Supper turned into a small party; her mum had expanded the kitchen table and set it for seventeen, and as Ginny helped her put out silverware and dishes, she asked who the extra four seats were for.
“Hagrid is coming, and Tonks is as well,” her mother said. “And… some old friends, Brom and Nessa.”
Ginny stopped as she set a plate down. “My godparents?” she asked.
Her mother looked up at her, her hands falling against the table. “Who told you…?”
“Hagrid did,” Ginny answered. “He told me I was the flower girl at their wedding. He showed us a picture.”
Her mother gave a nod. “Yes. They disappeared a year later. I never told you… I’m sorry.”
Ginny crossed around the table and hugged her mother. “It’s okay mum. I understand.”
Her mother touched a hand to her cheek, her eyes watering and a soft smile playing about her lips. “You’re a very mature girl, Ginny,” she murmured. “I’m so glad that you are.”
Ginny gave her a smile. “Guess you raised me right, then, yeah?”
Her mother chuckled lightly as she patted her cheek. “Yes, I guess I did.”
“Hey, mum, when’s dinner going to start?” Ron asked.
“As soon as everyone is here,” Mum said, immediately switching back into mother-coordinator-extraordinaire mode, “which should be soon.”
“I’m hungry,” he whined.
“It’ll just be a minute, dear, you’re not going to starve,” Mum scolded him as she bustled about the kitchen once more. Ginny raised an eyebrow at him and pursed her lips.
“What?” he said.
“Never mind,” she sighed. “Boys…”
“What?” Ron demanded.
“Ron, come and make yourself useful!”
It wasn’t long before dinner was on the table; Hagrid arrived shortly after seven having Portkeyed to the back yard, and a few minutes after that, while Hagrid sneaking rolls from the table, the grate flared green with someone taking the Floo. Mum rushed into the sitting room, her hands wringing out a towel, and Tonks stepped out. Mum visibly deflated, then hurried forward to fuss over Tonks.
“I’m fine, Molly, don’t worry,” Tonks laughed.
“The papers said someone got killed last week!” Mum fretted. “Are you sure you’re alright, dear?”
“Yes, I — I’m fine,” Tonks insisted.
“Fit as a fiddle,” Sirius said, throwing an arm over her. “Right?”
“Yes,” Tonks nodded. “Just tired.”
“When did you get back?” Harry asked.
“Just this morning,” she answered. “I had to get checked over by a Healer, then I visited Remus and Sirius.”
“You look a little pale,” Mum said, touching Tonks’s cheek. “Are you sure you’re alright?”
“Yes, I mean, well, I’m still in a bit of shock over John Smith,” Tonks said, her cheeks suddenly flushing. “He was the American who was killed.”
“Were you there?” asked Harry.
“Yeah, I was there,” Tonks sighed. “Went to his funeral yesterday.”
“I’m so sorry, dear,” Mum murmured. “Here, come and have a seat, I’ll get you a cup of tea.”
“Maybe some firewhiskey to go with it,” said Ginny’s father.
“Yes, please,” Tonks said with a little laugh.
“Ah, well, it’s a little early in the evening for firewhiskey,” Sirius said as he followed Tonks and Mum into the kitchen.
Tonks glanced over her shoulder at him, confusion crossing her face, then her expression suddenly closed and she nodded. “Oh, yes, I suppose you’re right.”
“Well, let’s get you some tea,” Mum said, just as the fire flared green once again. She stopped at the kitchen doorway, her gaze whipping around to face the fire, as the figures of Abraham and Vanessa Vance stepped from the grate onto the hearth.
“Nessa,” she said.
Mrs. Vance’s head turned towards the voice. She raised her arms, and Mum stepped away from Tonks, crossing to her. She took Mrs. Vance’s hands, then Mrs. Vance touched a hand to her face.
“Oh, Molly,” she sighed, and the two women hugged. Ginny thought she heard her mother give a sniff as she embraced her old friend.
“It’s good to see you two,” Mum said.
“I wish I could say the same to you,” Mrs. Vance said.
Mum released her. “Well, you can see me with your Inner Eye,” she said. “And you’re both late.”
Mrs. Vance laughed. “Still the same old Molly, even after seven children.”
Mum grinned. “If you asked them, they’d likely tell you that I’ve gotten worse.”
“I highly doubt that that’s possible,” Mrs. Vance said. “You’re the epitome of bossy.”
Hey, do you think that’s why Ron likes Hermione?
< p> Because she’s bossy like our mum? Harry, don’t be daft.
It’s a thing! Muggles do all sorts of studies on this!
“And you’re the epitome of quick wit,” Mum said. “Come and sit down, dinner’s ready and waiting.”
Remus ended up getting Tonks her tea as Ginny’s mother and father sat down with the Vances, the four of them talking amongst themselves. Ginny’s mum seemed to have de-aged the moment Mrs. Vance had arrived. As she smiled at her old friend, Ginny finally completely understood why her mother had never had the strength to tell her about them.
Dinner was a wonderful event. There was creamy onion soup and baked chicken, mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables, and homemade apple cider for drinks. Her parents, Hagrid, and the two Vances talked amongst themselves for most of the meal, while Ginny, Harry, Ron and Hermione talked with Remus, Sirius, and Tonks. Nearer the end of dinner, Tonks began to nod off, and her head dropped onto Remus’s shoulder, who didn’t seem to mind. As the final plate was cleared of thirds, Mum got up and cleared the table with a wave of her wand, then summoned dessert; pumpkin pie topped with homemade whipped cream. The party dispersed a little then, with her parents and the Vances remaining at the table to eat their pie and drink tea, the rest of them moving into the living room to relax into chairs. Harry’s aunt and grandmother said their goodbyes at that time, about half nine, then left in Mrs. Evans’s car. Hagrid took his Portkey back to Hogwarts not long later, promising to see them back at the school when the weekend was over. Dad produced butterbeer from the ice chest, handing it out to the teenagers, but served proper beer to the adults. Sirius and Remus collapsed into the same chair, Ginny, Harry, and Tonks curled up on a couch, while Ron and Hermione sat on the floor, Ron having convinced her to have a try at a game of chess.
“Are you and Remus going to stay the night in the village?” Harry asked of Sirius.
“We might,” he said. “Depends on how he’s feeling after that beer.”
