|SIYE Time:9:32 on 20th June 2018|
Category: Pre-OotP, Alternate Universe
Characters:Albus Dumbledore, All, Draco Malfoy, Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Minerva McGonagall, Neville Longbottom, Nymphadora Tonks, Other, Remus Lupin, Ron Weasley, Severus Snape, Sirius Black
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, General, Humor, Romance
Warnings: Dark Fiction, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Violence/Physical Abuse
Summary: Harry had never friends, so he imagined one: a red haired girl he kept forgetting to name. Ginny imagined a shy boy with untidy hair and bright eyes, who knew nothing of magic, so she told him. He dreamt of a world of magic and of a girl who wanted to be his friend. She dreamt of a boy who loved to hear her voice, no matter what. Then dreams become a reality when Harry met Ginny.
Rating changed for later chapters.
*Nominated for 2014 November/December DSTA for Best New Story and Best Romance* *Nominated for 2016 January/Feburary DSTA for Best Comedy, Drama, and Romance*
Hitcount: Story Total: 109739; Chapter Total: 2239
Awards: View Trophy Room
Old Laws and New Rings
His mind was blank, eyes wide, mouth open, staring at the mousy man standing before them. He could hardly hear Wimbleton begin stammering about how he was sorry; those last words kept repeating in his head…
“Mr. Potter is already married! … To Ginerva Weasley!”
We’re already married???
Slowly, his head turned; their eyes met and he saw that her mouth was open too.
“We’re already married?” they said aloud.
Wimbleton froze. “Wha-what?” He looked between the two of them and Dumbledore until the older wizard finally spoke.
“This young woman is Ginerva Weasley,” he murmured. Wimbleton whispered a soft oh and patted his bald spot with his handkerchief.
“Well, I — I d-don’t — I don’t know w-why you were n-never informed,” he said, his voice still rushing. “The record was m-made automatically when their b-bond was detected by our equipment in nine-1991; I wasn’t Head then, I assure you, I ha-have my people check the b-books more regularly now, I su-suppose it slipped through without anyone n-noticing —”
“Bond?” Dumbledore interrupted the man’s stammers.
“Er, yes, it was a soul b-bond,” Wimbleton replied. “Soul b-bonds are auto-m-matically entered as bi-binding m-marriages…” he trailed off.
Harry and Ginny met bewildered gazes again. We’ve been married since we were eleven???
“When in 1991?” Dumbledore demanded.
“I, well, the re-record was d-dated July, July 17th.”
“I was ten!” Harry burst out. “I wasn’t even eleven then!”
“I married a ten year old?” Ginny muttered. “At the age of eleven?”
Wimbleton patted his bald spot again. “Again, I wasn’t the Head b-back then, I only g-got the job this year w-when the previous Head retired; had I known I w-would have had someone s-send you a notice on m-Miss Weasley’s fourteenth b-birthday to t-tell you she wasn’t eligible for m-marriage…”
“You’re saying that my daughter has been married for four years now?” Mr. Weasley asked. Wimbleton gave a weak nod.
“This certainly changes things…” Harry heard Remus mutter.
“You say that the record was made automatically by equipment that detected their soul bond?” Dumbledore said.
“Erm, yes, there’s a b-book that is enchanted t-to detect all legal marriages as they’re performed, a soul b-bond is included.”
“What do you mean?” Sirius said.
“Er, well, it’s an old law,” Wimbleton began. It was certainly a day for old laws, Harry thought. “Very, very old; any soul bond, when it’s created, is deemed grounds for marriages. Erm, I actually have a c-copy of that law, one m-moment…”
The mousy man moved to a nearby filing cabinet and started riffling through its drawers. A moment later, he withdrew a thick parchment. He held it out to them, and Sirius took it.
“‘By the decree of Her Lordship Minister for Magic Josephina Flint, any and all registered bonded men and women, past, present, and future, are hereby declared married to each other. For any man and woman who have found that their souls are closely bonded, whether by the act of man or providence, they may consider their marriage legal and binding the instant their bonding has taken place…There may be no loophole or option that prevents a closely bonded pair from their legal marriage. No man or woman may be allowed to prevent a closely bonded pair from receiving their marriage license, and no man or woman may attempt to break a bonded marriage… If one or both of a closely bonded pair are under the age of the 17 at the time of their bonding, the underage person or persons will be immediately emancipated and both shall be considered adults under the eyes of the law. From here on, all strong bonds shall be automatically recorded by the Ministry the moment the members first touch and their marriage shall be recorded…’”
Sirius’s eyes lifted off the paper to look at the two of them. No one spoke for what felt like years, but was probably closer to a few seconds, then:
“Guess you don’t need a guardian’s signature to get into Hogsmeade now, huh?” Sirius mused.
