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SIYE Time:14:47 on 10th May 2021


Twenty-One
By SamWil

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Category: The I Love You Challenge (2020-2)
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood, Ron Weasley
Genres: Drama, Romance
Warnings: Mild Sexual Situations
Rating: PG-13
Reviews: 11
Summary: ***Winner of Most Romantic in the I Love You Challenge***Harry Potter had never been happier in his life until he kissed Ginny Weasley in the common room in front of everybody. They had twenty-one days of pure bliss together before it all fell apart.
Hitcount: Story Total: 1938



Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights J.K.R. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made for this work.



Author's Notes:
Special thanks to Arnel for always doing a fabulous job editing for me. Another special thanks to Breanie bouncing off some ideas with me.




ChapterPrinter


"Twenty-One"


Harry adjusted the shoulder strap of his satchel as he trailed a few steps behind Ron and Hermione as they stepped out the front entrance. The sun beat down upon them and Harry only half listened to his friends argue. Harry had gotten especially good at blocking out his best mate’s bickering to the point where he never knew what the argument was even about most of the time. They seemed to argue for argument sake.

His fingers worked to unfasten the buttons on his cuffs. He looked up, his glasses already fogging up by his nose, to see Ginny lounging by the lake. The corners of his mouth curved up as his stride was no longer matching that of his friends. She lay on her back with one arm propped behind her head and the other tapping her wand against her hip. Her Potions book hovered above her face. With a lazy flick of her wrist, the page turned and she continued on reading.

Harry glanced back at Ron and Hermione who had not even noticed that he was no longer trailing after them. Hermione gestured wildly as Ron loosened the tie around his neck. Harry moved in the opposite direction as they did and made his way towards the lake. It was one of the few times that Ginny was completely alone.

She paid no attention to him as he crossed the grounds. Her eyes didn’t leave the book in front of her. He could see the lines between her brows and her eyes gliding over the page the closer he got. Wordlessly, he dropped his bag to the ground before he plopped himself on the grass next to her. Their shoulders bumped together. She didn’t look at him, didn’t acknowledge him. A soft smirk spread across her lips though. Harry leaned his head closer to hers. He felt hers move towards his until their heads connected just above their ears.

Harry took in her honeysuckle scent as he saw she was reading about the Erumpent Potion. Folding his hands together on his stomach, he basked in the comfortable silence between them. Just being close to her, feeling their bodies touching one another, shot sparks through every nerve ending in his body.

He knew he probably looked like a bloody fool as he couldn’t get the goofy grin off his face. Her knuckles brushed against his hip and he felt a roll of pleasure happen deep within his stomach. If possible, he felt the corners of his lips spread even further. He didn’t know how long they sat in comfortable companionship. In fact, he felt himself dozing off when there was a snap as though a book slammed shut and she shifted next to him.

Quirking open an eye, he saw that she was resting on her side with a hand propping up her head up. Her free hand tickled along his forearm. Even in the baking sun, he felt goosebumps and a slight shiver run through his body.

“We’ve been dating, what? A week now?” Ginny leaned in close to him until he could feel her sweet breath on his face.

“A week tomorrow, yeah,” he agreed.

He reached up a hand and tucked a lock of red hair that had escaped from her plait behind her ear. His fingers glided down her neck.

“Slughorn made it very apparent that he approved of our relationship. In fact, he is now throwing an end of the year party next Friday and asked me when exactly your detentions with Snape were because he wants us both to attend.”

“There’s no getting out of this, is there?” Harry groaned.

“It won’t be so bad.” Ginny’s voice was slightly husky as she dipped her head further down to kiss the pulse point on his neck. “Going with you will definitely make it better than the last party.”

Harry’s whole body tingled. Maybe going to a party with Ginny Weasley on his arm wouldn’t be so bad. He had fun with Luna during the Christmas party until he snuck out to follow Draco Malfoy. If he enjoyed himself with Luna, then he would definitely have a blast with Ginny.

“Alright, let’s go.” Harry grinned.

Harry felt Ginny’s lips twitch on the sensitive spot right below his ear. He shifted until he was facing her, propping himself up identical to the way she was. They leaned into one another until their noses touched. Harry tilted his head slightly and captured Ginny’s soft lips in a chaste kiss. His hand roamed along her side.

“It’s nice to see neither one of you care about spectators.”

Harry jerked away from Ginny so fast he nearly rolled over onto his back. He craned his neck to look behind Ginny to see Luna Lovegood had planted herself down on the grass by them. Her wand was perched behind her left ear and her blonde hair was piled up into the messiest bun he had ever seen on the crown of her head like a top hat. She just stared at them with her large, glossy eyes.

“Hello, Luna,” Ginny greeted.

Harry suppressed a groan when Ginny moved to sit up to talk to her friend. There had to be somewhere in the castle that he could take Ginny to for some privacy. He felt like any moments alone were quickly snatched away by her friends. Harry only had Ron and Hermione. Ron avoided them like the plague anytime he saw them kissing or getting intimate. Ginny’s friends, however, seemed to herd around them like a cluster of Acromantula who seeped through every nook and cranny to catch a glimpse of the Chosen One and Ginny Weasley snogging.

Sitting up as well, Harry made a very conscious effort to sit as close to Ginny as humanly possible. Ginny sat with his legs curled together on one side of her. She lounged in the opposite direction of her legs, her palm flat against the ground, to lean towards him. Harry stretched his legs out in front of him, their thighs pressing together so tightly that not even a Sickle would fit between them, and lounged back on his hands. His fingers rested over hers.

“Hi, Luna.” Harry forced a smile onto his lips.

Before he knew it, a gaggle of fifth year girls and guys from Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Gryffindor swarmed them like Cornish Pixies. Ginny was a social butterfly. She seemed to know everyone and befriend everyone from all the different houses. In fact, he had never even heard a Slytherin (excluding Malfoy) who had anything negative to say about Ginny. He could see why. The way she laughed was intoxicating, the way she talked was memorizing, and her body language was engaging.

Ginny threw her head back at something a Hufflepuff boy said that Harry didn’t quite catch. The monster inside Harry’s chest roared loudly as his eyebrows disappeared beneath his glasses. His fingers that were casually resting on top of hers, tightened around them to the point that Ginny shot him a sideways glance. He loosened his grip immediately.

Harry sat during his lunch hour watching Ginny interact with her friends. He sat patiently as he half listened to them talk about their classes, O.W.L.’s, and their career meetings with their head of house. Occasionally, people would direct a question to Harry who would give short one or two-word answer and a stiff smile. He really only found he was interested in engaging with Luna out of all of Ginny’s nameless friends.

“You know, you could always use the old D.A. room if you want to be alone with Ginny.” Luna slid her pair of rainbow Spectrespecs onto her face. “I heard some Moon Frogs croaking by the entrance just the other night.”

