Harry waited for Ginny in the entrance hall wearing his best muggle clothes. Girls always seemed to take longer than they should to get ready, but when she finally did come down, Harry decided it had been worth the wait. She looked lovely in a nice summer dress, her hair curled but loose around her shoulders, heels and Harry’s necklace around her neck. She smiled shyly at him when she saw him looking at her so admiringly.
“Are you ready?” he asked.
“For dinner, yes, I am. I’m starved actually,” she said.
Harry took her by the hand and they walked together to the little restaurant they’d seen on the edges of their neighborhood. It was a small Italian place, and though it was crowded they decided it was quite good. They talked and laughed throughout the meal, but afterwards Harry noticed that Ginny grew nervously silent.
On this evening, when they returned to the square at Grimmauld place, several wrapped roles of carpet and padding, large cartons with electrical symbols on them, boxes of linens, and the mattress Harry had ordered two days before, lay waiting for them. Ginny regarded the pile thoughtfully as Harry levitated it up into the air and guided it through the front door of number twelve Grimmauld Place. Ginny followed behind, watching for overly observant muggles, closing the front door behind Harry as they went. Harry left the roles of carpet and boxes of appliances in the drawing room, but together he and Ginny brought the mattress and linens upstairs. They settled the mattress on the bed frame in the master bedroom and Ginny began unpacking the linens to make up the bed. Harry watched as Ginny took extra time smoothing the sheets, smiling as she made sure the pillows were all just so.
“You okay Gin?” he asked; sitting down on the edge of the bed near her.
“Yeah, I suppose,” she said. “Just a bit nervous.”
“You know,” he said rubbing her shoulder. “We don’t have to use this.”
“I know.” She returned his smile, sitting down beside him. “But it would be silly not to use the bed, I mean it’s better than the floor,” she teased.
Harry looked at her with a start. Laughing just a little, he kissed her. Ever so gently she kissed him back, with the lightest touch possible with her lips. A trill of excitement ran up and down Harry’s spine.
“Oh Gin,” he murmured in a deep soft voice as he kissed her again, stroking her hair.
Ginny kicked off her heels, slowly stood from the bed, and turned to face him; standing directly in front of him. Leaning over, she kissed him so that her necklace swung forward away from her body, one hand on his shoulder, the other on the bed. Harry put his hands at her waist trying to pull her closer to him but she pulled back. Her long auburn hair fell across the legs of his trousers as she knelt and removed his shoes. Harry watched in fascination as she stood up again. Ginny pushed on his shoulders until he lay back on the bed, crawled over him and started to unbutton his shirt, stopping about half way down while Harry found himself slipping the spaghetti straps from her summer dress from her shoulders without having made a conscious effort to do so. She let him until her arms were free, then she pulled back placing a hand across the front of her dress keeping the top of it firmly in place.
Harry regarded her thoughtfully, keeping his hands near her shoulders, back, and face. He kissed her again, but again Ginny pulled away, turning to sit beside him again. Harry sat up too, not wanting to rush her.
“You know what?” she said.
“This…” She waved a hand at the room. “…all this is weird.”
“Why? I thought you liked the room Ginny.”
“I do, but this room….Harry, it’s like we’re married or something, you know? Isn’t this a married person’s room?”
“Maybe it will be someday,” Harry answered. “But isn’t it our room Gin? The room we’ve put together, together? I love the bed by the way, what you did with the frame. It really suits this room.”
“Thanks Harry. I hoped it would.”
Harry watched her carefully. “But there is something about it that you’re uncomfortable with,” he concluded.
“Yes…and no. I mean, before…when I’d come to see you in your room…when we’d fool around and everything…well you’d already be in your bed. All this…undressing and everything, it’s just a bit different,” she explained.
“I could turn off the lights,” Harry offered. “Would that help?”
“Maybe a bit,” Ginny replied.
Harry walked across the room in his socks and flipped off the electric light from the switch on the wall. The lights from the street came in through the window though so there was still plenty of light to see.
“Better?” he asked as he returned to the bed, and to his surprise Ginny was already in it. Her dress he saw lay across a nearby chair. He stopped mutely staring at it and then at her as if unsure what to do next.
