A/N: Written for the LiveJournal TakingItInTurns fic exchange. My recipient requested: Fluff and Romance, Charms and Potions with some humorous and romantic effects. Set the summer or fall after the Final Battle, with some good snogging and a little bit of humor. Elements to leave out: Anything dark or depressing, and no explicit sex. As anyone who reads my works will attest, I can't actually write dark, depressing or explicit stories. As always, major props to my betas, the incredibly beautiful and talented duo of rosiekatriona and sassyfrass_kerr.
Ron knew he shouldn't eavesdrop. He had said that he was all right with them dating, and really, he was. He didn't see the attraction, of course-who would want to date Ginny? She was just Ginny! But Harry made her happy, and, what really sealed it, was that she made Harry happy. And that was not something to take lightly.
But really! When you walk by Ginny's bedroom door, and hear. . . well, that, you just kind of have to stop and listen, right? Any big brother would do the same.
It was frustrating though, as only some of their conversation was audible. The part that had caught his attention was Ginny saying, ". . . potion or charm, you know, mumble mumble protected."
Now, Ron was a typical male young adult, and his mind automatically connected that with the word "contraceptive". And, being a Weasley, he naturally overreacted. Unfortunately, he forgot to open the door before barging in.
". . . with a child-Merlin's beard!" Ginny exclaimed. "What was that?"
Harry had sprung from Ginny's bed where he had been sitting, wand already in outstretched hand. His first reaction-well, his first reaction after pulling his wand, was to jump in front of Ginny. Thankfully he managed to stifle that. The rather vociferous argument that arose last time still rang in his ears. But he still wanted to be the first to the door-it might provide some protection to his girlfriend.
But Ginny knew Harry very well indeed. Pulling her wand just a tad more quickly than Harry, she ducked around him and yanked the door open.
Ron was lying on the floor, back against the opposite wall, cradling his wrist and moaning.
Ginny snickered at the sight, while Harry opted for a less-obviously-derisive reaction. "Ron, mate. What are you doing?"
Ron looked up at the couple, puzzled. "Wha-" Then he remembered why he was there. "You absolute wanker!" he yelled at his best friend. "I never meant you could do that! You've-you're-I'm going to beat the snot-" His tirade was interrupted when, forgetting he had bunged up his wrist, he used that arm to try to leverage himself up. The wrist held for about the amount of time it took to say "snot", but then gave way, and Ron fell on the floor again.
Harry stood there, looking rather dumbfounded.
Ginny, on the other hand, was furious. "How dare you listen in on our conversation? What Harry and I talk about is our business, and you can bloody well sod off!" Ginny's wand was giving off sparks, reacting to her anger. Then it was emitting a rather pretty purple beam as she pointed it at her brother and said, well, yelled, "Vox Pluralis!"
Ron braced himself, fearing Ginny's favorite hex. But when the purple light struck him, nothing happened. Ron quickly looked around, counting appendages and ensuring all his personally-owned bits were still intact, then looked up, puzzled.
Harry was puzzled also, but knew better than to even suggest that Ginny might have messed up a spell. And, judging from her face, which had lost its righteous anger, that particular hex was exactly the one she meant to cast.
Seeing Harry's bemused look, Ginny smiled and took his arm. "Come on, Harry. Let's go for a walk in the orchard. There's this really great place that we can be-" her voice took on that deep, husky quality that never failed to get Harry thinking about white dresses, and weddings, and weddings nights, "-alone together."
Forgetting all about Ron, still crumpled on the floor, Harry turned to follow his girlfriend down the stairs and out the front door.
A few minutes later, Ron managed to stand up, although his wrist was still rather upset at him for all that it had had to do in his efforts, but then, Ron was used to ignoring pained body parts-it was part and parcel of being Harry Potter's best mate. Although, if they were off to do what he suspected, that whole best mate part might need to be re-thought.
It was only when Ron tracked down his mother that he realized what Ginny's hex had done. "Mum Mum, I I think think Harry Harry and and Ginny Ginny are are going going to to-"
Molly was rather busy this morning. Granted, she was usually busy in the morning, those fabulous dinners didn't make themselves after all. But today was rather special. Today was the day her youngest was turning 17. She paused for a bit in the middle of her flouring, and smiled fondly at the thought of her daughter. Ginny really was the light in her life-Molly had been surrounded by boys for most of her life, and greatly welcomed a little help from the estrogen-fueled gender to combat the testosterone-drenched side. True, Ginny lots of times acted like she was just one of the boys, but many late-night conversations, and tears, and laughter had forged a bond between the two Weasley women that nothing could break.
Molly's hands resumed their task as she thought some more about the events happening today. Thankfully Harry had come through the war relatively whole. Molly had watched Ginny last year when Harry had gone off with Ron and Hermione, and knew, beyond any shadow of doubt, that Ginny would be Harry's some day-at least, if he survived. And she didn't know how she'd ever be able to comfort her daughter if he didn't. That horrible, horrible time when they'd all thought he was dead-she thought for sure she was going to lose Ginny, too. But they'd pulled through, and the two teens were now inseparable.
Thinking of Ginny and Harry brought up her other two in-love children. Ron had grown into quite the man, and, while she wished he wouldn't keep going off half-cocked like that, he was really a wonderful boy. And that Hermione! She was the perfect foil to Ron. Her brains and talents, and his courage and loyalty-surely they'd be an incredible force when they finally stopped arguing!
Her thoughts were interrupted just then by the appearance of her youngest son. She smiled at him and bent to her next task. Only to be brought up short by Ron's gibbering.
