I'm so so sorry about the wait. But here we are - the last chapter!
"Well, hello there, Ginny dearest," Ron said from his place at the kitchen table as she walked through the kitchen door.
"What do you want?" Ginny asked as she dropped onto one of the mismatched chairs placed around the kitchen table.
Ron smirked at her. "That's not a nice way to greet your brother."
"You only greet me like that when you want something," she replied. "So Ronnie dearest, what is it that you want?"
Ron shuffled in his seat a little causing Ginny to grin.
"See, you are after something," Ginny stated. "Please tell me you're not trying to set me up again. You know that…"
"Ginny," Ron said loudly, holding his hand up. "I'm not trying to set you up. I promise."
"Though you have to admit that night turned out really well for you," Ron declared smugly.
"He's not who you set me up with though," Ginny replied.
"That's true but I'm sure you're not upset that you came along. You and Harry have been loved up for what…nearly six months now…"
"Five," Ginny interrupted.
"Five…six…it doesn't matter. You two are sickeningly loving and adoring around each other and you wouldn't have met if it wasn't for me," Ron said.
"And you, brother dear, wouldn't have a new good friend if it wasn't for me. If Harry and I hadn't started seeing each other, you would still have this petty dislike for him."
Ron once again shuffled in his seat and then reached for an apple in the fruit bowl on the table, then inspected it, rubbed it against his shirt and then bit into it.
"Stop delaying, Ronald. What is the problem? What do you need?" Ginny asked staring at her brother.
Ron paused a moment before eventually answering. "As I'm sure you know, there's a Winter Ball at the Ministry just before Christmas."
"A Winter Ball?" Ginny asked.
"Yes. Hasn't Harry mentioned it?" Ron asked looking a little worried.
"Oh!" Ron replied.
"Yeah, well don't you worry about it. I'm sure there's a good reason why Harry hasn't said anything to me. What's worrying you about the ball?" Ginny asked trying to forget about Harry's lack of sharing.
"Erm, I don't know who to go with, you know, as a date," Ron said quietly.
"Why do you need to go with someone? Go alone. There's nothing wrong with that you know," Ginny suggested.
"Everyone else is going with someone," Ron said.
"Even Harry," Ginny asked raising her eyebrows in anger.
"I actually haven't talked to Harry about it. I just assumed that you two were going," Ron replied.
Ginny nodded in reply. "Who is going?"
"Erm, well there's Terry and Padma and Stuart and his girlfriend. Tonks is taking Remus and of course Percy is taking Hermione. I even heard that Anthony is taking Lavender…"
"Ahh," Ginny said with a wry smile. "There's the real problem. You don't want to be there alone if Lav Lav is going to be there with a date."
Ron groaned and dropped his head to the table. "Please help me, Ginny."
"I guess I could ask Luna for you," Ginny said grinning, knowing that Ron wouldn't find that amusing.
He looked up quickly with a shocked look. "Don't you dare. She'd drive me crazy."
Ginny shrugged. "You can't be too choosy Ron. What about some of the girls from your year at Hogwarts. There's Susan or Parvati or Hannah…"
"Neville would not be impressed if I asked Hannah," Ron stated.
"I don't know then, Ron," Ginny said. "I guess I could ask Demelza but it would depend if the ball is on after the school term finishes or not."
"It's on the fifteenth."
"Well, I don't think that's an option then," Ginny declared.
"What about your teammates?" Ron asked.
"Really?" Ginny asked with concern. "You seriously think that would be a good idea?"
"Please, Ginny?" Ron pleaded.
Ginny stared at her brother for a good minute before replying. "I'll see what I can do."
"You'll owe me of course," Ginny said smiling happily.
"Of course I will," Ron sighed.
Ginny let herself into Harry's house and walked through the quiet ground level towards the kitchen where she imagined Harry would be.
"Hi honey, I'm home," she quipped as she walked through the door to find Harry standing in front of the stove.
Harry turned and grinned at her. She walked over, kissed him on the cheek and then peered at the food he was cooking. "Looks delicious."
"As do you," Harry cheekily replied.
"Why thank you," she replied and then pulled Harry's head around gently so that his lips met hers. "Is this nearly ready? I'm starving."
"Big day of training?" Harry asked as he pulled dinner plates from the cupboard.
"It wasn't too bad," she replied. "But it's been ages since I ate."
Harry handed her a plate and she sat at the kitchen table and started eating straight away to Harry's amusement.
"I dropped in at home this afternoon. Ron was there."
"And?" Harry asked looking at her curiously.
"He wants me to help him find a date," she stated, looking at Harry intently.
"He wants you to get him a date?" he asked incredulously. "Is he mad? Surely after trying to set you up he wouldn't be so crazy."
"Oh, since it worked out so well for me in the end, he seems to want to take all the credit for us being together," she said laughing.
