Chapter 21 : An Unexpected Change
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With Ron's wedding in the past and only hers to look forward to, Ginny would need to focus on hers, more importantly the dress. As she entered the Burrow the daunting task greeted her as nothing more than neat piles of silk and lace. Everything surrounded the room in organised groups. Her mother, a woman not perturbed by lack of progress, sat before a conjured table in the living room hard at work.
“Hi, mum,” Ginny greeted after a cursory glance about. The piles seemed only to grow taller with each passing second.
Her mother’s hands stopped working. A frown of concentration morphed into a brief smile as she stood. "Ginny, you're early. I still thought I had an hour." The words were rushed as she began to move about in search of another misplaced item.
Ginny, hands tucked into the pockets of her jeans, tentatively edged further into the room. “I told Harry to go keep himself busy.” She jabbed the point of her shoe against a small box wondering what could be hidden inside. “Anything I can help with?”
Her mother stopped and looked up while lost in thought. Eventually her mind seemed to register the question when she pointed to an empty corner. "Measurements first, dear." Barely a glance had been sent in Ginny’s direction, who now found herself glued to the floor. The lack of movement made her mother pause, the hurried expression softened. "If you need a minute, we could definitely do with some tea."
"Tea?" Ginny replied mechanically; not really hearing her mother. "I'll make us some. Do you want some, mum?" Her mother’s eyes shone with amusement and understanding.
“That would be lovely. I could use the extra minute.”
Ginny turned slowly and began to walk towards the kitchen. She paused to face the mountain of work that lay about and at the partly cut pieces of raw silk.
"It's a start," Mrs Weasley voiced Ginny’s thoughts. “I know it looks daunting, but we’ll get it done.”
"Rather frightening actually," Ginny whispered. "But wonderful at the same time."
Her mother dropped what she had been busy with and led a rather stiff Ginny into the kitchen. "We have lots of time to finish the dress. We'll take it one step at a time and before you know it everything will be finished."
Once in the kitchen Ginny poured water into the kettle and placed it on the stove only to sit and watch as it magically began to heat. “Have you heard from Ron?”
“No.” Her mother shook her head.
“Oh, I suppose we’ll hear something eventually.” Ginny sighed. “But the ceremony was wonderful.”
A tear accompanied by a smile formed and slid down her mother’s cheek. “It was beautiful. I can hardly wait to have a decent look at the photos.” She laughed, eyes sparkling. “You and Harry made quite the couple on the dance floor.”
“I lost count of the times I stepped on his feet.”
“Nonsense, dear. You two made it look almost as graceful as your flying.”
Ginny raised an eyebrow. “Now I know you’re lying.”
Her mother waved a hand at Ginny in a placating gesture. “Nonsense, Ginny. You had many an eye follow you around.”
Ginny huffed. “Mostly boys leering I suppose.”
“There were some, yes. But you are famous Ginny and unfortunately that does come with the territory.”
“I know.” She placed her forehead on the table. “It would be half bearable if not for… you know.”
A hand touched her shoulder. “We know.” The events of her first year as always remained unspoken.
The kettle boiled and her mother left to prepare a pot of tea. Ginny took a deep breath, focused on the task at hand, and stood to join her mother. A smile had formed on her lips. The tension of moments before slowly began to ebb away leaving nothing but a pleasant, eager silence.
"So, what is it about Harry?" her mother asked.
Ginny, holding the cup in both hands, took a small sip of hot, sweet tea. "Everything." It was an answer easily given, but Ginny knew her mother wanted more. "I could go on about how handsome he is and his records as a player. Maybe even describe his intense green eyes, stupid grin or perhaps the way his hair is never able to lie flat." She placed the cup on the table and looked at her mother. "He understands and loves me for who I am. He's seen me at my weakest, at my most frail, and he was there to help. He's seen me at my best and made sure my head didn't grow too big. Both of us were touched by the same evil, both of us fought and overcame it." She stopped, took her cup again, and drank. "In a way we complete each other."
