Chapter 2

Ginny entered a boutique in Muggle London early Tuesday evening hoping it would have a suitable dress for a bride. She had already been to Madam Malkin's and Twilfitt and Tatting's without any luck and to Gringotts to exchange some of her hard-earned gold Galleons for Muggle pound bills. Her feet were hurting and her stomach beginning to rumble. She noticed, with relief, that there were only a few other customers inside. The bell at the door jangled to announce her entrance, and a sales woman approached her. Ginny explained that she was to be married soon and she was hoping something would catch her eye. The saleslady cheerfully pointed out all of the gowns in the store were on sale and directed her to an area that had a few dresses for the upcoming Christmas season with its many formal opportunities. She then melted away, close enough to hear Ginny if she had any questions but far enough away to give her some privacy.

Most of the long dresses on the rack were in black, reds, greens, and Christmas plaids, but at the back of the rack were two white gowns – miraculously in her size. The first one had flounces and frills, not at all Ginny's style, and her heart sank. She figured that the gown in back of that one was the same style and half-heartedly slid the hanger of the first one forward. She caught her breath. This gown had a chiffon overlay that was embroidered heavily with vines on the bodice becoming more open as it went down to the hem; the embroidery was white and dotted here and there with small pearls. The sheath beneath was satin. It had long sleeves, a high scoop neckline and a true drop back. Reverently she lifted it from the rack and took it to the closest dressing room. Gently Ginny pulled the silken fabric over her curves, used a discrete spell to zip it, and held her breath as she turned to the mirror. She discovered that the dress skimmed her figure, accentuating her ample breasts and tiny waistline. This is the one. I could look at a million dresses and not find one I love more. With the sale the dress was affordable and Ginny left the store with a light heart. She already had a pair of white pumps bought on a season-ending sale at the beginning of September and knew that her Mum would be happy to loan her veil to Ginny along with the tiara she'd inherited when Auntie Muriel died two years ago. So at least, as odd as this wedding might be, Ginny wouldn't be naked. A block before she got to the Leaky Cauldron she spied a florist shop and went in to order the flowers for the wedding, saying that someone would pick them up around eleven o'clock Saturday. She figured if no one else would go, she could pop in and pick them up easily enough.

An owl she recognized as her Mum's was awaiting her when Ginny Flooed from the Leaky Cauldron to the flat she shared with Hermione, who was, as usual, absent. The note informed Ginny that the refreshments after the ceremony would include open-face cucumber sandwiches, smoked salmon with cream cheese, scones with clotted cream and jam, mini sausages on sticks, miniature fruit tartlets, treacle tartlets, and assorted biscuits in addition to the cake. Ginny rolled her eyes, exasperated at the amount of food her Mum was preparing. Before talking with her, however, Ginny wanted to discuss things with Harry.

He was at home and approached his fireplace when she Floo called. "I'm home if you'd like to come over now."

"Stand back," he said and then came through. "Cold feet?" Harry asked her casually.

"Not yet," she answered drily. "Mum asked me to remind you that you need to choose a witness. Hermione is standing up for me. Or, I'm sure she will when I ask her."

Harry was quiet for a moment; she could tell he was thinking. "All right. Have you invited your family yet?"

"Erm. I think Mum is getting everyone over. I'm going to invite Neville to be there, too."

He looked down at her but didn't answer right away. Finally he nodded. "Add Andromeda Tonks and Teddy Lupin to the list. Then invite Ron and Hermione to join us for dinner."

"I haven't had time to cook dinner yet."

"I'll pop over to Muggle London and pick up a couple pizzas." Seeing the confusion on her face he explained what it was and the different toppings that could be ordered. She nodded in agreement. "Do you have any Butterbeer?" At her answer in the negative, Harry said he would pick up a case.

As he took some Floo powder in his hands she asked, "Are you going now? We don't know yet whether they'll be available."

He pursed his lips.

Ginny brushed past him and placed the Floo call to Ron's flat. They were both home and in the midst of a debate of what their dinner would be and were more than glad to table it for a meal at Ginny's. As soon as the call was ended Harry Flooed away.

Whilst he was gone, Ginny contacted her Mum to let her know that the wedding dress had been purchased, she and Harry would be asking Hermione and Ron to be their witnesses that evening, and the list of post-wedding refreshments was acceptable. She also told her Mum that Andi Tonks, her grandson Teddy, and Neville Longbottom were being invited to the wedding. In return her Mum reported that the rest of her brothers had been told to be at the Burrow by half twelve on Saturday and that she hadn't wanted the headache of explaining what she didn't understand to five of Ginny's brothers.

Harry returned, laden with three boxes of pizza from the Muggle restaurant and a twelve-pack of Butterbeers from a Diagon Alley market, just before Ron and Hermione arrived. To say that Harry's one-time best friends were delighted to see him was an understatement. The two men did the usual 'man-hug,' pounding on each others' backs before Harry and Hermione exchanged true hugs. Ron's nose led him to the flat boxes on the kitchen table; both he and Ginny were intrigued by the contents. Hermione, being a Muggle-born, knew what pizzas were and was enthusiastic at the prospect of enjoying one with her friends.

