“So, let me get this straight,” Hermione said while pulling her hair back into a ponytail. “You’ve invited none other than Harry Potter to the wedding,” she said while casting a sideways glance at Ginny, raising her eyebrows.
“Yup,” Ginny confirmed nonchalantly.
“Without even mentioning it to anyone?” Hermione asked, a frown starting to form on her forehead.
“The invitation said ‘Ginny Weasley plus one’, not ‘Ginny Weasley and whoever-her-family-considers-worthy’; the way I see it, I didn’t have to mention it to anybody,” she said while peeling what must have been the ten thousandth potato for the day.
“Oh, come off it, Ginny!” I’m your best friend! You could have – actually – should have at least mentioned it to me!” Hermione said. She pointed her wand rather forcefully at the potato in her hand, causing her peeling charm to reduce it to the size of a small marble. “Oh, bollocks!” she said while throwing the little lump away.
Mrs Weasley had set the two girls to work on the potatoes while she went to Diagon Alley to pick up some ingredients for the meal she was to prepare for the evening – it had been four hours.
“Easy there, Tiger,” Ron Weasley chuckled as he wrapped his arms around Hermione’s waist from the back. She shook her head and melted into Ron’s embrace as he playfully kissed her on the cheek.
“What’s up, love?” he asked curiously. “Did the potato offend one of your books, or something?”
Hermione gave Ginny a pointed look. “I’m going to have to go with: or something,” she said while picking up another potato. Ginny rolled her eyes while Ron laughed. “Enough of this,” Hermione snapped. She waved her wand over the stack of potato peelers and they started peeling the potatoes out of their own accord.
Ginny shook her head disbelievingly. “You could have done that all along, and yet you made me stand here – like a muggle – doing it by hand!” she said disgustedly.
Hermione pocketed her wand and shrugged. “I wanted to talk to you. Besides, peeling a potato with a peeling charm doesn’t exactly count as doing it the ‘muggle’ way,” she said conversationally, “and since you seem to not want to talk at the moment, Ginny...” She turned around in Ron’s arms and kissed him.
Ginny rinsed her hands under the water and cleared her throat, as Ron and Hermione had gone into their own little snog-fueled world. “Actually... I’d say we’re all done with talking about it for good,” she said and the couple separated with a popping sound.
Hermione took a moment to process what Ginny had said, but she quickly recovered. “What do you mean we’re done? We haven’t even scratched the surface of the situation,” she said in a dangerously low voice.
Ginny rolled her eyes at Hermione. Drama queen, she thought. “It wasn’t my choice ...” she began, but was interrupted by a – now fuming – Hermione.
“Of course it was your choice! You have the say in whether he comes to the wedding or not!” Hermione said loudly. Ron seemed to be trying to calm her down, but she wiggled out of his grasp and put her hands on her hips.
“There’s no need to get all snappy with me, Hermione. I’m a grown-up and I make my own decisions,” Ginny said firmly. “Besides, Mum invited him to dinner, so talking – or rather you trying to talk me into uninviting him – any further would be counter-productive,” she matter-of-factly concluded.
Hermione seemed to realise that she was overreacting, and she looked over at the mountain of potatoes Mrs Weasley had made them peel. “So that’s why Molly’s been running the place like a slave-camp the entire day!” she exclaimed.
Ron looked from Ginny to Hermione with a confused look. “Hold on a second, who’s coming to dinner?” he asked with a raised eyebrow. They didn’t seem to realise he was speaking.
“Why would she invite him to dinner, Ginny? Is something going...” Hermione started.
“Hey...” Ron started again, only to be interrupted by Ginny this time.
“Something about meeting the boy that’s been such a good friend to me in my ‘troubled’ state,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Whatever that means; I was perfectly fine!”
“Would somebody please tell me what’s going on?!” Ron yelled, starting the two girls. “Honestly, it’s like divination all over again!”