“Oh, hush,” Remus scolded, “I tolerate alcohol much better than you do.”
“Ignore him,” Sirius said, holding a hand up to block his mouth from Remus’s sight and whispering rather loudly, “it’s already going to his head.”
Remus backhanded him lightly. Sirius laughed his barking laugh and patted his cheek, making Remus scowl deeper.
“If you two are going back to the flat, I’m following you,” Tonks said.
“I thought you were going to your parent’s place?” Remus asked.
She shook her head. “I talked to them over the Floo earlier, but… No, I’ll go back to the flat.”
“Are you still living there?” Ginny asked.
“’Course,” Tonks said. “It’s a nice big flat and my two roommates are gone two-thirds of the year. Plus, ol’ moneybags over there still pays more than half the rent.”
“I pay part of the rent!” Remus said.
Tonks looked at him, raising an eyebrow. He deflated somewhat, mumbling into the neck of his beer bottle, “Shut up.”
“What?” Harry said, looking between them.
“Sirius pays for the flat, the two of us pay barely anything,” Tonks said.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Sirius insisted.
“Technically, since Sirius decided that we share all our funds now, I still pay a substantial part of the rent,” Remus said.
Tonks raised the other eyebrow at him.
“It counts!” Remus insisted.
“Sure, it does, Remy,” Tonks said.
“Don’t call me that!” Remus snapped, but he was half laughing. Sirius was guffawing by then, clutching his beer bottle to his chest as he giggled.
“I apologize,” Tonks said unconvincingly, sticking her nose in the air and raising her cup of tea to her lips.
“Sirius, make your cousin be nice to me,” Remus said, turning on Sirius.
“Damn, aren’t I in a conundrum now?” Sirius laughed. “How can I tell what side to take?”
“Obviously, you’re meant to take mine,” Tonks said.
“No, he’s meant to take mine!” Remus insisted.
“Moony, are you sure that I don’t handle alcohol better than you?” Sirius asked, plucking Remus’s half empty bottle from his hands.
“Oh, shut up,” Remus snapped, snatching it back.
“Checkmate!” Hermione cried.
“Really?” Ginny said, leaning off the couch and peering down at the board.
“Hermione, I can take that pawn,” Ron said. “It’s not checkmate.”
“Shut up and let me win,” Hermione said fussily.
Ron sighed. “Fine, it’s checkmate.”
“Yes!” Hermione said, clearly very pleased.
“Ah, young love,” Sirius sighed, dropping his head onto Remus’s shoulder. “How sweet.”
Both Ron and Hermione flushed bright red. Remus patted Sirius's head mockingly.
Just then, the clock chimed ten o’clock, and Ginny heard Mr. Vance’s deep voice from the kitchen saying that he and Vanessa had to leave. Her parents said their goodbyes, then Ginny looked around in time to see them rising and moving towards the living room. She looked back to where Ron and Hermione were still sitting, their faces pink, as Sirius said: “Look, the little lovebirds are blushing!”
“Which lovebirds?” Mum said; she was leading Mrs. Vance towards the Floo. She spotted Ron and Hermione sitting at the chessboard on the floor, and raised her eyebrows, her lips pursing. “Those lovebirds, I see.”
“Wait, Ron and Hermione?” Dad said, leaning over her shoulder. “Are they together finally?”
“Dad!” Ron protested.
“Since when?” Dad spluttered.
“Start of the school year,” Ginny answered.
“Damn,” Dad muttered. “Now I owe Charlie five galleons.”
“You bet on your own son entering a relationship?” Mum demanded.
“Yes?” Dad answered hesitantly.
Mrs. Vance gave a snort. “He bet on me and Brom, Molly, don’t you remember? It doesn’t surprise me.”
Mum looked at her old friend and sighed. “I suppose that’s true.”
Dad looked astonished that she wasn’t still scolding him.
“Goodbye, all,” Mrs. Vance said as Mum helped her to the Floo. “Molly, thank you.”
“It was no trouble,” Mum told her, once again hugging her. “I’d do anything for my best friend.”
Mrs. Vance’s sightless eyes were glistening now as she released Mum. “Thank you,” she said again in a murmur.
Ginny dropped her gaze, unsure of how to respond to this moment between her mother and this blind, damaged woman. She thought of the photograph that Hagrid had shown her, of the laughter in Vanessa’s eyes. She couldn’t imagine losing a friend like that for so long.
Mr. Vance took Floo powder from the mantle, then threw it into the grate and announced their destination. Mrs. Vance released Ginny’s mother, then reached out for her husband and let him lead her into the green flames. As the hearth became still and empty once again, Mum inhaled deeply, then turned on her heel to face the room.
“I’m off to bed,” she declared. “Remus, I put you in charge, do not let Ron or Sirius eat us out of house and home, don’t drink too much of that beer, and none of it to the little ones.”
“How are we still little ones?” Ron demanded.
“You will always be my little boy,” Mum said with an air of insistence. “Send them off to bed before long, will you? And I include Tonks in that.”
“Of course, Molly,” Remus replied with a jovial smile. “I’m delighted to be trusted with your children.”
“I’m not her child!” Tonks said.
“Well, you count as one, naturally,” Mum said with a wave of her hand. “And no beer for you, either.”
Tonks spluttered incoherently. Mum gave her a knowing look, then a sharp nod and started for the stairs. Sirius snickered.
“Goodnight all,” Dad said, “if the wife is going to bed, it’s always best to follow to her.”
“Have fun with that,” Sirius said.
Dad chuckled while Ginny and Ron turned beet red and protested loudly. Harry elbowed her in the ribs, thinking HA I told you so!
Ginny glared at him. “I blame you.”
“Who’s laughing now, huh?” he sniggered.
“I’ll forcibly make you relive that memory!” Ginny said threateningly.
“No!” Harry whined. “Parents aren’t allowed to snog!”
“Since when?” Sirius asked. “And why do you care?”
“Remember that time back in the beginning of September when he had to stay behind because he spilled ink everywhere,” Ginny said.
“What time?” Remus asked, frowning.
“Erm…” she paused, glancing at Tonks, then her brother and Ron. “The one where he… interrupted you by accident.”
“Oh, that time!” Sirius said, starting to laugh. “Merlin, his face was the color of tomatoes!”
