AN: I haven't written too much fanfic lately, and the last time I wrote for Harry Potter was around seven or so years ago. What I wrote was pretty bad, and I never - that I can remember - ventured into Harry and Ginny. So this is sort of new for me. I really appreciate any feedback on my characterization or anything else. Just bear in mind, some time has passed, so they all have grown up some more.
This is largely cannon compliant. The history of this one shot is true to the books, up to the end of the last chapter but not including the epilogue or any of the snippets JK has given us about their lives/careers following the last chapter. Some may be the same, but some I have imagined my way. The largest disparity from canon is that Fred didn't die in the battle. His is the one death I can't handle, but the focus is on Harry and Ginny, so he is only mentioned in passing and shouldn't reduce enjoyment for those who are sticklers for cannon stories.
-Rated for a clearly implied sexual relationship: nothing actually mentioned and both characters are over 18: Please tell me if you believe the rating should be moved up/down-
She shouldn't have gotten riled up. She knew that. She knew it now, and she'd known it then — but she hadn't been able to stop the words from pouring out.
It was all sort of worth it just to see the look on the younger girl's face.
But Harry was going to kill her.
Ginny stormed away from the Ministry, locked in her thoughts but not too preoccupied to notice that a couple of people had actually darted out of her path in fear as she swept through. One pimple-faced man in lurid green robes had dropped a stack of parchment and leapt into a fireplace when she swore violently to herself.
He was probably an intern, Ginny huffed. She just felt slightly sorry for whichever Ministry worker he had accidentally followed home.
In moments she found herself on the streets of London and took a deep breath to try to calm herself before apparating away.
She appeared just outside a low stone wall, with a creaking wooden gate held closed on the latch in front of her. The little front garden was wild and overgrown with a half buried stone path winding back to a small cottage. It had two floors, a little oak door and a stone chimney poking from the dense thatch. It had been white-washed, but the garden and woodland behind the property had long ago sought to claim the little house back, and the old paint was only visible in places between ivy creepers and mosses that were fused to the outside walls.
Ginny took another breath, steeling herself, and vaulted over the gate. She was one of a few people who could even locate this house. Not because it was a good ten miles from the nearest town and down a labyrinth of lanes — most of which became inaccessible during the winter months — but because it was the home of Harry Potter.
And Harry Potter, since ridding the world of Tom Riddle's sorry arse three years before, had not been left alone. Reporters wanted to know everything from his favourite colour to what position he slept in. (Since that last one was directly influenced by Ginny, he no more could provide an answer than wanted to, else he'd be admitting what the Weasleys so far had no solid proof of, even if they suspected).
Molly Weasley had given groups of reporters camping outside the Burrow more than one good yelling at — at one point she was handing out earfuls free of charge at least twice a week — and when that didn't work, she let Fred and George loose on them with some new products for their shop.
Reporters from Witch Weekly, The Daily Prophet, Teen Witch and even Which Broomstick had all left soon after; smoke pouring from their noses, their teeth growing into tusks to rival a walrus' or else stumbling around as their legs turned to tree trunks.
Even that had only stemmed the influx temporarily. The Weasleys couldn't leave the property for the questions pelted at them and only Bill's warding had kept the nosy crowds at the end of the garden. Harry, finally allowed to experience childhood and freedom from the prophecy and a deranged psycho, had begun to feel guilty instead.
So he made the arrangements with Bill and Arthur, as well as Kingsley. He pulled in Hermione and spoke to both McGonagall and Flitwick and within a fortnight, announced he was moving out because he had a house.
Not just any house.
This one was hidden. Well and truly hidden.
Harry hadn't told them who the secret keeper was, but shared the location via a scrawled message on a piece of parchment. It looked a little like his handwriting — if he'd deliberately tried to disguise it — but no one asked. The Weasleys knew, as did Hermione, Kingsley, McGonagall and Andromeda Tonks, who brought Teddy over regularly. Molly had tearfully helped him pack and Ron, Hermione and Ginny had helped him move in. Everything was settled by the time they'd all returned to Hogwarts to finish their exams.
