WARNING, there are some references to sex in this chapter. However, they are part of the story and are not graphic by any means.
Ginny watched in amusement as Hermione paced around the kitchen. She kept looking through the window into the garden every time she went past it. After making her fourth pass in a row without any luck, she sat down with a groan. "What time do they usually finish training?"
Ginny grinned at her, "About nine."
Hermione stared at the clock, "They're late."
Ginny rolled her eyes, "Calm down Hermione, they're probably waiting for Layla or something," she remarked. "That is if they haven't killed her by now," Ginny said lowly.
"What was that?" asked Hermione.
Ginny sniggered, "Nothing."
Hermione went back to staring out the window. She was growing impatient. She hadn't seen Ron in nearly a week. She hadn't even been able to see him over the weekend. She was too busy helping her parents to get their dental practice back up and running. Today had been their first day back at work, so Hermione decided to spend the day with Ginny.
They had talked about many things, school, their futures, and of course, their relationships. After discussing these things with Ginny, Hermione couldn't help but feel a little bit envious. Despite the fact that Harry worked so much, he and Ginny played quidditch together, went out on dates, and told each other 'I love you' every chance they got, so much so that Hermione wondered if they did it just to annoy her. But most importantly, Harry and Ginny saw each other every day.
Being so busy with helping her parents get back on their feet, Hermione had barely made time to see Ron. However, now, with her parents' lives in order, she hoped that would no longer be the case. She sighed as she turned away from the window, to stare back at the clock.
Ginny grinned at her, "Be patient, they'll get here when they get here," she said, before adding, "I'm sure Ron's dying to see you too."
Hermione smiled sheepishly, "Thanks."
"No problem," said Ginny, just as they heard the distinct sound of someone apparating.
"They're here," Hermione called, rather needlessly since Ginny had already stood up. Hermione jumped up too, and was out the door in a flash. Ginny chuckled as she watched her run outside into the garden to meet Ron. She watched his eyes go wide as he saw his girlfriend running towards him.
"Hermione," was all he could say before she was on him. His massive frame allowed him to remain steady as she jumped into his arms and began kissing him.
Harry chuckled at them as well before he spotted Ginny coming towards him. "Uh-oh," was all he could say before he was tackled by his tiny girlfriend. He and Ginny laughed as they tumbled to the ground. With a grunt, Harry sat up to stare at her. "What was that about?" he demanded.
Ginny shrugged, "What, I didn't want to be shown up. And I know you all take the pepper up potion after training so you can stop pretending your hurt."
Harry stared at her for a moment. Finally, he smiled in amusement, causing Ginny to giggle at him. "So how was your day?" he asked.
Ginny shook her head, "You first."
Harry met Ron's eyes. "Eventful, wouldn't you say Ron?"
"To say the least," Ron agreed.
"How was Layla?" Hermione inquired.
Ginny nodded, "Yes, how was my dear cousin?"
"She was alright," Harry said with a shrug. He glanced at Ron, "She certainly made the day more interesting."
Ginny narrowed her eyes at him, "You care to elaborate Harry?"
Harry motioned to his right, "Ask Ron," he suggested, a smirk showing on his face. "He's the one who dueled her."
Hermione stared up Ron. "You dueled your cousin?" she inquired. Ron nodded, but didn't say anything.
"Yup, twice," said Harry, "The first time ended in a draw."
"Really? Did you win the second time?" asked a curious Ginny.
Ron was opening his mouth to answer, but then stopped when they heard the sound of someone apparating. All four of them turned to see Layla and her little sister Emily walking through the gate. Emily stared inquisitively at Harry and Ginny. "Um, what are you doing on the ground?"
Ginny smirked, "Nothing, just snogging Harry." Emily giggled at them as they finally got up off the ground. "Good to see you, Emily," Ginny said brightly.
Emily hugged her, "Thanks, good to see you too Ginny." She turned to Ron. "So Ron, is it true, did you really win against my sister?"
Ron raised his eyebrows as he stared at Layla. "You told her?" he asked. Layla nodded.
"So it is true?" said Emily in surprise. She glanced back to her sister, "But you never lose. I actually thought you were kidding."
Layla shrugged, "I don't know Em, Ron was just better." She winked at him as she and Emily began walking toward the house. "He beat me fair and square."
Harry watched them go. "That's debatable," he thought aloud. Ginny and Hermione looked at him inquisitively, while Ron just glared at him. "What?" Harry said to him, "What am I supposed to say Ron?"
Hermione stared between them as Ron remained silent. "Is anyone going to say what happened?"
Harry just gestured to Ron. He groaned loudly, "Fine, since you're going to find out anyway, I'll just tell you."
"Is it really that bad?" asked Ginny.
Harry nodded, "It's pretty bad," he told her.
Hermione gave Ron a reassuring smile, "It's alright Ron, just say it."
Ron gazed at Hermione. He took a deep breath, "Okay, so, Layla and I were dueling you see, and well, I kind of. . . cheated."
Hermione's eyes went wide, "What do you mean, Ron?"
"Yeah, how can you kind of cheat?" Ginny asked.
"Easy," said Harry.
Ginny turned to him. He whispered something in her ear, causing Ginny's mouth to open up wide. She looked right at Ron. "You stunned her in the back?" she burst out, a hint of delight in her voice.
