|SIYE Time:4:24 on 23rd June 2018|
Genres: Drama, General, Romance
Warnings: Death, Extreme Language, Intimate Sexual Situations, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Sexual Situations, Violence
Summary: Things are not looking good for Harry Potter. Lord Voldemort has been defeated, but many of his Death Eaters are still on the loose, and Minister of Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt, will not let Harry anywhere near them, insisting he needs time to recover from the trials of life on the run. And to top things off, he still can’t manage to sort things out with his ex-girlfriend, Ginny.
Hitcount: Story Total: 7509; Chapter Total: 278
Well, I’m trying something new. Instead of churning out one monster chapter every six weeks, I’m going to attempt to put out more frequent updates that are slightly less substantial. I’m worried that my characterization of Ginny might be a bit too cruel, IDK, I struggle with conveying sarcastic humor that isn’t downright nasty. I’m also really, REALLY, terrible to all of my brothers so I probably shouldn’t take so much inspiration from my own life. Whatever. I can’t do anything right!!!
The eaves over the Burrow's front door were covered in a fluffy layer of snow as Harry, Ron, and Hermione made their way up the walk. The gnomes that normally occupied the front garden were nowhere to be seen, perhaps hiding from the cold, and it made the house seem rather lonely as the trio reached the step.
It was quiet still, even accounting for the lack of gnomes. Lights were burning in the windows, but no sound could be heard from within.
"Perhaps we're the first to arrive?" Ron said gently, taking Hermione's hand and pushing through the door. The Ministry offices had closed for the Christmas holiday that afternoon, and Harry, Ron and Hermione had decided to Apparate from work to the Burrow together. Christmas had fallen on a Saturday that year, forcing them all to work on the twenty-fourth, so the family was congregating at Arthur and Molly's for a week of celebration beginning Christmas Eve and lasting through the New Year, the first time they had all been together since Ron and Hermione's wedding.
Harry was itching to see Ginny as they marched across the threshold, stomping snow off their boots before vanishing it away. Her schedule had been madness for the last few months, and though they spent plenty of time together on the weekends, it would be lovely to have some quiet moments just to themselves over the holiday. Harry had even found himself secretly wishing that the Harpies didn't make it too far into the playoffs, so Ginny's season would be over by early spring, though he had tried to quickly banish such selfish thoughts immediately from his head. He found himself desperately envious of Ron and Hermione and their private little cottage over the hills.
They were no sooner in the living room than there was a great commotion from above as Ginny flew down the stairs in a tornado of hair and limbs. She flung herself into Harry's arms, crushing her body against his, but before he had time to reciprocate she had pulled away again to face Ron and Hermione, hurriedly kissing each on the cheek.
"Thank fucking Merlin you're here," she said in a rush. "It's just been me since last night and Mum's driving me absolutely mental."
"What's happened?" Hermione said, unwinding her scarf and hanging it on the coat rack.
"Oh, the usual, cooking, cleaning, barking orders at me like she's le Fey herself. She's gone and put us all in separate rooms, of course, so I'm with Angelina for the week, and you've a camp bed set up in-"
"Please say George's room," Harry interrupted, the panic evident in his voice.
Ginny gave a wicked grin. "Percy's room. Charlie's in with George so Bill and Fleur can have privacy, and Fred and George's room is still too full of wheezes to have more than two people."
Harry groaned audibly as Ron gave a gleeful laugh.
"Well," he said, grabbing Hermione's hand and ignoring Harry's particularly rude gesture. "Let's go settle in, Hermione."
Hermione made an apologetic face at Harry as Ron dragged her up the stairs. Harry turned back to Ginny, smiling sweetly at him.
"Marry me," Harry declared desperately. "We'll be in the same room if we're engaged."
"Ah, every witch's dream," Ginny sighed in falsetto. "Her boyfriend proposing so he doesn't have to spend Christmas sharing a room with her older brother! How romantic. Anyways, it's not likely," she finished happily. "Bill and Fleur were separated until the moment they exchanged rings, and I can't pretend I'm not going to enjoy you getting a week's worth of lectures on broomstick regulation. It's probably the best gift I'll get this year."
