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19 Years by marauder5
Chapter 13: Year 2: Harry Potter's Girlfriend
The sound of Ginny’s clenched fist hitting the front door to Harry’s flat echoed in the staircase and bounced against the walls, adding to the already spooky atmosphere that was a result of the ceiling lights not working and the only light source being the tip of Ginny’s wand. She lowered her hand, and became strangely aware of the quiet; in that moment, she could every single one of its beats as her heart rate increased while she waited for Harry to open the door.
She had had to wait until everyone in her family had fallen asleep before she had been able to sneak downstairs—skipping over the steps that squeaked—and out of the house. Once she had closed the door behind her, she could Apparate without waking anyone. A few seconds later she had found herself standing in the street outside Harry’s building. She was still making an effort to be quiet as she made her way up to the fourth floor, so not to wake his neighbours. Although, she thought, Harry—and if not him, then Hermione—probably would have cast some spells to prevent it. All the other tenants in the building were Muggles, after all. “It seemed like the smartest thing,” Harry had said. “It makes me harder to find.”
Ginny took a step back and nearly fell down the stairs when the door suddenly opened and Harry stuck out his head, squinting in the bright light of her wand as she struggled to regain her balance. He was dressed in a white t-shirt and boxer shorts, and his hair was even more untidy than usual. Ginny blushed when she realised that he had probably fallen asleep already, and that she must have woken him.
“Ginny?” he said hoarsely, reaching out to grab her arm and keep her steady. “What are you doing here? Is everything okay?”
Ginny didn’t answer him. Instead, she squeezed past him, into his hallway, threw her arms around his neck and kissed him. Harry did not hesitate to wrap his arms around her waist and give the door a push; it closed with a muffled thud. When they let go of each other to catch their breaths, Ginny smiled at him and said:
“I thought we should take advantage of this newfound privacy. Without my family constantly watching over us…”
Harry brushed a strand of her red hair out of her face and smiled back at her. “Not that I’m complaining, but will they not wonder where you are?” he asked. “I’d like to stay on good terms with them, you know.”
“They’re won’t even know I’m gone,” Ginny assured him.
His stubble was rough against her fingertips when she stroked his cheek. She continued moving them down his neck, following the outline of his collarbone until her hand landed on his chest. With a faint smile on her face, she then dropped her hands to her side and started moving further into the flat, through the kitchen and towards the bedroom. When she had been there a few weeks earlier, there had been no furniture. Now, there was a table and four chairs by the kitchen window, and a soft rug covering the dark wooden floor. Ginny continued into the bedroom where a wide, king-size bed was just waiting for them. She walked over to the window, which was crack open, letting in the lukewarm air and the noise of a car passing by on the street below. Two wooden frames had been placed on the windowsill. One of them held a photograph from Harry’s parents’ wedding, with both Lily, James and Sirius grinning and waving at the camera. On the other was baby Teddy, just a few days old in Remus’ arms. Ginny hesitated before turning them slightly, so that they were facing the wall instead of the bed behind her.
She turned around and realised that Harry had stopped before entering the bedroom, and was now leaning against the doorframe, just watching her. “What do you think?” he asked. “Do you like it?”
“It’s perfect,” Ginny answered, reaching our her hands towards him. “Why are you standing over there? Come here…”
Harry hesitated. “So when you said ‘take advantage of the privacy’, did you…?”
He fell silent as Ginny began unbuttoning her blouse. Whatever worry she had felt before was gone. She had dreaded the thought of taking her clothes off in front of Harry, but now that the moment was there, it just felt right. She kept her eyes fixed on his face. His mouth was half open, as if he couldn’t quite believe what was happening, and his gaze flickered between her face and her now half-naked upper body.
“Ginny, are you sure about this?”
She took a few steps forwards, eliminating the space between them. “I’ve been waiting for this for years,” she whispered as she leaned in and kissed him, and in the next moment he had grabbed her by the waist and pulled her towards the bed. She shivered as she felt his lips on her jawline, and then on her neck. She had thought her heartbeat was loud before, when she had been standing out in the staircase, but it had multiplied by a hundred. It was nothing existed but the sound of her heart, the way Harry’s eyes were a warmer shade than she had ever seen them, and her skin burning in a strangely pleasant way wherever his fingertips touched it.
Ron was sitting by himself at the kitchen table at the Burrow, shovelling down his fried eggs on toast as quickly as he could. He had been reluctant to get out of bed that morning, and thus, he only had a few minutes before he would have to head off to work.
