|SIYE Time:8:02 on 23rd April 2021|
Category: Post-Hogwarts, SIYE Challenges new, Elopement Challenge (2020-3)
Genres: Fluff, Humor, Romance
Warnings: Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations
Story is Complete
Summary: ***Winner of the People's Choice Award in the Elopement Challenge (2020-3)*** A bet, a race, and an elopement.
Hitcount: Story Total: 1217
Awards: View Trophy Room
Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made for this work.
Part 1: The bet
Harry apparated outside the Harpies' arena a little earlier than they planned. He managed to get away from the Auror department early, and he relished the chance to sit in the stands and watch Ginny fly. Plus, the extra time might give him a chance to settle his nerves before he gave himself away.
Harry walked to the gates, and gave a nod to the two guards before heading inside. He normally stopped for a chat, but he found he was too nervous for small talk today.
He made his way to his customary seat, about halfway up the stands. He discovered this spot when Ginny first joined the team. It had the best view of the action as the chasers flew at roughly that level for the game. The boxes higher were better for games so he could watch the entire team, but for practices, he focused on the cute redheaded chaser rather than the wider details.
He pulled out the basket from his pocket and returned it to full size. He and Ginny planned a picnic, but he was hoping to convince her to fly around with him a bit before they ate.
Harry turned his attention to the pitch. The chasers were running drills, and he watched as Ginny worked repeatedly on stealing the quaffle by flying under the other chasers upside down and knocking it out of their grasp. It took her about three tries before she was able to do the move, and within another half dozen or so, she could execute it flawlessly. Harry smiled as she celebrated her recent steal.
Watching Ginny fly was like watching poetry in real life, at least in Harry's opinion. She was so graceful and fluid on her broom. It responded to her lightest touch, and she made it look as though it responded to her thoughts instead.
Harry also found himself appreciating the physicality of watching her fly. Game days required Quidditch robes, but for practice, Ginny preferred to fly in snug workout gear. Thank Godric she chose an all witch team.
Ginny glanced over at him in the stands and waved when she saw he was watching. He waved back, and felt the nervous flutter build in his stomach. Merlin, this shouldn't be this hard.
Practice ended with a midair huddle surrounding Gwenog. It broke apart, and Ginny flew straight at him. She stopped in front of him and dropped off her broom into his arms, her lips pressing to his before her feet touched the ground. Harry smiled against her lips as he caught her to the cheers and cat calls from the rest of her team.
"Hope you don't greet all your fans that way," Harry said as they broke apart.
"Only the really sexy ones with green eyes," replied Ginny.
Harry laughed. "That's not nearly as exclusive of a list as it should be."
Ginny winked at him. "So, Mr. Potter, what plans do you have for me? Should I go shower, or do you want me a little dirty?"
"Oh, I always like you a little dirty," Harry said with a husky voice. Harry cleared his throat. "I was thinking we could fly a bit before our picnic."
"I always love flying with you," Ginny said. "One broom or two?"
"Two," Harry said, with a smirk. "We can race, unless you're too tired from practice. I'd hate to beat you just because you're not on top of your game."
"You wish, Potter," Ginny replied with a scoff. "I would need to be a lot more worn out for you to have a chance."
"You think so?" Harry asked with a grin. Ginny nodded confidently. "Care to make a wager on that?"
Ginny smirked. "You bet."
"If you win," Harry said cautiously, "you get whatever I have in this pocket." Harry pat his left breast pocket.
Ginny raised an eyebrow in question. "Oh? And how do I know that's something I want?"
Harry smiled, knowing her interest was piqued already. "Trust me, you want this. But if you're not sure, I can just keep this a secret and you can win--"
"No, no," Ginny interrupted quickly. "I'll take it." She turned her head slightly to the side. "If you win, we will go home and recreate the night of Ron's birthday."
Harry's eyebrows shot up in surprise. After Ron's birthday party, they went home a little tipsy and learned all the more interesting uses of a leftover bottle of chocolate sauce. Damn, now I really do want to win. "You're on, Weasley."
Harry and Ginny flew up to one set of goal posts as the first Harpies were starting to come out of the locker room. As they lined up to start their race, Harry heard calls of "get him, Weasley" and "kick his arse" coming from their growing crowd.