It had been an interesting last year, but there had been perks. The castle had been rebuilt, but though there was no tangible sign of the horrors that had taken place there, Ginny had taken a while to come to terms with the memories that assaulted her when she walked the halls and sat in the classes.
They were all of age, though, so McGonagall — the appointed Headmistress — had no say in the matter when they'd all decided to spend the Christmas holidays at Harry's cottage, only journeying to the Burrow for Christmas Day. Molly had kicked up a fuss about Ginny joining them (there were a lot of conversations about sleeping arrangements, virtues and 'being safe') but Ginny won and no one had come storming into Harry's room in the dead of the night to tell her to go back to her own bed.
Then they'd finished school. Ginny had come of age the year before, but it was at Graduation that Molly had grudgingly accepted the ground she had to stand on was pretty crumbled. Ron and Hermione had bought a flat last year, right at the back of Hogsmeade and they promptly had it connected to Harry's and the Burrow's floo. Fred and George's shop was raking in the galleons and Ginny figured it was a matter of days before McGonagall sent them a howler. The notorious banned list was no more a deterrent now than it ever had been for troublemaking Hogwarts students.
Life was looking up all around, if you overlooked the continued attempts of reporters to find where Harry lived, and their frequent stalking sessions of various members of the Weasley family when they continued to fail.
And now this little additional problem.
Ginny was not looking forward to this conversation.
She lifted the latch and entered the small front hall. There were more wards and protections on the house than there had once been on Grimmauld Place, but they were all set around the property's boundary and Harry saw little point in locking the front door after that. According to him, if they even got past the rickety front gate, they deserved to find him.
The hallway opened onto a cozy living room on the left, through a large archway, and a crooked farmhouse kitchen through an arch on the right. A long wooden table stood in the open space towards the back, on the tiled floor and before a line of windows that covered the wall. A narrow staircase rose into the back of the little house and then split near the top with a few steps heading left, and a few leading right.
The interior was almost too big for the exterior, but Ginny knew this wasn't magic — just deceptive architecture.
The cottage was quiet. There were usually tell-tale signs when Harry was in. He'd leave his boots and cloak by the door, or he'd leave a copy of the Daily Prophet on the end of the kitchen table. A few times he'd left a note on a scrap of parchment at the foot of the stairs, or by the kettle and once he'd even had his stag patronus waiting for her in the hall.
Ginny glanced in the downstairs rooms briefly, and then hurried up the stairs and to the left, across the landing that overlooked the living room below and into the bedroom at the end which was situated above the Den.
The bedroom was empty, too. She was half tempted to sink into the mattress and just sleep, but she was too jittery to properly consider it. She'd half hoped Harry would be in so she could just admit what had happened and get it off her chest. As much as a part of her was relieved she had time to think through what she'd say — it also allowed her more time to panic.
The clock on the wall in the living room — one that actually told the time — counted away nearly forty minutes before a delicate chime rang through the house.
Someone had apparated into the wards.
Ginny huddled deeper into the armchair in front of the huge open fireplace, fiery red hair falling over her shoulders and helping to hide her. She felt slightly nauseous, but she couldn't just let him find out in the morning edition of the paper — she had to tell him.
"Ginny?" He called, pushing open the door.
She could never fathom that. She needed little tips to know if he was in, but Harry seemed to instinctually be able to tell whenever she was home.
Officially, she still lived at the Burrow. Even at the age of nineteen and as a starting Chaser for the Holyhead Harpies, her mother took comfort in the fact she still had a room at the Burrow. She also had a dormitory at the Holyhead training facility, for their annual summer boot camp as well as home games when she had to be there insanely early and remain for social functions afterward. Thankfully no one batted an eye if Harry left with her the following mornings, since most of the other players had to sneak out their boyfriends or one night stands.
Despite having a room in two other places in Britain, and having belongings kept in both of them, the little hidden cottage on the outskirts of the rural town Harry had picked was now the place she considered home.
Since she was just fifteen and he'd kissed her for the first time, Harry had become her home — the fact that he now owned walls and a roof was just a perk.