When Harry didn't bring up the subject of their impending marriage, Ginny took the erumpent by the horn and told her brother and best friend herself. The two were incredulous, sure that a huge prank was being played on them, until finally Harry weighed in, assuring them that Ginny was telling them the truth and they were wanted to be the official witnesses for the wedding Saturday.

That provoked another uproar, both demanding to know what the hurry was. "There's no reason other than we don't want to wait. Your sister's virtue is intact." He turned darkened green eyes to Ginny. "It is, isn't it?"

Ginny blushed, her fists clenching. "Yes. It is." If looks could kill, Harry knew he would be lying out on the floor but shrugged it off. He didn't really care one way or the other, except to know that she couldn't be carrying someone else's baby already.

Ron and Hermione exchanged quizzical glances but remained silent, to Ginny's relief.

Harry asked them again if they would witness the wedding, and they agreed. After that the wedding wasn't mentioned again. Ginny hoped it was because the one-time trio was more interested in catching up with each other than dissecting the sudden marriage.

It seemed to Ginny that she had done nothing more than blink and she was awaking the morning of her wedding. She lay in bed for awhile, wondering again just why she was marrying a man who didn't love her. It's Harry. You've always loved him, and you're hoping that before too long he will love you in return. Bad idea, that. He knows how you feel, too. You haven't been able to keep it hidden. She knew that Harry had seen her love for him in her eyes no matter how hard she suppressed it, so she had taken to avoiding his eyes whenever she could. That was difficult, too, because she loved his emerald eyes—they were, or could be, expressive, as well.

Another thing that dismayed Ginny was that she couldn't read him anymore. Since back in her third year she had been the only one able to read his moods, his emotions, by one glance at him. If his face didn't give him away, his body language did. Now he knew how to keep his face blank and his body relaxed when he didn't want her or anyone else knowing how he felt. Ginny wondered what had happened to make him close himself off. Even the night they had pizzas with Ron and Hermione she knew he had distanced himself from the three of them despite his laughter and ready reminiscences.

And all four of them had carefully skirted around the dragon in the room – Harry's late wife, Cho. Not even recalling games against Ravenclaw when Cho was the team Seeker could compel her name from lips that abruptly changed subjects.

A need for the loo propelled her from her bed, the only thing left in the flat that was hers; Harry, Ron, and Hermione moved everything else but the clothes she was wearing, her pyjamas, and her gown and accessories the evening before. A glance at the clock told her Ron should have gone to the florist's.

She took a long, hot shower and dressed in her under things. A detour by Hermione's room yielded a robe to wear. In the kitchen she prepared herself a bowl of porridge and sat at the table. Dipping her spoon into the cereal she lifted some to her lips – and was unable to take it into her mouth. As soon as the heated aroma filled her nostrils, she became jittery and her stomach lurched. Pushing the bowl as far away from her as she could without rising, she bowed her head, swallowing convulsively. Dropping her hands to her lap, she waited for the nausea to abate.

What kind of lunacy is this? she berated herself. You've been fine all week. You are marrying the man of your dreams, she told herself firmly, and even if circumstances aren't perfect, you know it will be.

Fortunately, at that moment Hermione Flooed in and addressed her. "Good morning, Ginny!" she greeted her best friend joyfully. "How are you –" she caught sight of Ginny's face and her voice trailed off. "Oh, dear, you look awfully pale! Bridal jitters?" she asked.

Ginny covered her mouth with one hand and nodded.

"It's not too late to back out if that's what you want to do," Hermione told her briskly.

The bride-to-be shook her head 'no' emphatically.

"Then focus on the positives!" Ginny was encouraged. "You've loved this man for ten years. He loves you."

Ginny didn't have the heart to deny that to her friend.

"You're going to make beautiful babies together …."

Ginny stared at Hermione wide-eyed. Has Harry told her why this marriage is being made? She knew she hadn't told her. Harry's a private person. Surely he hasn't said anything! I'll be mortified if she or my family knew!"

Hermione went on blithely, "You're going to be a gorgeous bride, and everyone who hears of your marriage who wasn't there will be jealous that they weren't invited!"

Ginny relaxed. Hermione would have said she knew if she in fact did.

With an easy manner the older witch slid the bowl away from Ginny and, digging into a pocket of her jeans, offered her a piece of Honeyduke's finest chocolates. Ginny accepted it, snapping off pieces and tucking them into her mouth. As the chocolate melted so did her demons.

From her other pocket Hermione retrieved a comb and some hair pins and proceeded to style Ginny's hair. When she finished with that, she pulled out a tin of blusher, a tube of lipstick, eyeliner, and a small compact containing eye shadow. Ginny protested, but Hermione was able to talk her round.

When she was satisfied with what she'd done, Hermione motioned Ginny to check her reflection in the mirror. Ginny stood and slowly made her way to the mirror, sure she – and Harry – would hate it. What she saw was that Hermione had used a light hand with the makeup…bare traces of the blusher, just highlighting her cheekbones without hiding her freckles; a thin black stroke of eyeliner, a touch of light green eye shadow, and a light wine shade of lipstick.