“In hindsight, Harry, it is quite amusing,” Remus said while Harry’s face turned the color of tomatoes.
“I don’t get it,” Ron said.
Harry crossed his arms over his chest huffily. “Parents are not allowed to snog.”
Sirius suddenly stopped laughing. “Wait… parents…?”
“What are you talking about?” Hermione asked.
Sirius was looking at Harry, his expression quite soft. “You think of us as parents?”
Harry shrugged. “Closest thing I’ve had to any.”
Sirius opened his mouth, closed it, then smiled at Harry.
“Wait, did Harry see you two snogging?” Ron asked.
“Can we stop discussing them snogging?” Harry asked.
“It was PRICELESS,” Sirius said, quickly letting the moment go.
“You were snogging?” Hermione said.
“It’s something that happens rather frequently,” Remus sighed.
Sirius looked at him. “You say that like it’s a bad thing!”
Remus looked at him. “Oh, shut up.”
Sirius suddenly grinned again. “Or you’ll do what?”
Remus chuckled to himself and shook his head. Sirius seemed content with himself for some reason and dropped his head onto Remus’s shoulder.
Ron looked between Remus and Tonks. “Wait, but I thought you two fancied each other?”
Remus went very pink very suddenly. Tonks snorted, then covered her eyes with a hand and shook her head. “Ron, you don’t have to fancy someone to flirt with them.”
“But…” he shrugged.
“How did I miss that?” Hermione muttered.
“We are very practiced at the art of being secretly gay,” Sirius assured her. “Been doing it for years.”
“Couldn’t ever hide it from James or — or Lily, though,” Remus sighed. Ginny wondered what had made him hesitate so in the middle of his sentence. “Both of which were entirely your fault.”
“My fault? Excuse me, but which of us was constantly mooning over the other!”
Remus looked at him with an expression that often predicted murder. “That pun was disgusting.”
Sirius chuckled. “It was pretty funny.”
“Yeah, it kind of was,” Tonks promised.
“Wait, Tonks, did you already know?” Ginny asked.
“Yeah,” she sighed. “Kind of hard to ignore.” When she caught Ginny’s frown, she added: “They never remember to use the proper charms when they’re at the flat.”
Harry turned red again and covered his face with his hands. Sirius sniggered to himself while Remus sighed.
“When did you tell Harry’s parents?” Ginny asked, ready for a good story and, a little, wanting to give Harry a break from the subject of his godparents snogging.
“James found out first,” Sirius said. “I, erm, I ran away from home summer before our sixth year and went to stay with him. Told him the minute I got there.”
“Lily walked in on us,” Remus said with a forceful smile. “I maintain that it was Sirius’s fault.”
“Apparently, it was my fault,” Sirius said.
“One hundred percent.”
“I made Remus stop patrolling purely so we could have a snog in the one broom closet that Lily would be passing on her patrol,” Sirius said. “Totally my fault.”
“See, they always forget silencing charms,” Tonks pointed out.
“It’s always his fault,” Remus insisted.
Sirius rolled his eyes. “Men, am I right, Ginny?”
Ginny giggled. “Totally with you there, Sirius.”
“Oi!” Harry protested as Remus said, “You’d better watch yourself, Black.”
Sirius threw his head back and laughed, choking out a reply of: “Or you’ll do what?”
Remus jabbed him in the stomach with a hand, making him gasp and stop laughing.
“What’s with the ‘You’ll do what?’” Hermione spluttered.
Remus smirked. “Inside joke.”
Sirius sniggered again. Hermione looked to Tonks, who shrugged. “They never told me either. You think they would, considering how much of their shit I have to put up with.”
“Tonks!” Sirius gasped. “Little ears!”
“My apologies,” Tonks said, rolling her eyes.
“What did mum do when she found out about you two?” Harry asked his godfathers.
Sirius calmed his laughing. “Scolded us for nearly giving her a heart attack, then told us to lock the door when we wanted to use a broom cupboard for something other than its intended purpose.”
“And reminded us that the cupboard was not silenced,” Remus added.
“Then told Remus he was supposed to be patrolling,” Sirius said. “It was nice to know her priorities were straight.”
“Straighter than you, obviously,” Tonks said.
Sirius puffed out his chest. “I’ll wear that statement as a badge of honor, dear Dora.”
Ginny yawned, feeling a little tired. She lifted Harry’s arm then settled against his side, pulling his arm over her to hug. Harry dropped a kiss onto her hair, then laced his fingers through hers.
“Aw, look at them, Moony,” Sirius said, pointing with his beer bottle. “Merlin, they’re adorable.”
Ginny stuck her tongue out at him. Remus chuckled.
“Do they remind you of James and Lily in our last year?” Sirius asked.
“They do, yeah,” Remus said, a smile curling his lips.
“They used to curl up on the couches just like that,” Sirius sighed. “She kept trying to get him to do homework with her, but they rarely ever did.”
“Dad wasn’t one for homework?” Harry asked.
Sirius’s smile saddened a little. “No, not really. He thought it perfectly fine to do it the night before.”
“A kindred soul, if I ever heard of one,” Ron said.
Both Remus and Sirius laughed. “You two would have gotten along well, yeah,” Sirius said.
“Though, I advise doing your homework the day you receive it,” Remus said. “Or at least telling me that you did it then.”
“Whichever works,” Sirius said with a wave of his hand. Hermione rolled her eyes pointedly.
“When did mum and dad get together?” Harry asked, a sudden thirst to know growing in him.
Sirius glanced at Remus. “Seventh year, right?”
Remus gave a nod. “Slughorn — the Potions master while we were at school — he got sick of Sirius and James blowing stuff up on Potions, so he made Lily partner with James for the year.”
“Yeah, good times,” Sirius sighed.
“I mean, breaking the two of you up did very little,” Remus added, “as the professor assigned us as partners.”
“It was frequently very hard to concentrate,” Sirius said with another sigh. Harry gave them a look that was clearly not amused. Sirius let out his barking laugh. “Look, that is exactly Lily’s scornful expression!”
Remus plucked the beer bottle from Sirius’s hand. “I do believe that that is enough of that, Padfoot.”
Sirius shrugged, taking Remus’s bottle instead.
“Damn,” Sirius muttered. He put the bottle down.
“So, they got stuck as partners during Potions?” Harry asked.
