Her warm breath gently tickles my jaw.
'I know that you're awake, Harry.' Her voice is a soft and sultry whisper close to my ear.
She is correct but I don't want to admit it, not yet.
I keep my eyes shut and try to keep my breathing shallow and regular. I've done this before. Almost a year ago, I fooled Tom Riddle. This time, my task will be much more difficult, and all I'm doing is pretending to be asleep.
The morning light shines pinkly through my still-closed eyes, but I do not open them. Instead, I concentrate on my other senses. I want to remember this feeling forever. I want to memorise this moment, and to do that I need to listen, to feel, and to smell.
For the first time in my life, I have woken up in bed with the girl I love. If I look at her, sight will overwhelm my other senses, the sight of Ginny always does. I must try to keep my eyes closed for a few more seconds.
Ginny has been in my bed before, but she's always left it and returned to Hogwarts. Last night was different. Last night, in addition to everything else we did, we eventually slept together.
Listening carefully, I hear her breathing. The noise is quickening and arousing, she is beginning to pant. From the noises she is making I have no doubt that she is watching me with increasing frustration. A frustrated Ginny, I have already learned, can be a very good thing.
I smell that wonderful scent called Ginny; rose and jasmine combined with a sweet musk and soap. There is a hint of sweat too, both mine and hers.
But touch—touch is the best sense of all.
Her head rests on my left shoulder. I am aware of her hair, it is everywhere. My eyes are closed, but I can visualise it in my mind; it is a crimson cushion lying between my shoulder and her ear. A few stray strands are scattered across my chest. The most wayward of these tickle my neck as I inhale. I feel them moving to the steady rhythm of my breathing.
Her own increasingly rapid exhalations now waft warmly over my collarbone. An arm, her left, lies across my chest and her hand is wrapped around my ribs. Her fingers flex, gently caressing me, and making my torso tingle. Very soon, she will lose her patience, but I endeavour to prolong my pretence of sleep by concentrating on all of these wonderful sensations.
Her soft flesh is warm and it sticks to mine, breast sticks to chest. We are glued together by the sweat of intimacy, the perspiration of proximity.
Her right leg lies alongside my left. She moves her foot and begins to rub my calf with her toes. I will be unable to remain supine and silent for much longer.
Her left leg is curled over mine; our inner thighs are sticking together and her left knee rests on my right leg. She shifts slightly, bringing her heel backwards to rub my left calf from the other side, too.
The sensation of toes and heel caressing my calf would almost certainly have been enough. Under any circumstances it would be almost impossible for me to prolong my pretence while she caresses me. But her shuffling movement brings her hips closer to mine, too. And that slight movement brings a tangled triangle of red hair into contact with my hip. This gentle prickling sensation is too much. The feeling of this furry nest moving against my flesh finally ends my pretence. The one part of my anatomy which it is impossible for me to control twitches and moves involuntarily, brushing against her thigh as it betrays me.
'I knew that you were awake,' she tells me triumphantly. 'Why pretend to be asleep?'
My lazy enjoyment of her presence is over. I move my left hand inwards from the edge of my bed … our bed … and I squeeze her backside. Until this moment I have been touching her without using my hands. Now I firmly cup her right buttock and squeeze. I place my right hand on her knee and slide it up her left thigh. Grasping the thigh, I gently pull, while pushing on her hip with the other hand. She helps, and she is suddenly straddling me. I squeeze her firm backside pull, lifting her slightly up the bed. She repositions herself, and I lower her down. She is above me, astride my abdomen, her pubic hair now tickles my belly, and I can feel her moistness on my abdomen. My stiffening cock brushes against her backside, I raise my eyelids. I am instantly lost in her bright brown eyes. She smiles down at me.
'I was feeling you without moving,' I tell her.
'Hair on my shoulder…' I shift my hands from her smooth haunches, lift my arms, and run my fingers through the crimson cascade above and around me.
'Breath on my neck…' I bring my hands around onto her face and run my thumbs over her smiling lips.
'Something soft against my ribs…' I move my hands down, slowly sliding my fingers over neck and collarbone until my fingers reach their next pendulous prizes. I caress them gently.
'And something furry against my thigh.' My right hand continues questing downwards towards the ultimate destination while my left thumb circles a stiffening papilla.