"Ron!" she said forcefully, trying to get his attention. "RON!" she finally yelled. He quieted and looked at her in surprise. "Ron, why are you. . . babbling?"
"What what?" Ron looked even more confused.
"I said, Ron, why are you babbling? It sounds like you're saying everything twice. Did George try something on you? A babbling beverage or something?"
Ron still looked lost. "Um um, I I don't don't-"
Molly interrupted again. "Ron, can you hear what you're saying? Talk slowly, and pay attention."
"Okay okay, Mum Mum, but but are are-what what the the bloody bloody he- he-" Ron shut his mouth, just now realizing that cursing in front of his mother probably wasn't the best way to get her to help in the situation.
"Did someone put a curse on you? No, don't say anything, just nod your head if I'm right." Truly, the doublespeak was giving Molly a headache.
"Who was it? Was it George?"
Ron shook his head. "Ginny Ginny," he managed to stutter.
Molly glared at her son. "And just what did you do to Ginny to make her hex you?"
"Well well, I I-"
"Ron, stop. I don't know if I can listen to that any more. Let me see if I can fix you." She drew her wand and cast a Finite Incantatem on her son, then looked at him expectantly. "Say something, Ron," she huffed, when he just looked at her.
"Um, what should should I say? Oh! Hey hey, that's better, isn't it?" Ron looked happy, but Molly sighed.
"Well, it is better, but you're still not cured. Let me try again." She did so, then nodded at Ron to continue.
"Okay, um, well. . . do you know where where Harry and Ginny went?"
Molly shook her head in annoyance. "I guess that's about as good as we're going to get for now." Her voice got softer as she muttered to herself about uppity children who are stronger magically than their parents.
"Mum!" Ron interrupted. "Do you know know where Harry and Ginny went went?"
"What? Aren't they still upstairs?"
"No, Mum!" Ron just about shouted in frustration. Calming his voice down at the steely-eyed look on his mum's face, he continued more quietly. "No, they said something about about going somewhere more private. You didn't see them them?"
Molly shook her head. "No, they must have gone out the front door."
"Mum! We have have to stop them! When they were upstairs in Ginny's room room I heard them talking about . . . about. . . " Ron's courage just about failed him, but he managed to whisper, "those spells."
Molly did not look amused. "What spells, Ron?"
Ron's ears turned bright red, and he ducked his head. "Um, the the ones for not not . . . having babies babies."
Molly gasped, then sat down. "You mean they're going to-"
"I think so, Mum Mum. And now they've gone out to to the orchard to have some-" he cringed, "-alone alone time."
"But she's just seventeen!" Molly exclaimed, conveniently forgetting that she had gotten married and pregnant on her own seventeenth birthday, and yes, it was in that order, thank you very much!
"I know know, Mum. And you know how much she lo- likes likes Harry! There's no telling what what they'll end up doing!"
"Ronald," his mother said, standing up decisively. "Floo your father and tell him that I said to bring the daffodils. I think we need to-" she looked at her son, who was still standing there. "I said go Floo your father, Ronald!"
Proving that he had some intelligence when it came to Weasley women, Ron just nodded and headed into the family room.
Molly set a kneading charm on the dough-it never turned out as good that way, but sometimes shortcuts needed to be taken. Rushing up the stairs to her bedroom, she quickly opened her hope chest. It had been awhile since she had looked in there, but the memories came back easily. She took out the beautiful flowers from her own wedding, grateful for preservation charms. The next item was her wedding dress-it had been quite scandalous back then-much tighter than fashion had dictated. But Ginny would probably think it hopelessly old-fashioned. Molly sighed a bit-maybe she could persuade her daughter to wear it anyway.
"There you are," she said in satisfaction, as she lifted out Charms and Spells for the Newlyweds. It was a true Prewett family legacy, having been passed down since time immemorial. But she'd never been able to find anything to replace its comprehensive nature. And she was quite sure that a few of the more personal spells inside might have otherwise been lost to time. But she would not let her daughter be caught unawares, and she could hope that maybe Ginny would hold off on some of the other spells until such time as she was on her honeymoon.
Blushing slightly, she repacked the wedding dress. Then, making a quick decision, she closed the chest and took both book and flowers downstairs-it was about time they were brought out and displayed, and she knew the perfect spot for them.
Arthur had been having a rather interesting day. Perkins had taken the day off, so he was all alone in his broom closet of an office. This suited him perfectly, as he had recently come into a stash of Muggle toys that he "needed to check for dangerous charms". That had taken all of half a minute, but he couldn't resist trying to figure out the uses for the toys. There was one particular one that looked just like a spring. But it was bigger than any spring he'd seen, and it acted rather strangely when he had accidentally knocked it off his desk. Of course, he'd also gotten it almost hopelessly tangled up, and had had to resort to magic to fix it. Maybe Hermione or Harry could explain what the word Slinky meant.
He was interrupted in his musings by his youngest son.
"Dad Dad!" he heard from the small communication fireplace in the wall. Looking up, he saw Ron's small face peering around to find him.
"Hello, Ron. How are things this morning?" he asked.
"I'm fine, Dad Dad, but Mum told me to Floo Floo you and tell you to bring the posies."
Arthur just stared at his son.
"No, that wasn't wasn't it. Um, maybe it was that you should should bring the pansies?" At Arthur's more-puzzled look Ron tried again. "Roses!" No change.
Getting frustrated, Ron decided to go for broke. "Rhododendrons! Peonies, Lilies Lilies, um, Devil's Snare! Tulips! Curse it all all! Some kind of flower, Dad!"