“Yeah?” Harry picked at a few blades of grass. “Were they croaking out some love song?”

“Actually, yes, they were. Neville was particularly enchanted by it.”

“Are you and Neville dating?” Harry looked up at her with interest.

“Yes, but it won’t last. I’m not really the girl he wants to date. I think he’s only dating me to make her jealous.” Luna cocked her head to the right and her Spectrespecs sparkled blindingly in the sun. “I’m okay with that. Neville and I don’t have compatible lifestyles. He finds me odd and alarming in a way he doesn’t mind as friends but not in the long-term romantic sense.”

Harry stared at her, not quite knowing what to say. He felt a sudden urge to punch Neville in the nose at the very thought of him thinking Luna wasn’t good enough to date long term.

“You’re scowling, Harry,” Luna told him matter-of-factly.

“Well, yeah, Luna.” Harry’s jaw tightened. “That’s just… wrong.”

“I’m more than happy to help him, Harry. He’s the only boy who has ever been nice to me besides you.” Luna leaned in so close to him that he felt her butterbeer cork necklace hitting his chest. “I would have dated you to make Ginny jealous if you needed it. Luckily, she didn’t need much convincing.”

“Errr…” Harry fumbled over what to say as he felt a sudden heat flush across his face. “Thanks?”

“What are we whispering about?” Ginny interrupted as she leaned in close so that all three of their faces were nearly touching.

Ginny’s eyes sparkled and there was a wide, toothy grin spread across her face. Harry was only vaguely aware that everyone was shuffling around them to stand up and grab their school bags. Harry gulped as the corners of his mouth curved upwards.

“Neville,” Luna commented with a shrug. “I have to go to Ancient Runes now. Just listen to the Moon Frogs, Harry, and I’m sure you’ll find the perfect place.”

Luna rose like a flower sprouting from a pot. She skipped away from them, her head turned to the left instinctively, and she waved elegantly. Harry spotted Neville running in her direction to catch up with her. Harry’s smile dropped from his face.

“Luna doesn’t even like him, Harry. Although, I find it very endearing that you want to protect my best friend from getting hurt.”

Harry turned his attention to Ginny. She leaned in and planted a kiss on the corner of his mouth. Her hand ran along the inside of his thigh and suddenly all thoughts of Luna were gone from his mind. His mouth twitched.

“I’m thinking of skiving off Charms,” Harry commented as his hand flicked her plait behind her shoulder.

“Yeah?” Her eyebrows raised.

“Yeah, I want to look for some Moon Frogs. You want to join me?”

“Moon Frogs?” She laughed and it was music to Harry’s ears.

He licked his lips before leaned down and rained a trail of kisses along her jaw. His lips lingered momentarily just under her ear. Her fingers tightened around his thigh.

“I… I… Merlin, Harry, stop.” Ginny let out a strangled sort of giggle.

He didn’t stop. He loved that he made her giggle. He had never heard her giggle in all the years he had known her. He moved his lips down to her neck and she moaned in response. He could feel her nails through his collared shirt as she ran her hands up his stomach. Her palms situated themselves flat against his chest and pushed him back.

“I have Defense Against the Dark Arts,” she murmured hoarsely. “Meet me after to look for Moon Frogs before dinner?”

His chest deflated like a balloon. He supposed actually going to Charms would save him a lecture from Hermione later.

“Let me walk you at least?”

“Deal.”

Harry stood up and slung his satchel on his shoulder as Ginny did the same. Harry wrapped an arm around her shoulders and tugged her close to his side. Her arm snaked around his waist, her hand finding itself in the back pocket of his trousers. He grinned down at her.

---

Harry’s left hand rubbed his aching right wrist. He had spent another glorious Saturday morning and afternoon rewriting his dad and Sirius’ old detention slips. He swore Snape made him stay longer and longer as the year wore on. Harry didn’t dare complain, didn’t dare give him the sick pleasure of knowing that his wrist had started to cramp and his fingers tensed uncomfortably from the endless hours of writing.

“Are you finally finished?”

Harry turned to the right to see Ginny stepping out of the shadows. She had a smirk on her face as she rose to her tiptoes and slung her arms over his shoulders. Harry leaned down to kiss her squarely on the lips. Her teeth nipped at his bottom lip as he pulled away.

“How did you know I was done?” He placed his hands on her hips.

“Well, after a morning of revisions in the library, I went to lunch to see you conveniently absent. Ron said you never came back from detention. So, I snuck up in your dorm and snatched the map. I went back to the library to do even more revisions and had the map open so I could see when you left so I could greet you.”

She pulled away from him and reached into her satchel. She produced the Marauder’s Map and gently hit Harry on the head with it. He chuckled as he grabbed the parchment and shoved it into the back pocket of his jeans.

“I didn’t know you knew how to work it.” Harry’s hands found themselves back on her hips and he drew her close to him.

“Well, the summer we stayed at Grimmauld Place, Fred and George bombarded Sirius with questions about the Marauders and the map when we first got there. It was before you arrived. I asked Sirius about it later and he told me all about it.” Ginny’s fingers splayed across his chest.

Harry felt like somebody had poured ice water over his head at the mention of his godfather. He forced a smile on his lips and looked down at her bright brown eyes. He decided to change the subject. The subject of Sirius was still sore and fresh even after a year.

“I’m starving since Snape kept me through lunch. Want to raid the kitchens?”

“Definitely. I get to tickle the pear.”

Harry grinned. He took a few steps back and grasped her hand into his. They walked together, their arms swinging between them like they were some insanely happy couple, as they made their way towards the kitchens. He let Ginny tickle the pear and they were swarmed by house-elves immediately upon entering. They all eagerly bounced around, making it nearly impossible to make it the short distance to the table in the middle of the room. Within minutes, more food than they could possibly eat was shoved between them.

Ginny picked at the food and smiled across the table at him. He felt her trainers running up his leg throughout the meal. Harry had never enjoyed a bacon sandwich so much in his life.

“I heard Gwenog Jones is coming to Slughorn’s end of the year party,” Ginny said nervously, her bottom lip sliding between her teeth. “People were talking about it in the library this morning.”

“Yeah?”

“Apparently, she was at the Quidditch final scouting talent.” Ginny’s fingers ripped apart a napkin. “Do you think she took notice of me?”

“I mean, I heard you were brilliant during the game.” Harry sat his sandwich down on the plate and looked thoughtfully at her. “You’re a fantastic flyer.”

“I think I want to try to be a professional Quidditch player after Hogwarts,” she whispered. “Is that silly? I mean, I didn’t even tell McGonagall that during my career talk. I said I wanted to be a sports writer.”

“Why is that silly?”

“Well, you and Ron want to be Aurors. Hermione wants to write laws to better the lives of house-elves, werewolves, and the like. Everyone in my year is talking about Ministry jobs or Gringotts or actual careers.” Ginny stared hard at the table and refused to meet his gaze. “It just seems like some silly little girl dream to be a Quidditch player.”