Harry must've looked ready to pull his hair out, for Ginny stepped closer to him and placed both hands on his shoulders, standing on her tiptoes and placing her lips gently on his. He sank into her embrace.
"I missed you," she said, pulling away.
"And yet you torture me," Harry said, giving her a small smile.
"There's just not much to do around here," Ginny teased. "I get bored."
"I can think of a few things to do," Harry said, kissing her again, opening his lips and feeling the intensity build into-
"Harry!" a cry came from behind him, and Harry jumped back as though struck, turning just in time to see Mrs. Weasley come around the corner from the kitchen, wearing a frayed apron that was dusted over in flour.
"Oh, dear, it's so good to see you," she cried, running forward and bringing him into a great hug. "We missed you so last Christmas."
Harry squeezed her back tightly. He hadn't realized, until it had partially lifted, the effect that Molly's grief had on him. She was still a bit more reserved and a bit less warm than Harry had known her to be during his adolescence, but Ron's recovery and marriage had thankfully put some of the spark back in her.
"Has Ginny told you you're in with Percy? It's going to be a bit tight this year, with everyone in the house, and Angelina come to stay as well! And I've finally convinced Charlie to come for Christmas- it's been years - but we're so excited about Angelina. She and George do seem quite serious… perhaps there will be another wedding next year! Wouldn't that be wonderful?"
"It would," Harry said kindly, nodding along to Mrs. Weasley's barrage of information as she led him into the kitchen and pushed him into a chair, declaring him far too skinny.
Bread and butter were set forth on the table, and Ginny sat beside Harry as they chatted with Mrs. Weasley about Ginny's new team-mate and roommate in Holyhead, Sinéad, who apparently enjoyed celebrating the Harpies victories in their flat with copious amounts of both Firewhisky and male company.
The Christmas feast slowly came together as Ginny entertained Harry and her mother with tales of Sinéad's antics, and they were joined in the kitchen by Ron and Hermione, smoothing their hair and adjusting clothing unconvincingly. Harry couldn't imagine ever being so indiscreet, or indeed, so unable to control his own urges, but perhaps marriage changed things for a couple.
Various members of the Weasley family began stomping in through the front door, brushing snow off their shoulders and calling out Christmas tidings. Mr. Weasley appeared from the Ministry first, arms laden with wine and spirits, followed by Bill and Fleur, both sporting thick scarves and sweaters, their cheeks flushed with a mixture of cold and excitement.
"I think that's all of it," Mrs. Weasley announced to the kitchen at large, surveying the various trays and platters laid across the table. "Why don't we have a drink while we wait for the others to arrive, and then we can eat?"
Everyone nodded in assent, pushing themselves up from the table and making their way into the sitting room. Fleur groaned audibly as Mrs. Weasley made a beeline for the wireless, no doubt anticipating another Celestina Warbeck Christmas Eve special. Harry couldn't help but find himself sharing in her sentiments.
They all settled themselves in comfortably, with Harry and Ginny sharing the sofa with Charlie, who'd appeared during their migration, sporting a few new burn scars and what appeared to be a great claw-mark across his temple since Harry'd last seen him at Ron and Hermione's wedding.
As the croons of Celestina began to warble out of the old wireless, Harry stretched and arm round Ginny's shoulder found himself silently thanking George. Ginny's brother had been right; it was far easier to be around the Weasleys now that their great secret was out in the open, and the family seemed far less displeased about his and Ginny's involvement than Harry had thought they'd be. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley had warmed up to the idea quite quickly, and treated him no differently than when he had simply been Ron's best friend.
Ginny smiled up at Harry and leaned into him a bit, bringing her legs up onto the sofa and curling up like a cat. The door flung open yet again to reveal George and Angelina, arms laden with presents and grinning widely at the group assembled around the fire.
"Happy Christmas," they called in unison, and there was a roar of welcome at their appearance. Harry couldn't remember the last time he was happier as he gazed around at Ron's family, assembled in front of him. They'd kept it quiet that year, only inviting the immediate family, and Harry preferred this to an extent. Fred's absence was still a gaping hole in any gathering, but this felt more like an old stay at the Burrow than any recent holiday they'd had. Harry and Ginny had plans to stop by Andromeda's tomorrow for dinner and presents with Teddy, who was growing faster than Harry would ever care to admit.