"One lap around the field, and first through the middle hoop for the win?" Ginny said.
"Let's do it," said Harry.
Harry cast a starting timer from his wand, and on the count of three, they were off around the pitch.
Harry could hear the Harpies cheering them on from below, and he glanced over to Ginny. She had a determined look on her face. Harry knew he'd have to make her work for the win, or she'd never accept the prize. He started to pull just slightly ahead before they reached the turn at the other goals.
Ginny bumped him slightly from the side, and pulled her broom up to fly over his head as they entered the turn. Harry shook his head and put as much speed as he could into the turn. The two of them curved in synchronized motion, Ginny flying a few feet above Harry's head. The last length of field would be an all out race to the end.
Harry looked up and saw Ginny just slightly ahead of him. With only half the field to go, he pushed forward a bit to meet her, wondering when he should pull back slightly to make sure she won. It was unnecessary, of course, because right as he pulled up to her, Ginny dropped down on top of him. In an effort to keep from being pummeled by her sudden drop, Harry rolled to the side and Ginny shot straight ahead and through the middle loop. Harry shook his head with a smile, and watched her land near her cheering teammates.
"You didn't win," Harry said as he landed next to her. "You're a rotten cheater, and cheating means you forfeit."
"I didn't cheat," Ginny retorted. "There was no rule against that. Should we ask the judges?" She turned back to her teammates, who roared in support. "See? Now give me my prize, Potter."
"Oh, what's the prize?" asked Edith, one of Ginny's fellow chasers.
"Do we need to turn our backs before he gives it to you?" said the team Seeker, Grace. "I might not want to see this."
"Speak for yourself," retorted Chloe, Keeper. "I definitely want to see."
Harry reached into his pocket, his hand closing around the small circle in his palm before he removed his hand. "This is her prize."
Ginny took a step closer to him and examined his fist. "It had better be more than your fist, Harry. I did not just fly that race…."
Ginny's voice trailed off as Harry opened his hand to reveal the small, silver ring with a solitaire diamond surrounded by rubies. The Harpies behind them took a collective step closer, and gasped when they saw what he was holding. A smile spread over Harry's face.
"It was my mother's. I found it in my vault. The note with it said that it was my grandmother's before her, and has been in my family for generations." Harry paused, and looked at Ginny closely. Her eyes were still locked on the ring. "I have loved you for years, Ginny. You have been my comfort and my solace, even when the world was ending. I can't imagine my life without you, and I plan to love you until I die. Or, until I die again, as the case may be." Ginny's eyes shot up to his eyes at that moment, and he could see they were filled with tears. "Will you marry me, Ginny?"
Ginny didn't answer, but threw her arms around his neck, and pressed a kiss to his lips. The Harpies exploded with sound again and surrounded them, jumping and hugging them.
"Should I take that as a yes?" Harry asked with a laugh.
"Yes, you idiot," she said with a quiet voice. "You beautiful, amazing, handsome, bloody idiot." Harry slid the ring on her finger. "I love you."
Harry kissed her instead of responding, and held on until he felt her pull back.
"Hang on!" Ginny exclaimed suddenly. "You let me win!"
"You didn't give me a chance to let you win!" Harry responded. "It would have almost been worth it to win that bet and do this later."
"Oh," exclaimed Chloe. "What would you have won? Can we watch that one too?"
Neither Ginny nor Harry bothered to answer. Instead, Ginny threw her arms around him again and leaned close to his ear. "I think we both won today. Maybe I'll let you have your prize, too."
Harry caught Ginny staring at her finger in the morning light. The sun's rays bounced off the diamond of her ring and sent rainbows around the kitchen. Harry smiled. "If you don't like the ring, I can take it back and we can buy you--"
"You'll have to pry this ring off my cold, dead fingers, Potter," Ginny responded, her harsh tone softened by the gleam in her eye.
"You haven't stopped looking at it since I put it on your finger yesterday," Harry said. "I assumed you were trying to will it to change."
"You've probably put a hex on it to distract me," she said as Harry leaned in to kiss her cheek. "So when do you want to get married?"
