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If you’d asked Harry where his life would be ten years ago, or even five, chasing a squalling toddler around his office and wondering just how soundproofed his home office walls are, he’d have laughed in your face.  Still, the unexpected nature of his life doesn’t mean – well if he could have Remus and Tonks back…

Teddy pauses his caterwauling and grins up at Harry, “Hungry.”

“We just had breakfast,” Harry glances at his watch, “Twenty minutes ago.”

Apparently unimpressed, Teddy shrugs and clacks his toy trucks together on the braided rug, making low rumbling noises likely meant to mimic engines.

“How about I finish up with this,” Harry gestures to his dangling sentence and Teddy frowns, “And you stay quiet,” the frown deepens, “After which, I’ll take us for doughnuts, yeah?”

“Ron’s?” Teddy perks up.

“He’d have me drawn and quartered if I went anywhere else,” Harry drawls, trying – unsuccessfully – to pick up where he left off on his writing.

“What’s – ”

Harry winces, regretting the introduction of medieval execution methods to his inquisitive godson, “Nothing, I’ll tell you another – it doesn’t matter.”

Sighing like a man ten times his five years, Teddy goes back to his toys and Harry finishes working his way through the last of his notes.  He’d gone on sabbatical earlier this year when Neville’s wife got pregnant and couldn’t watch Teddy during Harry’s classes anymore, which presented the opportunity to work on long-neglected scholarly research without the pressure of prepping for classes (and then teaching them).

He’s still not quite sure how Remus and Tonks managed as well as they did – two working parents with a choice between a septuagenarian and a sleep deprived doctoral candidate for babysitting – but they’d done it, more than successfully.

So when they’d asked about putting him down as legal guardian should anything happen, it’d seemed a gesture at most. And yet, three years later, they’re long since dead – Andromeda too – except for that spark in Teddy’s eye, the curve of his chin, the slant of his smirk, the lilt of his laughter…

Shaking his head and briskly swiping beneath his eyes, Harry settles down to power through this last bit of his goal for the morning (life with Teddy has taught him the importance of realistic goal setting) and the next three quarters of an hour pass with relative ease.

By the time Teddy’s getting truly, irreparably antsy, Harry is too, if he’s being honest.  So they bundle up and set out hand-in-hand, toward Ron’s bakery.

They’d known each other – Harry and Ron – in boarding school and been thick as thieves through graduation, until Ron returned to Devon after an unexpected death in the family and Harry’d been accepted at Cambridge.

He’d felt like a jerk – despite Ron’s assurances to the contrary (comforting, loyal git even when he’s the one grieving) and assertion that he’d not let him throw away his chance just to ‘sit ‘round and watch him mope.’  So with Ron’s loving shove toward continuing academia, Harry let himself get absorbed into the quagmire of higher education.

And then, two years later, Harry meets Hermione in an unbelievably boring history class and she ends up introducing him to her boyfriend who makes great doughnuts at his little hole-in-the-wall shop.  Then Ron’s back in his life like they were never apart.  Which is great for everything but Harry’s waistline. But a self-imposed restriction on his doughnut intake is a small price to pay for a best mate.  Though, since he’s been Teddy’s legal guardian, his self-control has been severely hindered.

He did gain new motivation for avoiding daily trips after a few too many of Teddy’s sugar-induced crazes put a bad taste in his mouth.

Nonetheless, Harry’s a soft touch for puppy dog eyes and sugary snacks so he can only resist so long – thus the impromptu late-morning jaunt to Ron’s.

Teddy darts forward, struggling to push the door open until Harry lends his assistance, which has them entering with a chiming of the overhead bell.  In a flash, Teddy’s got his face pressed against the bake case and Harry’s hot on his heels, offering a hasty apology to Ron at the counter, only to realize it’s not Ron.  So beautifully not Ron Harry’s heart stutters.  And so does he – brilliant. “S-sorry ‘bout – ” he gestures to the now finger and nose printed glass and the gorgeous not-Ron woman at the register smiles kindly and makes her way over to the bake case.  “Alright there, little man?”

Reluctant to take his eyes off the bounty before him, Teddy darts his gaze up and back, then up again, lingering as his cheeks flush rosy.  He nods wordlessly and Harry really can’t blame him for being speechless. He puts a comforting hand on Teddy’s shoulder, and the latter seems to regain himself, blinking up at the cashier with those wide grey eyes, “I like strawb’ry.”

She – Ginny if her name tag is right – glances at Harry for permission (which he grants with a nod) and slides the case open, pulling a doughnut out with deft fingers.  “As a fellow strawberry lover, trust me when I say you must have this one.”

Teddy claps his hands gleefully, remembering to murmur his thanks halfway through his first sugary bite.  Harry’s about to order when Ginny leans over and pulls a doughnut from the case. “You look like a cinnamon crème man.”

He’s caught off guard, wondering if knowing doughnut preferences is some kind of magic power, when Ginny smirks and sets a steaming cup of coffee on the counter alongside his pastry.  “Ron tipped me off about regulars.”

“I was hoping you’d say favorites,” Harry mimics her smirk.

And he really thinks he’s not imagining the flash in Ginny’s eye as she makes to answer, but before his levels of self-delusion can be assessed, Ron emerges from the back with a wide smile, “Potter and Lupin!” he claps Ginny on the shoulder, “I see you met baby Weasley.”

“Logical next step after chubby Weasley,” Ginny teases, swatting at Ron’s soft middle.

“That hurts, Gin,” Ron grasps at his chest, “Right here.”

Ginny shoves his shoulder, “Don’t worry, Hermione likes your little pooch,” she sends a commiserating glance toward Harry, “Or so I’ve been scarringly told.”

“Shove – ” Ron cuts off and glances toward Teddy who grins, halfway through his snack.  Ginny winks and his face reddens.

Eventually, Harry guides Teddy toward a table and they settle into casual conversation – mostly about the latest happenings on Teddy’s average ‘kids turned superheroes’ program when Ginny sets a tall glass of milk on the table, sipping at her own drink and halfway through one of Ron’s fresh-baked, chocolate digestives.

“Mind if I join you boys?” Ginny asks, lingering near the empty chair, “Ron the slave driver took pity and gave me fifteen.”

Her voice pitches up at the end while a smirk quirks her lips.  Ron shouts back, “Ungrateful!”

Teddy leans forward, “D’you watch Happy Heroes?”

Ginny slumps down too, freckle-covered hands splayed on the tabletop, “It’s mine and my niece’s favorite .”

Mouth dropping open, Teddy turns to Harry, looking like it’s his birthday and Christmas at the same time. Harry raises his brows and swipes a serviette over Teddy’s sprinkle covered face, “You’ve found a new member for your fan club, Ted,” he winks at Ginny, “Congrats.”

While Teddy gets going on the latest ‘drama’ on his show - some shapeshifter villain is terrorizing local zoo animals - Ginny makes all the right noises.  Oohs, aahs, and gasps as necessary and Harry feels like melting a little.

And though her focus is on Teddy, as is Harry’s, he doesn’t miss the way her gaze darts in his direction a half dozen times, like they’re both in on a joke together.  When she winks at him, just before giving Teddy her own take on Happy Hero Flavius’ sorbet gun snafu, Harry feels a warmth vibrate through his chest that he hasn’t felt - in a long time.

Long enough that Ginny’s already been called back from her break for the lunch rush and she’s hasn’t got time to do more than wave and smile at them kindly as the bell announces their departure.  

Teddy gets a bit tired halfway through the walk home and deigns to allow Harry to carry him, tucked close against his chest.  It’s moments like these - feeling the steady thrum of Teddy’s little heart against his chest, the grip of his fingers at his collar, and his steady breaths against his throat - that Harry can’t imagine his life as it was before.  However unexpected and heartbreaking the series of events were that led him to this point, he’d not trade it for a normal life.

Which doesn’t mean he’s abandoned his desire for certain normal things.  Although before doughnuts today, he’d thought the urge might’ve cooled to an imperceptible trickle.

Until warm brown eyes, laughing lips, freckled cheeks, a sharp chin and a wit to match have his stomach jumping giddily like it hasn’t since - ever.  The closest being the infamous winter formal mixer with the neighboring girls school where Harry’d nearly given himself a coronary at the age of thirteen while trying to work up the courage to ask the girl he fancied to dance.

But that was light butterflies and an embarrassed flush to his cheeks.  This was - like a sun blooming in his stomach - and about a million other things too flowery and sappy to give voice outside the confines of his head.

Teddy’s mind has wandered in the same vein, apparently, because as he snuffles against Harry’s shoulder he murmurs, “I liked her.  Gin.”

Sighing, Harry presses a kiss to Teddy’s brow and slips onto the lift as the doors open on the lobby.  “Me too, little man. Me too.”

Chapter Text

One particularly hot summer's day later (which included three distinct instances where he thought he'd be dying of dehydration), Harry leaves his campus office and lazily shuffles his feet towards his single apartment. Luckily for him, it was in the near vicinity of the campus, if the lady from the real estate company's words are to be taken for granted. Two bus stops and fifteen minutes of trying to walk - or if he's honest more like sleepily crawling - in the morning in order to arrive on time is not what Harry would call "in the near vicinity", but he takes what he can get for a reasonable price. Turning the key twice in the lock, he makes his way out of the building and outside on the sun burnt grass of the campus yard. Privately, he starts questioning his decision to move his paperwork home and everything it entails. Apparently, carrying ten kilos of paper through humid weather thick enough to be soup is not the best idea he could come up with, but he weighs the discomfort of powering through against having to go back to his cupboard of an office any time he wants to work, and the former wins by a landslide.

Keeping his eyes on the ground to avoid tripping on his own shoelaces, Harry almost jumps out of his skin in fright when he bumps into something soft and very much alive.

"Ouch! Watch where you're going, you loon!"

Harry thinks he recognises the voice, but being sans glasses courtesy of the impact leaves him rather blind, thus making the recognition process a wee bit difficult. Feeling the grass with his palms frantically, he manages to find said glasses and shoves them onto his nose - all without more damage than a few fingerprints. Slowly but surely the image of a redheaded young woman forms in front of his eyes. Harry gulps. He definitely knows the woman.

"Funny bumping into you here. Quite literally," Ginny remarks, hands on her hips as she scrutinises him from head to feet.

"Erm - H-hi," he replies, rubbing the back of his head. Quite the wordsmith today, Harry, quite the wordsmith, he thinks to himself.

"Here," she says, offering a hand to help him up. "Where's your son?"

"My who?" Harry is confused for a second or two, questioning his past and opportunities to father children. "Oh, you mean Teddy? He's my godson," he laughs.

"Oh! Oh, right. Sorry," Ginny smiles and her cheeks color pale pink.

"No worries, happens more than one would think," he responds and stretches his hand to lightly pat her on the shoulder. Catching himself mid-stretch, Harry cringes and rapidly closes his fist as though he just caught an annoying fly or bug. He cringes again. Very smooth, Harry, he mentally grumbles.

"Anyway, I was heading to the library so feel free to join," she quirks her upper lip into half a smile. Harry notices the bags under her eyes and the book bag filled to the brim with giant tomes she probably has to go through until morning. At a quick glance, Harry'd guess she has to be about at the final weeks of her Master's writing process.

"I'm finished for the day, thanks," he grins, already regretting that he has to decline her generous invitation, but dinner with family is not something he can make a habit of missing - no matter the beautiful temptation - as he is a man who values his own life. Lily Potter is not someone who can take no for an answer, if the answer does not come accompanied by extensive and sorrowful explanations. At the moment, he doesn't quite feel a wild desire to confess to his parents plus Sirius that he is ditching them to study with a pretty girl he just met.

"Well, somebody's been productive today," Ginny raises one ginger eyebrow.

"Yes, such are the days when I'm not on Teddy duty," he grins, ruffling his jet black hair.

"Teddy duty. Sounds fun," she laughs, flashing him a smile of her own for good measure.

"Of course it is, whenever he's not screaming bloody murder that he wants doughnuts and that is like 90% of the time."

"The kid knows his doughnut flavours, I must give him that," Ginny laughs.

"Yeah, he's a natural. But so are you, I reckon," Harry says and prays he hadn't been too straightforward the second the words roll out his mouth.

"You should remind my brother of this very important little fact, actually. He tends to experience momentary lapses of memory whenever he has to pay me or give me the occasional doughnut eating break," she pouts and Harry notices again the way a wave of freckles clash on the soft skin of her face. He fights the urge to lean down and have a closer look.

"How long have you been working with Ron, though? I haven't seen you around until yesterday."

"Oh, I do it every now and then. Whenever he might need a hand or whenever my wallet feels lonely," she answers easily. Harry can't help but admire her easy confidence - he'd never quite managed the ability to project that level of casualness when chatting up a beautiful woman. Not that he's a beautiful - anyway. He'd been lucky enough to never need to work in his university years and god knew that academic books cost a liver and a toe. James and Lily had always supported him and now he started wondering if it really was the right thing - Ginny seemed much more down to earth than he'd been in his MA era.

Ginny sighs with something he'd maybe call regret. Though he's not taking full credit since she's leaving him to lock herself in the stuffy library for the foreseeable future. "Well, then I'm off to the library. Don't try to stop me, I'm dying to have one more sleepless night for the sake of academia," she jokes, pulling on the most convincingly excited face anyone could manage under the circumstances.

Harry watches her as she leaves and sighs. A thought is forming at the back of his head, nebulous but relentlessly niggling like an itch he can't quite scratch. Still, his eyes refuse to leave the small form capped by a waterfall of ginger hair disappearing in the distance, the rush of students moving to and fro between the dining hall and the library. It takes him a moment before he realises he's been holding his breath.


"Harry, love, you've barely touched your food," Lily points out later that evening, wiping her hands on a kitchen cloth. Harry looks down to see his plate still full, which is weird in itself since he distinctly remembers bringing the fork to his mouth several times throughout dinner.

He finds that he must pause the introspection process when a green pea arrives uninvited and lands between his eyes, followed by a second that chooses to rest inside his left nostril. Harry exhales loudly, making the pea pop on the table and roll over, hitting the culprit's elbow. Or, rather, culprits - plural.

"Cut it out, you too," Lily huffs, half-amused by her husband and best friend's antics.

"Aw, Lily, but it's fun," Sirius flashes a devilish grin and Harry acknowledges he's onto something. "My young godson here is clearly disturbed by something and it is my duty, as godfather, to intervene and ensure that everything is quite alright." To the young man's chagrin, Sirius lays on his most sincere and angel like face, batting his eyelashes in Harry's direction.

"That's correct, son," James joins in. Oh-oh, double trouble. There's nothing more dangerous and potentially harmful for his sanity than the powers of James Potter and Sirius Black working in horrible, life ruining unison. "Allow your old man and godfather to kiss it all better, what d'ya say?" James asks, mirroring Sirius' innocent appeal.

Rolling his eyes, the youngest Potter excuses himself from the table and walks over to the kitchen to do the dishes in a desperate attempt to escape the upcoming interrogation.

"At least tell me that you've got her number," Sirius approaches, casually leaning against the sink, rendering it difficult for Harry to further ignore him.

"No," he mumbles, squishing a wild desire to stomp one foot on the ground in a Teddy-like manner. "And, might I add, it's none of your business," the dark haired man continues, feeling very much like an adult.

"Fine," Sirius crosses his arms, "have it your way. But don't come crying to me when she says no." As he pushes away from the sideboard to leave, his right hand briefly covers three quarters of the tap's mouth and Harry is greeted by a rainfall he is definitely not prepared for. He simultaneously coughs and growls abuses under his breath, grasping his glasses to wipe them on his black jeans.

"Will you two ever grow up?" Lily firmly plants her hands on her hips, her hair afire in the pink dusk glow reflected from the spotless windows that fill an entire wall in the living room large.

"No," James gives her a lopsided smile and kisses her cheek. "And you don't want us to," he whispers close to her lips, earning some disgusted mutterings from Sirius between two obviously fake coughs.

"Maybe not," she winks and walks over to place an arm around Harry's shoulders. "Although this has unlimited potential to turn into a captivating debate, it's not the main focus of our family get together this evening."

Harry looks at his mother, green eyes reflected mirrors of his own. His breath catches for the second time this day.

"Am I going to have a brother?" His question is greeted by silence. "Or a sister?" He lamely tries again, seeing as no one is willing to break the uncomfortableness of the moment.

James is the one to recover first. "Not that one of us is not trying," he quickly glances towards Lily, who blushes furiously and shrugs. "That's not the news," he pauses.

"The three of us have been offered contracts in the US, love. Really well paid," Lily says, stroking her son's cheek. He grasps her hand and squeezes, as he did since he was a little boy.

"And? Have you given an answer already?" Harry inquires, struggling to keep his tone even.

"We did," Sirius is the one to mouth the dreaded news. "We're going to work at the New York Presbyterian. For the year to come, at least."

"We'll be starting at the end of this month," James adds on and Harry gets the feeling that his parents might have rehearsed this moment a couple of times before acting it out live before him.

"That's...brilliant," he replies, feeling like he'd rather melt on the floor into a depressed puddle than hug Sirius, James and Lily and pat them on the back in good health. He'd never been one hundred percent alone, even though he moved out as soon as he started university. He always had Sirius to visit him, James and Lily to break in uninvited. He always had family dinners, weekends with his parents, unplanned holidays with the whole crazy crew, and someone to come by when he felt like he couldn't really handle life. And what about Teddy? Of course, he was his official and legal guardian since Tonks and Remus - well, since they weren't around any longer, but somehow it seemed easier to take care of him knowing that James and Lily were one phone call away.

"Harry," his mother lifts his chin and he can't avoid her gaze. His heart aches and he isn't even ashamed to admit that, yes, he is a momma's boy and he can't face life without his mother. "Harry, my love, you really are ready to start something on your own. Even if it might not feel that way right now, you are. Trust your mother, I know you better than anyone," she smiles and brings her plump lips to his stubbled cheek. Harry takes his mother into his arms and holds her tight, filling his lungs with the scent of her hair enough to last him until the three of them come back home.

"What about Teddy? Am I prepared to take care of him too?" he mutters into Lily's dark red hair.

"Oh, darling, you've not needed our help with Teddy for a long time now. It's simply that you never realised it," Lily draws her hands through her son's dark locks, admiring how it sicks up all over, just like James'. As much as she'd love to stroke his hair every day and watch him grow old, she understands it is the moment to take a step back and allow him to tackle obstacles and hardships at his own pace. "It's not forever, love."

"Teddy wants cartoons!" a small boy's voice booms throughout the room. His shoes muddy from playing in the backyard pond, he leaves little marks on the polished floor as he runs as fast as his feet can carry him to hug Harry's legs. A smile creeping on his face, the young godfather decodes the message as "let's go home now" and notes the urgency in the little boy's actions.

"Sorry everyone, it's Friday night and Teddy's special will be on in about fifteen," Harry chuckles as he checks the time on the old watch perpetually strapped around his wrist, passed down directly from Fleamont Potter ages before Harry was old enough to know how to tell time, let alone comprehend the significance of the gift.

"Completely understandable," James replies, raising his palms in front of him and nodding his head.

"Yeah, we wouldn't want to miss the new adventures of Babbity Rabbity either," Sirius comments, picking Teddy up and spinning him in the air, airplane style, an action met by laughter and squeals of joy.

Lily squeezes her boy's calloused palm and he sighs, yet reciprocates. Closing his eyes, a flash of ginger hair and two freckled cheeks pass before his mind's eye and something inside him tells him that, somehow, everything will be alright.

Chapter Text

A/N: A/N: lo and behold the drama free household of Potter and Lupin. And then some :) enjoy a cruise through young adult Harry’s life on tumblr (@itsblissfuloblivion) and FFnet as well and don’t forget to say hello!

love,

@gryffindormischief & @fightfortherightsofhouseelves


 

By the time Thursday night rolls around, Harry's head is swimming with too much information and a lot of inconvenient emotions so he's just as eager as Teddy when five-o'clock chimes in and he pulls up the website to order pizza.

They're a bit predictable and unadventurous in the toppings department, pepperoni and sausage with some extra cheese if they're feeling wild, but Thursday's been boys' pizza night since Teddy was old enough for solids.

Once the order's been placed, Harry finds Teddy playing with oversized colored blocks, stacking them with single-minded determination into a large-ish pyramid of sorts. Joining him on the floor, Harry begins passing pieces over while the telly plays quietly in the background with some childish nature show.

After the monument is fully built, Teddy takes a moment to enjoy his accomplishment, collapsing against Harry's side with a content sigh as he examines the pyramid. But his satisfaction only lasts so long, as is common among children below the age of six - and most adults, if they're honest - before he's blinking up at Harry. "Pizza?"

"And guess who got those chocolate cakes for dessert?"

Teddy lets out a growling noise of excitement as he drops his head back against the couch cushion, grinning toothily. "Really?"

"Well we haven't had anything sweet in a few days," Harry reasons, brushing Teddy's mousy hair back from his forehead, "Plus you were so good today while I worked."

"It was really boring," Teddy agrees, finger finding the holes in Harry's 'writing day' joggers.

Harry presses a kiss to Teddy's forehead as he reaches forward to grab the remote. "Let's pick something to watch, yeah?"

They've settled on some animated film from a few years earlier that probably premiered during midterms since Harry has absolutely no recollection of its existence, and he's fairly certain food falling from the sky as a plot point is something he'd remember.

It's funny, even with all the weight and pressure of raising a toddler alone - well not alone, but technically - there's something magic about experiencing another person's childhood. Like you get to recapture some of the simplicity by just being around the joyful ease.

Which, though it might sound odd to an outsider, actually means Harry ends up feeling that relief of stress most of his contemporaries find with nameless strangers and overpriced cocktails with a slice of pizza and a silly movie shared with his favorite little person.

Though he can't really say there aren't days - and nights - where he wishes he had a companion, or a regular adult he could commiserate with and yes, flirt and romance a bit. But it hasn't been particularly at the forefront of his mind, full as his days are between research and Teddy. Until a certain freckled ginger was practically dropped into his lap with a doughnut and a smile.

It's some kind of terrible miracle that he's only just met Ginny now, that their paths never crossed over the early years of his and Ron's friendship. But apparently, Fate decided to shift in his favor at least on some level and now he's aware a woman like her exists and he feels like a dolt because he hardly knows her and -

That's the moment Teddy decides to upend the pizza box, send stray crusts flying like a sad flock of birds, and knock his glass of milk so the carpet is definitely going to smell rancid if he doesn't move quickly.

And then, because Teddy is a sweet little boy, he immediately turns red and begins wailing like a siren and buries his face in Harry's jumper. Thus Harry gathers him up in one arm and begins the process of cleaning up, prioritizing with factors like "will this attract bugs, and if so what size?" or "how bad will the smell be if this sits another minute?" and other similar questions he's learned to ask over the course of his day to day housekeeper and godfather training.

As he's wiping up the milk with a mixture of detergent, warm water, and a pinch of desperation - a concoction he's perfected over the years - his phone vibrates on the end table and nearly rattles itself directly into the damp patch on the carpet. When he grabs it, the screen is lit with a picture of him in his doctoral regalia - complete with crooked and very swotty looking cap - while his mum links her arm around his neck and presses her forehead to his temple, and his dad is nearly completely out of frame, laying a sloppy kiss on Harry's cheek.

It's a mess of a photo, but an unbelievably accurate representation of most of his life with James and Lily Potter, and definitely a shot that never fails to bring an affectionate smile to his face. Teddy snuggles into Harry's neck with a few shuddering breaths while Harry swipes to answer the call. "'Lo Mum."

"You sound a bit harried, love," she says, concerned, before her voice becomes a bit distant as she shouts, "Oh, don't you dare -" Lily refocuses on Harry and sighs, "Your father has a horrible addiction to puns."

"I blame his friendship with Sirius," Harry says as he puts the call on speaker and resumes his scrubbing, "It started him early with all the 'punny' shite."

There's some shuffling and then James' voice comes through loud and slightly breathless, "I resent having all my defining characteristics being credited to outside sources."

Lily returns with a chuckle. "No, that flair for the dramatic is all your own - I do think that is a hereditary thing though, sorry to say, my darling boy."

Harry huffs as Teddy recovers and maneuvers until he somehow ends up with his arms wrapped around Harry's neck in something very near a choke hold. "I resent that. We are a drama free household, Teddy and I."

At the sound of his name, Teddy wriggles happily, which has the sorry effect of tightening his grip around Harry's windpipe.

As he chokes, Harry loses his grip on his mobile and nearly sends it directly into the milky mess on the carpet. It's one close call too many and Harry's brain is definitely a bit fried, so he tosses the sponge down and drags Teddy up onto the couch with him, phone in hand once again. "Sorry Mum, gonna have to repeat that - and Ted's made a bit of a mess so we'll have to - "

"I raised you, my imagination can fill in the blanks," Lily says with a chuckle, "Anyway I was just calling - we, your father has corrected me - to see say we love you and want to have a night with Teddy."

While his godson topples over on the couch, giggling into the cushions, Harry brushes his still baby soft hair back from his sweaty forehead and smiles. "Sunday dinner right? We can come a little earlier if you prefer?"

The kettle whistles in the background and Harry can almost see the familiar scene in his head; Lily and James working in tandem, shuffling about in the kitchen as they pull out the honey, milk, lemon. James reaching over Lily's head to grab two mugs from the cabinet. Lily expertly measuring out the tea leaves while James sneaks up behind her and presses a kiss to her temple.

Imagining them that way, all affectionate and touchy has all the normal effects on Harry - from childhood, he could be expected to do the requisite dramatic wincing and whining whenever his parents even looked like they were going to kiss. Or had kissed at any point in the last ten minutes. But as he's gotten older, it's changed somewhat. Not that he particularly likes seeing them all loved up - or at least not that he'll admit openly.

But there's a part of him that needs to see it, just a little, so he knows it's real, that it happens to regular people, and that maybe it's not such an unattainable dream.

Because he does dream about it, the soft parts of being with someone. Not just the more sensually pleasurable elements of a relationship - though he certainly does want those too - but the companionship, the familiarity, the comfort of someone knowing you and seeing you for what you are and loving you because of and despite all of it.

It's that hope that's sustained him through lonely nights, break-ups that said he just wasn't worth the trouble, and years where he wondered if the faceless woman of his dreams could even exist.

Harry's jolted from his moderately angsty thoughts when Lily clears her throat, laughter lightening her voice as she asks, "When did I lose you?"

Unsure how to break it to his mum that she'd essentially been talking to herself for the last handful of minutes, Harry hems and haws as he tries to find any scrap of information that might have leaked in his sad, overfull, and very lonely brain.

Perhaps it's thoughts of the upcoming move that motivate Lily when she takes pity and sums up her one-sided discussion. "I was saying we'd really like to have some quality time with Teddy in addition to family dinner."

Teddy wanders over and hands Harry a block importantly - earning a slightly exaggerated face of excitement from his godfather - before reclaiming his seat surrounded by entirely too many toys to play with at once.

Tapping the wooden block on his knee, Harry refocuses, "So what, am I not cute enough to see?"

"You are now, have always been, and will forever be, the most adorable thing I have ever laid eyes on," there's a shout from the background followed by Lily's "James is being dramatic" voice and then she returns her attention to Harry, "Sorry, your father is being a child."

And then suddenly James is on the line. "I am not being a child - I just said, it's good to know after thirty some odd years together I am the second most adorable thing my wife has ever seen."

There's silence aside from some whispers Harry should probably be grateful he can't hear and then Lily clears her throat, "I need to have a chat with your father."

James laughs. "Is that what the kids are calling it these days?"

Wincing, Harry groans, "Ew. Thanks for that. Text me the day and time for your Teddy visit. I'm going to go bleach my brain."

"I'm sorry, my love, your father is just - "

"Irresistible?" James tries.

"Refractory."

"I'm going to hang up before you guys go full thesaurus time - "

Lily's a bit distracted and definitely forcing an innocent tone into her voice when she asks, "What?"

"You know what you're doing, Mum," Harry murmurs lowly, though a smile is tickling his lips, "Go off and do - whatever. I love you."

"Oh, darling. We love you too. And I do want mum and son time - but you've earned a night out, don't you think? It may be a while yet before you get another."

As the line goes dead, Harry lets his mind drift to what exactly he would do on a night off. Probably catch up on laundry and binge-watch something he's already seen with take out on the couch. What a wild young man he is.

Luckily, a fringe benefit of raising a child is the complete and utter lack of time to sulk. Which means that sooner rather than later, Teddy's summoning Harry to play with his car set and cue up the matching show on the telly. And before long, all thoughts of nights off and lost youth are far from Harry's mind.


The following morning (of what should have been a reasonably calm Friday), Harry's phone nearly vibrates off the nightstand at an ungodly hour that, in his opinion, should not exist. He's half ready to give whoever it is a piece of his mind, but to everyone's benefit, he realizes it's the head of the Archaeology Department - or the Indiana Jones school, if Ron and Teddy's opinion could be taken into account - before he gets rolling. So, instead of drifting back off, Harry throws himself out of bed and pours a great big mug of steaming coffee with a splash of milk. Sipping slowly and feeling more dead than alive, he reminds himself that Archaeology has always been his dream and that brutal awakenings by over-demanding department heads are worth it if, at the end of this sleepless road, there is a grant waiting for him, which could be used to finance that dig he's been dying to do since forever.

Mug half empty, Harry abandons it in the kitchen sink and starts brushing his teeth before popping his head out of the bathroom to analyse the current child situation. If Teddy is still fast asleep and they take the bus instead of their regular stroll down to campus, then they might make it in thirty. Considering it decent timing, Harry spits, gurgles and closes the tap before scanning his closet to pick the day's outfit. White polo shirt and beige chinos seem to work well enough so he dresses quickly, then proceeds to wake up Teddy.

Ten minutes, a rushed breakfast, and a couple of whiny complaints later, Harry zips up the little man's light summer jacket and they step outside into the misty daylight.

Keeping a firm grip on Teddy's hand, Harry leads them toward the bus stop and settles them in for a short wait since they miraculously managed to make it with time to spare.

While Teddy bounces his favorite - God help them all when they finally wear out or get outgrown - purple and blue light up trainers, Harry fiddles with the loose clasp on his satchel.

Down the bus station, it's the expected morning crowd they run into. Dog walkers chatting while their pets do their business, rushing men and women in tailored suits sliding into cabs with phones practically surgically attached to their hands - until a couple emerges from one of the flats across the increasingly busy street.

They move so slowly, it's almost as if they are in another world entirely, hands soft and expressions softer. She's wearing an over-large shirt that is likely borrowed, he's every bit the besotted fool, and Harry can't help but feel a pang in his chest. It's been a long time since - since a lot of things. But most importantly, he feels impossible to recount such blissful, easy days, recognises he's never even worn the mollified expression painted on the man's face. He's never had that, not once.

And it would be nice to blame it on something, but he really can't pin down a 'reason' why he's alone. He just, is.

While the couple wander slowly toward a leisurely breakfast that will almost definitely include lots of shared bites and footsies beneath the table, Harry bundles Teddy onto the bus and they begin a game of 'I Spy' that lasts until Harry tugs the strap and they emerge just a few paces shy of the main campus green. The damp morning air is almost clear now, the golden sun's rays spearing through the grey and lifting Harry's spirits once again. He lifts his chin and, tightening his hold on the little boy's hand to gather strength, they make their way down the well known road to the department office.

Less than an hour later, it's Teddy who's tugging a baffled and whitefaced Harry along the sidewalk, shepherding him home in that way small kids do when they sense that adults no longer have the power to be in charge. The young man keeps on walking, eyes blank and mind in a frenzy of panic and disjointed thoughts. He's been offered the grant he did not even dare to dream of, the one he never had the cheek to ask for. It was incredible, terrific and could not have come at a worse time. His parents and godfather moving. His godson growing up and needing lots of extra time and care. His sabbatical almost at its end. And, to top it all off, a new deadline he has to accommodate if he ever wants to shovel his way to a new discovery somewhere in the sandstorm of the Atacama Desert. Three months he's been given, ninety days to come up with nothing less than a brilliant hypothesis and then proceed to explain and confirm it. He feels his stomach clench and a wild need to vomit shakes his entire body. It was impossible to do all that in three months and his department head knew it all too well. Harry lets out a heartnumbing sigh.

"You oh-kay?" Teddy stops in his tracks and sets his big gray eyes on his godfather, a crease forming between them. His intuition tells him that something is not as it should and immediately his mind settles on the best cure. Smiling cheek to cheek, he confidently announces, "You need doughnuts! Run to Ron!"

Harry's troubled grimace melts into a humored expression, as he bends down to hug the boy and lightly kiss his forehead.

"I don't know what I've done to deserve you, Ted," Harry murmurs, eyes glassy as he presses his scarred forehead - a token of his reckless childhood - to his godson's. "Let's go home, shall we? I reckon some Chinese special will do us good for today, yeah?" Harry adds, briefly caressing Teddy's cheek before turning on his heels to continue their walk, thoughts of merciless department heads and terrible deadlines pushed aside.


"You've been a naughty boy, Harry," a young woman, all freckles, plump lips and a mane of long red hair, whispers, as she pounces towards him slowly, languorously, like feline getting ready for her prey. "So very naughty," she drawls, winking at him. Harry's heart skips a beat and he starts sweating fast and hard, feeling like he's seen this woman before. At a closer look, he observes with much stupor that he's been tied to a chair. Just the chair is no regular chair, but made out of books and whips, while academic papers are crawling up his legs - crawling with such lightness and speed he's afraid there'll be no time to stop them.

"Watch me, Harry," the woman whispers in his ear, her nails scraping at his scalp and all the way down his nape and even lower, deep along his back. "Is teasing what you like?" the redhead asks as she turns in a small pirouette and starts undoing the straps of her dress. Harry's green eyes are glued to her and he anticipates the feel of her hot burning skin on his. Looking up, he gives the loudest shriek seeing how the beautiful woman is no longer a woman, but his own best mate, his eyes turned to slits and throwing daggers at distressed Harry.

"How dare you touch my sister?" Ron-in-a-dress growls, approaching him with a large book on lost sites of the world's deserts in his hand. He lifts the old tome up and, as he prepares to strike, Harry thrashes so hard he falls back with his chair and wakes in a stronghold of sheets and perspiration.

Setting himself free, Harry rests on the edge on the bed, arms cradling knees and tired eyes closed shut.

"I'm going mad," he breathes, still shaking. "If someone had the heart to offer me some help right about now, I'll be sure not to reject it," he says as he massages his temples, voice groggy with restless sleep.

Stretching to reach the night stand and check the time on his phone, he's surprised to find a text from his mum, informing that they'll drop by to pick up Teddy around lunch time the next day and have him by the end of the weekend. His lips turn into a bittersweet smile, thanking his luck that he is suddenly looking at two relaxing days, but also completely understanding they might be some of his last if he doesn't do something about it - and fast.

Switching the mobile to silent mode, he drops his head back on the pillows and concentrates on having a rather less dynamic set of dreams for the remaining hours of the night.

Chapter Text

A/N: Monday update is here! Come say hi to us on tumblr @itsblissfuloblivion

Love,

@gryffindormischiefand @fightfortherightsofhouseelves


Harry grinds his teeth and dials Ron's phone number. The day has been a real pain even without Teddy to watch over and he blames it all on his fun little dream session from the night before. Still, it's been awhile since he allowed himself to say bugger, grab his keys and wallet, throw on some random t-shirt and jeans, and just go out with the boys. Well, technically, it is the boy. The other part of their young adults complaining about life gang was stuck in her office - by choice, if he might add. Hermione never missed an opportunity for some extra studying, so working as a lawyer meant exactly that. Sometimes, he thinks Ron is the only one with a smart and successful career path.

He sighs and waits for the line to connect. On the other side, his mate's sleepy voice forms a barely distinguishable "Hullo?" and Harry wonders how can someone be sound asleep at nine in the evening. Precisely because, yes, unlike himself, this someone is the only one with a smart and successful career path. Working when he wants and how he wants, Harry thinks with a trickle of envy fuelled by roughly ten liters of coffee and a couple of sleepless nights hunched over his desk.

"Wake up, we're going out. Rosmerta's pub down on Abbey Road," Harry utters strict instructions.

"Hello to you too, you nutcase. Who phones a bloke in the middle of the night on a Saturday and commands him out his bed with no shame?" Ron complains, but nevertheless rolls out of his sheets to put some clothes on and swiftly brush his teeth.

"First of all, it is nine, which means there are three more hours until the middle of the night," his old sass comes out as he impatiently explains.

"And second of all?"

"There is no second of all," Harry drawls as if Ron just asked why two plus two do not equal three, but four.

"You can't say 'first of all' if you don't plan on following with a 'second of all', mate," the ginger haired man points out matter-of-factly.

"Ron, I reckon spending all that time with Hermione has permanently damaged you," Harry shakes his head and checks the time on his old battered watch. "Just meet me there in forty, alright?" He addresses the question in a rather harassed tone and slams the phone's lid shut. Grabbing a pair of sneakers and mentally thanking his parents for agreeing to look after Teddy for the night even in the midst of another crazed packing session, he makes his way towards the hall and closes the apartment door behind him.

"So the reason you summoned me at an ungodly hour is?" Ron raises a ginger eyebrow as his best mate makes his way back clad with two pints filled to the brim.

"Ungo-Nevermind that," Harry clicks his tongue and takes a seat opposite Ron. "I needed a break," he shrugs and takes a long sip to get through the annoying foam left on top by the bartender. Not his day, it seems.

"Right," Ron nods and mirrors his friend, lifting the pint to his lips. "But why?"

Harry ruffles his hair in frustration, searching for a way to phrase his answer. "Teddy - I reckon I'm all he's got left and I can't abandon him, I can't!"

Apparently the expression on his face alarms Ron, because he bends over the lager stained table and pats Harry on the shoulder twice, whispering something close to "breathe" and "let it all out." Harry has a hunch that this might be another of Hermione's tips and tricks, but chooses to shut up, for the moment at least.

"I'm fine," he huffs.

"Of course you are," Ron replies, seeming unable to decide if he should repeat the shoulder patting or not.

"Listen to me, I only need a break! Or, at least, a break once in awhile, particularly when I'm working under a deadline from hell and so far my best option is not sleeping for at least a week," he adds, conscious that he's sounding a wee bit dramatic, but it's not really the time to care. He did call his friend out of bed to complain, so complain he will.

"What about James and Lily?" Ron asks, wiping his mouth with the back of his palm. Briefly, Harry is reminded of another person with a freckle just above her upper lip, but nearly faints when he realises that he's projecting those thoughts on Ron, the person he's having the conversation with, and not his sister, who is probably out with some tall dark and handsome good-for-nothing at a fancy place or whatnot. He has a feeling this small detail, unconsciously burned into his brain, might have been the coal which fired his imagination into overdrive last night.

"They're moving, along with Sirius," Harry says with a sigh, "Yeah, the whole gang is packing as we speak and will soon move overseas, to New York no less." He knows the lack of enthusiasm for his parents' progress careerwise does him no honour, but it's not really the time to start feeling self conscious. Sirius always did say that there are mornings specially designed for that, so where was the rush?

"Oh. Good for them," Ron pipes up and lifts his pint in cheers. "Right. How about Ginny?"

Harry feels beer flooding his nostrils as he starts coughing wildly. Ginny? Ginny Weasley aka the girl he'd been thinking about mostly every second of his existence after that glorious day at the bakery? The girl that has haunted every one of his dreams, adult content included? Well, that seems like a mighty fine idea! Why not invite her to his home on a regular basis and just smack his head against the wall every time he wants to gawk at her? Yes, why not?

"Look, you don't have to make a decision right now, but I'll give you her number just in case," the young man flips open his phone and punches the keys to find his baby sister's number and sends it via text to Harry - who feels the urge to caress the bleeping screen that now shows the five letters forming her name. He blinks as he reads the name and the digits next to it for the sixth time, feeling like he'd just been told one of the best guarded secrets of humankind.

Ron tosses a peanut into his mouth with the same expert accuracy he honed in their school days and glances at Harry, "I know I do the whole sibling bit with Ginny, but she really is good with kids. Fleur even picks her over Gabrielle - which is a big deal since Ginny doesn't know how to bake an adequate souffle, which is apparently considered a legitimate concern in that household."

"I don't know, mate. I reckon it might do me good to have a helping hand with Teddy while I work," he ponders, tracing the brim of the pint with one finger. "My department head did put my name up for that big grant, by the way," Harry suddenly grins and lifts up his gaze to meet Ron's, leaving out the fact that he'd also signed him up for a burnout the size of an elephant in a mission impossible three months race to the finish line. There was time to commiserate about that later.

"Bloody brilliant," Ron chimes and clinks his glass to Harry's. Although his eyes sparkle with genuine enthusiasm for his best mate, Harry can't help but wonder whether there has been any moment of regret for Ron, for giving up on his academic career when family took first place. The thought makes Harry's stomach shrink and he's filled with a wave of compassion for the man standing opposite him.

"You're an amazing friend, you know that, right?" Harry speaks his mind on impulse, but is surprised to find that he does not regret it. Expressing emotion and feelings is not his strongest point, that much he knows.

"Aw, you're not so bad yourself," Ron grins toothily as his ears color a faint shade of pink and then coughs to hide his obvious glee at being complimented. "Now about Ginny," he swiftly changes the subject, "I reckon she'd say yes, if you gave her a call."

"W-Why is that?" Harry stammers and his heart wildly beats to an ever-increasing pace.

"Just a guess," Ron replies and Harry thinks he might have even winked, but can't be certain it's not his tired mind playing tricks. "You seemed to have a good time the other day," he cocks an eyebrow, studying the dark-haired man who is currently looking intently at his fingernails.

"Yeah, she's nice," he mumbles pathetically.

"Mhm," Ron sips his drink slowly, "Right." Harry believes his mate left something unsaid, but doesn't feel bold enough to ask what. Looking down at the screen of his phone once more, a brief vision of Ginny laughing and spinning Teddy around in his living room plays before his eyes and he feels mollified. He gets an idea.

"But what will her boyfriend think about her spending all her time in another bloke's house?" He asks smugly and Ron nearly asphyxiates himself with beer.

"Blimey," he sighs, "I'll be gentle with you and just say that she's recently become single, but, mate, I need to add this - and it's only as a favour to you, because I care about you, okay? If you want to have an actual date this century, bring up your charm game."

"Said the man who wouldn't have noticed that Hermione was in love with him even if she danced naked in his face and shouted it herself," Harry comments, visibly incensed.

"Hey, that's a different story, alright?" Ron blushes and slightly pouts, while Harry chuckles and gets up to order another round. Counting the empty pints piling up on their table, he realises they've already downed five each and immediately knows this is not his best idea yet. The young man braces himself for misery and regrets in the morning, but being so far away from the imminent moment, he chooses not to spend another second lingering on such an irksome thought.

Hours later, he's violently woken up by a massive headache and has to fight his way out of the tangled sheets strangling him and run to the loo to hurl his stomach out. Eyes turned to slits because of the searing pain, Harry fumbles for the medicine cabinet and retrieves one ibuprofen, his cure of choice for the scarce mornings when he experiences the effects of an intense hangover. Chugging a full glass of water in one go, Harry notices his phone bleeping and flips it open. To his stupor, a text message from one "Gin" pops on the screen and Harry is a hundred percent positive he's about to receive permanent brain damage from the shock.

Gin: Did u know the first time the concept of carpe diem was written down was in the Epic of Gilgamesh?

Sweating, Harry punches the keys to get to the sent folder and see what drunk slurrings he'd written in his state of inebriety and overconfidence. Bloody hell, he swears hard under his breath as the text "there are no messages left" appears on the screen. Apparently, at one point during his fun night he considered deleting all his sent messages to be a brilliant idea. And, to spice things a little, he'd also saved her number as "Gin". We're not even dating and I already came up with pet names, how efficient of me, he thinks, mentally kicking himself.

"Darn it," he curses again, hitting one of Teddy's strewn toys to blow off the steam. "The first time in a long time I get a girl's number and it's from her brother, for babysitting. And even then I somehow manage to scare her away by getting pissed drunk and generally being allowed to carry a phone with me," he continues his annoyed musings, plopping down on the couch with his arms crossed.

Still, the message has been there for a while, so he at least needs to figure out some damage control.

Harry: I confess I did not.

He pockets his phone with shaky hands and pulls it out every other second to look at it. Feeling stressed out, he ruffles his hair and makes his way for the shower to at least attempt to relax.

Squeezing more shower gel than usual and massaging it into his muscles, Harry closes his eyes and tries to forget the whole text message fiasco. However, it's no use as his mind goes haywire, delving into scenarios of disaster built around multiple ideas of what he could have written. Prayers are being sent to the heavens so that it won't turn out that he'd acted like a total creep and promises to never lay lips on alcohol are being made to whatever deity is watching over him. Minutes later, he gives up and exits the shower to towel himself thoroughly and find his glasses.

Just as he reaches for his phone to call his parents and see what they're up to and if they can come by and drop Teddy - there's no way he's leaving the house this hungover, the small device starts to buzz.

Gin: Ah, then that kinda kills my well prepared seize the moment joke :(

A smile creeps on Harry's face and his deft fingers immediately start pressing keys. Oh thank God she's not scared yet, he gushes inside his head.

Harry: Sorry? Can I ever make up for my disgusting lack of knowledge?

Feeling smug at his own wickedness and creativity, Harry throws the phone over his shoulder on the couch cushions only to dive after it three seconds later, for fear that she might respond and he might not hear the sweet beeping sound announcing it. To his utter pleasure, three dots appear on the screen, signifying that she's composing yet another reply. Harry starts breathing hard under the pressure.

Gin: For this and for asking me to give up my only free Sunday to watch little Teddy ;) You've got a lot of making up to do, mister.

He's mortified and would gladly dig himself a hole and hide there for the rest of his life. At this point, drunk texting her that she's beautiful and sexy would have been a million times better than requesting that she sacrifice her weekends for his sake.

"Oh God, tell me that at least I asked nicely," he breathes and falls back on the couch, shoving off his glasses and covering his eyes with the back of his palm.

Gin: Jk, don't panic. See you at five, right?

Contrary to her request, Harry does panic. Why are they meeting at five? What did he say? Time for damage control suddenly became a thing of the past. Great job, Potter, you sly seducer of women.