"Do you mean daffodils, Ronald?"
Ron's face brightened. "Yeah, that was was it. Anyway, Mum wants you to bring the daffodils!"
"All right, Ron. I'll be home in about ten minutes. And why are you talking so strangely?"
Ron just shook his head. "I'll tell tell you when you come back-probably best not to keep Mum waiting, right?"
Arthur nodded, said a quick goodbye to his son, and locked up his office. Not that the locks were really necessary anymore, but he didn't want someone else wandering off with the Slinky.
The Weasley fireplace turned green and belched out a red-headed man. Molly, who had just come down the stairs, rushed up to him and embraced him.
"It's just, well, they're young, and Harry grew up with those hateful people, and I'm sure they never talked to him, and they're off together now, and it might be too late, but I found the book, and see how my flowers still look? We should put them on the mantel, don't you think?"
Arthur hugged his Molly closer to him. "I think that'd be just fine, Molly. But the rest of that was a little bit, um, unclear."
Molly blushed a bit, then smiled. "Welcome home, Arthur. I'm sorry, it just kind of crept up on me." She backed up a bit and fussed at Arthur's collar, which just didn't seem to want to lie flat. "Well, dear, it's just that it's Ginny's seventeenth birthday today, and Ron kind of overheard them talking about contraceptive charms, and I thought maybe it was time to talk to Harry about. . ." Her voice trailed off, and she took a deep breath. "About marital relations."
Arthur looked a little surprised. "Oh, well. . . Okay. I mean, he probably doesn't have anyone else to talk about these things with. I'm betting Sirius didn't have the time. And it's not like Albus would have done anything like that." He smiled a bit. "Although, you kind of got me here under false pretenses, Mollywobbles."
Molly blushed spectacularly. "I'm sorry, Arthur. It's just that I didn't want Ron blaring it all over the place that you needed to give Harry The Talk. And that was the fastest way to get you home."
Arthur chuckled. "Well, it has always worked in the past. And, when you really think about it, it was the perfect way to get me home. I mean, I do have to talk to Harry about it. But, if you think I'm going to let you get away without paying up, then you've got another think coming. I think we'll just have to retire early tonight, and do a good job with the silencing charms, eh?"
Molly's blush came fully back, but she leaned up and kissed her husband with more than a little hint of passion. "I'm looking forward to it, dearest. But first, I think we need to find Harry and Ginny."
Arthur pulled her in close for another kiss, and swatted her on the bum as he walked past her.
"Arthur, Ronald said they went out to the orchard."
"Oh, right. Yes, well I'll just head on out there, shall I? And maybe whistle a jaunty tune while I walk?"
Molly smiled back. "I think that's a good idea. Oh, and if you see Ron, try another Finite Incantatem on him-I think Ginny hexed him to stutter."
Arthur grinned, and went out towards the orchard, whistling the wedding march.
"George! George" came Ron's call through the Floo. George was hard at work stocking shelves, and the sound of Ron's voice barely made it to him. Cursing quietly under his breath, he set down the boxes of Eau de Ever-Enlarging Earlobes and hurried to the back room.
"What's got your knickers in a twist, Ron?"
"Can can I come through?" Ron asked.
"Fine!" George grumbled, as he released the wards on the fireplace. "But if you're coming over, you're gonna work!" he warned.
Ron nodded, then stepped through. "See, here's the thing-"
George interrupted. "No, you're not working. Grab that box of Sniveling Slugs and start stocking shelves."
Ron tried once again. "But it's Ginny Ginny and-"
George pulled his wand and threw a charm at Ron. Ron braced himself for whatever George had done, but nothing happened. Well, at least nothing that he could tell. Shrugging, he followed his older brother out into the store. He slapped himself in the forehead and turned to go back into the storeroom to get the box, but was brought up short by the needed box floating right behind him. He leaned over a bit and saw, behind the box of Slugs, to see five or six other boxes, bouncing along behind the first.
"What what did you do?" Ron asked.
"Nothing much, ickle Ronnikins," George said with a smirk. "I just decided to make it easier for you to stock shelves."
"But but there's like ten of them! I'm not staying that long."
"No problem," came the answer, "they'll just follow you home."
"What! What!" was Ron's incredulous shriek.
"Did I stutter?" George asked, then grinned. "Oh, no. Right, that was you, eh? What happened, did Ginny get you with the Stuttering Streak?"
"You you know about it?" Ron shrieked.
"Who do you think taught it to her?" George answered rhetorically. Then he smirked. "Well, actually, it was Bill, but I got to learn it too!" He frowned. "I don't care, Ron, you must have deserved it. But get stocking, or you're going to be here really late. And you certainly don't want to miss Ginny's birthday, do you?"
Ron grumbled a bit at the unfairness of the world, but when the box immediately behind him started nuzzling his shoulder, he buckled down and restocked shelves as fast as he could. After all, the entire Weasley clan had been working to help George get back into the swing of running of the shop, and that mindset directed Ron to provide whatever help he could.
Harry considered this to be their tree. Broad trunk, branches starting far enough above the ground to give a sense of openness, and best of all, there were three different places between the roots that were comfortable for sitting in. Well, to be technical, there was one great place to sit side-by-side with someone a little smaller than him, there was another place that lent itself to Harry holding Ginny sideways on his lap (the next root was even tall enough that she could lean back a bit if she wanted (which she rarely did)), and the third location was just perfect for someone of Ginny's size to sit, while having someone of Harry's size lie down with his head in her lap.