“Sirius!” Remus reprimanded, but his voice was half-hearted in its scolding.
“Erm, well, I ought to g-go fetch their doc-docum-mentation,” Wimbleton said quietly. He took the parchment from Sirius and put it back in the filing cabinet. The man turned, his head bowed, and left the room.
Harry looked up at Dumbledore, his teacher was staring into space, his brow furrowed. He tried to catch his grandmother’s eye, but she too had a distant gaze. Even Ginny’s parents were silent and unaware of his looking at them. He looked to Sirius, his godfather was watching him with still wide eyes.
“What does it mean to be emancipated?” he asked.
The adults in the room seemed to come to their senses. “It means that you’re legally adults,” Remus said.
“You mean we haven’t got the Trace?” Ginny spoke.
“It is likely,” Dumbledore replied. “It should have been removed when the bond was detected and your emancipation took place.”
“How could they be emancipated and have the Trace removed without anyone knowing?” Arthur asked.
“The key part of emancipation in the Wizarding World is that the Trace is broken,” Dumbledore answered. “During the late 19th century and early 20th, it was common for the eldest child of a family to be emancipated at the age of fifteen rather than waiting until seventeen. I suppose the record keeping is an automatic process by now.”
“It seems many things are automatic,” Gram said, her voice containing a hint of anger.
“With magic, the need for human interaction in these things is little,” the Headmaster replied. Before he could continue, the door opened once more and Wimbleton entered, clutching a thin file folder.
“H-here is all of the p-papers required,” he said softly. “Proof of their emancip-pation and the Trace b-being removed, the m-marriage license, and the r-record of their soul b-bond.” He handed it to Dumbledore, who glanced over the contents before handing it to Ginny’s father. Wimbleton withdrew his handkerchief and patted his forehead once more before speaking again. “W-well, I d-don’t believe there is anything m-more I can do for you.”
“No, there isn’t,” Dumbledore said with a soft sigh. “Thank you for your help, Mr. Wimbleton.” He stepped to the door, then beckoned for them to follow. The Headmaster led them from the Marriage Office, back to the lifts, then through the Atrium and to the fires. They walked in silence, took the Floo in silence, and filled Dumbledore’s office again in silence, her father dropping the file folder onto Dumbledore’s desk. The Headmaster stepped behind his desk and looked around at them.
“That was enlightening,” he said.
“They’re already married!” Mrs. Weasley burst out.
“For four years,” Gram added.
“And no one knew!” Sirius said.
“What should we do about it?” Mrs. Weasley continued. “What can we do?”
“The fact that all of this was some automatic process is highly irresponsible,” said Harry’s grandmother. “What if there are other people like Harry and Ginny who have been emancipated and married without anyone knowing?”
“Mrs. Evans, please calm yourself. The likelihood of others who are bonded the way Harry and Ginny are is very low,” Dumbledore said. He was looking at one of the papers they’d been given. “Soul bonds to begin with are rare, and the majority of them are the barest of connections, not strong enough for the magic that records them to detect.”
“How can you know?” she asked. “Did you know already?”
“There’s a copy of the law here,” Dumbledore answered, looking up at her, then back to the paper. “‘Soul bonds that are not strong enough to be detected by the magics in place to record them shall be exempted in the case that it is not a bond destined for marriage. Despite their rarity, only the strongest of bonds shall be included in this law.’”
Harry’s grandmother seemed to deflate. She shook her head and dropped into one of the purple armchairs. “Wizards,” she said in a small whisper.
Dumbledore shrugged his shoulders and dropped the parchment onto the desk. He lowered himself into his chair and looked over at them. “Shall I begin addressing the two of you as Mr. and Mrs. Potter?” he asked them, a slight smile curling his lips.
Harry blushed, but he couldn’t hold back the grin. Ginny buried her face in his shoulder to hide her own blush, which meant that neither of them answered, but Dumbledore simply chuckled. The professor drew his wand, then with a tap on each paper, conjured copies of the parchments. He held out the two sets of copies, Dad took them and gave one to Harry’s grandmother.
“I must keep the originals in order to obtain the Board of Governors permission to give the Potters private quarters,” the Headmaster told them. “But for now, I believe that you should take Harry and Ginny home so they may let this sink in.”
The adults all looked at them, at Ginny’s face still hidden in Harry’s jacket, at the blush that was refusing to leave Harry’s cheeks, and at his stupid grin. Harry immediately blushed more and tried to tone down his goofy smile, however the adults were already shaking their heads and smiling.
“We’ll do just that,” Mr. Weasley said.