“I think it’s brilliant.”

Ginny looked up at him, her head cocking to the side. He reached across the table and laid a hand on top of hers. He meant what he said. He thought Ginny would be a brilliant Quidditch player. She was talented, entertaining, beautiful. She was everything a professional Quidditch player should be.

“Honestly?”

“Honestly.” Harry grinned. “I’ll be first in line to snag an official Weasley jersey and I expect you to sign it for me so I can wear it to all of your games.”

“I mean, we’re at war and I want to play Quidditch and you think that’s brilliant?”

“Ginny, the whole reason we’re fighting against Voldemort is so that we can have the future we want.” Harry tightened his grip around her fingers. “If playing Quidditch professionally makes you happy, then why shouldn’t you go for it?”

Ginny let out a breath. She grinned back at him. Harry felt his heart flutter. Maybe he wasn’t so bad at this whole boyfriend thing. That simple thought drummed happily against his chest the rest of the day and into the night.

---

Harry and Ginny sat crossed legged on the floor in front of the fire facing one another. Harry shuffled the index cards in his hands as Ginny moved her head from one side to the other. Her hands shook frantically between them as though she were psyching herself up for the activity at hand. He held up a card for her to see.

“Color Changing Charm,” Harry read the card to her so she didn’t have to take the time to read it.

Colovaria. 1805. Morgana Victors Simmons?” Ginny’s brows furrowed and three deep lines appeared between her brows.

“Morgana Simmons McVester,” Harry corrected. “Mending Charm.”

Reparo. 1754. Orabella Nuttley.” Ginny sounded more confident with her answer as the lines on her face seemed to ease.

“Cheering Charm.”

Hilari. 1508. Felix Summerbee.” Ginny’s lips spread into a playful grin as she lifted her wand and pointed it at Harry’s chest. “Hilari!”

A smile that would rival the Cheshire Cat spread across his lips. He felt so incredibly happy that he couldn’t help but start to laugh. His laughter rang throughout the common room until all eyes were on him and Ginny. Harry tossed the card about the Cheering Charm at her. For some reason, that cracked him up even more. He fell backwards as a full belly laugh escaped his lips and tears poured down his cheeks. He rubbed a finger under his eye to look at the next card.

“F-Fire-Making Ch-Charm.” He barely got the words out through his cackling.

“Honestly, Ginny, you overcharged it,” Hermione spoke up from the armchair by the fire.

“Didn’t Harry do the same thing to Ron back in third year?” Neville joined in on the conversation.

“Awe, how sickening cute,” Demelza Robins added. “They overcharge the same damn spells. Must be love.”

“Soul mates,” Parvati commented as she clapped happily.

Harry felt his heart explode with affection. His laughter slowed to soft chuckles, his shoulders still shaking against the carpet. Ginny loomed over him, her hair billowing around them and blocking their faces from view. She grinned down at him and he couldn’t help but start laughing loudly again. She leaned down and kissed him. He nearly choked on a laugh as he moved his lips against hers. His hands roamed her body until they were placed firmly on her bum.

“Ruddy hell! Not in the common room, you two!” Ron groaned.

Ginny looked up and Harry was suddenly out of the cave of hair. He started giggling again at the thought of her hair being so long and thick that he could hide it in. He felt like Arnold and that brought another round of chortles. His side started to hurt as Ginny grinned in Ron’s direction.

“We could go up to your dorm and draw the hangings closed around Harry’s bed,” Ginny shot back in the sweetest voice Harry had ever heard her speak in. She blinked innocently at him. “Would you like that better?”

“Merlin, fuck, Ginny!” Ron hissed as Harry roared loudly. “What is the matter with you?”

“Oh, for goodness sakes!” Hermione huffed as she withdrew her wand. “Finite Incantatem.”

Harry wheezed on the floor as he attempted to catch his breath. He no longer felt like laughing like a fool and the corners of his mouth returned a respectable grin. He blinked up at Ginny and shifted beneath her. He hadn’t realized just how close she was to him, how high up her hand was on his thigh until Hermione had ended the effects of the Cheering Charm. He needed to adjust himself but he was very aware that all eyes were on them in the common room. A heat crept up his neck. The idea of drawing the curtains around his bed closed sounded very appealing.

“I could use a break from studying,” Ginny announced as a mischievous grin quirked onto her lips. “Let’s go explore some broom cupboards.”

Before Harry could say anything, Ginny’s hand was in his and they scrambled off the floor together. They left their bags, books, and index cards scattered across the floor in front of the fireplace. Harry looked back at his friends. Ron looked like he wanted to seep into the floor and never be seen again. Hermione gave the mess on the floor an exasperated look. Several of the other Gryffindors catcalled and whistled at them as they made their way to the portrait hole. As soon as they were out of sight from prying eyes, Harry adjusted himself before pushing Ginny up against the nearest wall and capturing her lips into a deep kiss.

“Oh, honestly, go find a broom cupboard,” the Fat Lady complained. “You can last another few minutes. It won’t kill you, you know?”

Harry pulled away and looked sheepishly at the portrait. He grasped Ginny’s hand and they went to find a broom cupboard they had never been in before. They were rather fond of exploring broom cupboards.

---

Harry tugged on the collar of his dress robes. It was entirely too hot to be wearing such long, cumbersome clothing. He leaned against the wall while listening to Ron drone on about how he couldn’t believe Hermione was going stag to Slughorn’s party and how he couldn’t believe she didn’t invite him. Harry merely nodded, his eyes glued to the staircase that led to the girl’s dormitory.

Lavender Brown walked down the staircase in the most offensive shade of pink dress robes imaginable. The dip in the front showed off so much cleavage that he was sure McGonagall would give her detention on the spot. Lavender pointedly glared in Ron’s direction as she thrusted her chest forward and jutted her chin up. She extended her leg out from a slit in her robes and struck a pose. Harry shifted his gaze awkwardly towards Ron who seemed to be paying little attention.

“Cormac!” Lavender’s voice was so sickeningly sweet that Harry felt the bile rise in his throat.

Apparently, going to a Horace Slughorn party with Cormac McLaggen was the way girls tried to make Ron jealous. It may have worked in Hermione’s favor, but it clearly was not working in Lavender’s favor. She strained as she thrust her chest out slightly more but Ron had not even so much as given her a glance.

“I mean, honestly, she had such a lousy time at the Christmas party, you’d think she’d want to have a little more fun at the end of the year party.” Ron ran an agitated hand through his hair. “I mean, I’m fun. We’d have a blast. Going with one of her best mates. Why does she want to go solo anyways? People will just feel sorry for her.”