She lifts herself slightly to allow my probing fingers to gain access to that most intimate of areas. That's when we hear a high pitched squeak and a muffled groan from the floor below. We exchange grins.
'Sounds like Ron and Hermione are up,' she says. She reaches for her wand while my fingers continue to caress and explore.
'Muffliato … oh,' she says as my probing fingers find her most sensitive spot.
'I think it must be time for breakfast,' I tell her, keeping my face straight.
'Are you hungry?' she asks. She sounds surprised.
'For you,' I say. She smiles, moves up, and kisses my forehead, my scar, as I continue to caress her clitoris. She lifts her lips from my forehead and begins to move down the bed, but as I look into her face I have an overwhelming urge to delay the inevitable, to simply kiss her. I move my hands to her shoulders and pull her down. She does not resist. Our lips meet and part.
It is a lingering kiss, our tongues press and probe. Her lip are soft and warm on mine as I attempt to show how much I love her by simply prolonging the kiss for as long as possible. As we continue, breathing through our noses so as not to part, her hands move. They don't travel down, as I'd expected, but instead move up into my hair. My hands follow suit, and I run them through her glowing titian locks.
Our lips still locked together, she moves. She was crouched above me, but now Ginny spreads her legs and lowers herself back down onto my chest. Her breasts are rubbing against my chest as she moves. Her pubes tickle my abdomen as she lies on top of me. I twitch my cock, and feel it brush against her thigh. No, not her thigh, I realise from the moan of pleasure she gives. I twitch again; she gasps and pushes herself up and away from me, smiling.
As she reaches a crescendo and moans, I give one, two three final thrusts and we ascend the summit together with no more than a few nasal moans and grunts.
'Wow,' she gasps as we finish.
'Wow,' I agree. We can barely speak, so she simply lowers herself onto me; sweat soaked chest meets sweat soaked chest.
'I love you, Ginny,' I tell her.
'I love you too, Harry,' she tells me. 'That was…' she stops midsentence, waiting for me to speak.
'Very enjoyable, and good exercise,' I tell her. 'Professional Quidditch players need to keep fit, they need ilots/i of exercise, and I'm always willing to help you keep fit.'
She laughs, and kisses the locket scar on my chest.
'I intend to be a very fit Quidditch player,' she says.
Fifteen minutes later, we are sharing a bathroom and I am still in ecstasy.
We are standing side by side as we clean our teeth. We have been intimate, or "celebrating" as Ginny still calls it, for a little over a week. I love her and she loves me and I still cannot believe my luck. I hope that I will never be able to believe my luck, that even mundane moments like this will always retain their most powerful magic.
I watch her in the mirror as she rinses and spits. It's such an ordinary thing to do, but it's an ordinary thing which I have never seen her do. Is it wrong that I find it erotic? At the moment, I find almost everything she does erotic. She is watching me, just as I am watching her, so I try to keep my face blank.
I've seen Ron clean his teeth, Hermione too. It's just something that people do. It isn't what she is doing, I realise, it is simply the fact that it is wonderful, beautiful Ginny doing it.
I remember those dark days just after the battle; I watched her make a pot of tea and that was wonderful, too. Are these feelings normal? Do I really understand what love is? Is this love? Or am I simply crazy? If I tell her will she laugh at me? Will she think that I'm stupid, or weird, or creepy?
This act, standing next to each other and sharing a sink as we clean our teeth, seems to be so ordinary to her. I suppose that growing up with six brothers and only two bathrooms made her used to the constant presence of males. Will I ever get used to her presence? Why hasn't my years of proximity to Hermione made me used to girls?
It has! I'm simply not used to this girl. I hope that I never get used to her.
I'm wearing a pair of old and worn pyjama trousers, and nothing else, because she is wearing my dressing gown. She has fastened the belt only loosely. As she leans forwards and places her toothbrush in the tumbler, the dressing gown gapes, and so do I. She laughs at my expression and tugs the dressing gown closed.
I turn, grab the lapels, and re-open it for another look.
'Like them?' she asks.
'Love you,' I tell her.
