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The First Year, an Almost Happily Ever After story by Jet LaBarge
Chapter 9 : Who is going to Hogwarts in the Autumn?
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 2

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Harry woke up Sunday morning later than he usually did, a little after seven. He remembered that they were having breakfast and lunch buffet-style, so there was no fixed schedule. Rosemary had to show the house-elves what a buffet was, and they became invisible and visited a couple of Muggle restaurants to show them different styles of buffets. That way, the guests could wake up and eat whenever they wanted to. In general, this Sunday was going to be a day as of much rest as they could get away with. There was a general agreement that almost everybody was exhausted.

Harry went to the loo and got dressed for his day. He came back to the beds. He and Ginny were not married, but they were engaged. Somehow they were functioning sort of like a little family, and Harry felt good about it. He looked at Ginny, still sleeping, as was Teddy. Harry lay back in bed just looking at Ginny and Teddy, grinning. Other people started to stir and get up, and finally just after eight, Ginny started to stir. Harry leaned over and gave her a very light kiss. Ginny smiled.

Ginny started to wake up. She thought, ‘what do I have to do now?’ as she kept her eyes closed. ‘The nursing bra is almost empty. I have to get milk into them. The letters are answered. I have to … I have to …’ Harry gave her another very light kiss, and she opened her eyes. Harry had that absolutely fantastic smile that could light up a room and that certainly lit up her life. “What do we have to do today, Harry?” she asked.

“Not much,” said Harry. “From what Bill says, my next week is going to be pretty full of going to vaults to get money out of estates, money and records and all sorts of financial things I don’t know much about.”

Ginny excused herself to the loo and when she returned, she looked around and asked, “Do you think we could put the curtains up and get some privacy?” Even though there were two beds side by side, they were still in the framework of the four poster beds, and Harry closed the curtains all around the bed.

“I love this part of taking care of Teddy,” Ginny sighed, as she let the baby latch on.

“I’m so proud of you, Ginny,” said Harry, still beaming. “After so much time fighting and running and never being able to think of the future, it is just so fantastic to be a little family. Maybe we’re young but we’ve got the rest of our lives ahead of us, together.”

“Well, don’t leave me hasn’t exactly worked out,” Ginny replied, a little pensively. But then she beamed back at him, saying, “But I’m so happy we’re engaged. I can’t wait until August 11.”

“We haven’t exactly set a date yet,” Harry said with a questioning look on his face.

“I have!” exclaimed Ginny. “Wind Teddy, Harry,” she added absentmindedly, as she handed Teddy to Harry. He picked up Teddy and put him on his shoulder, eventually getting a big burp out of Teddy, along with a little milk on his shoulder. Teddy then made the mouth motions that indicated that he was still hungry, and Ginny opened the flap on the other breast without closing the first one. Harry reached over and gently closed the open flap. Ginny made a mouth motion like she wanted a kiss, and while she was nursing, Harry and Ginny lightly kissed.

After Teddy was done Ginny went back to use the loo, and thought, ‘I didn’t use the Touch-of-Lust spell Friday or Saturday. We’re engaged, so it couldn’t hurt to use it today.’ She used it with one flick. Ginny then went back to the beds, ready for, she thought, some good snogging. Harry was playing with Teddy, so she lay down on the bed and promptly fell soundly asleep.

Harry looked at Ginny with dismay. He was really hungry, so he carried Teddy down stairs and got some breakfast before going back upstairs. At 9:30 Ginny was still not awake, so Harry gently kissed her.

“Nine-thirty, sleepy Ginny. Breakfast is almost over,” said Harry.

Ginny shook herself awake and pulled on some clothes. “I’m famished, Harry,” she said, suddenly feeling ravenous now that she was alert. They went downstairs, Harry with a sleeping baby on his shoulder. When they got there, Ginny spotted her mother and said, “Mum, when do babies sleep through the night?”

“Oh, about the time you’re going back to Hogwarts Teddy should be sleeping through the night. Meanwhile, he’s your problem, I’m afraid. No one else can do what you can do for him,” Molly said, while smiling at Ginny. Harry thought he could see more than a touch of the Ginny-Weasley-smirk on Molly as she kidded her daughter.

“You think it’s funny, don’t you,” Ginny ruefully said to her mother.

“Payback!” Molly exclaimed, laughing. “Payback for all of the nights I stayed awake for you.”

“Thanks,” Ginny growled, her lips twisting at the irony.

