Restoring the Magic
Ginny was standing in the doorway of the study wearing - Harry adjusted his glasses as he looked up distractedly - wearing not very much at all. He gaped at her, but did not let the quill fall from his fingers. He was busy.
Her sultry smile wavered slightly.
"Are you coming to bed?" she asked. Her voice had lost the sexy tone and had a definite edge to it.
Harry shook his head and turned back to his work. It was tempting, but...
"Sorry, love," he said firmly. "I have to finish this. I'll be up in a bit."
In their comfortable bedroom, Ginny sat in front of the mirror brushing her hair. She had pulled a warmer nightie on over the scanty one she had been wearing earlier. What was the point of being cold as well as lonely and miserable? She threw the hairbrush down onto the dressing table with a clatter. Where had the magic gone? And what was she going to do about it?
Harry finally came to bed at two in the morning. Ginny was fast asleep, and did not stir as he climbed in beside her.
"Eat it all please." Ginny spoke absent-mindedly, sipping her own coffee and glowering slightly at her daughter, who had tried to hide the crusts from her breakfast toast under the edge of her plate.
"How did you know?" Lily demanded mulishly, cramming the crusts together in her fist and putting the whole lot in her mouth in one go. Ginny could not help but smile.
"I used to do the same thing," she confessed. "And your gran never let me get away with it either."
Lily couldn't reply. Her mouth was too full. But by the time Ginny had finished her coffee and had stood up to begin to clear the table, she had choked down the toast and was ready with another question. Lily always had a question.
"Where's Dad?" she demanded. "And why are you mad at him?"
Ginny turned back from the sink in some surprise. "He's gone to work. And who says I'm mad?"
Lily shook her head wisely. "You don't have to say," she said knowingly. "It's obvious. You go all spiky whenever his name is mentioned, and you wriggle when he tries to kiss you when he comes in instead of being all sloppy and lovey dove like you used to be. Why are you mad? And why has Dad gone to work on a Saturday?"
"They have a big case going on," Ginny said. "And I'm not mad. Not mad at all." She regarded her daughter in exasperation. "How do you manage to make such a mess just eating breakfast?" she asked. Go and wash your hands and face, and you'd better find a clean tee-shirt too. You can't go out looking like that."
Lily scowled. "We're only going to Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione's," she objected. "I bet Hugo won't be tidy. He never is."
Ginny merely looked at her. "Do as you're told," she said.
When Lily had gone, Ginny sat back down at the table and buried her head in her hands. Things must be bad if the normally oblivious Lily could tell that she was angry with Harry. Though she was more sad than angry. She missed him. She missed him coming up behind her and putting his arms around her when she was cooking. She missed him looking over her shoulder and making ridiculous suggestions when she was working on her pieces for The Prophet. She missed catching his eye over the table when someone said something silly or significant at the family Sunday lunches at The Burrow. Even when he was present in body, he seemed absent in spirit lately.
And - she had to be honest - she missed the sex.
And why not? she asked herself fiercely as she stood up and began to gather her things together ready to go out. She was still young. (So was Harry, even if he wasn't acting like it lately.) Sex was fun. She enjoyed it. So had he until recently. So what could she do to rekindle the spark in their relationship, to get back to when any time spent alone together, however brief, felt like several sunlit days? Her mouth twisted at the irony of it. "Several sunlit days" was Harry's phrase, not her own. When they were first married, on their honeymoon in fact, he had told her that their first kiss, in the common room in front of what felt like - and probably was - the whole of Gryffindor House had felt as if it lasted for several sunlit days because it was so wonderful. It had become a kind of code between them. "A several sunlit days moment?" "Definitely!" Ginny wondered if Harry even remembered that feeling now.
"Do you think they're okay?" Hermione asked worriedly, as the two of them sat on the patio sipping coffee and nibbling biscuits. Hugo and Lily were in the tree house with Roxanne, doing who-knew-what. But at least they were being relatively quiet about it.
Ginny dredged her mind back from her own preoccupations with difficulty. "What? Who do you mean, Hermione?"
"Rosie and Albus of course," Hermione snapped. "Do you think they're okay?"
Ginny sighed. She remembered being this worried about James just a year ago. Now she felt like an old hand at sending kids off to school. "They're fine," she said reassuringly. "Why shouldn't they be?"
Hermione tried to laugh. "I'm fussing, aren't I?" she said. "Of course they're fine. Still, I miss her."
Ginny smiled. "Of course you do. You wouldn't be normal if you didn't. But I'm sure she and Al are having a whale of a time. And if there was a problem, we'd hear about it. It's not like they don't have family enough to keep an eye on them there, is it?"
"No-o-o," Hermione spoke reluctantly. She looked over to where the younger children were playing. "What will we do with ourselves when that lot are off at school too?"