It felt strange to have breakfast without Harry. Ginny hadn’t got out of bed yet, and Ron was alone in the kitchen with his mother, since Mr Weasley had left early to attend a meeting with his department at the Ministry.
Having emptied his glass of juice, Ron rose to his feet. Mrs Weasley took a pause from her work at the stove and turned around.
“Will you wake your sister when you’re up there?” she asked. “She’ll miss training if she sleeps any longer.”
Ron nodded and began making his way up the stairs, three steps at the time—which was only possible thanks to his long legs. He stopped before he reached his own room on the top floor and knocked on the door to Ginny’s bedroom, which was just below his.
“Gin? Are you decent?”
When he didn’t get a response, he turned the knob and pushed the door open. He stepped inside and looked around. The bed was empty, and had it not been for the fact that it was perfectly made, he would have just assumed that she was in the bathroom. Furrowing his eyebrows, Ron headed out the door again, closed it behind him and called out to his mother:
“Ginny’s not here! Her bed is made!”
“She’s probably in Holyhead already, then!” answered Mrs Weasley. “She must have left early.”
Ron shrugged; she was probably right. He hurried down the stairs and into the bathroom. There, he quickly brushed his teeth—a little too hastily for him to feel entirely clean and fresh, but it was all he had time for—and decided to skip shaving. He was sure that Dawlish would rather see him get to work in time than see his cheeks smooth. When he passed through the kitchen he stopped to let his mother kiss one of those rough cheeks before grabbing a pinch of Floo powder and throwing it into the fireplace, watching as the orange flames turned green before he stepped into them.
It wasn’t until he found himself trotting through the atrium at the Ministry of Magic, heading for the lift to take him down to the Auror Office, and spotted the back of Harry’s head in the crowd of arriving ministry officials, that the thought hit Ron. Could it really be a coincidence that Ginny was gone the morning after Harry had moved into his own flat? Ron tried to push the thought away, because he didn’t want to imagine it, but it had already grabbed hold of his brain. He sped to the lifts. He was going to have to have a talk with a certain Harry Potter, because if he was under the impression that it was okay for him to spend the night with Ron Weasley’s baby sister, someone would have to set him straight. Ginny was only… 18. She was 18. The realisation made Ron stop for a moment, causing a middle-aged wizard, who had been reading an issue of the Daily Prophet while walking, to bump into him. “Oh, excuse me, sir,” he mumbled without lifting his eyes from the paper. Then he hurried on. After casting a glance on his watch, Ron followed his example while his mind went into high gear. He had always thought of Ginny as being the little one, but she was only a year younger than him. Five or six years ago, that one year had seemed like a lifetime, but the age difference had become smaller and smaller over time, without him even noticing. So maybe it was perfectly normal that Ginny had snuck out to be with Harry. Maybe it was normal that the two of them… Ron cleared his throat. He had never been happier to see that a meeting was just about to start inside one of the head offices of the Auror Department—he definitely needed something else to occupy his mind. He walked in through the door, shivered as he passed through the security check, and sat down at the table between Harry and Andrew Saxby, another Gryffindor student who had begun his training that year together with Seamus Finnegan and Neville Longbottom, among others.
“We have received a tip,” Dawlish began as he waved his wand and made the door close itself, loudly enough for both Neville and Andrew Saxby to jump in their seats. “Apparently, a group of the remaining Death Eaters are mobilizing in Northern Russia, and they are planning to begin recruiting again, to build up their forces and continue Voldemort’s dream of cleansing the world of Muggles and Muggle-borns.”
Ron was surprised. Perhaps he hadn’t been aware of it, but he allowed himself to relax again, like before the war. He had grown used to the idea of a brighter future, a future free of Death Eaters, battles and blood purity. Maybe he had just been naïve, but since the capture of the Lestranges, he had really thought that it had been over. Once the surprise had worn off, he could feel a familiar, icy fear spread inside his chest and stomach. Cleansing the world of Muggles and Muggle-borns. For Ron, it only meant one thing. They wanted to hurt Hermione, and he could never allow them to. He had thought that he had lost her that day at the Hogwarts Quidditch pitch, and he never wanted to feel like that again.
“So, the idea is that a few of us head up there to investigate,” Dawlish continued. “You all know that we are still understaffed, and for those of you who aren’t done with your training, just say the word if you would rather sit this one out. I would like to bring Hestia, Justin and Andrew with me.”