Molly laughed some more, saying, with a big smile, “Oh, you’re very welcome, Miss ‘I never get to be grown-up.’”

Ginny looked at the ring on her hand and at her mother and realized that she was going to get no sympathy for her lack of sleep, no sympathy for being tied down with Teddy, not from her mother and probably not from anybody else either.

At about 10:00 AM, after almost everybody was awake, Professor McGonagall met with everybody at Hogwarts, staff and guests alike, and they agreed on strengthening the defenses of the grounds. As usual Ginny was stuck taking care of Teddy. She did ask the Headmistress, “Is there any way I can help with keeping the grounds safe?”

“With a month-old baby you are best off just staying out of the way, Ginny,” Professor McGonagall answered.

“I feel so useless, being tied down with a baby,” Ginny said to Harry and the Headmistress.

“Taking care of a baby is the most necessary and useful and loving thing in the world, Ginny. Your job is honestly more important than anyone else’s,” Professor McGonagall answered gently, with a more motherly and sympathetic tone of voice than either Harry or Ginny had ever heard her use.

“I’m sorry I’m grumpy,” Ginny said. “I’m just used to doing things, and there is so much just being there and not doing with a small baby.”

“Ever since my wand was repaired, I have been having a little trouble controlling it,” Harry told Professor McGonagall, hoping to deflect Ginny’s mind off of not being able to do much. “It seems more powerful, and I have to be really careful with it. Is there anything you know that could help?”

“You are hardly the first person to have that sort of problem,” Professor McGonagall said. She took Harry to a room next to the infirmary where there were light and heavy objects, an obstacle course and a variety of other magical objects. There was an instruction book with exercises. Professor McGonagall said, “Occasionally, when someone has been hurt or has to get a new wand, they have a hard time controlling it, so this room has been set up to help.”

“Is this dangerous?” asked Harry. “Could Ginny and Teddy be here while I practice?”

“There are some exercises that ought to be done with two people,” Professor McGonagall told Harry. “We’ve made sure nothing is dangerous, so there is no reason Teddy should not be with you.”

Harry, Ginny and Teddy spent quite a bit of Sunday in the room while Harry practiced with his repaired wand. He quickly found that most spells worked as well or sometimes better if they were done non-verbally and that with a little practice he could do some of the hardest exercises.

Harry also found out, almost by accident, that he could do some of the magic without a wand in his hand, something he decided he would have to ask Professor Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall about.

The daily prophet had a very nice front page article about the elf funeral. The only notice of the formal engagement was a mention in the article saying, “Ginny Weasley, wearing Harry Potter’s engagement ring, was by his side as usual.”

Sunday night there was an announcement that Arthur Weasley, the head of Magical Law Enforcement, was going to talk to everybody about security at 7:45 the next morning.

Monday Arthur got up and said, “For those of you who do not know me, I am Arthur Weasley, the new head of Magical Law Enforcement.

Your Ministry is working frantically to try to restore order and security. Unfortunately, right after Harry Potter defeated Tom Riddle, the wizard who called himself Lord Voldesomething, a large number of Death Eaters and their allies escaped. We are aware of killings, damage to property, and we think, although we cannot be sure, some kidnappings tied to the end of the Battle. It is not yet nearly as safe as we would like.

We have been getting substantial help from the International Auror Association and the International Council of Witches and Wizards. By the end of next week most of you will be able to go home. Before you do, we need to interview you family by family.

My immediate family is probably the most at risk, and we are going home, but only toward the end of the week.”

Then at breakfast, Professor McGonagall approached Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione and said, “I would like to talk to you about finishing your schoolwork. Are you four coming back to school in the Autumn?”

“I am.” Hermione popped up eagerly, surprising no one. “I can’t imagine not finishing. There are too many things to learn, and I would never feel good if I didn’t finish my classes. Ginny, are you coming with me? We’ll be in the same classes! Maybe we can room together?”

Harry looked at Ginny and said, “We did talk about you finishing school.”

Ginny looked at Harry, a fair amount of conflict in her face, but finally looked up at McGonagall and said, “As long as we can make sure that Teddy is taken care of I’ll be back.”

“Harry, Ron, what about you?” asked Professor McGonagall.

“I think I have too much to do, too many things people want me to do,” Harry replied. “I’d like to finish, at least get the courses needed for becoming an Auror, but I don’t see how I could be a full time student.”