Harry laughed and continued eating for a while before replying. "Why is he so keen to get a date?"
"For the Ministry Winter Ball," Ginny replied, looking at Harry curiously to see how he would react.
"Ah, that," Harry said quietly.
Ginny gave him a minute before deciding that she just had to say something. "Yes, that."
Harry looked at her worriedly. "Are you angry that I haven't asked you?"
Ginny sighed. "When Ron mentioned it, it was the first I'd heard of it. But, yes, I am curious why you haven't said anything about it. Ron seemed sure that we would be there."
Harry reached across the table and placed his hand over hers. "Ginny, it's not that I don't want you to come with me."
"What is it then?"
"It's just that I don't want to go at all. I was actually hoping that you and I could do something else. It would be the perfect night for us to have a night out."
"Because every reporter would be busy at the ball. We wouldn't have to worry at all," Harry answered.
Ginny sat up and smiled at Harry. That was a great idea. They could go out wherever they liked without being bothered. Both of them were still wary of reporters after their run in with Rita Skeeter. "That's a great idea. We could go somewhere without having a camera in our faces."
"I could kiss you whenever I liked," Harry added with a smile.
"I could run my hands over your arse whenever I liked," Ginny said winking.
"I could run my hands through your hair all night," Harry continued with a low groan.
"I could let my hands wander under your shirt anytime I wanted," Ginny stated, huskily.
Harry groaned louder and pushed his nearly finished dinner away. "I don't want this anymore, Gin."
Ginny did the same to her plate. "What do you want, Harry?" she asked, looking at him through her lashes.
Harry stood, reached over the table and grabbed her hand. "You."
Ginny stood and was practically dragged out of the room and upstairs.
Ginny walked through the kitchen door at the Burrow and was unsurprised to see her mother standing at the stove adding vegetables to a huge pot. Her mum turned as the door open and gave her a big smile.
"Well, it's about time that you came and saw me," her mum said.
"I live here," Ginny said, feeling a little put-out. "I'm not here for a quick visit."
Molly Weasley laughed and shook her head. "Ginny, dear, do you really think that you still live here?"
"Of course I do," Ginny answered quickly. She was a little confused at her mother's statement. Of course she still called the Burrow home. She still stayed there during the week – well mostly.
Her mum pulled her into a hug and rocked her. "Ginny, the Burrow will always be a home for you. You are always welcome here, but I want you to really think about what home really is."
"It's where your family is; where the people you love are," Ginny replied quickly.
"Exactly!" her mother replied emphatically.
"But I love you and dad, and some days I even love Ron," Ginny answered.
Her mother chuckled at her last comment. "Yes, you do, but I know that you love Harry too."
Molly Weasley held up a hand to stop Ginny speaking. "I know this from experience, Ginny. When you meet the person with whom you are going to spend the rest of your life, home changes. The same thing happened with me and your father. It didn't take long for me to want to spend all my time with him. Though, my parents were quite adamant that I was not moving out until I was married. So we got married and I was home."
"Are you saying that Harry and I need to get married?" Ginny asked a little amazed and worried at her mother's words.
"Not unless the two of you want to," her mum answered.
"We haven't even talked about it," she answered. "It's not like I haven't thought about it, but it's something I imagine happening down the track."
"You want it to happen though, don't you?" her mum asked knowledgably.
Ginny took a breath and looked at her mum for a moment before answering. "Of course I do. Six months ago, I would never have thought that I would be thinking about marriage at my age…"
"But you are."
"I am…kind of," Ginny admitted.
"There's no kind of about it, Ginevra," her mother stated.
Ginny could feel the colour rising in her cheeks and nodded.
Harry met her in one of the quiet booths at the back of the Leaky Cauldron where they could have a little privacy.
"Hi there, gorgeous," he said in greeting as he slid into the seat across from her.
"Hi there yourself," she answered with a smile.
Harry reached across the table and put his hands on top of hers. "I've got some annoying news."
Ginny's heart beat a little faster with worry. "What's wrong? Do you have to go away again?"
"Oh, it's not that bad," Harry reassured her. "It's just that I have to go to the Winter Ball. So we're not going to be able to have that peaceful night out together."
Ginny sighed with relief. "Oh, that's all? It's okay Harry. I don't mind going to the ball."
"Are you sure?" Harry asked seriously.
Ginny smiled at him and squeezed his hand reassuringly. "Of course I don't mind. I'll be happy as long as it's you and me together for the evening."
"Along with a few hundred others," Harry muttered.
Ginny shook her head at her agitated boyfriend. "It's fine Harry. Don't worry about it."
"I just wanted the perfect night for the two of us with no interruptions," Harry said with a sigh.
"As I just said, Mr Potter, as long as we're together, it'll be perfect."