Harry flung out his arms, as if he couldn’t understand what had just happened. “Dawlish, both Ron and I are more experienced than Justin and Andrew! If those people turn out to be actual Death Eaters, it’s very risky—“
“—and even more so for you,” Dawlish filled in. “I’m sorry if you don’t like it, Harry, but when Gawain is not here, I’m in charge, and this is my call.”
After a few more minutes of discussions and going over strategies, the group headed off. The rest of the Aurors and trainees started moving towards their offices or classrooms, but Harry and Ron lingered behind.
“If they’re so worried about my safety, maybe they shouldn’t have let me become an Auror to start with,” Harry muttered. “What did they expect? That I would spend the rest of my life doing paper work? They have no problem putting Justin or Andrew’s life on the line, but they’re so worried about mine!” He shook his head vigorously.
“Just wait until you run this place,” said Ron with a grin. “Then you can boss us around all you want for revenge.”
Harry smiled volatilely, and then he became serious. “Are you going to tell Hermione about this?” he asked.
“I have to,” Ron said. “She deserves to know. Man, I wish we could have gone with them to Russia… I mean, if these people… if they are going to… she will be-“
“I know,” Harry interrupted. “It was my first thought, too.”
It was a few days later, and Ginny was lying in Harry’s bed, her head resting on his naked chest, and his arms wrapped around her in a tight embrace. The sun was peeking in through his bedroom window, and Harry watched it cast a pattern of shadows on the opposite wall and sighed to himself. He would have no problem at all lying just like that forever.
“We could turn this into a habit,” he suggested. “You could sneak out every night and come over.”
“Well,” Ginny said, “as tempting as that sounds, I thought we agreed that we weren’t ready to live together. And staying here every night sounds a lot like living together.”
“Maybe,” Harry said and shrugged. “You know, I didn’t have any problem sleeping alone before. But now that I know what this is like… falling asleep with you in my arms… waking up and only having to turn around to see your face…”
“You’ll have plenty of time to do that,” Ginny said. “When we spend the rest of our lives together.”
Harry could feel a rush of happiness run through his body when she said it. If someone had suggested it a couple of years earlier, he probably would have laughed and said that no one could know at nineteen if they would always want to be together. But he knew better now. He belonged with Ginny; it was obvious in every possible way. What she made him feel was not some fickle teenage crush, like the one he had shared with Cho Chang for a short period of time. This was something deeper, stronger, something that he couldn’t quite put his finger on. All he knew was that he would always want to be wherever Ginny was, and that he would try his best to make her happy for as long as she would have him.
“By the way, you’ll be on your own for a couple of nights anyway,” Ginny said. “I don’t think I’ve told you this, but you know how we’re playing against Tutshill Tornados in three days? Gwenog is really unhappy with our performances lately, so we’re going to Tutshill already in the morning to stay there until Thursday. It will be sort of like a boot camp, I guess.”
“What?” Harry pulled her closer and kissed her neck. “You’re going to be gone for a whole three days? And nights?”
Ginny giggled and jokingly tried to push him away. “Stop being so clingy,” she teased him. “You’re a big boy, I’m sure you can handle it.”
“Maybe so,” Harry mumbled, his lips still touching the soft skin of her neck. “But I’ll be cold, and bored, and lonely…”
Ginny arrived in Holyhead the next morning, with her bag packed, just in time. Gwenog Jones and Darren Weinhold had just gathered the team around an old, rotten wooden plank that was lying on the ground. Hearing her come, the entire team turned their heads towards her, and her closest friends on the team, Heather Perrington and Gaylene Turkowski, both stepped to the side to let her into the circle.
“Couldn’t tear yourself away from the boyfriend now, could you?” Heather asked and raised her left eyebrow.
Ginny laughed and shook her head. Then they turned their attention back to Weinhold, who was staring at the golden pocket watch that he always wore around his neck.
“The Portkey leaves in ten seconds,” he said, “so make room for everyone, and reach out your hands…”
Tutshill was a small Wizarding community, only about half the size of Holyhead. The Portkey took Ginny and the rest of the Quidditch team to a winding gravel road about a mile outside of the village, where there was not a single house in sight. The only thing Ginny saw as she got up on her feet after her rather ungainly landing was endless rows of tall trees that seemed to have been planted in a straight pattern. They created a wall around the road, and despite the fact that their leaves had begun to fall off, their crowns were still too compact for the sun to be able to shine through. Ginny, who had thought that it was still warm enough outside to wear a cardigan instead of a jacket, regretted her decision as she shivered in the early autumn winds.