“Yep,” Sirius replied. “See, they weren’t really friends before then. James, well, he was a bit much for her during our first years.”
“She thought he was a bigheaded asshole,” Remus clarified.
“Little ears, Remus!”
“Anyway, Lily and James didn’t really get along our first five or six years of school. It’s all very long and complicated, and you deserve a proper play by play, my boy, but I have consumed too much of Arthur’s lovely homemade beer to do it justice. James was always hitting on her, Lily found it in no way amusing; Slughorn put them as partners in our last year of school.”
“They had to do so many collaborative projects,” Remus said. “Either Slughorn really liked group projects, or he wanted them to get together.”
“Lily started to realize that James was not as much of an asshole as she thought,” Sirius continued.
“I believe I heard something about little ears earlier, Padfoot.”
“Oh, hush,” Sirius said with a dismissive wave. “Anyway, they got stuck working together so much that Lily eventually realized that James was secretly a nice guy inside.”
“I think what really happened was James grew up,” Remus said, raising his eyebrows.
“No, James and I made a pact back in first year never to do that,” Sirius told him.
Remus raised his eyebrows further.
“So, when did they get together then?” Harry asked, eager to learn more.
“Around… around Halloween,” Sirius answered, his smile becoming a little sadder. “They went to Hogsmeade together, and didn’t look back.”
“James told her he loved her at Christmas,” Remus said. “Lily nearly had a mental breakdown over it because she wasn’t sure how she felt about him.”
“Didn’t they get married right out of school, though?” Ginny asked.
“A year after, yeah,” Sirius nodded. “June of ’79.”
Harry spoke again. “So it didn’t take Mum long to fall in love back?”
Sirius shook his head. “No. Not long at all. Come Easter, James was already planning on asking her to marry him at the end of the year.”
“James’s proposal was really quite romantic,” Remus sighed. “He put a great deal of thought into it. After exams were done, he got the House Elves to send up a cherry pie to where she was sitting, it had a little poem baked into the crust. Dropped to one knee in the middle of dinner.”
Sirius chuckled. “She squealed.”
“Nearly burst my eardrum,” Remus said with another sigh.
Ginny turned to Harry. “How come you don’t do romantic things like that for me?”
Harry rolled his eyes. “I’m sorry, Ginny, if I had known when we met that we would end up married, I would have definitely planned a romantic pie poem thing.”
The group laughed, even Ginny. She shifted in her seat to reach around his waist and hug him tightly, burying her head in his chest to muffle her giggles.
“Just like James and Lily,” Sirius said softly.
Tonks interrupted the laughter with a sudden gasp. “Fuck, did I fall asleep?” she said, looking around wildly.
Sirius fixed his gaze on hers. “What part of little ears do you not get, Dora?”
Tonks sat up with a sigh, rubbing at her eyes with a hand. “Apparently, all of it.”
Remus reached over and patted her shoulder. “You’re fine, Dora. You’re exhausted, I’d bet.”
“Yeah,” she answered, and to prove it, she yawned widely.
“We should walk her back,” Remus said to Sirius.
Sirius nodded, then took his beer back from Remus and drained the last of it. “That means it’s bedtime for you lot,” he said to them. “Go on, shoo.”
“Why are you walking?” Ron asked as they rose from the couches, Sirius helping Tonks up. “Why don’t you just Apparate?”
Tonks opened her mouth, but Sirius cut her off. “Apparating after drinking is a poor idea, Ron.”
“You just had one beer,” Harry said, now confused himself. “Tonks didn’t have any.”
“Oh, hush,” Sirius said, flapping his hands exasperatedly in their direction. “Off to bed!”
Harry shrugged as Ginny got off the couch. Harry gave Sirius and Remus quick side-hugs, Ginny did as well, then they waved them off. Ron pushed himself off the ground and stretched, yawning.
“See you in the morning,” he said, now heading for the stairs. “G’night.”
“Night,” Ginny called after him. She looked over at Hermione, who was still sitting on the floor, her back to the couch.
“How on earth did I not notice?” she asked in a hushed tone. “I mean, I figured out that Remus was a werewolf halfway into our third year!”
“Really?” Harry asked.
“I mean, it was sort of obvious once I read about them,” Hermione said with a shrug. “He was always so exhausted around the full moon, too.”
“It’s not been as bad lately, have you noticed?” Ginny said. “I mean, the last full moon was a Sunday, and on Monday he just looked like… well, everyone on Monday.”
“I didn’t notice,” Harry replied, his lips turning down in a frown. “I didn’t even know when the last full moon was.”
Ginny gave a shrug. “I only knew because Luna was telling me about this weird flower she found that only blooms during the full moon.”
Hermione gave a soft snort. “Of course,” she murmured.
Ginny looked over at her. “Don’t make fun of Luna’s weird flowers! It was really a pretty flower!”
“I’m sure it was,” Hermione assured her, “but there have been flowers that bloom only at certain points for centuries. It isn’t actually that weird.”
Ginny gave a shrug. “Still. Remus was definitely not as tired over the past few full moons.”
Harry echoed Ginny’s shrug. “Maybe there’s a new variant of Wolfsbane that makes the transformation easier or something.”
Hermione let out a soft murmur of thought. “Perhaps,” she said quietly, then rose to her feet. “We should get to bed, it’s nearly midnight.”
“Spooky,” Harry said, now following the two girls to the stairs. Both of them looked over their shoulders at him, then at each other and simultaneously rolled their eyes. “Okay, that actually was spooky.”
“Oh, shut up, Harry,” Hermione yawned.
Hermione left them on the third landing, continuing on to Charlie’s old room. Ginny flicked on her bedroom light, Harry going for his bag to get out his toothbrush.
“Y’know, technically we could use magic for that.”
Harry looked at her. “I will use magic to do everything but three things, Ginny.”
She raised an eyebrow. “And those things are?”
“Doing up my fly, tying my shoelaces, and brushing my teeth.”
Ginny gave a snort. “You do that, Harry.”
“Don’t judge me, you’re using a toothbrush too.”
Harry followed her from her bedroom to the bathroom across the hall. They brushed their teeth together in silence, then made their way back to her room. He dug out his pajamas, then went back into the bathroom to change. When he finished, he waited outside for Ginny to open the door again once she had changed. After five minutes, he knocked.