Harry stared at her for a while obviously trying to make sure that she was okay with the change of plans and then nodded.
"Why do you have to be there?" Ginny asked. "Do you have to speak again?"
Harry shrugged. "The Minister said that I was required to make an appearance but I don't need to speak, thankfully."
"It'll be fine, Harry."
Ginny stood in front of the full length mirror and took in her appearance. She had decided to spend some of her hard earned gold on a new outfit for the ball. She had originally decided to buy new dress robes but when she had looked through Diagon Alley and Hogsmede, nothing had caught her attention. So she took her shopping into Muggle London and thankfully found the dress that she was currently wearing.
She ran her hands down the length of her ribs and over her hips as if to smooth wrinkles from the silky material and then turned around keeping her gaze trained on her reflection. The deep blue of her dress went well with her pale skin and her red hair, which was held up with many pins and quite a few charms. All-in-all she was happy with the overall effect and knew she would look good alongside Harry.
The door to the adjoining bathroom opened and Harry walked into the room half dressed and drying his hair with a towel. He stopped suddenly when he saw Ginny standing in front of the mirror.
Ginny turned to him and smiled. "You like?"
Harry dropped the towel to the floor and nodded emphatically. "You are the most stunning woman in the world. I have no idea what I did to deserve you."
"Prat!" Ginny exclaimed, putting her hands on her hips. "I often wonder the same thing."
"What I did to deserve you?" Harry asked cheekily.
"I am now," she muttered.
Ginny laughed, shook her head at Harry and headed towards the bedroom door. At the door she paused and looked Harry up and down. "As much as I'd love you to look like that tonight, I'm not sure I'd like to share the view with all the other witches."
Harry grinned cheekily and then glanced at the clock. "We're supposed to be there in five minutes. I guess I should do something about making sure you're the only one who gets to see this."
Ginny and Harry walked side by side into the majestic ballroom in the Ministry of Magic. Ginny was expecting it to look similar to the last time she had been there on the night that she met Harry, but tonight it was hugely different. It was extravagantly decorated and made to look like a winter wonderland. The Christmas decorations in the Hogwarts Great Hall were nothing compared to this. The walls were decorated with great garlands of holly, ivy, pine cones, ribbons and bright candles. Icicles were hanging from the light fixtures and great ice sculptures were dotted about the room. Ginny put her hand out in front of her and let soft snowflakes fall onto her palm. She turned to Harry in amazement.
"It's amazing," she said. "Look at the Christmas trees and the fairies. I've never seen so many."
"It is pretty amazing," Harry said looking around. "It makes the decorations for the last Department dinner a little sad."
"Were there any decorations?" Ginny asked, thinking back to the evening she met Harry.
Harry shrugged and laughed. "Can't remember. I only had eyes for you," he said with a wink.
Ginny bumped her shoulder into his arm. "Could you be any cornier?"
"I suppose," Harry answered. "Would you like me to try?"
"Oh please no," Ginny said, laughing. "Should we try and find everyone?"
"Honestly, I'd rather it was just you and me, but I suppose we should spend some time with them…for a bit anyway."
Ginny looked at him curiously. "For a bit? Have you got something else planned, Harry?"
"There you two are," Sirius said coming up them with a happy smile. "For once I come upon you and there's no snogging. Will wonders ever cease?"
Ginny watched Harry sigh with relief as Sirius appeared. He was up to something, she knew, but what? She then turned to Sirius and smiled. "Hello there, Sirius. Having a good evening?"
"That I am Ginny," Harry's godfather replied.
"Did you come with a date?" Ginny asked with a smile.
Sirius glared at her. "Enough from you Miss Weasley."
Harry stared curiously at Ginny and Sirius. "What…"
Ginny giggled. "You remember how Ron asked me to find him a date? None of my teammates were particularly interested…well to be honest, I didn't ask them. After all I didn't like being set up so I wouldn't wish that on my friends."
"So what did you do?" Harry asked laughing.
"I found someone else dateless for Ron to come with," Ginny said smirking and then she nodded at Sirius.
Harry burst out laughing. "Sirius, you came here with Ron?"
Sirius groaned and rolled his eyes. "It's not like that. We're just two single blokes out on…"
"A witch hunt?" Harry asked as he shook with laughter.
"Whatever," Sirius said. "Everyone is at the back over there."
Harry reached for Ginny's hand and they went to join their friends and family.
Ginny was thoroughly enjoying herself at the ball. Her family and friends had managed to seat themselves at three tables that were next to each other. The only thing that had concerned her all night was the way that Harry was behaving. Since they'd sat down to eat, he'd been quiet and quite preoccupied and basically not acting like his usual self. She was really quite curious to find out what was bothering him. Apparently Sirius had noticed too because as soon as the plates had vanished after their main course, Sirius grabbed Harry and took him to a quieter area and was talking to him quite seriously. Harry was shrugging and making dismissive gestures in reply. Ginny decided to join them but was waylaid as she walked.