It was the second of the three places that held the couple today. True, when they had first rushed out there, escaping Ron's attentions, they had chosen that place so they could continue their discussion about certain charms, potions, and possibilities. But that hadn't taken them long, and, truly, the topic had brought forth a certain amount of heat and desire.
Arthur found them in their hollow, wrapped tightly together, and ignoring the rest of the world. He stopped and whistled a little bit louder. When the couple continued in their activities, he tried the old fake "Ahem", that never sounds like a real cough.
"Oh, Harry!" he heard his daughter's voice. "I just wish we could. . ." and Ginny's voice dropped down to be completely inaudible to Arthur, although he was actually relieved about that.
Arthur grimaced and pulled out his wand. There was a bright blue flash, some rustling, and he found himself sitting, wandless, with a rather impressive pair of fluffy green handcuffs securing his wrists.
"Oh, Kneazles!" Harry's voice sounded as frightened as Arthur had ever heard it. "I'm so sorry, Mr. Weasly! I didn't know it was you-I thought it was Ron, or maybe George! Here, let me get those handcuffs off you-"
"Harry!" Arthur interrupted. Harry took no notice. He rushed over to Arthur, but was brought up short by a rather loud and very obvious throat-clearing. Harry blanched.
Ginny was sitting on the ground, looking a little ruffled. "Harry, I swear if you don't come back and help me up, then we won't have any need for any of those charms or potions until next year!"
Arthur peered intently at his daughter. He couldn't believe she was being so blatant about their activities. Of course, she did come from a rather passionate family, but he would have thought she'd be a bit more discreet. Well, maybe that was something he'd get Molly to talk to her about-not that it would do any good. Ginny had always charted her own course, and the best that Arthur and Molly had been able to do was support her and get out of her way.
Harry's reaction was to stop and stare at Ginny. Then he looked back at Arthur, then back at Ginny. The confusion was rather painful to watch, and Arthur sighed. "Go ahead, Harry. I'm fine here, and she's the one you really need to take care of."
Harry looked in confusion at the father of his girlfriend, then went back to said girlfriend and extended a hand to help her up.
Ginny ignored Harry's hand, and just looked up at him expectantly. He stared back at her in confusion. He turned back to Arthur, who just gave him a small shrug.
Turning back to his girlfriend, who had now leaned back on her hands, he decided that it was time to step up and be the Gryffindor. Well, the Gryffindor who had a lot of Slytherin traits. He kneeled down next to Ginny, extended a hand, and placed the other on his chest.
"Oh, most fair and beautiful maiden," he began. From behind himself he heard a muffled snort, but didn't allow that to deter him in his quest. "Forgive me, fair maiden, for having behaved so rudely as to cause your comely person to rest upon the unworthy earth. If I had known the dreadful outcome of my previous activities, I would have fain thrown my wretched body underneath yours, to preclude the eventuality of your having to rest on the cursed ground."
Harry didn't know for sure where this was coming from, but the look on Ginny's face (equal parts astonishment and something that looked rather a lot like desire) convinced him to continue.
"Won't you please grant unto this humble man the honor of assisting you in rising? Or, if that does not suit your desires, might I have the privilege of lifting your perfect form off this, this miscreant soil? It would cause such rapture in my bosom to bear you hither and yon, as you will, to prove to you my love and devotion. If it were your desire, this humble servant would carry your lovely self nigh unto the end of the world itself, just to prove my everlasting dedication to you."
Ginny giggled. She couldn't help it. But at the flash of dismay in Harry's eyes, she composed herself. "Yes, kind sir. You may help me up. And please understand that I in no way intended to make light of your offer."
Harry smiled down at her, then gently placed one arm under her knees, and the other around her back, and stood up. Ginny held on tightly, enjoying the closeness and intimacy that this action afforded them, and thinking ahead to one day when perhaps there would be a threshold to be carried through.
Caught up in the experience, Harry turned back towards the Burrow, and found himself staring straight into the eyes of Arthur Weasley. The surprise was enough to loosen his hold on Ginny's legs, and she slipped down a bit before he was able to catch her. She glared up at him, but then turned white as he nodded toward her father.
"Oh, um, hi, Dad."
"Hello, Ginny. How are you?" Arthur asked, in good humor.
"Just fine," she squeaked, and slid down from his arms to stand in front of Harry, pressed as closely as possible to his solid, comforting presence.
"Harry," Arthur said. "Do you think maybe I could have a little bit of time with you?" He peered at his daughter. "Ginny, perhaps you could go help your mother." The tone of his voice made it quite clear that it wasn't just a suggestion.
Ginny looked up into Harry's face, leaned up and gave him a quick kiss, and whispered, "Oh, don't worry, Harry. Dad really likes you, probably more than he likes Ron."
Harry gulped audibly, then let go of Ginny's hand as she walked away.
Arthur saw the look on Harry's face as she left, and decided that it was a good thing that he had come out when he did-the love evident in the young man's eyes indicated that some discussions had better not be put off any longer.
Harry removed the handcuffs from Arthur and gave him a hand up. "Um, what did you want to talk about, sir?"
Arthur smiled, put an arm around Harry's shoulders, and gently steered him away from the Burrow. "Now, son, there comes a time in every man's life when he finds the woman he wants to spend his life with. And sometimes there's quite a lot of pressure to, er, do things that he wouldn't think of doing. At least, not before marriage."