Ron was embarrassed. “I would like to finish my classes, but my brother George needs more help. I promised I would run the Hogsmeade store and try to help him develop new products. He wants me to start right away. Do you think I could try to work out a schedule so that I could get classes when I was not at work?”

Ron looked at Harry. “I think Harry and Kingsley want me to become an Auror too, although training doesn’t start until September.”

Professor McGonagall told Ron “For you Ronald, for both of you, we will do our best to work around your schedules. Come up to my office, and we will see what you boys need to graduate.

She sighed and added, “I can hardly call you boys any longer, not after everything you’ve been through. Young though you may be, you’re certainly not children.”

As they got ready to stand up, Ginny whispered to Harry, “Hermione is not the person I was looking forward to sleeping with.” Harry thought that sleeping was the least of Ginny’s concerns.

When they got up to the headmistress’s office, Professor McGonagall looked over some records and then said, “We have decided to grant both of you top grades in Defense against Dark Arts. It’s hard to imagine a harder final exam.

“Both of you need Charms with Flitwick, Potions with Slughorn, and Transfiguration with me to meet the formal Auror requirements. All three of us will work with you over the next months to finish your classwork, setting up special programs if necessary.”

Harry said, “From what Bill has said I will be busy most of the rest of this month with these estate problems, but most of the rest of the summer I should have time to attend classes.”

“I’ll see if both of you can start with Slughorn in June,” said McGonagall. “Flitwick should be free from enough of his duties fixing the castle to work with you in July. Our new Transfiguration teacher will have her hands full in the Autumn, but if the Auror department can wait, and I understand they will for the two of you, we can cover Transfiguration over the Autumn evenings and have you up to speed before Christmas.”

Harry had another question. “It looks like Ginny and I will be getting married before school starts. Is there some way she and I could be together? I really don’t want to spend my time in London and have Ginny in a dorm room here.”

Professor McGonagall looked pensive for a moment and then said, “I would like to speak to Harry and Ginny alone please.” Harry went to get Ginny, and Ron left to find George.

Once Harry and Ginny were seated before her, Professor McGonagall’s eyes bored into Ginny. “You’re not pregnant already, Ginny,” she said, her voice heavy.

Ginny wailed, “We haven’t even had sex! I’m still a virgin!”

Professor McGonagall looked confused for a moment and said, “And that’s a problem?”

Ginny didn’t say anything but just looked a little embarrassed. She did consider it a problem that she was still a virgin. She had tried to be a little careful, not using the Touch-of-Lust spell TOO much, not being too forward. Ginny knew her parents WANTED Harry and her to wait, and she was really sort of trying to be good, but she wanted Harry!

Professor McGonagall continued, “What do you know about your female ancestors? I am sorry if I have assumed too much, but your mother’s female ancestors have been sort of notorious for the last four hundred years for hasty marriages and babies born less than nine months after leaving school.”

Ginny thought of the Touch-of-Lust spell, and her Mum getting the birth control potions but kept quiet, a little embarrassed.

Harry said, “The only reason I am rushing it has to do with inheriting Riddle’s estates. Ginny’s brother Bill is going to have a much easier time getting desperately needed money to the Ministry if he is my brother-in-law. It’s not that I don’t want to marry Ginny. There is nothing I would rather do, but the timing has to do with other things.”

“I believe you, Harry,” said Minerva. “But I don’t believe for a minute that Ginny is sacrificing for the Ministry; she is her mother and grandmother and great-grandmother’s descendent.”

“So I’m going to have to live in a dorm room next year and not see my husband,” said Ginny in a small sad voice.

“I didn’t say that, Ginny,” said Professor McGonagall, “but even if you are married and living in a separate set of rooms, you are still going to be a student and you will have to abide by student rules.”

“Yes, Professor McGonagall,” said Ginny, beginning to get a little hope.

Professor McGonagall said, “Hogwarts has a lot of rooms. There is a small suite connected to the Gryffindor common room. It also has an entrance to the hallway and a fireplace that can be connected to the Floo Network.”

Harry and Ginny went to see the rooms. On one side of the fireplace in the Gryffindor common room was a wall with wooden panels. If you knew the right password, or if you had been charmed to be allowed into the room, the panel would open. It led down a short hall and another hidden door that led to a corridor in the castle. There was another door that led to a nice wood-paneled sitting room with a sofa and a couple of overstuffed chairs, plenty of bookcases, a desk large enough for two people to work at and a fireplace. The room had a nice-sized window and looked like a very comfortable room to spend time in. There was also a door leading to a bedroom with a full bath and a large closet. There was plenty of storage and a big bed.