So they let themselves be ushered into the Floo; Ginny went before he did, and when he arrived she was waiting for him. He opened his arms and she stepped into him, her hands resting on his chest. They shuffled awkwardly out of the way as Remus exited the Floo after him, then dropped onto a couch. Harry hadn’t paid attention as he copied Ginny’s words, but he now saw that they were at the Burrow. Mrs. Weasley had already entered the kitchen, and her husband was right behind her. Harry’s grandmother, godfather and Remus followed Ginny’s parents into the kitchen, leaving them alone.
Should I call you my wife now? He thought.
Harry looked down at her, thinking over the word. Wife. It was such a weird word. Who was it that decided the letters w-i-f-e would mean a life partner, a lover, a married woman? Wife… he liked that word.
I can call you husband now.
Harry, whose blush was just fading, turned pink. He liked that word too. He couldn’t help another grin from forming as he pulled her closer to him. She pulled her legs up onto the couch, practically laying on him now. He kissed the top of her head. Wife.
I’ll have to get you a ring, he thought.
Wedding or engagement?
Both, I suppose. What kind of ring do you want?
I’ve no clue, I’ve only ever looked at my mum’s engagement ring.
Girls are supposed to fantasize about this stuff!
Yeah, when we’re four.
Harry sighed. “I’ll just pick whatever’s fanciest.”
“I don’t want a fancy one!” she protested.
“See, you do know what kind you want.”
Ginny stuck her nose in the air. “I know what I don’t want.”
“That’s the same thing.”
“No, it’s not.”
“What about diamonds?”
“You’re supposed to use diamonds.”
“I’m pretty sure. You can add other stones, but I think you have to have a diamond in it.”
“All right, well what stone do you want?”
She shrugged. “What’s my birthstone?”
Ginny smiled. “The color of your eyes,” she murmured. Harry slipped into her mind’s eye and saw what she saw; he wasn’t sure what she was talking about, his eyes were bright green but they didn’t look like emeralds.
Ginny bopped him on the nose. “They’re emeralds and you will believe me.”
Harry rubbed at his nose with a mock scowl. “Fine. Then your hair is rubies and gold and you will believe me.”
“Wait, aren’t rubies your birthstone?”
Harry dropped his hand. “I think so.”
She grinned. “So your eyes are like my birthstone and my hair is like yours.”
Harry pondered this. “Yeah, I guess so.”
“Then we should get rubies and emeralds.”
“Wouldn’t that clash? Or look like Christmas?”
Ginny shrugged. “I like Christmas.”
Before he could reply, there were footsteps bounding down the stairs and Ron appeared in the sitting room. “Hi guys,” he said. “How’d it go?”
Harry immediately turned red like the rubies they had been discussing. Ron, his best mate, was technically also his brother in law. He groaned and flopped his head back; he grabbed Ginny’s arm and tried to cover his face with it. She jerked it away and whacked him in the ribs. Ron looked between them, sighed, then turned around and went back upstairs. Harry picked his head up, then laughed.
“I think we finally got too weird for him,” Ginny said.
“He’s my brother in law,” Harry said, his voice half laughing and half confused. Ginny looked at him, then sat up.
“I think you might finally get too weird for me,” she said.
Harry pouted at her, then he grabbed her round the middle and tugged her to him; she squealed as he locked his arms around her.
“Too bad, because I’m never letting go of you,” he said, squeezing his arms to prove it. Wife. Ginny turned pink, but she relaxed against his chest.
They stayed at the Burrow that night, because they had been at Gram’s farm the night before. Remus and Sirius stayed for dinner, but Gram went home to eat with Aunt Petunia and give her the news. Ginny’s parents didn’t get around to telling her brothers that Ginny and Harry had been married since the day they had met in that greasy family dinner in the village, and the two of them went to bed feeling twice as awkward as they had the first night they spent together.
August was rushed. What with the time they spent training, telling Fred and George to stop singing the Wedding March every time they entered a room, avoiding every newspaper that even mentioned the many and dubious reasons Harry could have had for marrying Ginny, and packing and repacking their things, they had little time to really stop and think about what it felt like to be married. Before they knew it, it was the last Sunday of August and they had to go to Diagon Alley to get their new school supplies. Their booklists had come the week before, later than normal. To the surprise of everyone, Ron had received a prefect's badge with his, leaving his parents oozing his praise. When they left for school shopping, Mrs. Weasley promised him a gift at the end of the day as reward. However, with all the people around them, it was a wonder they even managed to get into many of the shops. They split up in order to get as much done as quickly as possible, meaning that Ron, Fred, and George spent the day in Quality Quidditch Supplies while their mother bought their things. Ginny had entered an art supply store, tailed by Hermione, who had met them that morning in the Leaky Cauldron, and Harry went to get their books.
One of the upsides of being Ginny’s husband, Harry found, was that he could insist upon paying for Ginny’s new things without her parents being able to politely refuse, leaving the Weasleys with extra pocket money. Another was that when he suggested buying some of everyone else’s things, he could play the family card.