"Here," she called back, voice trembling as she tried desperately not to let it break with nerves.
He appeared in the archway and reclined against the smooth stone. He'd been at the Auror academy. He and Ron had blazed through the training — effectively showing the Ministry they really needed to re-evaluate what they taught recruits — and they'd been on the job after just one year, not two. Now, with death eaters mostly rounded up, the two friends had turned their attentions inward. Harry got to teach, which he'd always loved and been good at, as they took over the Auror training and completely revamped it.
Ginny never got tired of seeing him come back from work now. His raven hair flopped into his eyes and was messier than ever, but his green eyes were brilliant and always filled with the kind of joy and pride that had been absent for so long. He was still the same in a lot of ways, but he'd grown into himself; he carried his lean frame with quiet confidence but could easily hold a room when needed.
Responsibility and leadership had always agreed with him, even when he couldn't see it.
He gazed at her quietly. "You weren't at training today," he said after a moment. "I would have been here but Nigel wanted to go over his street test-"
Ginny shook her head, standing up and forcibly burying her anxiety. "No, it's okay. You said he'd been worried he'd fail — did you talk to him?"
Harry leant off the wall as she approached and reached out to her. Ginny fell willingly into him, curling her arms around his waist as his hand tangled into her hair and he pressed his lips to her forehead.
"Mm-hm," he murmured. "He passed; I told him to wait for the results before panicking. But I don't want to talk about him right now."
He brushed his thumb under her jaw, tilting her head back so he could cover her mouth with his. Ginny's mind cleared of the conversation back at the Ministry; the poor man who dropped his parchment and Nervous Nigel, one of the newest Auror recruits as he kissed her determinedly.
Only Harry had ever had this kind of power over her. She wound an arm around his neck, spearing her fingers into his hair and feeling the vibration of his quiet groan on her tongue. He walked her two steps backwards until her back pressed into the stone arch and his warm, solid form leaned into her.
It was remarkable how unimportant oxygen became when it was a choice between that or Harry.
Breathing hard, he broke away after a drawn out moment, resting his forehead on hers as his fingers idly rubbed small circles into the back of her neck. She bit down on a moan as she looked up at him. The world was quickly rushing back and she had to tell him before they really got lost in each other.
Harry spoke first, though, sounding put out. "We can't do this now. Ron's going to stop by in about half an hour to pick up the written tests for scoring."
Although there were plenty of Aurors about to run the training and classes, Harry and Ron — despite their ages — had been the go-to people to implement the changes. Kingsley had laid down the law. Both the boys had fought in the war against the odds, managing incredible feats like breaking into and out of Gringotts; escaping Malfoy Manor; avoiding capture for months on end and hunting down Death Eaters even before they'd finished training. The Minister trusted their abilities and judgement where his Auror taskforce was concerned.
Harry ran the duelling courses, as well as some of the spellwork classes and Ron managed the infiltration and strategising aspects. Because the tests were new this year, Ron was running through the new system that he'd put in place so that everyone knew how it worked.
Harry backed up, sliding his hand down from her hair to lace his fingers with hers before tugging Ginny gently into the kitchen.
He left her to climb onto the counter and went to fill the kettle before setting it on the stove. Ginny smiled at him softly, warmth spreading through her chest as she watched him move about, pulling down mugs and fishing teabags (he still had an aversion to tea leaves) from an old tin.
To someone who had grown up in a wizarding home with Molly Weasley, who could have ten things zooming around the kitchen to make dinner all at once, even as she did her knitting, it never failed to bring on a swell of affection to see Harry do so much stuff the muggle way.
Molly had worried when he first moved out — he was only just eighteen — and she'd fretted for days before his departure that he didn't know enough household charms, or that he'd forget to do the laundry, or lock the door. She hadn't appreciated Ginny joking that she'd happily move in to make sure he managed, either. Still, for all the worrying, it was clear to everyone pretty quickly that Harry knew all too well how to take care of himself. It shouldn't really have been a surprise, considering they knew the Dursley's had never taken great care of him.