“Are you getting in or what?” she asked.
“Oh, sure,” Harry said. He added his shirt to the chair with her dress, followed by socks and trousers, and then he slipped beneath the covers beside her.
“How is this?” he asked as he felt Ginny snuggle up against him.
“You know what?” she said as she slipped her arm across his chest.
“I think I’m going to wait until we’re married to let you see me naked.”
Harry looked down in surprise on the top of her head, wondering why she would say that. He drew his arms around her, knowing as he did that she’d only left her knickers on, wondering why she would say that.
“But Gin, we usually are when we fool around,” Harry pointed out, objecting slightly.
“Yes but it’s usually dark, and there’s sheets and stuff, so it’s not like you actually see anything. So if I wait until we’re married to let you undress me, then maybe you won’t.”
Harry chuckled just a bit. It was odd logic but if it made her more comfortable, he could go with that.
“Okay,” he said. “I suppose we should save something for then.”
Ginny giggled as she lay beside him. Harry felt his heart pounding in his chest, wishing he could calm his nerves as he felt her fingers walk up his ribs and begin to tickle him.
“Ginny, what are you doing?” he asked trying to grabbing her hands.
“Trying to make you laugh! You’re more nervous than I am, and neither of us has said that we’re actually going to do it,” she said.
“Are we?” he asked.
“Is it really up to me?” she asked.
“A lot of it is,” Harry told her.
“But not all of it?” she said.
“Do you want it to be?” he asked.
“I just wondered,” she said. “I guess I just assumed you were ready, but I suppose if you’re not…” she sighed. “You’ve been so patient with me. I really appreciate that Harry.”
She was up on her elbows now, looking into his face. Harry ran one of his hands up and down her back, fingering the mare on the dangling necklace with the other as he did.
“Maybe it would be better if you just kissed me,” Harry suggested. “You remember what happened the last time you tried tickling me when we were fooling around.”
“I promise, I have no intension of doing that to you tonight,” she said, and she drew herself up and over him to reach his lips.
She kissed him and Harry returned it, drawing her to him, slowly allowing their kisses to deepen, becoming gradually more passionate. Little by little they began to relax, gently laughing together as their nervousness left them. Hands began to wander, exploring places they hadn’t been in a long time with an intimacy they hadn’t allowed themselves since Ron and Hermione had come home. Ginny rolled to her back and Harry followed her, kissing her face and neck, gradually moving down her body touching and kissing her as he went, wanting her to feel good, wanting her to relax, hoping she would be ready. Ginny moaned as he reached her stomach, tracing the top edges of her knickers with his fingers, he kept moving lower. She tipped her hips, allowing him to remove the lacy garment, but before he could do anything more she was reaching for him, drawing him up towards her face as she slid her hands to the waist of his boxers and pushed them down. Harry kicked them off and Ginny pulled on him again, guiding him to lie above her, their legs intertwined. Harry kept kissing and touching her, letting her movements guide him, when suddenly he felt her move in a way she’d never done before. He was pressed on top of her, sliding along tissue; moist, warm and welcoming. Harry gasped; his eyes closed at the sensation as Ginny reached up and removed his glasses.
“I can’t see,” he whispered.
“Do you need to? Your eyes are closed, mostly,” she whispered back.
“What? Okay.” Harry was having trouble registering any meaning beyond what his body was telling him.
Ginny moved beneath him heightening the sensation. It was growing, building, almost more than he could bear, and then Harry felt her reach around his waist holding him to her so tightly that for a moment he couldn’t move.
“Ginny, what?” he started to ask. “Should I stop?”
Her actions spoke for her. Harry felt her legs change position to be outside his, her body moving first against him ever so slightly as she moved, then completely away. He had the brief thought she’d changed her mind when he felt her draw him close, her body touching him again in a very different way.
“Gin, are you sure?” he whispered.
“Aren’t you?” she asked back.
“Tell me,” he said starting to back away.
