|SIYE Time:23:53 on 19th August 2017|
Category: Post-Hogwarts, Post-DH/AB
Genres: Drama, Fluff, General, Humor, Romance
Story is Complete
Summary: Life goes on, but not the same. Everything living thing grows, changes, and matures. Married life is a living thing.
Hitcount: Story Total: 5685
Awards: View Trophy Room
Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made for this work.
Once again, long time no updates, sorry. Just to prove that I'm still around, here is a Harry/Ginny one shot. I'll be out of the country, and out of contact, for a couple of weeks. Thanks, as always, to Amelie for her beta work
Life Goes On
The first thing Ginny noticed was the smell.
There was an overwhelming aroma of damp about the place. As she stood, silently sensing her surroundings, the still and musty air caressed her skin and the sad stench of neglect prickled at her nostrils. Wherever she was, the place felt dank, derelict and depressing.
‘Aren’t you going to open your eyes?’ asked Harry worriedly. Ginny was about to shake her head, to demand that they leave without even looking, but she heard a faint noise. Something, or someone, was tapping on glass. Suddenly curious, she lifted her eyelids and looked around. She was standing facing a half-glass door. A spindly wind-stirred branch was rattling against one of the sixteen small panes.
Having identified the source of the noise, she carefully examined the hallway in which she stood. To her left, the paint was curling and flaking from what must once have been a smooth white wall. The surface was no longer white; it was pitted, dirty, and yellowed with age. The floor was covered with a confetti of paint flakes, pieces of plaster, and other debris. The once ornate plasterwork on the ceiling was cracked and peeling.
To her right, a flight of stairs led to an upper floor. After the first three steps there was a landing, where the stairs turned through a right angle to creep up alongside another wall. The wall was no better than the one to her left. It too was scabbed and scarred by peeling paintwork and the stairs themselves were strewn with fragments and flakes. After seven more steps up, a second turn took the third and final flight of stairs up and over the door.
There were three mismatched sash windows on the wall above the door, above the stairs. They were the entry point for the spring sunshine which illuminated the mess which surrounded her. Everywhere Ginny looked, the peeling paintwork left her with an impression of desolation and decay. This was an unloved and unlovely place.
There was another rattle as the gently waving branches tapped on the panes. Ginny looked at her husband. He’d been watching her in silence, he looked hopeful. She wasn’t sure why. Surely he didn’t like the place?
She was missing something, she realised. Ginny again closed her eyes. As she did so, a long-forgotten conversation with her mother came to mind.
‘The Muggles talk about something called second sight, Ginny. They believe that it’s some sort of magical power we witches have. I’ll tell you a secret. Everyone can have second sight, because it isn’t magic. But it is useful. Sometimes, first impressions, first sight, is enough. Sometimes, however, you need to be able to look beneath, or beyond. You need to see, not what you first see, but what is really there.’
Her eyes still closed, Ginny could sense that Harry was rather worried by her reaction. She remembered the moment they’d said goodbye to their children, no more than ten minutes earlier.
Ron and Hermione Weasley stood at the back door of The Roost, looking out over their garden and the rolling Dorset countryside beyond. Everything looked lush and green in the bright spring sunshine. The white-painted and thatch-roofed house on the outskirts of the village of Oakford Fitzpayne had been the Weasleys’ home for almost two years, and they were already settled and happy in it. Their son Hugo, who was currently asleep in his cot, had been born there, and in two weeks time they would be celebrating his first birthday.
Hermione was holding a sullen-looking James Potter tightly by the hand. Lily Potter–whose own first birthday the families had celebrated seven weeks earlier–was, as always, showing a stubborn unwillingness to sleep. To ensure that she did not disturb Hugo with her mewling, she was being cradled in the arms of her Uncle Ron.
Rose Weasley and Albus Potter were oblivious to James’s mood, Lily’s fight with sleep, and the grown-ups. They were happily chasing an enchanted ball around the garden. Harry and Ginny stood on the gravel path outside the door, watching the two young children play. Ginny’s arm was around her husband’s waist, and his was around hers.
‘Thanks, you two,’ said Harry. ‘If Ginny doesn’t like the place, we might be back in a couple of minutes. Otherwise…’ Harry shrugged. ‘We might be gone for a while.’
‘Dinner’s at six, said Hermione. ‘I’m making lasagne. Good luck with your house-hunting.’