"You're quiet," Harry said, interrupting Ginny's spiral of thought. He was digging in a cupboard over the sink and Ginny knew he was trying to locate a bar of Honeydukes Chocolate. He always had some in the house for when Teddy came to stay. "Usually I get to hear all about the team or what your dad's been tinkering with today."
He pulled back, holding an unwrapped bar and tossed it onto the counter before turning to her.
It was crunch time.
Ginny bit her lip, her hands twisting in her lap as her eyes slid across the floor.
"Gin?" His voice was soft as he came closer.
"I did something really stupid," Ginny burst out, gaze fixed so hard on watching the sunlight hit the tiles through the wall of windows that she barely noticed when it began to blur. "Well, I didn't do anything, exactly. I said something. Idiotic."
She chanced a glance up. Harry was watching her quietly, eyes confused and, unless she was mistaken, a little worried. She swallowed tightly and looked away again, feeling a stirring of anger at herself that combined with the anxiety in a way that really wasn't helping.
"Merlin, I…I know I shouldn't have let her get to me — she's always like this and I just snapped. I shouldn't have said anything but now its going to be everywhere and Mum's going to be livid and I just…I'm so sorry."
She pulled in a breath after the rant and in an instant Harry was in front of her, thumb brushing under her jaw in the same way it always did until she gave in and looked at him again.
She wasn't mistaken; he was definitely worried.
"Who said what to you?" That didn't sound scared, though. That was his protective side at work. Ginny almost laughed. She'd said something that could have him ducking reporters for the rest of his natural life and he just wanted to know who'd upset her.
The name came forth too easily, regardless. "Romilda Vane."
Harry looked at her, frowning as he placed it. "She was in Gryffindor below us, wasn't she?" Ginny nodded wordlessly. "You told her I got a tattoo." Ginny flushed and glanced away. Trust him to remember that. He chuckled quietly as he pressed a kiss to the top of her ducked head and pulled her to the edge of the counter by hooking his hands around the backs of her knees.
"You saw her today?"
"Yes," Ginny muttered. "She works for Witch Weekly as a columnist. She was in the Ministry when I left Hermione's office a little while ago."
Hermione had gone into work at the Ministry when Kingsley offered her a position in the Law Enforcement department. Despite once swearing she actually wanted to do something with her life, she'd accepted, since the Ministry had to be almost rebuilt from scratch, and it gave her a chance to really fix the legislation that had been making its way out during the course of the second war, and even before. She was busy, but Ginny would pop in to see her now and then on her days off of training and they'd grab lunch in London.
Harry seemed to get where this was going. "And Romilda's still nosy and opportunistic, so she got your temper going until you said something you either didn't mean, or shouldn't have."
Ginny cringed. "Both," she muttered. "How could you know that?"
Harry smiled down at her, some of the worry replaced with a fondness that made his eyes bright. "Because you have a notorious temper," he said, surprising her with a sudden kiss when she opened her mouth to protest (purely on principle, since even she admitted it was true). "And Romilda will never stop being nosy — especially not now that it's in her job description."
Ginny scrunched her nose in distaste, "Nosy and fixated on you."
Harry kissed her again, lingeringly as he whispered against her mouth, "I don't care. I just want you."
Ginny sighed. "You haven't heard what I said, yet."
"Let's hear it." He said, but Ginny hesitated to respond, and behind them, the kettle began whistling on the stove. A plume of steam billowed from the spout as it begged to be set aside, and Harry squeezed her knee lightly as he moved away to rescue it.
Ginny steeled herself and took the chance while he wasn't too close and she could think clearer.
"I told her we were engaged."
Ginny watched him carefully, but to his credit, he didn't swear, freeze, collapse or even dive headfirst out the window and peg it for the gate.
The strangest, smallest smile quirked at the corner of his mouth and he shrugged, "Okay."
Ginny's jaw dropped.
"Okay?" She demanded, wondering vaguely if she'd been hysterical from the minute she'd first seen Romilda, or if Harry's reaction had driven her to it. She jumped down from the counter. "Okay? It's not okay."