Ginny inclined her head slightly as she buried her face against his shoulder, and pulled him towards her. Harry let her. He felt her adjust her position slightly, breathing hard against him, he felt her hips tip as she clutched him tightly around the waist, and Harry knew this was the night. That fact had barely registered when he heard Ginny gasp, pressing her face tightly against him, her body stiffening against him ever so slightly. Harry moved, he couldn’t help it really, but he tried to be gentle, moving slowly at first until gradually she began to move with him. Almost as quickly as it had started it was over. And in almost the same moment Harry realized they’d never done the charms.
Harry groaned, wishing it could have gone on longer as he struggled not to collapse on top of her, rolling on his side. Ginny was shaking as he pulled her with him, holding her tightly, wanting her to be okay and yet fearing something horrible had happened to her and that he was responsible. Gradually as he held her the trembling in her body stilled and she began to relax against him, no longer holding him exactly, but neither was she moving away.
“Ginny,” he whispered as he brushed her hair away from her face, her skin was wet around her eyes. Had she been crying? Had he hurt her? Harry experienced a moment of dismay.
“Are you okay?” he whispered urgently.
Ginny looked up at him, but didn’t answer. Harry felt an uncommon sensation on his body as he pulled himself away. Unsure what it was he reached down and touched the place, his fingers came back tinged with red.
“Are you hurt? Ginny are you bleeding?” he asked.
“No. I think I’m okay,” she said, her voice sounded strained.
“But…” Harry hesitated; feeling confused. Maybe he just couldn’t see what it was. He started to sit up, reaching to put on the lamp, trying to understand what had happened, when he felt Ginny reach for him.
“Please, don’t go away.”
“I’m not going anywhere Gin. Just to the bathroom, okay?”
“Can it wait?” she begged.
Harry couldn’t stand that sound in her voice.
“Ginny, what is it?” he asked. “Please, talk to me.”
“Just hold me Harry. I need to feel you against me. I need to feel as though you will never leave. Please…?”
Harry did as she asked. He held her, feeling her heart beating hard in her chest, feeling the wetness on her face, feeling her tremble as though fighting back fear, fearing something was wrong. Her heart rate slowed gradually and Harry whispered in her ear.
“Gin, I really need to go. I’ll be right back though, I promise, okay?”
“Okay,” she whispered back.
Harry slid from the covers, leaving her there. When he returned she lay curled on her side in a fetal position, clutching her knees to her chest. Her knickers he noted were back on. Taking his queue from her, he retrieved his boxers from the foot of the bed and put them on too. He wrapped himself around her in a spooning position, holding her gently.
He thought for a while she might be asleep until somewhere near midnight she rolled towards him and whispered.
“Harry? Are you awake?”
“Yes. What happened Gin? Are you sure you’re okay?”
Ginny sighed. “Are you sure you want to know?”
“Of course I do. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“You didn’t Harry, at least not in the way I think you mean. I’m okay really. Nothing damaged, everything apparently works, so I’m okay. I was bloody stupid to believe a Carrow might know what they were doing.”
Harry hesitated. What could one of the Carrows have possibly done that could have her thinking like this, especially now? Harry desperately wanted to know but decided that maybe now wasn’t the time to press her for details.
“But there was blood,” he said.
“A little,” she admitted.
“I think that might have been more than just a little,” Harry said. “Is it from where you were hurt?”
She turned sharply toward him. “I’ll be back in a minute Harry,” she said and slipped from the bed towards the bathroom.
When she returned she’d grown very, very quiet.
“So what gives?” he asked. “Are you going to tell me about it or what?”
“It’s not from my scar,” she said.
“Are you going to tell me about that? How you got it I mean?”
“What did they do to you Ginny?”
“I’m not talking about it Harry.”
“I don’t want to think about that, especially now. Besides, it has nothing to do with this.”
Harry nodded but frowned. He could accept that she didn’t want to talk about it now, but he knew they needed to talk about it eventually and it frustrated him that she was so unwilling to do this.
“Well if it’s not your scar …What is it then?”
“I’m, I’m not sure,” she said hesitantly. “I didn’t know that could happen.”
“What, the blood?” Harry asked.
Ginny nodded. “I knew there would be a bit of pain at first, when it first happened, but I didn’t know I could bleed from it.”
“Then you are bleeding? And there was pain?” Harry questioned. “Gin…” he began his voice heavy with concern.