Harry: Sure thing, but why?

Smooth. Real smooth. He thinks that if he's going to make a mess out of the situation, might as well go in head first.

Gin: Erm you invited me to come for a test drive, see if Teddy and I would get along. Or was it some kind of joke? Because I cleared my schedule for the evening and let me tell you that I do not appreciate having to be that flexible when my thesis deadline is basically knocking at my door.

She sends in a harassed looking emoji after the long text and Harry is filled with new found hope. He did not invite her out on a date, did not offend her with drunken flirting (hopefully) and, most importantly, was sane enough to formulate a proposal that Ginny would accept. He mentally hifives himself and works up the nerve to respond.

Harry: I have tripped, fallen down the stairs, rolled down to basement level and have since been experimenting momentary lapses of memory and reason. Does this qualify as an acceptable answer?

Gin: Lol no

Gin: I've just run into my brother being very much hungover. No need to explain anymore

Gin: Psheesh boys

Harry: Oops busted! But I will make up for it, pinky promise

Gin: Now you have three things to make up for, I'm counting ;)

Harry: ughhh do I get off one or two if I say I'm terrible at maths?

Gin: Nope. See you later

Gin: Btw I like going wild with cheese toppings on pizza

Harry blushes. Did he just have the most amazing written conversation with a girl ever? Yes, yes he did. And it came so naturally, he didn't even have to think it through. Grinning madly, he skips back to his bedroom to put some house clothes on and whistles as he starts tidying up and inspecting the premises to hide anything embarrassing.

Chapter Text

What's a Monday without Harry and Ginny fussing over Teddy? Welcome to the Hinniest chapter yet and please tell us what you think!

Love,

gryffindormischief&

fightfortherightsofhouseelves


Somehow, Harry manages to work on his research with minimal freaking out for almost three hours before Teddy wakes, which is pretty adult and mature and responsible. And definitely not because Harry woke up at an unnatural hour with that blasted headache and couldn't fall back asleep because his heart was pounding at the thought of Ginny being in his flat in less than ten hours.

So by the time Teddy pads into Harry's office, rosy cheeked and bleary eyed, Harry's feeling pretty good about himself, professionally speaking. And considering his tendency to overthink, Harry decides to keep things busy, mostly by giving Teddy the most overfull and overly planned day he can manage. Enough so that by two hours before Ginny's set to arrive, Teddy's in desperate need of a nap otherwise Ginny will definitely not take the job or whatever it is when you ask your best mate's sister on whom you have a crush to help you watch your half-adopted godson while you work on a research paper for a grant that he wants and now half thinks he can get -

Anyway, Teddy drifts off for a short nap that will hopefully not destroy Harry's chances of getting to sleep at a reasonable hour tonight, and Harry putters around the house, trying not to obsessively clean the flat. Though he does do that little 'chop' thing on top of all the throw pillows Mum had said made him look civilized.

At about quarter 'til four, Harry's changed his t-shirt to a button up to another t-shirt and finally ends up wandering about topless and hopeless with messy hair, bare feet, and a lingering hangover.

He's staring uselessly at the kettle as it fills with water from the tap when Teddy pads out from his bedroom and wraps his little arms around Harry's thigh tiredly. "Is Ginny comin' still?"

Harry turns off the tap and twists to run his free hand over Teddy's flyaways. "She is. You be on your best behavior, yeah? We want her to like being here."

Teddy scratches his nose a bit clumsily. "Sure," he looks thoughtful, "She's pretty."

Biting back a smile, Harry sets the kettle to heat and pulls out a mug for himself, and another for the milk Teddy's sure to request. "Yes, but that's not why we'll be behaving around her, Ted."

Eyes rolling in a manner that has Harry dreading the teen years, Teddy uselessly grabs for the tea biscuits that rest in a jar at the back of the counter. "I know. Do I have to wear a shirt?"

Fingers straightening his glasses, Harry blinks down at Teddy, "Er- yes?"

"But you don't."

"I- I was about to put one on," Harry answers, hoping that will satisfy Teddy's curiosity.

In vain, apparently, because Teddy prods further. "Why'd you take yours off?"

"Because - " Harry falters, not quite sure why he doesn't want to admit his sudden inability to dress himself, until he settles on, "I didn't want to end up with spilt tea or biscuits all over it. Bad impression."

Teddy nods knowingly, "So I should take mine off too."

Which is how Harry and Teddy end up crowded around the eternally cluttered kitchenette table shirtless, giggling, and covered in varying amounts of crumbs. Perhaps the no shirt idea is a good one - just hose off after meals. Or if that gets too chilly, they could just wear raincoats.

Together, they demolish a bit more of the biscuit package than is strictly healthy, but Harry's feeling too light to care. And anything that gets Teddy's face flush with happiness and eyes crinkling like Tonks' - it's difficult to say no.

Once they've both brushed the crummy bits from their chests, Harry grabs the tea towel from the bartop and begins scooping the little mounds into his hand while Teddy slowly moves each dish into the kitchen, one at a time.

Harry's setting the suds rising in the sink when he hears the front door slam against the wall with a dull thud, followed by the blood rushing from his face and his heart slamming in his chest because Teddy's not at the table anymore -

With clumsy, rushed feet, Harry stumbles into the entryway halfway through shouting Teddy's name in a panic when he comes chest to face - she's really quite short - with Ginny Weasley. Sucking in a breath when her hand presses to his sternum, Harry tries to grind his brain back into gear enough to convey his concern about his missing godson.

Who luckily, chooses that moment to reappear at Harry's hip, grinning widely. "I gotted the door."

Ginny suddenly becomes fascinated with the wallpaper pattern and pulls her hand away - much to Harry's regret - giving the little family a moment for a tete-a-tete. As she pushes the door shut and slides the lock home, Harry squats and holds Teddy, who is beginning to look like he's catching on that Harry's less than happy, still in front of him. "Teddy, what's the rule about answering the door?"

Ducking his head, Teddy murmurs something into his clenched hand, shuffling his feet nervously. Harry gently tugs the fist away and taps Teddy's chin with soft fingers, "Sorry mate, I didn't quite catch that."

"Y' said not t' do it unless I ask you first."

"Got it in one, little man," Harry says, firm as he brushes Teddy's hair back from his forehead, "And why?"

Teddy frowns, "So I stay safe."

Harry presses a kiss to his sweat clammy forehead and shoos him toward the bedrooms. "Now how about you go put a t-shirt on, eh?"

Nodding, Teddy vaults off to his room, likely about to make a mess of his bureau while he searches for the perfect shirt. After watching him go, Harry rises from his squat to find Ginny watching him thoughtfully, gaze never leaving his form. And though there's a flush on his cheeks, she doesn't balk when she notes he's charted her mapping of his bare chest. "If I'd known dress was so casual, I'd've left my blouse in the car."

Before he can ponder about just how wildly inappropriate it would be to suggest it wasn't too late, Teddy jogs back into the room and tugs at Harry's trouser leg, "I brought yours too."

Harry thanks Teddy and pulls the tee back over his head, eyes reemerging just in time to see Ginny watch a bit mournfully as his midriff disappears beneath the fabric. But they both seem to simultaneously recall this is hardly the time for ogling and flirting and - whatever else - and refocus their attention on Teddy, following as he babbles and leads them toward the den.

For nearly three quarters of an hour, Teddy conducts a seemingly endless parade of his 'favorite' toys which Ginny reacts to with the required 'oohs' and 'aahs', sharing teasing glances with Harry when Teddy's distracted. Eventually, Teddy does tire of the impromptu show and tell session and plops on the couch and lets his head droop into Harry's lap and blinks up at him, as if to say 'Well, you're up."

Tickling at Teddy's belly, Harry steals a glance at Ginny. Her smile is as soft as her fiery locks appear, drifting from Teddy's grinning face to Harry's. "What next, sir?"

"We've got a favorite park nearby - lots of grass to play in."

Teddy nods. "Plus we get ice lollies."

Ginny chuckles and claps her hands on her knees, "Well that settles things. Take me to this grassy land of ice lollies."

Like they've done it a million times before, the trio preps for their jaunt - pausing for Teddy to show off his light-up trainers - and soon spill onto the sidewalk. While Teddy swings their hands happily, Harry tries to subtly take a deep breath before turning to Ginny. "Thank you."

Her gaze shifts toward him. "Whatever for?"

"I - well for coming over and for entertaining the idea of whatever harebrained scheme I pitched to you in a drunken haze."

She snorts. "Ron was well and truly pissed - and he's got an iron liver - so I'm shocked you were as lucid as you were."

They stop at the crosswalk, Teddy staring pointedly at the red hand delaying his trip to the park, and Harry murmurs so little ears can't hear. "I'd not had a night off in - too long. At least a night off that didn't involve copious edits and a depressingly low amount of alcohol."

"Don't drink and edit, Potter."

Foot traffic begins moving again and they silently agree to lift Teddy over a sizeable puddle glistening ominously in the middle of the street, which earns gleeful squeals and sickly sweet looks from a couple of ancient looking ladies who Harry assumes believe they're a family.

Which, Harry will admit in the privacy of his own mind, doesn't sound all that hideous. But he's fairly certain no one in their right mind would take a statement even close to that sentiment well after knowing each other less than a fortnight. So he settles for continuing their conversation. "If I didn't drink when I was editing, I wouldn't have touched anything alcoholic since uni."

Ginny's laugh is loud and boisterous, her brown eyes twinkling at him in the late afternoon sun before she turns her attention to Teddy, "Your godfather is a bit dramatic, eh?"

Flushing, Teddy giggles and presses his forehead into Harry's leg, but nods. Traitor.

"Oi! I am not," Harry shoots back, though a smile is tugging at his lips, "Perhaps this wasn't such a good idea. I'm supposed to be your favorite, Ted."

"Rookie mistake there, Harry, I always win."

And Harry doesn't think he's imagining the way her voice goes a little warm as his name passes over her lips, and he really doesn't think he's reading into the way her lips quirk flirtatiously as she boasts. But he also knows he can't be that creepy bloke who assumes the potential nanny is also a potential - something else. It's been so long, he's likely to confuse most standard adult interactions with flirtation. So he lets the conversation drop, turning his attention to Teddy as he outlines each and every thing they will show and do with Ginny - which would take at least a fortnight of trips to the park if they followed through - and guides them toward a particularly beautiful section of the green space, complete with a duck pond.

To clear his head, and also give the duo some time together to click without him present, Harry distances himself a few paces away, watching as Teddy gently removes each treasured toy from his pack. After some debate, Teddy and Ginny settle on a simple game of catch, tossing the soft ball back and forth to mixed results, only stopping when a runaway football careens straight for Teddy's small head.

But instead of making impact and leading to a trip to hospital or at least much crying - from Teddy and Harry - Ginny darts forward in a blur of red and sends the ball flying with a swift strike of her foot. And at that point, he's not sure which of the two of them is more starry-eyed, but Teddy manages to get himself under control first and throws himself into Ginny's arms.

"You're the best," he turns to Harry, "Isn't she? Better than you."

Scoffing, Harry trots over and gracefully drops to the ground beside them, wild clumsy limbs cooperating for once. "I didn't take you for such a little traitor, Ted, but I guess I know better now."

Teddy giggles and buries his face in Ginny's neck as Harry's fingers tickle at his sides while Ginny playfully bats Harry's attacks away. "Don't listen to that spoilsport, Teddy. He's just jealous because I'm loads more qualified to train you to be a world class striker before you're out of primary."

Complying when Teddy tugs him down into the grass, Harry props his head on one hand and narrows his eyes at Ginny, "Everyone knows winger's the best position."

Ginny presses her hand to her chest with an affronted gasp. "You speak blasphemy."

And as Harry watches Teddy slowly twirling a lock of Ginny's bright hair around his little finger, he knows she's the one well on her way to having one Potter and one Lupin wrapped around her own.

Which is how Harry ends up wandering through the little grocery shop a couple blocks over, strolling through the aisles for the ingredients to make a pizza - because ordering it would be much less healthy. And more importantly, less fun.

So while Ginny guides Teddy through the process of searching the shelves, Harry trails close behind with the trolley, trying and failing not to enjoy just how disgustingly domestic this whole thing is. And if he had a simple schoolyard infatuation before, he's well and truly on the way to fancying Ginny Weasley's socks off.

All in all, a state of affairs that makes their amazing, off without a hitch evening a fantastic mixture of pleasure and torture that ends with a mutual agreement that Ginny'll report for duty relatively bright and early the following morning. Which in academic 'I'm not teaching any classes' speak means around ten.

It's lucky she's returning so soon, since Harry's fairly certain that promise and a demonstrative kiss from the woman herself are the only things that keep Teddy from a very loud and melodramatic protest when Ginny is slipping out the door just a handful of minutes before Teddy's normal bedtime.

The remaining half hour before Teddy's asleep is mostly spent ushering him through the usual routine - washing up, teeth brushed, pajamas on - while he recounts his favorite parts of their day with Ginny. Which, as it turns out, ends up being mostly everything.

Eventually, Harry does manage to get Teddy to drift off, tucked snugly into his bed save his left foot which forever droops over the side no matter what Harry tries. And once he putters around tidying the living areas as best he can, stripping down to his t-shirt and pants, and finally preparing a relaxing mug of tea, Harry collapses onto the couch and lets the tiredness seep into his bones.

Until his phone nearly buzzes itself off the table and Harry grabs it just before it tips over the edge. After taking in the photo of Sirius with his face squished close between Snuffles when he was still a puppy and Harry, all three pulling their own version of a grin, he sighs and mentally prepares himself for the drama forever implied by a conversation with his godfather.

Swiping his thumb across the screen, Harry brings the phone to his ear and collapses back against the seat cushions. "'Lo?"

"How's my favorite godson?"

"Only godson."

"Semantics."

Harry snorts and drags himself into a seated position so he can sip his tea. "To what do I owe the pleasure of this call?"

"Can't I just want to say hello?"

"In theory, sure," Harry laughs around the rim of his mug.

Sirius sighs. "I'm too old for this. I may or may not have come into some interesting information."

"Which is - "

"You've been entertaining a woman this evening."

After making a mental note to give Ron the cold shoulder 'til he gets at least a half dozen freshly made doughnuts free, Harry takes a long draw of his tea and rubs his eyes tiredly. "Yes, I had a wild evening of passionate romance while Teddy never sat more than two paces away. I suppose Ron failed to mention that his sister was coming over for a babysitting test run."

"I have no idea who you're talking about. But if I did, I would say this Ron fellow and I agreed that there were more than a few sparks flying between you and the young Miss Weasley."

Harry rolls his eyes and slumps further into the couch. "I'm not quite sure where to even begin."

"Skip the longing looks and get straight to the snogging."

"We didn't snog."

Sirius lets out a long-suffering groan, "I know, that was advice."

"Goodnight, Sirius."

"Goodnight, my ungrateful godson."

 

___

The next week and a half pass with surprisingly little drama, considering the general state of upheaval that is Harry Potter's life. Family dinners are a slightly more common occurrence as everyone seems to feel the weight of their impending division, Harry doubles down on his research at the expense of sleep and occasionally hygiene - if Teddy's feeling particularly difficult.

But it's all made better by a certain red head's presence at the flat four times a week, at the cost of her own thesis writing process, Harry reckons dejectedly. And that's only in part because of the lightness she brings to Harry's disposition just by being around. Ginny's fallen into place in their little family so quickly Harry almost can't recall what it was like before she was around, and he dreads the idea of her leaving.

Though it seems, at the moment, the only people destined to leave his daily life are two Potters and a Black. Which is still painful and a little scary, but light years less daunting of a thought now that Harry's secure in the idea that he won't be facing his new life alone - alone. A development that couldn't have come too soon, since James, Lily, and Sirius' moving day has manage to sneak up on them.

Luckily, Lily's knack for planning has outstripped James and Sirius' favor for utter and complete procrastination, which means they're entirely packed the day before they're set to fly to the States. They - meaning Lily - had also managed to get their larger items shipped ahead of time so it's simply a matter of sorting through the last of their necessities, getting the last few boxes shipped off, and packing for the flight itself.

It's Saturday, which is one of Ginny's usual days, so Harry'd offered her the morning off since they'd all be together. But she'd rolled her eyes and said she'd see him at eight.

Which was a lie, because Ginny arrived at quarter 'til with two coffees and entirely too much spunk for such a disgustingly early hour, particularly since Harry's normal state at any time pre-nine in the morning is bleary eyed and utterly riddled with bed head.

But she seems unperturbed, handing him his steaming cup with a wink before striding into Teddy's room to help him get ready for the day.

They take the Tube to James and Lily's - Sirius had moved in earlier that week for ease - and by the time they arrive, Ginny's got both boys in stitches with a riveting tale of her team effort with Ron and George to prank their rather swotty brother the Christmas before last.

Around eleven, Teddy starts getting stir crazy so Ginny herds him out to play footie - or some version of it - in the yard while Harry and the others collapse in chairs around the table. James is making himself busy searching for something to snack on when Lily turns to Harry. "She's lovely."

Harry meets her emerald gaze with his own and drawls, "Yes. Lovely."

James claims a seat and passes out bottles of water, tossing one to Sirius as he re-enters after his visit to the loo. "Lovely? She's amazing. Did you hear that bit about playing football at uni?"

Sirius takes a healthy swig of his water and tips his chair back on two legs, "I heard she almost went pro."

"You three are the worst."

Lily pats Harry's hand placatingly. "I'm just saying she's rather unbelievable."

Something flowery rushes in on the breeze just before Ginny chuckles, "I hope that's a good thing."

And somehow, it's James that comes to the rescue as he swings Teddy onto his lap and offers Ginny a seat next to him, "We were just saying it's a shame you've shown up just as we're leaving - we'd like to get to know you."

She smiles, accepting the bottle LIly slides to her and glances at Harry so quickly he almost thinks he's imagined it, before she says, "Well I don't plan on leaving, so you've got time."

___

After family dinner crowded around a sticky table at a nearby sandwich shop, Harry calls an Uber to take them home. Ginny refuses his offer to get dropped off, nodding her head toward Teddy where he's draped across her shoulder, completely and utterly asleep. She confirms the address with the driver in a quiet tone and ushers Harry into the car before sliding in after him. The car pulls away from the curb and Harry lets out a deep sigh, blinking away the wetness in his eyes.

But apparently not before Ginny noticed, since she slips her hand across the seat between them and wraps her fingers around his. Harry squeezes her hand gently and figures she'll pull away, but neither does until the car stops in front of his flat.

Working with an easy tandem they get Teddy bundled off to bed, teeth brushed and decked out in fresh pajamas, and then quietly wander into the kitchen silently.

Ginny flicks the kettle on and leans against the countertop while Harry putters around needlessly after he retrieves two mugs from the cupboard. She watches him quietly until he finally breaks. "I've never really been alone before. Even when I was at uni, or whatever else - it was always temporary and Mum, Dad, Sirius - they were never more than a phone call away."

"They're still a phone call away, just - long distance," Ginny says softly, knocking her elbow against his.

Harry's lip ticks up in a smile. "I know - it's just. I've always had a safety net. Now there's just - me."

She snorts, "Well now you're just being a git. They're not going away forever. And you've got me and Ron. And Hermione. Ron would even agree to be attached at the hip to you, much to his girlfriend's chagrin," Ginny laughs as she pours the steaming water from the kettle, "You two are a bit codependent; it's nasty."

A laugh leaves Harry's lips for the first time since they waved goodbye to his parents. "Thanks, I think." Ginny rises up on her toes and presses a chaste kiss to his cheek. "You're welcome. Now let's go binge something funny. And bring those ginger biscuits you think no one knows about."

___

Harry'd always had his teary goodbyes, but since the flight was entirely too early for anything remotely emotionally draining...Still Sirius does call him from their gate. "Good morning, my child," there's a muffled discussion that Harry's too overtired to comprehend and then Sirius returns, "James says I'm not your father so I have to say my godchild."

"It's four in the morning," Harry murmurs into his pillow, "Is there a point coming around any time soon?"

"Allow me my dramatics, Harry," Sirius says with a sigh, "It's my one joy. Well that, and my dog. My beautiful, well behaved, house trained, loving dog. Who - I might add - once rescued you from a horrid head injury."

"It was a tennis ball."

"Your skull hadn't fully formed."

"I was twenty."

There's a loud announcement in the background and Sirius refocuses, "We're boarding - pick up Snuffles from his vet this afternoon. He's staying with you, love you, bye."

Harry groans and tosses his phone to the mattress, only to be met with an angry groan and a tumbleweed of fiery red hair. "Can you throw your tantrum somewhere I don't have to hear it? Or maybe after ten o'clock?"

Just to be sure, Harry rubs at his eyes and fumbles his glasses onto his face, "Why - "

"You got all melodramatic about me traveling alone at night and I sassed you but your bed looked really comfortable and I was super tired."

"And I'm here because - "

"First, we're adults and second, that couch is not good for your back because you're an old man."

Flopping onto his back, Harry somehow manages to repress the tension rising into his shoulders because Ginny is in arms distance and warm and soft and in his bed and - "I'm going back to sleep."

Only Ginny's snores answer.

___

The next month passes in a blur, Teddy basically the happiest he's ever been with Ginny around more than she's not and a dog living with them full time, while Harry fights the pull of a nervous breakdown when his research stalls and his computer decides to crap out.

Teddy's just gone down for the evening and Harry's balled up his upteenth failed handwritten - thanks for nothing Genius Bar - draft when Ginny wanders from Teddy's room to Harry's 'office'. "I was going to head out for an evening of mind-numbing study."

"I'm going to stare at a bottle of Scotch and pretend I'm drinking away my troubles."

Ginny chuckles and plops into the lumpy chair Harry bought from his old neighbors. It still smells of mothballs, but it's cozy and Harry's a little attached. "I'm sorry, your whining has become a dog whistle for me."

Harry sticks out his tongue and tosses a stray mess of a draft at Ginny with what he would call definitive accuracy. Or would have, before Ginny caught it with barely a glance and immediately pelted it at his forehead. "What seems to be the problem, sad PhD man?"

Running his hands through his hair, Harry droops back into his seat and lets out a groan. "I've got this bloody grant looming over my head, my department head is finally showing some confidence in me, and my thesis is shite."

Ginny throws one leg up over the arm of her chair and rolls her eyes. "You're just piling three problems together to make it sound bigger than it is. In fact, the middle one isn't even a problem. And really the first one isn't either. And I would bet the third, which is the only actual legitimate problem, I would remind you, is being caused by your fixation on the first two."

"Don't be smug."

"I'm only smug when I'm right."

"You are constantly smug," Harry snorts.

"I'm constantly right," Ginny teases, working her hair free of its braid with deft fingers, the lamplight catching the gold in her hair, "You've got to just do the work - forget about the deadlines and the pressure. God forbid you take a day and give your poor brain a rest. In the meantime, just talk at me whenever you get stuck."

"I don't think you know what you're signing up for," Harry laughs, already lighter.

As he pushes the detritus on his desk away from his chest, Harry props his legs on the corner and leans back in his chair. "I'm a right mess."

"Don't be so sure of yourself, I've got six brother's worth of angsty boy experience," Ginny shoots back, fiery as ever. Though Harry can see the way her eyes go a bit hazy when she stumbles over the six. It's not been that long since Fred, and with these things, Harry's not sure the wound will ever heal - at least not fully.

But he honors her apparent wish to brush past the topic and lets it drop. "My paper - you know the Atacama Desert?"

"Sure."

Harry chuckles. "Well that particular region in Chile was at one time inhabited by the Inca, and there are these infamous pillars scattered through the desert and up until recently, no one was quite sure what they were. But there've been a few research trips by international teams over the past year or so and they're fairly certain the arrangement was connected to the the stars, particularly on the Autumn Equinox."

Flushing, Harry pauses and ruffles his hair, "Sorry you don't want to hear all this."

Ginny flicks her hair tie at his chest, "Don't make me come over there and fight you. Just finish the story, Professor."

Ignoring the way his heart picks up at the term Professor coming from Ginny's lips, Harry takes the opportunity to have someone listen to him babble and plows ahead. "My theory is that it was more significant than a way to track the year - the sun god, Inti, was a huge deal and heavily associated with the Inca State."

Ginny nods and Harry continues, "So wouldn't it make sense that a place believed to be a seat of power for the patron of the state to also be where you'd bury the greatest leaders?"

"Sounds like a pretty solid theory to me," Ginny says, thoughtful, "Why not just, write down what you just said and all your ideas related to it for the moment? Almost word cloud it a little? Brainstorming helps get out the ideas, good and bad."

Harry's gaze catches Ginny's for a minute and holds, before she lets out a breath and rises, "Well, I've done my duty. See you day after tomorrow?"

"Ted's going to be beside himself without you," Harry answers, following her to the front door.

They linger for a moment, his hand resting on the doorknob and Ginny's warmth and fresh flowery scent filling his senses as her dark eyes find his. "So - I - don't work too hard."

Laughing softly, Harry musses his hair with his free hand, "Never. Don't die of boredom."

"Is that what happens when your brain leaks out your ears?" Ginny asks, smiling wryly.

"Wrong kind of doctor to ask," Harry jokes, and he'd almost swear Ginny swayed closer before clearing her throat and taking a definitive step back.

"I'll uh, see you when I see you?"

With a somewhat awkward nod, Harry pulls the door open and watches Ginny as she makes her way to the lift, raising his hand in a wave as she steps inside.

He wakes the next morning, beautifully rested and more relaxed than he's been in about a thousand years. Before he rolls from the bed to rouse Teddy, Harry grabs his mobile from the nightstand and taps the message notifications - a few unimportant meme type messages from Sirius, Mum's daily good morning message (which is timed to be for his mornings because that's just Lily Evans Potter), and then a simple, stark message from Ginny Weasley: We need to talk.

Just to be sure he hadn't missed any previous messages, Harry taps on the thread and finds absolutely no context, just that one simple text that sends terror through his entire body.

The less brave part of himself wants to ignore the message, while the slightly more damn the torpedoes Harry favors answering with another text, and finally, reasonable adult Harry figures a vague 'we need to talk' message really means 'call me.'

So, after taking a gulp from the glass on his bedside table, Harry taps Ginny's contact and raises the phone to his ear. He's half hoping to get sent to voicemail, but she answers on the third ring. "Alright, Potter?"

"Er, as of now, yes. But if you're about to quit, I'm probably going to go into heart failure, fair warning."

"I - what? No, I have an idea for your article, or how to get it going I suppose," Ginny says, "Why did you think I was quitting?"

"Your exact message was 'we should talk' - if we were dating, I would've thought you were breaking up with me."

"Well I am not, so point one for me, and I have a little fixer for your article, so point number two," Ginny counts off, "Which means you really owe me pizza."

Chapter Text

When they meet two hours later, it’s over the largest cheesy pizza Harry can find in the time span between their early morning conversation, dressing Teddy for an impromptu outing, persuading Snuffles to go for a walk - he is Sirius’ dog alright, and the present in which they are crammed at one of Ron’s square tables with little red polka dots on it, dog resting his head on Ginny’s lap.

“Took you long enough,” she remarks between two mouthfuls of cheese bliss, licking the corner of her mouth in search of any stray bits and absentmindedly scratching Snuffles between the ears. 

“Well I am insulted,” Harry composes his face into a shocked expression, reminiscing how he had basically run to get to the bakery as fast as humanly possible - and as fast as Teddy could walk without having to carry him under one arm as he carried the elephantine pizza with the other, even though he did consider the possibility. “And may I point out that I was the first one here, child, dog and pizza brought along.”

“Only because Ron bullied me into running the longest list of errands known to mankind,” she replies, tongue cheekily sticking out as she scoots closer to him, earning an annoyed grunt from Snuffles who’s not too happy to engage in any changing of his comfortable position.

“Bullied? You use big words, little sis,” a harrassed voice looms above them. “And I do hope that my eyes deceive me, otherwise I will be forced to believe that my own best mate and my only sister are lavishing over a - a pizza on the premises of my honorable establishment,” the older Weasley presses on, hands on hips, apron and bonnet in general disarray.

“Pizza’s just as honorable,” says Ginny before pushing almost a full slice of the pie into her already full mouth, and Harry can’t help but add extra bonus points to her overall excellent score. He hasn’t even eaten half his part of the pizza and she’s already done, which, to him, is pretty awesome. She’s pretty awesome. He sighs.

Before Ron can get beside himself and launch into a full on banter with his sister, a distraction in the form of Teddy arrives, swinging himself into the redhead’s arms. Always excited to hear the little steps padding their way up and down the room, Snuffles lets out a joyful bark from under the table.

“I missed you too, little buddy,” he chuckles, spinning the five year old around and then balancing him on his hip. Judging by the flour and icing stains on his shirt, face and hair, he’d say that Teddy just successfully finished an exciting tour of the kitchens in his slight absence.

“So much for ‘don’t let him go wild in the kitchen’”, Ron turns his head to whisper to a bushy haired young woman wearing a knee-length navy blue dress and a guilty smile on her lips.

“He’s beyond my control and that’s all Harry,” Hermione shrugs and walks over to give Ron a kiss on the cheek and ruffle Teddy’s already messy hair.

“I will take offence on that,” the man in question scoffs, earning a giggle from his godson. 

“You do you,” Hermione rolls her eyes and takes the little boy from Ron, safely putting him down and taking his warm hand in hers. “Meanwhile, I’m taking Teddy and Snuffles for a fun walk outside, isn’t that right, Ted?”

“Yeah!” He jumps and claps, grabbing his light jacket and handing it over to Ginny to dress him.

“Still playing favourites, I see,” Harry teases as he leans over to tickle his godson’s belly, eliciting many an awwww from the bakery’s early morning customers. Subtly, he turns to look over his shoulder at Hermione and mouths thank you . She rarely takes a day off, because work is Hermione’s fuel and one of her main basic needs some might even say, and Harry makes a mental note to properly thank her for choosing to spend her scarce free time with Teddy and his somehow adopted dog to give him - dare he say them ? - some emergency alone time.

“Just make it worth my while,” she whispers near Harry’s ear as she pretends to add another toy to the little boy’s backpack, then grabs hold of the dog’s leash and secures it to his collar. Harry gulps, musing over exactly how much he’d like to do as he’s told, but he has rushed to meet Ginny this morning for entirely different reasons so that’s that, he guesses.

“You kids have fun now,” Ron grins, rubbing his hands of the flour excess, “and I’ll be ready in about an hour.” 

“Whatever for?” Ginny raises a ginger eyebrow. 

“I resent the tone and implication of your question, baby sister,” he pouts, “but I might be able to tell you that I’m taking my girl for a romantic evening with champagne and a candle lit dinner plus -”

“Eww, TMI, Ron! T-M-I,” the younger Weasley crinkles her nose and pretends to gag to Harry and Hermione’s amusement. Still, her protests fall on deaf ears and Ron winks at his girlfriend, mouthing something to the effect of “tonight, dreams will come true” with a wiggle of his eyebrows and a would-be sensual grin. Hermione hides her blush behind a curly lock of hair, shepherding Teddy out of the bakery, light trench coat hugging her form as she waves her friends goodbye with one hand and wraps the soft leather leash around the wrist of the other.

“Please tell me that the two of you are not coming back home after your romantic dinner , as I do plan on sleeping tonight. Thesis submission date is three weeks away, you know,” Ginny stresses, fixing Ron with a gaze worthy of the strictest professor Harry’s had in his uni years, one Minerva McGonagall. A woman who could not be crossed - and it makes Harry both scared and amazed to see the same light in Ginny’s eyes.

“I doubt he can hear you,” Harry chuckles, watching Ron stare after Hermione’s form disappearing into the distance. He’s quite happy for his two best friends and they’ve come a long way, after hitting it off with a rocky start and entirely too much banter and bickering.

“So this is my cue to leave you two alone,” Ron says with a clap on his knees, turning on his heels to make his way towards the kitchen, “even though I will be right around the corner, yeah?”

“How very chivalrous of you,” Ginny drawls, mostly bored.

“I wasn’t talking to you, I was talking to Harry. I know my baby sister well,” Ron shoots back, pointing a finger at her as Ginny pulls a face, index finger pulling down her lower eyelid as her tongue sticks out.

“Mature,” he dismisses, walking away.

“You two,” Harry remarks, amused yet entertained.

 “What?” She asks, a playful smile nestling on her lips.

“Nothing - you’re funny’s all,” he smiles back, his gaze darting towards her hand and he can swear that it got closer to his own somehow. So tantalizingly close that it’d be hard to imagine something he’d want more than to take it and squeeze it and hold it over his chest so she could know what her presence is doing to him. If there will ever be a relationship of some sort developing between them, Harry acknowledges that he’d need a very good heart doctor as so many changes in his blood flow and heart rhythm are sure to gift him a myocardial infarction or two in the long run. 

“Anyway,” Harry shakes his head, putting a stop to his train of thought before he loses his already meager ability to focus. “You summoned me here because you found a way to save my article and I’m all ears.” Still, he catches the way her chocolate brown eyes caress over the corner of his lips, stretched into a mischievous smile he likes to think he has worked into perfection over the years. 

“Yes, that,” she replies as her eyes light up and she scoots closer, pizza box ungracefully nudged aside with her forearm. She leans in with a conspirative air, as if to share a well kept secret, making Harry’s pulse nearly go into overdrive. “I’ve been thinking about your nifty little theory and I was wondering - wouldn’t it make sense that the driest point of the desert might’ve been believed to be the one place favoured and blessed by the Sun god and, as you’ve cleverly pointed out, also the place to bury rulers of the old civilization, which, if my History trivia is correct, were thought to be half-gods, thus direct descendants of the worshipped god?” She delivers the explanation without stopping to breathe, without blinking, “so, what I am saying is that this would also make sense because the most arid point equals top notch mummy preservation conditions. Now, if I’m even five percent right and you were to dig there, maybe you’d stumble upon a lot of brilliantly preserved historical goodness?” Her voice falters a bit by the end of her well exercised speech, seeing how Harry’s features froze, his emerald green eyes fixing hers intently from behind his glasses, so she can’t be too sure if it’s a good thing or a bad one, but a girl will take her chances. “Harry?” Ginny tries again, mildly concerned, the ghost of a crease starting to form throughout the freckles splattered on her forehead. 

“I could kiss you right now,” his mouth moves slowly, forming words he had no intention of speaking out loud.

Ginny’s face breaks into the widest grin, a blazing look about her that takes Harry’s breath away faster and harder than a punch to his chest. She’s beautiful and he’s a lovestruck fool, no sense denying it.

“Go on then,” she lets her tongue roll out the three small words as she slides left until their knees touch and their elbows knock against each other on the backrest of the small corner shop settee, polka dots table pushed aside with the sole of her boot to free up space.

Feeling a blush creep up from his neck to the top of his ears and traveling higher up north to the ends of his jet black, messy hair, Harry holds his breath and dares himself to move. Just move. Just do anything rather than sit there, staring at her wide eyed. His five year old godson has more spunk than him, he knows, but she’s right there, next to him and looking up at him with her beautiful eyes and waiting. What is she waiting for? Harry cannot recall but oh look, there he goes stretching across the table and touches her freckled cheek with his lips and, oh dear lord, he prays for mercy and hopes to simply drop dead right then.

Recovering faster, Ginny lifts her chin and raises her small hand off the table, gently presses it to his chest, pushing him so that he has to look her in the eye. He’s under the impression that she can see deep inside his soul, and maybe she does and maybe she can read that his intentions are good , truly and utterly good, but his style is a bit rusty. Alternatively, she might want to be as far away as possible from the weird bloke who kissed her cheek three seconds ago, when he was clearly invited to snog her senseless in her brother’s alleyway doughnut shop - one can never really tell with witty, amazing, brilliant women like her and oh god -

“I meant properly.”

And apparently she did mean it because the last thing Harry feels before losing control of his vital functions is a fresh flowery breeze tickling his nostrils up to his brain and shutting it down completely. 

His face cupped between her hands, Ginny kisses him softly, upper lip brushing against his own before gliding down to caress the bottom one. She spends a bit more time where she feels his lips are chapped, nursing them, her hands traveling up to his hair, twisting a lock between her fingers.

As if waking up from a long, mind numbing sleep, Harry allows himself to kiss her back, nails scraping at his own jean cladded knee as the tension releases from his tired, lanky, lonely limbs. He tilts his head and deepens the kiss and Ginny’s arms drop to his shoulders, circling his neck while his clumsy palms move to rest on her lower back. Harry’s so dizzy with the feeling of it all he’s sure everyone can hear the crazy drum of his happy-happy heart.

A lifetime later, it’s her who gradually ends it, returning to plant another kiss, even if chaste and sweet, on his still parted lips, teeth bumping teeth in the process. 

“Are all PhD holders this cute and dorky?” Ginny giggles, pressing the tip of her index finger to her front teeth.

“I was shooting for ‘adorable’, if I’m being honest,” Harry grins and repositions his glasses over his nose, as they’ve been slightly knocked aside with all the kissing they had going on. Hmm, kissing. He quite likes the thought of it, as well as the butterflies spinning wildly inside his stomach. He’s a happy man and the world is suddenly beautiful and bright and nothing can hurt him.

“I’ll humor you and settle for adorkable.” She winks and he feels like a school boy, in too deep and fancying the most beautiful girl in the class with every cell of his body.   

He attempts to formulate a clever response, but only a sad blabbering sound exits his mouth and he’s having this odd out of body experience of horror at his own behaviour.

“Pardon?” Ginny laughs, eyes closed, a shining string of pearly white teeth half-showing behind her upper lip.

“Oh don’t mind me, I think my brain’s experienced a small short-circuit, nothing serious,” Harry grins sheepishly, one hand flying to the back of his head.

“Oh no,” she smirks, “how will you finish your article if every kiss will leave you with less and less gray matter to help you through your academic quest?”

His eyes widen behind the round specs, limbs suddenly stiff with the realisation.

“I have to,” he stammers, mouth closing as soon as it opened and he takes a moment to figure out exactly what he wants to say. “I’m -”

“You have to?”

“Go write my article before the brilliant idea you just gave me disappears?” Harry squeaks, gaze everywhere but at her.

“You academia people,” Ginny rolls her eyes. “Go then, Indiana Jones. Show them what you’re made of,” she presses on the words teasingly and he’s fairly certain that, if the bakery’d been less crowded, she would’ve given him a playful slap on his arse to send him on his way. 

Harry hazards to grab his coat and general belongings and turns to see that she’s also gotten up to full height - which is not saying much, since the top of her ginger head reaches as far as his chest, but still this poses a new and terrible dilemma: should he kiss her goodbye? Should he wave? Should he back away slowly without breaking eye contact? He’d seen documentaries on Discovery Channel showing that’s what you do when faced with a dangerous situation.

“Bye then,” his stupid mouth speaks before he can make a decision.

“Bye, Harry,” she responds, albeit a little disappointed.

Alright, you’ll have to buckle up, Potter , he thinks and dives in to...hug her?

“Listen, Potter, if you have the faintest desire to make this work, you’ll have to start actually kissing me when I throw out all the signs, yeah?” He can hear her voice muffled by his shoulder.

“Sorry?” Harry shoots his most innocent smile and leans to brush his lips against hers, experiencing the same savage effect on his mind and heart as before. She might well be the death of him, but alas, everybody’s gotta die of something one day.

“Better, but there’s still room for improvement. Now go and get that grant before I change my mind and keep you here with me all day,” Ginny teases as she shoos him out the glass door and waves through it at the tall man smiling dumbly back at her.

It’s only when he arrives home, huffing and puffing after a three kilometer sprint, when he realises that he’s forgotten all about his godson and dog. Inhaling and exhaling at precise intervals to avoid working himself into a right state, Harry’s fingers move as fast as possible to reach his phone and dial Hermione’s number.

“Hi, what would it take to convince you to bring Teddy and Snuffles over to my place when you’re done instead of Ron’s shop? I may or may not have already left and arrived home, ha-ha?”

“I take cases against people like you for free, you know,” Hermione drawls as Harry hurries to end the call before she can scold him further. He’s been both a witness and a victim of her sharp tongue and he can confirm that it’s not an experience one might want to voluntarily go through if one is of sane mind.

“Kay, thanks, you’re the best, bye!” Harry slams the lid shut and throws himself in his home office chair, not bothering in the slightest to kick off his shoes or coat. He’s incredibly close to earning the grant of his dreams, after all.


“So? How’d it go?” Hermione inquires, steaming cup of Earl Grey’s with a splash of milk in her hands as she snuggles into Harry’s extra layer of pillows he keeps on the living room couch to nurse the back ache that’s been gradually increasing since his first year of university.

“It was...nice,” Harry answered, more preoccupied by his doodle drawing on the carpet with the sole of his socked foot.

“This will sound very weird coming from me, but the situation calls for it: L-O-L. You don’t just say nice when you’ve snogged intensely in a public space, Harry,” she admonishes, placing the cup down on its coaster and crossing her arms.

“How did you -,” his voice sounds unnaturally high and loud before he remembers that Teddy and Snuffles are currently taking a nap in the next room and he really doesn’t want to wake them up and face the consequences. “How did you find out?” He tries again, leveling down his tone. “Is Ron livetexting my life to everyone now?”

“I wouldn’t say you’re too far from the truth, but, to answer your question, yes, it was Ron who told me. And don’t you go making faces and pouting after you’ve left your godson and dog in my care and ran off irresponsibly.” There’s the sharp tongue Harry feared. Time to change tactics.

“I already said I’m sorry!” Great tactic.

Hermione only throws him a pitiful glance before returning to her black tea sipping. “Nevermind that now, tell me about you and Ginny,” she continues with an encouraging smile.

“Erm - yeah, there’s not much to say,” he admits, socked foot back to tracing random lines on the carpet.

“What do you mean? You did kiss, didn’t you?”

“Yeah, but then I kind of left?”

“You left?” Hermione blinks, as if unprepared for this plot twist.

“Yes?” Harry tries to add in a smile but it falters at the look of disgust on his friend’s face. He lets out a long suffering sigh.

“I’ll call her and confess that I’m an idiot.” He sighs again.

“You do that. Meanwhile, I’m off to see your other half.” Hermione sips the rest of her beverage and gets up, straightening her dress with one palm and searching for wild strands of bushy hair in need of taming down with the other, a routine long exercised since she’s started work as a fully authorised lawyer.

Just as he walks Hermione to the door, thanking her again for all the help, his phone buzzes from somewhere in his ‘office’. Harry curses, as he’d been certain that he’d left it on silent mode, and sprints to get it before any damage could be done.

“Am I speaking to Harry James Potter of England?” A high pitched voice scratches at his eardrums through the handset.

“Sirius, I know it’s you,” he answers, feeling harassed. “Are the States that boring?”

“No, the States are perfectly fine, thank you. It’s you, my dear godson, that’s boring.”

I am boring?”

“Yes indeed, you’ve bored me out of my wits.”

“Care to indulge me with a reasonable explanation?” Harry drawls, checking the time on his battered old watch. Twenty to one, meaning that he’s wasted half the day when he could have been writing, ughh .

 “My little birds have informed me that not only you’ve passed on the opportunity of a healthy snogging session with the brilliant and most incredible Miss Weasley, but you’ve also hugged her before you left?” Sirius parrots, as though reading a play by play report.

“I will murder Ron, mark my words,” Harry grunts, his mind already crafting the fun conversation he needs to have with his so called best mate.

“Know what, no need to make up excuses, my darling boy. It’s all James’ fault and there’s no way around it, so -” A commotion is all Harry can distinguish, followed by the sound of another voice.

“Sirius was supposed to ask about Snuffles, but he’s just lost his privilege,” James’ warm voice takes over the line.

“Hi, Dad,” Harry laughs, happy to hear him.

“Hi, son. How are you? Everything alright?” He starts off cheery, but before the young man can get a chance to answer, he adds in barely a whisper, “Is it really true that you hugged her goodbye?”

Harry groans, forehead hitting the hard wood of his desk repeatedly. They really are just as bad.

“Put Mum on the phone.”

“Ungrateful,” James scoffs. “Lily, your son wants to speak to you.”

“Hello, love. How are you?” Lily’s gentle voice makes his heart ache. He’s already missed them all so much.

“I’m good, thanks, Mum. I’m actually getting closer to finishing that article I’ve been telling you about, which I didn’t believe possible yesterday.” He can’t help but smile, stress slowly evaporating after nightmarish weeks.

“Brilliant, well done, dear!” The response is so naturally Lily he can’t help but grin widely. She’s always been his biggest supporter.

“How are you guys? Alright with the moving and the job?”

“It’s mostly going fine. We’re still paddling through boxes and I have to jump over five of them to get to bed, since some of us have been overwhelmed by the many tourist attractions and traps of New York,” she coughs as James and Sirius protest in the background.

Harry feels something warm and familiar unfurl in his chest, and he lets his eyes drift shut so it’s almost like they’re in the room with him. There’s a scuffle and then Sirius has returned to the line, “I believe I initiate this phone call,” his attention swivels back to Harry, “Please stop being embarrassing, Harry.”

A smile rises on his lips as James’ voice shouts in the background, “We love you even though you’re embarrassing!”

Sirius harrumphs and lets out a squeal before he speaks again, clearly not aimed at Harry, “Alright, alright, I’ll put it on speaker - bloody buggering hell, woman.”

“My son is a lovely, respectful boy who sadly got his wooing skills from his father.”

James lets out a yelp but Lily plows ahead, “I’m talking to my son without you two.”

The noise gets decidedly lower and Harry hears a door click shut. “Love, Potter men are wonderful, sweet, yet utterly awkward in the beginning stages of relationships. And before you say it’s not - I will agree with you. And it’s going to continue to be nothing if you keep up with the hugging and running bit.”

Harry laughs, “Thanks?”

“Just say what you’re feeling - which I hope is lots of good nice feelings because she’s adorable and cheeky and amazing and you should give me grandchildren.”

“But no pressure, right?” Harry says with a chuckle, toying with the worn knee on his sweats.

“I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t know my son, and she’s not just some woman to you,” she pauses, “Just take my advice, don’t let this go.”

“...I wasn’t planning on it.”

“Well you could’ve fooled me.”

Harry scowls. So much for having faith in their own son slash godson.