He turned to look at her, folded his arms and leant back against the sink. His expression was unreadable. "Why isn't it okay?"
She gaped at him for a moment. Why? He needed a why?
"Because," she burst out. "I told Romilda. And she works for Witch Weekly — so it'll be in there by tomorrow's issue. And I told her in the Ministry so any one could pass it onto the Prophet Editors — I'll be a miracle if it's not in there by tomorrow, or even this evening. My mother will read it and go nuts that she wasn't told first, Hermione will think I was keeping it a secret when I saw her for lunch and you- me…we're not engaged!"
Harry waited for her to finish. "Done?"
"No!" she retorted. "I shouldn't have said anything. You already have people trying to tail you everywhere for interviews, its only going to get worse if this does get out. You won't be able to walk down a street without being mobbed-"
"That's already true," Harry interjected, but Ginny wasn't listening.
"-, both of us, after the initial murdering for not telling her, will be glued to chairs with wedding plans by Mum, never mind that we're not getting married! And why don't you hate me?"
Harry was smiling again now. "Because I love you."
Ginny deflated and valiantly fought against a smile. She could rarely help it when he looked at her with that soft expression. "Aren't you even a bit angry? I lied to the press."
He laughed quietly and walked across the room to pull her against him. "I hardly consider Romilda 'proper press'. And the papers made a habit of lying about me, so I don't see why we can't return the favour. If it makes you feel better, when I go for the interview in a week, I'll tell them my favourite colour's green." (He'd agreed, finally, to do a select few interviews to give him some breathing space. And red was his favourite colour).
"That's not the same," Ginny muttered. Then, almost to herself, "How could I lie about that?"
Harry hesitated. Ginny felt his heartbeat flutter under her cheek.
"What if you didn't lie?"
"No," she said, after a moment's thought. "No."
"Why not?" He asked, looking down at her. Only curiosity swam in his eyes; no hurt. They'd been together too long — talked of the future — for him to fear that this was a proper rejection. They both knew it was just circumstance.
Ginny burrowed deeper into him. "Not because of me or the papers. You've never let their lies affect how you live your life — so I'm not going to let you start now."
Harry sighed and held her tighter. "It's not because of you," he said quietly. "Or them. We always just said it'd be one day. I guess we just got used to being the way we are, because I didn't realise how much I liked the idea until you just said it."
Ginny clenched her eyes against tears, and to keep herself from looking at him. She had to force the word out. "No."
Harry let out a breath, but when he spoke again, Ginny was startled to realise he sounded amused.
"You know, I've been told a fair bit about my parents. My dad was a troublemaker, an animagus, a Potter — so he was cursed, or blessed, rather — to love a redhead-" Ginny laughed faintly. "-My mum was very smart, with a temper not unlike yours, very good at potions." The amused sing-song voice gave way to something more serious. "But my dad had a lot of growing up to do before my mum saw anything in him. It took him seven years to get her to go out with him, and I guess that means that persistence is in my blood."
Ginny's breath let out in a rush. It was hard to miss his meaning.
His thumb pressed against her jaw and Ginny looked up at him at the same time the delicate chime rang through the house.
Ron had arrived.
"I'm going to keep asking," Harry said softly.
He kissed her slowly, and then let her gently go as he headed for the hall to greet his best friend. Ginny stood in the kitchen where he'd left her, arms folded around her middle. Somewhere inside, she felt anxious. She wouldn't hold out long if he kept asking, but she didn't want to forever associate a decision like that with Romilda Vane (even if the younger girl might get a kick out of it). More than that, though, there was a thrill humming through her that made everything else pale in comparison.
Deciding to deal with that that later, Ginny turned to greet her brother as he entered the kitchen. Harry tossed him the Honeydukes chocolate which he dived into with a 'thanks' and turned back to the kettle, setting it back on the stove to heat again.
Ginny headed for the living room, knowing Harry and Ron may need to talk business before he left and feeling like she really needed to sit down.
Ron barely stayed an hour before gathering the things he'd come for, giving Ginny a quick hug and heading out. Of all her brothers, he was the one who'd come around to her and Harry the quickest. Being so close to her growing up, he was usually the first to have reservations, but it had always been different with Harry.