"Jenny!" a male voice exclaimed and a hand reached out to stop her progress.
Ginny looked around and tried not to groan at the sight of Andy. What in the name of Merlin was he doing here? And why was he bothering her?
"It's Ginny," she stated tersely.
"Oh, yes," Andy replied waving his hand dismissively. "You sat next to me at a dinner a few months ago. That was a great night. I thought we hit it off really well. I don't know why I haven't thought to ask you out for dinner…"
Ginny gritted her teeth and forced herself not to say anything rude.
"…a great place to eat. They do the nicest rump steak, though you'd probably prefer something lighter like a salad. Got to keep that figure intact," Andy continued without realising that Ginny was barely paying attention.
Ginny looked around trying to find Harry or anyone else she knew. She spied patches of red hair on the other side of the ballroom but they were too far away to be of any help.
"Jenny…Jenny…I was asking you where you work," Andy said.
"I'm a Harpy," Ginny answered abruptly.
"That's not a nice way to talk about yourself," Andy said looking at her a little worriedly.
"No, I work for the Holyhead Harpies – the Quidditch team," Ginny said in frustration and at the same time kept scanning the room for help.
"Ah, in the office," Andy said nodding.
"No," Ginny said angrily. "I'm a Chaser."
"Really?" Andy asked somewhat sceptically.
Ginny was just about to say something particularly nasty and rude and then aim a Bat Bogey Hex at Andy's face when she felt an arm slide around her waist.
"There you are. I've been looking everywhere for you," Harry said before he kissed her a little more passionately that what would be considered polite in a public setting, especially a Ministry ball.
Ginny sighed with relief and relaxed into his embrace. She glanced at Andy and noticed his face had paled and his mouth was opening and closing with no words coming out – just funny little noises. He then turned and hurriedly walked away.
"Sweet Merlin!" Ginny exclaimed. "He is such an arrogant arse."
Harry pulled her into a proper hug, kissed her again and then looked at her curiously. "How did you come to be talking to him?"
"He stopped me, called me Jenny and then wouldn't shut up," Ginny answered. "He wanted me to go to dinner with him, but I could only have salad so my figure would stay intact. And then he didn't believe that I was a Harpy."
Harry laughed loudly and shook his head. "He is an arse." He then stepped back from her and looked her up and down a few times and gave her a wink. "And don't worry your figure is still intact – believe me!"
Ginny smiled happily. "Thanks for saving me."
"It's my pleasure," Harry said smiling.
"You look happier than you were during dinner. Was something worrying you?" Ginny asked.
Harry shuffled his feet and shrugged. "No. Everything is fine."
"Are you sure?" Ginny asked feeling concerned. She could see he had something on his mind.
"Yes," Harry answered. "I've been wondering when we can get out of here actually."
"Aren't you enjoying this?"
"Oh, I am," Harry replied. "I just want some time alone with you, that's all."
"I'm sure it's not that late," Ginny said. "We don't have to stay right to the end, though I would like to have a dance or two."
Harry looked at her dubiously. "I'm a horrible dancer, Ginny."
"I'll teach you. It'll be fun. Wait and see."
"Hmmm," Harry replied with a slight scowl.
They started walking through the crowd to where she could see Sirius, Ron and the twins standing.
"What were you talking to Sirius about earlier – when I got waylaid by Andy?"
Harry took a little time before answering. "Oh, er, he was wondering why I was so quiet."
"I thought he must have noticed as well," Ginny said, but she still thought that he wasn't telling her something. She vowed she would find out before they left that evening.
When they reached Sirius and her brothers, she realised that they were all staring at something and not talking.
Harry's question was cut off by George raising his hand and Fred pointing at a nearby table. Ginny and Harry both turned to look where Fred was pointing. Ginny was quite surprised to see Percy sitting hand-in-hand with a pretty blonde woman. The blonde was looking at Percy adoringly and Percy was sporting the trademark Weasley blush.
"I thought he came with Hermione?" Ginny asked, a little shocked.
"He did," Ron answered.
"So what happened? Where's Hermione?" Ginny asked quickly.
"We have no idea what happened," George said.
"But Hermione is over there," Fred continued, pointing towards the bar.
Ginny looked at Hermione. She was sipping a bright blue cocktail and seemed to be talking quite happily to Hannah and Neville.
"She doesn't seem upset," Harry stated.
"No, she doesn't," Ron answered staring at her.
Ginny smirked a little at Ron staring at the girl that he had repeatedly denied that he fancied. "Ron, you should go and ask if she's okay."
"What," Ron said, his head swinging around to stare at Ginny. "Why me?"
"I don't fancy her," Ron said quickly interrupting her.
