13 August 1999
Ginny opened the back door of the Burrow. Harry was just behind her, grateful to escape the blazing heat and carrying a bag of groceries for the family dinner that evening.
"Hello!" Ginny called, taking the bag from him and setting it on the counter. "Anyone home?"
There was a sudden thud and a "shh!" from the parlor. Harry frowned at Ginny, who shrugged. They went together to the doorway, where they saw Ron and Hermione sitting beside each other on the sofa.
Hermione wore a very grave expression.
"Everything all right?" Ginny asked, frowning slightly. "Where is everybody?"
"Out," Ron said shortly.
"All right, Ron?" Harry asked, with great trepidation.
"We need to talk," Hermione said seriously. She looked as though she had been reading the newspaper; it was folded in her lap. She gestured to the chairs opposite the couch. "Sit down, you two."
Harry and Ginny exchanged nervous glances. What could possibly have Hermione and Ron so terribly upset? Harry chose his seat and sat down, looking anxiously between Ron and Hermione.
"What's going on?" Ginny asked, sounding wary.
Hermione leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees, and let out a sigh. "You two haven't been honest with us," she said. "And I have to say, it's…it's…well…"
"It's pretty disgusting," said Ron harshly.
Harry felt heat flood his face, and he stole a glance at Ginny, who had gone quite still.
"I mean, Ginny," Hermione said, shaking her head in disbelief. "We've been friends for—how long? Everything we've shared, and now I find you've kept this secret from me? How—how am I supposed to—?"
"Forget friends," Ron growled, with a dirty look at Harry. "How about siblings? You're my sister, and you've been lying all this time?"
Out of the corner of his eye, Harry saw Ginny bristle. He opened his mouth to speak, but Hermione turned on him.
"Oh, don't think I've forgotten about you," she said rather viciously. "I can't believe you'd ever—"
"I could kill you," Ron said simply, fingering his wand in a way that made Harry shut his mouth immediately.
"Ron!" Ginny was scarlet with anger. "Just what is this, then?" she demanded. "If this is about me and Harry, then—" she faced Hermione, looking furious, "—as I've told Ron about a thousand times, it's not your business what we do!"
"Mate, if this is about last Friday, I swear," Harry stammered. "That wasn't—we didn't mean to—" Ginny silenced him with a glare. All Harry could do was stare weakly between the three of them. "I—I don't really know what's going on—"
"Oh, you don't know?" Hermione asked furiously. "Really? I have a hard time believing that, Harry." She crossed her arms and legs tightly, looking pointedly away from him. The newspaper still sat in her lap.
"I could kill you," Ron told Harry again, who turned white. "And I've got my brothers to back me up."
Ginny, however, was no longer listening to Ron or Harry. She was staring closely, shrewdly at Hermione, who was avoiding her gaze. "Hermione," she said.
Her tone was no longer angry—it was curious—inquisitive. Hermione would not look at her.
"Hermione," Ginny said again. Hermione just folded her arms tighter and looked in a different direction, but—and Harry saw it, this time—the tiniest flicker of a smile was forcing its way onto her face.
"Oh, bloody hell, Hermione!" Ron said, throwing his hands up, and she dissolved into helpless laughter, keeling over sideways onto the couch. "You're useless!" Hermione reached up, still breathless with laughter, and smacked the side of his head.
"What—what's going on?" Harry asked, his voice returning to its normal, un-squeaking level.
Ginny got up, shaking her head at Ron and Hermione, who were both laughing hysterically, and snatched Hermione's newspaper. She shook it open and held it up for Harry to see—it was the Evening Prophet, and smack in the middle of the front page was a large, black and white photograph, in which Harry and Ginny were walking down High Street in Hogsmeade. Between them was a chubby, black-haired one-year-old. He was taking tentative, wobbly steps on his fat little legs, holding onto one of Ginny's hands and one of Harry's.
The headline read: WARTIME PASSION, with a subheading: Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley (spotted earlier this week in Hogsmeade) reveal to the world the fruits of their love, torn asunder by war and reunited once again.
"Rita Skeeter," Harry and Ginny groaned simultaneously. Hermione gave a weak giggle; she lay on her back on the sofa, paralyzed with elation. Ron was wiping tears of laughter from his eyes.
"I like the bit about the 'fruits of your love,'" he said to Harry. "Like you two are a couple of flowering shrubs."
"Andromeda's going to kill me," Harry laughed weakly.
"And I'm going to kill Ron," Ginny said loudly, standing up. "What the bloody hell was all that for, you—"
"Oh, Ginny," Hermione said, sitting up. "We couldn't resist—and besides, it was my idea. It really is a cute picture of you and Teddy," she wheedled.
Ginny scowled, but sat down again, crossing her arms tightly and staring murderously at Ron. Harry just grinned, tossing the newspaper aside. He sat back, much more at ease now.
Ron, however, sat up suddenly and frowned at Harry. "Hang on…what happened last Friday night?" he asked suspiciously.
Harry raised his eyebrows innocently. "No idea," he said.
"Shut up, Ron," said Hermione as she tore the photograph from the newspaper. She passed it to Ginny, who was still glaring nastily at Ron. "Here, Ginny—your fruits."
Happy birthday HonoraryDAMember! This is a photo she suggested. It's a bit different from the others, but I thought it was cute. :)