“We have to go now, love. It’s induction day at the hospital, but we’ll catch up with you later, yeah? Don’t forget to feed yourself and Teddy and Snuffles. And call Ginny. We love you, bye!”

“Bye, Mum,” he replies and ends the call, ready to actually finish writing something for the day. Surely he can patch things up with her when he’s done, if he’s ever going to be done with that life-sucking article. Grant, you better be bloody worth it, you’re costing me one too many good things , he says to himself as he slowly drags his feet back to his desk.


“I can feel you staring, you know,” Ginny drawls, feet over the armrest of her favourite living room chair, book held gingerly in front of her as she’s following each line with a pen in her hand to mark down ideas on a battered notepad resting in her lap.

“I know,” an older - and male - version of her grins, leaning forward a bit more.

“Is there more to it? Or do you simply like staring at women as they read? ‘Cause if you do, allow me to express my profound regret for Angelina,” she shoots back, her tone bored, eyes never leaving the tome she’s been perusing since the other night.

“Excuse you, but Angelina’s absolutely pleased with my moves,” George pauses, incensed, “Unlike you, baby sister, if what I heard is true.”

“Should I also be pleased with your moves? If that’s what you’re implying, you should know I’m telling Mum.”

“Ha-ha, clever. Let’s cut to the chase, then. Is this Harry Potter your boyfriend or is he not?” George inquires, fist under his chin as he watches his sister slowly close her book and turn to face him, an expression worthy of their mother etched on her face.

“Three things here,” Ginny starts, holding up three dainty fingers to better illustrate. “One, stop snooping around as it’s not your business who I date.” She brings down one finger. “Two, I’m going to kick Ron’s arse so hard he’ll feel the taste of my shoe in his mouth if he doesn’t quit playing spy.” Two fingers down. “And three - actually, never you mind, three’s also my business.”

Ginny closes her book and gathers the general chaos of pen, paper, sticky notes and coloured markers that she’s been carrying around with her for nearly ten months, since she’s started drafting her never-ending thesis. Three more weeks , she reminds herself, three more weeks and I’ll be done . MA diploma, here I come.

“I’m not done, you know,” George wags his finger at the departing form of the youngest Weasley.

“I am,” she shouts back, before slamming the door of her room shut.

Still, five seconds later, her phone buzzes in her pocket and she’s not pleased to see that, instead of the messy haired man she’s been hoping for, it’s her brother not giving up without a fight.

George: is he a good kisser at least?

His text is followed by three lines of emojis of varying forms of kissing, smirking and heart eyes.

George: is he the sloppy or the tender kind?

Ginny groans, a wild desire to throw her phone down on George’s head taking over her.

George: did he use tongue?

Ginny: That’s it, I’m blocking you.

George: whatever grinds your gears, baby sis *smirk emoji*

George: aaanyway, i’m off for a proper date with angelina. house’s all yours for the night, if you catch my drift *another smirk emoji*

Ginny: Get out.

She throws her phone on the bed in frustration and plops down next to it, groaning again. She’d really like to barge down to Harry Potter’s flat, bang on the door, and shake him by his shoulders until he snaps out of whatever state he’s in and confesses his undying love for her. But instead, she acknowledges that she’s really got to get a move on with her thesis writing process. A grad school diploma would finally mean better job opportunities and decent money, less hand-me-downs and moving out of her parents’ house and oh so many more wonderful things.

She sighs, rolling over and placing her head on her favourite puffy pillow. At least she’ll have the house to herself for the night, with Mum and Dad over at Bill’s to babysit while him and Fleur are visiting the in-laws in France, George will be over at Angelina’s or in his small London apartment - at least he’s recently started using it again, it’s been long since - but better not think about that now; and Ron, well Hermione will certainly have enough sense to take him to hers after their romantic whatever.

Ginny sticks her tongue out, annoyed at the pleasant activities in which her family members are engaging while she has to suffer, and plops the pillow over her face.


As the clock ticks eleven PM, godson and - erm, dogson? - playing at his feet, under the desk, Harry stretches over to reach his phone and is terrified and surprised to see five text messages from “Gin” (yes, he is a real sop and privately refuses to bring any amendments to the way he saved her phone number while in a most drunken state).

 

Gin: HELP

Gin: I need your help

Gin: I’m not joking, you hear me? This is not a drill!

Gin: Harry Potter, you answer your phone this instant! I’m literally one moan away from driving a screwdriver through my eardrums.

Gin: I may be sending this message from the afterlife but nevertheless call me, thanks

 

Harry blinks and breathes in before pressing the dial button and involuntarily clenching his buttcheeks in sheer anticipation.

“Oh thank god you called,” Ginny answers with a tremendous sigh of relief.

“Everything alright there?” He asks, more scared than anything else.

“Depends on who you’re asking. If you’re asking Ron and Hermione, well then yes, they’ve been agreeing with each other very loudly for over an hour now. If you’re asking me, then no, as I’ve been living through the worst possible night in my existence,” she whispers, sounding rather harassed.

There’s a pause and then Harry starts laughing wholeheartedly, not able to control himself. He doesn’t know if it’s the relief of finding out she’s fine or if the whole story is entirely ridiculous, but what he does know if that he’s not laughed like that in ages and that he has his heart set on Ginny Weasley like he had on no one else.

“Would you stop laughing?” She interrupts his laughing fit, even more harried than before. “Listen, I was supposed to be alone tonight and, you know, write so that I did - on my laptop, lights shut all around. And then I hear keys rattling downstairs and them laughing and flirting so loudly it made me sick. They probably don’t know that I’m home, so Ron’s putting his words from earlier into action and I really cannot stand any more of it and I don’t want to knock on their door and just die of second-hand embarrassment and -”

“Say no more,” Harry chuckles, feeling like this is the puzzle piece he needed to finally complete his plan of revenge against Ron for being such a tattle-tale. “Come on over. Teddy’ll be beside himself and probably refuse to go to bed, but either way we can dive into a full night of writing our respective pieces together.”

“Aww, I’ve always wanted a study buddy,” she jokes. “If you’re positive I’m not intruding -”

“Positive.”

“Then I’ll call a cab and be right over,” Ginny finishes and Harry can feel the smile in her voice.

“And I’ll wait for you with tea and biscuits,” he replies before ending the call and spinning twice in his rolly chair, fist closed in victory. He sends a short text message, a delighted smirk plastered on his face, then makes his way to the kitchen, snapping his fingers and shaking his limbs to a jazzy tune. It takes him all his self-control not to break into singing right away, as that would alarm Teddy and Snuffles and he does intend on putting them to bed before long.

 

Harry to Ron: Mate, you better be doing this on purpose or I’m no longer the most embarrassing person I’ve met today. ‘Night, you git *heart emoji*

 

Chapter Text

By the time Ginny arrives, Harry's wrangled Teddy into bed and hopefully well and truly asleep, gotten Snuffles to finally relax and stop barking every time he sees anything move, and managed to squeeze in a couple of nervous breakdowns. So he only takes one steadying breath before sliding the locks free and pulling the door open.  

But whatever composure he'd managed to muster up pretty much evaporates at the sight of Ginny’s glowing - yes, glowing - face smiling at him. “Am I still invited?”

Harry works his jaw, not managing more than a few garbled syllables, but he does step back and clears a path for Ginny to enter. Which she does, grinning at him as she brushes by and settles her backpack onto the table with a thud. “So what've you got in terms of study snacks?”

Ruffling his hair in that way he's pretty sure is the result of a genetic predisposition, Harry wanders into the kitchen and begins rifling through the cabinets. “Sweet, or savory?”

“Depends.”

He laughs, “How about we start with crisps and some M&Ms and go from there?”

“A man after my own heart - I just may have to kiss you.”

Harry's hand jerks and he slams the cabinet shut loud enough that even his brain (in overdrive at the mention of kissing Ginny) manages to beg whatever deity is listening to keep Teddy asleep.  

Turning around, armed with sweets and sea salt and vinegar crisps, Harry stutters out, “I er- it's no problem. The snacks, I mean.”

And it takes way more effort than it should to not drop his parcels and ruffle his hair - it's a disease.

All things considered, he feels lucky that Ginny's smiling at him and shaking her head rather than running away with harried excuses. “You're a mess, you know.”

Harry deposits their snacks on the table and grins ruefully, “I've decided to lean into it. It's my brand.”

“Ok, my little mess of a man, let's just get this all out in the open, eh?”

She's entirely too close for Harry to do much more than nod, but Ginny's doing all the talking it seems. “We kissed, I fancy you, and the only way it's awkward is if you don't fancy me,” she quirks a brow and Harry gives her a half smile before she continues, “Which seems unlikely since you definitely slipped me the tongue -”

And then his brain finally manages to grind into gear and he blurts, “I LIKE YOU A LOT!”

Ginny closes the distance between them and wraps her arms around his neck so her fingers can toy with the curls messily twirled at its base. “Well good,” she kisses him once, entirely too short and chaste, “And now that we've got that out of the way, it's time to study.”

Harry’s mouth wordlessly opens and closes as Ginny steps around him and claims her seat at the table like she’s been around much longer than a handful of weeks. She begins tugging her books out and setting up her study space, before glancing up, “Do you have drinks?”

“Adult, or non adult?”

“Non, but ask me again in an hour,” Ginny says with a smirk, and somehow, after that things even out. The tension’s gone as Harry realizes nothing’s changed. At least nothing important. She’s still adorable, hilarious, and unbelievably cheeky, except now he feels about seventy-three percent sure she won’t smack him if he tries to kiss her.

In fact, he might bet she’ll smack him if he doesn’t .

Regardless, his evening looks much better with Ginny close enough to play footsie under the table.

The telly hums low in the background, barely louder than the rustle of paper and the scratch of pencils as they each work. Harry’s pretty impressed with his ability to focus when Ginny’s wool covered toes are teasing at his ankles, and he actually manages to get through one and a half articles he’d like to cite in his own.  

Just as he flips to the next page, highlighter in hand, Ginny’s head falls to the table with a thud.

“I cannot go on.”

“C’mon, of course you can you love - oh my god I’m a complete and utter tosser.”

Ginny lets her head flop to the side, blinking up at him with her cheek pressed to her now wrinkled textbook. “How so?”

“Because I’ve either never even asked you about what you’re studying or I did and immediately forgot.”

Dragging herself into a somewhat upright position, Ginny props her head on her hand and fixes him as though trying to make a difficult decision. “Which answer will make you feel worse?”

“Er-”

“Because I pick that one,” Ginny says with a laugh, “But really, s’alright. It’s nice to have a break sometimes, no talking about my bloody stupid piece of flaming shite thesis.”

“Actually, in the 12th Century, the Chinese used to light shite on fire and catapult it at their enemies.”

“Thank you Mr. PhD.”

Harry snorts. “Just Dr. Potter is fine.”

Leaning a little closer, Ginny hooks her finger into the collar of Harry’s t-shirt and whispers, “Are you sure you can handle me using your title, Dr. Potter?”

Suddenly, he finds the process of swallowing as difficult as rocket science. Jaw finally working, Harry finally cranks out a response. “So you’re studying?”

Ginny smirks. “Child psych.”

“I’m going to admit my knowledge of your field is fairly minimal,” Harry says with a grin, “But I’ll listen and do my best as a layman.”

“Ooh, ‘layman’, going a little fancy for me?” Ginny laughs, twisting her hair into a loose braid, “I’m in the middle of my cognitive neuroscience module and the human brain is beautiful, and unbelievably mindnumbigly complicated.”

“Brain class is numbing your brain,” Harry snickers, “It’s worth it though - eh?”

Reaching down, Ginny fluffs her socks over her leggings and brings one foot up on the chair, wrapping her arms around her shin and spearing a pencil through her fiery locks. “We’ve been reading over case studies all semester, discussing the connections between cognitive development and brain development all in preparation for us each to do our own small scale study with a faculty advisor.”

Harry nods encouragingly when she trails off and Ginny continues, “I was paired with Dr. McCall because of my interest in early childhood education and so we’ve been conducting this,” she flails her arms a bit and sticks a second and third pencil into her hair, “Experiment sounds wrong but, anyway we’ve implemented this project with particular changes to the curriculum in low income districts - it’s just these kids are so ready to learn but they’re starting from behind and - you don’t want to hear all this.”

Harry reaches across the table and clasps her hand tightly, “You’re brilliant, and I do want to hear whatever you’ve got to say. And as for the mushy brain - you just need breaks.”

Ginny brushes the back of his hand with her thumb, smiling softly, “Thanks.”

It’s quiet between them for a handful of moments until Ginny glances back up and grins rakishly, “What exactly can I expect from these ‘breaks’?”

“Chocolate biscuits?”

“I take spare shifts in my brother’s shop and half my pay is in baked goods,” Ginny replies flatly, “My brain is mush and I want to collapse into a pile of - something.”

Harry pushes his books and stray papers aside, long-since given up on making this an actual productive evening, and props his chin on his hand, “Well a reward system is all I’ve got, Miss Clinical Psychologist.”

“Not as hot as the whole doctor thing, is it?” Ginny muses, “Anyway, I’ll get behind reward systems if it means you’ll snog the life out of me.”

He flushes, “I er- snog?”

Nodding, Ginny drags her chair closer and slowly drags her hand up Harry’s bare arm, fiddles with the sleeve of his t-shirt, then somehow her fingers end up knitting through his hair.  “Uh-huh.”

Harry’s a breath away when he murmurs, “I was going to suggest ice-cream but - ” Ginny presses her lips to his and pulls back just barely, “Your idea is much better.”


Despite all instincts to the alternative, Harry watches Ginny step onto the elevator later that night - morning would be more accurate - after she’s sworn to text him updates on her location and safety at all relevant moments. She rolled her eyes but he’s closed the door and begun righting the pillows on his delightfully mussed couch when his phone buzzes on the end table.  

Gin: safe and sound in my little car

Gin: like i said i would be

Gin: because you literally live in a building with a garage and at least three security guards

Harry: right. Those things have never failed to protect someone

Gin: someone’s a little pessimist

Harry: realist

Gin: who’s my cutie pessimistic doctor

Harry: stop texting while you’re driving

Gin: I haven’t left yet

Harry: stop sitting in the creepy dark garage and drive home with your doors locked

Gin: ok grandpa

Harry: you’re welcome

Gin: *kiss emoji* *winky face emoji*

Shaking the goofy smile free from his face, Harry begins re -prepping for bed, just now noticing the sizeable mark Ginny’s left just behind his ear and flushing. He’d text her about it but she’s driving and hopefully paying full and complete attention to the road.

Really, his only comfort is the fact that she lives relatively close and seemed more than awake and lucid. Which isn’t to say he’s not completely and utterly relieved when his phone buzzes as he’s pulling back the duvet on his bed.

Gin: home safe. Night Harry.

Harry pulls the blanket over his shoulder and plugs his mobile in before sending off a last message, shockingly un-gushy for all that his heart is warm and thrumming in his chest.  

Harry: Night Gin.


 

When he wakes the next morning, it’s to the tune of his dreaded cacophony of an alarm and Teddy straddling his chest with rosy cheeks, wild hair, and chubby fingers clapping on Harry’s face. “G’morning, Harry.”

Flailing his right arm out to the side, Harry manages to silence his alarm and grab his glasses from the nightstand. “What’re you doing up, little man?”

Teddy scratches at his belly beneath his sleep shirt and sighs. “I woke up from the noise.”

Harry cranes his neck and blinks at his clock, seeing it’s just half past eight and entirely too early for construction, particularly on a Sunday, he turns back to Teddy. “What’s the noise?”

“Knockin’. I was good and didn’t answer like you said.”

He sits up with a jolt, nearly toppling poor Teddy over the side of the bed, and grabs his mobile. Three missed calls and about a billion texts from Ron and Hermione each. All with the general ‘Did you forget about our breakfast plans?’ sentiment.

“Go get dressed, eh?”

Teddy claps his hands. “By myself?”

“Sure, it’s the weekend - you pick,” Harry says, selecting a t-shirt and trousers at random before he thinks to amend his laissez faire proclamation, “Shirt, pants, shoes.”

Young Lupin deflates at the parameters, but sighs in acceptance when Harry doesn’t seem to budge - he’s got a pretty good ‘I mean business’ face - and trots off toward his bedroom, leaving Harry to quickly dress himself, run a comb through his hair, and pull the door open for Ron and...just Ron.

“Where’s Hermione?”

“Hi, Harry, I’m pretty good, thanks for asking. Yes I’d love a coffee since we’re up about two hours too early for my day off.”

Rolling his eyes, Harry steps back and gestures for Ron to enter. “Make yourself at home.  Which includes making your own coffee. I’m not your maid.”

It’s Ron’s turn to roll his eyes, but begins setting up the coffee press while Teddy zips to and fro wearing about four different patterns, mismatched socks, and a cape.

An affectionate smile rises on Harry’s lips, and they remain in comfortable silence until Harry finally remembers they’re one party member short. “So really, where’s Hermione?”

Ron’s barely opened his mouth to answer when a knock sounds at the door, two short, sharp raps. “Boys, let me in or I’m ordering the bottomless breakfast and not splitting the bill.”

Teddy pauses his sound effects and sprints over to rest his hand on the knob, glancing back at Harry for approval.

“Go ahead, it’s Aunt Hermione.”

Hermione spends the requisite amount of time gushing over Teddy’s outfit, proclaiming it ‘very smart,’ and earning a blush before he vanishes into the living room to play with his blocks.  After he’s disappeared into the other room, Hermione joins the boys and pours herself a mug of coffee, wincing at the strong brew and adding another dash of milk. “Sorry, emergency call from the office.”

Harry wrinkles his nose, “On a Sunday?”

Ron chuckles and presses a kiss to Hermione’s temple, “Non-profits never sleep, and she loves it.”

Biting her lip, Hermione smooths her hair - without much success - and tucks herself into Ron’s side. It’s cute, until her eyes sharpen with that mischievous look that strikes fear into Harry’s heart whenever it’s aimed at him. “Speaking of not sleeping - I hear you overslept for a reason this morning.”

Harry narrows his eyes. “Did you.”

Hermione doesn’t answer beyond a flick of her brows and Ron is enjoying this entirely too much as he grins behind his coffee mug. It’s a bit of a stalemate that Harry finally breaks because he’s bloody hungry and Teddy’s patient self-entertainment will only last so long before he has a hangry meltdown. “I was up late working on my article.”

“And your highlighter gave you that hickie.”

When Harry doesn’t respond, Ron looks an odd combination of triumphant and nauseous, while Hermione crows her victory. “I knew Ginny came here last night.”

It’s an unexpected relief that Ginny’s at least honoring his unspoken desire to keep some of their, whatever it is, private. “She didn’t - ”

“I was supposed to be holding her accountable to keep working last night,” Hermione begins, stirring her coffee like it’s a cauldron, “Which I was, with silly motivational cat photos and text message check ins.”

Harry snorts, “Was this before or after you drove her out of the house with your little ‘private party’ ?”  

There’s a pause were Ron lets out an indignant snort and Hermione sucks in a breath and blushes intensely, but eventually she continues, “Until around eleven when she said she was ‘heading to a friend’s to study’ and gave me the brush off for her new partner. She texted she’d arrived safely, and then nothing.”

Harry purses his lips while Ron pushes himself up onto the countertop and Hermione really hits her stride. “Which was all circumstantial, until I timed the drive from the Weasley house to yours this morning.”

“She’s like a damn bloodhound, this one,” Ron chuckles, mostly to himself.

“Guess what I found.”

“That you’ve got too much time on your hands?” Harry grunts irritably.

“And then I come here and you’ve got that little neon sign just flashing right in my face.”

“I pity your future mischief prone children.”

Ron chooses to cut in there - finally, the useless git - and proclaim his unfathomable hunger and need for instant gratification. So they round up Teddy and set off on the short walk to a nearby diner for a full breakfast.

Once they’re seated, Teddy immediately scrabbles for the worn down crayons and begins coloring his children’s menu with careful strokes. Just as Harry really starts to think he’s in the clear, he’s abruptly proven wrong. By bloody Ron.

“How serious is it with you two?”

Poor bloke really is trying to appear nonchalant, Harry has to give him that. But there’s a strange mix of reluctant eagerness and that protective big brother streak evident in his expression while he waits expectantly.

Harry ruffles his hair nervously. “We haven’t - I dunno. I - shouldn’t I talk to her about all this first?”

“Well if you’re snogging my sister I hope you’ve at least told her you fancy her.”

Rolling his eyes, Harry fidgets with his wrapped silverware. “Of course. It’s just. It’s new. And I don’t want to spook her.”

“She’s a tough old bird,” Ron reasons, earning a jab to his gut from Hermione while she studies the menu as if she hasn’t ordered the same meal every breakfast outing for two years - oatmeal with strawberries, side of rye toast, glass of orange juice.

Ron elaborates. “I’m just saying, and this is odd because I should be punching you for even thinking about my sister, you need to be upfront and honest.”

“Little Ronnie’s growing up,” Harry drawls, wiping a fake tear from his eye.

“And anytime you want, we’ll babysit.”

“Ginny and I have it handled just - ”

Hermione slaps her menu down onto the table and widens her eyes at Harry, “We are trying to give you a date night you little  - ”

Harry’s mouth goes dry, “Date?”


Monday finds Harry hunched over his laptop at his desk, furiously typing text that he’s probably going to scrap later because everything he writes is a pile of steaming shite. Letting out a groan, Harry shoves his computer to the side and drops his head to the desktop.  

He’s not sure how long he stays that way - he’s pretty much always tired and he definitely dozed off for a bit - but he wakes to Ginny clearing her throat from the doorway. “What’s with you?”

“Er- nothing?”

“Don’t lie to me Dr. Grumpy Face.”

Harry pushes his glasses into his hair and rubs his eyes. “I’m just frustrated with my writing, that’s all.”  

Propping her shoulder against the doorjamb, Ginny scans him from head to toe (or as best she can when he’s half obscured by the desk) and shakes her head. “Nope. Not good enough. You’ve been weird since I got here. You never eat breakfast apart from Teddy. It’s too adorable to not notice. And now he’s napping and I want answers.”

“I just. Ron and Hermione said we should go on a date and I, I don’t even know what I would even do on a date. It’s been - God, until we kissed I hadn’t even thought about kissing someone since - ”

Abruptly, Ginny rounds Harry’s desk, rolls his chair backward and twists him until he faces her, knees bracketing her legs as she grabs his face. “Harry, dear. Please stop word vomiting all over and just take a deep breath.”

He does as instructed and Ginny continues, “It would be our date. There’s no magic recipe for a first date. All we need for a good one is for you and I to be there. At least that’s how I feel.”

“Probably should have some food too,” Harry says after a moment, “You’re always hungry.”

Ginny smiles gently, “I wouldn’t say no to a snack or two.”

Her fingers knit into his hair, scratching at his scalp relaxing him so he almost feels like he could start purring. “Maybe some more of this?”

When she laughs, it rumbles up from her ribs - when exactly did his head get there? - until it emerges in a delightful peal. “Some more of this. And definitely dessert.”

Harry hums contentedly as she kneads at base of his skull. “Like a tart? Or something else?”

Leaning forward, she nips at his ear and whispers, “Or something else.”

Quickly, Harry rises to his feet and grips Ginny’s thighs so he can carry her to the cozy chair in the corner, careful to push the door to his office shut. “I like my dessert early sometimes, don’t you?”

Once they’re settled, Ginny ruffles her fingers through Harry’s hair and nips at his jawline. “Of course. Especially if it’s particularly delicious.”

Sighing, Harry drags his lips over her cheekbone, lingering on a little constellation of freckles just in front of her ear. Her breath brushes across his neck, dragging up goosebumps in its wake.

And Harry’d linger on that if Ginny’s fingers didn’t move from his hair to the little buttons running up the front of his wrinkled shirt, first just toying with them and then more importantly, working the top few free. Which is distracting enough without her deciding to tease the sparse hairs she’s exposed.

With a groan, Harry begins working his way down the column of her neck, and when he reaches that spot that makes her sigh, he nuzzles a bit closer and lets his palms press against her lower back.  

Ginny pops another few buttons free and slants her mouth over Harry’s, warm and heated so  their breaths mingle and his glasses begin to fog. The cool plastic bites into Ginny’s cheek as his glasses go crooked, but neither pull away. Instead, she presses closer and scratches gently underneath his shirt, sending shivers up his spine.

When he’s worked her t-shirt half up her midriff and she’s about to slide the last few buttons free, Harry hears the telly click on, loud and blaring as the opening notes of Teddy’s favorite show sound from the living room.

It’d be better if the shock felt like a douse of cold water, but the jolt does little to clear his head of the scent of Ginny, the feel of her skin beneath his hands, the weight of her against his -

“We should - uh. We should,” Ginny stutters out, pupils dilated and cheeks flushed.

Harry nods jerkily, “I - yeah. And we’re - the date is definitely happening.”

Ginny grins, “Yeah, yeah it is.”


There’s an ominous radio silence after Ginny leaves. Not from her. She’s sending her usual mix of intellectual brain-teaser type text messages and slow descent into madness combination of memes and autocorrect nightmares.  

The silence is distinctly emanating from across the Atlantic where three busybody types really should know about a study date and pending actual date and Harry’s about to drive himself batty with waiting and anticipating and - at least it’s keeping him from overthinking the date itself.  

Until now, he hadn’t really realized how much he depended on their odd sort of overly involved nitpicking and advice. Sure, he knew they busybodied their way into most areas of his life. But he actually likes it. And they’re not delivering.

So he waits a day or two and then finally dials Sirius. Which, at this time of day should be sufficient to contact all three.  

Sirius answers on the fourth ring.  
“My beautiful godson. How’s the mother island?”

Harry smiles to himself. “Fine. How’s the colonies?”

“That one gets mixed reactions here, just FYI,” Sirius chuckles, “We’re alright. Just finishing up dinner.”

“That Sirius apparently doesn’t have to help clean up,” James’ voice calls from the background, amidst swishing water and clattering dishes.

“I set the table.”

“You’re not our child, Sirius,” Lily says with a chuckle, getting louder as she presumably comes closer to Sirius, “Person who actually is my son, Mummy loves you so.”

Chest warming, Harry answers, “Love you Mum.”

A beat, and no one says much, just some chatter in the background as Harry quietly tidies the living areas while Teddy naps in his room.

If the conversation lull was a game of chicken, Harry loses fantastically when he finally clears his throat and begins rather vaguely, “So I have some news.”

There’s a scuffle of sorts, because the people who raised him are children, that Lily seems to win since her voice is loudest when they chorus variations of, “Go on.”

“Gin - Ginny and I have been spending some time together,” Harry starts, slow.

Sirius snorts, “Yeah and then some.”

“You bloody - what is with this family?!”

“I wanted to see how long we could make you squirm, my beautiful boy.”

“Mum!”

They dissolve into a cacophony of laughter and Harry tries to be annoyed but he’s just so happy to hear them, even from an ocean away, that he ends up laughing along with them.  Until it goes on a little too long for his tastes and he clears his throat, “You’re all horrid, you know.”

Sobering, the trio get quieter and James takes over, “Really, we were trying to give you space to tell us yourself. Try and let you go without training wheels, so to speak.”

“Not sure how well that works if I know you’re getting intel from Ron.”

“He doesn’t have all the juicy details though, does he?” Lily reasons.

“See, now this is getting creepy.”

“Love is creepy,” James pipes in, “First lesson of adulthood.”

“I’m well into adulthood Dad - I’m a bloody doctor.”

Sirius sniffs dramatically, “You’ll always be our baby.”

“Stuff it.”

“HE’S JUST SO SWEET.”

Harry groans, “I hate you all.”


Chapter Text

 

“So what you’re saying is that you’re taking her out on a date at the Natural History Museum?” Ron asks slightly perplexed from behind his best mate, who’s still busy inspecting his carefully chosen attire in Hermione’s hallway mirror for the upteenth time.

“Chill, I have a plan,” says Harry, desperately combing his hair with the fingers of both hands.

“You do?”

“You’re surprised?” Harry sets his gaze on Ron’s through the mirror, quirking one ebony eyebrow as he fixes the collar of his shirt, you know, just in case it turned ugly since the last time he did it, which was really less than three minutes previously.

“Only a little.” Ron grins in a way that reminds Harry of his sister so strongly his skin breaks into goosebumps.

“Thanks, mate,” Harry laughs, lips curling into a grin to match his friend’s.

“No problem, anytime,” the red head replies and pats him twice on the shoulder good-naturedly. Harry can never stop appreciating his friendship with Ron. They’ve just been through so much together, good and bad. Smiling softly, he gives himself one last look in the mirror before bending to tie his shoelaces and peek into the next room to see if Teddy and Snuffles are still glued to the TV screen. Not even Harry’s departure can overthrow the Babbity Rabbity special.

“And Harry?” Ron calls indecisively before Harry’s hand can clasp the door handle.

“Yeah?” He turns on his heels to face his friend again.

“No shenanigans.”

“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that,” Harry drawls, trying hard not to roll his eyes.

“I mean it. She’s my baby sister,” Ron points out genuinely, crossing his arms over his chest.

“Yeah, I’m well aware of that. You only bring it up every single time we meet.” Harry reckons his sass might earn him a good punch in the face someday, but still it’s not something he can control. It’s genetic.

Deciding nothing good can come from further conversing with a stressed out Ron, he walks over to kiss Teddy’s temple and pet Snuffles, then makes his way out of Hermione’s apartment (sans the owner herself, who went book shopping five hours earlier and has since failed to return).


 

She said she’d meet him in front of the museum, so here he is, anxiously waiting, peering around to catch a glimpse of a long pennant of red hair. Harry exhales into his palm twice to check his breath and switches his weight from one foot to the other. It really doesn’t help him that one woman took a single look at him on the tube and snickered, thus sending him into a spiral of self-doubt and paranoia. Up until that point, he was fairly certain he looked at least decent.

“Hey there, sexy,” Ginny whispers, her breath tickling his neck, making the hairs at the base of his nape stand up.

“Where did you come from?” Harry turns around so quickly he fears he might trip and fall over her, which might not be so bad on a second thought. His heart thrums, blush creeping up his stubbled cheeks, as he quickly and not so subtly inspects her summery knee-length pale green dress. He’d even like to tell her that the colour suits her nicely, but somehow it always becomes hard to talk or think whenever she looks at him with that mischievous glint in her eyes and her plump lips twisted into a teasing smirk.

“You looked like you needed a surprise so,” she pauses to kiss him lightly, standing on her tippy toes. “Surprise,” Ginny winks and gives him another short kiss.

“Promise you’ll always surprise me,” he hums before wrapping his arms around her waist.

“Pinky promise.” She winks again as her finger plays with the collar of his shirt, making him completely lose track of their surroundings. “Now let’s see what you’ve got planned for us today, eh?” Ginny laces her fingers through his and drags him up the museum stairs, all the way up to the tourist crammed entrance.

Once he gets over his irrational fear of boring her with extra mummy and Ancient Egypt trivia (they went to see the Mummy special exhibit, after all), Ginny nodding as much as possible and smiling just as widely at him, glint in her eyes and cheeks coloured rosy, Harry manages to relax and enjoy their visit. The museum is his playground and seeing her interested in everything he has to show and tell her - and he does have a lot, as self-control was never his greatest asset when it came to things he was passionate about - well, quite frankly, it makes him fall even deeper than he thought possible. Head over heels, bug in his ear, completely gaga about her and, to quote his Mum’s favourite novel, “bewitched body and soul.”

Before long, they get lost inside the Blue Zone - Dinosaurs, Fishes, and Mammals awaiting their curious inspection.

“So the T-rex is a distant ancestor of today’s pigeon,” Harry scans the inscription and scratches at his chin. “I see nothing’s changed in the looks department and by that I mean the modern day T-rex did not get any prettier.”

“I don’t know, I find him foxy in a gross sort of way,” Ginny implies, a contemplative expression on her face as she leans in to take a better look at the dinosaur dummy.

Harry snorts loudly. “I am questioning your judgment of attractiveness right now and it concerns me that you like me.”

“Who said I think you’re attractive?” She shoots back cheekily, as he expects her to.

“Only your longing looks and lingering touches.” It’s his turn to be cheeky, Evans-Potter sass flowing out untamed and Ginny scoffs.

“Yeah, right, I’d advise you don’t read too much into it. Most of my affection is reserved for areas decidedly south of your little stress-scrunched face.”

“Such as?” He says it teasingly, gathering enough courage to waggle his eyebrows for a stronger impact.

“Ha, you’ll see.” She flips her thick long hair over her shoulder, nearly whipping his grinning face with it in the process, and all Harry can do is laugh.

“Marine Invertebrates” is the last set of rooms they visit before finishing their exquisite tour of the Natural History Museum’s Blue Zone. Although Harry’s attention is focused on a certain ginger with very much spine, truth be told, rather than on the mysteries of the marine world. Behind the round spectacles, emerald green eyes follow that spot where her dress slightly slides up as she walks, follow the small cluster of freckles showing from beneath the fabric for less than a second before mercilessly being covered once again.

“Ouch, mother-,” Harry swears, rubbing his forehead hard, glasses dangling from one ear because apparently he walked straight into one of the bigger tanks’ triple glass.

“Yep, I guess my question about whether this is an attempt to get me alone somewhere dark for sensual purposes is answered,” Ginny comments, trying hard to be serious and businesslike, yet failing spectacularly.

“Excuse me, I’m an amazing woo-er,” Harry retorts as dignified as one can while still rubbing the throbbing spot, specs askew on the tip of his nose.

“Okay then, I defy you to find my hand right now.”

It’s all teasing, he knows, but still he twines their fingers effortlessly and holds on tight, rather enjoying his small victory as they pass to the next room.

“Hey, this isn’t fair! I mean this room’s all black light is corrupted with bioluminescent shite,” Ginny scowls and Harry stares at her, a sultry look in his eyes twinkling in the dim light.

“Wow, I guess I’m really into impressive vocabulary.”

“Oh yeah?” Her eyebrows shoot up and a mischievous glint sparkles in her chocolate brown orbs. “Boondoggle. Dichotomy. Equanimity. Quintessential.” She mouths the last of the words as slowly as possible, tongue dashing out to lick her lips as it forms the final letter, which leaves Harry breathing hard and mumbling something to the effect of “I won’t be held accountable for my actions.”

“Imagine if someone came in here armed and threatened to kill every living soul if they wouldn’t hand the rare species of butterflies over to him or her,” Harry muses as they pleasantly stroll through the Orange Zone’s Darwin Centre, an oasis of peace and tranquility.

“Yeah, crime is not sexy and also - what?” Ginny breaks into laughter, soft cheeks painting themselves pale pink.

“Well I beg to differ. Everyone would agree there’s nothing as hot as handling salmon under suspicious circumstances,” Harry chimes in matter-of-factly.

“That’s actually one gross euphemism,” she replies adding in a disgusted little eww sound and a giggle.

“For the love of - why would you say that, woman?” The young man asks, sounding positively scandalised. Lily Potter was right - Potter men do have a tendency towards the dramatic.

“Don’t look at me like that, you started it!” Ginny dabs one dainty finger into his chest and pouts.

“Would the young Miss and Mister agree to cease their inappropriate behaviour in the middle of our museum’s most quiet section?” A harried voice floats from behind them and they don’t even turn to see who it is, but give into the impulse to run away in a heartbeat. Like two teenagers, they stop only when reaching a deserted corridor to giggle and kiss, and then kiss some more unobserved by the scanty passers-by.

All in all, they enjoy a fantastic afternoon time-travelling through each era and zone, laughing, holding hands, until they reach a door marked “Space.” Harry stops, takes a steadying breath as his hands immediately fly to his hair.

“Uh-oh, you’re nervous,” Ginny remarks, brown eyes following his palms as they ruffle the jet black tresses.

“Is this really a sign of anxiety, doctor?” He chuckles.

“Nope, just a bit of behavioral observation and now you’re an open book to me, sir,” she replies, flaming long hair flipped back over her shoulder in a gesture of pure confidence.

“Am I now?” A whisper, a beat and their lips meet. He’s unable to keep his hands to himself and distractedly he observes them roaming around freely, from the base of her neck, through the veil of thick red hair, to her hips and lower back.

“This book’s getting more exciting by the minute.” She smiles wickedly, kisses him at the corner of his mouth, leaving another pink lipstick mark, and takes him by the hand. “Now let’s see what’s behind door number one.” Ginny pushes open the hard metal doors to reveal a room drenched in semi-obscurity, a mirror for the galaxy. She catches his emerald eyes reflected in the canopy of stars above and time stands still.

“I wanted to sit down with you under a sky full of stars,” Harry mouths sheepishly.

“Harry…” She simply squeezes his hand, gaze still lost somewhere between the shiny, bright lights and the symphony of colours unravelling before them.

“There’s a blanket and pillows over there.” He gestures to a heap right in the middle of the darkened room. “I thought it might be nice to sit down and enjoy some food and a glass of wine?” The young man finishes off on an inquisitive note, heart beating faster as there is no reaction, no sign of acknowledgement from her. “Gin? Erm - you still love food, don’t you?”

“Who did you bribe to let you do this in the middle of the most popular museum in London?” Ginny asks as she turns to face him, an astounded expression glued to her features.

“Let’s just say we history nerds have each other’s back,” Harry chuckles and feels encouraged to drape an arm around her freckled shoulders, slowly guide her over to the pile of pillows and blanket cosily arranged on the floor.

“You’re brilliant, you are!” Her lips spread into the largest grin Harry’s ever been blessed to lay eyes upon and, under the human-made starlight, he becomes fairly certain that he’s not only in love, but he also loves the young woman sitting across from him. Loves her so strongly, so intensely, he’d spend a lifetime holding her in his arms, soothing her, taking care of her.

“You okay?” Ginny questions, right palm gently tracing his jaw and stopping under his chin.

“Yeah,” he says and smiles.

“Good. Because I’m happy.”

“I’m happy too, very much.”

They spend a moment in deep silence, brown eyes locked with green, chapped and soft lips stretching into smiles so large their cheek muscles might soon give out.

“By the way, since when does the Natural History Museum have an exhibition on space?” Ginny smirks, having already guessed the answer.

“It’s rarely open,” Harry explains, gesturing haphazardly to hide the blush threatening to creep up his neck. “In fact, the whole floor is, unless you ask nicely.” A smirk, a hand through his mussed hair and Ginny bites her lower lip.

“Intriguing. You’ve got so much up your sleeve, Harry James Potter, PhD.”

“Wine?” Harry leans towards the edge of the blanket to pull out a bottle of rosé tucked inside a basket and mask the massive smirk engrossed on his face.

“Don’t mind if I do.” She gratefully accepts a glass, white teeth biting into her lower lip once more as she watches him arrange the feast he’s prepared. “What else’ve you got in that basket, you charming man of mystery?”

“Patience, my dear Watson,” Harry jokes, clinking his own glass to hers, the sound recoiling as it hits the walls of the empty room. He takes a sip, licks his lips and sets the glass down, ready to take out the pumpkin pastries, treacle tart, and cheddar dipped fries he’s nearly destroyed his kitchen trying to get done perfectly because he knows how much of a cheese kind of girl she is.

“I don’t do patience, you should know by now,” Ginny breathes, placing her glass to the side and getting up on her knees to cup his face between her small palms.

Before he can think, before he can open his mouth to say anything, she crashes hers to his, fast and hungrily. Harry exhales and leans back, taking her with him. They fall backwards, impact smoothened by pillows, a whirlwind of limbs interweaving. Pushing her hair back, he kisses all over her face, lips caressing every freckle before descending to her neck and pausing over the place he learned in recent weeks she liked so much. His hands, independent of any command his brain might’ve given them, decide to travel to the hem of her summer dress, tickling the side of her thigh and gripping the flesh there if only for a moment.

Ginny exhales sharply, eyes searching for his bright green ones before their swollen lips clash against each other once again. Harry can see the stars reflected on her skin and presses his cheek to her shoulder, leaving a circle of open mouthed kisses right there and she moans, then blushes as though unprepared for the way her body is reacting to his own.

“The things you’re doing to me, Harry Potter.” She shakes her head, lips merely inches from each other.

“I’m simply offering you the dessert you’ve ordered.” He smiles wickedly, pushing back another stray lock of fiery red hair.

“Then best prepare yourself, because I’m hungry for the whole cake.”


 

One hour and seven hickies later, they hurriedly smooth out the creases in their clothes and scan the garments for any unclasped buttons and unzipped zips. Harry crouches down to pack everything and place them in a corner, as instructed, while Ginny flips open her pocket mirror to re-apply lipstick and tame down her hair. Changing the aim of the mirror, she is pleased to spot Harry’s tight, blue jean-clad bum moving around as he gingerly picks up the remnants of their starlit picnic to store them back inside the basket. She’s right beside him in three quick steps to cheekily smack his little arse to the effect of Harry rapidly spinning around and lifting her up in under two seconds. Up for the dare, she wraps her legs around his middle and there they are, back to snogging till they’re out of breath, pupils dilated and cheeks burning red.

“I think we’re losing track of what we’re supposed to be doing,” Harry murmurs, overly aware that the position she’s in compels him to caress her bottom - not that he’s particularly inclined to stop it though. Quite frankly, it feels so nice he’s afraid he might start giggling soon, which he admits would be kind of an overkill.

“Aww, spoilsport,” she laughs then kisses his nose and slides down until her ballet pumps touch the ground.

“Believe me, I’d be mental to stop if I had any other option, but my friend who works here promised to give me an hour before anyone would notice that he’s locked an entire floor for our culinary and, erm, general pleasure.”

“You’ve such good friends,” Ginny responds as they exit the space themed museum floor. “Why can’t Ron do something useful like this?” She jokes and softens when he squeezes her hand.

“Actually, Ron and Hermione did babysit Teddy today so,” he points out, jumping two steps at a time to reach the museum’s landing, Ginny close behind him.

“He’ll be sure to rub it in, the prat.”

“As long as that means I can spend more hours like these with you,” Harry grins, giving her hand another squeeze as they walk out into pale hue of the setting summer sun.


 

“Finally,” Ron grunts as he swings the door open, nearly tearing it off its hinges.

“Good to see you too, dear brother,” Ginny scowls, stepping inside Hermione’s flat, her posture as tall and dignified as possible.

“Harry, Ginny, so glad you came!” A harried Hermione pokes her head from the adjacent room, hair frizzled to a whole new and slightly alarming level.

“Are you aware you look like Gloria Gaynor today?” Harry asks amusedly as he picks up a running Teddy and spins him twice through the air, to the boy’s utter pleasure.

“You know how much I love you both and how I wish you eternal happiness, but don’t ever do this to me, alright?” She goes on, completely ignoring Harry. “I cannot handle three children. No, scratch that. I cannot handle an adult acting like a child because his sister is on a date with his best mate and no one is responding to his prying texts.”

“I heard that,” Ron grunts, visibly pouting.

“You were supposed to hear it,” the bushy haired young woman throws her arms in the air.

“As much as I enjoy watching this, I have to take my godson and dog home,” Harry interrupts, a distracted smile lingering on his face as his palm finds Ginny’s lower back and guides her towards the entrance door.

They listen to Teddy recount his day of fun activities with “Ron and Hermy” while the cab rolls down the fifteen streets dividing Harry’s apartment from Hermione’s. He sits back on the car’s cushions and relaxes, flowery scent filling his lungs courtesy of the half-opened window on Ginny’s side. Suddenly, he wishes all his days could be like this, blissful and happy and simply good.

The feeling remains as the foursome enter his apartment and make themselves at home, Snuffles collapsing in a lazy lump on an armchair, Teddy diving headfirst to hug his stuffed collection of dinosaurs, Ginny barefoot and gracefully dancing between the cupboards and stove, where she sets a kettle of tea to brew, and Harry taking them all in as his heart swells so hard it might burst out of his chest.

“You alright, cutie?” He feels Ginny’s lips on his cheek as he slowly comes out of his daytime reverie.

“Never better,” Harry replies, smiles and turns to capture her lips.

She looks at him when the kiss breaks, really looks at him as though there’s something she’d truly want to say but somehow can’t. Maybe it’s not the time, maybe it’s not the place, so she takes a couple of steps backwards, back to the kitchen, a blazing look on her face that makes him go dizzy.

Before he can walk right after her, close the door and continue what was left unfinished on the museum’s floor, his phone buzzes inside his pocket, the little green icon indicating an invitation to join a Facetime call flashing on the screen.

“Hi, Mum,” Harry sighs, for the first time not so thrilled to answer a call from Lily.

“At least act like you’re happy to see us,” James shoots, messy hair so like his son’s taking up all the space on the mobile screen.

“Hello, Mr. Potter,” Ginny waves, gently taking the phone out of Harry’s hand.

“Oh, Ginny! Hi, love,” Lily exclaims as her face meets Ginny’s and Harry finds it interesting and somehow ironic that the women his father and himself had fallen for have long red hair and a sky high level of cheekiness.

“I reckon they were actually calling to see you,” Harry laughs, arm sneaking its way round her shoulders.

“Young love,” Sirius sighs dramatically, elbowing both James and Lily out of the screen.

“‘Lo, Sirius. Are you going to check in after each of my dates?” The youngest Potter asks suspiciously.

“Nah, I’m too excited you used plural so my job here is done,” Sirius smirks, looking so pleased with himself it makes his godson snort.

“Enlighten me, how did you help?” He quirks an eyebrow and a corner of his freshly bitten lips.

“Lily, James, I did not realise until now that you’ve raised your son to be so ungrateful,” Sirius snarls. “How ‘bout when I told you that chicks dig tongue so use it?”

“LALALALA, I cannot hear you,” Harry cuts through. “Also you trying to sound American is pitiful, remember that.”

An incensed scowl and Lily’s face re-claims its place on the screen, James squeezing in as much as he can.

“You both look so happy,” she says and her voice is soft and soothes Harry like nothing else can.

“We are, Mrs. Potter,” Ginny chimes in, her expression set and unfaltering but her chest heating up in waves of red, so Harry knows strong emotions are stirring fast inside her.

“Call me Lily, dear,” she adds kindly and Ginny nods sheepishly. Harry gives her shoulder a light squeeze and rests his chin atop her ginger head.

“This is too much, I can’t take it! Give us grandchildren,” James cries as Lily looks at her husband utterly scandalised, and Harry blushes so hard his ears might’ve caught fire.