Ron trusted him with his life, and he trusted him with Ginny's heart. He still didn't like to see too much evidence they practically lived together, and usually left at a reasonable hour, so he could pretend she still left after him, but he could see more than most that she was happy, so he stayed out of it. He never gave her searching, knowing looks when he visited, like Bill or her dad, and he never dropped hints about where she slept or how careful she should be, like the twins and her mum (though admittedly, the twins were much lighter about the whole thing and Harry joked with them about it freely).
Harry had come to sit with her after Ron had gone. Ginny had a new appreciation for television, since Harry and Hermione had introduced the Weasleys to the concept, and they whiled away a few hours with a movie. Harry had told her a lot about his childhood when they got back together after the war, and once he'd bought a television, they would make a point of watching films a few nights a week, so Harry could see movies he'd never had the chance to whilst growing up.
Harry was jittery that evening. Ginny, curled against him, could feel his heart beating fractionally fast in his chest against her cheek again. His fingers tapped out a frenzied rhythm on the inside of her knee which wasn't helping her focus on the Children's movie about the wooden boy with the long nose at all.
The sun was setting outside and the kitchen and hall were bathed in a pinkish-golden light that was kept from the living room by the drawn curtains when an owl swooped in. It was Pig, and the years hadn't helped chill him out one bit. He still buzzed erratically around their heads, issuing far too much noise for such a tiny bird as his wings worked double-time due to the hefty curled newspaper clutched in his little talons.
Ginny felt herself pale as Harry snatched the owl from above him to relieve it of the burden. She wasn't sure she wanted to look at the Prophet's evening edition, but before she could work out if she had the courage, Harry had flicked it open, scanned the inside page of contents and then rolled it up again, wearing a bright smile.
"Nothing," he said, holding it out to her, even as he twisted on the small couch and pulled her against him, resting his head on her shoulder. "So, since it's not in the papers-"
"No," Ginny answered quickly, sure that if she heard him actually ask she'd be lost. She took his word for it, though, and tossed the paper onto the coffee table without looking at it. "I said it might get into the evening — they'd probably already printed it."
Harry wasn't deterred, though he did appear to loose some of the jitters as they settled to finish the film.
Ginny headed up to the room they shared early. It was late now, and things often seemed worse late at night, when they only appeared trivial or easily dealt with during the day. She curled at the edge of the mattress, on her usual side, and burrowed into the blankets.
She didn't move when she felt the bed dip behind her and Harry reach out — as he always did — to pull her close. It was something she'd not taken long to learn about Harry; he always wanted to be touching her in some way. Hermione and Molly often hugged him, but he seemed to put up with it a little awkwardly more than anything. He and Ron had gotten better, and occasionally shared 'brotherly' hugs if the situation called for it, but on the whole, he just didn't handle overloads of physical affection well.
Except with her.
It started simple; he'd hold her hand. Not just hold it, but lace their fingers together, and if it was cold, he'd put his hands in his pockets, one of hers still curled around his own. He'd sit near her in the Gryffindor common room, or during gatherings at the Burrow, either playing with her hair, or her fingers as he listened and participated in the conversation flying around.
As they had grown up, and grown closer, so had the touches.
They would gravitate to one another in a room; Harry didn't even need to look in her direction to instinctively move towards her. She'd almost always end up tucked so close she may as well be in his lap when they sat on a sofa around the family, and getting her there had become as much a reflex as snatching a snitch from the air. His fingers would find their way between hers, or into her hair, or more and more often, navigate their way underneath her shirts to rub circles into her skin.
He was never blatant about it, but he never tried to hide it either, and no one said anything either way. Ginny was glad — she didn't want to test the theory that he wouldn't actually stop doing it if someone called him out.
Despite her renewed anxiety, she smiled as she felt him wind an arm around her and lean over to whisper in her ear.
"You never told me what she said to get you so ticked off," he murmured.
Ginny realised he was right. She scowled into the darkness, remembering.
"Gin," he wheedled.