"When are we eating?" George called as he and Angelina deposited presents under the tree, which Harry suddenly noted had a gold-painted gnome stuck to the top of it.
"How long did it take you to find that one?" he asked Ginny in a mutter, at the same time that Mrs. Weasley answered George, "We're only waiting on Percy."
"Bloody ages," Ginny answered. "They've all wandered under the house where it's warmer. But this one was hiding in the exhaust pipe of Sirius' old motorbike."
"Blimey," Harry wondered. "Does your dad still have that?"
Ginny nodded, just as there was a loud rapp at the door.
"Who could that be?" Mrs. Weasley wondered.
Ron, nearest to the door, opened it up wearily, hand fingering his jean's pocket, as though half-expecting Thorfinn Rowle to have made a surprise appearance for Christmas Eve dinner. His stance visibly relaxed as the mysterious knocker came into view, and he turned back to the sitting room with an air of annoyance.
"It's just Percy, the stupid prat," he said angrily, leaving Percy standing on the threshold as he returned to the armchair he'd been cozily sharing with Hermione. "Knocking at his own home on Christmas Eve and scaring the ."
Percy flushed red in irritation, moving forward as though to object to Ron's statement, but in doing so revealed a second person standing behind him, a young blonde woman in a wool overcoat. Harry first registered that she looked rather posh, but that was before noting that she'd arrived in Muggle clothes.
"Percy!" Mrs. Weasley exclaimed weakly, making for the door. "Have you brought someone for a Christmas surprise? Oh, what fun! Come introduce us to your friend!" Harry could practically see Mrs. Weasley's head spinning as she attempted to determine where on Earth she would fit this new person.
"Er- well, yes, I have," Percy said awkwardly. "But she's not exactly my friend - I, er, could I explain this to you all inside?"
"Of course, son," Mr. Weasley said warmly, stepping back to allow Percy and his companion to enter the house. Harry noticed that this young woman looked, for lack of a better word, terrified, as she took in the sitting room; the knitting working on itself in the corner, Mrs. Weasley's fantastic clock, and the deck of playing cards shuffling themselves between Angelina and Charlie.
With a jolt of realization Harry turned to look at Ginny, who was staring at him, eyes wide.
"No," she mouthed, but she could hardly stop the slow smile spreading across her face.
Harry shook his head, but his own mouth was twitching. Percy had led his companion to the settee and they sat down together. The family that wasn't already stationed around the room gathered around the new couple, with expressions ranging from excited, to confused, to positively anxious.
"Er-," Percy said again, looking towards his companion. She shook her head briefly, before turning back to gaze at some of the moving photographs on the walls.
"Well, er, Mum, Dad, everybody," Percy said, looking around the room quickly. "This is Audrey. Audrey Bland."
Ginny sucked in her breath and looked at Harry with her eyebrows raised. He could tell that this was all becoming far too much for her. He couldn't deny that Audrey's surname was unfortunate. George, like Ginny, seemed to be going a bit red in the face trying to hold his tongue.
Audrey looked around at the others with an expression as though she thought one of them likely to bite her.
"Hello, dear. It's so lovely to have you," Mrs. Weasley said robotically, seeming to notice this. Audrey made no reply. Ginny grabbed Harry's arm rather hard, her brows now at risk of disappearing completely beneath her hairline.
"Get a grip on yourself, Weasley," Harry muttered out of the corner of his mouth.
"Mum's going to have a cow," Ginny whispered back gleefully.
Percy continued. "I've, um, well, I've brought her for Christmas because we've been seeing each other, actually, and quite seriously. Last week, well… last week she agreed to marry me."
"An actual cow," Ginny finished in the same dramatic whisper.
Mrs. Weasley gave a great start at Percy's revelation. "What?!" she cried, clutching at her heart.