Harry suddenly wasn’t paying attention anymore. Ginny had just glided down the stairs in a shade of deep emerald robes that matched Harry’s perfectly. His lips curved up as he took in her loose curls that cascaded around her shoulders, the hint of something glossy on her lips, the dark pencil around her eyes that made them pop, and the permanent blush that was on her cheeks. Harry’s breath hitched in his throat as he reached down to pat Ron on the shoulder.

“Rotten luck about Hermione. See you later, mate.”

Harry crossed the room, weaving through the sea of bodies. He only vaguely registered Lavender saying hello to him. He brushed his shoulder against some faceless body and muttered an apology. His eyes never once left Ginny’s grinning face. He stilled in front of her, his shoulders and head slumping forward as he placed a hand behind her on the wall.

“You look, uh, beautiful.” Harry sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck.

“You don’t look half bad yourself.” Ginny bumped hips with him. “I’m glad you didn’t try to tame that hair of yours. Looks way sexier all messed up.”

Harry chuckled as he extended his arm to her. She wrapped her fingers around his elbow.

“My hair is a lost cause,” Harry commented with a grin as he led her through the common room. “It’s best not to do anything to it or else it will only get angry and more unruly.”

Ginny dug her nose into his bicep as they stepped through the portrait hole. Her free hand ran along his forearm until their fingers met and intertwined with each other. Harry couldn’t remember another time that he felt so carefree, so happy, so at ease. It was like everything that had gone wrong in his life up until this point was just a distant memory. She made all the pain and hurt of the past fifteen years crumble into a pile of dust.

When she was with him, touching him, laughing with him, his mind was void of all of his troubles. He wasn’t agonizing over Voldemort or his Horcruxes. His chest didn’t burn from the loss of Sirius. He didn’t think about the prophecy or his fate. He was lost in purely blissful moments with Ginny and it was exactly what he needed to make it through another day. She was the missing puzzle piece that held him together and ensured he didn’t bulk under the pressure of his destiny or fall apart in his grief.

Harry had never enjoyed himself more at a party than he did with Ginny by his side. They piled their entirely too small plate with every kind of finger food they could find. They hunched together and made up conversations people were having.

“No, no, no, Lavender, Potter wanted to keep me for the Quidditch team but had to give it back to his best mate. Worst case of nepotism I’ve ever seen,” Harry said in a voice that was a lot gruffer and lower as he did his best to impersonate McLaggen. “I mean, I’ve hunted Nargles with the Minister of Magic himself!”

“Cor-Cor, you can be the new Won-Won,” Ginny raised her voice to a near shrill. “I can’t wait to buy you a big sweetheart necklace. They sell them at Madam Puddifoot’s. There’s a splendid display on the counter!”

Harry snorted and hid his face into the crown of her head. She leaned her side into his chest. He wrapped an arm around her waist as he stood up to his full height. He snagged a Chocoball off the plate Ginny held and popped it in his mouth.

Harry!” Ginny elbowed Harry in the gut and nearly made him choke on his Chocoball. “It’s Gwenog Jones! She did come!”

“Well, go talk to her.”

“And say what exactly? I’ve had a poster of you hanging on my wall for years now?” hissed Ginny as she shoved the plate of treats into his hand.

“Look, go up to Slughorn and ask him to introduce you. He likes you a lot.” Harry shrugged.

“Harry, I think she’s coming this way.”

“Do you want me to leave?”

“What? Why?” Ginny snapped her head into his direction.

“I just thought… I’m the Chosen One, aren’t I? You want to talk to her about Quidditch and becoming a professional player. You don’t want the conversation to be about me.”

Harry and Ginny didn’t have anymore time to discuss what he should do. Gwenog Jones stood in front of them with a satisfied sort of smile on her face. She looked exclusively at Ginny. Harry felt like, for the first time in his life, he may as well be invisible. Gwenog Jones had zero interest in him. It was an amazing feeling.

“You’re a fantastic Seeker,” Gwenog commented with a grin. “You were entertaining to watch.”

“I normally play Chaser.” Ginny stood up a little straighter and Harry couldn’t detect any hint of nervousness in her words.

“Well, if you play Chaser half as well as you play Seeker, that’s quite an accomplishment.”

“She’s the best Chaser I’ve ever seen,” Harry spoke up.

Gwenog Jones’ eyes focused on Harry. She looked him up and down as though appraising him. The corners of her lips twitched.

“You’re a Seeker.” Gwenog jutted her chin up. “I’ve seen you play. I saw you win the cup a few years ago. I like to come by periodically to scout new recruits. I came with Philbert Deverill of Puddlemere United. He recruited Oliver Wood that year. He said he was going to come back when you were seventeen and recruit you too. Unless you don’t play anymore.”

“I had detention the day of the match and I have no interest in playing Quidditch professionally.” Harry shifted uncomfortable. “I plan on becoming an Auror.”

“Yes, well, that wouldn’t be surprising.” Gwenog immediately seemed disinterested in him as she turned back to Ginny. “What about you? You planning on some noble career as well?”

“Nope, I have no interest in becoming an Auror. I actually like Quidditch enough to play professionally one day if I’m lucky enough.” Ginny moved her body away from Harry.

“How old are you?”

“Fifteen.”

“You’re a fantastic flyer. You look like you were born to fly. What you want to focus on is your tricks. Playing professional Quidditch as a Chaser isn’t always about scoring goals. There are a lot of great flyers who can score goals. You need the spark, the showmanship to make it in professional Quidditch. People pay money to see daring dives, dizzying rolls, and breath-hitching loops. I’ll be back in two years to see you play. I already know you’re a great flyer and I wager a good scorer based on how you fly. I want you to dazzle me the next time I come. I want to you to make me gasp. Do you understand?”

“Yes.” Ginny smirked. “I won’t disappoint.”

“See you around, Weasley.” Gwenog Jones winked before slinking away into the crowd.

Harry grinned down at Ginny. Her chest heaved as she turned to face him. She looked like a kid on Christmas morning, her whole face was aglow. She stomped her feet several times, nearly bouncing next to him.

“Gwenog Jones is coming back to scout me. Harry… I can’t even. I’m shaking. Feel my hands.”

Harry chuckled as he clasped his hands around hers. She was, in fact, shaking. He pulled her into a bone-crushing hug. His heart soared with happiness for her. He wanted them both to enter their careers of choice. He wanted to support one another, share their successes together. He could just picture being in the stands for her, a big Harpies banner in his hands, his face painted like he was going to war, and cheering himself hoarse.

---

Harry pulled his trousers up on his hips and buttoned them. He glanced over at Ginny who ran a hand across her mouth and grinned at him. She straightened her skirt and then tucked in her shirt. Harry’s heart thumped happily in his chest as he ran a hand through his more than usually messed up hair. He weaved his fingers through the strands to loosen some of the snarls as he waited patiently for Ginny to redo her ponytail.