That's obviously a good answer, because her eyes sparkle happily. She slips her hands over my shoulders and pulls me down for a kiss. I release her lapels and grab her bum instead. She stands on tiptoe and pulls herself right in to me, her bare breasts are pushed against my chest, her hands are in my hair, my hands are caressing her bum, and our tongues are performing another intricate, intimate, dance.
It is some time before we part, but when we do, although she smiles, she pulls my dressing gown closed with a definite finality. She's right, we need to get dressed, tempting though it is, we can't spend all day kissing, exploring each other's flesh, and making love.
'I'm going to get dressed, Harry. I'll leave you to wash and shave in peace. What do you want for breakfast?' she asks.
'Just toast,' I tell her.
'It will be ready when you get downstairs,' she promises.
I again look in the mirror and I watch the provocatively swaying hips of my girlfriend, my lover, as she slips out from the bathroom. I am still staring in wonder at the now closed bathroom door when I hear the door to the master bedroom click closed.
I am smiling blissfully as I shave. I hear Ginny leave my bedroom and clatter down the stairs. Then I hear voices. Ginny is talking quietly to Hermione on the landing below. The voices stop and I hear the door to the bathroom directly below this one open and close.
Suddenly, I am no longer smiling. Breakfast in the kitchen won't be for two, it will be for four. Ron and Hermione know that Ginny spent the night with me, just as I know that Ron and Hermione spent the night together.
Everything has changed. My two best friends are… They have…
After years of each annoying the other, they finally got together during the battle, and now they have...
Some people didn't think that it would last, but it has, and I think that it will.
I know that Ron won't hurt Hermione. No, that's not true, I know that he will hurt her, and that she will hurt him too. But they won't do it deliberately. Is that good enough? They seem to enjoy bickering with each other, they always have. Ginny says that they argue like an old married couple.
I remember what Arthur Weasley told me last year "Never sleep on an argument." After Christmas, after Ginny and I had argued, he said something else: "Molly and I argue too, you know. Think of it this way. If two people can live together for any length of time without a serious dispute, it simply shows a lack of spirit only to be admired in sheep."
I've hurt my friends before now, and they've hurt me I remind myself, and yet we're still together. We've fought and argued and lied to each other. At times I've thought that our bond was irreparably broken, but we've always got back together. We've helped and supported and saved each other too.
I've watched Ron and Hermione dance around each other for years too. Why did I never think about what would happen when they finally got together? Merlin! What do we do now? We can't pretend that nothing happened. Ron knows! How will he take it? What will he do? What if he tells Molly, or Arthur? Have I betrayed their trust?
Over the years, I've done a lot of a lot of stupid and dangerous things, often, because I had no other choice. I have done many things I regret. I even kept secrets from Ginny, though I did it for her own safety.
But I don't regret this.
Arthur also made me promise to take things slow, I remember.
That was just after the battle, almost a year ago, I remind myself. This iis/i slow, isn't it? I am trying to think of a defence to use in a conversation which I hope I never have. Molly … Merlin … Molly has never, ever shouted at me, but what will Ginny's mum think of me now? They are imy/i family too. I have no one else, they are my ionly/i family. Arthur Weasley tried to tell me that, after the battle.
Suddenly scared, I return to my bedroom, dress hastily, and dash along the landing. I stop at the top of the stairs, terrified.
Hermione is in the bathroom, what will I do if she comes out? What will I say to her? What will she be wearing?
I remind myself that I've seen Hermione in a range of dressing gowns and pyjamas for years, right back to the pink dressing gown she had in our first year. Why, suddenly, is it different?
Ron is still in his bedroom. What if he comes out? I know how he is about Ginny. He can be overprotective and unreasonable, and Ginny can control him much more easily than I can. I need to get to the kitchen quickly. My heart thunders like the Hogwarts Express at full steam as I scamper quietly down the stairs, dash past both the bathroom and Ron's bedroom, and then clatter quickly down two more flights to the Hall.
I almost make it to safety, but I hear the bathroom door open seconds before I reach the sanctuary of the kitchen.
'Good morning, Harry,' Hermione calls down from the second floor landing. Her voice is happy and contented. She almost seems to purr. I'm embarrassed because I suspect that I know why.
'Morning,' I reply. But I don't turn and look up at her. I simply pull open the kitchen door and descend the stone stairs.