Harry's ears turned a bright red, and his head dropped as he realized what was happening. But he gave a sigh and vowed to listen carefully to whatever Mr. Weasley told him about the hornets and the heffalumps-it's not like his uncle would have ever cared enough to give him the Talk.
Percy Weasley was an enigma. Much to his shame, he had spent quite a lot of time denouncing his family and Albus Dumbledore as undesirable elements in the Wizarding World. The wakeup call had come as quite a shock to him, and he'd had to re-evaluate quite a lot of his priorities. Thankfully his family had forgiven him, and he had made a solemn resolution that he would stand with family from here on out, no matter what.
In spite of the Weasley generosity of spirit, it had taken awhile for his siblings to become anywhere close to comfortable with him in their midst. And Percy still occasionally found himself the butt of George's jokes. And then there was that time that Ginevra had cast that hex on him-he still hadn't been able to find all his pants. And the time-delayed shrinking charm had been a masterpiece of subtlety-he supposed that had also been his sister, but wouldn't have put it past any of his brothers either. Thankfully, the perpetrator had included a minimum size for his boxers, so it hadn't been necessary to de-clothe in front of anyone.
But even with all the pranks, and chaos, and teasing, Percy had found that the time he spent in the presence of the other Weasleys was surprisingly uplifting. In fact, he decided, as he impulsively made a left turn instead of a right, he'd take some time right now to visit his father. But as he headed towards his father's cubicle (really, they should provide any Head of Department with a decently-size office) he caught a glimpse of Arthur turning a corner at the end of the corridor.
Percy tried the handle of his father's broom closet anyway-if it were unlocked then he'd just leave a little note on his desk. Stymied, he picked up his pace to try to catch the elder Weasley before he vanished into whatever warren he was visiting.
The low-speed chase ended in the Atrium, where he was just close enough to his father to hear his muttered destination. Surprised at his father leaving for home so early, Percy returned to his desk. He sat down and tried to get back into the report he was reading, but even the activities of the Transportation Committee failed to capture his attention. Sighing in resignation, he quickly wrote and sent a short memo to his boss, informing him of his "regrettable need to take care of some personal business", and headed for the Floos himself.
As luck would have it, the person to greet Percy first was Ron. And he had quite the tale to tell-some of it was so important Ron even repeated key words to ensure Percy's complete understanding. This put Percy into a rather uncomfortable position.
Not as uncomfortable as Ginny's, when Percy cornered her by the back door.
"Ah, Ginevra," he intoned, ignoring her moue of disgust at his accustomed usage of her whole name. "I've heard quite a tale about you and your boyfriend. Ronald said that he caught you engaging in some activities that might be considered a little, shall we say, mature."
A confused look instantly gave way to anger. "What did that prat say?" she spit out, fingering her wand.
Percy backed up a bit, but found his Gryffindor roots and stepped forward again. "Never mind that, Ginev-Ginny," he hastily corrected. "But there comes a time in everyone's life when they decide that there are certain, er, activities, that they think they'd like to participate in. And while there is certainly a lot of discussion about the best timing and the proper partner, I think it's safe to say that it's never a bad thing to postpone fulfilling some of those, those desires."
Ginny's anger had turned back into confusion. "What the devil are you talking about, Percy?"
Percy's face got even redder, and he scuffed the toe of his shoe a bit on the floor. He cleared his throat. "It's rather obvious that in the past I might not have had all of my information correct regarding your and Ronald's relationships. I have endeavored to correct that, and feel that I have managed to improve my understanding of the situations of my family. But given that knowledge, I feel it incumbent upon me to perhaps offer some alternative viewpoints to those that might be promulgated by our other brothers, whose interest might be more pecuniary than filial." He finished his statement by looking up proudly and nodding his head, as if he had said everything he intended to say, and expected Ginny to cast effusive gratitude at him.
He was disappointed.
Ginny just stared at her older brother, blinked, then stared some more.
Percy grew slightly uncomfortable under Ginny's bemused gaze. "Ginevra, were you not listening?"
Ginny cocked her head to the side. Was it worth her time trying to figure out what Percy was trying to say? On the one hand, Percy really was trying to be a better Weasley, and that deserved mention. But, he obviously hadn't been able to put aside the priggishness that had infused his entire persona over the last five or six years. And he really was just begging for Ginny to take the mickey.
But just as she opened her mouth, Ron came bursting out of the family room, followed by what looked like a dozen flying gnomes, all of whom were cursing him in their high-pitched voices. "Stop stop them!" he screamed as he tried to hide behind the table.
Ginny couldn't. The sight was just guaranteedto cause Patronus-class memories. Percy was even smiling a bit.
Ron, realizing that he couldn't expect help from his siblings, made a desperate grab for the pantry door, and managed to seclude himself inside, away from the aerial squadron.
"Ginny! Ginny! I'm going to kill you!" came Ron's most angry yell. Unfortunately, his mother had just entered the kitchen, and wasted no time in yanking the pantry door open. This, of course, let the flying gnomes into Ron's refuge, and all that could be heard was some incoherent yells and cries of pain.
Ginny had to sit down, she was laughing so hard.
Harry came in at that moment, and stopped in the doorway, mouth agape. Ever since he'd met the Weasleys he had seen a lot of strange things he'd never expected. But the sight in the kitchen right now had to top it all. The battalion of gnomes dive-bombing Ron, Ginny's hysterical laughter, Percy's look, composed of equal parts amused confusion (from the goings-on), and disapproval (which ruffled Harry's feathers as it seemed aimed at Ginny), and Molly berating her youngest son while banishing each gnome out the back doorway just took the cake.