They had been dating for sixteen days. Sixteen wonderous, amazing days. Harry crossed his arms over his chest as she ran her fingers through her hair, a red hairband on her wrist. She kept looking at him, her bottom lip sliding between her teeth. She tossed her head back, her hair flying through the air like a whip. She gathered the red strands in both of her hands, smoothing out the bumps on top of her head with her fingers. She held the ponytail tight with her left hand and her right hand appeared in front of her face. She clenched the hairband with her teeth, winking at him, before she somehow maneuvered the hairband between her fingers and tied her hair back effortlessly.

“Ready, Potter?”

“Yeah.” His voice was thick and hoarse.

“Walk me to Transfiguration?”

She rose up on her tiptoes, her hands resting on his crossed arms, and kissed him on the cheek. He gulped.

“Of course.”

Harry picked up Ginny’s bag from the ground and handed it to her. He grabbed his own satchel before he moved to open the broom cupboard door. He stepped out, his hand reaching behind him to grasp Ginny’s hand. He stilled, Ginny colliding with his back, as he came face to face with Dean Thomas. Dean scowled before Seamus grabbed his bicep and dragged him off to Defense.

“That wasn’t awkward at all,” Harry commented.

“People date and break up all the time. He can just get over it,” Ginny huffed as she tightened her grip around his fingers and her free hand wrapped around his elbow.

He looked down at her. He planted a kiss on top of her head before he started down the corridor. Ginny matched his stride, the two of them perfectly in sync with one another.

“Harry! Ginny!”

Harry turned his head to see Luna skipping towards them. Out of all of Ginny’s friends, he certainly liked Luna the most. He felt some sort of kinship to her in a way he didn’t feel towards many people. He knew people judged Luna without really knowing her. He also knew how awful that felt. The hand that was situated on his elbow left as Ginny held her arm out for Luna. The two girls linked elbows.

“I see you found some Moon Frogs, Harry.” Luna leaned across Ginny to look at him.

“Yeah, great suggestion, Luna.” Harry grinned at her as he gave Ginny’s fingers a slight squeeze. She squeezed back.

They stilled outside of the Transfiguration classroom. Luna waved airily and told Ginny she’d save her a seat before entering the room. Harry bent down and kissed her chastely on the lips. They lingered together, just staring at one another. Neither one making a move to leave.

“Hi, Harry!” Demelza Robins greeted before making her way into Transfiguration.

Harry nodded his head towards her before turning back to Ginny. Her hand shot out and straightened his tie. She rose on her tiptoes and pecked him quickly on the cheek before saying goodbye. Harry turned to watch her slide into a seat between Luna and Demelza.

“Get to class, Potter, before you’re late,” McGonagall greeted him sternly as she brushed past him to enter the classroom and shut the door behind her.

Harry raced through the corridors and just barely slid into his seat next to Ron before Snape started class. Snape sneered at Harry, his lips twitching as though on the verge of taking off house points.

---

Harry leaned against the giant oak tree not far from the lake. His legs were spread out in front of him with Ginny sitting between them. Her back rested against his chest. His arms were wrapped around her stomach, her arms resting comfortably over his. He laid his cheek against the top of her head and felt completely at ease with the world.

“I think I failed my Arithmancy O.W.L.” Ginny sounded miserable as her nails played with the hair on his arms. “I’m going to get a T.”

“I’m sure you did fine.” Harry planted a kiss into her hair.

“I was too focused on Potions. I spent too much time on Potions and not enough time on Arithmancy.”

“Well, luckily, Quidditch players don’t need Arithmancy.” Harry gave her forearm a squeeze.

She leaned her back on his chest so she could see his face. He looked down at her and smiled. His lips pressed against her nose and she giggled. His heart soared at the sound.

Arithmancy had been the first O.W.L. she had taken, so her work load was slowly but surely going to start to open up with every O.W.L. she took. Harry would start his end of the year examinations the following week but he wasn’t exactly nervous about his exams. He had studied more for his exams this year than any other year as he found studying next to Ginny in the library wasn’t so bad. They often held hands under the table and stole quick kisses between turning pages.

Luna, Demelza, and a few other nameless fifth year girls plopped down around them. They all greeted Harry and Ginny and immediately went into the horror that had been the Arithmancy O.W.L. Harry rested his head against the trunk of the oak tree and listened to them talk about numbers and letters. He had never been so confused during a conversation before. Some brunette in Ginny’s dorm tried to explain to him how letters corresponded to numbers but he just gave her a shrug and said he was fine not knowing.

Ron and Hermione joined them shortly. Hermione eagerly answered questions as the girls analyzed seemingly all the questions that had been on the test. There was a combination of whoops, sighs, and frustrated groans throughout the conversation. At some point, Ginny had sat up and no longer rested against his chest but stayed between his legs. She had a hand on his calf as she laughed about some principle of Arithmancy that Harry couldn’t even pronounce.

“Merlin, I’m glad we aren’t taking O.W.L.’s this year,” Ron commented as he had no doubt tuned out the exam talk.

“Yeah, a year from now, we’ll be taking our N.E.W.T.’s.” Hermione turned to them with a smirk playing on her lips. “Won’t that be exciting?”

“Do you really have to spoil my good mood?” Ron huffed. “It’s bad enough I have to see my best mate and little sister touching each other all day and all night. Now, you have to talk about N.E.W.T.’s?”

“Payback for all the times I had to see you sucking face with Lav-Lav.” Ginny snapped her attention towards Ron to give him an annoyed look as she ran her hand up Harry’s thigh.

“That’s totally different, Ginny, and you know it!” snapped Ron as he pointed a finger in her direction. “You’re not best mates with Lavender!”

“One would think you’d be happy that your best mate and little sister were dating. Who better to trust your little sister with than your best mate?” inquired Ginny.

“It’d be a lot easier if you two weren’t so touchy all the time.” Ron’s eyes glanced down at Ginny’s hand dangerously high on Harry’s thigh.

Harry looked up and screwed his eyes shut. Ginny was slowly torturing him. He thought about Snape, Flobberworms, Hagrid, anything to keep his mind off how good Ginny’s touch was because Ron sat right next to him. He couldn’t take it anymore, he rested his hand on top of Ginny’s to get her to just stop. Air escaped his lips in short, stiff breaths as he opened his eyes to look at her. She grinned at him. She was enjoying herself more than she should. He leaned forward and kissed her on the cheek. Ron groaned from beside them.

---

He felt numb. Completely, implicitly numb. He felt Ginny’s body next to him, her thigh pressing against his thigh, her hand rubbing circles on his knee. His arm was draped across the back of the sofa, his fingers playing absentmindedly with her hair. He brought his glass of firewhiskey up to his lips and took a large gulp. He didn’t even feel it slither down his throat.

All classes had been suspended. All traditional final examinations had been canceled. O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. level examinations had just finished. The funeral of Albus Dumbledore was the following day.