“Are you decent?” he asked.
“Yeah, come in.”
Harry opened the door. Ginny was sitting on the bed, having taken out a book and leaned back against the pillows with her legs crossed at the ankles. It took Harry a moment to process that she was wearing one of his tee shirts.
“I spilled syrup on mine this morning,” she muttered as he raised an eyebrow.
“So you randomly have one of my tee shirts lying around?”
“No, I packed this one just in case.”
Harry rolled his eyes. “Of course, you did.”
Ginny stuck her tongue out at him, then went back to the book. Harry paused to listen to her thoughts and wrinkled his nose.
“What even is that?” he asked, dropping onto the bed and peering at the cover. Ginny shooed him away from her with it.
“I’m enjoying it, shut up.”
“But what is it?”
“It’s by this Muggle author, Stephen King.”
Harry frowned. “Wait…”
She looked up at him. “What?”
Harry checked the cover of the book. “Um…”
“Isn’t The Shining, like, a horror story?”
Ginny glanced at the cover. “Yeah, I s’pose.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Okay. But you’re cuddling me when I get nightmares from hearing you read it.”
Ginny hit him with it lightly. “I’ve only just started it, it can’t get that scary that quick. Turn the light off, will you please?”
“Why are you even reading that?” Harry asked her as he got up to turn it off.
“For Muggle studies. Professor Burbage asked us to pick a popular book in the Muggle world.”
“So you picked The Shining?”
Ginny glanced up at him. “Why not.”
Harry rolled his own eyes and flopped back onto the bed. “Remind me to get Two Towers from Gram’s house before we Floo back to Hogwarts tomorrow.”
“Remember to get Two Towers from your grandmother’s house tomorrow before we Floo back to Hogwarts.”
Harry gave her a glare. She stuck her tongue out at him. He snatched the book from her and tossed it onto the floor, at which she protested loudly and tried to clamber over him to get it back, but she ended up elbowing him in the gut and he pushed her back onto the pillows. “That hurt!” he whined loudly.
“Serves you right,” Ginny sniffed, slipping off the bed to move around to get the book. “Brat,” she added, dropping back onto her side of the bed.
“Brat?” he protested. “You’re… a… a…”
Ginny raised an eyebrow at him. He shrugged. I can’t actually think of something.
Bitch? Prick? Horrible excuse for a human being?
< em> Well, those are all too mean.
Ginny rolled her eyes. “Sometimes you are annoyingly adorable, Harry.” Harry grinned broadly and clasped his hands beneath his chin. Ginny snorted loudly. “That’s less adorable, Harry.” He dropped the look, then flopped back onto his pillows to look at her.
“You’re beautiful, y’know.”
Ginny flushed slightly. “You are so weird,” she muttered, her smile soft as she looked away.
Harry shrugged. “It’s true.”
Ginny shook her head at him as she reopened her book and tried to find her place. Harry decided he wanted a hug and flung his arms about her neck, resting his head on her shoulder. She looked down at him, her eyebrow raising.
“What are you doing?” she asked him quietly.
Harry shrugged. “Possibly being annoying?”
“Wow, who would have thought.”
Harry stuck his tongue out at her, then as she turned away, stuck his tongue in her ear. She shrieked and batted him away from him while he fell back on the bed, laughing.
“Your face! Priceless!”
Ginny tossed the book onto her nightstand and pounced on him, her fingers quickly finding his stomach and tickling him ruthlessly. “How do you like this, huh?”
“Ha! Hic, staaahpppp!”
“How does it feel to be on the receiving end!”
“Staaahhhp! I ca—can’t breathe!” Harry wheezed through laughter.
“You little shit,” Ginny said, pulling her fingers back so he could inhale a gasping breath.
Harry pushed his hair out of his eyes, then propped himself up on his elbows to look at her. “What did I do to deserve this abuse?” he asked. Ginny stuck her own tongue out at him. Harry rolled his eyes and sat up, rotating on the bed so he could slip beneath the blankets. “It’s past midnight,” he told her, “we should go to sleep.”
Ginny heaved a sigh as she nodded, silently agreeing with him. She switched off the lamp on her night table, sending the bedroom into darkness. She pushed her legs under the blankets, then reached out for her husband, letting his arms encircle her and settling down against his chest. Harry pressed a kiss to the nape of her neck, making her shiver slightly, and gave her a quick hug.
“Goodnight,” he whispered, his lips close to her ear.
“Goodnight,” she echoed. Her shudder was not due to the temperature of the room. Harry fell asleep quickly, but Ginny did not, so she turned the light back on and resumed reading.
Ginny didn’t remember what time she put her book away and went to sleep. It was very late, at least, the waxing moon was high in the sky. Maybe it was past midnight, she wasn’t sure. She switched off her light and set the book on the night table, then settled down in the bed beside Harry. He shifted, still asleep, and draped an arm over her waist. She shut her eyes, breathing deeply.
“Harry, Ginny, breakfast is ready!”
She squeezed her eyes tight. Maybe if she ignored it, it would go away.
“Come on, pet, wake up, breakfast is ready.”
A hand stroked her forehead. “It’s nearly nine, you’ve slept long enough.”
Ginny yawned, opening her eyes. Harry’s head was buried in the crook of her neck, and her mother was already leaving the room. “Yeah, fine, we’ll get up.”
“Good, because I made pancakes again.”
Her mother shut the door. Ginny sighed, looked down at Harry, who hadn’t moved. She prodded his shoulder. “Come on, you lazy oaf.”
“Why is it always you who refuses to get up?”
“Because I’m a grump in the mornin’, that’s why.”
“Well get up, Mum made pancakes.”
Harry shifted, opening his eyes to look at her. “Well, whoop de doo,” he mumbled, then rolled over. “Fuck you.”
Ginny gave a laugh. You sure are a grump, Harry.
< em> Just lemme sleep.
Ginny rolled her eyes at him, then threw off the duvet and rose up out of the bed. Harry shivered, so she pulled the blankets back over him. “I’m gonna go downstairs, when you get cold without me, come down.”
She left the room, closing the door behind her. She paused on the stairs, seeing Hermione coming down, rubbing her eyes.
“Morning,” Hermione mumbled. “Harry not up?”
“No,” Ginny said, glancing over her shoulder at her now closed door. “Self-proclaimed, not a morning person.”