‘Yeah, I hope that you’ve managed to find somewhere Ginny likes, mate,’ said Ron, glancing worriedly at his sister. He looked down at the little girl in his arms. ‘Are you going to wave bye-bye to your mummy and daddy?’ he asked. Gently taking hold of her arm, he waved it for her.
‘Bubudadamumu,’ Lily managed to burble a vague approximation of a farewell to her parents.
‘Where you goin’ this time?’ squeaked James unhappily.
‘I have no idea, James,’ his mother told him. ‘Daddy wants to show me a house he’s found, but I don’t know where it is, or anything about it. He wants to surprise me.’
‘I likes Grim Ole Place,’ said James stubbornly.
‘Wouldn’t you like to have a house with a garden like this one?’ Harry asked. ‘Or even bigger?’
James looked around the garden longingly, but gave a stubborn shrug and shook his head resolutely. He had decided that he would sulk and protest, and no adult logic would persuade him otherwise. Harry looked worriedly at Ron and Hermione. His gaze spoke volumes: I hope James won’t be a problem, it told them.
‘We’ll cope,’ said Hermione. ‘He can’t be any worse than this one.’ She nodded towards her husband, who looked scandalised.
‘Be good, kids,’ Ginny ordered her offspring, paying particular attention to James.
‘Especially you,’ said Harry, backing up his wife with a warning gaze to their eldest. ‘Bye, Jamesy, bye Al, bye little Lily-Lu.’
‘Bye, kids, see you later,’ said Ginny.
‘Bye,’ chorused the children.
She looked up at her husband and gave a cautious smile. ‘Surprise me with this wonderful house,’ she ordered, closing her eyes.
‘I’m sure I will,’ said Harry. He twisted, and with a pop, the Potter parents Disapparated.
Ginny brought herself back to the present. She reopened her eyes, and looked more deeply at her surroundings.
She kicked at the paint flakes beneath her feet, revealing worn and ancient slabs of stone. The floor hidden beneath the debris was certainly sturdy and substantial. The stairs were solid-looking, and the timber appeared to be sound.
Ginny placed a hand against the wall to her left. She could sense the stability of the structure through her palm. She rapped the wall, confirming its soundness. The cold and damp in the air was simply due to the lack of occupation, she realised. Turning, she jumped across the corridor, landing heavily on the first step of the staircase. The sound she made when she thumped down heavily on the first tread was comfortingly solid. She kicked the riser, and was rewarded with an equally sturdy sound. The dark carved wood of the newel post was in remarkably good condition, as were the ornate balusters. The banister itself, she noticed, needed little more than a polish.
The house, at least the little she’d seen of it, was in remarkably good condition despite its neglect. This was a place built to last. Staying on the first step, Ginny turned and beckoned her silently watching husband over.
‘This is the worst part of the house, isn’t it?’ she asked. ‘You’ve deliberately shown me the most derelict and run-down part, haven’t you?’
‘Yes,’ Harry admitted, nodding.
Smiling, Ginny placed her hands on his shoulders and pulled him closer. Standing on the first stair gave Ginny and extra few inches, but she still wasn’t as tall as her husband. They kissed. It was a long, slow, and lingering kiss, and was all the more enjoyable for the lack of any interruption from one of their children.
‘Bedrooms?’ she asked when they parted.
‘Crikey, is my luck in?’ asked Harry with a twinkle in his eyes. He placed his hands on his wife’s hips and squeezed gently.
Ginny gave a low, throaty chuckle, and caressed his cheek. ‘I meant, how many?’ she asked. ‘And you know I did, Potter. Keep your mind on the job.’
‘I always do,’ he said. ‘Just to be clear, which job are you talking about?’
‘House hunting,’ she said, tapping the end of his nose with her forefinger.
‘There are five bedrooms and a large bathroom upstairs,’ he told her. ‘But I thought we might be able to convert one of the bedrooms into an en-suite bathroom for the master bedroom. There is an attached barn through there.’ Harry pointed to the staircase wall.
Ginny watched her husband’s eyes as they began to blaze with excitement. It was obvious that he really liked this place. ‘It’s at a different height to the main house,’ Harry continued. ‘But we could convert it into a living space, and… Sorry, I don’t even know if you like it yet, Ginny. It’s just that, when I first saw it, well, I…’
‘I know you’re excited about the place,’ she said. ‘Show me why. Take me through the rest of the house and show me what has impressed you.’
‘It could be converted, but it will need a lot of work,’ said Ginny cautiously as she looked around the echoing high-raftered barn. ‘We could take out the old barn doors and replace them with a floor to ceiling window, and we could…’ She stopped mid-sentence; she was getting excited despite herself, and despite the pigeon droppings on the floor.