Mr. Weasley looked just as taken aback, but seemed to collect himself faster than his wife. "Congratulations, son," he said quietly, and Harry could see the dawning of recognition alight his eyes.
Not one of Percy's brothers spoke. Harry and Ginny themselves remained silent, bracing themselves for what they were sure was coming next.
Mr. Weasley seemed to have quickly harkened onto what was going on. "Is there a… a reason, Percy, that you haven't brought Audrey to meet us sooner?" he asked hesitantly.
Percy visibly sank back with relief at his father's careful prompt. "Er, yes," he said. "Yes, well, I couldn't actually introduce you all to Audrey until she agreed to marry me because she's not… she's not like us. She's not, er, magic."
Excepting the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry didn't think he'd ever seen Percy so without pomp. It made him far more easy to be sympathetic towards, Harry thought, as the rest of Weasleys gaped in stunned silence. Ginny finally let her gleeful smile show, but it seemed to be genuinely kind. Harry supposed she was simply happy that there had been a big surprise to liven up Christmas dinner.
"Congratulations!" she said. "I'm Ginny, Percy's sister."
Audrey still said nothing, looking rather dazed, as though Percy's revelation was a shock to her too. Harry wondered whether she had been expecting the entire situation to be some elaborate prank until she saw the Weasley's house. Harry remembered when he'd first learned of the existence of this magical world; how miserable his life had been that he'd have accepted nearly any reality that got him as far from the Dursleys as possible. Audrey, he thought as he glanced her over, seemed perfectly normal, and this was probably quite the blow to her worldview.
Hermione followed Ginny's lead, smiling at Audrey and stepping up from her spot on the arm of Ron's chair.
"I'm Hermione," she said. "I'm married to Percy's brother, Ron."
"Perhaps we should all introduce ourselves," Mrs. Weasley said weakly, her hand still hovering over her chest.
"Yes, wonderful idea, Mother," Percy said, regaining some of his composure. He took Audrey's hand, and Harry noticed that at his touch she gained back a little color.
"Audrey, these are my parents, Arthur and Molly," he said, gesturing to Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, who were standing in the middle of the sitting room. "My older brothers, Bill and Charlie," Bill held up a hand in hello and Charlie asked, "Alright?"
"Bill's wife, Fleur."
Fleur smiled and tossed her hair over her shoulder from her rocking chair.
"My brother, George, and his girlfriend, Angelina, and my brother Ron, Hermione's introduced herself already, as has Ginny. And that's Harry."
Harry gave Audrey a small wave, assuming that Percy didn't know whether to identify him as Ron's friend or Ginny's boyfriend. Sometimes Harry himself wasn't sure which label fit best.
"How did you meet?" Angelina asked with a genuine interest. Percy, clearly recovering from the awkward introductions, threw his chest out importantly.
"Well, you all know that Kingsley's asked me to work alongside the Muggle Prime Minister, even though this is traditionally a role reserved for our Minister of Magic, himself?" Percy asked the room at large. Everyone nodded, having been apprised of this fact at least three or four times since Percy's appointment.
"Yes, well, Audrey works in the office of the PM's wife," Percy said. "We met at Downing Street."
Hermione lit up. "Oh, Cherie Booth? Are you a barrister?"
"You know her?" Audrey spoke for the first time, looking up at Hermione in surprise. "I'm a publicist."
"A publicist?" Mr. Weasley said excitedly. "What an interesting word."
"Er, yes," Audrey replied.
"Hermione's parents are Muggles," Ron told Audrey. "She still pays attention to their news."
"Well, since you pay attention to no news, it's probably best that I take in a bit extra," Hermione retorted. Harry rolled his eyes.
"I pay attention to the news," Ron said.
"Who was elected to the Wizengamot last week?" Hermione prompted.
"Probably some old warlock, how should I know?" Ron said. "I pay attention to the news that matters!"
"The Wizengamot does matter, Ron," Hermione replied, exasperation clear in her voice. "You should know this, you work for the Ministry-"
"Why don't we eat?" Mrs. Weasley suggested. "Now that Percy's here, I mean."
The family mumbled in agreement, and they made their way from the sitting room back into the kitchen, Harry feeling the joys of the holiday season radiate through his body as he spotted a dish of treacle tart.