"A bit, yeah," said Ron in dismay. "But I didn't mean to. It was an accident. You saw it Harry, right?"
Hermione glanced at Harry. "Was it an accident?"
Harry covered his mouth to keep from laughing. "Not really. Everyone said it looked deliberate. But, what made it worse was her robes were on fire at the time, and instead of waiting for her to put them out, he decided to take advantage and stun her."
"In the back," Ginny added, highly amused.
Hermione looked to Harry in surprise, "He really didn't wait for her to put out her robes?" she asked lowly.
"Nope," Harry answered, causing Ron to put his face in his hands. "I didn't even have time to call time out for her."
Hermione looked thoughtful. "Wait, so you never called for the time out?"
"No, I never got a chance," he told her.
Hermione's eyes flashed, "Wait, then by dueling rules, Ron should win, right? Since he never violated the rules of the duel?"
Ginny grinned, "Technically. . . yes."
Hermione raised her eyebrows. She looked from Ron, who still had his face covered, to Harry and Ginny, who were still trying hard not to burst into laughter. Finally, Hermione smiled at them. "Well that's just funny."
It was after their late dinner. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were relaxing in the kitchen while everyone else was in the parlour. Ron could hear them all from where he was in the bathroom. He finished up and made his way downstairs. As he got to the first floor landing, Ron could easily tell where all the noise was coming from. It was coming from his brother, George, who apparently couldn't stop laughing. He could barely contain himself at this point. He was nearly howling with laughter as Ginny, for the third time no doubt, recounted the story of how he, Ron, had stunned their cousin in the back.
Ron sighed as he stepped back into the parlour. "You're still on this? Can't we talk about something else?"
George grinned, "Are you kidding? We're never going to stop talking about this." He smiled at the face Ron made at him, "Oh no, looks like Ickle Ronniekins doesn't want to be reminded of how he dispatched our poor, dear cousin."
"Stuff it George, you couldn't beat me or Layla in a duel anyway," Ron replied.
"True, but at least I didn't stun my cousin in the back instead of being a gentleman. Seriously, who doesn't wait for a time out?" George countered.
Ron was about to argue some more but Hermione patted his shoulder. "It's alright Ron. We'll talk about something else."
Ron smiled at her gratefully, "Thanks Hermione," he whispered.
"Alright, just answer one question for me Ron," said George. "Was it really an accident?"
Ron hesitated a moment. He noticed Harry and Layla staring at him, it seemed they were curious about this as well. "I don't know. It happened so fast, it was as if something came over me. As soon as I cast the spell, I wanted to take it back. I never wanted to win like that. I mean I had joked about me and Harry being capable of back shooting someone, but I never meant any of it."
Layla gave him a smug grin, "Seems you meant it after all," she told him.
Ron looked sheepish, "I am sorry."
Layla shook it off, "Don't be Ron, you won. Even if it was controversial, you didn't actually break the rules."
Hermione nodded, "That's what I said."
"Still doesn't matter," said George, a smirk playing across his face. "Everyone is going to take the mickey out on him now even more than if he had lost."
Harry nodded, "Big time," he uttered, causing a few people to chuckle and Ron to groan once more. Thankfully, he was saved any more teasing by the arrival of Mrs. Weasley, who had just stepped into the room.
Emily smiled brightly at her, "Hey Aunt Molly, thank you so much for dinner, it was fantastic."
"Of course Emily, it was my pleasure," said Mrs. Weasley. "I just came in here to tell you all that I will be heading up now. Though, you girls can stay as long as you like."
Layla smiled, "Thanks Aunt Molly, we'll probably be heading home pretty soon anyway."
"Me too," said Hermione.
Mrs. Weasley nodded, "Of course."
George stood up, "What about me Mum? Can I stay as long as I like?"
Mrs. Weasley laughed, "Of course George, and you can also do something else for me as well."
"Sure Mum, what is it?"
"You can help your father clean up everything in the kitchen before you leave," she told him.
Everyone laughed this time as George hung his head down. "Walked right into that one," he huffed.
Emily giggled, "You did," she agreed.
George smiled at her, before turning back to his mother. "Alright Mum," he said, kissing her cheek. He then indicated to Harry and Ron, "C'mon you two, let's see if Dad needs help in the kitchen."
Mrs. Weasley beamed at him. "Thank you George," she said, before then saying good night to everyone else.
George watched her head up the stairs, a grin on his face. He followed Ron into the kitchen where his father was just beginning to put away the dishes. He glanced back to see where Harry had gotten to. It seemed he was having trouble getting out from under a reluctant Ginny, who was still sitting on him. Finally, Harry was forced to physically remove her from his lap, and soon joined them in the kitchen. George winked at him, "Ginny giving you some trouble, Harry?"
Harry grinned, "I handled it."
George smirked, before turning back to address his father. "Hey Dad, Mum said you needed some help?"
Mr. Weasley smiled at them, "Thanks boys but I think I've got it."
"C'mon Dad, let us help," said George. "Here, why don't you and I sit down while Harry and Ron put everything away?"
"Oh no you don't," Ron retorted. "Mum said for you to help out as well."
"Did she? I specifically remember her saying I could help out," said George, still grinning. He noticed Ron wasn't nearly as amused as Harry so he decided to drop the act. They all set to work, Harry washing the dishes, George drying them, and Ron, being the tallest, was helping his father put everything away. In a matter of minutes, they had completed their task.