“Harry please, don’t worry about it. It’s just like that for girls. And the blood…it may not be from that. I’m really close to my period. I mean I didn’t think it had started yet or I wouldn’t have…but maybe …maybe doing what we did jumpstarted it or something…I don’t know, it’s probably just bad timing I guess.”
“Ah…oh,” Harry said lying back on his pillows. She was talking about girl stuff with him, stuff he’d heard of but never really thought much about. Generally he’d thought it had nothing to do with him, but maybe being this intimate with a girl changed that.
“So do you need to go home then? I mean do you need anything?” he asked trying to be understanding but not knowing quite what to say.
“You are very sweet, do you know that?” she asked. “I think I’m okay until morning. It’s just going to be a while until we can do this again. I’m sorry.”
“What? No, Gin don’t apologize,” Harry told her.
“I’m not apologizing Harry. I’m trying to express my regret. I hear the next time is much, much better,” she smiled suggestively at him. “I’m just sorry that next time can’t be tonight.”
Harry glanced over at her, surprised but pleased. After the experience they’d just had he’d been almost certain she’d be unlikely to ever let him that near to her again.
“You don’t hate me then?” he asked.
“No, of course not. I couldn’t hate you Harry, not after that.”
Harry thought at first that she was teasing him, but Ginny’s tone was one of loving contentment and deep satisfaction, quite at odds with everything that had just happened and Harry was totally mystified by her words. He didn’t think he was ever going to understand the mysterious workings of girls.
“Ginny,” he said after a time. “There’s one more thing….”
“I think we forgot the charms.”
“No we didn’t. I said mine nonverbally, and I heard you practicing yours before we went out. That should have been enough,” she assured him.
Harry felt greatly relieved.
“Good night Ginny,” Harry said as he felt her kiss his cheek and settle against him now dressed as she often was for sleep in a t-shirt and knickers.
“Good night Harry.”
Harry was awakened by the sound of a muggle alarm clock. He slapped the buzzer off, still half asleep as Ginny pushed herself up beside him.
“What was that?” she asked with a start.
“An alarm clock. I had it when I lived with my aunt, so I brought it here,” Harry told her. “It wakes you up.”
“No kidding.” Ginny smirked. She peered at the clock while Harry put on his glasses.
“Why are we getting up at five o’clock in the morning?”
“Do you remember where we are? And where we are expected to be in no less than an hour?” he asked.
Ginny fell back against her pillows with a groan. “At the Burrow! I forgot. Mum is going to kill me for staying out so late.”
“Yeah well, your dad sort of knew we wouldn’t be back before breakfast, but he does expect us back by then,” Harry said pulling himself up and out of bed. He reached for his jeans pulling them on.
“I need a shower Gin, how about you?”
“Definitely,” Ginny said. “And I should change the sheets too.”
“We only used them one night!” Harry protested.
Ginny caught his eye with a meaningful expression.
“Oh yeah,” he said with a guilty grin. “I suppose we should change them…or scourgify.”
“That’ll work,’ Ginny agreed. “You go ahead with your shower; I’ll take care of the sheets.”
“Okay. I won’t be long,” Harry promised.
A few minutes later they were changing places and Harry proceeded to finish with the bed, straightening up the room and attempting to make it look as fresh and unused as it had the day before. Ginny emerged fresh from her shower with her case in hand and the clothes bag over her arm. Harry had hung his own clothes in the closet, and offered to carry hers as they made their way down to the kitchen and flooed over to the Burrow.
“Good morning Mum,” Ginny said as she stepped out of the fire with Harry right behind her.
Mrs. Weasley regarded the pair critically, her hand on her hip before saying anything to either of them. Harry could tell that she was doing her utmost to restrain herself from yelling at them.
“Good morning,” she said at last. “You can go wake Hermione for breakfast Ginny. Harry, will you do Ron?”
“Sure Mrs. Weasley,” Harry said, and they went upstairs to find Ron and Hermione in their rooms.
As it turned out they didn’t have to go far. Both Ron and Hermione were in the same room, and both looked startled when they were awakened by Ginny and Harry.
“Blimey, it’s a good thing Mum sent us to get you up instead of coming up here herself,” Ginny told her brother who lay in his bed, the sheet tucked up under his chin with Hermione beside him.