She sighed. "There was a lot about 'doesn't realise what he could have' and 'better witches out there'…something about 'blinded' or 'hogging' you."
"Hogging?" Harry said, laughing.
Ginny snorted. "Apparently I had my chance — back when we were first together. Getting back with you was selfish and thoughtless for all the other witches."
"Then thank Merlin you're selfish," Harry said, amused, as he began spreading kisses down her neck.
Ginny bit her lip, feeling her skin heat up and her pulse race. "I am not," she had the sense of self to respond, turning onto her back and prodding him with a finger. He snatched it in a hand and looked down at her. "As I recall, you were the one who begged me to take you back."
Harry smirked at her. That smirk did things to her that should be illegal. "You weren't arguing."
Ginny groaned and pulled him down to her. He gave in willingly and conversation ceased for a moment while she worked to erase the smirk from his mouth. But he pulled back, fingers toying with the edge of the huge t-shirt she was wearing.
"You're usually more restrained than that," he commented lightly. "She must have said something else to really set you off."
Ginny cursed him for knowing her so well. "She implied I was giving you a love potion."
"For the last three years?" Harry queried, incredulous.
"Yes; no; I don't know," Ginny huffed. Harry kissed her forehead gently. Since Ron's run in with Romilda's first botched attempt to drug Harry, and the subsequent poisoning, not to mention the numerous conversations she'd overheard in their last school year, Ginny had a bit of a sore spot where love concoctions were concerned. She could hardly blame half the female student population for wanting Harry; He had just rid the world of Tom Riddle, and he had plenty else going for him besides, but that didn't sympathise her one bit to the frequent attempts.
"I told you," Ginny muttered. "I just kinda lost it. She was really digging it in and…"
"I'd have loved to have been there," Harry sniggered into her neck. "If it was anything like the look on her face when I kissed you in the common room…"
Ginny finally gave in to a laugh. "Oh, it was better," she said.
They didn't talk after that, but Ginny fell asleep, curled into Harry's side, reeling that he could make her feel so much better, even if she still dreaded the morning's paper.
She was woken up by the sound of rain. It drummed heavily against the window across the room from the bed, but despite that, the sun was strong and it flooded inside.
The four poster double bed was the centrepiece of the room. There was a long desk under the window, as well as a wardrobe and two chests of drawers stationed around the walls, one of which bore a mirror which was stuckin place with a nifty charm. There were no moving, waving pictures in here. Considering what the Weasleys already assumed she and Harry did in this room, having them wave at you was more than a little creepy.
Instead there were random possessions they'd both accumulated over the years, both together and apart. The tiny wooden dragon Harry had been given back in the Triwizard tournament sat on a chest of drawers, next to a snowglobe with a griffin inside it, that Bill had given Ginny from his first ever visit to Hogsmeade as a thirteen year old. There were quills and parchment, Ginny's hairbrush, books on Quidditch and advanced spellwork, stacks of Chocolate Frog cards, items from Zonkos and The WWW and even two shiny, still snitches — the first Harry had ever caught and the one Ginny had snatched from under Cho Chang's nose. That day.
It was probably a good thing the family didn't venture in here. At least without seeing the clearly shared space, they could continue believing Ginny stayed in the guest room (which, for the record, could barely fit a twin sized mattress, let alone a bed frame and wardrobe) the other guest room was always left for Andromeda and Teddy. Harry liked to joke that he left the mattress in the tiny room so that he could return the favour of his childhood, if Dudley ever came to stay — with his cousin's larger size, the room would do nicely as a cupboard under the stairs substitute.
Ginny wasn't fond of that topic. Though she wouldn't say no to punching Dudley in the face if she ever got the chance. According to Hermione, punching people in the nose was somewhat therapeutic.
She would know.
Ginny took only a moment to realise that with the sun so bright — in spite of the downpour — it was probably mid morning; and Harry was missing.
She sat up, holding the blankets up to her naked chest. She spotted her sleep shirt on the floor a small distance away and felt a flush creep up her neck at the memory of how it had gotten there.
Then she froze.