The end of term celebration was the most mundane thing imaginable. The alcohol that the seventh years had been sneaking in for the past month had been dumped on a table. People grabbed a drink and sat around the common room drinking. It was quiet, only faint murmurs could be heard throughout the room. There was no music, no dancing, no snogging, no laughter. Harry felt an uncomfortable ache in his chest.

Ginny’s head rested against his shoulder. He looked down at her to see her clenching the neck of her butterbeer so tightly that her knuckles were white. He didn’t want to think about what he had to do. He didn’t want to think about saying goodbye to her. With Dumbledore dead… it all fell on him. He had to find the Horcruxes. He had to kill Voldemort. He had to fulfill the prophecy. Harry took another swing of his firewhiskey, draining it until only a few dregs remained.

Wordlessly, Ron hovered in front of him and poured him some more before refilling his own glass. Harry nodded his thanks while Ron just raised his glass in his direction before disappearing from his line of sight. Harry lolled his head back against the back of the sofa and stared up at the ceiling.

SSS

Harry lay perfectly still on his bed in Privet Drive. His hands were propped behind his head, his legs crossed at the ankles. The cars driving by his window cast shadows on his ceiling every few minutes. His chest constricted painfully as his throat narrowed.

The break up with Ginny was still so raw that it hurt to even think of her. He had to let her go. If Voldemort knew that she was the girlfriend of the bloody Chosen One… Merlin, he couldn’t even let his mind wander to such horrid thoughts. He blinked several times, trying to clear his mind of the nightmare of Ginny’s body writhing in agony on some cold stone floor because he was stupid enough to date her in the first place. He was a fool to think that he could be happy, the he deserved someone to love and who loved him back. That’s what it was, wasn’t it? Love?

Hedwig hooted from the dresser. Harry turned his head slightly to look at her. He’d have to leave Hedwig behind. Sirius had once told him she was too recognizable to keep using her to deliver letters between them. It felt like a stone had ballooned in his stomach at the thought of leaving her behind. Perhaps, Ginny would take care of Hedwig for him. Harry felt like he could vomit at the very thought of Ginny as his nightmare flashed in front of his eyes.

“It’s for some stupid, noble reason, isn’t it?”

He could remember the look on her face. The hard look like she knew it was coming, like she had expected it. She didn’t plead with him, didn’t cry. She never made him feel bad about it. She just got it. She knew he had a job to do, that it had to be him. Harry attempted to swallow the lump in his throat but found it was being rather stubborn.

“It’s for some stupid, noble reason, isn’t it?”

Harry screwed his eyes shut. He could see her smiling face burned into his eyelids. Her mischievous smile, the way her hair always seemed to blow in the wind, and the pattern of freckles he loved to trace across her body. He opened his eyes and stared up at the swirled, plaster ceiling.

Voldemort. Six Horcruxes. The diary. The ring. The locket. Harry furrowed his brow. Voldemort. Immortal. Horcruxes. The diary. The ring. The locket. RAB. Horcruxes.

Harry sighed before turning on his side, his back to Hedwig. He punched his already flat pillow before laying his head upon it. Maybe if he was lucky enough to survive, she would take him back and they could be blissfully happy again.

Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley dated for exactly twenty-one days. They had been the happiest twenty-one days of Harry’s life. Somehow, it seemed cruel and unfair that he had been dealt such a shite hand in life that he only got twenty-one days with the perfect girl. He wanted twenty-one days more. He wanted twenty-one weeks more. He wanted twenty-one years more. He wanted twenty-one decades more. He was scared he was never even going to get one day more.

---

Harry sat by the lake covered in dust, dirt, and grime. He could feel a glob of dried blood digging into the corner of his left eye. His right hand hurt from how hard he clenched his wand. His limbs twitched from tension. He glanced down at his hand to see the dirt caked under his nails, to see a couple of his knuckles were split open, and to see how the blood mixed with the dirt. It was over. It was finally over but he felt no relief. He felt no calmness. He just felt guilt, sadness, anger.

He thought of Fred and the siblings he left behind. He thought of Remus and Tonks who would never be able to see Teddy grow up. He thought of Colin and his damn camera. An uncomfortable feeling rose in Harry’s throat and threatened to escape. All the bodies, all the lives lost, it was nearly too much to bear. If only he had sacrificed himself sooner, if only he had been faster, if only he had been better.

There was a rustling behind him. Harry shot up like a jack-in-the-box with his wand out in front of him. He pointed it squarely at Ginny Weasley’s chest. She stilled, her wide and teary eyes boring into him. Before he could stop it, a dry sob escaped his lips. His wand arm fell limply to his side.

Wordlessly, Ginny closed the space between them. She rose to her tiptoes and wrapped her arms around his neck. Her fingers clenched the back of his jacket desperately as though he were the only thing keeping her from collapsing to the ground in a heap. He wrapped his arms around her slim waist and held her as close to his body as humanly possible. He buried his head into her mess of red hair and began to cry. He let everything go. All the pain, all the anger, all the grief. It oozed out of him like someone had turned the faucet on high. At some point, he felt her shaking in his arms as well.

The knot in his chest seemed to uncoil the longer he stayed in her arms. He knew, in that moment, he would never let her go again. He would spend the rest of his life making everything up to her.

He pulled back and cupped his hands on either side of her face. Her hands clenched his forearms right below his elbows. He leaned down and placed his rough, chapped lips against her smooth ones. He felt a spark of happiness. A very tiny, a very faint spark of happiness burst deep within him. His muscles relaxed ever so slightly as he pulled away just enough to connect their foreheads. Licking his lips, he rubbed his thumbs across her cheeks and left behind smudges of dirt on her porcelain skin.

“Ginny… I…” Harry croaked, his voice full of raw emotion. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

“Shh.” Her grip tightened on his forearms. “Only you would apologize for killing the foulest wizard that ever existed.”

“I’m not… I…” He blinked several times.

“Harry, none of those deaths are your fault.”

She could always read his mind, read his moods. He didn’t deserve her. Harry closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. He wanted to smell her. She always smelled like the Burrow and sweet honeysuckle. He wanted to get the unbearable odor of smoke, death, and dirt out of his nostrils.

“You saved so many people, Harry. You saved our world. You saved me.”

He opened his eyes. Green met brown. His whole body seemed to melt under her blazing gaze. He felt a bubble of affection rise within him. She had given him twenty-one days of pure bliss before. Now, he wanted to give her a lifetime of happiness.

“I love you.”

Those three words had never escaped his lips before. He had never wanted to say them before, never had anybody to say them to. He knew, in that moment, covered in filth and his whole body aching for sleep, that he would die if he couldn’t spend the rest of his life with her. He wanted her to know how much he cared for her… no, loved her. His heart pounded so harshly in his chest that he could hear the blood pumping in his ears.

“I love you, too,” she said as tears poured silently down her face.

He bent down and captured her lips against his. Harry and Ginny spent their first twenty-one minutes together after the war in each other’s arms.