The family took their seats, and drink was poured liberally as conversation flowed freely, the effects of Percy's announcement being dulled by the wine.
With most of the family being employed by the Ministry at this point, the main discussion centered around Kingsley's job as Minister of Magic, and the continued hunt for the Lestranges and Thorfinn Rowle.
As Harry had predicted on the day of Ron's attack, Neville, Ernie, and Padma had been unable to hold Rowle and the Snatchers long enough for Ministry backup to arrive, and the Auror Department was effectively back to square one when it came to tracking down the rogue Death Eaters.
"Are we allowed to ask about Rowle?" Charlie asked Harry amiably, though there was a hard note to his voice. Harry felt Ginny stiffen slightly beside him.
"I couldn't tell you anything about him even if I wanted to," Harry replied, dejectedly pushing a pea across his plate. "The Lestranges have gone completely off the map, and there have been several unreliable sightings of Rowle since Ron's attack. But actual, reliable leads? None."
Charlie looked troubled for a moment, then shrugged.
Mr. Weasley, listening to their conversation, leaned conspiratorially across the table.
"I don't want you boys to get yourself too down about this. It was the same way when the first war ended. I'd just started at the Ministry, and we had stragglers and hold-outs until the mid-eighties. I'd wait until the summer when the trials start before you really start to work yourselves up. When the captured Death Eaters go before the Wizengamot, I'm sure they'll be willing to give up some of the old cronies."
Harry nodded, trying to look convinced. He thought Mr. Weasley was being particularly forgiving of the Auror Department's lack of success, given that his youngest son's life was nearly the price for Harry's impulsivity. Ron had returned to work in September after returning from his honeymoon, throwing himself even further into the hunt for Rowle. Neville was still eager to find the Lestranges, but it had been nearly eight months since their attack in Hogsmeade village.
Still, Harry and Ron had been making a conscious effort to keep themselves from concentrating too hard on work, when there was so much to appreciate in their home lives. Harry watched from across the table as Ron leaned forward and whispered into Hermione's ear. She turned slightly pink and swatted his arm before turning away to look at Bill, who was struggling to gain everyone's attention from the far end of the table. More and more heads turned, until finally, it was only Percy speaking, still loudly explaining the rules of Quidditch to Audrey as Ginny looked on with an amused expression.
Finally, Bill cleared his throat loudly, and Percy quieted down. Everyone looked on expectantly as the eldest brother of the Weasley family turned uncharacteristically red. Fleur smiled at him, and Ginny suddenly gave a great gasp of realization and gripped at Harry's hand under the table.
Bill grinned down at his wife, clearly bolstered by her presence.
"We've some exciting news to share as well, though Percy's gone and stolen some of our thunder," he said with a smile, and Fleur looked around at the rest of them.
"We're expecting a baby," she said happily, and the table erupted in cries of delight, congratulations, and, from Mrs. Weasley, great, heaving sobs.
A toast was quickly arranged, with glasses of mead being passed around the table, save Fleur, of course. Audrey accepted hers hungrily, and Harry felt a moment of pity for the Muggle woman, remembering his introduction to the Wizarding world. He, at least, had been a member of the community that he was so quickly thrust into.
It was funny to imagine Bill and Fleur as parents, but part of Harry was surprised that they'd waited even this long to start their family. Ginny, always particularly close to her eldest brother, was beaming as she leaned towards the couple. Harry smiled easily, remembering the days when she had been far less keen on her brother's choice in spouse.
"When are you due?" she asked her sister-in-law excitedly.
"The end of April," Fleur said, looking at her midsection. "My midwife thinks the twenty-eighth."
"So soon?" Mrs. Weasley asked, dabbing at her eyes with a corner of the tablecloth.
"Fleur was twelve weeks at the beginning of November," Bill explained, and though Harry had little idea of what exactly Fleur was twelve weeks of, the women at the table all seemed to be nodding in understanding. "We were going to write you all then, but then we thought it may be more exciting to wait until we were all together again."