"We've heard that lie before," Fred said.
"Mmmm, quite a few times in our last year at Hogwarts," George then continued.
"I don't," Ron denied again.
"You were her classmate all through school. You should check on her," Ginny said trying to convince him.
"So was Neville and he's over there now," Ron replied.
"Well…oh, whatever, Ronald. You're the one who came here dateless…"
"Oi," Sirius interrupted. "He's with me."
Ginny gave Sirius a scathing look before continuing. "You were the one asking for help finding a date and now there's a girl over there – one you like - probably hurting after being dumped, and you don't want to do anything."
"She's on the rebound. That doesn't make for a healthy start to any relationship," Ron said.
"Very true," Sirius added.
"No one is telling you to ask her out, or snog her, Ron. Go and be a friend and keep being friendly and you never know what will happen," Ginny said.
Ron sighed. "Fine, I'll go, just to keep you quiet."
"Good," Ginny said with a smile after getting her way.
Ron made to walk away and then looked at Harry. "You're one brave man, Harry to deal with her. Are you sure you want to be with her? You could escape now you realise. We'd all understand why…"
Ginny had her wand out and was ready to Hex her brother. She was stopped by Harry grabbing her arm. Ron made a quick getaway.
"Why did you stop me?" she asked Harry angrily. "He was being an absolute prat and deserved to be Hexed."
Harry gave her a quick kiss near her ear and smiled. "You know he was trying to wind you up and he succeeded. Let him go. He's doing what you wanted. He's over there talking to Hermione."
Ginny looked over and saw Ron standing close by Hermione and looking down at her with concern. Ron then gave her a comforting hug which made Ginny smile.
"Who knew Ron could be so thoughtful?" Fred asked with a shocked look across his face.
"He was bound to get something right with a girl at some stage," George added.
At this they all laughed.
Sirius then clapped his hands together and rubbed them. "Time for a drink I think. Who's with me?"
Ginny was enjoying herself even more than earlier, mainly due to the fact that she was in Harry's arms with her head against his chest and they were swaying side to side slowly. Their movements were in no way in time to the thumping music, but it didn't matter so much as they had drifted to the corner of the dance floor which was also in the corner of the ballroom so they were in a slightly darkened area where they weren't obvious or in anyone's way.
"I like this kind of dancing," Harry said quietly as he slowly turned them.
Ginny pulled her head away from his chest and looked up at him happily. "You're pretty good at this kind of dancing."
He planted a gentle kiss on her lips. "I have a good teacher."
They danced for a little longer and then Ginny decided it was time to confront Harry about his dinner time blues. "Harry?"
"Mmmm," he answered into her hair.
"Why were you so quiet at dinner?"
Harry stood up straight and looked down into her eyes. "I was just caught up in my thoughts, I guess."
"Is everything okay?" she asked, feeling a little worried.
"Everything is fine, I promise you."
"Yeah? You're not thinking of breaking up with me, are you?" she asked quietly.
Harry put his finger under her chin and tilted it upwards a little. "Oh, Merlin no, Gin. I love you and I couldn't be happier."
She sighed with relief and smiled.
"What made you think that?" he asked looking at her curiously.
"I don't know," she said. "I guess I've never seen you like that and I was concerned."
He nodded. "Do you want to get out of here?"
"Where do you want to go? Your place?" Ginny asked feeling a little disappointed. She wasn't ready for this evening to end just yet. She was having too much of a good time.
Harry shook his head and smiled. "I'm not ready for the evening to end. I just want to go someplace quiet where we won't be stared at."
"Somewhere in Muggle London maybe. We could go and get a drink and take a walk," Harry said sounding a little nervous.
Ginny looked at him curiously. "What are you up to, Mr Potter?"
"What makes you think that I'm up to something?" Harry asked.
"Well you seem to have been thinking about this for a while, Harry. You seem to have a bit of a plan happening here," she replied.
Harry kissed her forehead before speaking. "I did have a bit of a plan before we had to come to this…"
"It hasn't been a bad night."
"Oh, I know that. I've had a great time. I just wanted to be with you tonight. Not the entire Wizarding world," Harry said with a sigh. "I just wanted a nice dinner together and then maybe a few drinks and a walk together."
"We've had the dinner, Harry, and even a dance – something you didn't have in your plan. We can still do the rest of your plan."
Harry gave her a brilliant smile and laced his fingers through hers. "We can. Let's go."
Harry almost pulled her over in his haste to leave. Her led her across the crowded dance floor and then started to weave through some of the remaining tables. As they walked through the ballroom towards the door, which of course was on the opposite side of the ballroom from where they were dancing, several people greeted Harry and looked like they wanted to have a conversation with him. Thankfully, Harry returned the "hellos" but insisted they had to keep moving. They had just made it to the door and were looking at each other with happy smiles when someone stepped in front of them and stopped their escape.