“Just let me get Ron a new cauldron,” he asked her mother.
“Harry, please, you’ve done enough. You already bought his books, and Fred and George’s.”
“But I want to help my in-law's,” he said. Mrs. Weasley, who kept telling him to call her Molly, looked at him like he was the sweetest thing ever, which was what he was going for.
Keep talking, Potter, and I’ll not kiss you for the rest of the day.
Just admit defeat, Potter.
Mrs. Weasley looked down at Ron’s school list. “All right, go on. But that is all, you’ve done enough for us, Harry.”
“Thanks, Mrs. Weasley.”
“Call me Molly!”
Thank you, though, Harry. You really are very sweet.
I want to help you guys.
I’m part of you guys now, not them guys.
That makes no sense, yet I understand.
Just pay before the cashier thinks you’re insane.
Harry obeyed his wife — how he loved that word — and paid for the cauldron. He’d already bought all of his and Ginny’s supplies, including a new cauldron for her, so this would be the last of the school things he needed to buy.
Harry, would you be a dear and come and buy this paint set for me?
What do you need a paint set for?
To paint with, idiot.
Harry rolled his eyes as he carried the cauldron over to the tote bag he’d left with Mrs. Weasley. He set it in the mouth of the bag, and the Undetectable Expansion Charm that Remus had put on it swallowed the cauldron. He picked the bag up and, waving to his mother-in-law, left the shop to enter the busy road to find the art store. Before entering the crowd, he pulled the baseball cap he wore down lower on his forehead to hide the scar. So far, his simple but clever disguise had kept him just inconspicuous enough for no one to care. Spotting the store he was looking for, he stepped inside and glanced around for his wife.
You are infatuated with that word, Ginny thought, but she was smiling.
Harry spotted her, then walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her, giving her cheek a kiss. “I’m infatuated with what it means,” he corrected.
She rolled her eyes dramatically, but leaned back to kiss his mouth.
“You two are gross,” Hermione called.
“You only say that because you’re jealous,” Ginny sniffed. “Love, which set should I get?”
Harry looked down at the two cases of colored tubes she was pointing to. "I don't see what the difference is."
"Well, this one has cadmium red and this one has scarlet."
She pointed to the tube of bright red paint in the left case. "That's cadmium."
"It's just bright red."
"No, this one over here is bright red. That's cadmium."
Harry shook his head. "I am useless in this endeavor."
Ginny let out a snort. "Of course you are. I'll get the cadmium." She picked up the case and set it in the basket at the floor at her feet, which held more things; colored pencils, a case of graphite pencils, a box of charcoal, a jar of linseed oil — which he had no clue what that even was for —, sketch books, canvas boards, and several brushes. He peered into it as she picked it up and raised an eyebrow.
"There is more than paint in here."
"I'm buying all of it?"
"We share everything, love."
"Does that mean I can use your fancy cadmium red paint?"
Ginny acted as if she was thinking about it. "No."
Harry rolled his eyes. He didn't mind, he was only teasing her. She could have bought the whole store and he wouldn't have minded.
"No, I don't like water color," Ginny said in reply to his thought. He smiled.
"Harry, if you're going to buy her all of that, would you buy me these inks?" Hermione asked.
"I'm paying for her stuff for a reason and you know it," Harry said. Hermione laughed, then began to hum the Wedding March. Harry shook his head at her. When they had told her that morning that they were married, their bookish friend hadn't seemed surprised, simply pleased, as if she had been the one to push them together in the first place.
Ginny coiled her arm through his. "When we're done here, do you want to go look at rings?" she asked him in a soft voice.
Harry nodded. They'd already decided to get wedding rings despite not yet having had a wedding; most of Hogwarts and the magical population of Britain would already know about their marriage thanks to an article in the Daily Prophet that had run four times since the second weekend of August and the newspaper’s discovery of their marriage. According to the article, Harry and Ginny had gone in with Sirius and Ginny's parents for a marriage license and had been granted it. There had been not even speculation alluding to the truth that they had already had one, and most theories concerning the reason why were that Ginny was pregnant. She wasn't, of course, and it would be obvious in the next few months when she failed to show a baby bump, but it didn't bother them. No one had approached them about the subject except for an O.W.L. from the Daily Prophet asking if they wanted to put an announcement about the marriage in the paper, which they'd ignored. Neither of them cared for the publicity.
Ginny was soon finished browsing, and he paid for what she'd picked out. He did end up buying Hermione the inks she'd held up, but only because her birthday was soon. After they left the shop, the three of them moved back up the street to the more grand of the three jewelry stores in the Alley, Aubrey and Sons. Hermione followed them merely because she had already finished her shopping, and because she claimed she wanted to see which rings they picked out.