"Your father is much the same. I don't think there could ever be a man who understands me better." She placed her empty cup on the table and smiled. "Now we really do need to start those measurements."
Ginny groaned theatrically. "Do we have to, mum?"
"Yes, dear," Mrs Weasley replied with a grin.
The measurements were double and triple checked since they were done without magical assistance.
"Good," her mother spoke as she wrote down the last measurement. "I think we've got enough material for two dresses." She shook her head. Ginny had been rather petite even before she’d begun to play professional Quidditch.
"Gives us some room to play with," Ginny proclaimed and began laying out the material on the table, which grew accordingly.
“Some, there’s room for twins.” Her mother’s eyes narrowed and went to Ginny’s stomach.
“What! No, there are no twins. Merlin, there’s not even one.”
Her mother eyed her a while longer. Ginny avoided further questions by continuing to work. She began to place the various patterns on top of the silk and together they methodically created each individual piece of her dress. Never once was magic used or even considered. It proved a bane to Ginny’s back and hands, which were unused to such tasks.
By late afternoon all the pieces were neatly cut and stowed away so that no harm could befall them. Her mother had also organised everything they would need once they started the actual process of stitching. The sun was setting when everything was finally stowed away.
"Now it's time to decorate the house," her mother clapped joyfully.
"What?" Ginny asked. “Haven’t you worked me hard enough already?”
"It's Christmas Eve, Ginny. The world hasn't stopped for your wedding dress you know."
She sagged in defeat, feeling the aches and pains. "Can I go get Harry? He can help. I bet he is dying to get out of his flat."
“Of course, dear. It would be lovely to have him over.”
Outside the light of day had long since passed, but Harry continued to run about the Burrow with decorations of all shapes and sizes. Where Molly had stashed it all boggled his mind for a few brief minutes until he remembered that they were magical and so could hides things just about anywhere.
Ginny brushed passed him with a jovial laugh. She was practically bouncing about and her entire body glowed with the purest joy. It was not the pregnant type glow, well he hoped not, but just one of absolute happiness and excitement. It contrasted sharply with the glum face that had come to fetch him a few hours earlier.
He reached out and pulled her closer for a soft kiss. "You look more beautiful than ever.”
She blushed and squirmed free. "Lots to do." Her ever widening smile proved infectious as she rushed away to help Molly on the far side of the room. A minute later Ginny was back, eyes bright. "I love you to, Harry." This time she was the one to kiss him lightly on the lips before vanishing again.
The Burrow of the wedding was gone. In its place stood a warm home filled with glowing charms of all imaginable colours; though red did seem more prominent than others. A tree filled a once empty corner and presents began to appear beneath it.
As he stood, the small form of Ginny wrapped herself around his waist. “They really put a lot of love and thought into everything.”
Ginny’s grip around his middle tightened. “We never get anything big, but they come from the heart.”
Harry nodded slowly. “Sirius was always about big. The most expensive broom, the largest box… Gwenog was great and she loves me in her way.” He let out a long sigh. “Yet, however much I loved him and still love her I never felt like this before.” The charms around the room became blurry. “For the first time…” his throat grew constricted. “I know what a Christmas with my family would have been like.”
“You are family to us, Harry.” She moved around to rest her head against his chest. “And one day we will have our own family to celebrate with.”
He placed a tender kiss against her forehead. There was so much to say, but nothing left his lips. It proved enough to do nothing more than enjoy the feeling of being held and being loved. Something he realised he’d never had before Ginny.
The following morning, Harry found himself sitting in the middle of a very crowded and noisy room. “Is it always this busy?” Harry asked.
Ginny laughed. “Busy? Harry this is the quietest Christmas we’ve ever had.”
“Quiet?” He shook his head. “Why am I having a hard time believing you?”
“Think about it. Ron and Hermione are not here. Bill and Fleur are with her parents. Fred and George, thank Merlin, are not here.” She glanced about. “It’s only Charlie with his newest girlfriend and Percy with his wife.”
Harry whistled softly to himself. “Right, add another eight people into the mix…” His eyes widened. “Merlin, it must be wonderful!”