"Could I take your picture?" a pleasant looking woman asked.
Ginny glanced at Harry and noticed the look of displeasure on his face.
"Oh, we don't really need our picture in the paper, thanks," Harry said.
The woman smiled. "These aren't for the papers or magazines. I go to events and take photos and then give the people a chance to buy a print of it. Not everyone gets a chance to get photos at these kinds of things especially when they are so nicely dressed. It's my business. I also take family portraits and do weddings."
"So these definitely won't end up in a paper or magazine?" Ginny asked.
"Definitely not. I wouldn't risk my livelihood by doing something like that," she answered.
"Harry, Ginny, there you are," Sirius said, coming up beside them. He looked between them and the photographer. "Is there a problem?"
"No, everything is fine," Harry replied.
"Are you sure?" Sirius asked looking concerned.
"I just asked them if they wanted a photograph of them to remember the evening. I was explaining that this is my business and there is absolutely no chance that the photograph will end up in the wrong hands," she said.
"Really?" Sirius asked, looking at the woman curiously.
"Really. I guarantee it," she said smiling.
Sirius nodded. He then looked her up and down and extended his hand. "Sirius Black, at your service."
"Maia Everingham," she returned shaking his offered hand.
"Can I buy you a drink?" Sirius asked giving her a charming smile.
"Why yes. That would be lovely," she replied with an equally enchanting smile.
Sirius linked her arm through his and they walked away without looking back.
Ginny looked at Harry feeling amused. Harry was looking a little bewildered.
"Did that just happen?" Harry asked.
"I thought Sirius was going to read her the riot act and then he switches on his most charming smile and whisks her away," Harry said.
Ginny laughed. "And I'd just decided I wanted her to take our picture."
Harry laughed and clasped her hand. "Another time. Now let's get out of here."
Ginny was sitting alongside Harry in a pleasant looking pub near the river. They both had a glass of wine in front of them and were watching the people walking along the well-lit path outside.
Ginny reached over and ran her fingers up Harry's arm and enjoyed his reaction to her touch. "This is nice."
"I have been waiting hours to be alone with you," Harry said as he returned the caress.
"Don't be so dramatic Harry," she replied smiling. "We were alone all day."
"I know," Harry replied. "But this is…I have been waiting for this…for a while."
Ginny looked at him suspiciously. "You are up to something Mr Potter."
Harry winked at her but didn't confirm or deny her suspicions. He picked up his glass and sipped it slowly at the same time keeping eye contact with her. Ginny found this extremely sexy and quickly moved closer and stole a quick kiss. Harry immediately wrapped his arm around her shoulder and lowered his lips to hers in a demanding kiss.
"Mmmm, lovely," she said a while later after Harry had pulled away from her. "But you haven't made me forget to find out what you're up to."
Harry took another sip of his wine and then turned to her looking quite serious. Ginny could see his Adam's apple move as he swallowed nervously. She wondered what could have him this nervous.
Harry clasped both her hands in his and he looked from their hands up to her eyes and stared into her eyes for what seemed like forever. He took a deep breath and swallowed again.
"Gin, I know we haven't been together for that long and haven't even known each other that long but I know that you are the one for me…"
Ginny gasped. Even after her mother mentioning her and Harry getting married, she hadn't thought that it was something that would happen so soon.
"…and I would love to spend the rest of my life with you, Ginny Weasley."
Ginny could feel the tears running down her cheeks but she could not tear her eyes away from his glorious green eyes to even contemplate wiping the tears away.
"Will you marry me?" Harry asked.
Ginny could see the love in his eyes and the emotion of what he'd just said and been feeling all evening across his face. She moved so that her knees were between his and then gently squeezed his hands. Ginny could see Harry was looking at her, nervously waiting for her response. She smiled and nodded. "There's nothing more I could want than to spend my life with you Harry."
"Yes?" he asked looking amazed.
"Yes," she agreed laughing and nodding.
Harry's smile spread right across his face. He pulled her into an embrace and kissed her tenderly. The fact that they were in a public place was forgotten as they celebrated their engagement. Once they had eventually pulled away from each other, Harry decided to order a bottle of champagne to continue their celebration. They soon had two glasses and an expensive looking bottle, which was sitting in ice, in front of them.
"Oh!" Harry exclaimed once he had poured them both a glass of the fizzing champagne.
"How could I forget," he said quietly shaking his head.
"Forget what?" she asked curiously.
"This," Harry declared as he reached into a pocket inside his jacket. He pulled out a small black box and placed it on the table.
Harry swallowed nervously and slowly opened the box. He pulled out what Ginny presumed was a ring and glanced down at it. "I hope you like it," he said quietly.