When Harry pushed open the door to the shop, a musical note rang out rather than the usual bell. A man in dark blue robes looked up at the sound, and he raised an eyebrow at the sight of three teenagers in his shop.
"May I help you?" he asked, his voice polite.
"We're looking for rings," Harry said.
The man's eyebrow drifted further toward his hairline. "What kind of rings?"
"An engagement ring and a set of wedding rings," he replied. Then he took off his hat. The man's eyes caught the movement, and then the scar on Harry's forehead. The other eyebrow shot up.
"Oh, I see," the wizard gave him a polite bow. "I am Tobias Aubrey, my family owns this shop. I can assure you that we have a strict confidentiality policy, Mr. Potter, so you may be sure we shan't divulge your choices to the nearest reporter."
"Great!" Harry said. He actually hadn't thought that. Aubrey looked to Ginny, then at Hermione.
"Which of these lovely ladies is your bride?"
Hermione sidestepped away. Harry pointed to Ginny. Aubrey gave her a once over, then moved behind a glass cabinet and beckoned them forward.
"For the engagement ring, might I recommend a princess cut," he said.
Harry leaned on the edge of the counter and looked down at the rings. They were all diamond, and only a few had any other colors, namely a row that had diamonds and a pale blue stone.
"Do you have anything that has emeralds?" he asked.
Aubrey nodded, stepping to his left. Harry followed him. "We have a few diamond and emerald combinations, namely in silver."
"I like gold."
Aubrey tapped the back of the case with his wand, and a lock clicked. He opened it, reached inside, and lifted a tray which he set on the top of the glass.
"We have two gold and emerald rings, one with diamonds and one without, both 18 carat gold."
Harry studied them. The ring without diamonds had just one stone, a square emerald with a vine like coil of gold around it. The other had a rounder stone, flanked by two small diamonds.
Which one do you like better? Harry asked his wife. She leaned against his shoulder, examining them.
I think the one with diamonds.
See, diamonds are a girl's best friend.
Shut it, you.
"Can we see the one with diamonds?" Harry asked. Aubrey nodded and plucked the emerald and diamond ring from the case.
"Your hand, ma'am?" he said.
Ginny, slightly pink, held up her left hand. Aubrey pushed the ring onto her finger and clasped his hands together upon the glass.
"What do you think?" Harry asked her.
"It's a bit loose," she said.
"I can resize it," Aubrey told them.
Ginny held her hand in front of her face, then set it down and slipped the ring off. "I like this one."
Harry smiled slightly. "Then we'll take that one."
"Of course, sir. Ma'am, might I measure your finger?"
Ginny held her hand back out. Aubrey tapped her ring finger with his wand, then set the ring on the glass and began to whisper spells under his breath. Blue light pulsed over the ring, then white light, and the band of it shrank slightly. He twirled his wand and a velvet box appeared, in which he placed the ring before handing it to Harry.
"I have placed a self-cleaning charm and an anti-theft charm upon the ring, which is included in the cost of it," he told them. "After you have selected your wedding rings, I'll tell you about the other spells we offer for additional cost."
"Thank you," Ginny said. Aubrey gave a slight nod, then replaced the tray and locked the case.
"This way, please," he said, going farther to his left. Harry glanced around to see Hermione looking at another case across the room. He turned back to listen to Aubrey.
The jeweler unlocked the case and removed a tray containing gold bands. "These are all 18 carat gold except for the row in the back which is 14."
Harry bent down to look. What do you want?
Ginny leaned her elbow on the edge of the glass, looking over the rings. Something that's got a design on it.
There are Celtic knots here.
Ginny followed his gaze, to five different sets that had different arrangements of Celtic knots. One set had a small diamond set in the middle of the largest knot, another had knots made of a leafy vine, another was silver rather than gold.
Not the one with diamonds, she thought.
Not silver either, it has to match your engagement ring.
"What about one of these two?" she spoke aloud, pointing to the leafy knots and its neighbor which had a flower at the crest of the ring laying over the Celtic knots.
Harry plucked the thicker of the two vine knot rings and examined it. "I'm not very flowery," he said. Then he looked up at Aubrey; "Could I try it on?"
Harry pushed it onto his finger, then he took the other one and put it on Ginny's ring finger. She caught his eye and smiled.
"I like these," he said.
"Then let's get these," she replied.
Harry pulled the ring off and set it on the counter; Ginny did the same.
"How was the fit?"
"Er, I don't know how rings are supposed to fit."
Aubrey gestured for him to hold out his hand; he did, and the jeweler tapped his finger.
"It's the right size," Aubrey told him. "Now, we offer a range of charms in addition to the self-cleaning and anti-theft."
"Do you have any that would make them resistant to spell damage?" Harry asked.