“So, there is an inn down this road, in the neighbouring village,” Weinhold said as he picked up his bag. “A pair of Muggles own it, though, so we have to be discrete. Miss Turkowski, I would recommend putting that thing away.”
Gaylene, who had just pulled out a Headless Hat from Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes from her purse, made a displeased face, but did as she was told. Ginny and Heather laughed at her grumpy countenance and hurried to catch up with the others, who had already started walking.
Once everyone had settled into their rooms at the small inn and listened to Gaylene’s complaining over the fact that she had to share a room with Gwenog, the team headed off to the Quidditch pitch in Tutshill. “This early in the morning?” Gaylene continued her complaints, but Weinhold simply sighed and explained that the Tornados had their training in the afternoons, and Gwenog added that they hadn’t come there for vacation anyway.
“I watched the match between the Tornados and Puddlemere Untied last night.” the team’s captain said while holding up the door that led into the arena. “I looked around for a bit – the dressing room is through the second door on your right!”
Ginny, who had taken the lead, opened the second door on her right and stepped into the small dressing room. A shriek was heard and she stopped in the doorway when she realised what was going on in there. A man, completely naked save for the towel that was wrapped around his hips span around when he heard the door open. Much to Ginny’s surprise, she realized that it was none other than Oliver Wood, who had used to be the captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. He held up his hands to cover himself while furrowing his eyebrows.
Ginny blushed. She couldn’t help but notice that he was extremely fit—his muscles were wiry and his shoulders broad—and she quickly turned her eyes to his face instead.
“Hello, Oliver,” she said in a high-pitch voice. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but you play for Puddlemere, don’t you? Not Tutshill.”
“You’re right,” Oliver mumbled while grabbing a shirt and pulling it over his head to the sound of disappointed sighs from quite a few of Ginny’s teammates. “I hit my head pretty badly during the match yesterday,” he explained, “so I had to stay the night.”
Ginny struggled not to burst into laughter; there was something highly amusing about the sight of him, dressed in nothing but a shirt and a towel, small talking as if it was completely normal. In the next moment, Gwenog caught up with her team, and she stepped in front of Oliver and placed her hands on her hips.
“Wood,” she said, narrowing her eyes as he struggled to pull on his pants without revealing what was underneath his towel. “You are aware that we’ve booked the field this morning, right?”
Oliver held up his hands. “I know, I know,” he said. “I’m on my way!”
On his way past Ginny, he reached out on arm and gave her a quick hug. “Say hi to Harry from me, okay? And to your brothers. I hear that George and Angelina got together, is that true?”
“It is,” Ginny confirmed. “Take care, Oliver.”
As soon as the door closed behind him, Ginny’s teammates pounced on her.
“How do you know the most attractive man in the British-Irish Quidditch league?” asked Adriana Katzenberger, Holyhead’s seeker.
“I know! Is it not enough that you’re dating the Harry Potter?” said Heather enviously.
“Oliver was Gryffindor’s keeper when my brothers played at Hogwarts,” Ginny answered, shrugged and put her bag down next to her feet. “He was captain of the team when Harry started.”
“Just imagine being Harry Potter’s girlfriend,” said Adriana dreamingly. “I would do anything to…” She interrupted herself and smiled at Ginny, who looked a bit depreciative. “Not that I would literally do anything, of course,” she added quickly, “I know that he’s with you!”
“It must be hard,” Gwenog said as she pulled off her t-shirt. “Being Harry Potter’s girlfriend. I mean, considering the fact that every witch in the country would take the first chance they would get to steal him away from you.”
For a second, Ginny was worried. She hadn’t really thought about it, but what they were saying was true. Every time a new issue of Witch Weekly arrived to her mother, it was Harry who smiled at her from the front page. Just the other week, there had been an article about her too, with the headline: How long Miss Weasley be able to keep our hero interested? She took a deep breath and tried to collect her thoughts; she knew that she didn’t really have anything to worry about. Harry loved her. So what if she wasn’t the only girl in the world who wanted to be with him? So what if those other girls were more beautiful, or more successful, nicer or friendlier? None of it mattered, because Harry would never…
A/N: As always, I just want to thank all of you so much for reading, for leaving such wonderful reviews and for favouriting this story! You have no idea how happy you make me :)
Please let me know what you thought about this! Any thoughts on Harry and Ginny's relationship? On Ron's reaction? For those of you who want to see more Ron/Hermione, don't worry, it will come!