"Who is your midwife?" Mrs. Weasley demanded, and she and Fleur began talking excitedly amongst themselves, while small conversations broke around around the rest of the table. Ginny's hand made its way into Harry's, and she rested her head quietly on his shoulder. Harry's trained ear caught wind of continued discussions of Ministry business, attempts to strike up conversation with the quietly overwhelmed Audrey, and a barrage of questions being directed at Fleur over her and Bill's impending arrival. Yet, Harry could only sit in silence and dread the fast-coming moment when the plates would be cleared and he and Ginny would be forced to retire separately.
As if reading Harry's mind, Ron's elder brother piped up from the end of the table.
"Mum?" Charlie asked. "You've not told us, where'll everyone be sleeping?"
"What?" Mrs. Weasley asked distractedly as she cleared away a pie dish.
"Well, now that Percy's fiancée will be joining us?" Charlie asked innocently.
Audrey looked up awkwardly from what Harry guessed was her fourth glass of wine.
"Oh," Mrs. Weasley remarked. "Oh, I hadn't actually thought about… well, no matter, she can certainly squeeze in with Ginny and Angelina-"
"Three people in Ginny's room?" George asked. "It's a shoebox. And Audrey doesn't even know Ginny or Angelina. You can hardly expect her to stay with strangers for an entire week."
Realization seemed to have dawned on Audrey's face, and she suddenly threw Percy a very dark look. Though Harry had yet to hear her speak, he privately thought that Audrey must have quite a tough disposition, to date Percy Weasley in the first place, then to accept that he was, in fact, a wizard, to then agree to meet his magical family unannounced for a Christmas holiday, and to finally be told that despite being in a committed relationship in their mid-twenties, they would be disallowed from rooming together.
At the same moment, Mrs. Weasley seemed to catch on to what Charlie was suggesting, looking over to her husband for support. Mr. Weasley seemed suddenly very interested in his eggnog.
"Ginny's room is quite small, Molly," he said quietly. "I'm sure Audrey would be far more comfortable with Percy-"
"Well, that's ridiculous," Mrs. Weasley snapped. "Harry's in with Percy, it's already been decided."
"Well," Charlie said seriously, "I don't mind taking the sofa if Harry wants to bunk with George. Him technically being a guest, and all."
With the reflexes of only a Seeker, Harry noticed George's arm shift surreptitiously in Charlie's direction, who's right side made a similarly jerking movement. Harry suddenly felt sure that if he were to look under the table right now, he'd see Galleon's being passed from the younger brother's hand into the elder's. He placed a hand over his mouth to hide his grin.
Mrs. Weasley looked around the various faces at the table, each carefully guarded not to show too much hope or amusement, respectively. Harry could swear he saw Mr. Weasley's lip twitching.
Mrs. Weasley snatched up the coffee service far too aggressively. "Very well," she muttered. "Very well, Percy's fiancée can stay in his room, and Harry can stay with George. But that is it for the week. I mean it, all of you."
Harry practically expected her to finish by saying, "Off to bed." but she merely deposited the coffee service indelicately in the sink and stomped out of the room.
"Well," Ron said with a yawn. "I think we're off for the evening. Goodnight, all."
Quietly, the rest of them stood up and bid the others a happy Christmas before turning in for the night. Ginny kissed Harry's cheek gently before departing up the stairs with Angelina, and Harry found himself shortly thereafter trudging up to the second floor with George.
George rounded on him as soon as the door shut behind them.
"You'd better have the bloody Cloak with you," George said. "Or you owe me five Galleons."
"How d'you figure that one? Way to capitalize on your brother showing up with a Muggle for Christmas dinner," Harry replied, whipping the shimmering Cloak out of his rucksack.
"What can I say," George answered with a shrug. "I'm a natural businessman. Wait until you hear my parents go up."
For Harry had already swung the Cloak round his shoulders and was making for the door.
"They've gone up already. I heard the third step creak seconds after you shut the door behind us."
George looked at Harry wide-eyed for a moment, before realizing that sneaking around the Burrow was old hat for his friend.
"You're lucky I like you so much," George said with a laugh as Harry lifted the rest of the Cloak on over his head.