But it’s when Ginny laughs and says, “Promise,” that he feels his legs turn to jelly and his brain so overwired it’s a wonder he doesn’t faint right there.

The conversation lulls at a peaceful, enjoyable pace, with mostly Ginny chatting with his parents and engaging into a one-liner competition with Sirius as Harry prepares dinner.

“Your parents are brilliant,” Ginny comments after the videocall ends.

“Yeah, although I reckon they’d disown me and try to adopt you if we break up,” he laughs, back turned to her as he reaches for the topmost shelf to grab the jar of pasta.

“Good,” she says, her voice serious and Harry spins around so fast he fears his neck might’ve cracked. “Because it’s not going to happen,” the young woman continues and again Harry has the distinct impression that there is something more laying underneath her words, something much more important that she doesn’t yet say.

Still, he decides not to press her and settles for a couple of kisses shared while the pasta water boils and they sit next to each other, lips switching from their respective mugs of tea to each other in a steady rhythm.

“So how’s the article going?” Ginny asks as she snuggles into Harry’s side.

“You’ll be shocked to hear it, but I’m actually close to reaching my goal and submitting it by the end of next week.”

“Oh my god, Harry!” She jumps to hug him, pressing her chest to his, heartbeat meeting heartbeat.

“Yeah,” he squeaks, one hand tousling his hair. “What about your thesis?” Harry dares ask, knowing fully well he’s stepping on dangerous territory while Ginny’s shoulders slump and her expression changes from delighted to depressed in a matter of milliseconds.

“Dunno. I hate it. I have like less than two weeks to get it done and, no matter how hard or how much I write, it’s still no good.” Her lower lip quivers and Harry leans in to nurse it. She follows through, sliding her mouth on his slowly, hands tickling their way from the base of his neck to the chaos of his dark hair.

“Gin,” he breathes.

“Shush,” comes her response, lips working hungrily to keep his shut. “No talking, just kissing.”

“Gin,” he tries again against her lipstick stained lips. “We’ll - ah, we’ll fix it. We’ll do surgery on it, I promise,” Harry tries to utter as her mouth locks on the pulsepoint of his neck. “We’ll work on it all night tonight,” he tries again, nails digging hard into his palms to maintain his flow of thought.

“Gee, Harry, you sure know how to seduce a girl,” Ginny drawls as she slumps once more against the kitchen settee.

“Hey, it’s going to be alright, yeah? We’re both gonna make it,” he hums, lightly kissing the knuckles of both her hands, ragged five day beard scraping at her skin. She nods and flashes him a small smile before closing her eyes and taking in a long breath.

“I think the pasta’s ready,” Ginny says, changing the subject, and gets up to taste it. “Mhm, definitely ready. I’m going to help Teddy prepare for dinner.”

Harry watches her leave, silently promising himself that he’ll do whatever it takes to give them more time together once they’re both over with mind numbing academia writing madness.

Just as he’s launching into daydreams of free time and family trips to the sea, his phone buzzes from the insides of his pocket for the second time.

It’s when Ginny re-enters the small pasta scented kitchen, Teddy holding on to her hand and letting out peals of laughter, that she finds Harry dumbfounded and looking aghast.

“I’m doing the dig,” the young man speaks as his voice visibly shakes.

“What?” Ginny blinks and Teddy stops mid-sentence, understanding that something important is happening in the adult world.

“I sent an updated draft this morning and my head of department called to tell me that I’m doing the dig,” Harry speaks again, eyes still fixed on some invisible spot on the ceiling.

“That’s brilliant, that’s -”

“I’m leaving two weeks from today. For three months.”  

Chapter Text

 It's easy to be swept up in the maelstrom of emotions that whirl around a university campus - elation at the perfect grade, utter terror at a forgotten assignment, or if one asks a particular wild-haired professor, internal mania at the thought of leaving the country in less than two weeks.

The issue is more than just the short notice. Really it's a whole host of issues, only half of which actually fall under the "I have less than fourteen days to prepare for a trip that could make or break my career" penumbra. Because no matter how much notice Harry had, there'd never be a time where he really wanted to leave Teddy. And that's not even getting into the whole Ginny situation. He feels like a total arse, making a move, getting involved, and then placing an ocean between them with the the parting request to please take over full time care for his godson for pittance.

Not that Ginny's said anything to make him feel bad, no, but Harry James Potter has two PhDs, archaeology, and guilt. The latter of which is honorary, after a lifetime of perfecting it in his own time. Perhaps if he had official training, he'd have learned how to vocalize his feelings and at least admit to Ginny that he feels like a complete and utter berk for the whole thing. But instead, he's just wallowing and investing the effort he probably should use for doing things actually related to his deadline to avoid discussing the whole mess.

Which is not even a mess, per se. It's an amazing opportunity he's waited and worked for over the better part of his life, and the entirety of his adulthood. But somehow, in all his dreaming, he'd never really considered just what getting his break would entail.

And maybe, this stalling freak out session is because there was always that comfort in the back of his mind that he had a built in back-up plan. One that is currently living across the Atlantic working on world-altering research. So anytime Harry reaches this point of his entirely in-his-head-conversation, he feels like a total wanker because he's getting dangerously close to putting his own wish to avoid discomfort over thousands of potentially saved lives.

His downward spiral is cut short when the line in the commissary moves forward and Harry's jostled before the disinterested cashier, reaching for his slightly bruised banana. Sighing, he begins passing the fruit over, dreading another few hours locked in his cramped little office, accomplishing little other than further self-recriminations.

An impatient huff reminds him he's supposed to pay and suddenly he can't muster up any desire or motivation to do anything but lock himself in his flat and watch dumb kid cartoons with Teddy. And hopefully, a certain gorgeous redhead will be there, if his luck's not run out by now.

Somehow, despite his restlessness, the train home seems to move quickly and he's sliding his keys into the lock in what feels like the blink of an eye.

The flat - as far as he can see from the entryway - is empty, the telly on low and the remains of a crustless peanut butter and jelly sandwich lunch strewn over the table. And then he hears it, that little warbling attempt at singing he's already grown to love filtering through the half closed door to Teddy's room.

It's some silly lullaby he'd not heard before Ginny dropped into their lives, but Teddy adores it almost as he adores her. Harry can't blame him for either.

The little boy's giggles sound at a particularly goofy line and for the first time since eight o'clock that morning, Harry feels a smile spreading across his face. One that only widens when he hears Ginny's answering laughter.

Unable to stop himself, Harry leaves his coat and bag in a heap, toeing off his boots and tucking them into the corner, before padding down the hall so he can peer around the doorframe.

The blinds are pulled closed to shut out the early afternoon sun, so the room's just lit by the glow of Teddy's little moon shaped lamp. Once her song comes to a close, Ginny leans in close and murmurs something Harry can't hear, then quietly presses a kiss to Teddy's forehead.

Just as she's about to stand, Harry ducks out of the doorway, but not before Teddy's eyes slam open from their relaxed slits. "Harry!"

"Hey, little man."

Teddy reaches out for Harry's hand and tugs him to settle on the bed next to them, Harry's knuckles cuddled to his cheek. "I'm glad you're back," he sighs and snuggles under his hero blanket, "We missed you."

Unable to help himself, Harry looks to Ginny for confirmation, but she just shrugs and puts on a show of nonchalance.

Biting back a grin, Harry brushes the fingers of his free hand over Teddy's hair and wishes him pleasant dreams before he and Ginny rise from their sides of the bed and exit the room.

As the door clicks shut behind them, Harry opens his mouth to speak but Ginny shakes her head and drags him into the dining area where she gathers the dishes and bustles them into the kitchen. Following her lead, Harry grabs the remaining detritus, tucking everything into its place before setting the sink to fill with warm, sudsy water.

Harry rolls up his sleeves and begins swiping the first plate clean while Ginny readies a dish towel to dry.

They work in easy tandem, silent save the swish of Harry's scrubbing and the occasional squeak as Ginny rubs the dampness from the dishes. Until she pauses, taking particular care with the fork he's just handed her, and frowns. "So, you're being weird."

"I er- "

Setting the fork aside with a clatter, Ginny accepts the glass he's passed over and glances at him, just barely. "If it's about the dig - "

With a sigh, Harry lets his sponge drop and disappear into the murky depths of the dishwater. "You've got a right to expect - I dunno - not - "

Ginny's hands rise to her hips and she squares off, facing him down in a shockingly excellent impression of Molly Weasley as he remembers her on a memorably warm summer's day from his teenage years when George and Fred had decided to make their own swimming pool. "The only thing I expect, is that you will go on this potentially career changing dig, find something - or maybe a few somethings - amazing, and then come home to me and Teddy, safe and sound."

"Come home to - "

"Yes, my thesis will be finished and it'll be summer hols," Ginny says, plowing ahead like she's been rehearsing this as long as he's been agonizing, "and I can stay here with Teddy."

While Harry gapes, Ginny laughs, unusual nervousness in her voice. "That is, if said thesis hasn't killed me yet. And you'll have me."

"If I'll. If I'll have you?" Harry answers, incredulous as he runs his hands through his hair wildly, "You're. God. How did I get to be with someone like you? You're just."

Ginny grins, "Dumb luck, I'd say. Now what were you saying, 'I'm just'?"

Harry smiles back, thumb brushing her cheek, bubbles floating from his fingers to land in the fiery locks he caresses in the process, "You're - you're everything."

Leaning up, Ginny presses her lips to Harry's in a heated kiss, their breaths mingling even as Harry feels himself go lightheaded. When she pulls away, biting at her lip, Ginny laughs, "Plus I've got a thing for the academic type," and while he chuckles, she flicks his spectacles and adds, "And glasses."


Harry's three spaces away from the Gumdrop Mountains shortcut when his mobile rumbles on the sofa cushion. And since Teddy's recently become fascinated with all things telephone, he dives for it and squeals at the picture on the screen. "It's Gin-Gin."

Laughing, Harry swipes his thumb across the screen, pausing before he says hello, "Don't let her hear you, Ted."

He can hear the smile in Ginny's voice when she asks, "Hear what?"

When Teddy's grabby hands don't stop, Harry taps the screen and Ginny's voice fills the room, even over the triumphant singing girl and her pet on the telly. "If this is about the Gin-Gin thing, Teddy is the one and only man in my life allowed to use that name. All others will be drawn and quartered."

Harry snickers and Ginny says, "I'm glad you liked that, I did the history reference for you."

The subject changes quickly when Harry realizes they're about three seconds away from Teddy asking what 'drawn and quartered' means, with Harry answering because he likes sharing knowledge, and finally, none of the three of them sleeping for the next week because Teddy knows what 'drawn and quartered' means. "So what's up, buttercup?"

Harry drags himself up onto the couch and Teddy follows with Snuffles in his wake, tucking himself into Harry's side before Ginny sighs. "Just having a little snack break before I plow through the rest of this draft."

Teddy gets a little caught up in whatever new program just started so Harry takes Ginny off speaker and presses the phone to his ear. "Don't stay too late."

"I may have to, Mum."

"I just mean, you've got to respect your brain and get some rest."

Ginny snorts, "Maybe you should take your own advice."

"It's too late for me," Harry says with a dramatic air, "Save yourself."

"Save me dinner?"

Glancing at the time, Harry shifts Teddy off his chest and wanders into the kitchen, setting the phone on the worktop while he begins pulling pots and pans from the cabinets. "Of course - Ron and Hermione are coming over so I'm making alfredo with chicken and broccoli," Harry answers, filling the pot and setting it to boil, "Something filling and not takeaway."

"Did you just say you're expecting leftovers when my brother is there?"

While Harry chuckles, Snuffles lets out a few barks, more notice giving than actual distress, and the front door swings shut while Ron's indignant 'Oi!' sounds from the hall, followed by Hermione's soft chuckle.

"Tell Ron to stuff it."

Hermione makes her way into the kitchen and sets a few paper sacks on the counter. "He 'stuffs it' just fine without instruction."

Harry winces while Ron props his hip on the cabinet and crosses his muscled arms, "I know that was supposed to be a dig at my appetite, but it just sounded sexual to me."

"And that's my cue to get back to work," Ginny drawls, "See you later, love."

Harry's goodbye is interspersed with Ron's false gagging and Hermione's scolding for said gagging, but the little glowing spot hidden somewhere in his chest isn't dimmed by the cacophony. Instead, it warms and grows with the feeling of comfort at having so many people who love him - and who he loves. Because he really does love them all. And while it's a loaded word to use this early, he thinks the extra kind of love that sends people running or brings them closer is what's growing between him and Ginny. Or at least it feels like he imagined. That steady, smooth climb that's so gradual, you can't even really pinpoint where it began.

But he can't entertain those thoughts for too long, as the Ron begins telling some silly anecdote about a birthday party at the bakery that afternoon and the water nearly boils over, and before he knows it, dinner's half finished.

Which is when Hermione gets that little 'I'm about to bring up something serious' face and Harry really wishes Ron didn't pause his prank caller story to go to the loo. Not because he doesn't like Hermione. It's more that she has a way of knowing exactly what topic you're avoiding, that you're doing so for unhealthy reasons, and making you discuss it and work through your issues and all kinds of gross adult things Harry does not want.

Well, he does, but also he doesn't. It's complicated.

"So, what are your plans for the dig, then?" Hermione asks around a bite of fettucini, "I could let my boss know - "

Ron snorts, "Well all I know is you'd better not hurt my sister, you specky git."

Rolling his eyes, Harry tosses his serviette to the table and tugs Teddy's fork-turned-magic wand from his little hands. "You two really know how to have a good time."

While Ron just folds his arms, Hermione begins gathering dirty plates and silverware and digs her metaphorical heels in. "I'm just trying to help you think through logistics."

"Tell that to the ulcer currently forming on my stomach," Harry drawls as he totes Teddy off to the loo, "It's bath time, excuse us."

Apparently, Harry's dip in mood is even perceivable to humans below the age of seven, so Teddy's surprisingly stayed during his bedtime routine, limiting his complaints to a simple whimper when Harry sudses up his hair.

He's just powdered Teddy's freshly cleaned skin when the door opens and Ginny slips in, smiling softly. Home.

It's strange, but at some point Harry started thinking of this as Ginny's home - and of her as his. As he blinks at her a bit oddly, wondering just how freakishly too soon it is to be having thoughts like that. Thoughts which only get worse when instead of looking at him like he's absolutely insane, Ginny just pads closer, bare toes bright with yellow polish. "Alright, boys?"

Doing that little waddle-trot thing he does when excited, Teddy wraps his arms around Ginny's knees and sighs like he's been waiting for this all day. Which, being honest, they've both been.

Ginny grabs the countertop for balance and tips forward to press a short kiss to Harry's lips. "Ron and Hermione are waiting to say goodnight."

Harry humphs, tossing Teddy's towel into the hamper while Ginny wrangles him into his pajamas.

"They're looking shockingly remorseful."

A grunt is all he can muster, so Ginny tries another tack. "If you don't go see them, they'll never leave."

And Ginny's really not lying, they both do seem pretty subdued, Ron tells him he's bringing back the treacle tart inspired doughnut and Hermione gives him a fuzzy-hair filled hug and a sheepish kiss on the cheek. Once the door slips shut, Teddy's in bed in the next half hour, Ginny's got the kettle going, and Harry's collapsed across the couch with his face smushed in the cushions.

When she shuffles in with two mugs in hand, Ginny makes her presence known with two short pats to Harry's bum. "Lovely."

Harry grins, twisting his face to the side so he can send her some semblance of a smile. "Thanks, dear."

Raising a brow, Ginny waits until Harry gets the hint and makes space for her on the couch, and accepts the tea as he presses his shoulder against her's when Ginny claims her seat. After a moment and a few steadying sips, Ginny lets her head droop to his shoulder. "I'm so glad to be out of that library."

Harry pillows his head on top of hers. "Me too. I mean - I'm glad you're - "

Ginny elbows him in the side and snuggles closer. "I got you."

After a few moments of silence, Harry sighs and murmurs, "Hermione's right though. About us and talking."

She presses a kiss to his jawline, "Yes, we do. And we will. But if I can put you somewhat at ease, I have an answer to that little thunderstorm of a problem tearing up your brain right now."

Harry hums.

"I am not pissed at you, I genuinely meant my offer to watch Teddy, I won't be alone, my thesis really is almost done, and you can't turn this down."

He just blinks at her for a moment and then lets his head fall back against the couch. "And you're forgetting Snuffles - that's like a whole kid and a half added. What if you find some hot, non-obsessive, suave professor with two PhDs?"

Twisting around, Ginny props her elbow on the couch cushion and laughs, "Well, I'll drop you like a hot potato."

Harry growls, tickling at her side, "Don't brush my feelings under the rug."

"Don't be a stupid git. And I love Snuffles. He really does know how to snuggle in for a nap."

It's a few breaths before Harry speaks again, knitting his fingers through Ginny's hair, "I'm - I'm sorry?"

"Yes, you are," Ginny says, "Just - don't freak out. We're fine. It'll work out. There isn't a choice here - not a real one. Because if you don't go on this dig because of me and our relationship, the inevitable resentment will kill it much faster than the three month separation."

Pitching forward, Harry sets his mug on the table and does the same with Ginny's, despite her unhappy whine, before cupping her jawline with his palms. "I - Ginny - I - "

Ginny claims his lips with hers and lies back against the couch, pulling him down with her. "It's alright - we. It's soon."

"I do though."

Another, long, lingering kiss before Ginny pulls back, their breaths mingling, "Me too. No rush."

But before the snog can progress much further, Ginny's stomach makes a tiger-like growl and Harry pulls away, "You have got to eat."

Ginny pouts and Harry sits back, "Dessert later, miss."

"Yes, Dr. Potter."

Harry groans.


They do discuss things in more detail, travel plans, important events (it's almost time for Teddy's yearly check-up), and their angsty moods about doing anything else related to writing. But, the more fun stuff is their plot to get about as much date and 'family' bonding time in as possible before the three week mark.

Which is how Harry, Ginny, and Teddy end up at the London Zoo, toting balloons, a stuffed gorilla, and biodegradable drink cups that are too big to fit into the enclosures. They make it to twelve thirty before lunch, burgers all around and a vat of fries that Ginny manages to eat while looking sexy. Or maybe Harry just has real problems.

Another few hours and they've seen the entire zoo, Teddy's fed the birds, and Harry's got a new favorite photo of the three of them with a giraffe's tongue sticking through the fence.

As they're disembarking at the stop closest to Harry's flat when his phone screen lights up in Teddy's hands. The young Lupin frowns at his lost game but seems at least partially appeased when he realizes the screen's showing Sirius' face.

"'Lo, Sirius."

"How's my favorite little faux family?"

"We're - not - "

"You're probably on a cutesy outing right now," Sirius continues, undeterred, "I'm guessing...Ted's too young for most museums. But you're a couple of nerds so I'm going with the ever educational London Zoo."

"You're a tosser."

Ginny snorts, swinging Teddy's arm between them, "What's he doing now?"

"Being a d-," Harry's eyes dart down to the ever-attentive Teddy and he amends, "Annoying."

In a quick move when Harry's distracted by being chivalrous and holding the door of his building open, Ginny swipes his phone and presses it to her ear, "Hello, Sirius."

There's a pause where she lets out a loud bark of a laugh, then presses the button for the lift. Harry's really not enjoying this little secret session that's keeping him out of the loop, well, aside from the bubble that forms in his chest whenever Ginny sends that grin his way. But as the doors slide open, Ginny winks at Harry conspiratorially and finally cuts in on whatever Sirius was prattling on about, "Well yes, I am impressed. I didn't know someone your age could sign on to social media, let alone find my page on Instagram."

Harry can hear Sirius' laughter just before Ginny promises a call later that evening and tells him they're stepping on to the lift.

When they're inside the flat, Harry drops the souvenirs, maps, and whatever other miscellaneous items they'd managed to gather during their outing and begins moving through the flat toward Teddy's room when Ginny levels him with that 'don't question me' glare and taps his mobile against his chest. "Tell them."

"But what if they get all sad and guilty sounding?" Harry whines, in an excellent impression of Teddy on nights where he really doesn't want to honor his bedtime arrangement. Which is most nights, but it's fun to pretend otherwise.

Mental rabbit trails aside, Harry does recognize the validity of Ginny's advice - order more accurately - and decides to follow it, regardless of his complete and utter distaste for doing so.

Ginny taps his chest once more for emphasis and raises her brows, "I will be inside, getting Teddy ready for bed but I can still hear everything," she pauses in Teddy's doorway, "And for what it's worth, they love you and will be happy for you."

Which they are, ecstatic even, because Ginny's almost always right and Harry's parents (plus his Sirius) really do love him and don't make his life about their insecurities. There's sure to be more discussion later, when it's not nearing midnight their time and Harry doesn't smell like animal shite.

After that, it's a blur of last minute research, late night writing binges, trips to the park, cinema, and whatever else - with a few dates mixed in when Ron and Hermione offer babysitting services - until Ginny's paper deadline is mere days away. Meaning Harry's departure date is also looming ever closer.

It's nearing the witching hour when Ginny tosses one of her billion accumulated writing implements at Harry's forehead with shocking accuracy considering their distance, kitchen table to couch. "Oi! What gives?"

Ginny's answer is muffled by messy piles of paper, books, and academic journals. "Go to bed, you stupid man. You can't go on the damn dig without proper sleep."

Sticking a finger in his book to hold the page, Harry smirks, "Uh, first, I will have a thousand year flight to sleep on. And second, it's not for a week."

She's begun clacking away again on her laptop when she levels him with a stare, "Yeah, because aeroplanes are notorious for being excellent sleeping places."

Harry slips a note card into his book and sets it on the table, before closing the distance between him and the kitchen, so he can tug Ginny's chair out and holds her gaze for a moment. Then when he's sure she's paying attention, Harry squats down and cups her jaw. "You - you put me first all the time. Just let me support you, yeah?"

With a sigh, Ginny leans into his palm and lets her eyes drift shut for a half second. "Fine."

"Now go shower."

"Is this a come on?"

Harry kisses her chastely and rises, joints popping in protest. "No it's a 'you're neglecting your hygiene and it's unsanitary.'"

"Rude," Ginny scoffs, but leans forward to press her lips to his in a long, lingering kiss before pulling back and striding toward the bathroom. Harry's jaw drops open and he gapes after her, mouth opening and closing right back like a fish. "Wait, where are you going?"

"Hygiene."

By the time she emerges, Ginny's treated to a stunningly professorial sight - Harry with his glasses perched low on his nose, red pen in hand, and the latest draft of her paper fresh off the printer. And she's definitely feeling the whole vibe. But she's not without her own wiles, if wearing someone else's discarded button-up and sort of prancing around the flat counts as 'her own.'

Emerald eyes colliding with the sight before them, Harry does a beautifully glorious double-take, "I was thinking."

"Careful, don't hurt yourself."

"Ha. What if every time I get through a page without finding an error, I kiss you."

Ginny wanders closer and straddles his lap. "A little soppy."

He drags a hand along her bare thigh. "Kiss you somewhere." And then he follows the promising statement up with a long, heated press of his lips before pulling away.

Her brain's a bit hazy, but she's never been one to back away from a challenge. "How - how about every paragraph."

Harry works the top button of her borrowed shirt free and kisses her collarbone, then manages a wink. Or the closest Harry ever gets to a wink. "How about sentence?"

Luckily Ginny's gone glazed over, so she misses the double blink incident, his chances of honoring her not-so-subtle invitation intact.

She grabs the draft from Harry's hands and tosses it over his shoulder, then drags him toward the bedroom. "How about - enough."

Harry trips over his feet, "Lead the way."

They stumble over the threshold of his bedroom, a rush of hurried hands and hungry lips. Clumsily, they land amidst pillows and blankets atop Harry's bed, him sliding on a forgotten sock, her busy escaping the one piece of clothing shielding her freckle-plastered skin from green eyes' view.

Harry feels it increasingly hard to breathe, to think, to anything. All that exists is this moment, and the wild beat of their hearts. It matters not that he is soon leaving, or that there will be 90 strenuous days dividing their last real kiss and the one that follows. All that counts for him is the sight of Ginny Weasley, rosy cheeked and resting on his bed, long ginger hair hugging the curves of her body.

Still he has to ask, adrenaline clouded brain straining to mold letters into syllables.

"Are you - are you sure about this?" His eyes dart from her exposed chest to her flushed face, struggling to look no further in case the answer is negative.

"Harry, if there was ever a moment to play the gentleman, believe me this is not it."

Ginny draws him in, her eyes ablaze, curious fingertips searching every spot, every inch of his skin, shedding layers of clothing in their way. Her legs curl around his and Harry knows its his last chance to ask again before he forgets himself completely.

But before he can tear his lips from hers, it's her mouth that opens faster, shushing him. "Screw tomorrow. It's now that I want you."

And Harry's never been happier to oblige. So he gives in to the hazy, sweet bliss that tangles their bodies and souls together as the night rolls into day.


After that night, time seems to pass entirely too quickly, Ginny's paper gets handed in with all the nerves and delight at having accomplished what seemed but a dream weeks before, Harry's checked and re-checked every item on his to-do list including the necessary immunizations and finalizing his proposal. The latter of which was the most painful by far for all parties, considering the amount of stressed out paper throwing at walls and whining in the wee hours of the night that he might never see the end of it. It's amazing what academia can do to full grown adults.

And then suddenly, they're in the international departures wing Heathrow and Harry's really beginning to feel like he's about to turn into a human hosepipe.

Luckily, it seems everyone's somewhat on board with the whole deny our emotions until we're not in public idea. Well, Hermione's getting dragged on board and Teddy's probably not realized this is the follow through on their 'Harry's going away for a while' talk quite yet. So he's temporarily content to watch the busy crowd and roll his toy truck over the back of his seat.

For her part, Ginny's being perfectly businesslike, going over Harry's checklist one final time, tucking gum into his carry-on, and fixing his collar. When she sniffs and clears her throat, Hermione and Ron lead Teddy over to pick a pastry from the bake case, giving them a moment alone.

Harry brushes his thumb along her cheek and feels his own eyes fill, "I uh."

Pitching forward, Ginny slants her lips over his and presses her body along his own like she'll never let him go, painfully reminding him of another time she did the same, both of them holding on to each other as the dark hours of the night turned to dawn. Everything else falls away in that moment, just Ginny, the warmth of her, the utter rightness of them together. Blissful oblivion.

When she pulls away, because Harry certainly wasn't going to do it, Ginny manages a watery smile, swiping under her eyes, "If you uh - fall in love with some gorgeous mummy, give me a heads up, eh?"

"I've a feeling dating opportunities are going to be a bit thin on the ground."

Ginny chuckles, "There's the silver lining I've been looking for."

Harry's drops his head back, gripping her hands, "God, I can't believe I just found you and now - "

"Don't be dumb, this is tough, but it's got to be done. It's amazing, you've got to go. We'll Skype and I've got Ron and Hermione and - "

And can't resist going in for another kiss, long and lingering, until Ron clears his throat. "It's getting late."

Harry drops his mouth open and closed before his eyes go steely, and he looks at Ginny like she's the most important thing in the world, "I can't leave without - I love you, Gin," Hermione gasps and Ron shifts uncomfortably, but in for a penny in for a pound, "I do, and I know it's soon and bad timing and - "

"I love you too, Harry," Ginny says, soft, "And that will keep - so go be Indiana Jones, minus the hot women in the desert, and then get back here so we can do stuff that's going to drive my brother up the wall."

Ron groans, but Harry's moving on to the part of this little goodbye he's really not eager for. "Ted."

He's apparently caught on now, in some way, because Teddy's sobered and sluggish when he wanders closer. "You're leavin' now."

"I am, little man. But I'll call all the time and you've got - "

Teddy nods, "I've got Gin-Gin and Ronny and Hermy."

Harry laughs, teary, and drags Teddy in for a hug. "I love you, little man."

Sniffling Teddy snuggles closer, "I love you too."

Overhead, blaring announcements jar Harry from the hug and remind him of schedules and commitments to keep, and a plane that won't wait even for this. So he rises and tears himself away with a heartfelt sigh, striding toward the security checkpoint with a backward wave.

Luckily, he's too far to see the tear that slips down Ginny's cheek and the tremble of her lip as she comforts Teddy and he snuffles against her shoulder.

He does get to see Ron laugh and elbow Ginny, whatever he said (Harry's guessing it was an ill-timed crack about crying), and then Ginny's kick to his shin. So somehow, he's got a smile on his face as he joins the huddled crawling mass of people ready to have their body scans and whatnot.

And when he turns back just before the line rounds the corner, their little family's still there, Ginny and Teddy now tucked into Ron's side, waving and grinning. Harry raises a hand to wave back, takes a deep breath, and steps forward.

The next half a week passes in a blur of airports, public transport, dirt roads, sketchy buses, and shoddy internet connections, but finally, Harry's tucked in front of his laptop. Bleary eyed with travel weariness and orientation meetings, but utterly awake. Because his two favorite people in the entire world are now filling his screen.

"Hey."

Real smooth.
Ginny smiles and Teddy wriggles happily. "It's story time."

"And bedtime," Harry puts in.

Teddy pouts.

When Ginny tickles Teddy and they end up both cuddled beneath the covers, Harry's heart clenches with - it aches to be so far away from everything that really matters.

And though he logically knows the right choice was made, it's only three months, and this will, in the long run, be better for all of them, it's still a difficult pill to swallow.

It's better though, with this. So he feels his face lift in a smile and he gets comfortable on the couch. Or as comfortable as can be on this wire-filled torture device. "What're we reading?"

Chapter Text

Harry’s name slides in via push notification and Ginny taps her phone screen at lightspeed. He’s sent in a photo, she notices and hurries to open it. A small “oh” escapes her lips as she exhales sharply. It’s him alright, just...tanned, two weeks beard spreading over from his jaw to his cheeks, deep emerald eyes twinkling in the rough daylight as he flashes her his crooked smile.

“Oh, Harry,” Ginny sighs and presses the phone to her chest, as if the his virtual image can substitute the real him, his arms hugging her to him, chin resting atop her ginger head.

Still, she shakes off the lonely feeling because she promised herself she would, for him, for them, and allows her deft fingers to text him something flirty instead.

Gin: Where’s the whip, Indiana Jones?

Harry: Saving it for later *wink*

Gin: Well at least you can leave your hat on

Harry: Wow you really are into this wild adventurer look

Gin: Yes, don’t you dare take it away from me

Harry: Haha I was thinking about shaving, this beard is itchy

Gin: over

Gin: my

Gin: dead

Gin: BODY

Harry: Hear me out - I shave the beard but leave a moustache

Gin: I’m not even going to dignify this offense with an answer

Harry: Adorable *heart emoji*

Gin: I’ll facetime you 24/7 if that means protecting that beard, mister

Harry: Deal

Harry: It’s actually a win-win situation because I really miss your beautiful face

Gin: I MISS YOU TOO

Harry: Facetime or skype tonight, your timezone?

Gin: Yes please

Harry: Kiss Teddy for me! Later. Mummies and absurdly old artefacts have no patience

Gin: I will. You do your thing

Gin: And don’t forget to find a whip to bring back home

Harry: Yes ma’am

It’s how her days drag by, one after the other, as she waits for the night to settle in. It never feels enough, just seeing him, hearing the voice she’s come to love and yearn for, but never being able to touch, to feel, to be with him. Sometimes, she’s so frustrated she wants to scream, but really contains herself because Ginny doesn’t want to be the reason Teddy cringes everytime he sees a woman when he grows up. And most of the time, she truly and dearly wants to erase Chile from the map or maybe hijack a plane, crash it near Harry, kiss him thoroughly and then proceed to return to England to patiently await his arrival.

“Seven more weeks,” Ginny sighs and combs her fingers through her hair before securing it into a ponytail. Checking the time, she realises it’s time to walk Snuffles, take Teddy to the park, drop by Ron’s bakery and help him out, have dinner with her parents plus child and dog, and attempt to remain sane until she talks to Harry again.

“How are you holding up?” Ron asks her one hour later, leaning over the counter.

“Brilliant,” Ginny replies, trying hard to keep her tone sarcasm free.

“I’ll throw you a free doughnut if you tell me the truth,” her brother grins as he waves a strawberry cream one under her nose.

“Unfair. You know full well those are my favourites!” Ginny scoffs and snatches the goodie from Ron’s flour-glazed fingers.

“Yeah, and you know what else I know?”

“Hm?” She licks the tips of her fingers, doughnut already gone.

“That you’re a terrible liar.”

“Hark who’s talking,” she huffs, turning around to locate Teddy. Luckily, he’s made a new best friend in the person of her niece, Victoire, a nearly four-year-old with looks to match her mother’s.

“I beg your pardon?” Says a scandalised Ron.

“Don’t beg, Ron. It’s cheap.” Ginny snatches another strawberry doughnut and grins at her equally ginger brother staring at her in disbelief, before he breaks into laughter.

“Say hello to Bill and Fleur for me, yeah?”

“And maybe giver Fleur a little kiss too?” She snickers, attempting to steal another sweet before Ron can bat her prying hand away.

“Are you here to make me go bankrupt, woman?” He shuts the case closed, securing it with a key he fishes from his apron’s front pocket.

“Stingy.”

“Greedy.”

“Scrooge.”

“Harpy.”

“Tight-arsed.”

“I beg to differ, I possess one brilliant piece of arse,” Ron dismisses proudly.

“Sometimes I believe Hermione’s too kind to you.” Ginny rolls her eyes and suppresses a smile. She truly loves all her brothers, their quirks and jokes and wits included.

Walking over to the little couple, she caresses her niece’s blonde curls and ruffles Teddy’s light brown fringe.

“Who wants cookies? I heard that Uncle Ron’s hiding a freshly baked batch in the kitchen, along with two glasses of milk with your names on it.”

They’re gone before she can finish, so Ginny waves at a confused looking Ron as he switches his gaze from the small army attacking his kitchen for no apparent reason to his baby sister, leaning against one of his most comfy settees and smirking like she owns the place.


 

“Gee-nee,” a thick French accent claws at her eardrums and Ginny closes her eyes for a moment, shallow breaths drawn in and out as she tries to calm her poor, tried nerves. Despite all her efforts to appreciate all her sister-in-law’s better qualities, there’s still something in her that cannot get over many things, one of which being that said sister-in-law married her role model and brother, Bill.

“Everything alright there?” It’s a man that walks beside the beautiful woman calling Ginny’s name, his face displaying the same mess of freckles as hers, and Ginny smiles widely. She’s still a little girl inside, and he’s the superhero she’ll always have.

“Oh yeah, they’ve been two little angels.” Ginny grins mischievously as she pats the two little people’s heads, bending down to help them out of their small shoes in the cottage hallway.

“Wrecked Ron’s kitchen, haven’t they?” Bill smirks proudly, lifting his daughter up on one shoulder as she squeals in delight.

“Didn’t stand a chance,” she winks, walks over to kiss the little bundle in Fleur’s arms. They recently became parents for the second time, baby girl Dominique just as mesmerising as her mother and sister, with eyes the deepest gray of the ocean clashing into stones.

Bill laughs and spins his daughter once again, “That’s my girl!”

“Are you staying for dinner?” Fleur asks as she grabs her long hair and flips it over her shoulder before her baby daughter can grab ahold.

“Oh, no, I’ve promised Mum and Dad I’ll eat with them. Besides, I reckon Teddy’s in need of some pampering, he’s been a bit down since Harry left.” She knows her brother can see through her slim facade, but still she plows on, regardless. “They’re basically siamese, the two of them.”

“I may be bold to assume, but how bout little Ted’s not the only one missing Harry, eh?”

“It is bold of you.” Ginny’s frown rapidly melts into heart eyes and a smile so wide her cheeks hurt as her gaze stops upon the two children holding hands on the  flowery armchair tucked in the living room, small feet dangling in the air.

“It’s my turn to be bold and make assumptions, but somebody’s gonna have a hard time separating those two as they grow up.”

Ginny looks entirely too pleased with herself as Bill scoffs, pouts and strides over to take Vic’s hand - her free hand, that is, for one is already in Teddy’s gentle grip.

“Beel, don’t be silly,” Fleur’s elegant laugh flows in as its owner floats - yes, floats, yet another thing Ginny can’t quit forgive Fleur for - to her husband’s side. “If she weel look like me, what weel you do?”

“I’d probably cry.”

It’s all Ginny can do not to spill all three strawberry-chocolate doughnuts on the family’s venerable carpet, a relic from their Great Aunt Muriel, as her eldest brother and his wife make eyes at each other, gazes one notch too intense to digest.

“Come on, Ted, it’s time to go.”

The five-year-old jumps off the tufted seat, albeit reluctantly, and gives Ginny two big puppy eyes.

She smiles and kisses his cheek. “Alright, little buddy?”

“I like Vic,” he whispers into her ear, then proceeds to stare at the floor.

“What do you say we bring her something nice next time. Would you like that?” The expression of pure delight on the boy’s face is all the answer she needs. “Brilliant! Now call Snuffles and let’s go have dinner before my Mum breaks and drags us over to the Burrow herself.”

Teddy chuckles and they wave goodbye to family of four. And Ginny’s eyes burn behind her eyelids, and she feels it’s slightly hard to breathe, or maybe some of Ron’s doughnuts stuck in her throat, who knows.

Three hours and much pampering later, both Ginny and Teddy are so stuffed they feel like rolling all the way home, and they might do it if it weren’t for the big lump of a dog stealing food from the table whenever either of the diners wasn’t paying attention. This is how Arthur finds the three of them laying on the front porch, Snuffles going belly up, Ginny and Teddy plopped into Molly’s old rocking chair.

He jingles the battered set of keys on his index finger. “Need a ride?”

A strange guffaw is the answer he receives but he takes it as a solid “yes, please” and soon enough has the trio huddled up in the family’s blue Ford Anglia, Arthur Weasley’s pride and joy.

He patiently waits for Ginny to bathe and tuck Teddy in, absentmindedly cleaning the horn-rimmed glasses he’s been wearing for the last decade with the sleeve of his Saturday evening shirt. His daughter’s bare feet pad their way into Harry’s kitchen - their kitchen, she’s still adjusting to the thought that this might be her home now, and places an open palm on Arthur’s shoulder.

“Alright, Dad?”

He smiles as he takes her in, wrinkles hugging the curves of his mouth. “All’s well.” Arthur caresses her cheek and lingers a moment near her jaw. “You’ve grown.”

“I tried not to, I promise.” Bad humour is her way of deflecting, it’s always been.

“Your mother - we’d both like to know, are you living here now?” He doesn’t look all too concerned and Ginny gives him a lot of credit for it, guessing how many times her parents turned the matter over before bringing up with her. She’s thankful it’s not Molly leading the conversation.

Ginny sighs, “I don’t know?”

“But would you like to?”

The tightness in her chest is back. “I guess so,” Ginny finally admits, feeling redness creep its way up her chest and to her cheeks. She’s never been a fan of blushing, firmly believing it made her look like freshly picked tomato.

“As long as you’re sure,” her father gives her an encouraging smile and she leans into his side, head nestling on his shoulder, as she’s done so many times in her childhood.

“I am.”

“That’s good. We only want you to be happy.” Arthur’s chin rests near her temple and her hands hug him long and tight.

“I am.”

They sit in companionable silence until Snuffles’ yelp sounds miserably from under the small table.

“Tummy ache.” Ginny shrugs and crawls next to the dog to massage him out of his miserable state.

The oldest Weasley straightens up and claps his hard-worked palms to his knees. “Well you seem to know what you’re doing.”

“Oh yeah, happens more than not,” she sighs from under the table.

Arthur chuckles, “I’ll leave you to it, then.” Booted feet pressing hard into the tiles on their way to the exit, he stops for a moment before letting himself out, “Come home more often, yeah? Your mother and I miss you.”

Ginny blinks hard to stop herself from crying under a kitchen table, one big over-fed dog in her arms. It’s never easy leaving your nest behind, she knows, but it it really supposed to be this hard?


“You’re beautiful,” Harry virtually fawns over a wet-haired Ginny as she giggles and towels her waist length mess of a hair dry.

She flashes him a toothy grin, “You’re a cute little sop.”

“I’m a sop with a cause.”

“Oh yeah? What’s your cause, then?”

“Making you happy.” Harry smiles sheepishly and scratches at his ever growing beard as Ginny falls on her back on the other side of the screen, bathrobe slightly exposing creamy inches of skin, all sprinkled with freckles upon freckles. “You’re the worst,” she laughs, eyes closed and chest heaving in ill concealed delight, to which Harry responds with a ridiculous kissy face that only makes her laugh harder.

“Hey, Gin,” he says when their laughter calm down.

“Mhm?” Her hands work three thick tresses of hair into a simple braid, her prefered means of allowing her hair to dry.

“Do you ever regret that night?”

“Do you?” She shoots back faster than he expects her to, almost making him jump of the wreck of a chair he’s doomed to spend his free hours on.

Harry’s face is sincere, his hands framing it before hiding amidst his wild black hair. “No.”

“That’s your answer.” Ginny fixes him with her blazing look, the one that tells him of a girl so confident and untamed, the one that makes his blood freeze in his veins only to flow thrice as fast a second later. “Why?”

“You know how you dig ten hours straight and thoughts start buzzing around your head?”

“Sure,” she snorts.

“Well it was around that time that I started thinking that maybe - maybe I rushed us into it?” Harry feels lucky that there are exactly 10,739 kilometers between them or else nothing could’ve saved him from Ginny’s precise smack over the back of his head.

“Remind me, which of these were you rushing us, when I dragged you into the bedroom? When I took off your shirt that I was deliberately wearing? Or when I told you not to stop?” Her brown eyes were locked to his in a way that made him madly blush, for all his years.

“Heard you loud and clear.”

Adjusting her posture so that she can comfortably place one wool-socked foot under her, Ginny lingers for a moment, eyes darting from his new scruffy, wild look to his fretting bruised hands. “So what’s triggered you into this state, hmm?”

“ ‘s nothing. I mean,” Harry draws in a long suffering breath before confessing, “Ron’s told me you’ve only gotten out of a relationship when we met and - yeah,” he shily admits.

“Harry,” Ginny’s expression softens, “One, I told you to keep your hat on and because of the sexy song, but obviously the hot desert sun’s doing things to your brain.” Harry snorts, eyes twinkling in the semi-obscure light of his laptop screen. “Second, although my brother’s big fat mouth wasn’t lying, the fact that I broke up with someone has nothing to do with us.”

“So it’s you who broke up with him.” Harry’s face lights up if only a bit and she can’t help but take pity on him and offer what he needs.

“His name is Dean and we met while playing football,” Ginny starts, face propped up by her fist.

Harry involuntarily flexes his strained muscles. “I can play football.”

“Is this the point?” One ginger eyebrow shoots up and Ginny continues, “Anyway, yes, we met during training. It was nice while it lasted, yet sometimes it felt like he didn’t really trust that I could handle things on my own,” she continues as her fingers play through her plaid.

“Sounds like he didn’t know you all that well?” Harry suggests, privately wishing Dean good riddance.

“How well can you get to know someone in one year?” And he can’t distinguish if she’s being sarcastic or not, but before he can decide, Ginny extends an invitation to walk down a memory lane of his own, “How about you? Any stunningly beautiful girlfriends haunting your past?” Her smile is cheeky, but Harry notices it doesn’t extend to her eyes.

“Haunting? No.”

“But stunning and beautiful?”

“I don’t know,” Harry laughs. “I did date a girl named Cho in college.”

She waits a moment before asking, “And? What happened?”

“She was jealous all the time. And had crappy friends.” Harry leans on the back of his hard chair, palms supporting the back of his head.

“So what you’re saying is, if I get all jealous and needy because beautiful tanned women are swooning over you behind my back in Chile, I should expect a break-up?” Her gaze is challenging, daring even, and he’s enjoying every bit of it.

“Nah, you see the difference is I was never in love with Cho,” his mouth speaks before he can close it.

A beat and it’s Ginny who speaks.

“I’ve never been in love with anyone, either,” she says, “Until I met you.”

“Gin…” His fingers touch the image of her through the screen, desperate to feel any inch of her.

“Seven more weeks, yeah?”

He nods so hard his neck cracks.

“And then good luck keeping me away from you.” Ginny’s voice falters towards the end and Harry knows she’s about to cry, but honestly so is he. “Unless you shave that damn sexy beard,” she hurries to change the mood. It’s all hard enough without them weeping everytime they Skype.

“You mean this beard?” Harry traces his fingers through it, wide smirk plastered to his face.

“What a little tease you are, Harry James.”

Eyes flashing, Harry shoots back, “Says the woman who’s been ‘accidentally’ letting her dressing gown gape open for the last hour.”

Ginny glances down, thoughtful, but doesn’t amend the problem.  If anything about Ginny’s glorious - ahem - body can be considered a problem.

They share a heated look and neither is really sure if they’re going to go there or not.  But one of Harry’s research assistants makes the decision for them, bursting in and alerting Harry that dinner’s almost over.

While Harry promises to make his way toward the makeshift cafeteria in the next few minutes, Ginny tucks herself back into her robe and memorizes Harry’s face.

When he turns his attention back to her, she’s smiling softly.  “You know, we joke, but I really do - this isn’t just some casual thing for me, yeah?”

“I don’t think it’s possible for me to be casual about you, Gin,” Harry says warmly.

There’s a pause, and Harry chuckles, “It’s kinda shite to not be able to follow that up with - something.”

“You will, we will,” Ginny smiles, “Just on a bit of a delay.”

Chapter Text

After that night, between Teddy’s increasingly busy social schedule, Ginny’s picked up shifts at Ron’s, and Snuffles’ set schedule, and their semi-regular video chats with Harry, the days begin to pass in an easy sort of rhythm.  So before they know it, it’s less than half a month until Harry’s coming home.

As part of their daily rituals, Ginny and Teddy wake early to walk Snuffles at the nearby park - which on special days like this one includes a stop off at Ron’s for a sweet breakfast.  Ginny unhooks Snuffles’ leash and lets him bound after his well loved tennis ball while she shuffles Teddy toward a nearby bench.

They’ve got matching powdery grins when Ginny leans back against the seat and sighs.  “So Harry’s coming home soon.”