“If you call being pranked every few minutes because it proved impossible to keep tabs on my beloved twin brothers wonderful, then yes.”
Pondering the idea, Harry leaned back as Ginny wiggled her way beneath his arm to rest her cheek on his chest. A pile of wrapping paper lay beside him. Looking around he could see similar heaps lying alongside everyone else in the room. Arthur and Molly were talking happily to Percy. Charlie stood to one side trying to figure out the intricate item his girlfriend had given him while she stood talking to Percy’s wife.
"I still think I would love it," Harry whispered against her head.
"Do you really?" she asked.
“I’d like to think so, yes.”
She pushed herself away from his chest. “Why?” Her expression was a mix of sincere confusion and interest.
“Because you all love each other and it shows.”
She glanced down at his neck. He reached up and touched the badly knitted scarf. “What?”
Her nose scrunched up. “That thing is horrendous.”
He leaned forwards and brushed his lips against hers. "It's the best thing I've ever gotten for Christmas." The reply completely honest.
"Mum's jersey is better," she complained.
"Perhaps, but I love yours more. I even love it even more than the ridiculously expensive Firebolt my godfather gave me one year."
"Why?" she asked. “I’d have given anything for a gift like that.”
"Because you made it. However much I love your mother's sweater she's made dozens of perfect ones. This scarf is unique. It's something you've made only for me."
She still looked unsatisfied. "Probably the first and last time I knit something. But you can’t be serious about the broom."
“Why not? Sirius had tons of money. He simply walked into the store, asked for the most expensive and best broom and bought it.” Harry paused to take a breath. “It came from the heart, yes. But your scarf is special, you made it for me and that, Ginny, is what makes the difference.”
He laughed lightly and pulled her into a hug. "Love you, Ginny." She pressed herself even closer to him. "So do you like your gift?" he asked nervously.
"It's perfect." He glanced down at her lap where her one hand was playing with the silver charm bracelet he'd bought for her. A small broomstick hung on it - the only charm. "Now you'll have a lifetime to fill it."
"More like a lifetime of memories to use as inspiration," he replied.
"Hmmm." She nodded. "I'm thinking a nice Quidditch Cup would do well to complement the broom."
"In your dreams, Ginny," he said loudly. "I was thinking more along the lines of a runners-up mug."
She elbowed him in the ribs. "You just wait and see, Mr Potter."
To everyone’s amusement the friendly argument quickly turned into an all-out tickle war. One that Harry lost soundly, or so it was judged as he had apparently laughed the loudest.
The laughter died down when an owl flew through the open doorway and deposited a copy of the Witch Weekly’s Christmas addition. It took only a single glance at the cover to have everyone laughing again.
“Merlin!” Harry coughed out loud. “Is that us?”
Ginny grabbed the magazine and threw it behind the Christmas tree. “There’ll be plenty of time to read it later. Today is about family, not gossip.” He held up his hands defensively.
Her mother clapped her hands together. “I think it is about time for lunch.”
Charlie leapt to his feet eagerly and practically shoved Susan, his tall blonde girlfriend out the door to where the food was waiting. “Relax, Charlie! The food's not going to vanish.”
He faced Susan. “You never know with my family. Ron could sweep down from the sky and swipe a chicken. Fred and George could pop in and charm a potato into their newest prank. Open a door to find Bill’s charmed it into an Egyptian tomb with mummies who like pork.” By this time Susan was trying hard to not laugh out loud. The hand covering her mouth kept them to short snorts. He simply glared at her.
Ginny rushed past Harry and leaned against Charlie. “I’m with him. Those other brothers of ours can be very sneaky. At least Percy only bores us to death with cauldron bottoms.”
“I do not!” Percy huffed indignantly.
His wife patted his arm. “Stop being so modest, Percy. Your gift at making men and women fall asleep is quite remarkable.”
“I do not.” He spluttered. “They do not fall…”
Susan, who had trouble containing herself, was clutching her stomach from laughing.