Mr. Weasley beamed at them once they had finished up. "Thank you boys."
George smiled as he sat down next to him, "No problem Dad. That's what you had us for isn't it?"
Mr. Weasley rolled his eyes in laughter, "I suppose that's one reason."
Ron chuckled, "So Dad, how was your day at St. Mungo's?"
George stared curiously at his father, "Why were you at St. Mungo's, Dad?" he asked. "You didn't try to use magic on that Haunted Deck of cards I gave you again, did you? I told you Fred and I placed defensive spells on them after what those kids did," said George, examining his father's eyes.
"No George, I was at St. Mungo's for a case of defective invisibility cloaks. Besides none of the spells I used had any effect, so I stopped trying," said Mr. Weasley.
"Oh, good," said George, sighing in relief. He had already been about to light his wand to get a better look at his father's pupils. "So what happened?"
"Well, we tracked down the man responsible for selling all of the defective cloaks. It turns out he was a former snatcher for the Ministry. The Aurors who raided his home said that he had probably been at this for a while. They actually found over a hundred defective cloaks in his house."
"Wow," said Harry. "Were the people who bought them okay?"
Mr. Weasley nodded. "Yes, they're all fine now. But for a few of them, we were unable to figure out how to remove the cloaks. So, the healers were forced to use severing charms to take them off," he said, causing everybody to wince. Mr. Weasley grinned at them. He stood up, "Alright boys, don't stay up too late," he said, before bidding them good night. He went into the parlour, and a bit later, Layla and Emily came into the kitchen.
"You ladies taking off now?" asked George.
"Yeah," said Layla. "It's getting late and I need to rest up for training."
"That's good. I'm gonna take off now too so I'll walk you out."
"Such a gentleman," said Layla, smiling at Harry and Ron. "See you boys bright and early tomorrow?"
Harry nodded, "Yup, see you then." He stood and gave her sister a hug. "Bye Emily."
"Bye Harry," said Emily, smiling brightly. After everyone had said their good byes, Emily followed her sister outside, George right behind her.
"Hey George, wait up," Harry called.
George stopped in the doorway, "Yeah Harry, what is it?"
"I'm curious, what did those kids do to the cards?"
"Oh that," said George. He smiled, "They modified them all so that the faces had pictures of bikini clad women."
Ron snorted, "Really?"
"Yeah," said George. "Fred and I thought it was hilarious, but too many people complained, so we installed defenses on the cards. Though, we did end up hiring the kids as consultants."
Harry and Ron laughed, "You have a good night George, and thanks for the help."
"No problem," he answered. George then closed the door and stepped outside into the cold air, a grin still on his face.
After he'd gone, Harry and Ron went back into the parlour, where Ginny and Hermione were still sitting. "Hey Harry, are you going to sleep right away?" Ginny asked as soon as she saw him.
Harry saw her subtly motion to Hermione and then to Ron. He tried not to smile as he caught on to her plan. He yawned loudly, "Yup, you?"
"Yeah, I'm feeling pretty tired," she answered. She stood up off the sofa and bade Ron and Hermione good night, before following Harry to the stairs.
He smiled at her once they had stepped into her room. Ginny laid down on the bed while Harry sat facing her. "Do you think they bought that?"
"Ron yes, but definitely not Hermione. Though, she's probably snogging Ron on the sofa right now so I doubt she cares," said Ginny.
Harry chuckled, "Did you have fun with her today?"
"Of course. Did you have fun with Layla today?"
Harry snorted, "No, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. I did have fun stunning her with Neville though, does that count?"
Ginny giggled, "I heard about that. Wish I could've seen it. Do you know who's spell hit her first?"
Harry shook his head. "Couldn't see. Wait, did I already tell you about that?"
"Nope, Layla mentioned it while you were in the kitchen," Ginny told him.
"Oh really, so what else did you talk about while I was in the kitchen?" Harry asked curiously.
She grinned, "You want to hear about our girl talk?"
"Could be interesting," Harry said with a shrug. "Who knows?"
Ginny smirked, "Alright, well, it seems that Layla likes Seamus."
Harry nodded, "Yeah."
Ginny narrowed her eyes, "You knew that already? You?"
Harry frowned, "Why do you say it like that?"
"Because it's gossip. You're always the last one to know gossip."
"That's not true!" he argued. Ginny met his eyes. "Okay yeah, that's true."
Ginny snorted, "So how'd you find out?"
Ginny smirked, "Figures, I should have known someone had to tell you."
"Hey, give me a little credit. I could've figured it out myself."
"Harry, you didn't know Neville and Luna liked each other until you saw them snogging in the kitchen," Ginny mentioned. "We sat next to them for an entire dinner and you didn't even notice them staring at each other the whole time?"
Harry sighed, "I didn't think anything of it. How was I supposed to know that's the universal sign of liking someone?" he asked.
"Cause you used to do it too, with Cho," Ginny told him.
"And you," Harry quickly pointed out.
Ginny turned away to hide her smirk. She shook her head in amusement as Harry smiled at her. "Alright, from now on I'll tell you about these things so you don't feel embarrassed for not knowing, okay?"
Harry nodded, "Good, is there anything else I should know or can we snog now?"