“Is it less than two days yet?”

Ginny chuckles, “Not quite, more like fourteen days.”

“Fourteen - that’s,” he flares his fingers out and nearly drops his doughnut into the grass, squeezing it in a death grip at the last moment, “That’s a lot for me.”

“Four after ten,” Ginny supplies, “It’s less than it was before.  Remember that number?”

Teddy frowns, thoughtful, “Nine something.”

“Ninety,” Ginny supplies, swiping at the sugary mess on Teddy’s cheeks, “Which is a very big number.  Even for grownups.”

Snuffles trots back over, offering Ginny the slobbery ball in his mouth with wide eyes.  Ginny stuffs the last of her strawberry cream in her mouth and swipes the remaining bit on her trousers - a travesty of manners her mum probably sensed all the way in Ottery St Catchpole - and throws the ball once again.  Without hesitation, Snuffles bounds off after it.

“Are you gonna leave when Harry gets back?”

Ginny frowns, “Of course not - I love you too much.”

“But you’re not gonna be living with us all the time,” Teddy says, glum.

Brows rising, Ginny slumps back against the bench and mulls on the thought she’d somehow not managed to consider before now.  In all the months of angst and waiting and missing Harry, she’d never really thought about the after .  Well, beyond welcoming him home and then welcoming him home .  But that’s a thought for later, when she’s alone in her - Harry’s - bed later, or maybe he’s still on the other end of the line…

“I’ll be around, Teddy, love.  Whenever you need me. Plus you know Harry and I are.  Special friends.”

Teddy nods, “Yup, like me ‘n’ Victoire are gonna be.”

Pressing a kiss to his forehead, Ginny tucks Teddy into her side as they watch Snuffles enjoy his roll in the crisp leaves littering the ground.

She’s dying to tell Harry about this little Teddy and Victoire development, but proper storytelling would require some background information that she’d rather not provide at the mo’.  Because really, she’d be more surprised if a story centering around whether or not she was moving in permanently didn’t freak Harry out when he was halfway around the world.

It’s not even that she thinks he won’t want it, because honestly they’re already halfway there, but it’s so soon and she doesn’t want to seem like she’s parlaying Teddy’s adorable questioning into an invitation.  So instead, Ginny files that away in her mental list of things to tell Harry once she can hold him close and feel the thrum of his heart under her hand.

And before they know it, there’s less than a week until Harry’s flight home and Ginny just might be more excited than Teddy - and he’s already drawn a notebook full of pictures of all the things they have to do when Harry returns.

In the last few days, Harry’s non-essentials arrived back in a couple of smaller cardboard boxes, which he sent with explicit instructions to not open.

With less than seventy-two hours between their reunion, Ginny’s finding her patience steadily waning.  Luckily, she’s accidentally planned a pretty packed schedule for Teddy and herself, beginning with a family dinner at the Burrow tonight.  And just in case she was considering begging off, Ron decided to drop by so they could carpool.

So while she’s shuffling Teddy through his ‘get ready’ routine, Ron’s jeering at contestants on the telly who, in his estimation, have questionable intelligence.  

Meanwhile, Teddy slumps off to his bedroom to pick another outfit after Ginny nixes his shorts and t-shirt given the increasingly frigid weather.  They’d spent the afternoon baking biscuits from a recipe they scrounged up on the internet, leaving them both covered in flour and stray bits of dough.  

After showers for them both, Ginny’d tugged on a jumper and her favorite trousers while Teddy tried for light clothing and longed for summer days.  She’s just debating whether her hair is dried enough to avoid giving herself a cold when her mobile begins vibrating itself off the kitchen table.

At the last second, Ginny grabs the phone, mere inches from the floor, and smiles at the photo of Harry - three day’s worth of beard, a glorious tan gilding his skin, and that stupid leather hat that does things to her.

Before the call goes silent, Ginny swipes and presses the phone to her ear.  “Harry?”

“Hey, Gin,” there’s some shuffling, “How’s things?”

Ron’s perked up at the sound of Harry’s name so Ginny wanders into the den and drops onto the couch, “Pretty good - or it was until my lump of a brother showed up.”

“Ron’s around?  Great!”

Ginny frowns, “I mean, it’s not awful.”

That earns her a kick in the shins, once more slight and it’s definitely in messy hair ruffling territory.  Harry chuckles over the line as if he’d heard her thoughts, “Watch it - Ron’s not one to let things go.”

Teddy reemerges at this point, proudly power posing to show off his dinosaur jumper and mismatched corduroys, which is probably as good as it’s going to get tonight.  But if he’s not going to catch cold, she’s fine. “Very nice Teddy, love,” and then, “Victoire loves dinosaurs.”

“Little matchmaker,” Harry snickers on the other end.

While Ron coos over Teddy’s sweater, Ginny murmurs, “S’not me.  Your godson is a little Casanova.”

Once his laughter dies down, Ginny hears the sound of a door closing and then Harry’s voice is hushed, and a bit low.  “I do have some news.”

“Is everything alright?  Are you hurt?”

“Oh - yes, I’m fine.  I just, there were some flight changes and mine got moved and, well.”

Ron and Teddy are tickle-fighting on the floor so Ginny quickly makes her way to the quieter entryway.  “You can get home, right? Do I need to get help?”

“No, no it’s fine,” Harry sighs, “It’ll just be a different flight.  I’ll email you the new info when I can.”

Ginny droops back against the door, willing the stupid tears rising in her eyes back.  “Alright, well. It’s not the end of the world.”

“Not for you,” Harry laughs, “I miss you.”

Smile trembling a little Ginny forces a chuckle, unconvincing though it is.  “I miss you too.”

“Well this whole flight thing is going to make that more difficult.”

Pinching her nose, Ginny’s shoulders slump forward, “How much more difficult?”

“Three days?”

“God, Harry, with the way you carried on - ” Ginny freezes when she hears a man’s chuckle from the other side of the door, “You did not Harry James.”

She can hear his laughter through the door and her phone, “Didn’t what, Gin?”

Stepping backward, Ginny looks at the door like it’s burned her.  “I hear you, you wanker.”

“Is that any way to talk to your loving boyfriend who’s just flown around the world to see you?”

“Stop being a git and open the damn door.”

The knob doesn’t so much as twitch and Ginny grunts.  Harry chuckles on the other end, You open it - I want the dramatic entrance where you leap into my arms.”

“Well I want more than a half a minute’s notice that my boyfriend is coming home after three months so I don’t look like a drowned rat,” Ginny drawls, “So I guess we don’t all get what we want.”

There’s a thud as if he kicked out at the door.  “Open up.”

Ginny quirks a brow and folds her arms over her chest, after switching the phone to speaker.  “You.”

“No.”

Ron and Teddy choose that moment to wander in, mostly dressed save for Ron’s trainers and Teddy’s unbuttoned coat.  While Teddy makes grabby hands for the phone, Ron narrows his eyes, “What sort of weird,” his voice drops, “ foreplay is this?”

Your best friend is being an arse and won’t just come inside.”

Confused, Ron looks between Ginny and the door, “You - he - Harry’s out there?”

In the interim, Teddy managed to grab Ginny’s mobile and has been updating his Godfather on the state of his action figures’ lives, and made his way over to the kitchen table where his crayons and paper are still strewn about from his earlier artistic inspirations.

Ron’s eyes widen at Ginny, and he gestures toward the door in an encouraging fashion.  But when he sees she’s not moving, he lets out a dejected sigh, “I guess I’ll let our visitor in - our visitor,” he pitches his voice higher, “ Who actually lives here and has a bloody key .”

Ginny folds her arms tighter over her middle and taps her foot impatiently while Ron makes good on his declaration and throws the door open.  

And while Ginny’s slightly annoyed that she’s not the first one to hug Harry, she’s sort of glad for the moment to collect herself, to catch her breath, because she’d never really got what people meant when they said their heart stopped.  But if she’s ever experienced that, it’s now.

He’s here, after days, weeks, months of waiting, Harry’s mere feet away from her, suntanned and bedraggled and here .

Ron claps him on the back and is a little teary when he pulls away.  By this point, Teddy’s run into the room and thrown himself into Harry’s arms.  

Rising, Harry keeps Teddy close with a broad hand over his back, green eyes squeezed shut while Teddy shudders out a happy sob.  Ron throws an arm around Ginny’s shoulders and presses a kiss to her hairline.

Eventually, Teddy does resume his childish wiggles and wants to be released, allowing one last hug and a kiss to his forehead before he gets untamably antsy and patters off to grab a toy to bring to the Burrow.

And then it’s just Harry and Ginny and it’s like every pent up emotion, desire, and longing wells up inside of her until she’s frozen, gaze locked with Harry’s.

Until Ron clears his throat and Ginny remembers it’s not just them.  “So, uh,” he rubs at his neck, “I’ll just take Ted out for a milkshake?”

To his credit, Teddy looks a bit torn between Harry and the prospect of dessert before dinner.  Harry takes pity - although he’s certainly got a vested interest in some alone time with Ginny - and encourages Teddy to go, promising a full day together tomorrow, and bedtime stories tonight.

Once the door clicks shut behind Ron, who gets a free pass for his teasing looks because of his unexpected consideration, Harry steps toward Ginny slowly.  “I uh- I wanted it to be a surprise,” he ruffles his hair, “And I half thought it was too good to be true, even when I got on the plane. Hell, when I landed I was waiting for them to hold me hostage at customs for three days.”

Ginny laughs, brushing tears from her eyes as she shakes her head, “You stupid, stupid man.”

Harry steps a little closer, “That you love.”

“Can’t think quite why.”

Another step.

“Brilliant.”

“Passably smart.”

Another.

“Devastatingly handsome.”

They’re barely an arm’s length apart.

“Slightly above average looks.”

Harry’s hand cups her jaw and his voice pitches lower, “Dashing beard and hat to go with it.”

“Well, I picked out the hat so - ”

And then his lips are on hers, warm and sure and deliciously, torturously slow while her arms wrap around his neck like she’ll never let him go.

Somehow, they stumble over to the couch without knocking over furniture or breaking Teddy’s toys that litter the floor, until Harry’s pressed against the cushions and Ginny’s splayed across him.  Breathless, Ginny pulls back as Harry’s fingers run through her damp hair. “God, Gin, I missed you.”

She kisses the tip of his nose, “Tell me all about it.”

“Your eyes, your laugh, your little sassy remarks,” he kisses her chin, “The way you smell .”

Ginny scratches at his beard, “Good I hope.”

“Heavenly.”

Before Ginny can dive back in, Harry’s phone begins vibrating in his pocket and she tumbles onto the floor in a fit of giggles, “Sorry - that,” she sighs, “It tickled.”

Harry flips over, sending his phone to the floor as he brushes his fingers along Ginny’s jawline.  “You’re so far away.”

She snorts, “Ron’s calling - was calling.”

After a minute of silence where they stare at each other in an admittedly soppy manner, Harry’s phone vibrates again and Ginny swipes across the screen.  “ Hello ?”

“I’m just calling to see if you’re decent.”

“If we’re - what the hell?  It’s been like ten minutes.”
Harry wriggles his brows, “A lot can happen in ten minutes.”

Flicking Harry’s nose, GInny turns her attention back to Ron, “Yes, we’re decent, bring Teddy home.”

“And then we leave for the Burrow?”

Somehow, in all the confusion, family dinner had completely slipped Ginny’s mind.  So she turns to Harry, “Awake enough to go to mum and dad’s for dinner?”

“Will there be mashed potatoes?”

Loads ,” Ginny leans in close and kisses him short, but full of promise, “And I bet mum’ll give us some to take home for later - ”

Forgotten until then, Ron groans and shouts something about being home in five after he hurls in the gutter, Ginny disconnects the phone and tosses it aside while Harry frowns, “I - oh .  Yes - yes to everything.”

“Can’t put anything past you, my love,” Ginny teases, brushing her fingers through his beard.

“I’ve got major,” Harry yawns, “Jet-lag.  Excuse me.”

Soon enough, they’re piled into Ginny’s little sedan and trundling off toward the Burrow while Teddy and Harry doze off in the back seat.

By the time Teddy wakes from his grumbling stomach and Ron starts to get hangry, they’re driving up toward the house, gravel crumbling under the the tires loud enough to wake Harry.

When Ginny puts the car in park, Harry leans forward sleepily and presses a kiss to her shoulder, “Thanks for driving, Gin.”

“I was not about to trust you behind the wheel - or hungry Ron for that matter,” Ginny laughs, twisting around so she can see Harry in the dim light, crooked glasses and sleep crinkles on his face.

Ron’s already disappeared into the house, likely hoping to ‘taste test’ whatever’s ready while Teddy seems content to stay at Harry’s side.  Not that Ginny can much blame him. After three months, Harry's surprise coming home three days early feels like a dream and silly as it is Ginny doesn't want to let him out of her sight for fear of waking up.

They do amble into the house, enjoying the night sky as the deep blue hue darkens to black and Ginny's stomach grumbles.  Harry snickers. “Hungry there?”

“Well dinner was delayed by an hour .”

“Sorry, shall I leave again?”

Scoffing, Ginny rolls her eyes, but Teddy’s feeling less humorous about the whole thing and grips Harry’s leg tightly.  They pause outside the back door of the house and Harry’s eyes are soft as he kneels next to his godson. “I was just teasing Ted, love.  I’m not leaving.”

Teddy nods jerkily and Ginny brushes his lank hair back from his forehead.  “It’s true - I’ll get his passport revoked.”

And while Teddy’s grip of Ginny’s meaning is minimal, Harry lets out a barking laugh and ushers them inside the topsy-turvy cottage.

Within mere seconds, they’re engulfed in bone-crushing hugs and damp kisses from the ladies present, and Harry’s first thought is spent wondering why he stayed away from this family for so long.

During the summers when he was young, if he wasn’t with his parents, he was exploring the expansive woods and meadows that surrounded Ottery St. Catchpole or being stuffed to bursting with delicious food care of Molly Weasley.  If Ginny’d been a part of that deal, Harry’s parents would’ve had to pry him out of this little house with a crowbar.

So it’s no surprise when Molly exclaims over his too-thin frame and almost immediately begins pushing food onto his plate light years faster than he can eat it.  It’s no replacement for his mother, but it’s still nice to be mothered.  And Molly Weasley’s an Olympic champion at the art.

Harry’s already two servings of mashed potatoes in before he realizes his little shadow has vanished and he has a moment of panic - home less than ten hours and he’s already lost Teddy - before spotting his little grinning face four people down at the end of the table, listening intently as a tiny blonde chatters in lightly accented English.

Ginny, however, has stayed close, her shoulder brushing his in that comforting way that reminds him he’s finally home .  When there’s a pause in the conversation, Harry leans close and whispers, “Ted’s got a new friend.”

Her gaze follows his and she grins, “Victoire and Teddy are practically inseparable - you and your godson are little ladies’ men.”

“If you mean we know a good lady when we see one then…”

“You’re lucky you said that when I’m too happy to take the mickey,” Ginny laughs, slicing a bite of roast and dunking it through her potatoes.

Before Harry can sass her back, Ron shouts across the table, much to his Mum’s dismay, “Oi!  Lovebirds. You’re holding up the stuffing line.”

Looking to his left, Harry finds a smirking George waiting with bowl in hand.  “Alright there, Harry? I could ‘accidentally’ lock you in the larder with Gin-Gin.”

Ron winces and tosses a roll at George, “Ew - please not while I’m eating.”

Hermione snorts, “Well then he’ll never get a word in, will he?”

The family descends into fits of laughter - Ron included - and before Harry knows it, dinner’s been had, three tarts have been devoured, and he’s following Ginny as she leads the way to her childhood bedroom while the family relaxes in the den.

“You’re a little minx, sneaking a boy up to your room while your mum and dad are just downstairs.”

Ginny turns and quirks a brow, “You are literally raising a child.”

“Fine, man .”

“Because that’s the only thing wrong with that sentence.”

Without pausing, Ginny swings the door to her room open, the cozy space dominated by a barely double bed with a soft grey and blue quilt, all settled atop a homemade braided rag rug.  The floor creaks beneath Harry’s feet as he examines the posters that decorate the pale green walls - a girl band or two, more than a couple sports figures, and a whole collection of family and team photos that timeline her childhood.

Pausing, Harry gestures to a single frame housing a picture of Ginny where she can’t be more than six, football in hand and more than a couple missing teeth.  “Did those teeth come out naturally or did you take a ball to the face?”

Ginny rolls her eyes and comes to peer over his shoulder, “They were loose, excuse you.”

“Yes, but how did they come out?”

Knee to the face, Mr Smarty-Pants.”

Harry presses a kiss to her forehead and smiles, “I don’t know how your mum and dad disciplined you - those eyes and the freckles?  I’d have been putty in your hands.”

“You are putty in my hands,” Ginny murmurs, rising on tiptoe and pressing a lingering kiss to Harry’s lips.  One that has him chasing her lips when she pulls away all too soon.

“I knew you only brought me up here for an illicit snog in your parents’ house.”

“Are you objecting?”


The following days are filled with unpacking, too much food (in just the right way), and sleeping until Harry feels like a person again.  He’d tried pushing through the jet lag that first night, but after three months of craziness, Harry fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow and was immovable until dinner the next night.  Still, he made the trouble worth Ginny’s while with a special after dinner - and after bedtime - treat for adults only.

In no time at all, they’re flushed and happy, tucked up in bed with a bottle of Pisco tucked between them.  “You know when you said you had a surprise in the bedroom, I really wanted it to involve less clothing.”

“I’m being romantic.”

“I can be romantic while naked.”

Harry kisses her, the sweet liqueur fresh on her lips.  “I know - but If you’re naked when I bring this up, it’ll seem - ”

“Bring what up?”

“I know it’s practically a moot point by now, but I - we.  Teddy and I want to ask you to move in. Officially.”

Ginny sets her glass aside and grabs Harry’s, doing the same before she straddles his legs and strokes his beard.  “Of course, my love.”

Completely overcome, Harry tackles Ginny backward onto the bed and peppers her face with kisses, earning giggles that bubble up her throat.  “Upside-down. Kinky.”

“Don’t sass me Weasley.”

Ginny grasps his hair and tugs him in for a kiss, and a deeper one, “Sass is one of the main tenets of our relationship.”

Pulling away breathlessly, Harry looks at her, eyes already blown wide and lips swollen.  “If you’re still thinking about words like ‘tenet’ I need to work harder.”

Ginny sighs as he kisses down her throat, working the hem of her t-shirt up her midriff, “No arguments here.”

Later, after they’ve more than re-acquainted themselves with each other, Ginny lets her fingers trail gently up and down Harry’s side.  “So, how nerdy is it to talk shop in bed?”

His chuckle rumbles through his chest.  “If we’re ok with it, then it doesn’t really matter, yeah?”

Ginny pushes up on her elbow and tosses her hair back over her shoulder.  “Well then tell me, how was everything?”

“Amazing - everything I hoped,” Harry props his head against his mussed pillows, “We’ve got so much new data - my theories panned out for the most part.  And I’m still in that blissful phase where I’m excited to write.”

“Enjoy it while you can,” Ginny laughs conspiratorially, “I’ll want more details of course.”

“You’ll get more than you could ever ask for come editing time,” Harry says, running his fingers through her hair, thoughtful, “How’s things with your paper?”

Ginny jolts up, “Oh!  I forgot to tell you in all the excitement - my advisor showed a colleague my paper and I’ve got an internship for next quarter!”

Harry kisses her excitedly, “We’re a couple of good news hoarders, eh?”

Humming, Ginny drops onto her back and tugs at Harry’s hand until he shifts with her silent direction, “Yes, and I believe a double celebration is in order.”

Chapter Text

A/N: It is here! We hope you enjoy this chapter full of fluff and cuteness and everything else good.

Available on FF &tumblr!

Lots of love,

@fightfortherightsofhouseelves & @gryffindormischief


 

A handsome man stomps his big leather boots through a jungle of sorts, hat covering his eyes for a mysterious touch and whip firmly secured by his hip in something Ginny considers a pure display of sex appeal. That and a series of other reasons is why she’s rewatching Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull for the hundredth time, fingers dipped in buttered popcorn and mouth slightly agape as Indiana himself flexes his muscles and draws the cuffs of his shirt further up his tanned arms.

“You like that, don’t you, Gin?” A muffled snicker and Harry drops next to her on the couch, leaning in to kiss her cheek.

However, Ginny deflects him in the last possible moment and frowns, looking him dead in the eye, their mouths mere inches from each other, “Yes. Yes I do.”

“Huh,” Harry blabs and feels it increasingly hard to breathe. His eyes close and nostrils flare, “Where’s Teddy?”

“Took him to Mum’s for a playdate with Victoire.”

Harry stops to think for a moment, or rather to recollect himself as the movie plays forgotten in the background. She’s so close and so tantalizingly beautiful even in his blue hoodie and her black leggings or maybe especially in his blue hoodie, he can’t completely decide. And somewhere in another part of his brain he registers that it’s not exactly the time for internal debates over his girlfriend’s general desirability.

“Oh. Ok, so -”

Ginny cuts him off, jaw set and eyes locked with his, “I’ll pause the movie, you get the hat.”


 

Harry’s never jumped seven meters in length in his entire twenty seven years but now he does and even really well, flying over the sleeping black dog splayed out on the fluffy carpet. Snatching said leather hat from the clothes rack in the hallway, he also grabs something extra in a fit of inspiration and runs back to the living room, sliding through the door on the sole of his socks - a little trick they can’t talk Teddy out of anymore, so he barely has any socks or bottoms left intact.

“In here,” Ginny’s voice calls from his little study.

He’s about to make his entrance with a saucy comeback he’s cooked while gearing up, but what’s on display nearly gives him a coronary along with infinite material for a lifetime of daydreams.

“Hello, professor Potter,” a very naked Ginny greets from his oaken desk, bare feet dangling in the air as she winks at him and bites her lip. “I think I forgot to study for today. Is that my punishment?” She points at the soft leather whip Harry can’t remember when or why he picked up, nor can he recall anything before the moment he opened the door to find one of his most secret fantasies unfold before him.

“Will you promise to be gentle?” Ginny continues her teasing, hands running through her hair to let it loose. Harry watches as it pools around her shoulders, eyes traveling south and back up again. Knees like jelly, he takes two steps closer and rids the desk of unnecessary items with the swish of his palm (another thing he’s been dreaming of doing since he’s been old enough to regard girls as not gross) under Ginny’s amused gaze.

“Harry?” She murmurs as her fingers quickly clear all items of clothing in their way.

“Hmm?”

“I need you to leave your hat on.”

Her mouth covers his fast and hard, muffling a particularly filthy curse.

Much, much later, when Ginny’s ginger head rests on his chest, his back pressed to the old desk, one calf caressing her hip and the other swaying close to the wooden surface of the floor, Harry’s mind cools enough to ask, “Are you still telling your parents today that you’re moving here?”

“Uh,” she traces little hearts on the skin of his shoulder, her stomach warm over his own. “The sooner I rip the band-aid, I guess.”

Harry kisses the crown of her head and holds her closer, arms snaked around her body. “Do you need me to be there?”

“‘S alright. I’ll handle it, just,” Ginny yawns and cuddles into him, cheek brushing against his bearded jaw, “just let me stay another ten minutes. You feel too good.”

His features light up in delight. “I love you.”

“I love you too. So much,” she smiles and shimmies her way up to kiss him again and again.


 

“What?” Ginny eyes her mother over her shoulder as the woman huffs and puffs at precise intervals, overworked fingers fiddling with the ragged ends of her apron.

Molly Weasley, not exactly looking at her daughter, suspires once again, “I think you shouldn’t take all your things right now.”

“So I should make this a three-part act?” She bites unable to hold her tone sass free. It’s been nearly an hour of passive aggressive grunts from the general direction of her single bed where her mother took refuge and straight up refused to leave Ginny alone in her packing process. At first, Ginny suspected Molly was on a mission to supervise her. Now she was certain that said mission was more complex, especially in the emotional blackmailing department. Truth be told, she would’ve been surprised if Mum gave up without a fight.

Hands rapidly flying to her hips and jaw squared, Molly serves back, “Don’t you take that tone with me. I raised you, I know there’s no changing your mind and your father and I are happy for you.” She stops and frowns at the disbelieving glint in her daughter’s eyes and the small “wouldn’t hurt to show it” whispered at the corner of her mouth. “Yes, we are. But we’re also worried for you. What if you need some time to yourself?”

“I’ll be sure to close the door to one of the rooms then,” Ginny exhales hard through her nose, hands shoved deep in her jeans’ pockets to keep her anger at bay. She’s always been hot tempered and it took her more than twenty years of mostly daily anger management training to prevent her head from exploding this very moment.

“What if you have a fight?” Molly tries again, lips a thin white line.

“We’ll work through it. Honestly, Mum, what is your problem? How is this being supportive of my personal choices?” Ginny quirks an eyebrow, leaning her back on the front side of the heavy desk. From the same exact desk, perched under the large bedroom windows, she remembers chancing a glance at Harry Potter the first time Ron brought home a scrawny, specky teen with wild black hair and a smile that struck her heart and never allowed it to recover. She took her feelings to her diary back then and before she gathered her courage to actually talk to him during one of Ron and Harry’s summer hols rendez-vous at the Burrow, he somehow stopped coming by and she eventually moved on. Ten years later they meet again and she’s every bit the bedazzled little girl watching him from behind her bedroom curtain that she was before, every bit as lovesick as she used to be.

She sighs, “Look, Mum, I’m not going to stop dropping by. You gave me everything and now it’s time I make a life of my own,” Ginny smiles kindly as her hands close over her mother’s own.

“That’s what you lot do, just..drop by.”

Feeling a scorching sensation at the back of her eyelids, Ginny releases her grip and turns around, leans over her luggage. It’d not be close to enough to say that she’s stressed out, confused, frustrated, sad, and angry at the same time. It’d not be half true to say that she wants to scream and cry, to break something or storm off without looking back. “I’ve worked hard to build the relationship I have with my family,” is her mantra.

They work in silent tandem for the next hour and a half, folding clothes and cramming personal belongings into overpacked suitcases, then nearly breaking a leg as they carry them down the steps and literally kick them into Ginny’s tiny car.

It’s almost dinner time when Molly takes a final charge, cornering Ginny in the kitchen as she rinses the last of the cooking pots, content to leave their argument behind.

“You know Percy, right, Ginny dear?” Molly sneaks behind Ginny, picking up each plate, pot and utensil to dry it with quick exercised motions.

Ginny snorts, “You mean my brother Percy?”

Molly doesn’t balk, but swiftly plunges forward, “Well, yes. You know he’s asked me to help him pick an adequate engagement ring for Audrey?”

“Oh wow, I’m super happy for them! Are they planning on marrying soon?” Ginny chatters away excitedly. All her brothers hold a soft spot in her heart and she’s truly and utterly delighted to know that they’ve found happiness. Like she does now as well, with Harry. She allows herself to smile cheek to cheek, eyes closed as the warm water splashes over her hands.

“Soon, yes. Although we must be careful not to overcrowd the same period with too many weddings. We can’t possibly expect guests to show up every other month,” the matron elaborates innocently, back turned to Ginny’s increasingly white face and unflattering grimace.

She orders her muscles to stretch into a smile and slowly speaks, “Mum?”

“Yes, dear?”

“What is that supposed to mean?” The smile doesn’t falter, even if it fails to spread to her deep brown eyes, a mirror of her mother’s.

“What exactly, Ginny love?”

They both know what the other means, still they tip toe around each other, neither wanting to be the first to bail.

Ginny closes the tap and dries her hands on a kitchen cloth before opening her mouth again, “You know, about the multiple weddings. It’s Percy and Audrey’s, and…?”

“Yours and Harry’s, of course,” Molly replies, eyes wide and innocent but stance fixed firmly on the ground.

The twenty four year old remains silent for a heartbeat. Then slowly, calmly starts, “Allow me to put it this way, since you deliberately twisted my words from before,” she pauses. “Harry and I are not getting married, nor have we discussed it. We’ve only decided to move in together. Please try and don’t make plans for us.”

Her mother’s face reddens, and all pretence is left aside as she presses shrilly on every reproving syllable, “Ginevra Molly Weasley!”

“God, Mum. Say it, don’t spray it!” Ginny flips her hair over her shoulder, refusing to be rebuked.

Another silent minute and the two Weasley women, a perfect mirror of each other, continue to stare relentlessly at one other, neither letting her guard down. Flaming red hair just as wild, deep brown eyes squinted to slits, deft hands on hips.

“A fine example your brothers set for you,” Molly scoffs, turning her focus on her youngest son, who unknowingly, and foolishly, enters the kitchen in search for some little extra dessert before dinner. “Honestly, Ronald.”

Mouth full with freshly baked biscuits, Ron turns around to find two of the three fiery women in his life glaring at him. “Whadidado?”

A sigh and then the matron recollects herself, “All I’m saying is that it wouldn’t hurt to consider marriage along with sharing bed and board.”

“Are you from this century?” Ginny blinks and so does her brother.

“You lot can go ahead and mumble as much as you’d like, but take one look at Bill and Fleur and maybe you’ll understand the true and obviously forgotten value of family and marriage.” With a final harrumph and an unapproving glance at her two offspring staring at her dumbfounded in the middle of the kitchen, Molly Weasley stomps out, head held high and brow furrowed.

“Wha’ was all tha’ for?” Ron mostly spits through his last piece of biscuit.

Eugh, Ron, I asked for the news, not the weather,” grumbles Ginny as she flicks stray bits of chewed dessert from her face.

“Have you been watching Friends again?” Ron interjects, playfully elbowing his sister in the ribs.

“So what if I have, Gilmore Girls boy? It’s my happy place,” she responds, folding her arms over her chest.

“Oi! I’ll have you know I’m only watching for Hermione’s sake,” Ron defends with blushing cheeks. “And at least I come up with my own jokes!” He shouts at Ginny’s back as she makes her way out on the front porch with a “yeah, whatever” and a fit of giggles.


 

Harry fiddles with his phone as he waits for the line to connect. He hears a click and then Lily’s warm voice greets him, so he smiles. “Hi, Mum. Is it a socially acceptable hour to call?”

“It’s always acceptable for you to call, love,” Lily laughs and stifles a great yawn.

“Hope they’re not working you too hard.” Harry gingerly holds the phone closer to his ear, anxious to fill in his parents about the latest developments.

“Well, I am a lab coat so it’s only me who’s keeping me scrunched over vials and potions,” she replies and Harry can hear the pleased grin in her voice.

“What about Dad and Sirius?”

“Your father’s on guard duty tonight and your godfather can’t be unglued from the ER, it seems. Still I suspect they’re up to some acts of mischief together, running loose in a big hospital as every other living soul slumbers unaware.”

Harry snorts and lets himself laugh along with his mother. He can absolutely imagine James and Sirius wreaking havoc, unsupervised and enjoying the free pass granted by their white coats and scrubs. He shakes his head and hulkingly goes on, “Ginny’s moving in.”

Lily jokingly scoffs on the other side of the line, “Took you long enough.”

“Mum!”

“What? I told you, if your father feels like he’s too old to have children now that you’ve all grown up and mature and won’t let me fuss over you, at least give me grandchildren.” He can still hear her smile and imagines her eyes, deep and green and so much like his own.

“Love you, Mum,” he murmurs and squeezes his own eyes. God, he misses them so much. Another month and it’ll almost be Christmas, and what’s Christmas without the whole crazy gang?

“Love you too, sweetheart,” she whispers, “and your father and Sirius will be absolutely thrilled to hear the news.” Her tone perks up at the end and Harry can really picture the three of them, happily chattering over dinner, tucked away in an apartment he’s never been to. The ghost of an idea forms inside his heart, but he silences it for now. He’ll think about it later, after Ginny’s arrived and her small things are strung all over the house and her books clatter the nightstand on her side.

“Call me when it’s actually daytime?” Harry chuckles.

“Promise. Bye, love,” Lily speaks through yet another muffled yawn.

“Bye, Mum.” He closes the call as the keys rattle in the door and a happiness too bright, too great to be contained by his little heart fills him head to toe. Next thing he knows, he’s helping Ginny with her luggage, balancing one box on a hip and a bag on his shoulder as he smiles like a loon and showers her with kisses every five seconds. There’s light in his life and he’s happy.

The following morning, when the haze and craze of officially moving in together’s passed, and a bubbly feeling’s nestled in their chests, Harry sits perched up on a stack of pillows perusing a maroon moleskin notepad as silently as possible so that he doesn’t wake Ginny. Red mussed hair resting near his heart, he glances at her sleeping peacefully in his borrowed tee and her freckled skin.

A loud snore coming from the foot of their bed alerts him to Snuffles’ ungraceful presence, and Harry snorts, thinking just how much of his godfather’s personality has been inherited by the godfather’s dog.

A grunt and Ginny’s head moves, “I swear this dog suffers from polyps. Can’t we do something about it?” Supporting herself on his bare thigh, she stretches and pulls herself up until she’s tucked next to Harry, warm and perfectly familiar. “What’s that?”

Harry draws her into his side and kisses her good morning, “My notes from the dig. I thought I’d go over them before working on some actual reporting.”

Ginny’s nose comes closer to the scribbled pages and, looking like Christmas’ come early, she snatches the moleskin out of her boyfriend’s clumsy fingers. “Care to explain why you’ve titled your notebook as Harry Potter’s big dig?”

“Because I’m actually fifteen?” Harry answers sheepishly, attempting to take his notepad back but Ginny blocks him expertly, flicking his nose and laughing heartily. “Give it back,” he plunges forward, wrestling her so that they end up tumbling from the mattress and close enough to the slumbering Snuffles that he gives a dignified bark and struts out of their room to find a better bed.

“Watch it, Potter, or you might end up with a carpet burn on that tight little bum of yours,” Ginny playfully exclaims as she spanks him lightly, her back pressed to the carpet and Harry’s weight on top of her.

He scoffs and covers his bare back with his palms, “I’d worry about my own bum, thanks very much.”

“Oh, trust me, I am,” she grins mischievously as she props herself up on her elbows, ready to dive into a full healthy snog while Harry’s hands start roaming freely under the oversized shirt she’s stolen from him before falling asleep together.

“Gin-Gin?” Teddy’s sleep-drenched voice sounds from the small hall separating their rooms.

In less than three seconds, Harry rolls over and throws the nearest pair of boxers on while Ginny curses, frantically searching for some clothes, any clothes.

“Yes, Teddy?” She struggles to respond as calmly as possible as she skips across the room with one leg caught up in her house leggings.

“Breakfast? Milk and cookies!” The little boy chimes excitedly from the other side of the door.

“How about you get the cookies to the kitchen table, huh, little man?” Harry intervenes, making sure they’re both decent before swinging the door open.

The little trio marches in tandem towards the kitchenette, Teddy padding happily between them. He’s ecstatic and has no reservations in showing his delight at the new living arrangement. So he takes Ginny’s hand with his warm right palm and Harry’s with his left and holds them tight, laughing and describing his latest childish dream.

“What are the three-long-months-dig conclusions?” Ginny asks over a spoonful of milk and cereal, and Harry’s so eager to share he nearly chokes on his butter-and-jam toast.

“Dunno if brilliant, but yeah, rather brilliant,” he smirks and ruffles his hair as Ginny rolls her eyes. “We found good evidence to confirm part of my theory and will start sending some teams to negotiate with the local authorities and bring back some of the stuff we found so we can run it through our labs.”

“Not just a big dig, are you, Potter?” Ginny winks and it makes him blush.

Before Teddy can ask any questions related to Ginny’s clever little pun, Harry swallows too big a bite of his toast, grimaces as he tries to melt it down gulping on his tea, swipes his palm over his mouth to clear any stray bits of bread and turns his attention back to the fiery redhead currently playing footsie with him under the table. “Alright with your internship, Gin?”

She crinkles her nose as her bare foot travels higher up his thigh, “Think so. I’m only starting in two weeks but still I feel like I need to prep. Hermione’s got me some books as good luck present, though.”

Harry chortles, “Course she did. What else do you know?”

“Well, I’ll be working two days a week on campus, with my supervisor, then another three days in an early education center somewhere in the north-east of London,” she explains, excitement visible in her eyes.

“So you’ve got weekends for yourself?”

Ginny smirks, “And yourself.”

Teddy slaps his little palms together, disturbing his glass of milk, and squeaks with glee, “Weekends in the park with lollies!”

“Someone’s got their priorities straight,” Ginny laughs and leans in to kiss the boy’s forehead. It’s a scene that leaves Harry’s heart throbbing with pleasure, feeling once again like the sun is shining in his stomach as it did on the day he met her. It’s funny how only five months can change your life forever, turning the most ordinary of things and gestures into bliss and magic.

The time in between their moving in together and Ginny’s first day as an intern is put to good use with house shopping, searching for a suitable and not far off school for Teddy, as he’s ready to start his formal education next September, and lots of quality time for the two of them after Ted’s tucked in for the night, sound asleep with Snuffles by his side.

They fall into a comfortable rhythm, watching movies and eating take out when they don’t feel like cooking, having Ron and Hermione over for their traditional weekend brunches, even having Molly and Arthur join them at one point (which is hardly a good idea when Molly can’t help but fuss over Ginny and her soon to be busy schedule and too small kitchen and how is she going to cook, clean, go to work and spend time with Teddy and Harry at the same time, all thoughts met by a scoff and a “Really, Mum, we don’t have to cook when there’s perfectly good takeaway nearby”).

Ginny has no idea when the days flew by, she only realises her first day is tomorrow and she’s got nothing to wear. It’s how Harry discovers her, the contents of their wardrobe akimbo, as she lies curled up into a ball on the floor.

“‘Sup pretty, sad girl?” Harry asks as he drops next to her and lifts her head to rest in his lap.

“Am I pretty sad or…?”

He dabs two fingers under her chin and captures her lips. “You’re the prettiest.”

“Thanks,” she sighs, her shoulders visibly relaxing for a moment.

“You got it. How can I help?” Harry runs his fingers through her silky red hair, mesmerised as he watches it slide over his fingertips.

Ginny pouts, then fixes her gaze on his own, “Just say that I’m pretty no matter what I wear.”

He smirks, “You’re beautiful even when you don’t wear a thing.”

“Don’t go looking for trouble, Harry James,” she grins and attacks his lips, wrapping her legs around his middle, pressing her body into his.

“I’ll risk it,” he shrugs and smiles over her lips.

Sometime later, when Ginny’s actually picked an outfit - the light blue shirt with cherry tree flowers that Harry insists makes her look even more beautiful, and the dusty pink skirt with a black knitted cardigan and black autumn boots - and he’s gone to wash his hair and trim his beard a bit (but not too much, as Ginny instructed), she feels a bit sick and crawls under the heavy duvet to wait for Harry to kiss it all better. If she’s honest, she’s been having small fits of tummy ache for the last couple of days and she blames it on the cheesy pizza they’d been feasting on for awhile.

Feeling the contents of her dinner return the way the came, Ginny runs to the bathroom and gracelessly says goodbye to said cheesy pizza down the toilet.

“Alright, Gin?” Harry’s lathered head pops from inside the shower cabin.

She nods and mumbles that it’s just the pizza and they should really throw it out, then splashes water over her face and thoroughly brushes her teeth. She’s pretty pale but nothing she’s never seen before so she shrugs and drags her feet back to their bedroom, reassuring Harry she’s quite alright and it’s probably a bad case of nerves and spoiled pizza. By the time she’s tucked in beneath the cozy covers her stomach has mostly settled and Harry’s fresh, warm, and clean from the shower.

“Night, Harry,” Ginny purrs as she scratches at his beard, head nestled into the crease of his neck.

“Night, Gin. Good luck tomorrow, you’ll be brilliant.” Harry kisses her long and hard before turning off the night lamp and holding her close until they both drift off to sleep.

Chapter Text

Ginny’s always been prone to nervous sweating. Not just standard nerves. It’s always the ‘this could change your life so definitely don’t screw it up by sweating excessively’ type situations. She’d been dry as a bone this morning on the way to campus, all the way through her initial meeting with her advisor and Dr. Bennet. Hell, when she caught the bus to the early education institution all the way up in North London, she ran two blocks so she wouldn’t miss it and barely got damp.

But now this, sitting on the bathroom floor, staring at a piece of plastic, she’s sweating through her damn jumper. Harry’s jumper, but whatever.  

Dragging her sleeve back, Ginny jostles her arm until she shakes her watch face right way up. She sighs, “Has five minutes ever passed so slowly?”

Teddy totters in from the living room, Lego men in hand, “What’d you say, Gin-Gin?”

Ginny brushes his hair back from his forehead. “Nothing important, Teddy Bear. Just talking to myself.”

“‘Bout what?  Can you talk t’me?”

“I just haven’t been feeling too well, but it’s alright,” Ginny says with a soft smile.

Teddy tucks himself against her side, joining her vigil over the little bit of pink and white plastic. “Should we tell Harry?”

Heart thudding in her chest, Ginny shakes her head and fights back the mix of excitement and utter terror at having something to tell . “I’ll let him know once I know something, yeah? It might not be a big deal.”

His little grey eyes are trained on the test, unaware but apparently sensing the gravity of whatever it’ll tell. “Harry can help you - he’s good at taking care of people when they’re sick.  He’ll make you toast and buy you ice cream and - ”

Before the little trip down food memory lane can continue, Ginny’s watch chimes the end of five minutes, vibrating on her wrist.

“It’s time,” Ginny says, blowing out a breath, fingers trembling as she reaches for the test and flips it over.

Teddy crowds closer and peers at the screen.

Negative .


Though disappointment had curled in her gut, the knowledge that one ‘no’ wasn’t permanent and Teddy’s gentle embrace soften the blow so Ginny recovers. Well, emotionally speaking she does. For the most part.

Physically, it’s a lot harder to tolerate symptoms when you don’t think you’re bringing an adorable little bundle with wild black hair into the world. Instead Ginny feels like she’s going to hack up her insides if the nausea and subsequent retching doesn’t stop.

She’s busy enough to write off the symptoms, fairly certain she’s not contagious, and goes about her normal business. Luckily, the first bit of her internship is working up her syllabus for the semester - which is more like a self-inflicted torture schedule - so she’s not doing her clinical work yet.

Almost two weeks later, she’s still not quite up to snuff and Harry is getting concerned. He really is as mother-hen-ish as Teddy described. So when she emerges from the loo on Saturday morning all minty fresh and a little wobbly legged, Harry’s sitting against the headboard with his arms folded and his attention entirely focused on Ginny.

Sadly, the attention is less of the sensual ‘do what I say’ type and more the ‘I’m concerned for your health and well-being’ variety. Which is sweet, utterly loveable, and really something that’s not a negative.  

But Ginny’s got needs .

“I know you don’t want me to be there when you’re getting sick - but I feel like a berk just sitting out here listening to you.”

Ginny crawls up the bed and tucks herself back into her side with a huff. Later, she’ll revel in the fact that she’s got a side now, that this is all real.  

Inching down, Harry mirrors her position, propping his head on his hand as he uses the other to brush her hair back from her damp forehead. His soft gaze warms her chest, but doesn’t temper her need for sassy repartee. “You know, the easy solution would be to just not listen .”

“Or maybe, I dunno, going to a bloody doctor.”

Ginny sighs, first in annoyance, then something else entirely as Harry slowly nips his way along her ear lobe, to her jaw, then -

“Gin, just make the appointment, I’ll even take you.”

“I don’t need to be taken care of,” Ginny whines as Harry’s hands push up the hem of her t-shirt.

He huffs a laugh into her ear and shifts so he’s tucked in the cradle of her hips. “Oh, Ginny.  I think you really do .”

A little over an hour later when Ginny’s recovered from her boneless state, she rolls from the rumpled bed and scoops up stray articles of clothing that get her fairly close to presentable.  When she wanders out into the living area, Teddy’s working on a coloring book at the table while Harry builds a growing pile of hotcakes as he banters rather senselessly with his godson.

Ginny rounds the table and presses a kiss to the crown of Teddy’s head. “Morning, love.”

Teddy grins up at her and clumsily lifts the half colored picture, “‘s Protector Panda. Normally he’s just black and white, but I made him lots’a colors because that’s more exciting.”

Flicking off the stove, Harry pulls down a few plates and peers through the passthrough, “Come get the butter and syrup, Ted?”

With a serious nod, Teddy trots into the kitchen while Harry sets the table for three. Once he’s deposited the last dish, Ginny wraps her arms around his middle, toying with the knot on his adorably ruffley apron.  

Melting into her embrace, Harry slowly kisses his way along her hairline, “Feel better after a good night’s sleep?”

“A good night’s sleep and then a very good morning.”

Harry’s fingers tickle underneath the hem of Ginny’s borrowed t-shirt. “And you know what would make me feel better?”

Teddy reenters the room and settles their breakfast supplies onto the table and the trio claim their seats around it. Ginny leans in close and presses a kiss to Harry’s cheek. “I think we both felt pretty good.”

“Obviously,” Harry laughs, “But I was going to say you going to see your doctor,” he raises a hand when she tries to interrupt, “Just to humor me.”

“I’ll call and see when she’s got an appointment,” Ginny sighs, “Ted’ll come with me, right Teddy Bear?”

Pausing in the middle of squeezing an unbelievable amount of syrup onto his pancakes, Teddy nods, “Sure. I like the puzzle magazines.”

It’s something of a miracle that Dr. Pomfrey has an open slot within hours of Ginny’s call. And in case that miracle escaped Ginny’s notice, the nurse pointed it out at least four times before the end of the call.  

Around one, when he’s leaving for campus, Harry offers for the third time to cancel his departmental meeting, but Ginny waves him off and promises she’s more than fine. It’s just a formality and she’s got nothing more serious than a mild case of the flu.  

Which is why she’s so shocked when Pomfrey looks so utterly serious when she enters for what’s supposed to be a routine examination. Luckily, Teddy misses Ginny’s moment of panic as he’s currently heavily invested in making sure his Tonka runs over every available surface in the room.

He does seem to feel the gravity of the situation when Dr. Pomfrey settles onto her stool and rolls a little closer, expression unreadable.

“So, I’d like to do some more tests to confirm and get us a more accurate timeline,” Dr Pomfrey’s mask slips and a smile ticks up her lip almost imperceptibly, “But we checked the sample you gave us and you’re going to have a baby.”