"Enjoy the peace and quiet?" Ginny suggested, but Hermione shook her head.
"I can't imagine it," she said. "Perhaps we should think of having another one…"
Ginny snorted. "Chance'd be a fine thing, even if I wanted to, which I don't."
Hermione looked over at the younger witch in surprise. She had been so occupied with her own worries that she had failed to see how truly unhappy her friend was.
"Gin?" she asked gently. "Is there something wrong? With you and Harry? Can I help?"
Ginny shook her head, blinking back the tears that rose unexpectedly in her eyes. She set down her cup with a bang, and turned away so that Hermione could not see her crying. She swallowed hard.
"Harry's just so busy lately," she said, somewhat defensively. "I don't think he even realises there's a problem. But he barely even glances my way these days. We only talk if it's about arrangements for picking up Lily or if he's going to be home really really late. And we haven't – you know – for weeks. Six weeks, six days, if you want to be specific."
Hermione gaped at her. Ginny was a Weasley by birth, if no longer by name. Hermione didn't know, but she suspected, that Weasley women were pretty much like Weasley men in one regard. And that she did know about. Nearly seven weeks without sex would kill Ron. Probably literally. Poor Ginny. Poor, poor Ginny.
She reached over and took her sister-in-law's hand. "Oh Ginny," she said softly. "I'm sorry, dear. I knew Harry was stupidly busy, of course, and I know what he's like when he gets absorbed in something, but I had no idea things were so bad." She put her arm around Ginny's shoulder. "We'll sort it out," she said firmly. "Don't worry. You know he's still dotty about you really. He just needs a nudge to be reminded about it."
Ginny pulled away from the older woman in horror. "Hermione!" she gasped. "You are not to interfere!"
Hermione assumed a slightly hurt expression. "I'm not going to," she assured her. "But I do have an idea…"
Ginny did not know whether to be grateful for the support, or apprehensive about what Hermione had in mind.
With her usual efficiency, Hermione managed to assemble her husband, his brothers and their wives in one place at one time less than a week after her conversation with Ginny. Even Charlie, on a flying visit home, was there, and the children not at school were all safely at Granny Weasley's.
All the faces were turned to Hermione as if she were chairing some sort of business meeting. Bill was regarding her with frank incredulity.
"Let's get this straight," he said. "You've called this – meeting, conference, whatever you want to call it – in the interests of getting our baby sister laid?"
Charlie turned away, looking faintly nauseated; Percy buried his face in his hands, and Ron reddened to the tips of his ears. But George laughed, and Fleur, Audrey and Angelina giggled.
Hermione looked her eldest brother-in-law straight in the eye. "No quite how I would have put it, Bill," she said tartly. "But yes, that's the gist of the matter." She looked round at her husband and his brothers with some disgust. "Oh come on!" she exclaimed in exasperation. "It's not like you don't like Harry. It's not like they haven't been married for years. It's not like they haven't done it before. They've got three kids, for Godric's sake!"
Charlie shook his head, still looking faintly sick. "But still, Mi," he said weakly. "She's our little sister. No bloke likes to think about his sister like that."
Hermione snorted, but it was Audrey who spoke. "You're all a bunch of hypocrites!" she declared roundly. "I don't notice any of you objecting to having sex with your wives. Good thing me and Fleur and Angelina don't have brothers keen to defend our so-called honour! What would you say to that, eh?" Charlie opened his mouth to protest that he didn't have a wife, but Audrey cut him off with an airy wave of her hand. "And don't tell me you're celibate, Charlie Weasley," she said. "Because I, for one, won't believe it!" Charlie opened and closed his mouth several times, but eventually decided that further argument was pointless with Audrey looking quite so fierce.
Hermione rapped on the table smartly. "Yes, well," she said. "This is getting off the point. The point is, if you can all get your minds out of the gutter or the bedroom long enough to think about it, that Ginny is miserable and we need to do something about it. Ideas please!" She looked round at them all in expectation.
Five days later, Harry looked up with some irritation at a rap on his office door. How was he supposed to get anything done when he was interrupted all the time?
"Come in!" he snapped, and the door opened to reveal Percy, looking serious, although if Harry had been less preoccupied he might have noticed an uncharacteristic twinkle in his brother-in-law's eyes.
"I'm a bit busy, Percy," he said evenly. "Can it wait, whatever it is?"
Percy shook his head. "I'm afraid not," he said. "It's important. You need to come with me, Harry. Now." As if to emphasise the point, he held the door open and pulled Harry's cloak down from the hook on the wall.
Suddenly Harry was frightened. Had something happened? Ginny? The children? Percy saw the look on his face, and intervened hastily. It was no part of their plan to scare Harry witless.