It was Harry’s fault. His enthusiasm for the place was highly contagious, and he’d managed to infect her. He was grinning, because he knew that he was winning her around. Ginny tried to be rational about the place, sometimes she had to force herself to curb her husband’s impetuous nature. It wasn’t easy, not for someone as impulsive as she was.
He’d Apparated into the barn with her and, as she looked into his face, she finally realised why, and why he was now certain that she’d agree with him. She knew that they were going to buy the place, because she had not yet seen the best of it; Harry had not let her see outside. She strode over to a small side door, pulled it open, and stepped out into a yard covered in weed-choked gravel. Harry followed closely behind.
The house, and the attached barn, were hidden in woodlands, and snugly nestled in a slight hollow. To Ginny’s right, she could see nothing but trees and tangled undergrowth. Ahead was more of the same although in the distance above these treetops, she could see rolling hills. Somewhere quite close, she could hear the tinkling of running water. To Ginny’s left, a rusty old iron gate led out onto a lane. In the distance, beyond the lane, she could see fields of sheep, purple-brown heather and, on the horizon, an undulating ridge on which stood a pimple of dark rock.
With Harry in her wake, Ginny strode up to the gate, which wasn’t completely closed, and squeezed through the gap. After looking up and down the lane, she turned and looked back at the grey granite farmhouse and barn. There were a few slates missing from the roof, and the place had obviously been abandoned for at least a decade, but it was sound. She looked beyond the building, to the woodland which surrounded it on three sides.
‘How much land would be ours?’ Ginny asked.
‘About thirty acres; most of it is woodland,’ Harry told her, smiling. ‘There’s a stream, too.’
‘This is a Muggle house, in a Muggle area, isn’t it?’ Ginny asked.
‘Yes, but I heard about it through the Ministry. You know that we keep an eye out for homes in remote areas. The Burrow was no more than a Muggle pigsty when your parents bought it,’ Harry reminded her. ‘The only downside I can see with this place is that we’re a long way from The Burrow.’
‘Where are we?’ she asked.
‘We’re in Northern England, close to the Scottish border.’ He hesitated. ‘Shivering Stone, the werewolf village, is about five or six miles in that direction,’ said Harry, pointing towards the distant ridge.
‘Which is why, despite its remote location, no witch or wizard has tried to buy this place,’ said Ginny. ‘But we know better, Harry. Werewolves are fine. If they weren’t you wouldn’t have two of them working for you.’
‘You can probably guess which one of them told me about this place.’
‘Where we are in the country doesn’t really matter, Harry. The Burrow–and The Roost for that matter–would be only a fireplace away.’ She stared across at the ridge, and pointed at the rocky pimple. ‘What’s that?’
‘It’s called the Drake Stone,’ Harry told her. ‘It’s a massive boulder and, according to Muggle legends, it has magical properties. It doesn’t, of course.’
He took her hand and they gazed out over the wild landscape. Grey rocks poked through the green, and in the distance the hills were heather-brown, with only the first hints of purple.
‘Beautiful,’ said Ginny. As she leant her head against his shoulder, a sudden gust of wind sent her hair streaming sideways like a crimson pennant.
‘You certainly are,’ Harry told her.
‘The place, not me,’ she said.
‘You,’ he said, kissing her temple. ‘But you still haven’t seen the best. I’ll show you the back of the house.’
Taking her hand, he led her back through the gate, and around past the end of the building to see the other side of the house. A wild flat wilderness of weeds which had once been a large lawn and garden stood next to the half glass rear door. The mismatched windows above the staircase looked out across an area of grass on which dandelions, daisies and buttercups grew in abundance. Ginny, now fully infected by her husband’s enthusiasm, saw not the weeds, but the possibilities.
Where the weeds met the trees, a wide and shallow stream splashed over smooth pebbles. Harry led her over to the water.
‘This is Drakestone Burn,’ Harry said, pointing at the stream. ‘And this,’ he added, sweeping his arm over towards the stone buildings, which from this angle appeared to have grown from the landscape, ‘is Drakeshaugh. It’s pronounced “hoff”, but spelt H A U G H. What do you think?’
‘I think you’re in love with the place, Harry,’ she told him. ‘But don’t worry, I’m not jealous. I’m falling for it too. I don’t care what James tells us about Grimmauld Place. It’s all he’s known, and he’s worried about change. But he loves The Burrow, and he loves The Roost. He’ll be five this year, and he needs somewhere like this. He needs somewhere to run and play and hide and explore, even if he doesn’t know it.’