Aubrey seemed startled for a moment, but he quickly covered it and nodded. "We do. One to protect against the stray spell that might strike them, as well as one we offer to duelers —"
"The one for duelers," Harry interrupted. "We'll need that one."
"Very well. There is also a charm to protect against fire damage, water damage, a charm to make your ring self-adjusting so it won't ever get to tight or too loose."
"Go ahead and put those on too," Harry said.
"Sir, I haven't even given you the additional prices."
"Oh, it's fine. I, uh, I have enough."
Aubrey, to his credit, did not act either curious at his mention of gold or surprised that he had it. He held out his hand for the velvet box, which Harry gave to him, and the jeweler removed the ring to add the extra charms.
"There are two other charms," he said. "Would you like to hear them?"
"Sure," Harry replied.
"We offer a charm to repel soil and similar substances, a favorite amongst Herbologists, and a charm to prevent snagging on clothing."
"I suppose the one to keep it from snagging would be good for your engagement ring," Harry said to Ginny, who nodded. He turned back to Aubrey. "Go ahead and put all of those on them except the snagging one, just put that on her engagement ring."
Aubrey nodded. "Of course, sir." He replaced the tray of rings back in the case, then began to place the various charms upon the rings. When he was finished, he put each ring in its own velvet box and moved to a till. He entered the price of the rings and the charms, then rang it up.
"894 Galleons and 15 Sickles," he said. Harry pulled a fat bag of coins from his pocket inside his jacket and set it on the counter. Aubrey's eyes widened for only a moment, then he took the bag and placed it on a scale, then took out another bag which he took a few from, then put it on the scale. He began taking from Harry's bag, passing the extra coins back to Harry.
"And fifteen Sickles, sir," Aubrey said, turning back to him. Harry fished some more coins from his pocket, and Aubrey took them.
"Thank you very much sir," Aubrey said, bowing to them again. "And congratulations."
"Thank you," Harry replied. He took the three boxes from the counter and tucked them into his pocket. They would put on their rings later.
"Ready, Hermione?" he asked their friend. She started, then turned slightly pink and stepped away from a case of necklaces.
"Yes, of course," she said. She moved over to Ginny and slipped an arm through hers. "What did you get?"
Ginny reached into Harry's pocket and took out a box. She cracked it open to show her the ring inside. Harry rolled his eyes as Hermione oohed over it.
"Lucky," Hermione told her.
"We're fifteen," Ginny said as Harry pushed open the door. "We're weird."
"Still," Hermione said. "Those stones are huge."
Ginny shrugged as she put the box back in Harry's pocket. "It doesn't matter to me what size they are," she said. Harry grinned at her and pressed a kiss to her hair.
Hermione faked a gag. "You two are still gross."
"I thought we were lucky!" Harry asked with a laugh. He stepped out of the way of a larger group of people going past them.
Their friend shook her head, following them to the edge of the road. "Also gross."
Harry stuck his tongue out at her, but Hermione just laughed. Harry looked around, wondering where they should go next.
"I'm hungry," Ginny announced.
"Ice cream?" he suggested.
"If you're buying," Hermione replied. "I already used up my pocket money for today."
"'Course I am," Harry said. "I'm generous."
They entered Florean Fortiscue's and joined the queue. The owner, Fortiscue, waved to them from behind the ice cream counter. Harry waved back. He was a regular to the shop during the summer, which had led to a fondness on both his and Fortiscue's part for the other.
After getting their ice cream, chocolate fudge for Ginny, mint chocolate for Hermione, and cheesecake for Harry, they took seats on the patio in front of the store. Harry dipped his spoon into Ginny's chocolate fudge, then combined it with his own cheesecake and pushed it into his mouth. Hermione rolled her eyes at them.
"So, what did you spend all of your pocket money on?" Harry asked her.
"Well, school things first," she answered. "I stopped at a Muggle store and indulged in some highlighters and pens."
"You spent all of your money on pens?" Harry asked with a laugh.
"Not all of it," Hermione corrected. "I did buy index cards to make into flash cards. It's O.W.L. year this year!"
Harry laughed again. "Did you buy anything that wasn't school related?"
"I had to get some new clothes," Hermione answered. "My parents gave me extra for that though."
"What about something fun?" he asked.
For some reason, her cheeks tinged pink, but she smiled. She leaned closer to Ginny and whispered in her ear, which made Ginny giggle. Harry, being mentally connected to his wife, heard what Hermione had said, which caused him to turn pink.
"Fancy bras don't count as fun," Harry told her.
Hermione only laughed. "Of course they do." Then she nudged Ginny. "I could show you where I got them if you wanted," she added with a smirk, causing Ginny to blush to match Harry.
"No, thanks," Ginny said. "Not quite yet."
Hermione shrugged. "If you say so."