"Harry, you're blocking the door!" came George's shout, and Harry obediently moved aside for the red-head. George, upon entering the kitchen, broke out into great peals of laughter, which, in turn, brought the Weasley patriarch into the scene.
Arthur stood in the doorway, looking over his brood with a rather fond smile. True, he never did know what to expect when he came into the house, but, "At least we're a happy family!" he exclaimed.
Molly finished banishing the gnomes and pulled Ron to his feet. George moved to sit down next to Ginny, whispering something conspiratorially to his little sister, who blushed and slugged him on the shoulder.
Arthur took his seat at the head of the table, looking over his family. He cleared his throat and said, "Since it looks like everyone's here who's going to be, I think it would be a good time to call a Family Meeting." Even Harry could hear the capital letters.
"Are you sure you want me here, sir?" Harry asked. He considered the Weasleys to be his family, but wasn't completely sure of their level of reciprocation.
"Of course, Harry dear," Mrs. Weasley retorted. "You're family!"
Arthur smiled and joined in. "Besides, Harry, I think that much of what we need to talk about is pertinent to you and Ginny."
Harry blanched. The preceding conversation he had had with Ginny's father was still running through his mind, and while he was very grateful for Arthur's apparent acceptance of his and Ginny's relationship, he wasn't quite sure if he was ready to have to relive that utterly embarrassing discussion.
Ginny put her arm around Harry and pulled him close. Harry looked down at her, and took strength from her clear brown gaze. As long as she was by his side, he could handle anything.
"Stop stop that, you two two!" Ron interjected.
"Well, that brings us to the first topic. Ginny? Why did you feel it necessary to hex your brother?" Arthur asked.
Ginny thought about making up a plausible denial, but one look at Ron persuaded her otherwise. "Ron was being a complete git this morning, Dad. He was listening in on Harry and me, and then tried to barge into my room! So I hexed him to stutter all day. I'm not sorry about it, either," she declared defiantly, and tried to fold her arms.
Harry recovered quickly from being almost folded along with Ginny's arms, and looked at the Weasley parents. They didn't seem very surprised-it was obvious they had already guessed this much.
"And what about the garden gnomes?" Mrs. Weasley asked. "That seems a little extreme, don't you think?"
Ginny snickered a bit, remembering the chaos. "I didn't do it, Mum," she responded. "Although I wish I had," she continued, under her breath.
Molly stared at her daughter, gauging her truthfulness. But it seemed like she was telling the truth. Her gaze shifted to Harry, who shook his head, then to George, who grinned, but shook his head also. "Ronald?" she asked, turning to look at her youngest son.
"I I guess I did did it to my- myself," he stuttered out. "After hearing that Ginny Ginny and Harry were-" he stopped when he noticed Ginny's wand pointed at his nose. Deciding that he didn't want to see what else she was capable of, he just said, "that that Ginny and Harry Harry were keeping secrets from me, I got got mad and went went outside. A stupid gnome gnome bit me, and I I tried to Banish them. But but I stuttered and and all the gnomes started flying around and chasing chasing me."
George guffawed, but pulled out a scrap of parchment and accio'ed a quill from the front room. Harry could see him making notes, and figured it wouldn't be too long before Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes was carrying Gnome-bombs or something else more sinister.
"Ginny, please put your brother right," Arthur requested.
Ginny grumbled about all the things that Ron needed in order to be "right", but pulled out her wand and cast Vox Singularis on Ron. Ron muttered a few things, but was speaking noticeably better now.
"Thank you, Ginny," her father continued. "Now, I think we need to discuss a few more things. As you all know, it's Ginny's seventeenth birthday today, and she's officially Of Age."
"Not like that's stopped her before," George muttered under his breath.
Arthur ignored the comment and continued. "As such, there are certain, um, options available to her that she hasn't had before. Ron, you might want to try to remember that Ginny can use magic now, so I would expect her to retaliate against you if you do something to her."
Ron shuddered, then nodded his head fervently.
"And, I'd like to point out that because both Harry and Ginny are adults, they really don't need to be babysat." His pointed glance was aimed at both Ron and Percy, although George came in for a little bit of glare too.
Arthur took a deep breath, let it out slowly, then spoke again. "Harry, I'm sorry, son, but this also puts a little bit more pressure on you. I want you to know that we love you, Molly and I, and trust you to do what's right. And I'm not going to put nonsensical limits on you, nor on Ginny. But I would ask you to please consider all the ramifications to whatever activities you and she choose to do."
Arthur's face was a rather alarming shade of red now, and Molly looked as if she wanted to say something, but before she could, Ron jumped up in anger. "What!" he all but screamed. "You're just going to let them do . . . whatever they want? I mean, yeah, good for Ginny's birthday and all that, but to just tell them that they can-"
"Ronald Weasley!" Molly cut in. "Sit down! In case you didn't understand your father, we are telling you that you have no say in the matter of Harry's and Ginny's relationship." Her face turned slightly pink too, but she gamely carried on. "If they want to go out on dates, they can do that. If they were to go on a trip together, then we will let them."
Molly's voice had gotten a slight quaver in it that didn't escape Percy's notice. "Mother," he interjected, "You can't be serious! The idea of these two young people being allowed to travel somewhere alone is laughable. There's no knowing what kinds of activities they'll engage in!"
"Percy!" his dad said, interrupting in a manner that was rather unlike Arthur's normal easy-going nature. "What did I just say? They're both adults, and while I'm not sure I'm ready to have my only girl become a mother-"
"What?" came Harry's and Ginny's voices. They looked at each other, and Harry nodded slightly to his girlfriend. She turned back to her parents.