Blood pounds in Ginny’s ears while Teddy exclaims and presses his face close to her belly, already speaking to the baby through her bellybutton. “You - I - the test at home said - ”

“There are a lot of reasons for false results, but in your case, I’d guess you sensed the change a lot sooner than any at home test was going to confirm.”

The rest of the appointment runs in a blur of planning and follow up scheduling and luckily a lot of pamphlets that recap because Ginny’s a mix of shock and giddiness.  

Teddy’s a little angel all the way through, protective in the most adorable way as he guards her still flat belly on the train home, and full of helpful tidbits he’s gathered from Victoire’s experiences as a big sister and the tales of his playmates with siblings.

She’s collapsed in a heap on the couch, shoes already abandoned in a messy pile by the door, when Teddy slowly steps his way into the living room, a half full glass of water gripped in two hands. When he sets it down on the table, Teddy turns, smiling softly, “I thought y’might be thirsty. Since you’ve got a baby who needs water too.”

Warmth blooming in her chest, Ginny stretches out her arms and Teddy immediately snuggles into her side, gentle breaths steady against her skin. “You’re an amazing boy, Teddy Bear.”

His little hand settles on her belly, rubbing circles through her jumper. “When’re you gonna tell Harry?”

“Probably tonight, but can you draw him a picture?”

Teddy nods with more gravity than she’d expected from someone under seven, and the rest of their afternoon passes in arts and crafts, a hastily baked frozen pizza, and Harry’s late arrival - tired, hungry, and soaked to the skin.

“It’s raining,” Harry drawls, dripping onto the tiles and tossing his satchel to the side.

Ginny pauses, setting the salad tongs down and gives Harry a chaste, damp kiss. “I’ll get you a towel, my love,” Ginny says, dancing away from Harry’s seeking arms and down the hallway.

When she tugs a towel from the closet, Teddy glances up through his doorway with wide, grey eyes. And then in a beautiful mimic of his godfather he raises his brows in silent question, with just a smidge of judgment.

Leaning in through the door, Ginny points an unwavering finger at Teddy, “Don’t you give me that look, little man, he just got home.”

Teddy only blinks and Ginny scoffs, storming back into the kitchen. “Your godson is a little arse. You had too long with him without me to buffer your little sarcastic arsehole training.”

“Sarcasm is probably in my top three personality traits,” Harry answers, discarding his damp clothes and simultaneously reminding Ginny exactly how she got the way she currently is.

Okay so apparently step one in telling Harry should be being able to think that she’s pregnant.

Check .

Harry strikes a pose, towel slung low around his hips and hair a dripping mess. A dripping mess that sets little droplets running down his chest, slow, steady, and about to slip beneath the -

“Is dinner ready?”

Ginny tears her eyes away, cursing her flushed cheeks as Harry snickers and disappears into their bedroom.

Once they’re alone, Teddy gives her another look . More unbridled excitement than anything sassy this time; she can see his little legs practically shaking with eagerness and it reminds Ginny. She’s excited . This is a little piece of her and a little piece of Harry, unexpected and unplanned, but a little beautiful him or her that’ll be just theirs . Teddy’ll have a little brother or sister.

So by the time Harry’s returned in his worn joggers and favorite club tee, Ginny’s got a wide smile on her face and Teddy’s lingering close at her hip like a little guard dog. She can only hope that she gets to share the news before Harry hears Teddy’s almost unceasing conversation with her bellybutton.

After a group effort, the trio - or perhaps foursome would be more accurate - gather around the table, claiming slices of pizza while Harry dishes out salad onto each of their plates. Despite his earlier pushing and prodding, Teddy’s being an excellent wingman, maintaining a steady flow of conversation while Ginny absently crunches on a baby carrot. Baby .

Little black haired baby.

With chubby fists and tiny toes -

“What do you think - Gin are you alright?”

Pausing mid-gnaw, Ginny darts her eyes from Harry’s concerned expression to Teddy’s encouraging one. She’s ready, it’s time to -

“Wait - you went to see Dr Pomfrey today, right?  Are you okay? Did you - ”

“Ginny’s fine she’s just - ” Teddy throws a hand over his mouth and widens his eyes at Ginny. If she doesn’t do this now, Teddy will either blurt out the news or explode from holding it in too long.

“I’m fine, we’re fine.”

“Oh, good, she checked Teddy over?”

Teddy drops his forehead to the table.

“We - as in me and,” Ginny takes a steadying breath, “Me and the baby.”

Harry blinks at her owlishly, a hesitant grin spreading across his lips as he tries to contain what she hopes is excitement, “You and the - you’re pregnant?”

“Yes.”

His fork falls with a clatter while Teddy dances in his seat. “Really?  You’re sure?”

“I’m positive.”

“It’s not a mistake or some terrible disease - ”

“I am positive . We are positive.”

And though she was fairly certain Harry’d be over the moon, despite the unexpected nature of her news, her breath still catches at the brilliant smile that lights his face as he reaches for her hand.

A bit embarrassingly, tears rise to Ginny’s eyes as she chuckles, “God, this baby is going to have two sets of punny genes.”

“It’ll take over the world.”

Teddy clambers under the table and comes up between them so he can hold Harry’s hand and rub Ginny’s stomach. “And I’ll teach it how t’ draw the best.”

They share a glance over Teddy’s pale head and then their whole little world is swept together in the space of Harry’s arms, warm, firm and all theirs .

It’s really remarkable how long Teddy tolerates the stillness, the quiet, and Ginny attributes it to their little boy growing up. But even the most mature of five year olds eventually gets antsy. And if it’s post good news dinner, well it’s only so long before the expected happens.

Teddy wriggles until they pull away just slightly. “I was thinking.”

Harry bites his lips. “You were?”

A nod. “Ya, I think we need to celebrate the baby comin’.”

Ginny kisses his forehead, “That’s a really nice idea, but we’ll probably keep this between the three of us just for the first little bit.”

“Well, good, because I was going to say sundaes and Ron eats a lot.”

Laughter rings through the flat as Harry begins clearing the table and Ginny searches out the necessary ingredients for their celebration ice cream.

Later, when Teddy’s bathed, brushed, powdered, and storied, he finally dozes off a half hour past his bedtime with a picture of his new little brother or sister clutched close on the pillow next to him.  

Ginny’s wrapping her hair back into a loose braid when Harry enters the bedroom, everything about him electric with excitement like she’s never seen.  

Which is why it’s odd that he lingers in the doorway, wordless.

She considers him for a moment, his gaze gentle as he slowly takes her in from head to knobbly socked toes. There’s a second where she feels self-conscious, strange, like she’s in a new body altogether. Until she sees the warmth, the utter hunger in Harry’s eyes as he steps closer.

He finally grinds into motion, settling on the mattress just by her hip, hands immediately running circuits up her bare legs.

Harry’s focused on a little cluster of freckles just above her knee that vaguely resembles Queen Elizabeth when he speaks, quiet. “I know this is all quite sudden, but. God, Ginny. You and Teddy and our baby .”

Ginny pitches forward, nearly knocking Harry from his perch, and throws her arms around his neck, face buried in his shoulder, “I’m so glad - I really thought you’d be as happy as I am but then - we’re both just getting rolling in our careers and it really hasn’t been that long that we’re together - I’m just so glad.”

Harry presses a kiss to her temple, drags his lips down her cheekbone, nips at her jawline; his hands find her as yet unswollen belly as he murmurs in her ear, “You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

He kisses down her neck, over her sleep shirt until he reaches the hem and nudges it up with his nose so he can press his lips to her pale stomach. Ginny’s fingers spear through his messy locks, “ God .”

Pausing his ministrations, Harry props his chin on her hip bone and grins rakishly, “Harry’ll do just fine.”

“Pillock.”

He nips at her skin, “Never mind, God is better.”

Wanker .”

In a swift movement, he’s looming overhead, lips claiming hers in a heated kiss that speaks of much to come. “I certainly hope not.”


The next weeks pass in a blur of steadily chilling weather, growing and morphing pregnancy symptoms that vary from a higher tendency for teariness to less than enjoyable additions to Ginny’s morning routine. Honestly she’s just waiting for that alleged sweet spot month where the hormone increase allegedly means increased desires . She plans on making good use of that period with Harry.

But for now, she’s either tired, hungry, or nauseous most hours of the day. And dealing with an unusually moody Teddy.

It started last weekend heavy sighs and prolonged bouts of quiet musing, highly odd for most five year olds, but more importantly for this particular little five year old. Currently, he’s sitting morosely at the table, staring into space with a crayon dangling from his loose grip. And when she’d suggested a trip to the bakery for a half dozen delicious doughnuts to split between them, he’d shrugged and responded with a vague ‘sure.’

So Ginny’s currently locked in the bedroom closet, and having done the emergency call signal for Harry to answer as soon as possible, she’s just waiting for the response.

Before the first ring - metaphorical because she’s got her phone on silent, like a little super spy - Ginny swipes to accept the call and presses the phone to her ear. “We’re okay, sort of.”

“No hospital? You, Teddy, the baby?”

“All fine. In the physical sense.”

A door clicks shut on the other end and Ginny imagines Harry’s stepped out into the hallway to avoid the prying ears of his colleagues. “What’s up?”

Ginny does her best to pace in the cramped space she’s shut herself into. “Ted’s still being weird - he barely batted an eye at the prospect of three doughnuts a piece.”

Three ?”

“I’m getting desperate - he didn’t even watch Fantastic Flyers this morning.”

“D’you think it’s the baby? We’ve been a little distracted.”

“It would make sense,” Ginny says after a moment, “Even if he’s excited I’m sure it’s a mix of emotions for him. I don’t want to talk to him without you.”

“I’ll be home in plenty of time for dinner,” Harry says, “You spend some time with him for the next hour or two and I’ll finish things up here, pick up supplies for dinner, and then Ted and I will cook together.”

“And we can ask him over dinner?”

“Agreed.”

“Make me something good, Potter.”

“Get your appetite ready, Weasley.”

Harry coughs and says an oddly rushed goodbye.

Ginny’s contemplating the odd behavior of both boys today when her phone lights with a message.

Harry: sorry. Dept head walked in on my weirdly sexual promise about cooking later

Harry: it was very uncomfortable.

Ginny: how are you such an awkward human being

Harry: Genetics. Ask Sirius and my mom about my dad’s wooing tactics 5th year

Ginny: Will do. xD love you

Harry: love you Gin

True to his word, it’s not long before Harry’s home with the makings of a delicious Mexican themed meal in tow.

While Teddy washes up to play sous chef to Harry, Ginny makes herself scarce and begins prepping for her Monday morning shift at the institution. It’s been slow, getting used to the people and the schedule and adapting to a life that’s less student and more working adult professional. But it’s good, great even, to make this shift. There are still moments of doubt - particularly when her supervisor says Ginny’s going to take point on a new patient next week - but she’s feeling more and more ‘at home’ in her work. Like this is the real test whether she’s wasted seven years of school and training or not.

And though it's only been a few months, Ginny really is beginning to feel that sense of belonging, like this is the type of place she wants to be, that these are people she can help. Every morning, she wakes with the excitement of purpose, which is a feat considering most mornings begin with facing down the business end of a toilet.

So she fills the time the boys are prepping dinner with research and planning for the upcoming week, marking pages her faculty advisor pointed out in their last session, and revising texts that will likely be useful for her new charge.

She's so lost in thought, pens and pencils tucked away haphazardly in her braid, that she startles when Harry knocks on the door jamb. He grins at her skittishness. “Dinner’s about ready if you've got something to put a pin in,” his voice pitches lower, “He seems better, but still not quite his usual self.”

Ginny caps her highlighter and frowns.

“Maybe we just bring it up over dinner?”

She nods and ushers Harry out to the kitchen, where Teddy’s just finished setting the table.  They wait until food has been dispersed and drinks poured before Harry gives Ginny a small nod and she clears her throat. “Teddy, love, you know you can talk to us right? About anything?”

Not her most graceful introduction but she can't be clinical about Teddy.

Teddy nibbles on a bit of shredded cheese, thoughtful, before he takes a deep breath. “Harry came home, you got a new job, and a new baby,” he pauses again, “And we forgot - Halloween .”

Ginny shares a glance with Harry, but has to dart her gaze away quickly because of the math evident in his eyes. She may be fairly new to her profession, but she's positive laughing at a difficult confession of emotions is not the recommended course of action.

After a cough into his serviette, Harry seems to have steadied himself and reaches for Teddy, “Well we can't have a year without Halloween, can we?”

Teddy grins and shakes his head, Ginny's wheels already turning as she considers their options, one in particular standing out as ideal for all parties. “I bet my mum would have a special party with costumes - and this special homemade candy she only makes for her favorite people.”

Brightening, Teddy asks, “Could Vic come?”

“I bet she’d love to, mate.”

Harry dunks a chip into the shared salsa bowl. “Well that's settled. Now we just need costumes,” he glances between Ginny and Teddy, “And we've got to have the best ones.”

Already practically vibrating with excitement, Teddy asks to be excused and disappears in search of art supplies while Ginny claims a seat in Harry's lap, “That went well.”

“I was expecting a lot more drama.”

“You would - your mum has told me enough stories, my little melodramatic Potter.”

“Seemed to like my flair well enough last time with the reprise of my role as the roguish archaeologist.”

Ginny hums, “Yes, but tonight, I’ll be the dashing hero with nothing but my wits and my hat - you can be my damsel in distress.”

His eyes flash dark, “Don't forget the whip.”

“Oh, I won't.”



Chapter Text

“You already got me, no need to try harder,” Ginny blows a mouthful of air as she scans Harry head to toe.

He grins devilishly, “Dunno, Gin, wild things happen whenever I wear this hat so,” he wiggles his eyebrows suggestively.

She clasps her arms around his neck, pressing into him, and speaks tenderly, “I blame that hat for turning me into a gross human faucet every damn morning.”

“I blame the beautiful woman waiting for me naked on my desk,” he lightly chuckles and kisses her, lingering a moment over her bottom lip.

“Some moves you had that day, Potter,” Ginny whispers seductively, continuing where he left off, completely melting into his embrace.

Until a scoff and the equivalent of a scoff in dog language interrupts their little snogging session in the middle of the living room, reminding everybody that they’re about to be late for the Halloween-in-November party currently unfolding at the Burrow. And judging by the level of anxiousness and giddiness Teddy’s been running on the past days, nobody wants to delay their arrival any longer for fear that he might somehow explode.

Harry takes one last look at his leather-clad bum in the hallway mirror and starts towards the door. But not before Ginny notices and, checking that Teddy and Snuffles are too busy assembling last small touches to their pair outfits - Batman and his loyal sidekick Robin, she smacks him playfully and mouths a rather dirty compliment aimed at his adventurer-in-leather look.

Harry blushes adorably and pulls her closer, “I see pregnancy’s improved the foul side of your vocabulary, miss.”

“Do I hear any complaints?”

“Not one, ma’am.”

“Good. Now shove those leather pants off and put on something less...becoming before I do it for you.”

Harry morphs into the face of disappointment but complies, knowing full well that Ginny’s a force to be reckoned on any normal day, more so when she’s fueled by hormones and other pregnancy related paraphernalia.

They make good time on their trip to the Burrow, filling the journey with poorly done sing alongs and comfortable laughter until they’re pulling up the gravel drive.

The house glows golden, windows shined to sparkle as always, and the usual warm feeling of comfort that comes with being surrounded by family already fills the car. Harry turns to Ginny, “Ready?”

“Of course,” she gestures to her woolen coat and matching deerstalker cap, “Sherlock Holmes is always ready.”

Teddy pitches forward, his small hands gripping the two seats to hold him in place. “Can I go in? Please .”

Chuckling, Harry gives him a salute, “Of course, you’ve got a city to save.”

With a grin, Teddy leaps from the car, cape whipping behind him with a flourish as he runs toward the front door, Snuffles at his heels. Harry leans toward Ginny and presses his lips to hers, “I really shouldn’t find you quite so ravishing in this,” he gestures toward the thick coat, wooden pipe, dangling monocle, “But I do. I shouldn’t , but I do.”

Ginny kisses him, short but utterly enticing, “I can’t say I blame you. I am a vision in any setting or state of dress.”

Another kiss and Harry murmurs, “Or undress.”

“Yes, yes. Which is why I’m in a state that requires this level of camouflage,” Ginny sighs, righting her hat and clicking her door open, “Now let’s go in before they send out the welcoming committee.”

As they walk the remaining distance up the gravel road toward the cozy house, Ginny threads her arm through Harry’s and tips her head against his shoulder. Brushing his fingers over hers, Harry sighs, “I still can’t believe you wouldn’t let me dress as Indiana Jones.”

“I cannot handle you with that beard in that hat on normal days, let alone in my current state. And definitely not in front of my family.”

“You’re lucky I had back up.”

Ginny hums in agreement. “Though I’m not sure Doctor Harry is any less enticing.”

Straightening his stethoscope, Harry chuckles, “At least this one doesn’t have a whip.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t go that far. One needs only use one’s imagination, dear Watson.”

Harry laughs heartily, sprinting over to the front door and making a show out of opening the door for her with a whispered “M’lady” as Ginny scoffs and rolls her eyes.

Skipping over the threshold, Ginny nearly knocks over her mother and the enormous tray of Halloween themed biscuits she’s holding. Rapidly pulling her coat back around her, Ginny employs her usual post-mother-daughter-fight dignified tone, “Mum.”
“Ginevra.”

Ginny rolls her eyes and drawls, “I see you’re taking our cute conversation from last time well.”

Molly huffs and pulls her daughter into a lung-numbing hug, only to storm off a moment later, blowing her nose into the pink apron adorned about her plump figure.
“She’s just having a hard time accepting all her children are grown up and have left their loving nest,” Charlie reaches over from behind Ginny and kisses her cheek, claps Harry on the shoulder.

“Well I haven’t moved out yet,” one harrassed sounding Ron complains from behind an enormous pointed hat.

Ginny quirks her head to the side, “What are you supposed to be?”

“For a famous detective, you’re not so sharp today, Sherlock,” Ron snickers. “I’m a wizard. A much better and well thought out costume than your boyfriend, if I may add.”

“No, you may not,” Harry puffs his chest and readjusts his stethoscope.

Ron shuffles his feet into a power stance as he draws the tip of his wizard hat to slightly cover his bright blue eyes. “Got something to say, eh, doc?”

“Yeah, I’ve got something to say, wizard boy,” he pauses, cooking up the perfect comeback. “You’re going down,” another pause, “downtown. And -“

“Much as I’d like to stand here and listen to you two,” Ginny steps between them to Charlie’s amusement, who settles for watching the trio unfold, a perfect image of his childhood at the Burrow, “I’m rather interested in actually having a chance to greet my family. Hey, Merlin, where’s your better half?”

Ron adjusts his pointed hat and steers them toward the yard and tables filled with too much food and drink, even for the full brunt of a Weasley family gathering. “Hermione’s running late - she’s also been very hush-hush about her costume this year.”

Brushing the crumbs from his lab coat, Harry takes another bite of the Halloween themed biscuit he swiped from a nearby tray and laughs. “You think it’ll be the normal nerdy historical reference then?”

Ginny tries to casually steer clear of alcoholic beverages - if anyone asks she’s Harry’s designated driver for the night - and leans into Harry’s side while Ron smiles fondly. “Yeah, some ancient foremother of modern book-binding or some such.”

A throat clears from behind them and all three jolt as Hermione joins the little grouping, swinging her...tail. “No, but she is a very influential woman in society.”

Harry’s brows rise and a gleeful grin spreads across Ginny’s face, but Hermione only has eyes for the utterly flummoxed look on Ron’s.

Flummoxed and...something else. Ginny frowns. “That expression is one I really never wanted to see on one of my brothers’ faces.”

Leaning close, Harry murmurs into Ginny’s ear, “At least you’re nauseous for a non-baby reason.”

A tease that both sends a shiver down Ginny’s spine - Harry’s whispering does things to her - and earns him an elbow to the gut. “Shut it. Mum doesn’t know and I don’t want to ruin Teddy’s party.”

Wincing, Harry rubs at his ribs and fills a glass with fruity punch, taking a swig of the sickly sweet mixture. “No one’s around. By the time I said anything Ron and Hermione were long gone.”

Ginny glances toward where her brother and his girlfriend were and grimaces. “Ew, ew. Harry ew where are they? Never mind, I don’t - oh my god.”

Before Harry can answer, Teddy comes running, face smeared with chocolate and cape rippling rather impressively as he comes to a halt in front of them. “It’s time for games .”

As Teddy tugs Harry off into the glow of the yard, fairy lights shimmering in the inky black night while some sort of bean bag toss tug-o-war combination competition’s about to begin, Ginny can’t suppress the smile that ticks up her lips. The warmth that fills her chest as she sees the way Harry’s just a part of her family. He falls right into place alongside George as he rigs up some game that combines enough blindfolds, sparklers, and ring tosses that it’s a near guarantee the family won’t end the evening with the same number of teeth and eyebrows as they began with.  The joy of seeing everyone all together, combined with the thought of the secretly growing piece of their family - it’s almost enough to send her into human hose-pipe territory.

There’s some comfort in the idea that at least some of the overwhelming emotions flowing through her body can be attributed to heightened hormones from this little growing something or other. Though, despite it’s comforting feeling, it also manages to keep Ginny distracted enough that Hermione sneaks up on her in a rather wraith-like manner.  

Stealthy or no, Ginny’s not blind. Snorting, she begins preening Hermione’s hair. “You’ve got some...leaves and such.”

Hermione flushes, patting down her curls self-consciously. “I - sorry.”

Grinning, Ginny refills her punch and offers a glass to Hermione. “No you’re not. You look like the cat that got the cream. The cat that got something .”

And in case her completely overdone drawl of a tease wasn’t clear enough, Ginny adds a dramatic wink.

“Doesn’t it bother you because - Ron? Your brother ?”

“No, no it is not my brother because if it is my brother that you were,” Ginny gestures vaguely with her hands, “I will sick up.”

Eyeing her warily, Hermione steps closer, “Either way, I have a feeling you might sick up.”

Ginny fluffs out her coat. “And why would you say that?”

“I saw you avoiding that pumpkin pie like the plague,” Hermione takes a sip and lets her gaze linger on Ginny’s middle, “And it’s your favorite.”

Shrugging, Ginny stuffs half a ghost-shaped biscuit into her mouth and grumbles, “Maybe I am just not in the mood.”

“Or maybe there’s another reason…”

Desperate, Ginny grabs Hermione by the arm and drags her close, voice a shrill whisper, “If I say you’re right can we stop this little - whatever it is - before Mum hears and goes ultrasonic?”

Looking entirely too chuffed, Hermione nods and threads her arm through Ginny’s, leading her toward a little copse of trees Ginny’s loved since she was old enough to sneak out her window and swing through the branches like a little red-headed monkey.  

Once they’re definitely out of hearing distance, Hermione pats Ginny’s elbow, “So. How are you feeling?”

Ginny leans her head on Hermione’s shoulder as fallen leaves rich and bright as the hair atop her head crunch beneath her boots. “We’ve been through this. Nauseous. Very nauseous.”

Rolling her eyes - because even in the darkness, Hermione’s world class eye rolls are perceptible - Hermione sighs. “Ha-ha very funny. Really.”

Ginny flushes, “Excited. We’re quite excited.”

Hermione tips her head toward Ginny’s, affectionate, and leads them back into the warm glow of the bonfire. “I’m glad. So very glad.”

Nodding, Ginny listens with half an ear as Hermione details the exact reasons why she was late. Which sounds pretty rude, but Ginny can hardly be blamed when Dr. Harry James Potter is laughing brightly, the scruff of his beard only serving to draw more attention to that delicious jawline. And if she tries to tear her gaze away, it’s to find that broad, muscled chest, those agile, glorious hands gesticulating as he banters with Charlie and Ron…the former’s beard now graced with a singed away bald spot care of George Weasley.

As if by some magnetic pull, Harry’s gaze finds hers where it had dragged down to his - well she can’t quite blame him for the blush rising on his cheeks.

The rest of the evening passes in a haze of sugary treats, silly games, and getting as close to too much laughter as possible. If there is such a thing. As everyone starts to drift off to their cars, Teddy begs for a sleepover with his ‘bestest mate’ Victoire (Sirius will not be happy about losing his title) so when they pull Ginny’s little compact from the gravel drive, it’s one occupant lighter.

Harry reaches across the console to knit his fingers together with Ginny’s. Her thumb runs across the back of his hand.  

“So, Hermione knows,” Ginny says, matter-of-fact as she lifts Harry’s knuckles to her lips.  

“I would ask how, but it’s Hermione. I’d be more surprised if I ever did manage to keep something secret from her.”

“I’ve got her word that mum’s the word - particularly regarding Mum. You know I’ve been doing that more lately.”

“Keeping secrets from your mum?”

“Being punny - I think motherhood is making me toss my lunch and become even more clever and hilarious than ever.”

“Any other changes?”

Ginny hums thoughtfully and taps her knuckles against the chilled window as her breath fogs against the glass. “Maybe.”

“Such as?”

After a moment, Ginny unlinks their fingers and lays her palm on his knee, squeezing once, twice. “You know already, Dr. Potter .”

“Shite, we’re still at least a half an hour from home.”

Another squeeze. “Drive a bit faster?”


Ginny does have work at the early education center the following morning, though luckily she’s got a late morning shift.  Which doesn’t make it any easier for Harry to let her go - milky skin, freckled everywhere , lush lips forever ticked up with some hint of mischief -

Wincing, Harry yanks his hand away from the hot skillet and shakes it out.  His unburned hand reaches for the spatula, flipping each sandwich to a satisfying sizzle while tomato soup bubbles to his left.  

A knock at the door jars him from his culinary adventures and Harry flicks the burners off and jogs to the door.

After a quick peek out the peephole, Harry tugs the door open with a grin, “Ted!  Victoire!”

Teddy hugs Harry’s leg quickly and drags Victoire toward the living room.  “Thanks for bringing him home, Bill.”

Bill watches the kids trot off before turning to Harry, rubbing at his neck.  “So. Can I have a word?”

It’s a small comfort that Harry’s fairly certain Bill wouldn’t murder Harry with his own daughter in the next room.  “Sure, er - My office?”

Once they’re settled, each claiming one of the cozy chairs - one of which was home to a couple of very memorable moments with Ginny that Harry is trying really hard to not think about while her brother is staring him down.

“You wanted to chat?”

Luckily, Bill’s glare is aimed at his own knees rather than Harry’s fragile, mortal body.

“I - Yeah.  Teddy had some interesting questions for Victoire.”

Harry fiddles with the cuff of his jumper.  “Did he?”

Teddy gets home next day and bill is like uh harry can i have a word

“Yes, about mums and dads and - babies.”

“Did he?”

“Harry, I’m not going to kill you.  I’m trying to be mature and let Ginny be an adult, or at least Fleur says I am.”

Laughing at the slightly relaxed tone in Bill’s voice, Harry lets some of the tenseness slip from his shoulders.  “We’re - Ginny and I - we’re so happy. It wasn’t the plan, not yet. I love Ginny, and this hasn’t changed anything.  Well you know it has but.”

“Calm down, Harry, my purpose is more a warning,” Bill says with a chuckle, “Victoire is spending the weekend with her grandparents - my parents - and she has even less self control than Teddy.”

Harry quirks a brow, “Uh, Teddy clearly doesn’t have any.”

“He made it about four hours - she told me in less than ten minutes.”


It takes some doing, but eventually they manage to wrench Teddy and Victoire away from each other.  Though the most effective strategy ends up being promises for another extended play-date possibly sleep over so it’s up in the air whether it was a win for parents or sprogs.

Ginny calls just before dinner as she’s catching the train toward campus.  She’d apparently reached the precipice of a breakthrough with one of her kids and didn’t want to chance wasting the inspiration.  

After strongly encouraging her to buy real food that doesn’t originate from a vending machine, Harry promised to save her leftovers and asked her to keep him posted on her whereabouts.

That earned him a heavily sarcastic ‘ Yes mum ,’ and a surprise quiet evening for the boys.  

They’d made a night of it, watching Teddy’s favorite movies, eating slightly more junk food than is strictly advisable, and then breaking out that half-finished lego set Teddy got for his birthday.

It’s closer to two-thirds finished by the time Teddy’s heading off to bed, though it’s a half hour later than his usual and with two extra stories to boot.

By the time Ginny gets home, Teddy’s off in dream land and Harry’s freshly showered, dozing curled up on the couch like a kitten.  Her keys rattle in the door and Snuffles perks up, nosing Harry’s knee but steers clear of barking, which is good since waking Teddy up after ten at night is pretty much a guarantee that he’ll be up for the next three hours.  Padding over to the door with Snuffles at his heels, Harry greets Ginny with a kiss and works the buttons of her coat free with practiced ease. “Alright, Gin?”

Her forehead finds his shoulder as he kneads the tired muscles in her back.  “Tired, but good. So good.”

“Found what you were looking for?”

“More than - it was, God, it’s so satisfying to fill in this puzzle,” Ginny sighs, “But for a real person this time - not just some hypothetical.”

“That’s amazing.  You’re amazing.”

“And hungry,” Ginny murmurs as Harry’s fingers rise to work at the base of her skull.  

“Stew and such all ready for you in the kitchen.”

Harry tugs her toward the table and Ginny works the laces of her boots free with clumsy fingers.  “Sounds divine. Give me all the stew and such you’ve got.”

As her second boot falls to the floor with a thud, Ginny slumps in her chair and props her feet up on the seat opposite.  “So how was your day? You and Teddy have a swinging bachelor evening?”

“We had a normal night with normal amounts of snacks and bedtimes and whatnot,” Harry says, ladling another portion of stew into a bowl.  “I do have some news.”

“Let me guess, you’re pregnant.”

“Well if we’re doing that weird phrasing the modern couples use then, sure.”

Ginny pulls the pins from her hair and lets it fall down around her shoulders.  “I’m kidding, what’s the news?”

“So our secret is out.  Partially.”

It’s a testament to GInny’s complete and utter exhaustion that she simply raises her brows in reaction to the potentially shit-show starting news.  “Define partially.”

“Ted told Victoire, she told Bill and Fleur,” Harry sets a bowl in front of Ginny along with a few slices of crusty bread, “Bill said we should tell your parents sooner rather than later.”

“Yeah, well, Bill’s not my boss,” Ginny grumbles around a fork full of potato.  

“Victoire is spending the weekend at the Burrow.”

Ginny drops her fork with a clatter.  “We’ll go visit for lunch tomorrow.”

“My last meal.”


Apparently, priming the proverbial pump with news of a pre-marriage move-in is a good way to temper Molly Weasley’s reaction to an out of wedlock baby.  Or maybe news of a grandbaby on the way is exciting enough to overcome whatever distress it causes to rise.

They debate whether to tell James, Lily, and Sirius but this debate re-raises the idea of a hop ‘across the pond’ and the even more tantalizing idea of breaking the news in person.

Ginny tucks herself closer to Harry’s side as he scrolls through flights for December.  “I mean, Florida will have better weather.”

“Yeah, I could sell tickets for you telling your mum that we’re flying to the States for Christmas but not where she is.”

Harry snorts, “It was just a joke.  Mostly.  I mean beaches Gin.  Beaches.”

“Love - ”

Before Ginny can argue further, there’s a short knock at the bedroom door before it squeaks open.  Teddy peers through the crack, Snuffles close at his hip. “Can we come in? For a story?”

“C’mon up, Ted,” Harry invites, patting the blanket between them.  

There’s some shuffling, more than a few knees to stomachs, and an errant finger to Harry’s eye (mostly blocked by his now smudged glasses) but eventually the whole family ends up piled together.  Harry sets aside his laptop and shimmies down beneath the covers, Teddy cuddles into his chest and Ginny an arm’s reach away, their fingers interlocked.

“We’re thinking of taking a trip, Teddy.  For Christmas,” Harry says once they’re all settled.  

“To see everybody?”

Ginny laughs and cuddles closer.  “Yeah, to see everybody.”

“Can I bring my cape?”

Harry presses a kiss to Teddy’s head, “Of course, mate.”

One and a half stories later, they fall asleep in a tangle of limbs that remarkably remains unchanged until around eight in the morning when Teddy’s bladder demands attention.  Harry gets a knee to the gut and Ginny’s next in line for the loo. By the time she comes back, Teddy’s already disappeared to watch his morning cartoons on the telly, and Ginny’s looking a bit worse for the wear.  With a groan, she collapses onto the mussed blankets and sheets on her side of the bed.

“Uh, this baby better have your pretty eyes and sexy hair because otherwise I don’t think I will ever get over his or her little torture sessions I’ve been put through for the past week,” Ginny cries as she squeezes a pillow to her chest and rolls into a fetal position.

Snuffles, his large black nuzzle looming over her, plops down next to the whimpering woman and bows his head so their foreheads touch. Flashing him a pained smile, Ginny breaks her iron grip of the innocent pillow and stretches her hand to scratch the dog between the ears. Which is very much appreciated and met with a healthy waggle of his tail.

“Is he helping?” Harry’s warm voice lifts a burden off her chest as his arms snake about her petite body and wrap her against him.

Ginny relaxes into him for precisely five seconds, until a new wave of pain and nausea drive her back into the fetal position, eyes closed firmly and teeth gritted.

Harry simply holds her - tighter when she whimpers, tenderly when she stills. Later, when a calm and soft expression settles over her tear blotched face, he gently whispers a song favored by his mother that never failed to calm him when he was sad or sick, until Ginny drifts to sleep.

Chapter Text

Ginny drops on the fluffy covers of their bed and starts rubbing her temples with such fervour one might think she’s trying to drill into them. A sigh. And then another one. Followed by much grunting, also followed by mutters and curses.

Truth is, anyone who has the chance to know Ginny Weasley knows she particularly dislikes packing. But what Ginny herself does not yet know about her, and is at the moment mid-discovery, is that more than packing she hates doing it for situations she has no control over. Like her pregnancy, and the three full weeks it’s going to grow and expand and bring her more pain and misery in New York.

“Why can’t people just create a baby and then find him or her nine months later sleeping peacefully in a crib?” Ginny stomps up and down the bedroom floor, hair in disarray and temper close to boiling point.

A bark from Snuffles and then the doorbell announces the arrival of her eldest brother Bill, a sullen Teddy at his heels.

“‘Sup, sadface?” Ginny asks, cracking the door wider, and welcomes them inside. 

Bill lets out a shaky laugh, “Could ask you the exact same thing. Alright, Gin?” He bends to scratch Snuffles between the ears as Ginny takes Teddy’s hand and drags rather than guides him to the recently tidied living room.

She sets the kettle on the stove before padding back, allowing herself time to find an explanation that sounds more sensible and doesn’t make her seem too crazy.

Bill quirks an eyebrow, his gaze upon her like an X-ray.

Ginny sighs once again. If Bill doesn’t know her inside out, nobody does.

“I’m afraid.”

“You? Nah, my baby sister’s never afraid. Or so she likes to tell me,” he winks and flashes her the smile she’s always loved.

“Baby’s the correct word, yeah.”

Bill gestures for her to sit down on the couch as he brings two cups of steaming tea and one with cocoa milk for Teddy, which at least has the effect of brightening up his features for a moment. Ginny opens her mouth to ask what happened, but closes it just as fast when her brother shakes his head, as if to suggest that he’s to fill her in privately and she can take it from there.

“Come’ere.”

She’s gently pulled into Bill’s side, the palms of her hands protectively around her small bump.

“I’ve never been on the carrying end, but I hope having had two daughters renders me eligible to offer you pregnancy advice,” he starts and Ginny snorts. “First, does your doctor know about you flying all the way to the US?”

“Yes, I have a green light.”

“Good,” Bill raises two of his fingers, keeping count, “did you find another doctor over there?”

She nods, her head on his ribs, and Bill adds a third freckled finger to the count.

“Fantastic. And also quite responsible of you, I’m impressed - ouch,” a pause to rub the spot where Ginny nudges him, “even though you don’t seem to appreciate my advice, I’ll be the big brother and tell you that a pregnancy pillow and a blanket will make your flight easier.”

She rolls her eyes, “You are the big brother, though.”

“And still you don’t see me eat your boyfriend alive for this,” he drawls, gesturing to her jumper covered tummy.

Ginny chooses to ignore his last comment and darts her gaze towards a morose looking Teddy, shoulders slumped and playing with the little spoon inside his cocoa mug. Her deep brown eyes settle on Bill, and she tips her hand to indicate the kitchen.

“I delivered a perfectly happy kid. What’s gone wrong?” She plows on, her back supported by the counter as she holds her brother’s gaze.

Bill brings his fingers to his long ponytail, combing through it, a sign Ginny recognises as distress. “Victoire’s asked him to stay with her the next three weeks instead of leaving with you,” he finally responds, face apologetic.

“Oh. Say no more,” she chuckles, relieved. Quite frankly, Harry and her were expecting a little meltdown on the issue sooner or later, seeing as the two have become inseparable. “Honestly, big bro, I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes ten years from now,” Ginny smirks, flipping her long red hair over her shoulder. They’ve always had hair the same length, Bill and her.

“Ha. Then I hope you have a girl and Harry loses sleep over boys wooing her,” Bill exhales through his nose. Still he can’t help the smile curving up his lips as his eyes meet his sister’s. A moment and they give into laughter, genuine laughter, one fully understanding the other, knowing that they’re there no matter what. Her big brother, her hero. His little sister, who he’s always watched over, protecting her, loving her.

 


 

 

“Um, Harry? Why is Hermione at the door, looking frighteningly determined?”

“Because there’s no way I can mess up or forget something so long as she’s got that mad glint in her eye - hi, Hermione!” Harry grins from around Ginny and steps out of the way to allow a mass of frizzy hair - and its possessor, to step inside and warm up. It’s mid December and London feels like a citified North Pole.

Hermione takes her time hanging her woolen coat and neatly folds a lumpy looking pair of mittens, a scarf and hat, apparently all from the same set.

“I’ve been taking to knitting everything on my own,” she smiles proudly, catching the couple’s perplexed glances.

“Takes the edge off a stressful case then,” Harry nods sensibly and disappears into the kitchen to brew Hermione’s favourite blend of tea. He’s been storing boxes of it since college, the least he could do for all the help she’s given him whenever he hit an academic brick wall.

A snort. “Puts me in the right mood for one, you mean.” She ties her bushy brown locks back and rolls up the sleeves of her jumper. “It was a joke, don’t look so scandalised, you lot. I’ve taken some time to research how miserable wages are for all the laborers working themselves to the bone twelve hours a day to produce ‘premium knitwear’ for giant retailers.” She says it all with such disgust, neither Harry nor Ginny have the heart to point out that there’s a pretty low probability she’ll be able to take down a deeply rooted system by knitting winter sets herself. Then again, knowing Hermione, she probably will if she sets her mind to it.

“Alright,” she places her steaming cup back on the living room table and, accommodating Teddy on her knees, takes out a golden-and-red hardcover notebook from her bag and flips it open. “Ginny, have you made arrangements with your supervisor for the weeks you’ll be abroad?” She eyes Ginny expectantly, pen at the ready to scribble down irksome details.

“Yes, all settled. I’ll be covering some of the academic writing I’m expected to do and take on work at the institution once I’m back.”

A pause and intense scribbling, “Harry, what’s your current status for the dig evaluation?”

“Erm, it’s good? Final draft submitted, results from the second round are coming back mid January and the date for the exhibit’s been set,” he fills in, rather smug, and snuggles closer to Ginny’s side.

Hermione balances Teddy on her knees, to his joy, and continues her scribbles. “Alright then. Some quick questions and you should stop me whenever you realise you’ve forgotten something. So plane tickets? A transportation chamber large enough for Snuffles, but medium enough to be accepted on the plane? Presents for Lily, James, and Sirius? Presents for a particular five year old and pet dog? Presents for each other? Winter clothes for the three of you? Pillows for Ginny to help her sleep during flight? An extra set of keys for me and Ron, in case you lose yours? Phone chargers and adaptors? Valid passports? Books?”

When they keep nodding, Hermione smiles and closes her trusty notebook. “Well, I guess my work here is done. You’re good to go.”

“Told you we could pull it off,” Ginny smirks.

“Please, I found you crying over empty luggage cases five times this week,” Harry jibes, pulling her closer into his side.

“Pregnancy hormones.”

“Right,” he chuckles, kisses the ginger waves atop her head.

Hermione’s phone buzzes and she gently extricates from Teddy’s small arms constricting around her neck in what is only intended to be a show of affection, then disappears into the kitchen.

“Can’t believe we’re leaving two days from now.”

“I know, Gin. Me neither,” Harry flashes a grin to match Ginny’s and it’s utter and complete excitement written in their eyes. They’re fully certain all is going to be well.

In their giddiness and bliss, Harry and Ginny fail to register Hermione’s presence back inside the room, until she clears her throat, flustered. “I think Bill and Fleur may have to see you off at the airport.”

Confused, Ginny interjects, “Teddy’ll be absolutely over the moon, but is there any other reason?” Chocolate meets light brown, and Ginny’s mouth opens, her breath itched. “Is my brother about to…?”

“I don’t know! He wouldn’t say, just to cancel all my plans and pack some clothes for a week.” Hermione’s cheeks turn rosy and her eyes sparkle with glee before Ginny jumps up from her designated spot on the couch, cushioned with multiple pillows, and hugs her friend tightly. Harry’s never thought them possible of squealing, but still they do, jumping up and down. Until Teddy joins in, followed closely by Snuffles, and it’s not long before it all turns into a party of five.

The airport goodbye passes between hurried feet trotting down the long corridors towards the gate, crocodile tears rolling down Teddy’s cheeks because, in his words, he will never ever see Victoire again - even though it’s been explained countless times that the trip will only last three weeks, and a near meltdown on Ginny’s side when Harry has the fleeting impression that he’s lost his passport and all their money. Luckily, everything’s decidedly not lost and they board smoothly, while Snuffles is sent to the plane’s belly, according to another one of Teddy’s remarks.

“I love you,” Harry whispers close to Ginny’s ear, sending shivers down her spine. His fingertips dance over her knuckles and she smiles, warmth and so much more enveloping her heart.

“I love you too.” A brief kiss and Harry stretches up to reach for the extra pillows and fluff them well enough before stuffing them between the seat and Ginny’s back.

When he’s done fussing about her and Ted and the flight attendants finish waving their hands and offering safety instructions, Harry leans in and brushes his lips against hers, holding her freckled face in the palms of his hands. “I’m going to see my parents in less than a day,” he grins, pressing the scruff ever growing on his cheek to the softness of hers. “And Sirius. He won’t believe it when he’s trampled down by Snuffles.”

“They’ll all be so happy,” Ginny smiles heartily.

“I’ve missed them so much.”

“I know, love. We’ll soon be there.”

The plane starts its ascend and gathers speed. Somewhere on row 25, three passengers hold hands, barely containing their excitement.

 


 

 

“I hope they’ve left Snuffles with someone trustworthy,” Sirius mutters as he paces up and down the Arrivals halls of the JFK.

“Sirius, relax. Their plane just landed and, if you can power through that long, you can ask them yourself in a bit,” Lily volleys, offering James a cup of gingerbread latte, handing Sirius the second and keeping the third for herself.

James grimaces, “It’s sweet.”

“Well, Christmas is close by so it’s supposed to be sweet.”

“I doubt your taste in coffee,” Sirius argues, ever in agreement with James Potter.

“Ungrateful. Both of you.”

“I’m sorry, but have you ever tasted real coffee?” Sirius jibes.

Lily pouts, flips her dark red hair over her shoulder. “Yeah, and I didn’t care for it.”

Before either James or his best mate can interject, a loud bark freezes the blood in their veins for a heartbeat. And then master and dog are reunited, and it’s a mystery as to who squeaks the loudest as they roll over the shiny airport tiles.

The Potters do watch the whole scene rather bemused, but, to their credit, dare not engage in any taking of the proverbial mickey out of their old friend. Instead, when a young James look alike with gleaming emerald eyes nearly crashes into them, he’s got merely a fraction of a second before he’s squashed between Lily and James, the three pairs of feet determinedly hugged by Teddy.

When the madness of the moment dies down, and all three Potters plus Black (partially plus Lupin, who’s still not decided if he should laugh or cry) have pulled themselves together, remembering that British people and public displays of emotion do not get along, Ginny deems it right to show up from behind Harry, smiling.

“Look at you all jokey, son, walking in front of your girlfriend and such,” James claps Harry on the shoulder, winks.

“I, well, erm - how should we start? Gin?” He looks over to her, only realising that neither’s come up with a plan to deliver the news gently.

Nobody speaks and then Teddy shouts, reading the room as well as any five year old, “Harry and Gin-Gin haf’ a baby!”

Harry feels like fainting, while Ginny - bold as always, mumbles a “Surprise!”, as Teddy gnaws on his lip and excitedly changes his gaze from one to the other to see if he ‘did good’. So Harry’s instincts kick into motion and he starts doing what he always does when faced with a particularly tricky situation: he word-vomits.

“It’s absolutely mad, we know, but it was unexpected, and a surprise and, yeah, we’re quite thrilled,” Harry runs his palm over the back of his head, darting a sheepish smile at Lily, James, and Sirius who stare at them and blink in synchronised unison.  

Sirius, as always, seems to recover faster, slowly changing his gaze from one Potter senior to the other, “Any of you gave him the talk by any chance?”

It’s Harry’s turn to blink, confusion written on his face. “Excuse me?”

“You said it was a surprise so I thought maybe my dear godson, at the ripe age of 27, still does not possess the simple notion of how babies are made,” Sirius winks and it’s Ginny who lets out a heartfelt laugh, her hands over the small lump starting to show beneath her sweater. While Harry gestures rather than mouths exact instructions as to where Sirius can shove his “simple notions,” courtesy of Teddy’s presence within a two meter radius.

Next thing they know, they’re blinded by a red haired hurricane in the form of Lily Potter hugging their lungs out. Out of the corner of his eye, or the inch that’s not completely obstructed by his mother, Harry steals a glance at his father, glasses crooked to quickly wipe a tear forming at the creases of his hazel eyes. Harry smiles toothily, pressing the two women he loves most into his chest and, with a sigh, lets out all the fear and panicky feelings he’s been bottling up ever since Ginny came home with the big news.