Hermione gave a little laugh. “Neither am I.”
“Is Ron up?”
Hermione shook her head, looking over her shoulder. “No, he’s — I mean, I don’t know.” She colored suddenly, and when she looked back, she didn’t meet Ginny’s gaze.
Ginny frowned at her blush, but didn’t ask. She wasn’t sure she wanted to know the answer. “Er, let’s just go down, the boys will get up when they get up.”
“Yeah, erm, I think your mum said she was making pancakes,” Hermione said, now hugging herself as her blush remained intense in her cheeks.
“Yeah, she did,” Ginny mumbled, “erm, yeah.” She turned away, sure that Hermione wasn’t the only one blushing anymore.
“We — Before you ask —”
“It’s okay, Hermione, I don’t really care.”
“No, I mean, he’s your brother —”
Ginny turned back and touched her friend’s shoulder. “Honestly, I don’t care. I’m glad you two are… I dunno, happy, I guess? I don’t know what to say.”
Hermione’s blush intensified. “Erm, yeah, we’re — we’re happy.”
Ginny gave a nod. “Just don’t give me the details, please.”
Hermione nodded as well, her gaze still on the ground. “I mean, it’s not like you and Harry — and he’s like a brother to me, y’know —”
“Actually, we haven’t yet.”
Hermione looked up. “You — oh, I didn’t mean —”
“No, no, it’s okay, we just decided we ought to wait.” Now Ginny was the one who couldn’t make eye contact.
Hermione nodded again, slowly. “Well, don’t give me details when you do,” she said with a little laugh.
Ginny chuckled nervously as well, turning away again and starting down the stairs. A sudden thought occurred to her, and it popped out before she could stop herself. “Did it hurt?”
“No, not at all.”
Ginny gave a nod. “Good, uh, good.”
They entered the sitting room and saw Ginny’s mother setting the table. “Morning girls,” she said. “Did you have a good night’s rest?”
“Yeah,” Ginny said, intentionally stepping in front of Hermione so that she could block her friend’s probable blush. “Like a rock.”
Mum looked up, her eyebrows raised. “Hermione?”
Hermione looked startled. “Oh, yes, I slept well.”
Mum set down the cup she was holding and pursed her lips. “Yes, I’m sure you did.”
Hermione’s face drained of color; Ginny glanced between her friend and her mother, unsure of what to do, when suddenly, Mum chuckled and shook her head.
“You took precautions, at least,” she said, turning away.
“H—how did you know?”
“Darling, that potion bottle is not hard to miss, even buried in the waste basket.”
Hermione glanced between Ginny and Ginny’s mother, her face slack. “I — erm, you — you’re not angry?”
Mum frowned. “Why would I be angry at you?”
“Erm, well, Muggles at least — it’s a bit — erm —”
Mum shook her head, then reached over and patted Hermione’s shoulder. “We are not Muggles, dear.” She turned away, and pointed to the cabinet. “Get the plates out, would you, dears?”
Hermione looked at Ginny, shaking her head, her eyes wide. Ginny shrugged. “We’re not Muggles?” she whispered.
“My mum would flay me alive,” she muttered, going to the china cabinet. Ginny shrugged again.
Ginny turned, seeing Harry entering the kitchen. He was rubbing at his eyes under his glasses, still in pajamas, and his hair was a worse of a mess than usual. “Look, the dead man has risen from his grave,” she joked.
“Hardy har har,” Harry said, pecking her on the cheek. “Saw Ron up, Mrs. Weasley — I mean, mum,” he corrected himself rapidly before she could say anything, then he leaned on Ginny’s shoulder, his forehead resting against her temple. “He was acting weird, too.”
Ginny hurriedly hid the knowledge of what had happened, deciding that it would be much more entertaining if he had to find out on his own. “Dunno, maybe something spooked him. It is Halloween soon, after all.”
Harry gave her a scornful look. “Ha, ha,” he echoed dryly.
“Harry, dear, would you go to the ice chest and fetch another jug of milk for me?”
“Sure, mum,” Harry replied, letting go of Ginny and crossing through to the pantry. Mum turned away from the stove, where she had made the last of the pancakes, to raise an eyebrow at her.
“What?” she asked.
“Sometimes I wonder whether or not you ought to be in Slytherin,” she said, turning away.
Ginny snorted. “He says that all the time, too.”
Mum pursed her lips again, turning away. “Ron, Arthur, come on, breakfast is ready!”
“I’ll go get Ron,” Hermione said.
“I’ll get Dad,” Ginny offered.
“Thank you, girls,” Mum called as they left the kitchen. They went upstairs, Ginny turning off at the first landing while Hermione went on up to Ron’s room. The door to her parents’ room was ajar, so she knocked and went in.
“Dad, Mum says breakfast is ready!”
“Thank you, I’ll be down in just a minute,” her father’s voice came from the on-suite bathroom.
“Kay,” she said, leaving the room again, closing the door behind her. She glanced up the stairs, but didn’t bother going to go looking for Ron and Hermione. She went back downstairs, finding Harry seated at the table staring at the plate of pancakes in the middle of it, his curly hair sticking up as if he’d just run his hands through it.
“Hungry, are you?” Ginny asked, taking a seat as well.
“Starved,” he said, yawning.
“Dad’ll be down in a minute,” Ginny called to her mother.
“Thank you, dear. You two can start eating if you like,” Mum said, setting a jar of golden syrup on the table.
“Thanks, mum,” Harry said, grabbing a few pancakes from the dish with a fork. Ginny rolled her eyes, but took one as well.
After breakfast, they packed up their things. Harry and Ginny walked to his grandmother’s house to get Two Towers and visit with his gram and aunt a little before they were due back at school. They ate lunch there, then said their goodbyes and walked back to her house, holding hands as they did. They found Sirius, Remus, and Tonks walking up the road leading to her house in the other direction and stopped to talk to them. Remus and Sirius were walking arm in arm, looking as if they had just been laughing about some great joke, while Tonks looked half asleep.
“Taking the Floo from our house, are you?” Ginny asked.
“Yep,” Sirius said. “Figured we’d go as one happy bunch.”
“How come you’re not Apparating to school?” Harry questioned them.
“What’s wrong with a little fresh air, every now and then?” Sirius asked. “Besides, what did I just say?”