Harry grinned at him, knowing what that probably meant. He turned his back for a moment and saw a flash of skin out of the corner of his eye, then Hermione running from the room dressed apparently only in her bathrobe. Ginny took her clothes bag from Harry and followed Hermione upstairs, closing the door to the boys’ room behind her.
Harry sat down on the bed he usually slept in looking at Ron with a bit of a shifty grin on his face.
“So how was it?” Ron asked climbing out of bed and starting to dress.
Harry stared incredulously at him. “You don’t actually expect me to tell you, right?” Harry asked.
“I am your mate,”
“Yeah, but considering it was Ginny.”
“Well, yeah, I suppose,” Ron said. “But it went okay, yeah? I mean you’re alright and everything?”
“I think so,” Harry said staring a bit at the wall opposite his bed now. “Ron, what do you know about girl’s periods?”
“Well they won’t let you touch them then… and oh yeah it’s really bad if they miss one.”
“But what does it mean?” Harry asked. “I mean does it always mean that if there’s blood?”
“Pretty much, I think,” Ron said looking curiously at his friend.
“Always?” Harry asked thinking of Ginny. “It couldn’t mean anything else?”
“Hermione said there was a bit the first time, but I never saw it,” Ron said watching Harry carefully. “You’re not going to tell me what happened are you?”
“No,” Harry said.
Ron came to stand opposite Harry. “Look mate, if there was a lot, it was probably just bad timing. You gotta pay a bit of attention to that ‘cause they don’t like it, but I don’t think it hurts them,” Ron advised.
Harry looked up at his friend.
“Does that help?” Ron asked.
“Yeah a bit. Thanks Ron.”
“No problem Harry. Bad luck though with the timing.”
By the time Harry and Ron came back downstairs Hermione and Ginny were sitting at the kitchen table, their heads together giggling just a bit. Harry glanced at Ginny a bit nervously as he came down.
“Good morning Hermione,” Ron said innocently as if that was the first time he’d seen her that day.
“Good morning Ron,” Hermione answered in kind.
Harry just shook his head at them and sat down beside Ginny, looking around the table.
“Isn’t Mr. Weasley here?” Harry asked.
“He’s having a bit of a lie in this morning,” Mrs. Weasley told them. “We were up quite late last night.”
“Not waiting for us I hope?” Harry asked.
“No,” Mrs. Weasley said in a bit of a strained voice. “Arthur suggested we not wait up. Actually, he took me to bed rather early instead.” She blushed furiously as she said this and Ron sniggered.
“You should have seen them Harry. They were acting like teenagers,” Ron said.
“Ron, we are teenagers,” Harry reminded him.
“Oh yeah. Well it was funny,” Ron insisted. “I mean, at their age?”
“I think it was sweet Ronald,” Hermione told him. “To be so in love after so many years, it must be quite wonderful actually.”
“Is it Mum?” Ginny asked as Mrs. Weasley bustled around them all getting breakfast ready.
Mrs. Weasley paused at this. It was a question she’d never been asked by any of their children. She set the dish in her hands down on the edge of the table as she regarded her daughter.
“Yes Ginny, it is. Quite different from when I was your age. Well it would be, and not because I‘m older Ronald,” she flashed a glare at her son who was now sniggering harder under his breath. “But because our relationship has matured. It isn’t always easy, not like I thought it would be when I was young, but it is better, richer, more stable.”
“What is dear?” Mr. Weasley asked as he came down the stairs.
“Mum was just telling us how it is at your age Dad,” Ginny said.
“How what is?” Mr. Weasley asked.
“Being in love,” Ginny said.
“Ah,” Mr. Weasley exchanged a somewhat intimate glance with his wife as he put his arm across her shoulders. “Attempting to learn the secrets of a long term relationship are we?” he asked the young people at the table.
Ron straightened up at this. “Sure Dad.”
“Well I’ll tell you,” Mr. Weasley said. “It takes hard work, a bit of patience, endurance sometimes,” at this Ginny and Hermione giggled while the boys just looked dumbfounded. “Oh yes boys I do not exaggerate,” Mr. Weasley warned them. “It also takes gentleness, kindness, a willingness to accept when you’re wrong, and a great deal of love. Do you agree dear?” he asked his wife.