Hermione frowned at Ron. “Honestly, Ronald. There’s no need to yell, we’re in the same room, you know,” she tutted and walked to sit beside Ginny who’d settled herself by the table.
Looking defeated, Ron stalked out of the kitchen muttering something that sounded suspiciously like ‘women’. Ginny looked at Hermione, and they began laughing.
“You look fine, dear,” Lily Potter assured her son. “Why are you so nervous anyway, it’s not as if you and the girl are dating...” her voice trailed off and she was watching Harry like a hawk for any signs that challenged her statement.
“Stop doing that, mum,” Harry chuckled. “We’re only friends; you’re not getting anything else out of me!” He threw a tie on his bed. Too formal, anyway, he thought.
Lily sighed dramatically, “You know, your father and I have been talking – stop fidgeting, you look very handsome,” she sighed. Her son had called home in distress this morning in search of his father or Sirius, but seeing as she was the only one home, she went to aid him in picking something to wear to his... friend’s... (Yeah, right)... home.
Harry looked down at his jeans and green shirt. “Are you sure? The family are all-wizard, so shouldn’t I be dressing a little more... I don’t know... like a wizard?”
Lily chuckled lovingly at him. “Your father knows Arthur Weasley from the Ministry – the man is obsessed with muggles,” she started trying to flatten his hair with her hands. “They’re not your typical all-wizard family, love.”
Harry shrugged away from his mother – Ginny said that she liked his hair messy, after all – and looked at her curiously. “You were saying?” he prompted.
She seemed confused for a second, but then smiled. “What was I saying...? Good gracious my head is all over the place today... Oh yes! Your father and I’ve been thinking. You know, we won’t live forever, and we would so love a grandchild soon...”
Harry straightened his shirt uncomfortably. He felt the way he did when his father had sat him down to have ‘the talk’. “Mum... We’re...” he stuttered.
She raised her hands in a gesture of surrender. “Just friends, I get it, honestly – I do,” Harry didn’t think that she did, but he humoured her. “But at least try with this one?” she almost pleaded. Lily wanted to see her son happy, and so what if she came off as a bit of a control freak!
“Need I remind you that you were the one that told me to give her some space?” he asked her with a smirk.
“Oh... Pish-posh...” she said while waving her hand dismissively. “Good gracious, would you look at the time!” she exclaimed. I’ve got to get home, or your father is going to start looking for me!” She waved her wand and her coat and handbag came soaring at her. She caught them easily and started walking to the front door.
“So I’ll see you guys Sunday?” he asked as he gave her a goodbye-hug.
“Of course, sweetheart,” she kissed him on the cheek. “Good luck with tonight,” she chuckled. “I hear the Weasley house can become quite overwhelming at times.” She smiled fondly, “Heaven alone knows where Molly Weasley got the strength to raise all of those children!”
Harry chuckled. “Goodnight mum,” he said and she turned on the spot to disapparate home.
Ten minutes later, another redheaded witch knocked on his door. She hugged him enthusiastically as he opened to let her in. “Ready?” Ginny asked.
I wish, he thought to himself. Better look confident, though... “Of course, let’s go!” he said, giving her a winning smile.
The quiet of the area was disturbed by a soft popping sound and a man dressed in a green shirt and jeans, accompanied by a red-haired woman dressed similarly, walked out from behind a few trees.
“Okay, so first things first,” the woman started, looking very serious. “Don’t accept anything from Fred or George, ignore Percy or else you might die of boredom, if you happen to go out into the garden, you should watch out for the gnomes – they may look cute, but let me tell you...”
“Ginny!” the man exclaimed as he pulled her to a stop by the arm. “Calm down. You’re making me nervous!” he said while looking at her with a smirk.
“I’m rambling, aren’t I?” She shook her head and hid her face in her hands. “You’re right, Harry, it’s just...” she dropped her hands but kept looking at her feet. “I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.”
Harry smiled at her. “I’m sure I’ll be able to hold my own,” he said as he put his hands on both her shoulders. “You look beautiful, by the way, Gin,” he said gently, causing her worries to melt away.