"I actually had a thought about that," Harry responded. "You have your summer break coming up, right?"
"Yeah, in two weeks," Ginny responded with a puzzled look on her face. "Why?"
"Well, I spoke with Robards, and I can get that time off too." Harry smiled again. "It would make a the perfect time for a honeymoon."
"A honeymoon!" Ginny exclaimed. "You want to plan a full wedding in two weeks? We can't do that. We couldn't even get invitations out that quickly."
"Nonsense," said Harry. "We'll do it at the Burrow. Charlie's coming in for a visit before your game that Saturday. We can grab a minister and show up to the Burrow for Sunday lunch. Your mom will already have food for us." Harry smiled and kissed her on the cheek again. "We'll be married, and we won't even have to deal with any of the mess of planning it."
Ginny looked back down at her ring, a smile playing across her face. "It would make it so much simpler."
"I bet Kingsley would marry us," Harry pushed a little further. "He's at the Burrow often enough that no one will even wonder why he came along."
"I'd just need some dress robes and flowers," Ginny said.
"So?" Harry asked. "What do you say? Want to marry me in two weeks?"
Ginny looked up and met his eyes with a blazing look. "Yes, I think I will. I'm just not sure I can wait that long."
Harry grabbed her hand, and led his soon to be bride back to their bed.
Part 2: Raising the Bar
Harry and Ginny apparated outside the Burrow together, and began the long walk up the lane. Everything was planned, and Kingsley was on his way. Now they just had the daunting task of springing their surprise wedding on the family.
"Mum is going to be so angry with me," Ginny started. It wasn't the first time she raised this concern. She was, after all, her mother's only daughter.
"No, she won't," assured Harry. "She's going to say she is, but she's going to be so thrilled. I bet she cries within 10 minutes."
"I'm not betting against that," Ginny said. "My brothers might be angry with you."
Harry snorted. "We've been dating for almost five years, and we've lived together since you left Hogwarts. They're not even going to be surprised."
"But you're stealing me away," Ginny said. "And you're going to make mum cry." She peered over at him. "I don't think you're taking this seriously."
"I can take them," Harry said with a laugh. "Remember? Boy Who Lived, and now I'm a trained Auror to boot."
"I think you're forgetting about George."
Harry laughed, and opened the back door. "Come on, Gin. Let's do this."
They walked into the kitchen to find her mom putting the finishing touches on her roast.
"Looks great, Molly," Harry said as he caught sight of the usual spread. "Think we could cast a charm so it will keep for a bit?"
"Why would we do that?" Molly asked, a puzzled look crossing her face.
"We've got some news, Mum," Ginny said. "Is everyone in the dining room? Come join us for a minute."
Molly waived her wand over the roast, and followed Harry and Ginny to the table.
"Hi everyone," Harry said. "Hi Kingsley," he said, catching the Minister of Magic's knowing wink. "We have some news."
"Hawwy!" 5 year old Teddy launched himself at Harry, who released Ginny's hand and swung him up into his arms.
"Hey big man," Harry said. "Think you can sit down while I share our big news?"
"Oh!" exclaimed Hermione, catching a look at the ring on Ginny's hand. "Are you two finally engaged?"
Ginny laughed. "Not quite, Hermione. We're finally getting married."
"I don't think you understand what engaged means, Ginny," Ron retorted.
"No," Harry said with a smirk. "We're finally getting married. Right now. We brought the Minister and everything." He gave a nod to Kingsley, who beamed back.
The table fell deadly quiet. For a minute, no one moved or said a word. Then, George began laughing. "Are you springing a surprise wedding on us?"
"That's right," said Ginny. "Planned to start in about 20 minutes."
"Brilliant," said George. "That's brilliant. All the fun of a wedding, but no planning necessary."
"Are you sure about this? Is this really what you want to do?" Arthur asked.
"Of course they are," Bill said. "This is exactly something they'd plan. I'm surprised that they didn't just elope."
Harry shrugged. "Family is important. We wouldn't leave our family out of it."
Ginny glanced nervously at her mother, who hadn't said a word yet.
Harry saw that Molly's eyes were filling with tears. "But…" she started. "I didn't get to help you buy a wedding dress."