Mid-morning. It was ten o'clock. The Prophet and Witch Weekly would have been owled out all over the country by now.
She was going to have to get up, dressed and apparate to the Burrow to run interference. Now. Yesterday would have been better.
She'd barely moved to the edge of the bed, however, when the door opened.
Harry hurried in and sat back on the mattress, snatching her around the waist and pulling her onto his lap.
Ginny yelped, hanging onto the blanket and managing to keep in wrapped around herself. Harry smirked, fingers already skating over the mess of folds to find an opening to her skin — she doubted even he realised he did it, half the time.
He was dressed in muggle clothing — a pair of jeans and an old t-shirt, but his hair was windblown and damp, green eyes bright behind his glasses as he held a bundle out to her.
Ginny's eyes widened as she looked at it. The newspaper and the latest edition of Witch Weekly magazine.
"Nothing," Harry said, and his glee was almost tangible.
Ginny stared at him in shock. "Nothing?" she asked, weakly. "But…how…?"
"Well," Harry continued, apparently eager to share. "I went into the Ministry this morning." Ginny blinked at him. He tended to avoid it, and when he had to, he flooed to the office he needed directly.
But his hair was wet. And it was raining. So he'd been outside and apparated in.
"I stopped by the Editors' office with a polite query," Harry continued, and Ginny snorted, barely daring to believe. "They heard absolutely nothing — though I had some trouble getting away after I asked — so I headed for Witch Weekly's offices. They weren't far away — somewhere close to Diagon Alley. And it turns out Romilda was so horrified you might be telling the truth that she put a lockdown on the information. You had the argument in the ministry, so only one of her friends heard it anyway, and she forbid them from reporting it until I'd 'come to my senses' and she could instead report that I was back on the market."
Ginny gaped at him. Relief flooded through her — no trips to the Burrow, and no imminent howlers — followed quickly by a thread of disbelief. It couldn't be that easy, surely?
It never was.
Harry tugged her closer, using the blanket so she had no choice but to follow. At the same time his other hand found a gap and she felt his fingers begin to feather delicate touches up her spine.
She closed her eyes, fighting to stay focused, and felt something get pushed into her hands, which had long ago dropped the paper and magazine.
She couldn't hold back a gasp, knowing somehow instinctively what it was. The brushed velvet box was warm — almost too small. It didn't understand how significant it was.
Ginny dared to open her eyes.
Harry was watching her steadily, eyes bright and filled with a tenderness that ran bone deep. "Marry me?"
The question mark at the end was only just discernible. It was more of a demand than a question. He had no reason to doubt her, not now.
"Yes," she said plainly, not even opening the box as she curled her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. He absorbed her, laughing and pressing frantic kisses into her neck as he worked his way to her mouth.
Ginny pulled back eventually, Harry holding the blanket in place for her. She adjusted it around herself as he scooped up the box, plucked out a white gold band with a modest diamond set into the top and slid it onto her finger.
He could have given her a piece of plaited string and it wouldn't have mattered. The weight on her hand felt strange for how natural it was and she buried her fingers into his hair when he kissed her again, more slowly this time.
Finally, he pulled back and gave her a smile. Immediately Ginny picked up on the mischief in his expression.
"So, we should probably get dressed and head over to the Burrow," he said, casually as he stood and headed for the door.
"Oh?" Ginny asked carefully, tossing her hair behind her back as she made to get out of the bed.
Harry smirked. "Yeah; we should tell people before tonight's edition of the Prophet. I may have said something stupid."
With that, he darted out of the room pulling the door behind him. Ginny, shocked, took several seconds to break out into laughter. She dressed quickly and headed for the door, shaking her head and smiling.
She was going to kill him.
AN: I have a terrible attention span, so this will remain a one-shot. But since I've set it three years later, a fair bit's happened, so I may look into doing some other one-shots, in this 'universe' about some of the things I mentioned - like the Christmas at the cottage. I'll see if there's much interest.
And finally: I'm not sure why I chose this subject, as I'm not keen on marriage personally, other than it leapt into my head and seemed fun.