Harry decided to eat his ice cream without asking Hermione anything else. He leaned forward slightly, at which Ginny laughed.
"What?" Hermione asked. Ginny shook her head, but patted Harry's shoulder.
"Anyway, how was the rest of your summer?" Ginny asked.
"It was lovely," Hermione replied. "My parents and I went to America for three weeks just after school."
"Really? Where did you go, and what's America like?"
"We went to New York, it was very loud," Hermione replied. "The city itself was like London, but the people were all so — so bold."
"It was probably the freedom in their hearts," Harry quipped. Hermione laughed.
"Yes, I'm sure that was it," she answered him. "We went to Broadway and saw a musical called How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying."
"Sounds fantastic," Harry said through a mouthful of cheesecake ice cream.
"It was quite funny," Hermione said, a reflective smile upon her lips. "You would have liked it!"
“I’m sure,” Harry said, not actually meaning it. Musicals weren’t really his thing.
"What else did you do?" Ginny asked.
"We went to Elis Island, to the Empire State Building, we got to go inside the Statue of Liberty," she recounted.
"Did you feel the liberty in the air?" Harry asked her, in a mock-breathless voice. “Was the freedom so profound that you had to stop and breathe it in?”
"Stop it, Harry, America doesn't ooze freedom," Hermione said with a laugh.
"Oh, say can you see!" Harry began to sing off-key; he clapped his hands to his heart and stared off into the distance dramatically. "By the dawn's early light!"
"If you keep making fun of America, they'll invade England," Hermione told him in a sarcastic tone.
"I don't remember the next line!" he kept singing. “Something about a flag!”
"Shut up, Harry," Ginny laughed, elbowing him in the ribs, "I want to hear about Hermione's holiday!"
"I'll shut up if you kiss me," he said, grinning at her.
"Never," she mocked. "Not while you're acting like an idiot."
Harry pouted and dropped his head onto her shoulder. "Meanie," he muttered.
"What else did you do?" Ginny asked, ignoring her put out husband.
"We went to a fair," Hermione said. "And a beach. And a concert."
"What concert?" Harry asked. "Did they sing America the Beautiful?"
"Shut up, Harry," Hermione said, but she was still laughing. "It was the Eagles.”
“Really? Aren’t they a little rock and roll for your tastes?” Harry commented.
“It was me and my dad, he loves the Eagles.”
“Why would you see a band named after a bird?” Ginny asked.
Hermione shook her head at them. "What did you do for your holiday?" she asked.
"We added onto my room," Ginny said. "Harry and I are living together now."
"Of course you are," Hermione replied as if this was old news. "Was that all?"
"We repainted our rooms," Harry said. "Apparently beige is boring."
"It is," Hermione agreed. Harry huffed.
"We actually haven't done a lot of holiday things," Ginny said. "We've been working a lot."
"Dueling skills for the most part," Harry answered. "We're being trained by Tonks, Sirius's cousin. She's an Auror."
"Really?" Hermione said. "Because of — of You-Know-Who?" she asked this in a softer voice, as if worried someone might hear.
"Yeah. Dumbledore's actually going to have you and Ron join in for some of the training."
"That's probably a good idea," Hermione said. "If something happened, we'd be able to help protect you."
"Dumbledore's logic was more protect yourselves, but yeah, something like that."
Hermione was now quiet. She reached across the table and touched Harry's hand. "We'd do anything to help you, you know that right?"
Harry gave her a warm, grateful smile. "Thanks, Hermione."
She smiled and withdrew her hand. They were quiet a moment, then: "So, what else is new with you?" Hermione asked.
"Other than a marriage license that's four years old, nothing," Ginny said.
"That can't be it."
"We haven't done anything this summer," Harry said. "We stayed quiet."
Hermione shrugged. "If you say so."
Ginny rolled her eyes and finished the last of her ice cream. "We probably ought to go find my parents."
Hermione nodded. "I ought to call my mum and dad. They wanted to get dinner while we were in the city."
Harry scraped his bowl with his spoon, then took Ginny's empty one and stood up. Hermione handed him her bowl as well, and he took them to a dish bin by the door. He joined them again, and after collecting their things, they left the patio and traveled down Main Street to find the rest of their group. Harry spotted Ginny's brothers still in Quality Quidditch Supplies, and Mr. Weasley looking at a rack of discount books outside Flourish and Blotts. He waved to his father-in-law, who waved back.
"Molly's just inside," he said. "Got everything you need?"
"Yes, sir," Harry answered. "See anything you like?"
Mr. Weasley looked back at the books. "Oh, no, I was just looking. Do you know where the boys are?"
"Quality Quidditch Supplies," Ginny said. "Ogling the brooms."
"Oh, of course. Would you go and ask your mother if she's ready to go?"