“I would add a certain amount of flexibility,” now it was the girls turn to blush, “and a willingness to talk. I think that sometimes that is the hardest thing of all, isn’t it Arthur?” she asked.
Mr. Weasley looked deeply into her eyes, the young people watched fascinated by the example the older couple was setting. “You know, I think it is?” Mr. Weasley said. “It is the one thing that doesn’t necessarily get easier with age.” He smiled kindly at his wife who blushed demurely and looked away.
“Now then, shall we have breakfast?” Mr. Weasley asked sitting down in his customary place, pulling towards him the plate of bacon Mrs. Weasley had just set on the table.
“So tell us Harry, what’s on the agenda today?” Mr. Weasley asked. “Any interesting deliveries last night?”
“Oh um…er…yeah there were actually,” Harry said hesitantly, thinking about the mattress but trying hard not to say anything about it directly. “The ah …er carpet came…and the pads; and the appliances for the kitchen. Then I think we’ll be ready to move the furniture back in from the shed.”
“We’re almost finished then aren’t we?” Mrs. Weasley said.
“Yeah, we’re getting really, really close,” Harry told her. “I think we’ll be finished by the time we all go out for dinner in London next week. I can’t thank you all enough for this, really.”
“It has been our pleasure Harry,” Mr. Weasley said.
“So when are you going to move in?” Ron asked.
“Well I dun know. I know I should do it before you lot go back to school. I mean, I won’t have any weekends free after to do it in, so maybe next weekend? Or the weekend after?” Harry suggested.
“Harry why don’t we spend next weekend finishing with the furniture and moving some of your things in. Then the following week end we can invite everyone who helped there for a sort of a celebration,” Ginny suggested. “You know, sort of a thank you and house warming kind of thing.”
Harry hedged. “Well I don’t know Gin. Planning a party… that’d take some time, and with all the potions and everything…I mean my exam’s the very next weekend.”
“We could do it for you Harry,” Hermione offered. “Make all the arrangements and everything. All you’d have to do is to be there.”
“I know everyone in the Order would love to see what you’ve done mate,” Ron said.
“Well it’s not like it’s actually finished Ron,” Harry said.
“What else is there left to do?” Hermione asked.
“That tapestry in the drawing room,” Harry offered. “I’ve been ignoring that because I couldn’t figure out what to do with it. I mean it’s really interesting and everything, such a good bit of magic the way it weaves itself, but it’s also a reminder of the thing Sirius hated about that house. I’d like to think he’d be pleased with most of what I’ve done, except probably that.”
“Why don’t you chuck it out then?” Ron asked.
“I can’t get it off the wall,” Harry reminded him. “I don’t want those walls torn down, besides there’s so much history in it, I don’t really want to destroy that, but…”
“You’re not sure what to do with it?” Ginny asked.
“Exactly. I mean my instinct is to change it some how rather than to destroy it,” Harry explained.
“Dumbledore always thought you should trust your instincts Harry,” Mr. Weasley told him. “If you’d like to keep it but change it somehow, then that is what you should do.”
Harry nodded. “Yeah okay. It stays, but it needs to be brighter, lighter, and with no-one burnt off. And it should include more families than just the Blacks.”
“We could put your family on it Harry,” Hermione suggested. “How your line goes back to Ignotus Peverell.”’
Harry shifted uncomfortably. He didn’t like thinking of that, his own personal connection to the Deathly Hallows. “Yeah, I don’t know Hermione. I don’t think that’s something I’d like to have up on a wall.”
“Ole Xenophilius would love it though,” Ron pointed out.
“Well how about making it something about Hogwarts?” Ginny suggested. “Track that instead of a particular family.”
“Or,” Harry said thinking of the Lovegoods and Luna’s painting of all of them in her room. “Maybe I could make it about friends. Maybe get Luna to help design it,”
“You know, I think she could,” Hermione said.
“Let’s invite her to the party,” Harry said. “All the DA. I think you’re right Hermione. I think it is time to celebrate.”
AN: Thanks to my new beta seeker68 for helping me with this chapter.