Percy straightened. “At least I can discuss things, unlike Charlie who only thinks about dragons.” Susan coughed. “And pretty faces.”
Susan touched her chest. “Percy, I’m flattered. I never knew you liked me.”
His face went red. “I… I never said any such thing, Susan.”
Percy’s wife frowned and everyone sobered quickly. She shook her head as the silence grew absolute. “I’m disappointed, Percy.” She tsked loudly, walking closer to him. His eyes widened. “Usually you have them all snoring by now.”
Charlie snorted then howled with laughter as he held onto Susan for support. Ginny, lips parted, stood shaking her head. It took a while to get Charlie back down to earth. When he finally managed to wipe away the tears Mrs Weasley had lunch ready.
Before going to sit, Harry locked his arms around Ginny. “Thank you.”
“For what?” she asked.
“Taking a chance on me.”
The radio crackled loudly only to crystallise into the familiar voice of Bobby. “Welcome back listeners to the second half of the season. It’s the time of year when things really start to become exiting. What do you say, Peter?”
“Couldn’t agree more, Bobby. The teams are lined up and ready to take the fight to their opponents. This is the last round of the season before the semi-finals and Merlin do the top teams know it.”
“Indeed they do, Peter. Sadly it will be the last game for eight of the twelve teams, but the start of another journey for the remaining four.”
“And what a journey remains! As it stands now it will definitely be the Harpies and Arrows who progress through to the semi-finals as they are both untouchable at the top of Group A.”
“They have been formidable all season and the game this month will determine who ends up at the top of their log. The position of which should never be under estimated. With strong teams in Group B, neither the Harpies nor the Arrows would want to face the winner.”
“As you say, Bobby, Group B has also seen similar dominance by two teams. The Kestrels lie on top, and like the Harpies carry maximum points into the final round. The Cannons are looking dangerous as always with Potter in the mix. They had a troubled start to the season, losing their Seeker and having Wood retire as player and captain. The question remains; will they be able to come to terms with a well-crafted team like the Kestrels?”
“I believe they have the talent, Peter. It just boils down to which team wants it more during the game. With Potter flying the Kestrels will want to put on a good lead quickly and hope to close out the game.”
“That will be on their minds, but their Seeker will surely fancy his chances seeing that he has caught every Snitch this year.”
“All that I can say is that both games will be well worth the price of admission.”
“Thanks for joining this short broadcast. We hope to see you at the stadiums during the coming days for the closing games of the season.”
Harry lay in bed, body stiff and bruised, staring up at the ceiling. He’d taken a nasty tumble during the game against the Kestrels, but managed to catch the Snitch somewhere between the ground and his broom to close out the game. It was a good win even if he would be feeling the effects of it for the rest of the week.
A soft pop came from the inside the flat. “Harry?” Ginny called out from the living room. “You awake?”
At first he did not move or reply. “Almost,” Harry called back as he slipped out from beneath the duvet; the movement eliciting a slight wince. The team Healer did a good job as always, but some things still took time to heal unfortunately.
Ginny, eyes narrowed with concern and anger, entered the room. “I’m fine.” He raised a hand in defence before she could ask. Her eyebrow rose in question. “Really?” He pecked her cheek and hobbled ungracefully around her towards the bathroom.
“You don’t look fine,” she called from behind as he brushed his teeth.
He rinsed his mouth and quickly washed his face. “I might be a bit stiff but nothing a few days won’t heal.” She entered the bathroom. He turned and wrapped both arms around her. “You saw me after the game yesterday.”
“And been worried sick all night, Potter.” Her voice was firm.
He accepted the rebuke. “I’ll try to avoid another stunt like that.”
Ginny laughed, eyes hinting at humour. “No you won’t, Harry.”
He chuckled, smile growing wide. “I tried.”
“Prat.” She stuck out her tongue and vanished back into his room. “Just try to fall less than twenty feet next time.”
A few minutes later Harry left the bathroom after taking a hot shower. The running water helped ease bruised muscles.
He walked out of the room, hair still damp to find Ginny sitting by the kitchen table reading the Prophet. “So what happened in the other games?”