Apparently the whirlwind of emotions that’s swept their little party for the past five minutes is too much for Ginny’s poor nerves slash hormones, and she tears up, biting into her lip as hard as possible to stop the threatening flood.

Subtly snaking an arm around her shoulders, Sirius whispers, “Wouldn’t have guessed you’re a weeper.”

“Ha, I’m not. Those are not tears, it’s sweat from the bloody long flight we had.” Ginny swallows the lump in her throat, straightens her back dignified.

Sirius’ lips stretch into a smirk. “Congratulations!”

The ride to the trio’s apartment is an experience on its own, with Lily succumbing to tears every other minute, followed closely by James and a cacophony of blown noses and “We’re about to be grandparents!”, as Teddy coos and claps at the big city lights.

Pressed between Snuffles and Ginny, Harry takes advantage of the flurry to plant a kiss behind Ginny’s ear, hitting that spot he learned makes her utterly melt.

“We’re alright, yeah?” He exhales close to her ear.

“Yeah,” it’s all Ginny can say with Harry’s lips so enticingly close.

“And baby?”

“Baby’s rather easy going. Hardly tortured me all day,” she laughs.

“I’m counting the days until I can meet him or her,” Harry smiles warmly, a glint in his eye that makes her dizzy with love and joy.

She need not wish for anything this Christmas. All she’s ever wanted is right there, next to her, ever growing. It’s light and love, and much too big to be put into words. It is, quite simply, everything.

Chapter Text

WOO, this is a long one. But we loved every moment and every word! Come talk to us on tumblr and also have a look at the end note we've added :) 

Love always,

gryffindormischief&fightfortherightsofhouseelves


 

Between the six of them, they manage to wrangle three weeks’ worth of luggage up to the Potter-Black flat. There’s a short standoff between Ginny and everyone else when she tries to push off their insistence that she sleep in Sirius’ room. Normally, Harry’d be fine with taking the pull-out, but he’s not about to have his pregnant girlfriend sleep on an expensive but still not a regular bed couch. Eventually, she relents, likely too overtired to put up much more of a fight.  

Despite their complete jet-lag, Harry, Ginny, and Teddy are all much too hungry to go to bed. Happily, James planned on it and whipped up a fresh batch of shepherd’s pie that morning in anticipation of their arrival.  

The party gathers around the kitchen table, open space made cozy by family filling it. As Lily dishes a second helping onto Harry’s plate with an expression that brooks no arguments, he glances around the flat and smirks at his father. “Fancy digs, Dad.”

“Yes, who knew my baby had such a posh family?” Ginny chuckles, though Harry can still see the tension in her shoulders, like she still can’t believe their news went over so well. Switching his fork to his other hand - it’s a gamble but he lives dangerously - Harry slips his fingers between Ginny’s and squeezes gently.

Sirius pauses his rough and tumble reunion with Snuffles and smirks up at Harry, “Yes, well they really wanted me so I got a sweet housing deal and dragged these poor slobs along.”

Prodding Sirius’ shoulder with his socked foot, James corrects, “Actually, they really wanted Lily, mildly wanted me, and accepted you as a necessary evil.”

With an indignant grunt, Sirius tosses one of Snuffles’ well-loved chew toys toward James’ head. “Don’t be a berk, James.”

Harry rolls his eyes affectionately and glances at his mother. “So how’s the research?”

And as he hoped, the topic change works its magic and they spend the next half hour catching up on the basics of the research Lily’s been working on, as well as James and Sirius’ first hand experiences with American healthcare.

Before they can get too bogged down in Sirius and James’ helpful hints for a better system, Teddy begins drooping tiredly against Harry’s side. “I think somebody’s in need of a bed.”

Lily rises, gathering their dirty dishes, and presses a kiss to Harry’s forehead. “If you’re sleepy, just say so, my love.”

Harry, ever mature, sticks out his tongue.

Leaning close, Ginny presses a kiss to his shoulder. “I am ready for a bed and not ashamed to say so. Hopefully little peapod in there decides mummy can sleep tonight.”

There’s two showers to share between them and while Harry and Ginny aren’t ready to bathe together while in the same flat as his family, they do share the loo, taking turns with teeth brushing and hastily completed showers while James and Lily tuck Teddy in.

By the time they’re through, the mirror’s fogged, Harry’s dead on his feet, and Ginny’s already peed three times.

It’s not much trouble, falling asleep. Teddy’s got a cot in the den and the flat really is posh, Sirius claimed the fold away, and Ginny and Harry end up tucked in Sirius’ freshly made bed.

After some fluffing, snuggling up to her pregnancy pillow, and grabbing at Harry’s hand until he acts the big spoon, Ginny drifts off faster than she has since the whole beautiful torturous baby journey began.

Which is lovely, until she wakes up two hours later with a full bladder and an untimely bout of wakefulness, courtesy of extreme jet lag and pregnancy woes. And hunger. She’s always had a healthy appetite, generally speaking, but this baby has brought an entirely new meaning to the concept.  

Once the loo has been visited, Ginny wanders out into the living area, Teddy’s soft snores sound from his cot while Sirius shifts on the pull out with a few quiet squeaks.  

Carefully, she pads into the kitchen and pokes around in the refrigerator, in search of something that satisfies her hunger, doesn’t make her nauseated, and won’t be noisy.  

Ginny’s abandoned her perusal of cold items and moved on to the pantry when slippered feet shuffle in behind her. Apology already on her lips, Ginny turns to find James Potter smiling at her in an endearing echo of his son. “Sorry if I woke you.”

He shrugs, “Nah, my sleep schedule’s a mess from my shift work this week. Hungry?”

“Oh, God, yes .”

Waving her aside, James reaches onto the top shelf and presents a crinkling pack of Oreos.  “Want to be bad?”

“Have any peanut butter?”

James grins, “Grab the milk.”

With some dancing around each other and companionable - and nearly silent - laughter James and Ginny end up gathered around the little kitchenette with tall glasses of cool milk, too many cookies, and a jar of peanut butter between them.  

“So, I know I said I was up because of my sleep schedule…”

“Too late, I’m three Oreos in, I don’t care about anything anymore,” Ginny chuckles.

Laughing, James pushes his glasses up with one finger and a twitch of his nose - another hint of Harry in his father - and swipes another cookie with his free hand. “But since we’re bonding, I’ll admit when I get excited, I can’t sleep. Lily teases me and says I’m like a kid.”

“Oh my God, that’s adorable - speaking of like a kid, Harry’s cereal choices?”

James dunks half a cookie into his milk. “Have you got him to eat anything without marshmallow yet?”

“We have progressed to cinnamon bathed wheat bits,” Ginny replies, puffing her chest out proudly.

“Yeah,” James sighs, “There’s not much Potter men won’t do for their gingers.” He raises a finger mere inches from Ginny’s face, “Don’t tell Lily I called her a ginger, or referred to her in a possessive way.”

Suppressing her snort at James’ panicked look, Ginny agrees - for the price of his Shepherd’s Pie secrets - and rubs at her belly. “Well maybe the sleep issues are hereditary, because this little one seems incapable of relaxing longer than three quarters of an hour. On a good day.”

The house is quiet around them, Teddy’s snores still steady while the rest of the family sleeps soundly. James pokes at the peanut butter with his spoon, his smile genuine, if a bit wistful. “Harry was such a good little sleeper when he was a baby,” he laughs, “Then around two, he decided to get with the family program.”

Ginny’s smile is soft, her thoughts drifting to her own baby - seeing it, holding it, imagining two years from now. Seeing her brown eyes with Harry’s messy mop of hair, his knobby knees with her endless freckles.  

When she emerges from her reverie, James seems to have taken a journey of his own, but he shakes himself free and glances toward the den. “So the bed you brought for Snuffles seems a bit redundant.”

Pushing up slightly in her seat, Ginny squints until she can see Sirius and Snuffles cuddled together, with the latter sprawled almost entirely across the bed and the former comfortably tucked beneath. Ginny smiles, “I’m not sure who missed who more.”

James laughs and they’re silent again, winter winds moaning outside as they fly swiftly between skyscrapers. Ginny twists an Oreo apart and bites her lip. “Would it - can I ask something?”

“Sure,” James agrees with an easy shrug.

“Did Sirius - why’d he come? I know Lily got the offer and you’re her husband - not that he shouldn’t but.”

James laughs warmly, cutting off Ginny’s stumbled inquiry. “Sometimes Lily says she got two husbands for the price of one.”

Ginny suppresses her chuckle with the palm of her hand.

“But in all seriousness - no pun intended - he’s as much a brother as I could get. Mum and Dad took him in when I was twelve or thirteen and we never looked back. As for the move.  He’s really not a tame person, staying in one place for too long grates on him. Lily says he’s got a restless spirit. Sirius just starts singing ‘Beast of Burden’,” Ginny lets out a heartfelt laugh, shooting a nervous glance as it rings through the flat, and James grins, “Anyway, probably goes back to his childhood, or something - you know better than I would. But he needed the change, to go somewhere new. It might seem a bit odd from the outside but. You do for family.”

Ginny sips her milk and feels her lips tick up in a smile. “He loves you two.”

“He loves Harry and Ted too, but he’s a little embarrassed to show it. He’s a sarcastic little bastard.”

“I see being embarrassed by feelings is also a Potter family trait.”

“You’re as bad as Lily.”

“It takes a special kind of woman to fall for a Potter, I suppose.”

James straightens in his chair and taps his slim fingers on the table top, expression impish - very Teddy like. “While we’re asking questions - any word of a new Potter woman?”

Ginny catches her expression before her brows raise and fixes her lips in a casual smile.  “Well, we haven’t got the gender yet.”

Shaking his head, James laughs, “Lily was right, you are perfect for him,” he rises and begins stacking their plates, “Now I am going to be a dad and tell you to get some rest.”

Back already twinging at the thought of trying to get comfortable, Ginny’s mouth falls open to begin making her excuse when James points at her with a peanut butter streaked knife, “And if your back hurts, wake my no good son to massage you.”


By the time Harry wakes the following morning, he feels as if he’s slept half the day away, but the bedside clock assures him it’s barely eight a.m. Ginny’s tucked against his front, bum wedged in a good but also bad location he really can’t deal with while his parents, godson, and godfather are mere walls away.

However, Ginny’s still in that blissful pre-awake wakefulness where she doesn’t recall anything about propriety or nosy families or anything but the soft warmth of waking up in bed with someone you love, who loves you back. And now he’s feeling frisky and soppy, which is just a mess.

She twists around in his arms, letting the blood flow to his tingling fingers for a blissful moment, and begins nipping at his neck with teasing kisses. “Morning, dear.”

His Adam’s apple bobs. “Morning, Gin.”

Her hands skirt around to dip below the waistband of his pajamas. “We’re on vacation - nowhere to be, no appointments to keep, three other adults to make sure Teddy doesn’t set the flat on fire.”

Harry’s drooped eyes shoot open as Ginny squeezes his bum. “Three adults who are supreme busybodies when it comes to their son,” she nuzzles his jaw, and his voice squeaks, “Or godson.”

“You’re no fun.”

“I’m logical.”

“Are you saying we’re not going to shag for three weeks?”

“I - “

Harry’s argument is cut off by two sharp knocks at the door and Sirius’ teasing drawl. “Oi!  Pause the fun times, I’ve got a full, greasy, overboard English breakfast out here for you.”

Ginny groans, “Sirius you’ll make me sick up.”

“I got your oatmeal, Princess.”

There’s some shuffling as Lily apparently appears and shoves Sirius off to the kitchen and Harry drops onto his back with a grateful sigh while Ginny resumes her ministrations. Only for Lily’s clipped steps to carry back toward their door. “Harry, come kiss your Mum goodbye before she leaves for work.”

Harry groans. “ Mum .”

But apparently, Ginny’s not on his team for this one, shooing him from the bed and rising herself. “Go hug your mum, if you did half of what this little marauder is doing to my bladder she gets whatever she wants, whenever she wants.”

Chuckling, Harry digs through his luggage for a t-shirt while Ginny uses the loo, and he throws icy water on his face. Within a few moments, they’re dressed in cozy layers and emerging into the fray of a Potter family morning. Teddy’s perched on James’ knee, crunching on a bit of jammy toast - grape, if his soiled t-shirt is anything to go by - while Lily fills her travel mug with piping hot water and Sirius moves the sizzling frying pan full of sausage from the burner.

“Sit down,” Sirius orders with a poke of his spatula, looking entirely too straight-faced to be wearing such a ruffled apron.

Harry obeys and Ginny smirks, tease on the tip of her tongue when Sirius turns his full power on her, “You too, Mummy. Gotta feed the little sprog so it’s ready for mischief right off.”

With a deftness only surpassed by Molly Weasley, mothering figure supreme, Sirius slides a crowded plate in front of Harry and drops a bowl full of steaming oatmeal at Ginny’s place. And before she can even think to search for them, Sirius reappears with ramekins full of every topping anyone could possibly want to top their hot cereal.

Ginny spoons brown sugar, blueberries, and some fresh cut strawberries onto her oatmeal before adding a handful of raisins to Teddy’s plate. He smiles toothily and immediately drops three into his mouth. “Thanks, Gin-Gin.”

After affectionately ruffling his hair, Ginny helps him into his own chair and scoots him closer to the table as she drops a fresh serviette next to his dish. “Looks like you’ll need a shower after breakfast, yeah?”

He smiles, “Sirius said I could use the big bath.”

James slices into his eggs and drags a piece of toast through the runny yolk. “It’s quite large and has jacuzzi jets. We’ve got spoilt, living here.”

Lily re-emerges from the bedroom with her briefcase in hand and presses a kiss to James’ head, her voice dropping in pitch when she agrees, “Yes we have.”

Harry’s face twists into a grimace. “Ew. Subject change, please.”

“You’re welcome for being an example of a happy, healthy relationship,” Lily drawls, pinching Harry’s arm, “Have fun with Sirius, bundle up, watch traffic - they drive on the wrong side of the street - and make sure Ginny eats.”

“Yes, Mum .”

“Don’t be smart.”

“Can’t help it, I’m a doctor.”

Lily pauses at the door and points her key at James, “This is your fault.”

James puts on a look of forced innocence, and the rest of breakfast passes in a haze of overeating, banter, and excited plans for the rest of the day, until James excuses himself to prepare for a half shift.

While Harry shepherds Teddy to the bath, Ginny tries again to cajole Sirius into explaining their plans for the day, but he simply pauses in his washing up and instructs them all to wear comfortable shoes, before turning back to the suds-filled sink.  

So when they emerge into the snowy streets, Harry and Ginny follow Sirius blindly through the bustling crowds, into the rush of the subway, board the M train, and after changing once, emerge onto 79th.  

Central Park looms, green and white and a lovely respite from the concrete and metal that fills the city, while they make their way toward the historic building. Teddy gapes at the rush of traffic, the sidewalk peddlers, and food stands steaming with warm meals.

Sirius points out a yellow and green cart not far off from the the corner where they wait for the crosswalk. “We’ll do hot dogs for lunch.”

Ginny’s stomach roils at the thought - baby is a picky eater - but she takes a deep breath. “Sure.”

Harry tightens his grip on Teddy’s hand and pulls Ginny into his side as the crowd thickens nearer the museum. “We’ll get you whatever you like, love,” Harry turns his focus to Sirius where he lopes a few strides ahead of them, “So Museum of Natural History. You’re all cultured now.”

Sirius turns and narrows his eyes, “The kid will like the animals. Plus I knew my audience, Professor Nerd.”

“That’s Doctor Nerd.”

Teddy tugs on Harry’s hand as they near the wide steps, people enjoying the late morning sun in little groups spread over the white stairs, clutching warm drinks and fresh pastries, steaming in the fresh air.

Ginny leans in and kisses Harry’s rough cheek. “This is nice.”

They begin mounting the stairs and Harry links his fingers through Ginny’s, carefully avoiding the slippery patches of ground where snow’s melted. “Yes, my endearing but completely embarrassing family is very nice,” Harry laughs.

“We needed to even things out, you’ve had entirely too much exposure to my family in comparison.” Ginny sighs as Sirius presents their tickets and they enter the expansive main hall, a towering dinosaur display surrounded by presidential murals and inspirational quotes from Theodore Roosevelt - according to the plaques that shimmer in the golden light.

Harry hums and Ginny loosens the scarf around her neck. “But we love them.”

“We love them,” Harry agrees, “Love their mess of slightly overbearing affection.”

“You wouldn’t believe the texts I got from Mum on the way to Heathrow - did I remember my underwear? Or shoes?”

“I mean, I once left for a conference with one pair of pants,” Harry says as they grab a few maps, “And I was wearing them.”

Sirius saunters over, a wriggly Teddy at his hip, and sighs. “Can we nix the chatter - I’ve got a schedule.”

“Do not,” Harry shoots back, helping Teddy take off his coat and hat.

“Planetarium at twelve, guided tour of the dinosaur habitat at one-thirty, lunch reservation at my favorite sushi - and teriyaki - restaurant at two-fifteen.”

Ginny smiles, “I do love teriyaki.”

“Lead on, sir.”


“Hello, Molly. Yes, they’re here. Warming up, they’ve been touristing with Sirius around New York. Oh, no. No, no, I can testify that everybody wore plenty of layers. And wooly hats. And mittens. Yes, and knitted scarves. But why don’t you ask them yourself, Molly? I’ll pass the phone to Ginny, no problem.” James stifles his laughter as he trots over to a rosy cheeked Ginny, courtesy of the ruthless cold outside, and hands her the receiver.

Ginger eyebrow perched up, she accepts with a sigh and mentally braces herself for a Molly Weasley trademark interrogatory, “Hullo, Mum.”

“Ginny, love,” Molly starts, sounding relieved as though she doubted her only daughter is indeed safe until she hears so herself, “Are you alright, dear?”

“Perfectly fine, Mum, thank you.”

“Oh, goodness, I’ve been so worried. You jumping on that dreadful plane in your delicate condition,” the matron huffs.

Ginny grins, “You do know this is modern age, right, Mum?”

“Now don’t play smart with me, young lady. Keep warm -”

“Yes, Mum.”

“And dress in multiple layers -”

“Alright, Mum.”

“And don’t you dare lay lips on any kind of - of American booze.”

“Oh my god, Mum, did you just say ‘booze’?” Ginny laughs whole-heartedly, brown eyes shut in much delight.

A muffled chuckle, “Well, it’s what American people call it, isn’t it?”

“Indeed it is. Also I’m literally staying with three doctors,” she giggles, winking at Harry, who’s standing perched at the base of the couch, and who’s paused his wacky race with Teddy to gape at Ginny, happiness evident in the twinkle of her eyes.

“Then be good, dear. And call us whenever you can.” Warmth can be felt in Molly’s tone and it leaves a blinding smile on Ginny’s face, so beautiful that Teddy has to literally wack Harry with his favourite wacky race car over the back of his head to remind him that they’re in the middle of highly important business.

“Promise. Love you, Mum. And send Dad my love as well, will you?”

“Love you too, dear.”

She presses the little red button on the screen and turns around only to bump into Sirius and James, identical wicked grins on their faces.

“So now that you’ve finished your cosy conversation with mummy dearest,” starts Sirius.

“We’re thinking we can use whatever time’s left until Lily arrives with a bag full of goodies and chores for us to bond, you, Sirius, and I,” James continues, impish glint behind his specs.

“I feel like I’m being cornered and don’t actually have a choice?” Ginny responds rather amusedly.

“Gotta hand it to you, James, she is smarter than your son.” Sirius’ chuckle is sadly interrupted by a toy race car hitting him between the eyes, thus commencing a full fledged wrestling round between godfather and godson seniors, to the utter pleasure of Teddy and Snuffles (and the bewilderment slash amusement of Ginny and James).

It’s how Lily finds them when she arrives less than ten minutes later, arms busy with Christmas decorations and delicious smelling treats.

“I know at least two people who won’t be getting any treacle tart tonight,” Lily scolds, letting the heavy bags drop on the living room table as Harry and Sirius groan in unison. “Now help me with this load. James, you’re in charge of the festive cooking. Sirius and Harry, you work your magic on the Christmas tree. Teddy, you take care of Ginny and very gently spread lights around the house,” she instructs, waving her index finger at all men plus dog.

“And what will you be doing, your Highness?” Sirius drawls, easing out of Harry’s amateur chokeslam.

“Supervising you, of course,” Lily responds and turns around to empty the bags.

Chuckling and absolutely enjoying the entire scene, Ginny takes Teddy by the hand and swipes a nest of fairy lights and wires with the other. “Come, Ted, let’s turn this apartment into a Winter Wonderland.”

A while later, when everyone’s committed to their responsibilities, the house falls into a companionable silence, only encumbered by the holiday tunes sung by a Christmas band on the radio. Until Teddy runs back in screeching with glee rather than cackling, Ginny barely walking in his wake, hands over her tummy in a fit of giggles.

“What - in the name of all things holy, what have you done to my dog?” Sirius gawks disbelievingly at a decorated Snuffles barking happily before him, as it seems Teddy deemed smart to dress the shaggy black dog in a fairy lights fantasy.

“I think that’s very prim and proper, love,” Lily laughs as she ruffles the boy’s mop of hair, and soon they all join in, their laughter accentuated by Snuffles’ excited barks.

When Sirius manages to coax his loyal friend into handing over the lights and they’ve been placed in their rightful spots around the house, when the Christmas tree is up and elegantly decorated in tones of red and gold, and dinner’s steaming hot, it’s James who hinders the peaceful quiet.

“I’ll be the one to play the parent card and say it,” he speaks, letting his fork fall into the spotless plate with a clutter.

“Oh-oh, here it comes,” Harry rolls his eyes and Ginny squeezes his thigh under the table. They know a talk of sorts is looming above them, something to the likes of marriage, having a baby much too soon et cetera.

“You need to go out. On a date.”

Harry’s shoulders stiffen as Ginny’s relax. It’s not the talk they’ve been expecting, but more of the you need time for yourselves sort of thing.

Ginny grins, “Fully on board with this proposal.”

“You are?” Harry asks, bewildered.

She turns to face her boyfriend, freckled nose crinkled with mischief, “Course. You, me, New York, what more could a girl want?”

Both Lily and James clap their hands together, while Sirius mutters that all’s going according to plan.

“I have a feeling you’ll really like Broadway,” Lily winks and raises to clear the table, with Teddy as her trusty sidekick.

About an hour later, when everyone’s showered and changed into warm jammies, Lily and James taking over bedtime stories for Teddy and Sirius snuggling close to Snuffles, Harry and Ginny finally find themselves alone.

“Hello,” Harry smiles as he leans in to peck Ginny’s small nose.

“Hi,” she smiles just as widely. “Long day, eh?”

“Could say so,” he chuckles. “How ‘bout I massage that long-day-back-ache out of you?”

“No need to beg twice,” Ginny bites her lower lip and flips her shirt off. Her arms sufficiently tangled in her t-shirt, Harry wriggles toward the edge of the bed and has no power over the hand that lightly smacks Ginny’s enticing bum displayed through her sleeping tights, earning a perfectly centered kick to his shoulders.

“You forget I played pro football.”

“Yes, I’m a very silly man who happens to experience blank spaces in his memory whenever his eyes fall on the most beautiful woman he’s ever met,” Harry adds and smiles besottedly as he rises and runs his hands down her bare arms. He’s head over heels for her and feels no shame in showing it.

Ginny’s giggles morph into moans of pleasure as Harry’s lips touch the skin of her back, leaving warm trails around each cluster of freckles. He kisses his way down to her bottom, fingertips sneaking beneath her waistband and, with a hasty nod from Ginny, pull it lower and lower and over her ankles.

“So full of surprises, Mr. Potter,” Ginny purrs alluringly as Harry’s hands do things to her, things he knows she likes.

“Maybe not the moment,” he reemerges atop her growing abdomen, his expression goofy as her hands grasp at his dark locks, scratch at his scalp, “but do you reckon you’ll ever consider being Mrs. Potter someday?” Harry smiles sheepishly, nuzzling her bellybutton.

“Definitely not the moment,” she grins so hard her cheeks hurt, “but absolutely yes, Harry!”

In a frenzy of exuberance and bliss, Harry scoops a laughing Ginny up in his arms as he raises them both and, with her creamy legs wrapped around his middle, he spins them in mad circles before they collapse back on the mattress, almost naked and completely in love.

Ginny smirks up at him.  “Lock the door, eh?”


James, Lily, and Sirius all manage to have a simultaneous evening free and the entire family takes the train to Rockefeller Center where ‘America’s Tree’ is already bright and shining in the chilly winter night. Wind whips down into the station as they emerge onto the city streets, shop windows filled with elaborate holiday displays, blissfully heated air brushing past them as shoppers re-enter the fray.

Lily fusses over Ginny, tucking her scarf tight around her neck, settling her knit cap over her ears, and wrapping an arm around her shoulders as Harry and Teddy rent their skates and glide onto the festive ice rink.

Cheeks flush with cold, Ginny leans into Lily’s side while James and Sirius buy hot drinks and roasted almonds. “Thanks for mum-ming me.”

“Well we think you’re fantastic, that’s my grandbaby in there, and Molly would hold me personally responsible if I didn’t send you home in tip-top shape.”

“Do you two have a deal?”

“Unofficial understanding,” Lily laughs, “Mums have to stick together.”

They find a bench close by, snapping photos each time Harry and Teddy lap the rink, cheeks pink and grins wide.

By some miracle, the almonds sit well on Ginny’s stomach - though Lily warns her to eat them in moderation, full-on Doctor Mum mode engaged - and the combined body-heat of her new family keeps her from shivering with the chill.

After an unforgettable few hours spent doing just about everything there was to be done at Rockefeller Center - including almost getting ejected from the Lego Store when Sirius and James get a bit over excited about the giant Millennium Falcon on display - the family gets take-away from what James proclaims as ‘the best pizzeria in the world’ and head back to the Potter flat to gorge themselves in front of a raging fire while Christmas films play in the background.

It’s a picture perfect evening, ending when everyone one by one drifts off to sleep as the fire dies.  

Ginny and Harry wander into bed and barely manage a chaste ‘good night’ kiss before passing out like two lumps.  

The following morning, Ginny wakes to her phone vibrating on the nightstand, a photo of Sirius, Teddy, and Snuffles crouched together at a nearby park and a message enjoy your laziness, poor slobs .

Her chuckles rouse Harry enough that he inches closer beneath the comforter and bands his arm around her middle, teasing low on the curve of her belly with his warm fingers. “What’s funny?”

Ginny unplugs her phone and holds the screen before the tip of Harry’s nose as he squints. “Your godfather and godson are sassing us by text message now.”

Lifting the phone from her hand, Harry scans over the photo one more time, then drops it to the mattress behind Ginny and maneuvers until she’s perched half atop him. Ginny’s hands plant on either side of his head while he begins pressing kisses along her neck, down her shoulder. “To be expected, that. What’s not expected is a morning where we have the flat entirely to ourselves. And you know what that means?”

Sighing, Ginny presses her body more firmly along Harry’s. “That we can finish the chocolate mousse in the refrigerator without sharing?”

Harry pushes the hem of her tee up and scowls. “I’d hoped the answer was fairly clear.”

Ginny slips her hands beneath the waistband of his trousers. “But this is a one time chance, my love.”

“That baby gave you a one track mind.”

“And your one track mind gave us this baby.”

“Two definitely tangoed, dear.”

For a moment, Ginny blinks down on him as he teases his hands further up her freckled thighs. But all too quickly, he’s left cold and bereft as Ginny disappears into the hall.

Experiencing a bit of sensual whiplash, Harry takes a few seconds to grind into gear and by the time he’s got his feet to the floor, Ginny’s back with a tupperware full of chocolate mousse and no spoons.

“Get back in that bed, Harry James.”

“We’re gonna have to clean the sheets.”

“Your fit girlfriend wants to eat dessert in bed - and I mean in bed - so can we leave the logistics for later?”

Nodding, Harry quickly tosses his pajamas aside and drops back onto the bed, arms and legs splayed. “Do your worst.”

“Oh, I will do my best .”

And somehow, the day just gets better from there. Together after a decadent morning they rustle around in the kitchen for leftovers, take a long shower (and kindly save water by doing so together, because they’re thoughtful people), and are cuddled up on the couch in cozy jumpers and joggers by the time James and Lily arrive. The former with his gloved hand clasped over his eyes. “Is everyone decent?”

Lily smacks James’ arm and Harry groans. “Ew Dad, don’t be weird.”

“Fine, then swear to me there have only been child friendly activities taking place here all morning.”

Ginny smirks and pops another piece of popcorn into her mouth. “I mean, we watched Netflix and it was a cop show so…”

After depositing two grocery bags on the kitchen table, Lily tugs off her boots and tosses a balled up sock at her husband’s forehead. “Stop being weird. Do you want specifics about what your son and his pregnant girlfriend did all morning in a flat by themselves?”

James tucks Lily’s sock into his pocket and concedes the point with a tilt of his head. “Anyway, we’ve got dinner covered for little Teddy Bear and you have tickets for Chicago and a reservations at Sardi’s - which I have been told is where all the cool kids go.”

Lily snorts, “By Sirius.”

“Yes by Sirius. He loves Yelp.”

Rolling her eyes affectionately, Lily hands James her coat to hang up and gestures toward the couch. “Go, finish your program, then get dressed - with layers - and you can head out. We hired a car for the evening so no public transport for you.”

Ginny presses a kiss to Lily’s cheek, then James’, before disappearing into the bedroom. The three Potters linger there for a moment, Lily’s eyes silvery with unshed tears as she drags Harry into a hug and James follows. “Have a wonderful night.”

“Couple of little matchmakers you are,” Harry says with a sniff, “You’d think we weren’t living together and having a baby.”

James hums, clapping Harry on the back, “And that, my son, is the prime time for great relationships to turn sour.”

Lily ruffles Harry’s hair. “Got to invest and all that. Now go make yourself presentable.”

In no time at all, Teddy, Sirius, and Snuffles return, Lily’s shouting that their car has arrived, and Harry and Ginny end up in the lobby of one of the many theaters that litter the theater district, programs in hand and oddly giddy at the prospect of an evening with no responsibilities, no work, no looming deadlines - it’s a veritable miracle.

The show is like nothing either of them has ever experienced, swelling music, the excitement of the crowd feeding the performers as they strut, laugh, tease, and trick their way across the stage. Two acts pass in no time at all - Ginny’s somehow able to keep her restroom breaks to the intermission - and too soon they’re on their way do a delectable dinner for two.

Harry’s half concerned that it will be an overly stuffy place, full of crisp tables, crisper shirts, and tiny portions that will leave his poor hungry girlfriend starving. But he should’ve known better, with Sirius as their organizer for the evening, and the menu is filled with rich, mouth-watering options from sandwiches, to choice steaks, to a fresh fish.  

Their eyes are bigger than their mouths as they order two appetizers, soups, full meals, and eat entirely too much complimentary bread all while attempting to identify the caricatures that fill the burgundy walls. It’s an evening to never forget, Ginny’s smile shining brighter than any light on the city streets, her laughter fuller than any song, and her eyes too beautiful to look away.

Although she does interrupt his staring when a troupe of would-be diners enter, seemingly familiar with the staff, boisterous in their excitement, and features striking even from a distance. Harry and Ginny hiss back and forth, attempting to identify which show they might be from when Harry recognizes one of the women from a poster in the theater lobby.  

They snap some covert pictures as proof, but otherwise leave the performers to their meal, not eager to deprive anyone of Sardi’s freshly whipped potatoes.

It’s late, very late, by the time Sirius buzzes them up to the flat, and their cheeks are rosy with cold and laughter as they spill in the door.

“Had a nice time?”

Ginny wraps her arms around Sirius’ shoulders, rising on tiptoe to press a long kiss to his cheek. “Just lovely. And you are a very sweet man.”

Sirius winks. “Don’t tell anyone, yeah?”

Ginny scoffs. “Never.”


A soft knock jars Harry awake, the time undetermined given the essentially blackout curtains that hang from brushed metal rungs over the window. Ginny snuffles against her pillow and burrows further down into the covers with a sleepy sigh.  

Brushing a kiss across her brow, Harry rises from the bed and pads over to the door, pulling it open just enough to see his Dad in the dimly lit hallway, bundled up in mismatched exercise gear, his skull cap tugged low over his brow. “Up for a run?”

Harry ruffles his hair, and though the idea of a more than brisk run through New York City in December before eight in the morning doesn’t sound that great, an uninterrupted hour with his Dad after more than half a year apart - that sounds amazing.

Which is a soppy thought to have, but it is early and he is going through a lot of life changes so he should get a pass.

With minimal noise and jostling of the bed, Harry manages to get sufficiently dressed to keep away the winter winds and slips into the entryway where James is stretching his hamstrings.

Grabbing keys from the pocket of his jacket, James tucks them into a hidden pouch on his sweatshirt and smiles at Harry. “Ready to go?”

Harry pats down his clothes, feels the weight of his mobile in an inner pocket, and nods. “Lead the way.”

They keep up a steady walk as they make the short trek to what James says is Central Park, and start an easy jog along the paved paths. Gait similar, it’s not too hard to keep in pace with each other, and after a few twists and turns, James glances at Harry. “So normally, this is where a dad tries to poke around and see if his kid needs advice or whatever before they have a baby. But you’ve never done things in a normal order, have you?”

“What is normal?” Harry muses with a smirk.

“Alright, Berkeley.”

“Going for the semi-obscure philosopher reference?”

“You’re loads more academic than me, I’ve got to show off when I can.”

Harry chuckles and maneuvers around a man with a large, surprisingly yappy dog, and slaps his dad’s forearm. “Said the internationally celebrated oncologist.”

“S’not academia,” James says as they round another curve, avoiding the slush of melting snow.

“Yeah, but you made me.”

James swipes under his nose. “I figured you’d rather not think of that particular reality too much.”

Shoving at James’ shoulder, he grumbles. “I wasn’t asking for further detail.”

“Aye, you seem to understand that particular aspect of biology fairly well.”

“Don’t be gross.”

“Procreation is a beautiful thing.”

“Please stop.”

They slow near a sort of roundabout, breathing deep and almost looking twins with James’ slightly greyed locks hidden. He tilts his head toward a nearby cart. “Coffee?”

“From some random street vendor, should be delicious,” Harry snickers.

“Don’t be all posh,” James teases, though his expression turns a bit more serious. “I know I was being silly earlier. But - you’ll - you are a good dad, Harry.”

“Had a good one to learn from,” Harry says, settling his earmuffs more firmly on his head, “Yeah?”

James asks for two coffees and hands over bills and coins Harry’s still a bit rusty with. They meander through the park, cooling down, when James takes a tentative sip of his drink and smiles. “You’re better than I ever was - ask Sirius and Mum about Year Five.”

Harry hums. “I’ve heard. From sober and drunk Sirius. Plus Mum’s a big fan of taking the mickey behind your back.”

“And to my face.”

“Gin reminds me of her in that way.”

“Must be the hair.”

Harry burns his tongue with a sip that’s a bit too over-eager. “There’s something.”

“Whatever it is, I like it.”

“Love it, even.”

“I’d say so.”

James ruffles Harry’s hair. “Head home?”

“Hopefully Sirius is cooking.”

“Mhm, luckily Mum’s been too busy to attempt pancakes in a few months.”

The crosswalk is crowded with shoppers and commuters as James and Harry make their way home and Harry laughs. “Not likely we’ll be so fortunate on Christmas Day.”

“God help us - suppose she had to have one flaw.”

“Flapjacks like frisbees or death by frigid toes - small price to pay, eh?”

“Wise man, Harry.”


The days to Christmas pass swiftly after that, with too much baking, last minute shopping, and a festive afternoon spent at the family matinee ballet performance that has Teddy twirling down through Lincoln Center with excitement, until it’s Christmas eve and they’re crowded into the warm flat while snow swirls outside on the bustling city streets.

They chose an ornate, historic church and attend a brief service mostly filled with familiar carols and a heavy heat from too many wool-clad bodies pressed into a space with no air-con. It’s only a few blocks away, so it’s easier to walk home than go through the trouble of hailing a cab or braving the packed trains.  

Sirius - apparently feeling the Christmas spirit rising - does his best alley-cat yodel of favorite holiday songs and twirls like he’d tapped into...libations a bit early.

They’ve long since reached the Potter flat, a carefully prepared roast filling the space with a sharp, enticing, and appetite whetting scent that has Harry’s stomach rumbling with hunger.

After a few failed and highly un-secretive attempts to peek at gifts on Teddy’s part, they agree to each choose one gift to open before dinner.

Sirius gets a new leash for Snuffles, James a giant glass bottle of syrup, Teddy’s over the moon about a pair of night vision goggles (“I can use them to read at night ”), Lily immediately wraps the shimmering scarf from a blushing Teddy around her neck, and finally, Harry and Ginny tug on matching (and completely hideous) light up jumpers with some attempt at a pregnancy pun emblazoned across the front.

A timer sounds and Lily trots into the kitchen, pouring marinade over the top of the almost cooked roast while Teddy tries to pry away the corners of the paper hiding his gifts. Sirius crouches at his side. “Mate, you’ve got to shake them.”

Harry pauses in setting the table and shouts in near unison with his mother, “Don’t shake them!”

Alright . Touched they are, little Ted.”

Ginny crawls over to their little mischief circle and whispers, “Just do it gently.”

James chuckles, then plasters an entirely innocent look on his face, needlessly busying himself with the telly.

“Harry, love, I think you’re buzzing,” Lily points out as she executes a final inspection of the festive table.

Confused, Harry pats his front pockets, then his back ones, before finally extracting the phone he’s not used since setting foot on American ground. Swiping right to receive the Facetime call from Hermione, he nearly loses grip on the mobile device as a screeching sound erupts from within it.

“Who’s dying?” Sirius shouts over the noise, hands on his ears.

“More like who’s being tortured?” James adds, following his best mate inside the kitchen in an attempt to spot and eventually put an end to the nuisance.

“Actually why are we being tortured?” Ginny pipes in, petting and hushing a distressed Snuffles while Teddy runs to hide behind Lily’s legs.

As the noise gradually dies, Harry, wide eyed and utterly befuddled, sheds light into the mystery, “I - er, I’ve only ever heard Hermione do that once - when she got Valedictorian.”

“Bloody hell, woman, you’ll give them all a heart attack and then who’s going to be my best man?”

Ginny’s feet shuffle closer to Harry’s mobile so she can catch the glimpse of ginger that is her brother, holding a buoyant Hermione as far away as possible to avoid producing further ear-drum related damage. “Ron? Everything alright?”

“Bloody perfect!” He grins, freckled cheeks stretched wide. “And, for the record, I’m way better than Valedictorian, mate.”

Five sets of brows raise and Teddy quips, “Wha’s Ron saying?”

“I’m saying that you’ve got to clear your schedule for August, little mate, and start practicing your pillow carrying.” Ron smirks smugly as he puffs his chest and Harry’s heart fills with joy and pride for his two best friends.

“Oh my god, just say it,” Harry fakes a groan.

“We’re getting married,” both Ron and Hermione scream, faces squeezed against each other so that both can fit inside the small angle of the front camera.

It’s general excitement and much hugging that meets the happy announcement, with Ginny turning weepy to her own chagrin. “What is this, I can’t even control my lacrimal glands anymore,” she sniffs and dabs at her eyes with one of Harry’s hard labored, swan-like folded serviettes, earning a pained look from the man in question.

James pads in with a bottle of champagne, flamboyantly popping it and toasting the two grinning people on the other side of the screen.

Lily winks at Ginny as she pulls out the non-alcoholic bottle and pours two glasses, in solidarity.

Swinging the bottle out of his father’s hands, Harry booms triumphantly, “We’re gonna gorge ourselves in your honor.”

Hours later, Ginny guides a dizzied boyfriend to bed, a road paved with many sloppy kisses and grabby hands she has no mind smacking away.

Up until morning when Harry’s skull threatens to crack when Teddy wakes them up, giddy and jumping on their mattress.

“Harry, Harry!” The little boy cries, small feet nearly planting themselves on Harry’s face amidst the excitement. “Santa’s come! Wake up, wake up!”

To Harry’s merit, he does wake and rise on shaky feet to celebrate with Teddy, more plopping up and down rather than jumping, but at least no one can say he didn’t try. It’s the combined effect of Teddy’s squeals and Ginny’s laughter that alerts the rest of the slumbering party, Lily, James and Sirius shuffling inside, bleary eyed and hair amess.

Just as Lily falls next to Ginny, their laughter chiming warmly, James and Sirius hop on the Christmas joy wagon and then it’s all three and a half men bouncing as much as the springs allow.

And it feels like they’ve been all living in the same merry dizziness because no one can pinpoint when or where the last couple of days fly by before they wake up on New Year’s Eve. It’s a frenzy of last minute preparations, cooking and whipping up child and pregnant woman approved drinks for the night, before the clock strikes twelve and Harry and Ginny lift Teddy up and kiss his cheeks as he blows on his colorful party trumpet.

“For a memorable year,” Harry whispers after having released a giggling Teddy and leans in to kiss Ginny gently on the lips.

Mischievous as always, she deepens it, unworried about having Harry’s entire family watching them and fully ignoring all attempts at wolf-whistling. “And for everything that’s about to come,” she winks and pulls him by the tie for another, hotter kiss.



Chapter Text

Harry tosses a cushion aimlessly toward the floor and Ginny scowls, grabbing it and setting it on the bench tucked beneath their bedroom window.  At Harry’s sleepy shrug, Ginny narrows her eyes. “Just because we’re tired doesn’t mean we have to live like animals.”

He levels a pointed glance at Ginny’s abandoned pants (strewn over top of a lampshade like they’re wild kids at Uni) and jumper (currently piled atop her half-unpacked reading pile) and she shrugs.  “Those are dirty already - these pillows are decorative.”

“Gin.”

“What would you say to Teddy?”

“I’d say well-done mate - show those pointless cushions who’s boss.”

"Such a liar you are, my dear," Ginny drawls, making her way into the loo and turning the taps on with a few squeaks, "Now come shower - no gross aeroplane germs in my bed."

With a snort, Harry follows Ginny's lead and drops trou, abandons his jumper, and slumps into the rapidly steaming bathroom.  "Can't promise much excitement."

"Gods, I hope not.  Though I may ask you to wash my hair."

"Lazy you are."

Tossing the last of their stale-smelling clothes aside, Harry and Ginny slip under the spray, muscles weary with nearly fifteen hours of travel, and tiredly begin sudsing up.  

Harry works Ginny's hair into a lather and murmurs, "So Ted's got a pretty clear set of priorities, eh?"

"When I said it was too late to go see Victoire I thought he was going to faint."

"Or kick me in the shins," Harry smirks.

"True story, that."

Somehow, they manage to remain conscious long enough to rinse and dry off, and soon enough they're tucked beneath mountains of blankets and drifting off to sleep.

"We'll give Bill and Fleur a call tomorrow, I s'pose."

Ginny nuzzles closer.  "Tomorrow."


Luckily for Harry and Ginny's sanity, Victoire was just as desperate to see Teddy as he was her, and her parents equally as eager to put an end to the kindergarten angst.

So two days after they return to England, not long past nine, Teddy's grasping one of Bill's large hands while Victoire's is enclosed in the other, and the flat falls into glorious silence.

"I can't decide if I want to shag you silly or just lay on the rug and like a blob."

"How about shag and then blob?"

"Shag on the shag rug," Ginny volleys back and Harry barks out a laugh.

"God I love you."

"I know."

Harry leans close and presses a long, lingering kiss to her lips.  "How'd you know pulling a Han Solo would get me all hot and bothered?"

Grinning, Ginny works Harry's t-shirt over his shoulders and haphazardly tosses it to the side.

"So now we can behave like animals?"

"One more smart remark and you can blob all by yourself."

"Liar."

It's much later when 'blob mode' has been fully engaged and enjoyed, that Ginny presses up on her elbows and looms over Harry.  "So."

His hands run up her spine, gentle and teasing.  "That's not one of your 'something fun is about to happen 'so's.'"

A laugh rumbles through his chest and Ginny nips at his earlobe.  "Something very fun just happened. A few somethings."

Groaning, Harry flips their positions and begins teasing his way down Ginny's front.  "Imagine how many more fun somethings we could do before Teddy gets home tomorrow."

With a soft smile, Ginny runs her fingers through the hair at the nape of Harry's neck and sighs.  "Yes, but imagine how much work we could get done before Teddy gets home tomorrow."

He blows out a breath and lets his forehead drop to Ginny's stomach, lips brushing her ever-growing bump.  "You just had to be responsible."

"You'll thank me later."

Rising, Harry offers Ginny a hand up and pulls her to her feet.  "I'm very grateful - sad, but grateful."

"How about if we get a set amount done, we get more somethings?"

As they reclaim their clothes, with a few stolen kisses and caresses, Harry rubs at his bum and grimaces, "Maybe not on the rug this time - it chafes."

BREAK

True to their word, Harry and Ginny make a study date of their day, breaking for occasional snacks and a few snogs for positive reinforcement, and by the time Ginny's stomach starts rumbling, they're well on the way to being caught up.

Going back to work after a vacation is all sorts of nasty and hard on the body, plus it's been barely two days since they arrived home (which means they've got bare bones food in stock) so they quickly agree to order a pizza and crack open a couple of beers plus non-alcoholic drinks stashed in the back of the pantry.

While Ginny pokes around on Netflix for something to watch, Harry grabs some plates and serviettes, their drinks grasped in between the fingers of his other hand.  "Damn I'm starved."

"Same, m'dear," Ginny agrees, poking around in the seasonal movies for something lighthearted to half watch.

Soon enough, there's a knock at the door and Harry returns to the telly room with a steaming pizza box, wallet just a bit lighter.

It's a quiet, cozy night, and despite their intentions to the contrary, Harry and Ginny end up dozing off in a heap on the couch halfway through whatever silly film she'd selected.

Around three in the morning, Ginny wakes up in need of the loo and prods Harry's shoulder, "Come to bed or you'll be complaining about the crick in your neck for a wee, old man."

With a groan, Harry complies, loosely gripping Ginny's hands as she tugs him toward their room.