Ginny looked thoughtful, "Not that I know of? Wait. . . there is one thing."
She paused to stare at him. Finally, after examining him for a long time, she sighed. "Harry, tell me that you know about Terry and Anthony."
"What about Terry and Anthony?" he asked.
Ginny covered her face in disbelief. All of sudden, she burst into laughter, "What am I going to do with you Harry?"
"Well, I could think of a few things," Harry began, "But first, can you tell me what's so funny?"
Ginny gave him a sympathetic look. "You really don't know?" He shook his head. Ginny smiled, "Harry, Terry and Anthony are gay."
Harry blinked. "They're gay?"
"Yes, they've been together ever since fifth year."
"Oh. Er, I-, I never knew. I always thought they were just best mates, like me and Ron."
Ginny had to clasp both hands to her mouth to hold in her laughter. "No Harry, definitely not like you and Ron."
Harry frowned as he mentally slapped himself, "I feel like an idiot."
"I'm sorry Harry, I never meant to laugh at you, honest."
"That's alright, I probably would have laughed at me too," he told her, before taking a deep breath. "I still can't believe I didn't know about this. You know, it finally makes sense," he pronounced.
Ginny raised her eyebrows, "Why do you say that?"
"A few things actually, but mostly something Anthony said on our first day of training."
"What did he say?" asked Ginny.
"He and Terry were on different teams, and Anthony said something that I didn't get until now."
"What was it?" she asked again.
Harry grinned, "That it didn't matter how we picked, they would always play for the same team."
Ginny snorted, "And after that you didn't realise they were gay?"
She put up her hands and giggled again, "Stop Harry, please!" she laughed as Harry began tickling her.
Luna smiled as she stepped outside into the cold morning air. She turned to her father, "I'm leaving now, bye Daddy."
"Wait up Luna," her father said. "You almost forgot your earrings."
"Oh, thank you Daddy."
He handed them to her. "Luna, how did your dinner with Neville go last night?"
"Oh, it went quite well Daddy. I think his grandmother really likes me," she told him.
"That's great Luna. I just knew she would."
Luna grinned, "Thanks Daddy. Okay, I have to go now. I need to meet Ginny."
"Then I shall not keep you any longer. Good bye Luna, have a great time."
"I will," she said. Luna made it to the gate, before running back to her father to give him another hug. "I love you Daddy."
He smiled, "I love you too, my Luna." He waved to her from their porch as she moved past the garden. Once there, she decided not to apparate, and instead began to skip to the Burrow.
It took her a few minutes, but soon enough she had gone over the hill and could see the Burrow in the distance. Making her way down the hill, she could hear voices coming from just past the hedge. It seemed she had gotten there just as Harry, Ron, and Mr. Weasley were about to leave.
"Go on without us Mr. Weasley. We'll catch up."
"Alright Harry, just don't wait too long," said Mr. Weasley.
"We won't. I doubt Jack's gonna cut us any slack if we're late, even today," Harry told him.
"True," Mr. Weasley remarked. "Okay then, you kids have a good day."
Luna watched as Mr. Weasley stepped past the hedge. He then turned on the spot, and vanished with a soft pop. After he'd gone, Luna stepped into the garden and grinned to herself as she caught Harry and Ginny snogging just inside the gate. She stood there in silence, waiting for them to notice her.
Finally, once they needed to come up for air, Harry turned his head and spotted her.
Luna beamed at him, "Happy birthday Harry!"
"Dahhh!" he yelled, causing her to stare curiously at him. "Don't do that!"
Luna tilted her head, confused. "Don't do what Harry? Tell you happy birthday?" she asked while Ginny giggled.
"No, sneak up on people like that. You nearly gave me a heart attack."
"Oh I doubt that. You're quite healthy Harry," Luna pointed out. "Besides you seemed to be enjoying yourselves so I didn't want to interrupt."
"Thank you Luna, that was very nice of you," said Ginny, amused.
"You're welcome," Luna said dreamily. She looked beyond them and noticed Ron and Hermione coming out of the kitchen. "Good morning," she said in greeting.
"Good morning Luna," Ron responded once they'd reached them. "C'mon Harry, we have to go." He moved beyond the gate and disappeared with a faint crack.
Harry rolled his eyes, "C'mon he says. I was the one who was ready first." He quickly hugged Ginny and gave her one last kiss. "I love you," he told her, before stepping back.
"I love you too Harry. Happy birthday," she said happily.
"Happy birthday Harry," said Hermione.
Harry smiled at them, "Thanks," he said. Then, his eyes flashed and a smirk appeared on his face. "See you all at the party tonight." The next second, he had disapparated.
Once he'd left, Luna turned to her two friends. "Um, I think Harry knows about his surprise party."
Ginny chuckled, "Yes Luna, I believe he does."
Hermione frowned, "You knew?" she asked, already knowing the answer.
"Of course I did."
"How did he find out?" Luna asked curiously.
Ginny sighed, "Some girl at the Ministry heard about the party and actually tried to ask him for an invitation."
"Really?" Hermione asked, furious.
"Yeah," Ginny said in dismay.
"Oh my. I'm sorry Ginny, that's too bad," Luna said in sympathy.
"Yeah, I'm so sorry Ginny," Hermione told her.
"Still, why didn't you say anything to us about the surprise being off?"