“We ought to go as one happy bunch?” Harry said.
“More like you two forgot to pay the subscription fee for the Floo this month,” Tonks muttered.
“That makes more sense,” Harry said with a nod.
Sirius ruffled his hair. “This one learns fast, Moony.”
“Gerroff me,” Harry mumbled, waving Sirius away. “My hair’s bad enough as it is.”
Sirius snickered. “James used to say the exact same thing.”
Harry dropped his gaze, smiling a little. “Yeah? You used to make his hair more of a rat’s nest too?”
“Oh, all the time, lil’ Prongs,” Sirius said, laughing full on now. “It was pretty much the only thing I could do to piss him off.”
“No, not true,” Remus said. “Once we hit sixth year, all we had to do to piss him off was make a few noises in the dorm room.”
Sirius snorted. “Oh, you’re going to bring that up now? You’re going to traumatize the poor boy.”
Harry was indeed beet red. Remus sniggered. “Like father, like son.”
“James was a mother hen, was he?” Ginny asked.
“Oh, for sure,” Remus said, “hovered around us and everything. Especially Sirius.”
“What was wrong with your mother?” Ginny asked.
“Well, for one she liked to scream at me because I was in Gryffindor,” Sirius laughed. “Then when they found out Moony and I were a thing they freaked out to the point I ran away from home.”
“Yikes,” Ginny said, then, more softly, “I’m sorry.”
“Hey, my family were all nut jobs,” Sirius said, “comes from the generations of inbreeding.”
“Wait, you’re not gonna go nuts on me, are you?” Remus asked.
Sirius suddenly smiled wide, leeringly, and leaned in towards Remus, saying in a demented voice: “Who says I won’t?”
“Oh, get off me, you weirdo,” Remus laughed.
“The two of you, I swear,” Tonks mumbled. Ginny gave a little giggle as Sirius sniggered. Remus shook his head, tugging at the scarf around his neck.
“It’s certainly much too warm for October,” he sighed, now unwinding the scarf. Sirius gave a shrug.
“You’re one to complain,” he said.
“What does that even mean?” Remus asked exasperatedly.
Sirius shrugged again.
Old married couple, Ginny thought. That’s what they are.
But they’re not married? They are an old couple, though.
Oh, hush, Harry, that’s not the point.
“Remind me never to leave the two of you alone with my kid,” Tonks muttered.
“What kid?” Harry asked.
“Hypothetical kid,” she said quickly, “if I ever have one.”
“Good plan,” Ginny said. “Harry, remind me never to leave any of our kids alone with them.”
“Oi!” Sirius protested, looking put out. “You can’t keep a kid away from their great-godfathers!”
“Great-gay-uncles is more like it,” Harry laughed. “Is there even such a thing as a great-godfather?”
Sir ius looked at Remus, who merely shrugged. “I’ve never been a godfather, so I wouldn’t know.”
“Come off it, Moony, you’re just as much Harry’s godfather as I am,” Sirius said. “It may not be in writing, but you know what they say, paper is just paper.”
“True,” Remus said, a small smile crossing his face. “I s’pose that’s true.”
Sirius gave a contented nod, then reached up and patted Remus on the head, who rolled his eyes.
They reached the driveway of the Burrow, turning down it and taking it at a meandering pace. Ginny dropped her head onto Harry’s shoulder. Remus was right, it was far too warm for October in the countryside of England.
“Come along, you lot!” Mum shouted from the kitchen door of the house as they came into sight. “You’re due back at Hogwarts any minute now!”
“Of course, we are,” Ginny sighed. “What time is it?”
Remus checked his watch. “Half past two. Dumbledore requested you back by three.”
Ginny gave a nod. “Figures, Mum can’t stand being late.”
“It’s a good policy to have.”
“Yeah, I s’pose.”
They entered the kitchen, seeing Ginny’s mother bustling about with the tea kettle. “Hi, Mum,” Ginny called, walking straight through to the sitting room.
“Good, you’re here,” Mum said distractedly. “There’s biscuits on the table in there if you’d like to eat before you take the Floo.”
“Thanks,” she said, tugging on Harry’s hand. They found Ron and Hermione sat on the couch, Hermione tucked under Ron’s arm, talking in low tones. They stopped the minute they saw the two of them, Ron’s ears went red and Hermione’s smile was nervous. Ginny hoped Harry wouldn’t notice; she wanted the façade to last as long as possible.
“Afternoon,” Harry said, “what have you two been up to all day?”
“Nothing,” Ron said, “played another game of chess.”
“Sounds like fun,” Ginny said, smirking at Hermione. Hermione flushed, looking away. Ron glanced between them, then scowled slightly; through some twin telepathy or other such magic, Ron could tell that Ginny knew. Ginny held back a snigger.
Nothi ng, she promised. Nothing at all.
Harry narrowed his eyes at her. She adopted an innocent air, then pulled him onto a couch and laid her head on his chest, her fingers finding his chest and tracing lazy circles. After a moment, he grabbed her hand and laced their fingers together. She smiled.
“What are you lot sitting around for?” Sirius asked them. He put his hands on his fists, looking at them all with an expression Ginny guessed was meant to be stern. “We’re leaving in just a minute, go fetch your sh—stuff.”
“Little ears, Sirius,” Remus said breezily as he dropped into an armchair.
“Shut up, Moony,” Sirius said, coloring.
“Or you’ll do what?” Remus asked, casually inspecting his nails. Sirius scowled harder.
“That’s my line!” he protested.
“As I seem to recall, I said it first,” Remus said, looking up at him with a smile.
Sirius huffed. “Men,” he muttered, but dropped onto Remus’s lap anyway. “What are you waiting for?” Sirius asked them, “go on!”
They laughed, his pouty expression and Remus’s smirk were a sight to see. The four of them got up from the couches and headed for the stairs, Ron and Hermione leaving them on the third landing. Ginny opened her door and went in to gather up her things. Harry started picking up his clothes, which had somehow been scattered across the room over the past two days. Ginny found a shirt of hers under the bed, so she wasn’t one to judge.
“Ginny, one of your bras is in my bag.”
“How did it get there?”
“I dunno, come get it!”
Ginny rolled her eyes, snatching the bra from his bag. “It’s just a piece of clothing, Harry.” He mumbled something, and she laughed. “Yeah, sure, whatever.” She shoved the bra into her bag.