“This is excellent!” said Harry.

Ginny was relieved. Once she and Harry were married, they were going to be able to shag as much as they wanted and not have to wait until breaks from school. Not being able to shag your husband: that was unthinkable! It was hard enough waiting until, until August 11 or whenever she could talk Harry into jumping into bed with her. AAAAhhhhhhh the 16-year-old hormones were running wild!

“I have told Molly about this room, and it will be available to you as soon as you are married,” said Minerva.

Ginny said under her breath, “When you are married. When you get old enough. Wait. Wait. Wait.” August 11 could not come soon enough, and they had better not make her wait any longer. When she was using the Touch-of-Lust spell she was only using it with one flick. Ginny was still feeling a little guilty she was using it at all, now that she was engaged. If it hadn’t been some of those owls and photographs from the other witches, maybe she wouldn’t feel so insecure. It seemed to be working more on her than on Harry.

Unbeknownst to Ginny, the Touch-of-Lust was working on Harry. He was just so used to having to submerge his feelings and do what had to be done that he was able to resist the urges better than Ginny.

Harry left for the Ministry shortly afterwards and to Gringotts after that. He and Bill were going to see how much they could get done this week, so that he could start school part time the following week.

Minerva McGonagall was sitting in her office looking at the portrait of Albus Dumbledore, and she said, “Has there ever been a married couple living at Hogwarts, one or both of them students?”

“Not in my time,” said Albus.

“Was I wrong to let Harry and Ginny room together?” asked Minerva. “How was I going to turn down Harry after all he did for us?”

“I think I would have done the same thing, Minerva,” said the portrait, the eyes twinkling with merriment.

“There are others too,” said Minerva, looking worried. “This is a precedent we are going to have to live with.” Albus had closed his eyes, a big smile on his face.

Later the same day, Ginny was sitting in the Great Hall, sort of looking at the fireplace which was still being used by the Ministry of Magic. The only way to use it was from the one fireplace in the Ministry to this fireplace in the Great Hall, so it really did not need guarding. But people appreciated being met, and it really was helpful to have someone there. Besides, Ginny needed something to do in addition to taking care of Teddy. Month-old babies sleep most of the time. She really liked taking care of Teddy. Nursing felt physically and psychologically good; it may have been partly due to the charms on the nursing bras, but she knew part of it was natural. At the same time, taking care of Teddy was taking her away from Harry, from being with him. Harry was thrilled that Teddy was being taken care of, but “never leave me” wasn’t working out exactly as Ginny wanted it to.

Besides, she was not even 17, and here she was tied down with a baby, and if everything went according to plan August 11, she would be married. She was thrilled but a little scared as well. Some of their relatives had lived to be almost 150 years old. One of the advantages of being a witch or wizard was a lifespan that could be twice as long as a Muggle lifespan. She could celebrate her 100th wedding anniversary. That was thrilling but a little bit terrifying. Why were her parents letting her do this? Was she really ready? Oh she was more than ready for sex, but this was the rest of her life! Finally she saw her mother coming in the room. Molly sat down next to Ginny, looked at Ginny holding Teddy in her lap, and said, “How is the nursing going?”

“I really like nursing Teddy, it feels really good, but I don’t want to be tied down with a baby when I go back to Hogwarts, and I feel guilty that I won’t be his full time mother. I thought life was simpler when you were a grownup. Do you always have hard choices like this?”

“Always, and they’re much harder than when you’re younger,” said Molly. “Some choices you live with for the rest of your lives, like the choice to have a baby, or to not take birth control so you might have a baby.”

“How long does it take to make a baby?” asked Ginny.

“Nine months, more or less” said Molly, her tone teasing. “You know that!”

“Yes, but to start a baby how long do you have to do it to get a baby started?” asked Ginny, smiling slightly at her mother’s attempt at humor.

“Once,” said Molly firmly. “You might be amazed at how many babies were started during their parents’ first time. That’s one of the reasons I got you the birth control potions. I really hope you and Harry wait until you are married. I also know that sometimes people make mistakes, and one mistake can one baby make.”

Molly put one hand on her hip, put a finger of the other hand inches from Ginny’s nose, and in a no-nonsense tone of voice, said, “I – am – not – giving – you – and – Harry – permission – to – have – sex – before – you – are – married! Do you understand me?”

“It’s hard to wait!” Ginny said, with all honesty.