---

Twenty-one days after the Battle at Hogwarts, Harry sat in a large armchair at the Burrow with Teddy in his arms. Andromeda and Molly were off chatting in the kitchen with a pot of tea. He could hear Andromeda’s soft cries echoing throughout the eerily quiet house. His chest constricted painfully as his eyes bore into the baby’s wide, inquisitive eyes.

Upon seeing Harry, Teddy’s green hair had immediately turned an inky black. Harry smiled down at his godson whose hand was jerkily attempting to touch his face. Harry sucked his lips in over his teeth and pretended to eat Teddy’s hands which sent the baby into a fit of coos and lip smacks.

The floor creaked. Looking up, Harry watched Ginny enter the room from the stairwell. She wore one of his old Quidditch jerseys, perhaps the one from fifth year as it didn’t have the captain insignia on the front of it. The jersey came down to just above her knees and Harry vaguely wandered if she was wearing anything on her bottom besides knickers. He shifted uncomfortably in the chair as he shoved those thoughts aside.

Ginny perched herself on the armrest and wrapped an arm around his neck. She leaned forward, her long hair tickling Teddy’s face and chest. The baby cooed louder and clumsily batted at her strands. After a few moments of assaulting Teddy with her hair, she pulled it back into a high ponytail. Teddy kicked his little legs as his lips puckered up.

“None of that, little man,” Ginny cooed.

She leaned forward and gripped Harry’s neck with her hand. She placed a line of kisses on Teddy’s chubby cheeks. His black hair immediately turned a bright, fiery red that was fit for a Weasley.

“Traitor,” Harry hissed playfully.

“I’m just more fun than you, Potter.”

There was a playful grin dancing on her face. He attempted to keep his face impassive but couldn’t help as the corners of his lips curved up. She turned to face him and planted a kiss on the corner of his mouth.

“Give me the baby.” She suddenly stood in front of him and held out her arms expectantly.

Harry felt nervous as he shifted Teddy into Ginny’s hands. He mumbled at her to mind his head and she merely rolled her eyes at him as she accepted the baby. Ginny cuddled Teddy to her chest like she was an expert. Her elbow supported his head and her other hand patted his bum. She swayed back and forth as though they were dancing to some music only the two of them could hear. Teddy just smiled up at her, showing off his gums.

Harry knew, in that moment, he wanted to marry her and have a family with her. He pictured her cradling a black haired, green eyed child in her arms. He pictured her reciting a poem from long ago, the baby laughing and smiling up at her. It felt like someone was squeezing his heart at the very thought of having a family with Ginny Weasley. He was very acutely aware that he couldn’t mess this up again. She had taken him back without so much of a question after he had tossed her aside before disappearing for a year.

“Who’s a handsome little man?” Ginny swayed with Teddy as she bent her head down to rub noses with him. “You are, Teddy, you are.”

Ginny looked up at him, a watery smile crossing her features. For the first time in his life, he was completely at ease with someone crying in front of him. Not even a year ago, he would have been extremely uncomfortable and fumbled around for an excuse to make himself scarce. Except, looking up at Ginny as she cried with a baby in her arms, he felt nothing but love bursting in his chest. He wanted to pull her in his arms, hold her close, comfort her. He didn’t want to run, didn’t want an excuse or an escape route, didn’t feel awkward.

He rose up and stepped close to her. He cupped her face in his hands. His thumbs brushed the tears off her cheeks. He leaned down and placed a lingering kiss onto her forehead. She shuddered in a breath. Harry pulled back, his hands running down her arms.

“He’ll never know them,” Ginny croaked.

“He’ll know us though.” Harry’s jaw tightened. “We’ll tell him so many stories about them that he’ll never wonder about them.”

He knew, from the first moment he held Teddy the day after the battle, that he was going to give Teddy the childhood that he never got the chance to have. Harry was determined to ensure that his godson was always happy, always loved, always wanted. Teddy would know his parents’ names, know their faces, know their personalities from a very young age. It had been something Harry never had growing up. He never even knew his parents’ names were Lily and James until he was eleven years old. The only thing he ever knew about them was that his mother’s maiden name was Evans (he had heard his aunt say her maiden name several times over the years) and that he had his father’s wild hair (“Just like your father! His hair was an unruly mess just like yours! It’s like neither one of you know what the function of a comb is!”).

“I know,” Ginny whispered as her eyes bore into his. “You’ll be a great godfather, Harry. You love so fiercely that there won’t be a day that goes by that he doesn’t know just how much his godfather loves him. You’d do anything for him. You’d burn down a whole village for him. It’s what I love most about you. You love with your whole heart, so fully. You throw yourself into it and you become so wildly protective. You’re a man of few words, but you make up for it tenfold in your actions.”

Harry’s hand ran through the tuff of red hair on Teddy’s head. The baby turned his head towards the touch and threw a toothless smile Harry’s way. Ginny was right. There would not a day that went by that Teddy didn’t know how much he was loved. He bent down and placed a gently kiss on Teddy’s forehead.

---

Harry leaned against the exterior wall of The Three Broomsticks with his hands stuffed in his jacket pockets. He leaned his head back against the hard stone as he listened to Ron prattle on next to him about Robards chewing out Dawlish over some paperwork mistake that nearly cost them from keeping a stray Death Eater in custody.

It had been twenty-one weeks since Harry Potter started dating Ginny Weasley for the second time. The whole long-distance thing was extraordinarily hard, but Harry was determined to make it work. It helped that he had Ron to suffer through with him as Hermione had decided to go back for her final year at Hogwarts.

It wasn’t long until Ron elbowed Harry in the side. Ginny and Hermione were making their way towards them. Harry kicked off the wall and grinned at her. Ginny broke out into a run and practically threw herself into his arms. He caught her easily, his arms securing themselves tightly around her waist as her arms clenched around his neck so tightly he thought she was going to choke him.

She pulled back slightly, her hands resting on his shoulders. They grinned at one another. He continued to hold her, her legs wrapping tighter around his waist. She reached up and brushed his fringe off his forehead before leaning in to kiss his scar. Her lips trailed down the side of his face until she captured his lips in a deep, hungry sort of way.

“Oi, are you two getting a room or are we having lunch?” Ron growled.

Harry lowered Ginny to the ground. He looked over at his best mates to see they were very modestly cuddling with their arms wrapped around each other. Ginny and Harry quickly mirrored Ron and Hermione.

“Definitely going to go get a room,” Ginny replied cheekily as Ron pulled a face of pure disgust.

“Let’s eat!” Hermione ushered Ron inside and shot a desperate look at Ginny to behave.

When they picked out a table, Ginny drew her chair closer to Harry so that they were touching. She kept a hand firmly on his thigh throughout lunch, their shoulders bumping together constantly. Ron and Harry talked about Auror training while Ginny and Hermione talked about school. Hermione prattled on about classes, studying, N.E.W.T.’s. There were a few times that Ginny shot Harry an exasperated look. Harry only smugly smiled back because he had no doubt that Ginny was enduring ultimate study mode Hermione that Ron and Harry suffered through for six years.