She glanced up and smiled. “You look better.”
“Feel better,” he agreed before sitting down beside her without suffering too much.
“The Bats thumped the Magpies. The Catapults barely lost out to the Falcons. Portree scrounged a win against United by grabbing the Snitch and the Wasps beat the Tornadoes even though they failed to get the Snitch.”
Harry poured a cup of tea while she spoke and nodded his head slowly as she finished. “And you destroyed the Arrows by 320 points.” He squeezed her hand. “That was an amazing game.”
She blushed and continued to read the article. “So we are to play the Kestrels next month and you the Arrows.”
“Walk in the park.”
“Better be,” Ginny remarked and pointed at her Christmas present. “I still want that Cup charm for my bracelet as it looks rather empty with just a broom.”
“Dream on, dear,” Harry teased. “The Cannons have the season wrapped up. It’s all a matter of waiting for the Minister to hand it to my waiting hands.”
“You just have one very small problem.”
“And that is?” Harry asked while looking deep into her brown mischievous eyes.
“Little old me.”
He leaned across the table and let his lips move across hers before pulling away quickly. “We’ll see.”
“Love you to, Harry.” Her face was radiant.
He leaned back in his chair and laughed. “I really can’t wait to thrash you out on the field.” Ginny shook her head, but he could sense the unease, the very slight insecurity in her movements. The memory of all those defeats in training had to be weighing her down. “Relax; you’ve learned a lot since the summer.”
She nodded and the determination he loved about her returned. Those brown eyes narrowed and he knew the game was on. “Did I ever tell you how much I love you?” Harry asked.
She glanced up at the ceiling thoughtfully. “No, I don’t think so.” He narrowed his lips, then playfully tossed a piece of cold, hard toast at her.
“That’s it!” She shouted, hands moving in a blur. A piece of jam covered bread stuck itself to his cheek. He leapt to his feet, but not quickly enough to avoid a flying piece of bacon.
Harry woke two hours later and rolled over only to find Ginny’s side of the bed empty. He sat up, rubbed a hand through ruffled hair, and tried to remember how he and Ginny had ended up in bed. The last coherent thought had been the decision to leap across the table at her.
“Harry!” Ginny shouted.
He stood only to see her firm legs, barely covered by the shirt she wore. He finally managed to swallow and ask, “What is it, Ginny?”
She held up the paper. “The final! It’s been moved back by two weeks.”
“What?” he said in bewilderment. “But that means...”
“It will be a week after the wedding,” she moaned. “As if I don’t have enough stress as it is already.”
He dropped down onto the bed, closed his eyes, and tried his utmost to not smile. He’ll not be flying against Ginny his girlfriend, but Ginny his wife.
“Stop smiling, Potter. This is not funny.”
The grin vanished. “Never said it was.” He glanced up at her. “But it’ll make the final so much more interesting.”
The paper in her hand dropped to the floor. “And why would it be so much more interesting, Harry?”
“Because I’ll get to win one over on my wife.”
Her hands moved onto her hips. “Or I’ll get bragging rights over you, darling.” The tone of her voice made him swallow and for the first time since he’d won the Cup years ago, Harry began to doubt himself. Her lips moved into a cruel smile. “I really must be getting better, because for a moment I really thought you’d grown a bit scared of me.”
His voice cracked. “Scared, of your flying… Never!”
She inhaled. “You know it’s not good to lie to yourself, Harry. Be honest…” She walked seductively towards him, hips swaying. “You… are… frightened… of… loosing… against me.”
The last words were spoken so softly he’d not have heard them had she not settled herself down on top of his lap. The shirt glided upwards, exposing smooth thighs. His defences crumbled at the first touch. “Perhaps a little…” He kissed her cheek. “You can be very intimidating you know.”
She tilted her chin upwards, allowing easier access to the soft skin of her neck. Her hand moved along his body until coming to rest against his chest. With a firm shove he was forced back against the bed. With Ginny towering above all rational thought dissolved - again.
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