“Of course it’s hard to wait!” Molly exclaimed. “You’ve found the man you want to give yourself to, to spend the rest of your life with, and you are sixteen and your hormones are raging out of control and you want to jump in bed with him right now.

I never thought I’d let you get engaged at sixteen. Be a little patient. Don’t forget that the best things are worth waiting for.”

Ginny just rolled her eyes.

Molly thought, ‘Thank Merlin for Harry. When has Ginny ever been patient?’

“I hate to sound stupid,” said Ginny, looking rather ashamed, “but Ron sort of talks like maybe when Harry and I get married there will be a problem if, like sex is, like maybe we’ll still be, I’ll still be too young? Do they really make you stop and wait after you’re married?”

Molly got a horrified look on her face. “Merlin no!” she exclaimed. “Once you’re married, no matter how young, intimacy is assumed.” She looked at Ginny a little more pensively. “One way of putting it is that your bodies are not just your own any more. You owe it to each other to please each other.”

“Good,” said Ginny, breathing out a sigh of relief. Then she again said, “I’m having a very hard time waiting

“I’m having a hard time waiting for things to get back to normal,” said Molly, her voice now sounding strained. She looked with concern at her daughter. “How are you holding up?”

“Everything has changed for me, Mum,” said Ginny, frowning a little. “I don’t know what ‘normal’ will be for me from now on. Is it normal for me to be a little scared? I mean, I know I want Harry more than anything, and I know I sort of pushed it along, and I’m not saying I want to back out, but everything is not like I imagined it.”

“No,” said Molly, “real life is seldom like our dreams. It can be very good sometimes, but it is seldom as easy as we would like it to be. Are you sure you want to get married at 17?”

“How old were you when you got married, Mum?” asked Ginny, suddenly realizing that she didn’t know the answer.

“Seventeen; I’d just finished my sixth year at Hogwarts and was three months pregnant with Bill,” said Molly. “It was not easy. In some ways, it never got any easier, but despite all of the trials and problems, I would not trade one moment of it and go back. Your father and I have had a wonderful marriage, full of all the joys that only sharing your life with another can bring.”

“Did you finish school with a baby?” asked Ginny, looking at her mother with amazement. Suddenly she realized that her mother was one of the female ancestors Professor McGonagall was referring to, who got pregnant before finishing school, something that came as a bit of a shock.

“No, Ginny, I never finished school, one great regret,” said Molly. “That is probably why I am so disappointed that Fred and George never finished, and that is why I really want you to finish.”

“How will I get school supplies once I’m married?” asked Ginny.

“I expect you will go to Diagon alley and buy them,” said Molly, smirking.

“How will I pay for them?” asked Ginny.

“I know Harry has money,” said Molly evasively.

“With Harry’s money?” asked Ginny.

“It will be your money too, once you’re married,” Molly reminded her.

“All of the money in the vaults? Oh Mum, Harry’s rich! I never thought about that,” said Ginny, her eyes widening, whether from shock or excitement, Molly couldn’t guess.

“You and Harry ought to talk about money,” said Molly.

“Will they still call you if there are problems at school?” asked Ginny.

“I assume they will call Harry first,” said Molly, feeling a little put-out at that.

“Mr. Potter,” said Ginny, trying to sound grown up and a little masculine, “we have a discipline problem with your wife. Could you meet with the Headmistress to arrange a suitable punishment?” Molly and Ginny both laughed at that, shaking their heads at the somewhat ridiculous scenario Ginny had concocted.

“So, if I have a problem, I’ll have to talk to Harry first?” asked Ginny, finally sobering up from the joke.

“Yes, dear,” said Molly. “And Harry needs to talk to you too. As focused as you are on sex, talking, really communicating is much more important in a marriage.”

“That’s a little scary,” said Ginny.

“Communication, sharing your life, is the best part of marriage,” said Molly, with a wistful smile.

“So I shouldn’t be scared?” asked Ginny again, taking note of her mother’s expression.

“Oh, I never said that,” said Molly, clearly thinking about some of the harder parts of the institution. “A good marriage is hard work. Anything good is hard work: raising a family, holding down a good job, anything you do well is going to take work. A good marriage is a lifetime of hard work, and yes, you have every reason to be scared. Just don’t make it, ‘I’m going to run away’ scared, but ‘I’m going to work hard at it’ scared.”

“So, the promise to never leave me really was more like ‘you will always come back to me as soon as you can, not that you will always be by my side,’” Ginny sort of asked or said.