Ginny grinned, "Oh, there's still a surprise, it's just that it's not for Harry," she revealed.
Hermione raised her eyebrows, "Then who's it for?"
Ginny stared at Luna, before smiling brightly. "Neville," she said simply. Ginny then made her way back toward the Burrow to begin preparations for the party, leaving a happily stunned Luna in her wake.
The two girls soon joined her, and along with Mrs. Weasley, they all helped to begin setting up everything for the party. Several hours later, it was almost time for the guests to start arriving. Emily had arrived around midday and was helping Luna finish up in the garden. While they were busy outside, Ginny and Hermione concluded their preparations for the inside of the house.
"Wingardium Leviosa!" Hermione uttered as she used her wand to hang the banner for Neville.
Ginny could only watch in frustration. "Wish I could do magic," she complained.
Hermione nodded, "Me too, then you could've helped me with more of the decorations."
Ginny smirked, "I'll help next time, when we're doing this for my birthday."
"Deal," said Hermione. After finally getting the banner to hang on the hook, she asked, "How does it look?"
Ginny moved to examine the sign, "Perfect."
Hermione beamed, "Neville's going to be so surprised. That was really nice of you to plan this whole party for him."
"Thanks, but it was Harry's idea really. He said that he wanted to do something really big for Neville, and this was the best thing he could think of."
Hermione smiled at her, "That does sound like Harry. But I still don't get why you couldn't tell me about the switch."
"I'm sorry, but the less people who knew, the better," Ginny explained.
"I understand. Too bad you can't still surprise him."
"Who says I'm not going to surprise him?" Ginny argued.
"What do you mean?"
Ginny suddenly got a very mischievous look on her face. "If I tell you, you have to promise to keep it a secret."
Hermione stared at her, intrigued, "Fair enough."
"So you promise?"
"Yes Ginny, I promise."
Ginny smiled, "Alright then, follow me."
Hermione raised her eyebrows. She followed Ginny to her room, not having the slightest clue what to expect. Once there, Ginny immediately closed the door.
"Okay Ginny, what's this about?" Hermione asked after stepping inside.
"This," Ginny told her. She held up a piece of clothing.
Hermione gazed at it, her eyes wide as saucers. "What do you have that for?"
Ginny giggled at her lack of comprehension. Despite the fact that Hermione was the smartest witch of her age, she was very naïve. "What do you think Hermione? I plan on wearing this tonight, after the party of course, as part of my birthday gift to Harry," Ginny supplied.
"You're actually going to wear that? It looks like it could come off you at a moments notice."
Ginny had a Cheshire grin on her face, "Well, I don't plan on wearing it for very long."
Hermione's eyebrows seemed to disappear into her mass of hair. "Are you talking about-,"
"Yes," Ginny confirmed. "Tonight's the night."
Hermione face flushed, "Are you sure you're ready for something like that?"
Ginny had a fierce look in her eyes. "Hermione, I've never been more sure of anything else in my entire life. I'm ready to be with Harry."
Hermione sighed deeply. "And are you certain he's ready for this as well?"
"Yes," she said with the utmost confidence in her voice.
"How can you know for sure though?" Hermione questioned.
"Have a little faith Hermione. You don't have to go all big sister on me. Harry is ready for this, and so am I," Ginny assured her.
Hermione paused. Deciding to press further she inquired, "Have you consulted anyone else about this?"
"Of course," Ginny told her.
"May I ask who?"
"You may," said Ginny, while maintaining a straight face.
Hermione groaned, "Who?"
"Andromeda?" she asked, completely caught off guard.
"Yes, and if you're wondering why I chose her, I just couldn't bring myself to ask anyone else," Ginny remarked. "But despite that, Andromeda has been a really big help. We've talked about this a load of times actually, especially in the past month."
"I see," said Hermione, hiding her frown. She was so used to talking with Harry and Ron that arguing with Ginny's logic was throwing her off a bit. The young witch didn't seem fazed by any part of their conversation. What irked her the most was that Hermione could tell Ginny was saying this now to inform her of her intentions. It didn't appear as though she had any plans to seek advice from her. If anything, it seemed as if Ginny had made up her mind, and if that was true, then she knew there would be no changing it.
Hermione took a deep breath. After some time she asked, "Are you on the potion?"
A small grin appeared on Ginny's face. She nodded.
"Good, then I have nothing else to say."
"Just one thing really," Hermione added. She hesitated, only for a moment, before saying, "I wish you the best of luck on your first time Ginny."
Ginny beamed at her, "Thank you Hermione."
"You're welcome," she said. Hermione then smiled and gave her a hug. "I'm so happy for you two. You love each other so much, I just know things will be great for you both."
"I think so too." They broke apart. "Um Hermione?"
Hermione looked at her, "Yeah?"
"When this sort of thing happens for you and Ron, can you try to leave me out of the conversation as much as possible?" Ginny asked.
Hermione chuckled, "Okay, I'll try."
"Please try hard."
"I will, though at the rate we're going, it probably won't be for a while," Hermione said sadly.
Ginny scowled, "Ron still hasn't told you he loves you?"
Hermione shook her head, "Not yet."
"Then he's an idiot."
"Don't say that Ginny," Hermione objected.
"I'm sorry, but he's is. Or else he's at least acting like one," Ginny implied.