“How’s Teddy?” Ginny leaned in close to him while Hermione went on about the new Transfiguration and Defense Against the Dark Arts professors.

“Brilliant.” Harry grinned and wrapped an arm around the back of her chair. “I’m trying to teach him how to sit up. Andromeda says he’s still a bit young to sit up on his own, but he seems determined enough.”

“Do you get to see him often?”

“Yeah, I have him almost every weekend. I go over for dinner a lot during the week.” Harry’s smile faltered slightly. “I don’t think she’s doing too well. Andromeda, that is. She just seems so… sad.”

Ginny squeezed his thigh.

“I’m sure Teddy is a constant reminder of what she lost, especially with Teddy’s abilities.” Ginny’s nose nestled into his chest. “Give her some time. I don’t think any of us are completely over everything that happened yet.”

Harry propped his elbow up on the back of her chair so he could run his fingers through her hair. Their food was sat in front of them. Harry and Ginny pulled away from one another to eat. Harry kept glancing her way. He kept feeling waves of affection wash over him every time she caught his eye. He didn’t know how he had survived the Horcrux hunt without her. She gave his life meaning, a purpose. She was the reason he kept moving after the war and didn’t crumble into a mess on the floor. She made it all worth it.

After lunch, the couples split up. Harry suspected that Ron just wanted to get Hermione alone to thoroughly snog her since she was very against public displays of affection. Meanwhile, Harry and Ginny had less of a problem with it. Harry thought if people were going to watch him and talk about him, he would rather it be about how he was caught doing something he enjoyed rather than the millions of other things people gossiped about.

They walked hand-in-hand through the village making small talk and enjoying each other’s company. It was always so easy with Ginny. There was never any doubt, any uncertainty. He felt completely at ease with her and never second guessed himself. Ginny had that effect on people.

When the sun started to set, he walked her back up to the castle. His mood deflated significantly the closer they drew to the gates. They stilled as students brushed past them and chatted excitedly. Harry turned towards her, his hands resting on either side of her face. He leaned down and their lips met.

He tangled one hand in her hair while the other skirted along her bum. Her hands desperately clung to his jacket as she fisted the fabric and pushed her body as close as humanly possible to his chest. He didn’t want that moment to end, to have to say goodbye again. She pulled away from him. Her flushed face looked up at him as she licked her swollen lips.

“I’ll see you next month at the first Quidditch match?” she inquired softly as her fingers toyed with the collar of his jacket.

“Definitely.” His voice was hoarse as he dropped his hands to her waist.

“I love you, Harry.” She rose up and kissed him on the cheek.

“I love you too, Gin.”

“I’ll write to you soon, alright?”

“Yeah.”

She stepped out of his embrace. She walked slowly backwards through the gate, their eyes lingering on one another for several more seconds before she turned and sped up towards the castle. Harry shoved his hands in his pockets and watched her go. A herd of girls were soon swarming around her and he heard their laughter ringing throughout the cool night air.

---

Harry pushed his glasses up his nose as he leaned back in his chair at the dinner table. His arm was wrapped around Ginny’s chair, his fingers running casually across her shoulder. They were at Friday night dinner with the entire family. Every single Weasley, Potter, and Lupin was in attendance which was a rarity in and of itself.

Harry listened to the conversations flying around the table and the laughter that rang throughout the back garden. He sighed, a smile tugging on his lips. Mrs. Weasley served slices of treacle tart and laughed at something George said. She playfully smacked him on the back of the head. Victoire gushed to Ginny about pregnancy cravings, how wonderful Teddy had been, and how excited she was for her first child. James, Lily, and a herd of cousins flew in the distance as they played a modified version of Quidditch to accommodate their numbers. Albus leaned into Arthur’s side as they talked in low tones about interesting Muggle objects.

It had been twenty-one years since the war ended, twenty-one years since he had gotten back with Ginny, twenty-one years of pure bliss. He had been so sure that he was going to die when he was seventeen even before he knew that he had a Horcrux inside of him. He never expected to have another day with Ginny let alone twenty-one years and however many more that lie ahead of them.

They had been the happiest years of his life. They had their normal ups and downs like every couple known to mankind over the years. They always came out stronger though, more united. Even during their petty arguments or more significant fights, he had loved her. He had never stopped loving her for even one second. He knew that she had never stopped loving him for even one second.

They had built a wonderful family together. She had treated Teddy like her own, helped raise him without question. They had three more children who were all distinctly different yet perfect in their own way. Ginny had given him something that he had craved his entire life: a family. A little herd of people who shared his last name and looked like him. James with his glasses and black hair. Albus who looked like an eerie carbon copy of Harry at the age of thirteen minus the scar and glasses. Lily who shared his terrible eyesight and had his smile.

“What are you thinking about, Potter?” Ginny’s lips tickled his ear as she pressed her body against his.

“How happy you’ve made me.” His answer was sincere and Ginny knew it.

She kissed the side of his face, right in front of his ear.

“You’re a sop, Harry Potter,” she hissed playfully in his ear. “Everyone thinks you’re so stoic and silent, but you’re just a big sop. Having kids made you soft.”

Harry chuckled as he turned to face her. He grinned at her as he reached up to tuck a lock of hair behind her ear. As he looked into her sparkling and mischievous eyes, he thought about how he was going to spend the rest of his life by her side.

---

Harry lay in bed propped up by mountain of pillows feeling insanely tired and sore. His glasses slid down his nose but he didn’t even bother pushing them back up his nose. He fingered the page of his book but he didn’t really feel like reading anymore as he waited for Ginny to get done in the bathroom. He tossed the book on his bedside table and let out a sigh.

Ginny emerged from the bathroom rubbing her hands together. Her gray hair hung loosely around her face and came to just above her shoulders. She looked up at her, now sporting her own pair of spectacles, and smiled sweetly at him.

She slid into bed and kissed him chastely on the lips. Harry suddenly felt like he was sixteen again and felt a flurry of butterflies in his stomach. Even after all these years, she still managed to make him weak at the knees.

“You have your eye appointment tomorrow, don’t forget,” Ginny reminded him as she sank under the covers and pulled her glasses off her face to sit them on the bedside table.

“I remember. Merlin, I’m tired.”

Harry sat his glasses down on his own bedside table before tossing a few pillows off the bed and lay down next to Ginny. He leaned over and kissed her on the temple before settling in completely.

“I love you,” Harry murmured as he closed his eyes.

“Love you.” Ginny reached out and squeezed his hand.

At the age of one hundred and thirty-seven, having spent exactly twelve decades with the love of his life, Harry Potter died peacefully in his sleep with Ginny Weasley by his side.
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