How many times have I said "Good morning" to Hermione? I cannot even look at her this morning, because she knows! And I know about her, too.
'What's the matter, Harry?' Ginny asks me as I descend the stairs to the basement kitchen of Grimmauld Place.
'Nothing,' I say, because I do not want to admit my worries, not even to Ginny.
'Are you sure? You look worried. Has something happened?' she asks.
'A lot of things have happened, Ginny,' I admit, glancing backwards, towards the stairs. 'What do we do now?' I ask her. 'What happens next?'
'Oh!' she understands immediately. That's another wonderful thing about Ginny.
She kisses my cheek, but resists when I seek out her lips in response. Her stance reminds me that we need to talk.
'I have no idea, Harry. Ron knows where I spent last night, but I know what he was doing, too. And Ron would never betray you, you know that,' she speaks with a reassuring certainty.
She's right, of course, he wouldn't, not deliberately. I trust Ron. But this isn't Voldemort, this is Mrs Weasley! She can find out anything! And then we'll be in real trouble.
'But what if … what if your mum finds out?' I ask.
'I will tell her that I'm seventeen and an adult and there's nothing she can do about it except scold us. I'll remind her that she and Dad had some "interesting times" when they were at Hogwarts. And if you can manage to reproduce the look that you have on your face right now, she'll forgive you instantly.' Ginny looks into my eyes and smiles.
'What look?' I ask.
'Oh, Harry!' She stands on tiptoe and softly kisses my cheek for a second time. 'You look so worried. The idea that you might have done something which Mum will disapprove of really worries you, and it's obvious on your face. Mum would immediately exonerate you if she saw that look. She'd blame me, instead.'
'You?' I ask.
'Yes, it would be me who "led you astray". But that doesn't matter. It takes two, you know,' she tells me.
She steps right up to me pushing her chest into mine and sliding her arms around me. She looks up at me and her face creases into a happy and contented smile.
'I was a willing partner, or didn't you notice?' she asks.
I grin as she teases me. She's right, it takes two.
'I do seem to remember you saying "Oh, Merlin, yes," on a few occasions last night,' I tell her.
She slaps my shoulder softly and smiles.
'And that's what I'll say if it comes to an argument. But it won't, because Mum and Dad aren't going to find out,' she says with certainty. I gaze into her clear brown eyes and I believe her. I realise that, with Ginny beside me, I can do anything.
'I love you…' I begin. I get no further because Ginny slides her arms around my waist, pulls me close and kisses me. I cannot resist. I slide my hands under her t-shirt.
'I'm not interrupting anything, am I?' Hermione asks from the top of the stairs. She's wearing an old pair of jeans and a sweater.
'Yes,' Ginny says. 'But we can wait.'
I blush and Hermione giggles. I don't think I've ever heard her giggle before, certainly not like that.
'Did you have a nice time with Ron, yesterday?' Ginny asks.
'I… We… What?' splutters Hermione, her embarrassment signalled by her blushing cheeks.
'I was asking about your day out,' says Ginny, laughing. 'I do not want to know any details about what you were doing in my brother's bedroom.'
'Oh,' Hermione blushes even more, but proceeds to happily tell us about their day.
'So, after we'd danced in the rain, we came back here to get warm and dry, which we did,' Hermione concludes, smiling happily. 'Ron's fallen asleep again. I didn't see any reason to wake him.'
'He took you to the Merlin's Circle restaurant?' Ginny asks. 'Dressed like that? And they let you in?'
'Yes.' Hermione laughs. 'You should have seen the head waiter's face when we walked in. It was like thunder, he was outraged! I was certain that he was going to throw us out, but Ron told him who we were, and said that he'd been working undercover. When the waiter recognised us he went from looking down on us to sucking up to us in an instant.'
Ginny and I join in the laughter.
'What're you lot laughing about?' Ron asks.
'Hermione was telling us about last night, Ron,' Ginny tells him.
Ron's mouth opens and closes, but no words come out. He blushes crimson and we laugh even more, until Hermione takes pity on him.
'I was telling them about the restaurant, Ron, about the waiter,' Hermione explains.
'Gits,' Ron says.