Hermione grinned, "Maybe a little."
Ginny laughed, "Just hang in there Hermione. My brother will stop acting like a git soon enough."
Hermione smiled brighter, "I hope so."
"Who knows, maybe it might be sooner than you think," Ginny speculated.
Hermione stopped smiling and narrowed her eyes at her. "Ginny, I know you. Whatever you're going to do, just don't," she advised.
"I have no idea what you're talking about Hermione," said Ginny. She grinned at the hard look Hermione gave her. "Alright then, I won't do anything. I'm sure you can handle Ron yourself."
"Thank you. Anyways we should probably head downstairs. It's almost time for the guests to start arriving," Hermione pointed out. She stepped in front of Ginny when she moved toward the door. "Um, aren't you forgetting something?"
Ginny looked confused. "Wha-, oh right," she said, holding up Harry's present. She quickly hid it in her wardrobe. "That would've been embarrassing."
Harry took his time washing his hands. He was trying to buy time so Ginny could finish getting everyone in place for Neville's surprise. He'd just sent his Patronus along with a message, a skill that he'd only recently acquired, telling her that they were on their way. Harry finished drying his hands and made his way out of the loo.
Ron huffed. "Move it Potter! I'm starving, and we can't have your birthday dinner without you so hurry it up!" he yelled.
Harry smirked at him as he made his way through the Atrium, past the security desk and to the apparition zone, where Ron, Layla, and Neville were waiting for him. "I was in the toilet," Harry responded, causing the few other people who were leaving to stare at him. Harry ignored them, "Just calm yourself Ron, you'll be enjoying your Mum's cooking in about five minutes."
Layla grinned, "And his fourth helping in about ten."
Ron frowned. "Not funny," he replied.
Layla tapped Neville's arm. "That's because it's true," she whispered under her breath.
Neville chuckled in amusement, before saying, "We should go now." The next second, all four of them had disapparated, reappearing just outside the Burrow's wards.
The backyard was quieter than normal, Harry observed. It seemed, different somehow. He kept glancing around until he realised that there were glamour charms all around the back garden. All in order to hide the decorations, Harry deciphered. He smiled as he spotted a lone balloon in the corner of the yard, and wondered if he'd have detected it there had he not been looking for it.
Neville noticed his smile. "You excited Harry?"
Harry nodded, "Of course. Weren't you excited for your dinner yesterday?"
"I was, at least at first," Neville told him. "It was the first time my Gran and Luna were meeting each other, but I don't think it really went too well. I could just tell my Gran didn't like her at all," he said lightly.
"So what Neville, it shouldn't matter what your Gran thinks about Luna, or anyone else you date. I mean screw what your Gran thinks. All that matters is if she makes you happy."
Harry, Ron and Neville stared at Layla in complete shock.
She frowned, "What?"
"Er, nothing, it's just, we actually agree with something you said," Ron stated.
Layla shrugged, "There's a first time for everything. Anyways, I'll see you all inside."
Harry, Ron, and Neville all stared at each other and shrugged. They followed Layla toward the house but Harry made sure to stay level with Neville. Once Ron and Layla had gone inside, Harry held the door open for him. "Go on in Neville," he told him.
Neville smiled in thanks and stepped inside. Once he'd done that, a thunderous wave of sound erupted upon him as the whole house yelled.
"Surprise! Happy birthday Neville!"
He gaped. It was as if an explosion had gone off. His mouth opened up in surprise as he glanced around the room at nearly every one of his friends from Hogwarts. Neville's mind could barely process everything as finally, his eyes came back and rested on Harry, who was beaming at him. "Um, Harry, why did everyone say my name?"
Luna came over and embraced him, "Because, it's your surprise party silly."
Neville blinked, "Bu-, but, I thought. . . I thought the surprise was for Harry?" he tried to explain.
Harry winked at him, "That's what we wanted you to think."
Harry smiled as he wrapped his arm around Ginny's waist, "We."
Neville beamed at the two of them, his face filling with emotion. "Thank you, so much. You have no idea-," he began. However, he soon became too overcome to even finish his thought.
Ginny grinned, "Don't mention it Neville, just enjoy it," she suggested.
Neville nodded. "I will."
"Oh yeah and we're sorry but your grandmother couldn't make it," Harry said.
"On a count of we didn't invite her," Ginny added.
Neville laughed, "That's alright," he said, before turning back to Luna. There were catcalls and wolf whistles all throughout the room as they kissed each other happily.
Ginny giggled, "Remind you of anyone, Harry?" she asked.
Harry smiled, "Yeah it does. By the way, you look beautiful in that dress," he said, before emitting some more catcalls from everyone.
After their little display, the party soon got underway. Eventually, people began to make their way outside, where a dance floor had been set up. Lee Jordan, who had just gotten a job with the Wizarding Wireless Network, was supplying the music.
Harry and Ginny were dancing together. They appeared to have eternal smiles on their faces as they danced along to 'Do the Hippogriff.' Harry recalled that he'd first heard the song at the Yule Ball. He chuckled to himself as he remembered not liking it at first. However, whilst dancing with Ginny, he started to take a real liking to the song.
"Is the birthday boy having fun?" Ginny asked.
Harry laughed, "Are you kidding? Of course I am."
She grinned, "I thought you didn't like this song?"