Molly looked at her daughter. “If you thought that you would spend the rest of you lives dreamily looking at each other or joined at the hip, you were living in a dream world, Daughter. If you do get to play for the Harpies, you will have weeks away from each other. I can almost bet that Harry will have to be gone for more than a week from time to time. You always have the rest of your family to go to for support but get used to not being together all the time.”

“Is this part of growing up?” asked Ginny, feeling resigned.

“Yes it is, dear,” said Molly, patting her daughter on the shoulder to remind her that there were still good things too.

Ginny and Molly were sitting next to each other on the sofa, and Ginny leaned her head against her mother and softly began to cry. Eventually, she said, “I want to be a grown up more than anything in the world, I really do, but growing up is hard work. Not how I imagined it.”

Molly was softly crying by now as well. “Being a grown up can be just as hard. I thought that losing two brothers in one day was the worst thing that could ever happen, but losing a child is worse. I don’t know of anything worse than burying one of your children. I hope you never have to do that.”

After about ten minutes of comforting each other, Molly said, “We women have one advantage over our men. They have to appear so strong all the time. We do not have to feel embarrassed if we cry from time to time, and the tears do heal.”

“Please don’t tell Harry that I was crying,” said Ginny, wiping away her tears.

Angelina Johnson saw Ginny and Molly and came over. She could tell that the two of them had been crying and asked, “Is it all right if I sit down with you for a good cry, as well?”

“What is the matter?” asked Molly, pulling Angelina onto the sofa next to her.

“I’m so worried about George,” Angelina confessed. “Fred and George were like a symphony, but if you really knew them, you knew that they played different parts. Fred was the melody, the first one to speak. George was the harmony, the one who listened, usually tried to top Fred, but if Fred said something hurtful or that did not go over well, George would try to minimize the damage. Molly, George does not know how to be alone!”

Molly looked at Angelina and said, “Very few people knew how to tell them apart. You are right, it was always Fred and George, with Fred first. Who were you dating?”

“That is the frustrating thing,” said Angelina, sounding almost bitter. Then her tone changed to be somewhat dreamy. “It was like we were a trio trying to become a quartet. I would get so mad at them, I would yell and scream, and they would start to compliment me.”

Then she began to imitate Fred and George, turning back and forth and deepening her voice. “Damn fine woman – lots of spirit – beautiful – charming – smart – except when it comes to us – she loves us – are we lucky.”

She became herself again and said, “It was always over and over, one trying to top the other, looking at me longingly. They knew just how to either get me to laugh or at least get over being so mad.”

Ginny was trying to wrap her mind around it and said, “You were dating both of them?”

Angelina took a deep breath, knowing how strange it sounded, and said, “Well, I worked some at the store, was going to be working there full time until all the troubles with Voldemort got too bad. And we did things as a trio. But dates, they always went the same. It was like an audition. Fred almost always did the asking and took a girl out, and I went along with George. And then on the second date, if we got that far, I went out with Fred, and George went out with the other girl. Then we would switch again.”

Then her frustration came out again. “We never got beyond four dates. There were only a couple of girls in the last two years who would even put up with that nonsense, and both of them were gold diggers just looking at the twins’ business and money. All I had to do was to voice doubts about a girl, and that was it. I did not want to help choose a bride for one of the twins; I think I just wanted to marry one of them, but I did not want the choice to come about this way! I don’t want to be the substitute-Fred for George.”

Angelina looked at Molly and Ginny, tears just at the surface. “That’s why I want to cry.” Angelina was silent for a minute or two and then said, “I want George to learn how to be George without Fred, and that is going to be so hard for him.”

Molly managed to keep the horror of what her sons had done off of her face and said, “Angelina, any time you need to say something, please feel free to come to me. Thank you for trying to take care of George. Let us know how we can help.”

Molly sat in the middle, Ginny on one side leaning against her mother, Angelina on the other side holding hands with Molly, for maybe an hour, not saying much, just getting strength from each other, before Teddy woke up.

Over the next few days Ginny and Molly had a couple more discussions about growing up. For her part, Molly wished that Ginny and Harry did not have to grow up so fast, but between what Arthur was telling her and what she was seeing, she knew that she could not protect her daughter or adopted son as much as she would like.

Molly also spent some time talking to Angelina, although Ginny was seldom involved in these conversations.

When Harry got back that evening, Ginny asked Harry, “Who gave you money? Who paid for your school books?”