"I have three dresses at our house," Ginny responded quickly. "I thought you could come back with me and help me pick out which one to wear. Then we can meet back here for the ceremony."
Molly didn't answer, but wrapped her daughter in a massive hug. At that, the table roared with excitement. Everyone got up and hugged Harry in turn, as Ginny was still occupied with her mother.
Ginny glanced at Hermione over Molly's shoulder. "I have a dress for you too, if you'll stand up with me."
"Of course I will!" Hermione burst into tears and wrapped her arms around Molly and Ginny.
"Let uz get thiz going," Fleur said. "I can come help you prepare, non?"
"Oh, me too!" Angelina said. "I want to see the dresses."
"Me too," piped up Audrey.
Ginny laughed. "Sure, I'll need all the help I can get." She looked over at Andromeda. "I'd love for you to come as well."
"I would, but I should watch Teddy," she responded.
"We can keep him here with Victorie," said Bill. "We'll let them play until you all get back."
"Let's go then!" Ginny said, before she turned back to Harry with a kiss.
"See you at the other end of the aisle," Harry said.
"I'll be the one in white."
"I can't wait," Harry said, the biggest grin spreading across his face.
Harry and her brothers transformed the backyard while the women were away. A giant pergola covered in lilies stood at one end of the yard, and an aisle made of flower petals led to the front. Teddy and Victorie were cleaned up and designated ring bearer and flower girl. Harry and Ron changed into the robes Harry brought along. Everything was set.
Ginny waited with her father at the back of the house, just out of Harry's line of sight. Ginny had insisted that he not see the dresses so he could be surprised, and now she was nervous to see his reaction.
"Ready?" Arthur said, beaming down at his little girl.
Ginny smiled. "More than I've ever been."
"I'm so proud of you, you know. I know you and Harry could have run off and come back married, but I'm glad you gave your mother this."
"We wanted to celebrate with you all. Sorry for springing it on you."
Arthur kissed her temple. "No apologies necessary, bug. Let's get you married, huh?"
Harry saw Teddy and Victorie walk up the aisle, walking very importantly. The little ring bearer and flower girl were taking their roles very seriously. Bill had sat them down and told them how important they were to the ceremony, and how the wedding couldn't happen if they didn't do their part. They clearly headed the warning.
Next, Hermione came down the aisle, holding three stems of lilies in her hand. Harry felt Ron exhale next to him, and turned to clap his best man on the shoulder. Harry knew he was picturing his own future wedding and Hermione in a very different dress.
Harry looked back down the aisle just in time to see Ginny and Arthur step on to the flower petals, and Harry felt his own breath leave his body. He clapped a hand over his heart, and felt his eyes sting. He found he couldn't wait, and walked a few steps out to meet her. He took her hand from Arthur, and placed a kiss on her lips.
"Oi! You're not supposed to do that until the end, mate." George roared from his spot. Everyone laughed.
"You look beautiful," Harry whispered to her.
Ginny blushed. "What do you say we get married now?"
"Try to stop me." Harry smiled as they turned to walk back to Kingsley.
Harry barely heard what Kinglsey was saying. He was so enchanted by Ginny that he couldn't look away. Suddenly, it was time for his vows.
"I am eternally grateful to that little girl who stuck her elbow in the butter dish." Laughter went around the group. "I'm glad she stuck it out waiting for me to notice her as more than Ron's little sister. I'm so glad I wised up to what you saw all along.
"I wouldn't be here without you. Even when we were apart, you gave me the strength to go on. You are the last thing I saw when I died," Harry paused briefly for the round of gasps-this was not a story they had shared, "and you are the one I want to see every morning when I wake up again.
"I promise to love and protect you always, even when you think you don't need me too. I promise to let you warm your cold toes on my leg," chucked flooded the group, "and I promise to make you waffles when you ask for them - and sometimes when you don't. I promise that, whatever life brings, I will stand next to you and face it together."
Ginny's eyes lit with laughter and love. Harry listened as she started talking.
"That little girl with her elbow in the butter dish would squeal in delight if she saw me here today. She would also probably go hide in her room." Laughter again crossed the group. "She loved Harry Potter for what she thought he was, but I love you for everything you've become.