"Have a good night," Harry replied, sliding out of the room.
There was only one floor between George's room and Ginny's, and Harry met no one on the landing. He tapped lightly on Ginny's door and it swung open instantly.
A camp bed had been set upon the sliver of floor space Ginny's room had to offer. Angelina sat there with her duffle bag, picking at her fingernails.
"You managed that one quickly," she said in a somewhat bored voice. Harry swung the Cloak off his shoulders and handed it over to to Angelina. She looked up from her fingers and regarded it reverently for a moment before standing and swinging it over her own shoulders, transforming into a disembodied head.
"I always wondered how you lot got into so much trouble at school," she said, looking down at the place where her body should be.
"Bring it back down when you wake in the morning," Harry said. Angelina winked at them both and covered her head, vanishing into the hall. Ginny closed the door behind her.
"Alone at last," she said, wrapping her arms around him as he lifted her gently onto the bed and raised himself above her on his forearms.
"Fucking finally," Harry breathed, kissing her deeply.
The sunlight coming through Ginny's east-facing window woke Harry far earlier than he would've normally preferred on Christmas morning, but he was surprised to see Ginny already conscious and staring at him, tracing the shape of his jaw lightly with her fingers.
"You look like a baby when you sleep," she said. "I absolutely love it."
"A baby?" Harry asked, rubbing his eyes.
"Your mouth hangs open," she said. "After the battle, you would frown in your sleep, your brows all knit together, like this." She closed her eyes and made a distressed face.
"I think I'm happier," Harry said.
"Are you?" Ginny asked.
"I think so," Harry repeated.
Ginny draped an arm across his chest and fit her head into the space between his shoulder and side, pressing her lips to his collarbone.
"Happy Christmas, Harry."
"Happy Christmas, Ginny."
"D'you want your present?"
"Sure," Harry said, stretching his arms tiredly. Ginny sat up from the bed, clutching the quilt to her naked torso as she shivered miserably. She leaned over the side of the bed, reaching into her duffle and bringing out a flat package. Harry suspected it was a book, but when he tore off the paper he was rewarded with a happy photograph of himself and Ginny arm-in-arm at Ron and Hermione's wedding. They were leaning towards the camera and laughing, Harry's arm around Ginny's waist as she balanced a glass of champagne in her hand.
"It's brilliant," Harry said, running a finger along the edge of the glass. He couldn't remember ever looking so happy. "I don't have any photos of us together."
"Is it?" Ginny asked anxiously. "I thought you could keep it in your cubicle at work."
"I love it," Harry said, kissing her. "I love you."
"I love you, too, you muppet," Ginny said, leaning back onto her bed.
"Are you ready for your gift?" Harry asked her.
"Of course," she said, her voice happy with anticipation.
"I don't really have anything here," Harry said. "It's more of a question."
"You cheap bastard," Ginny said, smiling in pretend affront. "Well, go on."
"Well, I was thinking, if you wanted, when your lease is up in Wales, you could move in with me. We could live together."
Ginny's eyes grew wide for a moment, and she looked very, very happy. But, always the actress, she quickly tossed her hair back in her best Fleur impression.
"Into your dingy flat? I'd much prefer the country, but I suppose so," Ginny said, wrinkling her nose before winking at him.
"It's not dingy. It's prime real estate!" Harry said in mock annoyance. "I'll have you know I had to Confund the manager of a hedge-fund to land the place."
"A hedge what?" Ginny asked, Harry's remark completely lost on her.
"Nevermind," he said, running a hand through her lovely, lovely hair. "Really, though? You'll move in?"
"When the season ends," Ginny said, running a hand up his arm and burrowing into his chest for warmth.
"Right," Harry said happily. "I can't wait."
Ginny kissed him sweetly. "Me either. I can't imagine waking up like this every morning."
Harry drew her in closer and felt sleep begin to retake him in her cozy little bed.
"Happy Christmas, Ginny," Harry said again, stretching his toes under her quilt.
"Happy Christmas," she mumbled sleepily, before her eyes shot wide open in surprise. "Hang on, Harry. Was that really my only present?"
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