They finished packing up their things a few minutes later and returned to the sitting room. Tonks had curled up on one of the couches with a copy of Witch Weekly and Sirius and Remus were still sitting in the same armchair, bickering over something.
“You have longer hair!” Remus was saying as they entered.
“What does that have to do with it?” Sirius asked with a laugh.
“Because! It helps you fit the part better!”
“What are you two fighting about now?” Ginny asked.
“Oh, we’re not fighting,” Sirius said. “We’re discussing.”
“Squabbling,” Remus corrected.
“Fine, we’re squabbling,” Sirius said. “Happy?”
“Immensely,” Remus quipped.
“But what are you squabbling about?” Ginny asked.
“Which of them gets to walk Harry down the aisle,” Tonks said.
Harry colored. “The groom doesn’t get walked down the aisle!”
“Which of us plays the part of mother of the groom,” Sirius said, sticking his nose in the air. “I think Remus should do it.”
“I think you should do it,” Remus said.
“I think you should take the pole out of your ass,” Sirius said.
Remus smirked, raising an eyebrow. “Really?”
Sirius colored. “Shut up.”
“I do not want to know,” Tonks sighed as Remus grinned triumphantly. “Someone make them stop!”
“Boys, stop torturing poor Tonks,” Mum said as she entered, levitating a tea tray. “Here you go, dear,” she set it down in front of Tonks and gave her a cup.
“Thank you, Molly, you’re a saint,” Tonks sighed.
“Don’t mention it dear,” she said. “And don’t forget that card I gave you, Healer Ainsley is a better saint than even I.”
“What do you need a Healer for?” Harry asked.
“Never you mind,” Molly told him, wagging a scolding finger towards him. “Have some tea, dear.”
Harry looked at Ginny, who shrugged.
“Where are Ron and Hermione?” Remus asked. “Aren’t they done yet?”
“Should be soon,” Ginny said.
“Speak of the devil,” Sirius said, nodding to the stairs. Ginny turned around and waved to her brother and friend.
“All ready?” Mum asked them. “Good, good; Arthur!”
“Yes?” Dad’s voice came from the back room, where he did work on the weekends.
“The children are ready to leave!”
Mum waved at Tonks, who scooted upward into a sitting position so Mum could take the other end of the couch. She leaned back on the sofa, her eyes shutting.
“Can’t wait for some peace and quiet?” Tonks asked.
“You bet,” Mum chuckled. “Heavens knows I need it.”
“Wait, Tonks, are you coming to Hogwarts with us?” Harry asked.
“Yeah,” Tonks said. “Erm, I’ll be staying with them so I can take advantage of Hogwarts’ Floo.”
“And punishing us for not paying for it this month,” Sirius muttered.
Tonks pointed a finger at him. “It’s ten Galleons a month, Sirius, how did you forget?”
Sirius put his hands up in defense. “I’m sorry I had other things on my mind! Like how lovely Remus will look playing mother of the groom at Christmas.”
“Nope,” Remus sighed. “Not doing it.”
“I don’t need to have a mother of the groom,” Harry said, “I can have two fathers of the groom, it’s fine.”
Sirius looked affronted. “There must be a mother of the groom.”
“What about Mrs. Weasley?” Harry asked.
“Oh, no dear, I’m mother of the bride,” Mum chuckled. “I can’t play both of your mothers.”
“Fine, let Tonks do it then,” Harry said.
Tonks choked on her tea. “Sorry, what?”
“Be mother of the groom so these two will stop arguing about it?” Harry asked.
“Um, okay,” Tonks said. “Erm, I don’t have to be an actual mother, do I?”
“I was trying to get Remus to be it, Tonks, don’t worry,” Sirius assured her.
Tonks nodded. “Erm, okay, sure, thanks.”
“There, problem solved,” Harry said.
“Alright, ready?” Dad said, now stepping into the sitting room.
“Yes, I think they are,” Mum sighed.
Dad clapped his hands and rubbed them together. “Sad to see you gone so soon, kids,” he said.
“Thanks for this weekend, Dad,” Ginny said, standing up and going to give him a hug. Her father patted her hair, then dropped a kiss onto the top of her head.
“Of course, princess,” he said, smiling warmly at her.
“Let’s get it over with,” Mum sighed. “Hugs, all of you.”
Ginny hugged her mother, who kissed her cheek, then watched as she got hugs from Harry, Ron, and Hermione as well. Tonks even got a hug and a kiss. They lined up at the Floo, taking a pinch of the green powder one at a time.
“To our quarters,” Remus said. Harry gave a nod, then threw the powder into the flames.
“Defense Against the Dark Arts’ teacher’s quarters, Hogwarts,” Harry called, then stepped into the grate; after a moment, he vanished. Ron followed, then Hermione, then Ginny. She tumbled out of the fire, catching herself quickly on the other side. She brushed off soot, stepping out of the way for Remus, who was followed by Tonks and Sirius.
“Off to your dorms, then,” Remus said.
“Thanks, Remus,” Harry said. The four students left the teachers’ wing, taking the stairs up to the seventh floor and the entrance to Gryffindor Tower. At the stairs, Ron and Harry went up the boys’ while Ginny and Hermione went up the girls’; they said farewell for the time being at Hermione’s dorm, and Ginny continued on to the top levels. As she reached the door, it opened, revealing Hollins and her friend Greenley.
“Afternoon, Potter,” Hollins said stiffly.
“Afternoon,” Ginny said, stepping by so they could pass. She watched them go for a moment, as Greenley leaned in and whispered something Ginny couldn’t hear to Hollins, though she heard Hollins snicker. Ginny shook her head, going through the door and shutting it behind her. Harry was waiting for at the door to their room and opened it when she appeared in the stairwell. They went inside, Ginny going to dump her bag in her room, when suddenly the fire in their grate flared green and a head appeared in the hearth.
“Professor Dumbledore,” Harry said, approaching the fireplace. Ginny dropped her bag at the door to their room and walked closer.
“I’m glad you’re back,” he said. “I needed to tell you: On Tuesday, the Vances will be joining us again.”
“What for?” Harry asked.
“Tuesday is Halloween,” he said. “And Mrs. Vance has agreed to perform the séance.”