"Sure, Dad," Ginny replied. She stepped inside the shop, leaving Harry and Hermione with her father.
"How was your summer, Hermione?" Mr. Weasley asked.
"Oh, lovely, thank you. How was yours?"
"Wonderful," Mr. Weasley answered. "Ron's prefect, you know."
"Yes, he told me. I'm prefect as well."
Hermione nodded with a grin. "My parents were quite pleased. Prefect is something they understand."
Mr. Weasley nodded, the conversation lulling again. Then Ginny and Mrs. Weasley left the shop, Mrs. Weasley carrying shopping bags.
"Hello, Hermione," said Ginny's mother. "Shall we go and fetch the boys?" she said to her husband.
"They're in the Quidditch shop."
"Yes, Ginny told me."
Mr. Weasley took some of his wife's bags and began to cross the street. Harry and the others followed him into Quality Quidditch Supplies.
"Hi, Dad!" Ron called. "You guys done?"
"Yes," Mr. Weasley answered. Mrs. Weasley stepped forward, looking at the display of brooms Fred and George were standing by.
"Well, Ron, what did you decide on?" she asked.
"Oh, right, erm, could I get the new Cleansweep?"
Mrs. Weasley looked around, until Ron pointed it out. She thought for a moment, then nodded. "We can do that," she replied.
"If we'd have known we'd get new brooms, we'd have tried to be Prefects too!" George said, a small note of jealousy in his voice.
"You ought to have tried anyway," Mrs. Weasley scolded. Ginny rolled her eyes at the exchange.
"I want a new broom," Ginny said to Harry as her parents and brothers left to go buy Ron's broom.
"Wait until Christmas," he said, "or I'll run out of things to get you since you keep buying things."
Ginny rolled her eyes at him. "If I recall correctly, you bought all of those things."
"Well, of course I did, but you asked for it."
"Because I've got you to pay for it!" she laughed.
Harry stuck his tongue out at her. She pushed it back into his mouth. He caught her hand before she could pull it away and kissed her fingers, making her smile.
"I'm glad that I can buy you things," he said. "I like giving you stuff."
She went pink, but smiled wider. "Thank you, love."
"You two are so gross," Hermione sighed. Ginny stuck her tongue out at her.
They left Diagon Alley perhaps twenty minutes later and had dinner in the Leaky Cauldron. They said goodbye to Hermione first, who went with her parents to have dinner in Muggle London. Harry debated with Ginny whether or not he would be able to get away with paying for dinner, but Ginny reminded him that after the amount of things he'd already paid for, her parents were almost guaranteed to refuse.
When they returned to the Burrow, Ginny's parents went straight to bed, leaving their children to their own devices. Ron left to try out his new broom, and Fred and George shut themselves in their own room to plot about their joke-shop. Percy was still at work, and Harry and Ginny would be staying at the Burrow that night. The house was quiet but for the muffled sounds of something exploding in Fred and George’s room.
"Let's just go upstairs," Ginny said. "It's almost nine anyway."
He followed her; in her room he dumped the tote bag full of their things onto the floor. He pulled from his pocket the three velvet boxes. Ginny had dropped onto her bed, and started to take out the things she'd gotten at the art store, but stopped when he took out the ring boxes.
Harry, feeling only a little bit foolish and a lot giddy, dropped onto one knee and opened the box containing her engagement ring. "Marry me, Ginny?" he said.
Ginny let out a laugh. "I already did, silly."
"Marry me again?"
Ginny leaned down and kissed him. "Sure," she said. Harry took the ring from the box and slipped it onto her finger. He took her hand and kissed her knuckles. She shivered.
"Your turn," she murmured. He set the other two boxes on the bed, and she found his wedding ring. She took his hand, then slid the ring onto his hand.
"I like rings," Harry said.
Ginny smiled. "Good." He took the second wedding ring and put it on her finger with her engagement ring.
"I think the wedding ring is supposed to be on the inside," Ginny said.
"That's how Mum wears it."
Harry switched the rings. "There. Happy?"
Ginny kissed him again. "Immensely."
Harry took the boxes and put them on her desk, then he sat down beside her. She put her arms around him and pressed her lips against his.
"Mine," she murmured. He chuckled.
They went to bed early that night, but stayed awake long after they'd put the light out. The moonlight that came through the curtains of her room made the diamonds and emerald in Ginny's ring sparkle, and Harry was mesmerized by it.
The last week of August was spent half in the Room of Requirement and half with their families. They clung to their last few minutes before school, but it was over quickly. September was soon upon them.
A/N: For those of you who don't know, Daniel Radcliffe starred in a 2011 production of How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying — I went to see it with my mother, and it was incredible; I was really lucky to get to see it — If you laughed when Hermione mentioned going to Broadway, high fives. Ah, memories…
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