She laughed nervously. “I’m wearing a jean and a sweater – so you must be joking,” she said to him while moving a little stone around on the ground with her feet.
“I’m not,” he assured her. “You’re beautiful, whatever you wear.”
She bit her lip. “I bet you say that to all the girls, Potter,” she said, looking shyly into his eyes, that were a piercing green in the late afternoon light.
“Only the really pretty redheads,” he chuckled breathlessly – they were getting very close to each other and he would have to pull away soon if he’d want to enter the Weasley house without them noticing him this... attracted.
Luckily (or infuriatingly – he couldn’t decide which at that precise moment) a person could be heard clearing their throat behind Harry. He and Ginny immediately separated and turned around to face the couple that had just arrived.
A smiling, bushy-haired woman and a red-haired man that must have been Ginny’s older brother, Ron (Harry could remember his face faintly – He’d been the one Draco had mocked back in school) were standing a few feet away from them.
“Hermione! Ron!” Ginny said, disrupting the silence. “Fancy seeing you here?” she nervously blurted.
Ron smirked at his sister’s remark, but his eyes were on the man standing beside her, who had – he was sure he’d seen it – been taking advantage of his baby sister only a few seconds ago.
Hermione, sensing the tension building between the two men, quickly spoke. “It’s not that big of a surprise, Ginny, I mean we peeled potatoes together most of the day in the house,” she and Ginny laughed nervously.
Harry smiled at Hermione, at least she was making an effort to make him feel welcome – he’d be nice to her, if he was going to be nice with anyone. “I’m Harry, and you must be Hermione?” he said, closing the gap and holding out his hand toward her.
She smiled and grabbed his hand. “That’s right, I’ve heard so much about you, Harry!” she said as she tried (and failed) to nudge Ron inconspicuously.
Ron’s thoughts were zooming around his mind. So, now he’s checking out my girlfriend too, is he? I’ll have to keep an eye on this one... Just to emphasize his point, he wrapped one arm around Hermione’s waist as he held out his hand for Harry to shake.
Ginny was rolling her eyes and Hermione was doing the same. Honestly, Ron...
“I’m Ron Weasley; don’t think we’ve officially met.”
Harry watched as Ron’s arm snaked around Hermione, and he almost laughed, but kept himself under control as he shook his hand. “It’s nice to finally meet you both.”
After they’d finished trading pleasantries, Ginny quickly spoke, “Well, let’s get inside! Mum must be wondering where we are!” A nervous chuckle escaped her.
Hermione nodded quickly, “Absolutely - let’s go, love!” she said to Ron as she pulled out of his grasp to take his hand.
As Ron and Hermione took the lead, Harry looked over at Ginny with his eyebrows raised as if asking, ‘How’d I do?’
Ginny rolled her eyes and chuckled softly. “Well, worst is over!” she whispered. “And you’re doing great.” Harry smiled and exaggeratedly wiped his brow as started to walk beside her down the little dirt road. A few steps further, they were met by the sight of the house.
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The house looked as though it had once been a stone pigpen, but rooms had been added here and there, causing it to become several stories high and so crooked it looked as though it was being held up by magic (which Harry concluded was definitely the case). About five chimneys were sitting on top of the red roof and a lopsided sign reading ‘THE BURROW’ was stuck in the ground near the entrance. By the front door there lay a jumble of boots and a very rusty cauldron and several fat chickens were pecking their way around the yard.
Ginny smiled at Harry’s expression. “Well, this is home,” she said. “It’s not much, but...”
“It’s wonderful!” Harry said happily, causing Ginny to smile at him broadly before he gestured at her to walk up to the house in front of him.
“Chicken,” she giggled.
Harry snorted at her remark. “I’d prefer the term Gentleman, if you don’t mind.” he said, exaggerating his English accent heavily.
Ginny was still laughing as they entered the Burrow.