I'll tell you what it feels like." He began whispering, not stopping until Harry was at once fascinated and slightly horrified to imagine that doing anything with Hermione felt that...well, that delicious and dirty and wrong and fun all at the same time. As easily as she blushed at the mere mention of getting close to anyone, he couldn't picture her doing anything near what Ron was describing—Harry didn't even think she was that flexible. Maybe Hermione put Ron under a spell when they were alone; she was adept at the most complicated of charms.
"There's no way."
Ron nodded. "Sometimes, I do that last part twice."
"And she doesn't mind?"
The redhead grinned. "She asks for it, especially on days when she's got a knot in her back."
"Right..." Harry began picturing this. He supposed he was blushing to match his scarf again. Still, it might be worth trying. "All right, so, I should put what where? Are you sure that won't hurt?" Harry asked. Even if it wouldn't hurt, he'd seen Ginny hex people and he was pretty sure if he tried anything close to what was Ron was describing, he'd end up on the fourth floor of St. Mungo's trying to talk out of his stomach and hoping they'd be able to regrow the rest of his pieces. Assuming she left enough of him to talk.
"It won't hurt." Ron frowned as a thought occurred to him. "Not for too long, anyway. I think Hermione had some kind of spell for that. I'll have to ask her. Oh, and I should probably see if we have any spare feathers. That's the best touch."
"Ronald Bilius Weasley! You were not supposed to tell anyone we did that!" They turned to see Hermione standing in the doorway of the kitchen. Her face had gone an unnatural shade of purple and she was holding the slice of pie in her hand as if it were a weapon. Harry moved away from Ron.
"I'm sorry, Hermione, but he asked if there was one thing in particular you like and I had to tell him." Ron looked over at his best friend, nodding for him to go along with the lie. "Besides, no one else will ever know how we ended up with little Padma there." He gestured to her stomach.
Hermione's eyes narrowed. "We are not naming our first child after a girl whose picture you use to—" Her statement ended in a growl as Ron began laughing. He grabbed the plate from her hand and defended himself against the soft punches that landed on his head and shoulders before he escaped up the stairs.
Hermione sat down and ran a hand through her thick hair. She shook her head slowly. "I don't know how I've put up with him this long."
"You love him," Harry said simply.
"A sweet sentiment," Hermione said. "That and a double shot of firewhiskey keeps couples warm at night."
The bitter tone had become common since Hermione had started to feel the baby kick every day. The eye rolling thing was new, but Harry decided not to question it. That would only start a discussion about how marriage isn't what people paint it to be and that was the last thing Harry wanted to hear. This visit had already gone on long enough and he'd only learned one thing he could try with Ginny. Assuming he was brave enough to ask her permission.
"Hermione, please tell me everything you can," Harry said. "I know you love Ginny like a sister and me like a brother and if you don't want us to be miserable, you'll help me get this right." He pouted and batted his eyes at her until her face relaxed into a smile. "Now, don't leave anything out." He paused. "Unless it involves sharp objects."
In the end, Harry and Ginny's wedding day and night had not involved weapons of any sort. Arthur had to be pleaded with—and eventually drunk and threatened with half a dozen hexes—to undo the chastity spell he'd placed on his youngest child. Molly had to be told the couple had retired one place when they'd used a Portkey to a destination where Hermione was Secret Keeper. That move was for the best, really. She'd shown up at Grimmauld Place in the middle of the night with a large bouquet of flowers and a pregnancy test she'd bought at a Muggle store. Ron had been forced to apologize every day for a week for lying.
The morning after the wedding, Hermione found a vase with several long green stems on the front porch. When she picked it up, the ends of the stems slowly bloomed into full flower, turning first white then red then purple before ending with a small burst of fireworks and a small tinkle of song. Attached to the vase was a note. It read:
Never let it be said that you're not the smartest witch to ever live. Thank you for not letting my brother get to him. The flowers will last forever, as will my gratitude.
Hermione smiled as she stuffed the card into the pocket of her jumper. She'd set one young man on the right path. Now she just had to fix her own.