Ginny really didn't mind what the ring looked like. She was sure that Harry wouldn't pick something tacky or ostentatious. But when he held it in front of her, her jaw dropped. The ring was just gorgeous. Three diamonds were set side-by-side in a gold band. The middle stone was slightly larger than the other two but none of the three would be considered small.
"Harry, this must have…"
"Don't you like it?" he asked nervously.
"Harry, I love it but it must have cost a lot of gold," she replied.
"The gold is not an issue, Gin."
Ginny slowly held out her hand and watched as Harry slid the ring onto her finger. She then held her hand up in front of her and grinned as she twisted her hand side to side. Her eyes then met Harry's. He was looking at her with his head tilted to the side and a happy yet anxious look on his face. He reached across and grabbed her hand and looked at the ring and sighed in obvious relief.
"It's beautiful Harry. I love it," she said smiling. "I love you."
"I love you, too," he replied as he laced his fingers through hers.
Ginny could see that he was much more relaxed now and she commented on this. "I knew you were up to something but I really didn't expect it to be this. Does anyone else know that you were planning this?"
"Well I did have a little chat with your dad but I didn't tell him when I was going to ask. Other than that, no one knows."
"Not even Sirius?" she asked amazed.
"No. He knew something was up and he questioned me a lot after dinner tonight but he'd have gone over the top if he knew so I didn't tell him."
"Do you think he'll mind?"
Harry shook his head. "He loves you, Gin. He won't be upset about me asking you. He may be a little annoyed that I didn't tell him I was going to ask you."
"We'll have to tell him soon then so he's one of the first to know," Ginny suggested.
"And maybe we could make it fun when we tell him," Harry said, smiling cheekily.
"What do you have in mind?" Ginny queried.
Ginny was clearing up in the kitchen after a large breakfast when she heard the front door open and Sirius' voice call out in greeting. Harry answered his godfather and they both went into the sitting room and sat down. Ginny grinned and sat at the kitchen table ready to listen. The door between the kitchen and the sitting room was slightly ajar so that she could hear as Harry told Sirius what had happened the previous evening after they left the ball. Of course, Harry didn't plan to do it in a straight forward way.
"So why have you summoned me here this morning, L'il Prongs?" Sirius asked.
"Oh, I just wanted to talk to you about last night," Harry answered. "You disappeared with that photographer pretty quickly. I was wondering what happened there?"
Sirius chuckled loudly. "You want to know all the sordid details, do you?"
Harry groaned. "Not all of them."
"We had a few drinks together and then she had to take some more photographs," Sirius replied. "That's all."
"Are you going to see her again?" Harry asked.
"Maybe," Sirius answered.
"Definitely," Harry stated. "I can tell by the look in your eye."
Both the men laughed and then were silent for a little while.
"That's not why you got me over here," Sirius said after a while. "Something is going on. You were quiet last night and now you're just acting strangely."
Harry made no verbal answer. Ginny couldn't tell if he had made any gesture.
"Where's your lovely girlfriend? I thought you'd be all over each other seeing it's a weekend," Sirius said.
Harry paused before answering. "I don't have a girlfriend anymore," he said quietly.
"WHAT?" Sirius exclaimed.
"I don't have a girlfriend anymore," Harry repeated.
Ginny felt a brief moment of sympathy for what Sirius was about to go through but she knew it wouldn't last long so she wasn't too worried.
"You broke up?" Sirius asked loudly. "What were you thinking? She was the best thing in your life. She's perfect for you. You'll never find anyone else like her; you know that, don't you? Merlin, Harry!"
"No, Harry. You get off your arse and go and apologise for whatever you said and tell her that you weren't in your right mind. You were drunk, weren't you?"
"We did have a few drinks," Harry answered.
"Obviously a few too many," Sirius answered.
Ginny stood up and moved to the doorway. She could see Sirius pacing back and forth in front of Harry. Suddenly he pulled his wand from his sleeve and pointed it at Harry. "Go and do something. I'm not having you mope around for the rest of your life…"
"I'm not moping, Sirius," Harry said as he stood up.
"You should be."
"Sirius, I'm actually quite happy," Harry said. He grabbed his godfather's arm and pulled him so they were facing each other.
"Why would you be happy? You just said you broke up with Ginny."
"No, I said I don't have a girlfriend," Harry answered.
"Same difference," Sirius replied.
"Definitely not," Harry stated. "I don't have a girlfriend. I have…"
"A fiancée," Ginny continued from the doorway.
Sirius spun on the spot to face Ginny. He then looked from Harry to her a number of times before a smile slowly appeared across his face. "You're engaged?"
Ginny walked across the room and snuggled into Harry's embrace. They exchanged a quick glance and then nodded.
Sirius quickly took the three steps needed to be next to them and enfolded them both in a huge hug.
"Oh, thank Merlin. I thought I was going to have to beat Harry until he realised the error of his ways," Sirius said.