‘And it’s somewhere where he can’t pester poor old Kreacher,’ added Harry. ‘So, shall we make an offer?’
‘Definitely,’ said Ginny. ‘It will be a lot cheaper than buying a house in an established magical area, especially as the Muggles won’t try to increase the price simply because we’re the Potters.’
‘The perils of fame,’ said Harry, shaking his head sadly. ‘I hope that it won’t cost us much, because fixing it up and making it habitable will cost a fortune.’
Ginny shrugged. ‘Then it’s a good thing that we have a fortune,’ she told him. They kissed.
By mid-May Drakeshaugh belonged to the Potters. Plans had been made, prices agreed, and the renovation work was well underway. Harry and Ginny had placed the work in the hands of Chang Designs, a company run by Cho Chang’s mother. Mrs Chang had previously done work in Grimmauld Place, but Drakeshaugh was an even bigger challenge for her. She had taken personal charge of the contract, and was supervising all of the work. To be completely accurate, she was supervising all of the work on the buildings. The grounds were another matter.
The Potters waited until the end of July, when the major alterations to the buildings had been completed, before bringing their children for their first visit their new home. James had done his very best to be unimpressed by the house. But he had been instantly won over when he’d seen the grounds.
‘What do you think we should do out here?’ Harry asked, as James and Al stared out into the woodland.
‘’Zit all for us?’ James asked.
‘There’s a dry stone wall, eventually,’ Harry told him. ‘But it will take you a while to get there, James, even if you run all the way. So, should we cut down some of the bushes, and tidy the place up?’
‘No,’ James said firmly. ‘Not do nuffink a tall. ’Tis a tactless forests for ’splorin’ in. Is great. ’Tis.’ He nodded. ‘We likes it, doesn’t we Al?’
‘Likes it, Daddy,’ Al confirmed with a squeak, looking adoringly up at his brother.
‘Then why don’t you two go off and explore,’ Harry told them, casting a watching charm over his sons.
‘’Splore,’ said Al. ‘We splore James. Ess!’
James led Al off in the undergrowth while Harry, Ginny, and a protesting Lily, went into the house to agree the final fixtures and fittings with Mrs Chang. When everything had been agreed, Harry and Ginny returned to the grounds and called for their sons. They had no success, other than a shout of, ‘Busy, not time for go home yet,’ from James. His voice came from somewhere deep in the undergrowth.
Smiling at Ginny, Harry headed off into the woods to find their sons. Ginny sat Lily on the lawn, which still needed a lot of work, and began to make a daisy-chain for her daughter. Perhaps, Ginny thought to herself as she worked, they should leave a section of the lawn a little untidy. Getting rid of the daisies would mean no more daisy chains.
It was some time before Harry, James and Al returned. Ginny found herself facing not two, but three excitable little boys. All three were wet, muddy, and extremely proud of themselves.
‘We finded some prickles,’ said James.
‘Pickles,’ Al confirmed, as both boys proudly displayed their scratches.
‘And we’ve found a secret den, and a tree where we can put a rope swing,’ added Harry, his eyes gleaming excitedly. ‘There’s probably some rope here. The builders will have some. We could do it now.’
‘The boys are still a bit small,’ Ginny reminded her husband as she tried to settle an increasingly fractious Lily.
‘For goodness sake, Harry–Daddy–with all this talk of secret dens and rope swings, you’d think that you’d never…’ The look on her husband’s face stopped Ginny in mid-sentence.
‘Sorry, Harry,’ she said. Not for the first time she tried, and failed, to imagine what his childhood had been like. ‘Sometimes I forget that you weren’t brought up at The Burrow. There is probably some rope here. I’m sure that the builders will be able to spare some. Why don’t you three boys go off and play?’
‘Yay, thanks Mummy, this place is great,’ said James.
‘Gate,’ Al confirmed.
‘Yes, thanks Mummy,’ said Harry. ‘Would you and Lily like to come and “splore” too?’
Ginny looked up into her husband’s smiling face. The creases in the corner of his eyes showed how happy he was, and Ginny was absolutely certain that the upcoming trauma of the move would be worth it. Lithely bounding to her feet, she threw her arms around her husband and kissed him.
‘Stoppit, that’s hobbible,’ demanded James.
‘Hobble,’ Al agreed.
‘Mama weewee,’ said Lily urgently.
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