Harry grinned back, "It's growing on me."
Ginny sniggered. Once the song had changed, she leaned into him, "Let's sit down for a bit, my feet are getting tired."
"Okay," said Harry. After going to get them some drinks, he sat down next to her at one of the tables that had been set up. "Here you go."
"Thanks," she said. Ginny glanced at the dance floor, and saw Ron and Hermione dancing with Bill and Fleur, they're chaperones for the night. Her parents had gone off with the Grangers to have another one of their nights at the cinema. They wouldn't be home until very late.
"Seems like Bill and Fleur have started to enjoy themselves a bit more," she observed.
Harry turned to look their way. "You're right. Fleur looks a lot happier now that Bill isn't threatening to stun people who keep trying to impress her."
Ginny laughed, "True." She spotted Luna coming over to her. "Hey Luna, is it time to cut the cake?"
"Yes. George is bringing them out now."
Harry and Ginny stared at her in horror. "You gave George cake duty? George!"
"Yes," said Luna, staring at them. "He was very helpful."
"I'll bet he was," said Ginny, before she and Harry ran inside.
"What's going on?" asked Hermione, as she and Ron came over.
"I don't quite know," Luna said. "All I said was that George is bringing out the cake."
"Oh," said Ron. "That's not good."
They waited in anticipation for the cakes to be brought out. Finally, they saw Harry and Ginny as they escorted George outside. They walked alongside him as he carried the cakes, which thankfully were still intact.
"I don't know why you two are doing this. I'm not going to do anything you know," George said innocently.
"Just don't drop them, alright George. You have a reputation when it comes to birthday cakes so unless you want to get bat-bogeys with your piece, I suggest you keep walking," Ginny threatened.
George chuckled, "You're the one who gave me and Fred that reputation. Don't you remember?"
Ginny smirked. She glanced over at Layla, who was busy dancing with Seamus. "I remember."
Finally, they were able to reach the table without incident, not counting George pretending to slip twice. After everyone had gathered around to sing 'Happy Birthday' to Harry and Neville, Ginny began distributing the pieces to all the guests.
Harry smiled as Ginny handed him his piece. "Thanks Ginny."
Ginny sat down with a piece of her own. "You're welcome," she said, before taking his strawberry.
"Hey, that's my strawberry," he told her.
Ginny grinned, "Not anymore." She put it to her lips and took a bite. "Mmm," she moaned, closing her eyes.
Harry watched as she swallowed the strawberry and licked the chocolate from her lips. He too gulped, "Um, Ginny?"
"What are you doing?"
She smirked, "Me? I'm not doing anything Harry."
Harry studied her, looking suspicious, "Alright."
"Though, if I was doing something," Ginny added, "There's nothing you could do to stop me."
Harry's eyes flashed, "Oh really?"
"I bet I could," Harry told her.
Ginny grinned as she moved closer to him. "You probably could Harry. Though, I doubt very much that you'd want to," she whispered.
Harry trembled unexpectedly as she gazed at him, her eyes going dark. He knew something was different. "Ginny, are-, are you trying to tell me something?" he asked softly.
"Tell you something? No, what would give you that idea, Harry?" she asked playfully.
"You know what I mean."
Ginny smiled, "What if I was to tell you that I'm ready?" she asked, excitement in her voice. "That I think we're ready."
Harry gaped. By the look in her eyes, there could be no mistaking what she was ready for. Though, he didn't want to presume anything, so he still had to ask, "Ready for what?"
"Oh, I think you know."
Harry loosened his collar, as it had started to become quite hot all of a sudden. He took a deep breath, "And if I was to tell you that I had planned on waiting until you turn seventeen, when you come of age. What would you say?"
"I would say that you're being a noble git, and that your plan sucks."
Harry grinned in amusement, "Good, that's what I thought you'd say." He closed the distance between them and kissed her. Ginny moved herself into his chair as their tongues danced along with everyone else. After they broke apart, Harry licked his lips, "Mmm, tastes like strawberry."
Ginny smirked, "Come with me Harry, I want to show you something." She got up before he could stop her, even leaving her slice of cake. Harry stood and saw her disappear into the crowd. He groaned and followed her, but not before eating her strawberry.
Neville and Luna stared at them as they both vanished into the masses. "Do you think they even noticed us sitting here the whole time?" Neville asked.
Luna shook her head, before biting into her own strawberry. "So, do you think we're ready?"
Harry and Ginny continued pushing past what seemed like every one of their classmates from Hogwarts, many of whom were girls asking if he wanted to dance with them. After saying no to yet another dance, they bumped into Ron and Hermione.
"Hey you two, did you come to dance with us?" Hermione asked him.
Harry almost laughed but instead just shook his head, "Can't, sorry."
"Why not, where are you going?" Ron called, holding a piece of cake for some reason.
Harry's face flushed. 'To have sex with your sister,' he thought horribly. He steeled himself and quickly pushed that thought to the back of his mind. "I have to grab something from inside. We'll catch up with you two later." He noticed Hermione whisper something to Ginny. She nodded and Hermione beamed at him, causing him to blush.
He swiftly hid it, just as Ron said, "Alright, have fun."
Harry really wished Ron could have chosen different words. He watched as Ginny clasped her hands to her face. "Okay," he said, getting them out of there as quickly as possible. Once they were a safe distance away he asked, "Did your brother really just say that?"