Harry explained, “When Hagrid picked me up before school during the summer, after I turned eleven, he took me into a vault that had been set up for me, with some of my money in it, money to be used for school and the like. After that, I just got money from Gringotts whenever I needed it. There’s plenty of money. Do you need some?”

“Not now,” said Ginny. “But Mum says that once I’m married, you are going to have to buy me stuff, not Mum and Dad anymore, and I don’t know how that will work.”

Harry thought for a moment and then said, “Once we’re married, I expect you will be able to go to Gringotts, just like me. Kreacher can get money for me. Maybe he can get money for you too. I’ll ask him.” The old house-elf appeared with a crack. Harry questioned Kreacher, saying, “Can you get money for me if I ask?”

“What does master need?” asked Kreacher, as though he expected to head to Gringotts that moment to get said gold.

“Nothing right now, just to know that you can get it if I need it,” said Harry.

“Kreacher can,” said Kreacher, looking at Harry strangely.

“Can you also give Ginny money if she asks?” questioned Harry.

“Only if master gives permission,” said Kreacher, starting to see where this was going.

“Give her money just like she was Mrs. Potter,” said Harry.

Kreacher looked at Harry and Ginny like he wanted to say something but did not know how to say it. He finally said, “Not a problem treating her as Mrs. Potter, but how? What rules?”

“I don’t know,” said Harry, looking at Ginny. What sort of rules did they need?

“Master and Mistress needs to talks,” said the old house-elf, bowing, and he disappeared with a crack.

“Mum said the same thing,” said Ginny with a frown, “that talking was more important than sex. Boggarts. How come growing up is so complicated?”

Harry laughed. For all her desire to be grown up, Ginny really had led a somewhat sheltered life outside of Hogwarts, and her experiences at Hogwarts did little to prepare her for what she was going to be facing once she and Harry were married. “Maybe we’d better talk to your parents,” said Harry. “I don’t know much about being married either. I surely don’t want us to have a marriage like Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia!”

Harry and Ginny found Arthur and Molly sitting at one of the tables in the Great Hall quietly talking. They approached Ginny’s parents, and Ginny looked at her parents, saying, “Can we talk?”

“Please, sit down,” said Molly. “What’s on your mind?”

“Being married,” Ginny blurted stupidly. Then she shook her head and added, “And talking, and money, and rules, and how you go about everything. Kreacher says that before he gives me any of Harry’s money, he needs some rules, and I’ve never been married and is there some of it we don’t see? Except for sex, we see that, but something else? Like money, and who buys what, and I don’t know, what the rules are because that’s what Kreacher said.”

“Your mother was responsible for most of the money,” said Arthur, looking thoughtful. “For spending it, even though I made most of the money. She had to buy food and clothes and keep the house running. Sometimes money was so tight that neither of us spent a Knut without both of us agreeing, and other times we each had a little money we could spend on things we wanted.”

“It was really hard when we didn’t have enough money,” said Molly. “We got through it by talking a lot and agreeing, and a little loving helped.” Molly held onto Arthur’s hand and squeezed it when she said, ‘a little loving’ and got a little red when she said it, although you could tell she was also pleased.

“Each of you will have to give the other one some independence,” said Arthur, knowing that these two were unlikely to experience the difficulties presented by poverty and would instead struggle to not overdo. “I always told Molly what was going on at the Ministry and with everything else I was doing, but she let me make my own decisions as to what I did, and I always listened to and appreciated her advice.”

“The home was my domain,” said Molly, giving them some insight into her part. “But I never did anything major without consulting Arthur. We made sure to agree on how to raise you and what appropriate punishments were, but also when to take scarce resources and do something fun or get something special for someone.”

“Like what?” asked Ginny.

“Like when your dad had a chance to buy ten old brooms, at an excellent price,” said Molly. “It kind of put us short of money for a while, but all of you so enjoyed flying it was worth it, and we even had a couple of extra brooms so guests could fly.”

Molly and Arthur spent the next half hour talking to Harry and Ginny about marriage and communication, and shared a little more about how difficult it was raising a large family with a limited budget.

After they were done, Harry called Kreacher and said to him, “If she asks for it, give Ginny enough money to buy clothes or school supplies or household supplies, and I don’t care if she spends some of it on herself and her friends. Only ask me if you think it is way too much, and then just ask if she and I have talked about spending that much money.”

“Yes, Master, Mistress,” said Kreacher. From then on Kreacher treated Ginny as Harry’s equal partner, even before the August marriage ceremony.