"So I take it that you approve?" Harry queried.
Sirius stepped back and looked at them happily. "I do. It's not something that I was ready for when I was your age but I think it's definitely right for you two."
"Thanks, Sirius," Ginny said happily. She didn't need Sirius' approval but she was really glad that he wasn't telling them it was too soon or they were too young.
"Does anyone else know?" Sirius asked.
"No. Our plan was to go and tell Ginny's parents after we told you," Harry answered.
"Do you want me to come too?" Sirius asked.
"If you want. I don't think it'll be too unexpected," Ginny said. "Mum has been hinting at it recently."
"I'll come. I'm sure your mum will have been cooking and I feel like some tea and cake right about now," Sirius said grinning.
Harry groaned and punched his godfather in the arm.
They walked into the kitchen at the Burrow to be greeted by the smell of baking and by Molly Weasley stalking around her kitchen obviously not too happy.
"Hi Mum," Ginny said as they walked through the door.
Her mother turned around and gave a quick smile. She then turned back to the three cakes that were cooling on the bench.
"Sirius is in luck by the looks of things," Harry said quietly.
"She only does this much baking when she's stressed about something," Ginny replied. She walked over to her mother, kissed her cheek and hugged her. "What's wrong Mum?"
"Hi Ginny," she answered. "Hello there Harry and Sirius too. Come in and sit down. Would you like some tea?"
"Sirius quickly removed his coat and sat down. "I'd love some Molly."
"What are you doing here this morning?" Her mother asked. "Not that I don't like seeing you, but you weren't expected."
"Oh, I wanted to tell you something," Ginny said.
Her mother sighed heavily and Ginny wondered what had caused that reaction.
"Does your father need to be here for this? Merlin knows we've had to deal with enough issues this morning."
"Really?" Ginny asked.
"Yes, your brothers," her mum said as if that would explain everything.
"Oh, Godric! What have they done now?" Ginny asked.
Tea and cake was placed on the table, to which Sirius immediately helped himself. Her mother went and called her dad to come down from upstairs and then they all sat at the kitchen table. Her dad walked in soon and kissed her on the cheek and greeted Harry and Sirius before sitting down.
"So what have they been up to?" Ginny asked again.
"I'm not sure if you saw Percy last night with that girl. He went with that lovely girl Hermione and then left with that…that…"
"Now, Molly," her dad said patting her mum's wrist. "We don't know all the details there."
"It didn't look good, Arthur. I thought Percy had more decorum than that. He was acting like a cad"
Ginny caught Harry's raised eyebrows and giggled.
"And Fred and George were just as bad, surrounded by women," Molly continued.
"I saw that," Sirius declared. "I swear at one stage George had one girl feeding him, one giving him drinks and another playing with his hair."
Her mother groaned loudly and put her hands over her face.
"An owl came from Charlie this morning," her dad continued. "He can't come home for Christmas and that has upset your mother too."
"And Bill and Fleur are going to France for Christmas. It just won't be the same," her mum said unhappily.
"It'll be fine," Ginny reassured her. "Maybe we can get Sirius, Remus and Harry here for Christmas."
"Definitely," Harry said, squeezing her hand.
"That would be grand," Sirius added. "If that's okay with you, Molly?"
"Oh, that would be just lovely," Molly said, looking happy for the first time since they had arrived.
"You've covered all bar Ron," Ginny said. "What has he done?"
"Actually he's been great," her dad stated.
"Yes, he's off looking out for Hermione. He's taking her to lunch with Neville and a few others from school," her mum continued.
"Really?" Ginny asked grinning. Maybe this was what Ron needed to get him off his arse. She knew he fancied her.
Harry chuckled knowing how exciting she found that news.
"You said you had something to tell us, Ginny dear," her mum said.
"Really?" her dad asked giving Harry a quick look.
"We do," Ginny said happily. "Harry asked me to marry him."
Apparently that was all her mother needed to hear. She was out of her chair and around the table in a flash. She and Harry were pulled into a long, tight hug that squeezed the breath out of them. Once her mum had let them go after the third embrace, her Dad gave her a hug and shook Harry's hand.
"Great news," her dad said. "Great news indeed."
Her mother went to the pantry and fetched a bottle and placed it on the table. She then Summoned five glasses and sat down.
"Mum, it's only eleven in the morning," Ginny said amazed.
"It's never too early to celebrate something like this," her mum said.
"I agree," Sirius added as he reached for the bottle and popped the cork.
Soon they all had a glass in front of them which they all raised and clinked the glasses together.
"To Harry and Ginny," Sirius said loudly.
"To Harry and Ginny," her mum and dad repeated.
Harry pulled her into his arms and placed a soft kiss on her lips. They then clinked their glasses together and toasted to their future.