"Yup, he did," Ginny said, shaking in laugher. "Maybe that was his way of giving us his blessing."
Harry sniggered, "Maybe." He nearly shoved his way past people on the dance floor and into the house until they had finally reached their destination. Ginny opened the door to her bedroom and hastily shut it behind them. Harry stood in her room, staring at the bed. He heard no noise coming from outside. The only audible sounds were coming from them, until he heard the door click behind him, meaning Ginny had locked it. He turned to stare at her. "Have I told you how beautiful you look?"
"Yes," she said, without blushing. "Are you nervous?"
"I don't know, kind of. What about you?"
"I was, but not anymore," said Ginny.
Harry nodded, "I know what you mean. With everyone else around, things seemed complicated. But now, with just the two of us-,"
"Things seem easier."
"Exactly," Harry said. He pulled out his wand, "Colloportus!" The door made a squelching sound.
Ginny smirked. "Trying to keep me from escaping, or Ron from busting in."
"Ron of course. I would never lock you in Ginny. You know that you can stop this anytime you want?"
"I know, but I don't want to. I'm the one who should be locking you in though," she said. "You might decide to be Mr. Noble and make me wait until I'm of age."
Harry wrapped his arms around her waist. "Not going to happen. You're too impossible to resist."
Ginny giggled, "Really?"
"Yes. Plus, I realised that waiting wouldn't do us any good, because I really can't think of a more perfect time than right now."
"I completely agree."
Harry sighed in contentment. "I'm so happy to hear you say that. I always wanted this to be perfect for you Ginny, for both of us. And now it will be."
"Oh Harry, I didn't care about that. You know that as long as it was with you, it was always going to be perfect."
Harry sighed, "Wish I'd known that before."
Ginny smiled as she put her hands around his neck. "It's okay, none of that matters now."
Harry nodded once more. He was about to say something else but Ginny's lips were on his. He cupped her head and deepened the kiss. They kept kissing as Ginny wrapped her leg around him and he picked her up, carrying her over to the bed.
Harry made to lay her down softly but Ginny clung to him and brought him down with her. He laughed as Ginny spun and ended up on top of him.
He grinned up at her, "Nice move there."
Ginny grinned as well, "Thanks," she said, before kissing him again. Ginny paused then, "Hold on Harry." She breathed him in, and frowned. "You ate my strawberry didn't you?"
"No," he said dismissively.
Ginny glared at him. She pulled his head up for another kiss. She could taste the chocolate on his lips, as well as something else. "I knew it, yes you did!" she burst out.
"What, you ate mine. And you were just going to leave it there," he pointed out.
Ginny shook her head at him, "And to think, here I am, about to give myself to you." She giggled at the worried look on his face. "You're lucky you're so cute Harry, and that it's your birthday," she said, causing him to grin. "Speaking of which, I have something for you."
"What is it?"
"A present. Now close your eyes. And no peeking," she added.
Harry closed his eyes and waited on the bed. A couple of minutes later, he heard Ginny say, "Okay, now open them."
Harry opened his eyes, as well as his mouth. Ginny was standing before him in what he could only describe as the sexiest thing he'd ever seen. Though in actuality, it was just a black negligee.
Harry gulped as he stared at each one of her curves. It was impossible not to. He noted the flimsy material separating him from a completely naked Ginny, and imagined himself ripping it off. However, he quickly squashed that idea, as it would mean that Ginny wouldn't be able to wear his present again and again.
Ginny smirked at him as his mouth remained open. "Um, Harry, aren't you going to say something?"
Harry gulped again, "Yeah, your brothers are going to kill me."
The party had ended long ago. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were safely tucked into their beds. Everyone was asleep by now. Everyone that is, except for Harry and Ginny.
They lay together in her bed, their bodies still entwined. After all they had just done, Ginny couldn't even begin to explain the constant flow of emotions ranging through her mind. There was a closeness between them that had not been there before.
Ginny turned and smiled in pleasure as his eyes fell upon her. "I love you," she whispered.
Harry stared into Ginny's absolutely exquisite face. He had thought there would never be a way for them to become any closer, but he was quite happy to be wrong. They had now shared in one of the most important things two people could share with one another, and it had been a mind blowing experience to say the least.
He smiled back at her. "I love you," he said, running his hand softly across her face.
Ginny felt a shiver go through her tired body. Harry's words, along with the sound of his voice, were all that was needed to set her on edge. It was a strange feeling to feel exhausted and exhilarated at the same time.
"I don't want this night to end," she told him.
"Me either," Harry agreed. Unfortunately, he knew it had to. Sighing deeply, he said, "Just close your eyes Ginny. When you wake up, I'll be here."
"I will," Harry said with a chuckle. He brought her closer to him. "There's no place I'd rather be. I'm not going anywhere Ginny."
She laid her head across his chest. "Okay."
Harry grinned. He wrapped his arms around her and watched as she closed her eyes. After a few minutes, Harry had drifted off to sleep. Ginny opened her eyes to stare at him. She smiled once more. Lying there, resting in Harry's arms, she felt a complete sense of happiness, as well as contentment.
She stared at him one last time. "Good night Harry, happy birthday." Ginny then closed her eyes again, and joined him in utter bliss.