"What are you talk-?" She broke off, then her eyes got a mischievous look in them. She looked back at Harry and raised an eyebrow. He thought for a moment, and raised both of his. She nodded again, and he shrugged.
"So, let me understand, Dad. You're telling us that, since we're adults now, we can do whatever we want? Even if we wanted to shag like bunnies?"
Arthur winced a bit at the blatant statement. But then he nodded. "I won't pretend I'm happy about the idea, and I'd really hoped that you'd be willing to wait until you're married. But you're an adult now, as much as I like to see you as my little baby, and I can't stop you." He looked sadly at Molly, and she nodded at him to continue. "But please, Ginny, and you too, Harry. Be careful, and don't jump into something you don't think you're ready for. Making love to someone is the ultimate expression of devotion, and you can only give your, um, your . . ."
"Virginity is the word you're looking for, Dad," suggested George with a smirk.
"Yes, well, I guess you're right. And remember that this goes for you too, boys. You can only give your virginity once, and such a priceless gift should ideally be given to your wife-"
"-or husband," Molly said, looking at Ginny with glistening eyes.
"Yes, or husband, on your wedding night. That sharing and loving tends to strengthen a relationship beyond any other method. But, as I said before, you're all adults now, and will have to make your own decisions. And I think that, to help your mother and I continue our illusions, we'd really rather not know about anything you might or might not get up too."
Arthur sat back in his chair, with a rather resigned expression on his face. Molly took his hand and patted it.
"Your father is right, and I support him in all that he said. Now, having said that, I will mention one more thing. We Weasleys are a rather passionate lot-"
Harry nodded his head in agreement, then blushed as Ron, Percy, and George all stared at him. "Um, go on, Mrs. Weasley," he suggested, desperation in his voice.
"Yes, well. We're a rather passionate lot, and sometimes it's hard to remember to say the right spells to forestall a pregnancy-"
"Obviously!" George interrupted.
Molly ignored him. "-so, in the future, if you need some sort of help, I've got a Potions recipe that is pretty much foolproof-"
"Really, Mum?" asked Ron. "Then why did you have so many of us?"
Ginny kicked Ron under the table. "Hey there! If she hadn't, then I wouldn't be here, and you probably wouldn't either."
"And Voldemort would have won," Harry murmured, a little louder than he'd intended.
"What?" chorused most of the voices around the table.
Harry looked up, startled, to see five men and one woman staring at him in astonishment, and one woman looking at him with eyes full of love.
"Oh, um, well. . . when I went into the forest, and stood there and let Tom cast the Killing Curse on me, I had a choice. I could have gone on to be with Mum and Dad and Sirius, or I could come back to you all. And all I could think of was the time I spent being Ginny's boyfriend. And I really," he sniffed a bit, and Ginny took his hand. "I really wanted to be with her again. And not just as a boyfriend-I could imagine a house full of children, and coming home to her and them, and that was just-it was just too much to give up."
Molly stood up and rushed around the table. "Oh, Harry," she said, as she hugged him. "We're so happy that we didn't lose another of our children that day. And we'd like nothing better than for you and Ginny to live long, happy lives together."
"But maybe not the grandchildren yet, right?" Ron asked. Ron had gone silent after his last outburst, and Harry was worried that he was going to react in a typically Ron manner, with threats and yelling. But it looked as if he were finally taking the time to think about the reality of things. And Harry hoped that this last question signalled a greater acceptance of Ginny's and Harry's relationship.
Arthur coughed, and then chuckled. "You're right, Ron. We're not sure we're ready for grandchildren to come from you lot, yet. Although I think Bill and Fleur are getting ready to announce something. But that's neither here nor there." Arthur looked Ginny in the eyes-just Ginny, as Molly was still hugging Harry. "What really matters is that you be wise in your choices. As long as you are, we'll not complain."
Ginny reached over and took her father's hand. "Dad, that means a lot to us. Thank you for trusting us, and letting us be who we need to be." She sat back and reached over for Harry's hand. Pulling at him, she finally pried him away from her mum, who sniffled a bit more and sat back down. Looking at Harry for strength, she continued. "But we want you all to know that we haven't done that, and don't plan on doing that until we're married."
"You're engaged?" Molly gasped.
"No, not yet, Mrs. Weasley," Harry answered.
"Harry!" Molly said. "If that's really what you're thinking, then don't you think it's about time to call me Molly?"
Harry blushed again. "Um, okay Mrs. We-Molly. I'll try."
"Wait a minute," Ron said. "You guys aren't planning on shagging yet?"
"No, Ron, we're not," Harry answered. "Do you have a problem with that? I would think you'd be happy about that."
"I am," he answered, "but what about that conversation I-"
"Yes, Ron, what about that conversation you were eavesdropping on?" Ginny asked. Her voice was mostly happy, but it was laced with a little bit of venom which Ron couldn't fail to catch.
George and Percy were looking rather embarrassed too, having bought in to Ron's view of things.
Ron stopped, not knowing what to say. On the one hand, they had just said they were waiting until marriage. But on the other hand, he'd certainly heard some rather incriminating discussion. And on the third hand, admitting the extent of his eavesdropping was bound to get him into more trouble with his sister.
Seeing Ron's befuddlement, Percy jumped in. "It's just that certain things were overheard that seemed to indicate that in the not-too-distant future, inappropriate liberties were going to be taken."
Ron just stared at Percy. "What?" came his incredulous query.