Ginny shrugs. 'Would you rather talk about what we were all doing when we got back here, Ron?' she snaps sarcastically.
Ron looks horrified and shakes his head.
'Good,' Ginny tells him. She takes my hand, and takes charge. 'Harry and I are together. You and Hermione are together. We've been friends for years. We've been couples for … we've been couples for a lot longer than we've iactually/i been couples for … it's been years, really!'
Ron and Hermione look at each other and nod. We all know what Ginny is trying to say. In retrospect, we realise that it's been inevitable that this morning would arrive.
'This shouldn't change anything, in fact, it should make things easier,' Ginny continues. 'We can cover for each other. Where were you supposed to be last night Hermione?'
'At the Burrow, with you,' Hermione says.
'And I stayed over at your place, Hermione, because we were swotting all night,' Ginny announces. 'Your mum and mine don't really know each other. So that will work, as long as we all remember where we were, okay?'
Ron looks rather bewildered.
'You weren't actually thinking of telling Mum, were you, Ron?' Ginny asks.
'No, but…' he begins.
'No buts!' Ginny announces. 'We need to get our stories straight, Ron. What's happened has happened, and I've got no problems about you and Hermione, neither does Harry.' Her thumb applies gentle pressure to the knuckle of my forefinger as she speaks. That means "back me up," so I do.
''No, no problems,' I agree. 'No problems at all.'
'And I've got no problems about Harry and Ginny, Ron,' says Hermione, she sounds almost threatening.
'Okay, okay,' Ron holds up his hands in surrender. 'I'm not a complete hypocrite, you know, Hermione. It's just … Mum!'
I'm surprised how quickly we've reached an understanding, but we lapse into an uneasy silence. We are all simply processing what has happened. While Ron stands in mute thoughtfulness, he is blushing to the tips of his ears, and I'm worried that his blush is contagious. Fortunately, Ginny breaks the silence.
'Have you spoken to your parents about the holiday, Hermione?' she asks.
'Yes, they are quite happy to extend the booking for two more weeks for us,' says Hermione.
Ron looks at me, puzzled, but I have no idea what they are talking about either, and that must be obvious.
'Haven't you told Harry, Ginny?' Hermione asks.
'I was just about to when you arrived,' says Ginny. She looks up into my eyes. 'Hermione's parents have a friend with a villa in Rhodes. They were going to book it for two weeks in mid-July just after school ends and Hermione was going with them,' she tells me.
'I iam/i going with them, but I've persuaded them to book it for the following two weeks, too,' Hermione says. 'That is the last week in July and the first week in August. We can go for a holiday together, just like last year.'
'Not quite like last year,' interrupts Ginny. 'Mr and Mrs Granger, and Hermione, are going for the first two weeks, and we're going out to join Hermione when the Granger's come back. You'll have to pay for me, Harry, but I will pay you back when I get a job.'
'Okay.' I nod. I would offer to pay for Ginny outright, but I know that there is no point in arguing about money with her.
'Are your parents going to be okay with that, Hermione?' Ron asks worriedly.
Hermione nods. 'Yes. After all, I've spent a lot of time with you over the years. When I suggested it, Dad asked "do I want do know what the sleeping arrangements are?" and Mum told him to be quiet. Apparently, Dad went on holiday to Spain with his first girlfriend when he was nineteen and she was seventeen. He looked a bit embarrassed when Mum reminded him.'
'Really?' Ron sounds astonished. Hermione nods.
'Mum was talking to one of the neighbours the other week, her daughter is a year younger than me and is going to America for three weeks with her boyfriend. It isn't a big deal for most Muggles, honestly, Ron,' says Hermione.
'I don't think that there is any chance that Mum and Dad will be so relaxed,' observes Ginny. 'Is there Ron?'
'Definitely not,' he says.
'So the solution is simple, Ron,' Ginny announces. 'We won't tell them! After breakfast, we'll go to the Burrow and see Mum and Dad. We'll say that Hermione's parents have booked the villa, which is true, and that we're going out to join them after two weeks, which is, sort of true. We just don't mention that Hermione's parents won't be with us. Now, Ron, you need to know how to lie to Mum. We can safely ignore Dad; he never has any idea about what's going on.'
Over breakfast we make our plans.