"I'll never forget seeing that little lost boy with the baggy clothes in King's Cross on your first day to Hogwarts. Before I even knew who you were, I knew you were someone special. You were, and still are, so unfailingly kind and strong, and I know my life is better because you are in it.
"I promise to love and protect you forever, even from my brothers when you think you can take them all." Grumbles and groans echoed behind them. "Possibly starting after this ceremony. I promise to help you puzzle difficult problems and to listen when you just need an ear. I promise to always be by your side, even if the world is against us, because I know that's where I'm meant to be.
Harry felt tears burn his eyes, and he focused on sliding the silver band on her hand next to her engagement ring. Ginny slid a matching band on his left hand.
"With that, I now pronounce you bonded for life," Kinglsey said, and with a wave of his wand and a shower of stars over them, Harry felt something like a knot tying between them sealed the magical bond. "You may kiss--"
Harry was kissing Ginny before he even heard Kingsley tell him too. Harry kissed Ginny with such intention that he failed to hear her brothers' cheers or Teddy's groan of disgust. The only thing Harry was aware of was his new bride standing in front of him.
Harry sat comfortably in the hum of activity and conversation around the table with his new wife tucked close under his arm. He pressed his lips to the crown of her head and deeply inhaled the floral scent that was entirely Ginny. He closed his eyes and smiled, content and happy while surrounded by his family.
“Okay, I have to ask.” Harry opened his eyes and found Angelina interrupting his quiet reflection. “I heard that line in your vows about seeing her when you died? Is there more to that story?”
Harry glanced around the table and saw that everyone was quiet with attention focused on him. He hadn’t shared that part of the story with anyone but Ginny. It hadn’t seemed relevant in the days after the battle when so much else was more important. It was also very personal, and when Harry had told Ginny, it led to the first time they said “I love you” to each other.
Harry glanced down at his wife and found her eyes glowing. A small shrug communicated it was his story to share if he wanted.
Harry cleared his throat. “When I walked into the forest during the final battle, I knew that I was going to die. I had put away my wand so I wasn’t tempted to fight because I knew it was the only way to end it. When I was finally face to face with Riddle and waiting for him to cast the curse, I guess it was some version of my life flashing before my eyes.” He looked down at Ginny again, eyes filled with love. “But I only saw Ginny. In my final moments, I thought of her.” Harry captured her lips in a soft kiss.
When they broke apart, the table was still quiet, safe for a few sniffles.
“Zat is ze most beautiful story,” Fleur said, dabbing her eyes with her serviette. Murmurs went around the table from all of the women around the table.
“Bloody hell, Harry,” George said.
“George Weasley, you watch your language!” Molly responded.
“Sorry, mum,” George said sheepishly. “Seriously, though. Raising the bar a little too high there, mate.”
Harry let out a surprised laugh. “I’m sorry, what bar?”
“He’s got a point,” Bill added with a smirk. “You were my last thought as I died? Not exactly an easy standard for a bloke to live up to.”
“I learned a long time ago that you just have to stop comparing yourself to Harry,” Ron said. “It’s not a game you’ll ever win.”
Hermione snorted. “Yeah, when did you ‘learn’ that? Because I seem to remember you not speaking to him because he entered the Triwizard Tournament without you.”
Ron gave her a look. “Alright, it took a while, but I got there.”
Harry rolled his eyes, “Took you long enough, mate.” Harry cleared his throat. “I definitely wasn’t trying to raise the bar. It’s all stuff that just… happened.”
“Yeah, that doesn’t make it better,” George said. “You just accidentally happen to be a great romantic duffer. The Boy Who Made All the Girls Swoon.”
“The Boy Who Loved,” offered Charlie.
“The Boy Who Stole Hearts,” said Bill.
“The Boy Who Broke Hearts,” Ron corrected.
“The Boy Who Is Married and Not Available,” Ginny said, smiling up at Harry again. “No need to show off or show up anyone else.”
Harry smiled at her, and dropped a kiss on her nose. “Only for you.”
A round of groans and awes went around the table, but Harry only smiled down at his bride.
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