"Don't look so worried," he said reassuringly. "No one's hurt or anything. It's just something that needs sorting out as a matter of urgency."
Harry shook himself as he stood up. Of course Ginny and the children were fine. Why shouldn't they be? And "as a matter of urgency" was Percy at his pompous best. This – whatever it was – was clearly work-related. Harry just hoped it wouldn't take too long to sort out. He took his cloak from his brother-in-law and followed him to the lift.
But in the lobby, his puzzlement increased when he saw Ron and George waiting for him, both grinning broadly. Ron had a suitcase in his hand.
"What? What's going on?" he stuttered, looking round at Percy for enlightenment, but Percy was grinning just as broadly as his younger brothers now.
"Operation 'Restore the magic' is go," he informed him blandly. "You need to go with George and Ron. Don't ask questions."
"But – but – I can't!" Harry stuttered. "I have work to do. I can't just up and leave."
Percy shook his head. "Yes you can," he said. "It's all sorted. You have a week's leave starting now. By order of the Minister himself. Do you need me to get him down here to confirm that?"
He looked as if he really meant it. Harry shook his head. George took his arm, and he let himself be led to the fireplaces at the far end of the lobby. George kept a firm hold on him as they stepped into the fire together, obviously not trusting him not to turn and go back to his office even after Percy's hint about the Minister.
"Shell Cottage!" George cried, as the green fire engulfed them, and Harry felt the familiar whirling sensation and put out his hands hurriedly to save himself as he tumbled with George onto the hearthrug in the sunny living room at Bill and Fleur's. George pulled him to his feet hurriedly.
"Out of the way," he ordered. "Ron'll be here in a minute."
Sure enough, Ron fell out of the fire almost immediately. Harry looked around in confusion. There was no sign of Bill or Fleur. The cottage seemed to be empty apart from the three of them. George looked at his watch and frowned.
"Fleur's running late," he muttered, half to himself and half to Ron.
Ron checked his watch too. "She'd better get a move on," he said. "The Portkey's set for two-thirty."
"Portkey?" Harry looked at his best friend questioningly. "Are you going to tell me what's going on?"
"Not yet," said George airily, answering for Ron. There was a bang from the kitchen as the back door opened. "Ah, here they are! Cutting it a bit fine, aren't you?" he asked as Fleur entered, followed by Ginny, who looked as puzzled as Harry felt. Fleur too was carrying a suitcase.
"Eet gives zem less time to argue," Fleur said serenely. "I will get ze Portkey. Eet is upstairs." She dumped the suitcase in the middle of the floor with the one that Ron had been carrying, and left the room. Harry and Ginny both rounded on Ron and George.
"Where are we going? Are you going to tell us that much?" Harry demanded.
"Is this Hermione's doing?" Ginny asked simultaneously.
George and Ron both grinned, and George finally condescended to answer after keeping them waiting for a full five seconds.
"Fleur's parents have a cottage in the south of France," he informed them. "You're going there for a week. It's Fidelius Charmed, and Bill's Secret Keeper, and he isn't telling anyone where it is except in a major emergency, so you'd better resign yourselves to having a nice romantic holiday together with no work." He emphasised the last two words, glaring at Harry as he did so.
"What about Lily?" asked Ginny somewhat weakly.
"Four nights with us, then three with Ron 'n' Hermione," George said briskly. "We weren't sure either of us could take Lily-drama for a whole week."
Harry sniggered despite the fact that he was still half-angry at the way matters had been taken so completely out of his hands like this.
"Good luck with that," he said drily. "Lily's good at drama."
"Indeed," George said gravely. "So if we put ourselves through that, and you come back and tell me you haven't shagged Ginny to within an inch of her life, you'll have me to answer to."
Ginny turned scarlet and hid her face in her hands, Harry merely gaped at George.
It was just as well that Fleur entered at that point with a small vase in her hands which was already beginning to glow blue.
"Quickly!" she said urgently. "Eet is time!" Ron and George thrust the suitcases into Harry's hands, as Ginny grabbed his arm with one hand and the Portkey with the other. Then, in a whirl of colour and light, Shell Cottage was left behind them and they were in France.
Six days later, Harry and Ginny sat on the veranda of the pretty cottage in France, holding hands lazily between their two chairs and enjoying a magnificent sunset. They were both wearing bathrobes, and nothing else.
"Several sunlit days?" Ginny asked with a smile.
Harry squeezed her hand. "Literally and metaphorically," he said with a low laugh, and Ginny sighed in contentment. He would not forget again.
Harry nodded towards the open door of the cottage.
"Again?" he asked, raising his eyebrows.
Ginny was on her feet already, and leaning down to kiss him full on the lips.
"I thought you'd never ask!" she said.