Tuesday morning at breakfast, Hermione pointed out letters in the Daily Prophet objecting to house-elf funerals and to the goblins having possession, even part time, of the Sword of Gryffindor. Harry and Hermione were making enemies. These letters continued for some time. Arthur made sure to tell the family that the person most at danger was almost certainly Harry, with Ginny and Hermione next. Arthur said that both the Ministry and Bill were working on getting and paying for enhanced security for the family.

Ron, George and Angelina and Lee left for the shop. Harry left for the Ministry to meet Bill. Hermione was helping get the school back together. Ginny was left to watch the fireplace for infrequent visitors and take care of Teddy.

As Harry left, Molly noticed Ginny’s distress at Harry going, and asked her, “Ginny, have you shared with Harry how you feel when he leaves in the morning?”

“He can’t do anything about it, Mum,” Ginny said with a frown on her face. “I said I’d take care of Teddy, and I’m stuck here with him, not that I mind being with Teddy but…” Ginny had a quizzical look behind the frown.

“Have you told Harry how you feel, Ginny? Have you asked Harry how he feels?” asked Molly.

“No,” said Ginny. “Is this more marriage advice, Mum?”

Molly nodded her head.

That evening at dinner, Harry and Ginny talked about each other’s days. At the end of the meal Molly quietly said to Ginny, “You were going to tell Harry how you feel when he leaves in the morning, remember.”

Ginny nodded. Harry looked at Ginny, expecting her to start to talk, but she just frowned and sat there thinking. Ginny finally said, “Can we go up to the room? I don’t want to talk here, with everybody else around.” Harry picked up Teddy, and he and Ginny walked up to the beds that were the closest thing to a home they had.

As they walked into the Gryffindor common room, they noticed that the stairs leading to the girls’ dorm had been repaired or replaced. The common room had very little evidence of the destruction from the battle left, although one window was obviously patched, and there was one portrait that was obviously not right.

Harry put Teddy down in his crib and sat on the bed. He looked at Ginny and waited for her to start. Ginny stood looking at Harry, not sure what to say. The last thing she wanted to do was to complain, to look like a weak female. Ginny had always prided herself on being tough, and it was not that she could not handle Teddy. After Death Eaters, Teddy was easy! The problem was that Ginny did not know what she felt.

Harry finally said, “’Never leave me’ isn’t exactly working out, is it?”

“You’re back every night,” said Ginny with a frown on her face.

“So far,” said Harry. Ginny looked at Harry, and sighed.

“I’ll have to be gone overnight from time to time,” said Harry tentatively. “I have to go to the continent with Bill tomorrow, and I’ll be back late.” Ginny sighed again.

“It really didn’t work out when you had Teddy along,” said Harry pleadingly. Ginny shook her head ‘no’ to agree with Harry.

“It didn’t work all that well when you left Teddy that one day,” Harry added.

Ginny looked at Harry, looked at her engagement ring, looked at Harry again and then looked a long time at her ring. Finally, she got just the smallest hint of her famous smirk and said, “Oh, I’d say that day worked out just fine.” She sort of smiled, then got a frown on her face again. “It was awfully hard on Teddy, though. I really do not want to put Teddy through that again.”

“I am so thrilled you are taking care of Teddy,” said Harry again, meaning just as much this time just as all of the others. He tried to tell her how he felt every day. “I come back here at night, and it’s like an instant family I never had, a loving family. It feels good to hold Teddy, but the best part is that you are waiting for me. The most beautiful witch in the world waiting for me.”

“You’re happy?” asked Ginny, with the smallest hint of a frown on her face.

“It’s really busy, and I don’t know everything that’s going on,” said Harry, his face showing a little uncertainty, “but people keep telling me that what we are doing is very important. So that’s good, and I feel good I’m helping. I’m just a little tired, a little weary. I kind of would like a holiday, and it surely looks like we’re not going to get one for a while. No one else can rest either though, so I can’t complain.”

“How do you feel about leaving me?” asked Ginny.

“I’d rather have you with me,” said Harry, earnestly. “We’ll spend a lifetime together, but it won’t be one long vacation.”

“I guess not,” said Ginny ruefully.

“I love you, Ginny,” said Harry. “I love every moment we spend together. It’s just that we can’t run away from what we have to do.”

“Hold me, Harry, while we have a chance,” said Ginny, as she climbed onto the bed and went to hold onto Harry. They held each other for quite a while before Teddy woke up and needed to be fed again.

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