They're in that odd witching hour haze as they complete the quick and dirty version of their evening ablutions and end up collapsing in bed like a couple of boneless lumps.  Smacking his lips together sleepily, Harry cuddles closer and murmurs, "This was a nice day."

Ginny slips her leg between Harry's and hums.  "Love you."


Soon enough, the academic year resumes, Harry's got deadlines, Ginny's got work, and Teddy's embarking on the second half of his entrance into the world of academia.  In seemingly no time at all, the first month of the year has passed, Valentine's day is upon them, Ginny's nearing balloon territory (in her own words) and a Weasley wedding is imminent.

They've just demolished half a pot of chili and three-quarters of a carton of ice cream when Hermione whips out her planning binder.  Fully color coded.

"So.  Wedding."

"Do we all get one of those?"

Ron drags his fingers across his throat and shakes his head at GInny's question, dramatic enough that Harry can't suppress his laugh and Hermione elbows him in the ribs.  "Yes, soon enough you will."

Smirking, Ron throws an arm over the back of Hermione's chair and laughs.  "I'm surprised at you, love, they're not done yet?"

"Everyone gets a specialized book for their particular duties and needs."

Ginny snorts.  "Does Ron's include an instruction manual for the wedding night - I'd wager he could use one."

"Oi!"

"Ronald is quite adept."

Harry groans, "Ginny - I really never needed to hear that."

Hermione sends a playful grin their way and snuggles into Ron's side.  "We do have a question for you two."

Teddy trots over and presents Hermione with a scrawled picture that appears to be Ron and Hermione's wedding - largely accurate save Ron's veil.  Though he does look rather dashing.

Ron pats Teddy on the shoulder.  "Thanks mate," Teddy climbs up onto his lap and Ron readjusts in his seat, "So our question."

"Dramatic, Ronni-kins."

"Stand up for us?"

Harry pauses mid-lick and sets his spoon down in the bowl with a clatter.  "Well of course. I'm not an arsehole."

Ginny laughs, "And we know you've only got the one friend, Ron."

Pressing a palm to his chest, Ron whines, "Such abuse.  I've half a mind to rescind our request and find a new pair of blighters to dress in frills and fluff."

"On Craigslist?" Ginny teases.

Biting his lip, Harry murmurs, "That'll eat into the budget."

With an expert eye roll, Hermione clears a place on the table and sets her binder down.  "No one's asking anyone else. Now behave and let's talk logistics. Ginny, we need to go shopping."

Ginny takes a deep breath.  "Never say I don't love you."

Hermione winks and flips to the next section.  "Plus you'll be on Teddy duty - we need him to do a very special job."

Teddy perks up at that, dropping his crayons and blinking in Hermione's directions, already awaiting orders - she has that effect.

"It's the most important - you're in charge of our rings."

He nods, chest puffing out, and Ron ruffles his sandy hair.  "Will Victoire be in it too?"

"You'll be a team."

Teddy grins and resumes his coloring while the wedding discussion progresses further.  Hermione's debating color schemes - mostly with herself - before Harry sips at his tepid tea and asks, "I assume morning suits?"

"Aye," Ron agrees, "But not hats - no top hats."


It doesn't take long for Hermione's plans to begin taking form, which isn't all that surprising given the ever nearing deadline that's defined by a very public, very permanent ceremony.  Molly's beside herself with excitement, only breaking from discussions of lace, satin, and floral arrangements to send Ginny knowing glances and sideways comments that hint at another set of nuptials that could be on the horizon.

So when Hermione suggests forgoing another day of plotting at the Burrow in favor of dress shopping in London, Ginny's a lot more eager than she'd have guessed a few weeks ago.

Until she makes to get dressed.  And absolutely nothing fits.

Ginny flops back onto the bed, wriggling her hips in an attempt to strong arm her trousers into fitting over her baby bump.  “Couldn’t my brother have got his head out of his arse and asked Hermione to marry him before I looked like a whale?”

Harry snorts, flipping to the next page of his book while he glances at Ginny’s prone form.  “You’re a beautiful whale.”

“If I wasn’t beached, I would smack you.”

After wriggling a bit more - unsuccessfully - Ginny tosses the trousers aside and crawls up the bed, spectacularly destroying Harry’s heroic efforts at making it up that morning.  With a sigh, she drops her head against his stomach and nuzzles into the deep green wool of his cable knit jumper.

Smiling, Harry sets aside his book and runs his fingers through her hair in comforting strokes.  “Whales are majestic. I’m quite the fan.”

Ginny harrumphs.

“But you do not look like a whale, dear.”

A dramatic groan breaks from Ginny’s lips as she flips onto her back and blinks up at him.  “Too late - you’ve made your real feelings known.”

Harry’s brow furrows as he considers her for a moment before his fingers find the hem of her t-shirt and tickle underneath.  

“And don’t think I’ve forgotten,” Ginny begins, all seriousness, “This is all - ” her voice catches when he begins making horribly, beautifully distracting circles on her skin, “All your - ”

Eyes flashing, Harry lets his lips quirk in a grin, “All my?”

“Oh bloody hell, get down here.”

Sadly, Harry’s only managed to half rid her of her t-shirt when Ginny’s mobile vibrates itself off the bedside table.  “That’s probably Hermione.”

“And Ted’s just in his room.”

Harry tugs her shirt back down and flops onto his back.  “You’re a little tempting minx, aren’t you.”

“I’ve got umpteen hormones raging through my body, what’s your excuse?”

“We’ve been through this - tempting minx,” Harry answers, brow quirked.

Rolling from the bed, Ginny shuffles over to the closet and tugs out a pair of leggings, yanking them over her legs.  “I’d really love to not leave the house.  This weather’s gross; even for London.”

“It’s diorama day.”

“My statement stands.”

With a smile, Harry rises and rustles through Ginny’s drawers, tossing a pair of wooly socks her way, “Bundle up.  Wear your wellies.”

“Yes, mum .”

“You knew I was parental when you met me.”

“Cute little single da, feeding his kid sweets because he can’t say no.”

Harry runs his hands over her swollen belly and smiles wryly, “Apparently not.”

Smacking a kiss to Harry’s cheek, Ginny winds a scarf around her neck and trots out into the entryway, quickly slipping a coat on and stuffing her feet into her boots.  “I’ll be off, before Hermione has my head.”

With a grin, Harry tucks a granola bar into Ginny’s purse and shoos her toward the door.  “And I thought she’d never get worse than end of year exams.”

“Such a fool, my Harry.”

“Off with you, harpy,” Harry chuckles, pressing his lips to her forehead, “Eat that granola bar.”

“Yes Mum.”

“If it’s all the same to you, I prefer Doctor.”

Ginny lets her eyes skip over Harry from head to toe, “So do I.”




Chapter Text

Harry never regarded a day spent at the Burrow, in the bosom of the Weasley family, as anything even remotely close to dangerous. Today, however, he found himself seconds short of being trampled upon, run down, and asphyxiated between the kilometers of lace and silk used to decorate the wide wedding tent slash ballroom. Hence why he can currently be spotted casually hiding behind a particular copse at the far end of the orchard, silently praying he will make it throughout the day alive.

It’s also where Ron finds him, harassed and out of his wits.

“I reckon if Mum hunts me down one more time to smarten up my suit and tie, I’ll scream bloody murder and then kill myself. Hermione would understand, she would,” Ron complains as he takes a seat next to Harry on the warm ground, knowing full well that he’ll be risking both his life and Harry’s as soon as Molly Weasley discovers soil stains on their wedding suits.

Harry snorts, eyeing his best mate amusedly, “I’m actually afraid of your Mum, you know. It’s only now I realise how naive I was to fear your Dad and brothers when we told them about the baby.”

“Oh, yeah, definitely. And don’t let her fool you, mate, but Ginny’s really Mum, only thirty years younger,” Ron elbows Harry and they both laugh easily, their shoulders visibly relaxing.    

A pause and then Harry speaks, his lips stretching into a candid smile, “Hey, Ron?”

“Hmm?”

“I’m really happy for you, mate. You two - I mean, you’re perfect for each other,” he adds and Ron’s blue eyes turn moist as his cheeks color pink.

“Don’t-” Ron clears his throat, “don’t tell my sister, but that pretty much applies to you two as well,” he smiles sheepishly.

“Thank you,” Harry mumbles as he tries to swallow the newly formed lump in his throat.

They sit still, enjoying a silence that speaks of mutual contentment and a lifetime of friendship shared between them. To Harry, it seems amazing, fantastic even that he gets to be part of his best mate’s wedding day. His wedding day! When did they grow up so fast? When did all the years pass since that first day of school they shook hands for the first time, two scrawny, scared, lonely kids on a train leading them to great adventures. What would those two kids say if they knew that, sixteen years down the line, they’d go to each other’s weddings and cry with joy at the news of children coming.

“Oi! Happy tree friends over there,” George wheezes as he runs towards them. “Mum and the bride are looking for you. The ceremony’s about to start,” he adds, checking his watch, then smirks. “I’d be careful if I were you, Ronniekins. Your dashing bride looks like she’s about to have someone’s head.”

Gulping, Ron hurriedly pats his groom tuxedo in hopes of dusting off any traces of mud and grass, and gallops away, as fast as his black leather shoes can take him.

“I wouldn’t grin in your place, Harry, mate. Ginny’s also sent word to find you and take you back to her dead or alive ,” George jokes, laughing at Harry’s desperate expression. “Frankly, I reckon she’s really about to lose it with everybody doting on her. Poor Angelina, she’s in for the same mad ride once we tell them we’re expecting,” he shakes his head and slightly shudders at the prospect.

Dumbfounded, Harry opens his mouth only to close it again. Inhales, exhales, and tries again, “Excuse me? You two-? You’re-?”

George’s face lights up, blue eyes sparkling brighter than Harry had ever seen them, pure bliss radiating from every inch of his being. “Yes, bloody hell yes!” He grins wide and Harry jumps in to hug and congratulate him with enthusiasm. “But don’t tell Ron yet, alright? I - erm, we don’t want to steal his thunder. I mean, he’s always got what Bill, Charlie, Percy, and then Fred and I didn’t need or want anymore. It’s his day,” George slowly says, embarrassed, his hand flying to the back of his head and eyes averting Harry’s green ones.

Harry claps him on the shoulder proudly as they shuffle their feet in tandem towards the wedding crowd, one future father and another.

On the other side of the orchard, Harry spots a dash of red hair and a mess of black. Lily and James Potter, dressed smartly in summer dress with hues of gold and a navy blue suit, sit close to each other, her head resting against one of his broad shoulders.

“What are you two love birds doing?” Harry sneaks up behind his parents, pretending to be grossed out by the fluffy scene unfolding before him.

“You look spiffing, son,” James nods in approval. “Hair like a hurricane is a family gene I’m afraid, but alas, you do have your charm,” he grins, winking at the younger version of him.

Snorting, Harry presses a kiss to his mum’s cheek and squeezes his dad’s shoulder before half-sitting in one of the delicate chairs in front of them.  “Sorry we couldn’t pick you three up from the airport.”

Lily rubs some mostly imaginary smudge from Harry’s chin and smiles.  “We’re your parents.  And we can definitely handle ordering an Uber.”

“Dad can’t.”

“Siri hates me.”

Rolling her eyes, Lily pats James’ knee and sighs, “Yes dear.”

James’ retort is already on his lips when he follows Harry’s eyeline.  “We fly halfway around the world and he can’t even pay attention to our scintillating conversation.”

Jolting, Harry turns to find his mother looking at him fondly.  “He’s in love and his girlfriend is glowing and beautiful.”

A flush rises on Harry’s cheek as James muses, “Perhaps more than girlfriend?”

“Smooth, Dad.”

“It’s not a no, Lil.”

Harry growls and Lily pats his arm where it rests across the gilt chair back.  “Don’t pressure him, James. Just because he has the opportunity to make his mum’s dreams come true while she’s on the same continent - ”

“You know - ”

Before Harry can finish his half-formed threat, Sirius drops into the seat next to him and grins.  “Are we talking about my godson having eye-sex with the girl he could barely talk to like a human being not even a year ago?”

Head dropping to his forearm, Harry doesn’t bother interjecting as his family laughs at his expense.  

His mum’s fingers brush through his hair, her smile warm, and despite the teasing, Harry realizes just how much he’s missed them.  Which is lucky for the three menaces, because it puts Harry in a giving, patient mood, even when Sirius continues, “Remember when he kissed her and then ran away to do something academic and nerdy?”

“Biology really is magical,” James nods, “How else did he father a child with such a woman?”

Lily rolls her eyes and jabs at James’ middle.  “You should talk - I seem to remember a very awkward hair-ruffling, mildly blackmail-ish first date invitation.”

Sirius nods sagely, “He didn’t speak for at least two weeks after that.”

“Harry’s an adult,” James accuses, a smile tickling the corners of his lips.

“Mature, Dad.”

“My son is charming and handsome.  He probably won her over with his lovely smile.”

“Actually, I had her at professor.”

George comes to a halt at Harry’s side, overly large bouquet of flowers covering him from hip to nose before he peers around, “A little bird told me something about a hat, Indiana Jones, and a whip.”

Flushing, Harry rises and steps out past George into the aisle.  “No comment.”

Across the yard, Ginny’s secreted herself off to fume where no innocent bystanders can be caught in the crossfire of her hormonally charged anger.

“You look like you’re ready to stab someone,” Bill approaches his sister, youngest daughter cradled in his arms in a weak attempt at putting her to sleep.

“Sure feel like it,” Ginny snorts, flipping her thick sheath of red hair over a freckled shoulder. “You’d think people’d understand I’m eight months pregnant, not disabled,” she add as she blows a considerable amount of air through her nostrils, eyes flaring so she rather resembles a dragon. To Bill, at least.

“Anyway,” Ginny plows on, fussing about her chair until she finds a comfortable enough position for her poor back and heavy tummy, “Have you seen Teddy?”

Bill round blue eyes morph into slits, “Wooing my eldest daughter, I suppose,” he responds with ill disguised nonchalance.

“Wouldn’t dare imagine how you’ll take it when they actually start dating,” Ginny giggles as her brother’s eyes widen, as if only then he’d acknowledged the possibility.

“Don’t.”

“Mr. Protective Father, aren’t we?” she raises an eyebrow, freckles gathering in a cluster right above it.

Bill sighs and takes a sit on the chair next to Ginny’s, transferring baby Dominique from one arm to the other, and squeezes his sister’s hand, “I truly wish that you’re carrying a little girl in there so I can even things up with Harry for knocking up my sister and stealing my daughter through that little godson of his.”

“You say knocked up once more,” Ginny pulls her hand away incensed, “I swear I’ll sit on you. And that’s a real threat seeing that I weigh about a billion kilos right now.” Her frown only brings a grin to her brother’s face, and she could never quite resist that mischievous, charming smirk Bill adorned when he felt comfortable or pleased, his ponytail hanging low over his back and fanged earring dangling in the shy summer breeze.

“Hullo, love,” Harry appears out of nowhere and plants a kiss on her cheek. “Hermione’s summoned you to the gallows. I mean, she’s called you up to her room for a last bride and bridesmaid rehearsal,” he grins, hands out an arm for Ginny to lean on as she rises.

“It’s ridiculous,” she snears, breathing heavily as Harry lifts her, “I’m like a ticking clock about to explode and she has the audacity to call me a bridesmaid.”

“Maybe don’t explode just now,” Harry chuckles as they walk towards the Burrow, “I reckon Hermione wouldn’t appreciate it very much.” Ginny rolls her eyes, yet gives in to laughter seconds later. It’s easy being happy next to him, she thinks.

Knock-knock, Ginny raps her knuckles on the wooden surface of the door to her childhood room. It’s where Hermione set headquarters for her bridal transformation, in Ron’s words, and it was not a lie. Always a beautiful woman, Hermione was breathtaking in white satin, rich curls flowing loosely down her back.

“Might be the pregnancy hormones speaking, but I’m feeling attracted to you right now,” Ginny appraises her friend as she shuts the door firmly and drops herself on the old single bed, lifting her feet up on a freshly fluffed pillow.

“I’m afraid you took too long to make a move,” Hermione snorts as she tries to smooth down a rogue curl, hovering so close in front of the mirror she goes a bit cross eyed.

“Yeah, afraid so. Plus you’d probably have to fight Harry for me.”

“Oh, no, I’d never win. Heard he has a trusty whip he uses to impose discipline,” the bride smirks, switching her gaze to observe her friend through the mirror.

“Harry got drunk and confessed, didn’t he?” Ginny drawls, bored.

Hermione lifts an ebony eyebrow, “Trust me, I’m the victim here. Absolutely did not sign up to hear that.” She gingerly holds one heeled shoe and inserts her right foot with great care, long brown bushy hair shielding her face from view. “Although I must admit, role playing does sound rather...tolerable.”

Palm pressed to her mouth, Ginny giggles, “The word you’re looking for is kinky. And yes, do it. Just never tell me it’s my brother you’re doing it with. Can’t possibly stomach that.”

“Will the two of you ever grow up?” Hermione asks, hair pushed back from her face with one arm as she holds a second shoe in place with the other.

“Nope. I expect we’ll have children and lie that they arrived with the stork.”

Hermione rolls her eyes, “I’m marrying into this family.”

“Your decision, not mine,” Ginny winks and tosseses a peanut into her mouth with high accuracy, a trick learned and polished over holidays spent with her brothers.

“Impressive. Where’d you get’em from?”

“Nicked them on my way here.”

Chuckling, Hermione lifts the heavy material of her wedding gown, her high heels tap-tapping on the creaking floor as she walks to sit next to Ginny. “So how are you feeling?”

“I’m aware I said it before, but like a whale waiting to be put out of her misery,” Ginny pouts, palms running light circles over her rounded stomach. “I may never voluntarily choose to have children again.”

“I gather it was a choice?” Hermione’s deep brown eyes meet Ginny’s, mischief glinting bright.

“Eh, it’s not like we did much to prevent it, to be fair,” she admits with a grin. “Nevermind that,” Ginny tries to lift herself up on her elbows, “How are you? It’s your wedding day!”

The two women smile so wide their cheeks hurt, features alight with happiness and giddiness. If Ginny didn’t feel like thrice her size and Hermione had not spend the last five hours getting ready, they’d be sure to jump up and down in sheer excitement. Still, given the circumstances, they settle for squealing at earnumbing frequencies.

The ceremony is beautiful up to the tiniest detail, and has a peaceful effect on everyone present. Madams Granger and Weasley seniors weep in tandem with a hormonal Ginny, Lily squeezes James’ hand, and Ron feels like bursting with joy. From the audience, Bill, Charlie, and George give him a thumbs up and three mad grins. Percy, on the other hand, sits poised on the edge of his chair, the image of British properness, while Arthur subtly wipes a tear from underneath his horn-rimmed glasses. In the middle of it all, Hermione gasps as though she can barely believe everything that’s happening, hand trembling as Ron slides the gold band on her finger.

The newly weds’ kiss hovers dangerously close to indecent, Ron lifting his wife off her feet in a toe-curling snog that has Sirius wolf whistling and Snuffles barking.


 

Barely two weeks later, it’s well past the ‘witching hour’ and Harry’s taken over the couch - his office surrendered in favor of a baby nursery - typing away at his latest revision of the post-dig paper, when Ginny shuffles out into the living room. “Harry?”

She looks so young, hair in a tangle around her freckled face, soft cotton nightgown dwarfing her even at such a late stage of pregnancy, that Harry can’t help but imagine a little girl of their own. Ginny’s fiery locks, his almond shaped eyes, her freckles, his knobby knees -

Ginny’s wince puts an end to his daydreaming. “I think. I think it’s time,” she grips the doorway, “Unrelated - we need to change the sheets.”

Nearly tossing his laptop across the room in frightened haste, Harry’s at Ginny’s side in two beats, palm finding the small of her back like it’s magnetized. “I’ll - we’re good. I’ll call Mum, they’re closest for Ted. Just. You’re packed, yeah?”

“Yes, yes. You nagged me about seven billion times. Today.”

“Well aren’t you glad I did?” Harry shoots back, blinking exaggeratedly.  

Before Ginny can answer, she doubles over, breaths coming in short pants. “Stuff it. Go call your Mum.”

“Sir, yes, Sir.”

“Don’t sass me while your child is trying to violently expel itself from my body,” Ginny grunts, pinching his arm as he fumbles for his mobile.

It’s a quick, excited call that gets Lily and co. on the way before Harry’s dialing the hospital and tugging on street clothes.  

Ginny’s movements are slow, hampered by the periodic spasms at her back, as she drags her soiled nightie overhead and pulls on a cottony grey dress that stretches comfortably over her belly. After a few failed attempts, she leans against the door to their closet and moans, “Harry, I can’t see the floor.”

Quick as he can, Harry trots over and brushes his thumb along her jaw. “Which ones, love?”

Sighing, Ginny nuzzles against his shoulder and murmurs, “My granny clogs?”

Not even a quarter of an hour later, Lily, James, and Sirius are gathered around the dining table while Harry lectures them as he reads down the checklist scrawled over two full pages of a yellow pad and Ginny strokes her belly, resting against the front door.  

“You know, there’s this thing called texting, son. Plus we raised you alright.”

“And we are bloody doctors , Harry,” Lily adds, “Now go, or Ginny’s going to murder you before I see my first grandchild.”

Harry’d really like to point out that his mother did in fact work in a lab all her professional life, but considers it twice before opening his mouth to blurt out his usual sass for fear that either Lily or Ginny might eat him alive.

The trip to hospital is a blur, the odd hour at least eliminating some traffic as they trundle through the rain streaked streets. In between contractions, Ginny fiddles with the radio and does her best to smile teasingly. “You know, you’re handling this quite well.”

“I’m an adult, I can handle stress.”

Ginny glances at him sidelong. “Sure.”

And Harry does remain beautifully cool, calm, and collected as Ginny’s wheeled into the maternity ward, as he fills out the check-in paperwork, and even while she’s changing into her gown and getting tucked safely into the scratchy hospital blankets.

It’s not until her doctor comes in, snapping rubber gloves at her wrists, and explaining the steps of this first check up that Harry begins to leave the comforting haze that carried him through the last hour and realization sets in.  

By this time tomorrow, Harry’ll be a dad. Again. And really, he’d have thought having Teddy, and nine months of lead in time would’ve made this a less terrifying thought. But as the time is counted in hours rather than months, weeks, or days, he can barely keep his hands steady enough to ring Ron.

He lets it ring once, then dials back again - Ron’s had his mobile set on ‘Do Not Disturb’ for most of the last month - and before Hermione manages more than a sleepy ‘hello,’ he’s blurting, “The baby’s coming, how soon can you get down here, I’m freaking out.”

Hermione’s laugh is quiet as she murmurs and shakes Ron awake. “Harry, take a deep breath, we’ll be right down.”

It absolutely does not help that Harry’s last glimpse of Ginny is of her moaning and promising to inflict as much pain onto him when the baby is finally out as she’s currently suffering, as, according to her, it’s entirely his fault.

Before Harry falls into the pits of despair, James Potter arrives to sneak a comforting arm around his son and helps him into a nearby chair, while a sleepy Teddy drops his head to one of Harry’s knees.

“There, there, my darling boy. The ER guy and your Mum will take care of Ginny until the Weasley cavalry rides in,” James pats Harry’s messy locks, kisses him on the top of his head.

“You mean Sirius made his entrance?” Harry grunts, forehead pressed closed to where Teddy’s is resting, his body twisted in a position worthy of a Cirque to Soleil contortionist.

“He’s really so good at what he does I can turn a blind eye to his dramatics.”

Harry lifts his head enough to catch a hurricane of red hair crashing by. The poor nurse trying to keep people outside of Ginny’s already crammed ward has no chance when faced with Molly Weasley, nerves wired to the tips of her overworked fingers.

By the grace of some lucky star, or rather by the force of the combined prayers of medical staff having to do their job with one Molly Weasley and one Sirius Black barking orders and shooting questions to and fro, Ginny’s not in labor too long, things moving quickly as they can. Even so, the rush of nurses and doctors dressed in pale scrubs flying in and out of her room doesn’t do much to quell Harry’s nerves.

At some point, Ron pressed a styrofoam cup of tea into Harry’s hand, long since gone tepid and untouched. Still, it gives him something to fiddle with. A lifetime passes before Sirius exits the room, wiping at his sweaty brow, and disappears to god knows where. But Harry has no energy to rise and chase after him, or rather ask why they needed an emergency specialist, or a million other questions. He can only sit there, straddling the metal chair, his palms pressing into his forehead until the tips of his fingers turn white.

He’s about to storm his way into the room when a nurse emerges, wrapped in a bright yellow apron and beckons Harry inside. Looking around, he catches a glimpse of bushy brown hair resting on Ron’s shoulder as his own mother and father seem to have dozed off to sleep next to them. Harry feels too tired to smile, but the family scene does bring some sort of comfort and familiarity to the newness he’s confronted with. He exhales loudly and steps in.

The crowd has dissipated somewhat and Ginny seems to be at a resting point, hair matted and face utterly wrecked. But she seems alright, all things considered.

“Hey, Gin.”

Her mouth twists in a tired smile, “Don’t Gin me. Your little basketball sized spawn is slamming its way out of my body. I deserve a ‘Hello goddess of the universe.’”

“At least you’ve still got your sense of humor,” Harry murmurs, ruffling his hair as Molly avoids eye contact and studiously examines a two month old copy of Reader’s Digest.

Ginny rolls her eyes and gestures him closer, not relaxing until he claims the chair next to her, barely perching on the stiff plastic seat. “I thought I didn’t want you in here, but,” she clears her throat and shares a brief glance with Molly, “ Someone very wise helped me realize I needed my partner to finish this out.”

Molly’s lips tick up in a grin and Ginny continues, “You’re still not allowed down there but - ”

Before Ginny can continue her conditions, her entire body tenses as another contraction rolls through her body. And after that, it’s a blur of measured breathing and nearly cracked knuckles, until suddenly a little cry pierces the early morning light and Harry’s holding his squalling little son .

The whole world seems to shrink down to the three of them, that little room, and Harry’s whole world in the space of his arms. Or almost his whole world. At nearly the same moment his brain catches up, Ginny’s does too. “Where’s Teddy?”

“I’ll get him?”

Teddy’s hesitant when he reaches the doorway, eyes wide as he bites at his lip. “I can really come in?”

Ginny’s brow furrows, unused to seeing Teddy so restrained. Until she finds his gaze focused on the little baby boy, tucked against her chest. “You ready to meet your brother?”

His smile grows and he totters over to the bed, Harry at his heels. When he can’t manage climbing past the bed rail, Harry lifts him onto the edge of the mattress and Teddy reaches out a hesitant hand towards the pink bundle.

The baby’s chest rises and falls steadily beneath his tightly wrapped blanket and finally, after nine months, Harry’s life’s work is together and right before his eyes.

“Can we call him Victor?” Teddy asks innocently, his eyes wide with unrepressed wonder.

A laugh tumbles out from deep within Ginny’s chest and she leans in to kiss Teddy dearly on the cheek, her smile unrelenting. “I was thinking something more to the effect of...well, James. For tradition,” she adds, immediately searching for any signs of possible refuse from Harry. But there are only tears in his eyes, and Ginny just knows it’s the right decision - three generations of James Potters with their wild, messy, dark hair (and most probably bad eyesight). “And,” Ginny prepares herself to say out loud what she’d been thinking since realising that Harry had, in fact, two dads, one of them who held her hand through most of the night, calming her when she was in terrible pain and terribly frightened, “Maybe also Sirius?”

It’s likely too much for Harry, as he closes his eyes and keeps quiet for a minute, his breathing coming in and out unevenly. “Why?” He finally asks.

“They’re inseparable, the two of them, like peas in a pod. Only seems natural,” Ginny shrugs like its no big deal.

Before Harry can shout his happiness to the world, there’s a knock at the door and Molly’s face appears round the corner, leaving Harry wondering when exactly she managed to slip past.  

“You have an adoring public waiting, dears. Everyone’s promised to keep it short.”

And then it’s like the circus has set up in the maternity ward of Mungo’s Hospital, too many people, too many grabbing hands, and entirely too much laughter. Somehow, the Weasley brothers all manage to gather themselves into an intimidating huddle, looming at the foot of Ginny’s bed as she settles back against the pillows, eyes drooping with tiredness, and Harry’s never felt so analyzed and judged in his life - not even when he defended his dissertation, and that’s saying something. “‘M sorry love, if they’re going to beat you up I can’t defend you much,” she tells him between two yawns.

Harry presses a kiss to her forehead and laughs. “At least I’m already in hospital.”

Growling under her breath, Ginny readjusts in the bed - wincing a bit - and scowls. “It was a joke. No one’s beating anyone up. God, it’s not 1950,” her voice drops as she eyes each of her brothers in turn, “Which is why Victoire’s birthday is just a bit too close to her mummy and daddy’s wedding day.”

Bill scoffs but he claps Harry on the back, as Charlie and Ron cackle, while Percy clears his throat uncomfortably and unnecessarily readjusts his eyeglasses. “We like you well enough, and Gin’s got you well in hand.”

“She’s got all of us well in hand,” Harry laughs, earning a playful scowl from Ginny, even as she dozes off against her newly fluffed pillows.

Like the mother hen that she is, Molly shoos the Weasley masses from room, only lingering long enough to press a kiss to Ginny’s head and nearly squeeze the life out of Harry. Lily rounds the bed next, finally standing out again now that she’s the only redhead in the room. With a smile, she cups Harry’s cheek. “I’m so happy for you, my sweet, darling boy.”

James hovers at her shoulder, furiously blinking away tears as his lips tilt in a grin. “You have a lovely little family.”

“I’ll expect 24-7 babysitting availability once you come to your senses and move back,” Ginny says with a laugh, her eyes barely open.

“You won’t have to twist his arm,” Sirius puts in, brushing a careful finger over James Sirius’ sleep flushed cheek, “Ol’ Jamesy is a sucker for all things baby. You’ll have to pry him out of your flat.”

Lily snorts. “You’re one to talk - Harry was almost as spoilt as ickle Diddykins that first Christmas.”

“I am extravagant with my love.”

Rolling her eyes, Lily squeezes Ginny’s hand and sighs. “We’ll come back and visit. Tomorrow - well today. Late. I know you’ll be more than tired.”

“Wait,” James pauses in his stride and turns back to the family of four cuddled up on the feeble hospital bed, “What’s this little tike’s name? If it’s been decided, of course.”

Sharing a look, Harry nods for Ginny to speak.

“He’s named after some famous double act,” Ginny dares a sheepish grin, “James Sirius.”

Ginny might’ve hit the two men with an iron chair over their heads and would’ve probably gotten more of a reaction. It takes whole minutes before they can speak again, their voices trembling and knees shaking as Lily half-carries them towards the exit, arms wrung through each of their own.

Harry climbs out of bed to walk them to the front door, accepting more teary hugs, sloppy kisses, and congratulations, before they disappear into the miraculously quiet hallway.

Back inside the small ward, Teddy’s dead to the world where he rests against James’ shoulder as Ginny shifts a bit restlessly. “You could go home and sleep in a bed - Teddy too.”

“Are you kidding me? First, all parties involved were more than happy for a sleep over at Mum and Dad’s posh hotel suite, and second there is no way I’m leaving this building while the two of you are here, alone.”

“Such a dad,” Ginny murmurs, eyelashes brushing her freckled cheeks as she drifts off, “Now stop trying to pretend that chair is comfortable and get up here with me.”

Kicking off his shoes, Harry makes to follow her instructions, even as he asks, “You sure? That nurse was a bit scary.”

“Poor baby.”

“You’ll have to protect me if Nurse Moody shows up.”

Ginny hums, already half asleep, “Of course, my love. Now come snuggle your tired wife.”

Harry’s heart stutters at the slip, his eyes shooting open wide to catch Ginny’s expression. But it seems it was indeed just a tired slip of the tongue. One that has him awake long after Ginny drifts off.

“Thank you,” he whispers into her ginger hair and presses his temple to it. His last conscious thought is of love, of his son carrying the names of two of the most important people in his life, two people who had shaped and defined him, of how much this woman, this incredible, beautiful woman means to him, of how easily she seems to understand him.


 

The next forty eight hours are full to the brim with last minute preparations at the flat - Hermione is an over prepared lifesaver - lessons in parenting from nurses, doctors, and nosy family, and for Harry, a few slight (and luckily private) freak outs that he’s got two kids and really wants to propose to his girlfriend.

Ron pulls his and Hermione’s little SUV up to the porte-cochère just as Harry and Teddy wheel out Ginny and James Sirius.

Luckily, the ride home isn’t too long but Ginny’s still ready for a nap by the time they arrive. It’s a team effort to get Ginny tucked in bed, James and Teddy fed, and all three of them to sleep. Still, Harry’s never been more content.

He’s sipping lemonade at the counter while Hermione does the last of their lunch dishes when Ron sidles up. “So, dad, how’s it feel to be ancient?”

“You’re the old married couple.”

Hermione smirks, setting the last plate to dry. “I’ve a feeling we won’t hold that distinction for long.”

They wander into the living room and Harry sighs, slumping back against the cushions. “My life has never been in the right order. Not that I’m complaining.”

Ron claims the seat on his left and Hermione the right, her head tucking against his shoulder. “Is there a ‘right order’?”

“Look at my wife, the philosopher.”

“She’s a woman of many talents.”

“You’re a couple of tossers.”

Chuckling, Ron takes another swig of his lemonade and throws his arm around Harry’s shoulders. “What? I’m serious.”

They share a laugh, muffling the noise against the palms of their hands, until Harry calms. “Tell me not to go wake my newborn son because I want to play with him. Or hold him. Or both, I can’t really decide.”

Hermione pats his arm. “Don’t.”

“Yeah, Gin-Gin will kill you if you screw the kid up.”

Harry shows a pretty sizeable amount of restraint - his own view of the subject - and manages to wait a whole hour before he tiptoes into the bedroom just to stare after Ron and Hermione return to the comfort of their own home. Glancing at his watch, he turns towards Teddy’s door and finds him sitting half atop his covers and thumbing through a picture book. “Hey, Ted.”

“Hi, wanna read - ”

A sad little wail of a cry sounds from the master bedroom and Teddy perks up, “Is James awake?”

“Sounds like it,” Harry rubs at the back of his head, “We’ll have to pause the - ”

“Let’s go, he’s crying.”

Teddy grabs Harry’s hand and tugs him into the hall, books forgotten in the wake of ‘big brother duties.’

In a few quick strides, they’ve reached the little bassinet and little James is giving his lungs a good work out. Smiling softly, Teddy brushes his fingers along James’ bootied toes. “S’alright. Harry’s here. He knows just what to do.”

The bed creaks behind them as Ginny slowly raises herself into a sitting position. “He is pretty great,” Ginny agrees, “Which is why he’s probably guessed James needs some mummy time.”

Gently, Harry lifts James from the cradle and passes him over to Ginny before he ushers Teddy from the room to choose a storybook.

It’s a bigger choice than Harry guessed, Victoire has told him the first book a baby reads is very important so they flip through half of Teddy’s collection before settling on Babbity Rabbity and her Cackling Stump .

They’ve given Ginny enough time so that James has been fed and burped, her clothes have been righted, and the baby boy is cooing softly against her chest. “We’re ready for some entertainment. Hospital was pretty boring.”

With care, Harry and Teddy climb up onto the bed - Harry claiming the innermost seat as he fans the book open before them. “ A long time ago, in a land far away, there was a kingdom ruled by a foolish King who decided that he should be the only one to have magical powers .”

Ginny and Teddy snuggle close on either side while James blinks tiredly. “ He formed an army, which he called the Brigade of Witch-Hunters, and armed them with black hounds. At the same time, he wanted an Instructor in Magic, so he made calls for a wizard or witch from one of the nearby villages to teach him .”

“A little dark for a first storybook,” Ginny teases while Teddy reaches to flip the page.

Harry presses a kiss to her forehead. “It’s got a nice ending.”

Not long after the story comes to a close, Harry’s mobile vibrates in his pocket. With a quick fumble, Harry manages to pull it free and swipe the call on before James Sirius wakes. “‘Lo?”

“Uncle Harry?”

“Hello, Victoire,” Harry says with a smile that only widens as Teddy perks up, “I know we’re tight, but I have a feeling you’re not looking for me.”

There’s a pause like she nearly drops Bill’s phone and then presses it back to her ear. Harry glances down at his wide-eyed godson. “Teddy’s right here.”

Reaching up with grabbing hands, Teddy accepts the mobile and trots out with an affectionate glance toward James where he sleeps in Ginny’s arms.

As Teddy disappears out into the living room, Harry chuckles softly before he twists and cups Ginny’s chin, pressing a kiss to her lips. “You’re - beautiful.”

She hums, deepening the kiss just barely. “So’re you, my love.”

James shifts a little restlessly in Ginny’s arms, snuffling in his sleep while Harry brushes a finger over his cheek. “I love you, Gin. You - this life we have together is better than anything I could’ve dreamt up for Teddy and I.”

“Better than just a doughnut?”

Laughter bubbles in Harry’s chest as he kisses Ginny once more. “I - you know how we talked briefly in New York?”

Brow quirking, Ginny turns a bit more to face Harry. “We talked more than a few times in New York, dear.”

“About - about adding another Potter to the world.”

“Seems we did that fairly well,” Ginny teases, darting a glance towards their sleeping son.

“I mean, making you one. About being officially.”

In all seriousness, Ginny asks, “Harry. Will you marry me?”

Jolting, Harry scowls down at Ginny. “No fair, I started first.”

“But I finished first - you always like that.”

“God, innuendo in front of our slumbering son?”

“What’s the answer, Potter?”

Harry drops his forehead against Ginny’s and feels his eyes filling even as his smile widens. “Yeah I’ll be Mr. Ginny Weasley-Potter-Whatever.”

“I like the hyphens,” Ginny laughs, her own tears forming, “Damn, I can’t wait until these excess hormones wear off. You do realize you proposed to a hosepipe, yeah?”

“A beautiful, amazing, cheeky, brilliant hosepipe.”

“What a bloke you are.”

“You’re the one who proposed - this is your choice.”

Settling James in Harry’s arms, Ginny presses herself close and sighs quietly. “It’s a good one.”


 

A cry pierces the air just as Harry’s miraculous coffee-fueled epiphany gets into full swing, sentence half finished as the ending dangles and then floats from his brain.  

There’s probably only three people in the world he wouldn’t shout at for interrupting that flow and it’s the youngest of the three that beckons from the nursery. Teddy falls in at Harry’s side, his eagerness to be the world’s greatest elder brother only grown in the months since James came into their lives, and they find the little squalling bundle of Potter wriggling unhappily in his cot. “Alright, James?”

His tears pause for a moment as Harry and Teddy appear overhead, before the wailing renews in earnest. “Guess someone’s got a little gift in their nappy.”

Teddy presses his fists to his hips, power posing like a little superhero, and nods at Harry. “I’ll get the wipes.”

They go about the process of tidying James up, letting him swallow down a bottle of milk, then wander into the kitchen, standing side by side, staring aimlessly into the void of their mostly empty fridge, and then pantry. Harry bounces James on his chest as he slobbers over the collar of Harry’s t-shirt and Teddy sighs, chest rising and falling dramatically before he glances up at Harry and shakes his head. “Nothin’ to eat.”

“Unless you want some,” Harry shuffles a carton of baking soda aside and lifts a can from the back of the shelves, “Dehydrated milk?”

Teddy wrinkles his nose. “Ron’s?”

“You read my mind, mate.”

Harry and Teddy bundle themselves against the Autumn chill, tugging on wellies and winding scarves around their necks while James giggles happily while his chubby fingers jab at the dangling bits of his baby gym. Once they’re properly festooned, godfather and godson take care to ensure the littlest Potter is appropriately protected against the elements and admittedly overpack his nappy bag.

Luckily, the weather holds as they walk the few blocks toward Ron’s, the overhead bell soon tolling their entrance to the crowded shop.

Teddy tilts his head in the direction of the counter and bake case and Harry nods his approval, handing a few pound notes over before he carries James towards a free table in the back, his legs wriggling in the Ergo carrier. The line moves fairly quickly as gangly little Dennis rings up the line of hungry customers until Teddy’s next.

He places their regular order with a polite smile for Dennis and trots over to their table. “Dennis said t’ wait here and they’ll bring it.”

“We don’t need all that - ”

“Well too bad sir, this is a full service bakery and I expect a tip.”

“Gin-Gin!”

“Hello. Teddy Bear. I got some apple slices to go with this doughnut for breakfast .”

“You’re the one peddling fluffy strawberry clouds by the dozen,” Harry sticks out his tongue and starts freeing space for Ginny to take a seat next to him.

She laughs, “Only until my wandering brother and his wife return from their ‘second honeymoon.’”

Smiling, Harry sips at the tea Ginny’s set on the table and drags a third chair closer with his foot. “Take a load off, Madame Manager.”

Accepting the proffered seat, Ginny claims an apple slice for herself and ruffles Teddy’s hair. “And by the way, isn’t a second honeymoon usually more than six months in?”

“Hey, if Hermione’s willing to go on holiday, I’m not going to stand in her way.”

Dennis wanders by, bussing tables and offering refills as necessary, and slips Ginny a shortbread biscuit, which she accepts with a grateful smile before turning to Harry. “I thought her brain might leak out after the eighth month of negotiations.”

“She’s got a one track mind the minute anyone mentions institutional inequality.”

After a moment, Teddy wanders over to the little shelves tucked in the back corner and settles in on ‘his’ beanbag chair. Ginny sends him a wink and settles back in her chair, toying with the ring sparkling on her left hand. “Aye. And a few early morning shifts is a small price to pay.”

“Plus we do owe all - this ,” Harry gestures a bit vaguely to their odd little family, “- to them.”

Leaning forward, Ginny kisses the sugary remnants of Harry’s doughnut from his lips, “And cinnamon crème.”


 

Much to Molly’s chagrin, Ginny Weasley doesn’t dress in white on the day of her wedding to Harry Potter (“I’ve already got a son, Mother!”), neither does she assemble a big party for the occasion. Instead, she chooses a dress to match the late autumn hues and combs her long ginger hair loosely against her back. Eyeshadow, lipstick, and a set of golden earrings she received as a wedding gift from her Bill and Fleur are her simple adornments.

Giving herself one last look in the mirror, Ginny smiles, confident as ever and clicks her heels on the wooden floor of her childhood room. At the door, there’s Arthur waiting for her. He kisses her cheek warmly, his fatigued hand brushing her tresses in light strokes, before extending an arm. Father and daughter together, they slowly descend down the circular staircase of the old Weasley family home.

“We’re so proud of you, love,” Arthur murmures as he holds his daughter’s hand.

It’s the whirlwind of emotions that deems Ginny speechless, and she simply clings on tighter to her dad as they walk towards the small wedding tent swaying gently in the November wind.

Family and friends are all waiting for her inside. Yet their faces are all a blur, she’s only got eyes for the man waiting for her at the other end, his hair the usual mess and his smile radiating love. Beside him, Ron claps his shoulder and greets his sister with a short nod.

Ginny squeezes her father’s arm and steadies herself as he kisses her cheek. Vaguely she realizes there are two women crying their eyes out behind her, Lily and Molly unable to contain themselves.

Another short inspection on her right side and Ginny is pleased to notice her little James Sirius securely snuggled between the two men whose names he bears. Taking a deep breath, she knows she can go on with the ceremony.

“I can never come to terms with how beautiful you are,” Harry whispers as she takes her place next to him.

“Don’t you make me cry in front of all those people, you handsome, brilliant man,” Ginny replies, her cheeks coloring ever so slightly.

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Harry grins and takes her hand, his thumb brushing over the engagement ring he placed there months earlier. It’s been a full year, a beautiful year. Best of his life, if he’s honest, at a tie with the one before. He’s established a permanent exhibition, his article on the dig is still published and quoted, his son was born, and to top it all off he’s about to marry the woman of his dreams, the one who’s made him happiest he’s ever been.

They say yes in a deafening wave of applause and cheers, grinning as they officially become Mr. and Mrs. Potter. Hand in hand, they walk down the aisle and accept all hugs, kisses, and congratulations, their hearts bursting with joy and beating in sync. Three steps ahead of them, a convoy made of Teddy, Victoire and Snuffles open the way, flowers spread around from their baskets. Behind, Ron and Hermione follow suit arm in arm.

“Not gonna lie, Harry, you kind of strong-armed me into doing the same,” George winks as they pass by, immediately wincing as a pregnant Angelina pokes him in the ribs.

Bill, Charlie, and Percy all hug their sister and cheerfully offer their congratulations to Harry. He takes a step backwards, offering Ginny enough space to celebrate with her family as he spots his own trio of mischief.

“Congrats, daddy,” Sirius smirks, cradling baby James in his arms.

Harry grimaces, “That sounds...gross, coming from you. And a little like you’re hitting on me, which I hope you’re not, giving that it’s my wedding day and you’re my godfather.”

Sirius rolls his eyes, then ruffles his godson’s unruly hair. “You’re alright, kid. No one’s mad enough to try and pry you away from that red haired temptress of yours.”

Before he can shoot his own comeback, Harry hears Lily’s giggle and feels her plump lips on stubbled cheek, as his father plants a kiss on his other one.

“Well done, son,” James booms. “Look at you - a proud father and godfather, an established archaeologist freshly married to a promising psychologist.” His smile extends to his hazel eyes, sparkling from behind his specs.

“She is rather brilliant,” Lily pipes in, squeezing Harry’s cheek. “And I’m not only referring to her formidable wit. I’ve read the study report on her work at the early education institution and it’s superb. I’m so proud of you two, my love.”

Harry lets himself be swallowed by the three sided hug before he can extract his own son from Sirius’ arms and find his beautiful wife .

Later, much later, when they’re giddy on pure bliss and champagne, snuggled close in their bed while their sons are fast asleep, Harry and Ginny feel like the luckiest people alive. And, in that moment, they truly are. They allow themselves to drift to sleep with their hands connected, ready to support and love each other in the days and years to come, for the rest of their lives together.

All in all, it could be honestly said that life throws a lot of unexpected things Harry Potter’s way, but his luck has been pretty good so far.