George grinned. "He said, little brother, that you overheard Harry and Ginny talking about contraception, and jumped to conclusions."
Percy looked somewhat offended at the bluntness of George's response, but didn't contradict him.
Harry and Ginny exchanged an amused glance. "Really?" Harry commented. "I'm not sure what you could have heard that would have given you that idea."
"What?" Ron cried again. "You were talking about . . . about potions, and spells, and children! And I heard that just fine, thank you very much-that's what Hermione and I-" Somewhat belatedly, Ron shut up, and looked down at the table. Unfortunately for him, too many people had heard, and the Weasleys weren't stupid.
Molly's face showed the beginnings of a shouting match, and George looked at Ron as though he were a particularly gullible firstie. Percy looked somewhat taken aback, but Harry's was the face that worried Ron the most. Harry looked absolutely outraged, and Ron thought that if Ginny hadn't been holding on to him he would have lunged across the table preparatory to punching him.
"But what were you and Ginny talking about, then?" Ron asked with a quick-wittedness born of desperation.
"Never mind that, Ron! What do you mean, you and Hermione were discussing babies?" Harry thought he'd known exactly how far the other two had progressed in their relationship, but apparently there were some things that he hadn't heard yet.
"Nothing," Ron squeaked, looking rather nervously at his best friend.
"Try again!" Harry commanded. Ginny had given up on calming him down, and was now just hoping to forestall bloodshed.
Ron's anger finally kicked in, and he slammed his hands on the table and thrust himself to his feet. "Just a minute, you git!"
George was rather enjoying the show, although he did keep his wand close at hand. But one glance at his mother told him that there was about to be a Molly Weasley Intervention.
"SIT DOWN, BOYS!" Molly's most piercing yelled cut through the growing argument.
Harry sat. Ron sat. Arthur, Percy, and George sat up straight. Even Ginny jerked to attention.
"Now, we will all sit down and discuss things like civilized adults, shall we?" Molly asked, with not even a hint of sweetness about her.
Harry, who was looking at his lap in shame, nodded. Ginny rubbed his back and whispered something in his ear that brought a tentative smile out on his lips.
Ron's ears had gone quite red, redder even than when he had been shouting at Harry, but he mastered his emotions and nodded jerkily.
"Now, Harry dear, you need to remember that Ron and Hermione are to be treated the same way as you and Ginny are. As they are both Of Age, they have the same privileges and responsibilities as you do." She saw that Harry still wasn't looking at her. "Harry, dear. Can you please look at me?" She waited patiently until Harry finally raised his eyes. "Harry, dear, I'm not angry at you." At his disbelieving look, she smiled. "Yes, Harry, I do yell every so often. And I've been known to hand out punishments every so often." Ignoring the scoffs of incredulity from George and Ron, she continued. "But understand this: I love you all, and I want you to be happy. I won't be angry with any one of you as long as you do your best to do what's right. Understand?"
Harry nodded, but dropped his eyes back to his lap. Molly sighed, but didn't call attention to his actions. "Now, Ronald. Is there anything you wish to tell us regarding your and Hermione's relationship?"
Ron shook his head. "No, Mum." He cast a sideways glance at Harry, then looked back at his mother. "I don't want to talk about things when she's not around-it doesn't seem right."
Molly nodded. "That's understandable. And, as I said, you and Hermione are adults now, too. But if you want to talk about anything, we're here for you."
She cast a quick glance at Arthur, who took the cue and cleared his throat. "Well, Weasleys, I think that about wraps things up for now. Is there anything else that needs to be brought up?"
Percy spoke up. "I would appreciate knowing what Harry and Ginevra were discussing if it was not about engaging in sexual intercourse."
Ginny took in a deep breath, precursor to expressing her indignation, but Harry put a hand on her arm. She looked at him, and calmed down. Harry nodded at her, and she grimaced.
"Fine," Ginny said. "Whatever. It's not like it's all that important."
Harry huffed in mock anger. "What do you mean it's not all that important?"
Ginny glared at him half-heartedly. "Okay, I meant to say that it's an incredibly important part of Harry's life, and we're incredibly anxious about it, and it's incredibly important and incredibly sweet and incredibly-"
"Okay, enough with the incrediblys!" Harry interjected. "What Ginny's trying to say is that we're planning on taking Teddy to the zoo this weekend. But he still changes his hair color constantly, and we didn't really want to attract attention. Ginny suggested that there might be a potion, or a charm, that would maybe freeze his metamorphmagus skills for a couple of hours."
Ron sat back, gobsmacked. "Really? That's it? Just taking Teddy out in public? Then why did you go and make it sound all so . . . so . . ."
"The word you're looking for is sexy dearest brother," George interrupted.
Ron blanched. "No, that wasn't it, and please don't ever say that word again, okay? Mysterious is what I wanted to say." Looking back at his sister, he said again, "So?"
Ginny sighed. "Ron, haven't you figured it out by now? You're just so easy to wind up, I can't help myself."
Ron moaned, realizing what he had set himself up for, but Ginny just laughed at him. "Anyway, as much fun as this has been, Harry and I have a pre-arranged assignation in the paddock."
Ron looked up, hot to yell at the couple again, but Ginny just smirked.
Molly blinked, sighed, then settled for just reminding the pair that Ginny's birthday party was set to start at 5:30, and that she'd better be back in time.
Ginny agreed and pulled Harry to his feet and toward the door. The remaining Weasleys watched them leave, and just faintly heard Ginny say, "Come on, Harry, there is some newly-adult skin that you need to kiss."