Ginny turned and hugged her best friend. "It's perfect, Hermione!"

"Right, then, let's get that dress on you."

"I can't yet—it's at the Burrow. I'm going to finish dressing there!"

At precisely one o'clock at the Burrow, the wedding prelude began to play. Hermione, dressed in elegant dark yellow robes, had already gone downstairs, her bouquet of red dahlias and deep yellow peonies in her hands. Arthur Weasley bent his elbow and Ginny, tiara firmly holding her Mum's veil on her head, slid her free hand inside it. Her bouquet of white dahlias and peonies trembled in her hand. Her family stood near the bottom of the staircase, divided by an open space forming the aisle, and in front of the fireplace stood Mr. Croaker, an open prayer book in his hand, and Harry in black formal robes over a white shirt, black trousers, and a red and gold striped tie, Ron, dressed similarly, on the other side of him.

Afterward, Ginny could never remember saying her vows or hearing Harry say his, yet on the ring finger of her left hand were a beautiful emerald-and-diamond engagement ring and a platinum wedding band studded with alternating, small emeralds and diamonds. Harry's platinum wedding ring also featured a small emerald on either side of a diamond of the same size. Their first kiss ever was a brief brush of lips.

As they cut their wedding cake, Ginny could barely tear her eyes from the rings on their left hands. It had all seemed like a dream, but before Mr. Croaker left he had them sign their marriage license, saying he would delay filing their license until he was required to do so by the end of thirty days, and the rings on her fingers felt solid and heavy.

Harry had eaten a bit of everything Molly prepared except for the biscuits – he told her he was too addicted to treacle to eat any other sweet. Ginny couldn't bring herself to swallow anything but a bite of cake, afraid she would embarrass herself by vomiting. Harry had played the attentive bridegroom to perfection with warm smiles, soft kisses on her cheek, an arm around her waist or hand on her arm, and her roiling stomach was as much from that as from anything else. She did enjoy half a glass of wine, finding it calmed her stomach a bit.

Until, that was, Harry approached her shortly before half two and said it was time to leave. Her family congratulated the newlyweds again; Ginny received hugs all around and Harry, handshakes. She held the hem of her wedding gown up while Harry took her arm and led her outside. Once past the Burrow's wards he side-along Apparated her to the front porch of her new home.

From the size of the covered porch she knew Harry's home – and now hers – was very large. It was built of limestone, with a line of tall windows on either side of the portico. Laying his hand on the thick, dark oak door caused it to open. "I'll cast a charm so you will be able to open it with your hand. No one else will be able to enter without one of us admitting them."

She raised her eyebrows.

"The war may be over but there are still people who resent 'The Boy Who Lived.' And anyone who is part of his family."

Her stomach squirmed; she hadn't thought about that aspect of being married to him, and given how his first wife died she couldn't believe she'd been so clueless, though it had been only a week since she'd laid eyes on him for the first time in well over a year – and what a full week it had been.

Harry ushered her across the threshold and gave her the tour of her new home. She was surprised to find that Winky now worked for Harry and even more surprised to learn that she was bonded to him as his house elf. Winky told her that she was proud to belong to 'Master Harry's household' and had asked for it before Harry left Hogwarts. She no longer carried the stigma of being paid to work for a wizard. Two other house elves, a male named Jingle (he was born on Christmas, Harry informed her) and a female name Bibby, who had been juveniles and attached to the household when Harry's grandparents passed, returned from Hogwarts at the same time Winky joined Harry.

She learned that all of the downstairs rooms were considered 'public rooms' except for the kitchen at the back of the house; among those were a huge, fully stocked library, large dining room, and a ballroom. The scullery and storage rooms were in the first basement with a potions lab and exercise room – Harry told her he used it to keep in dueling form and recommended she make use of it, too.

The first floor consisted of 'family' or private rooms. Those included an office for Harry that he told her not to enter unless invited, an office for the lady of the house where she could make out weekly menus, form shopping lists, or the like, a family dining room, family parlor, a game room with a billiards table (Ginny had to ask what it was) and the master suite with an attached bathing room and his-and-hers closets.

Harry informed her that since they would be starting a family shortly he had instructed Winky and Bibby to move all of their belongings to a second master suite on the second floor and took her up there. A large room close by would be the nursery, which their children would move out of once they were deemed old enough to not have to be under close supervision. They didn't go through the remainder of the rooms on the second floor as they were all either bedrooms or bathing rooms. Once all the children were out of the nursery, he would move down to the first floor, and Ginny would have the option of staying on the second floor or joining him on the first. Not by a word, look, or blush did Ginny indicate what she thought her choice might be.

She was standing in the middle of their bedroom, not sure what to do, when he took the decision out of her hands. Walking around to her back, he pulled the zipper of her dress down and pushed the bodice off her shoulders, his fingers gentle as they brushed wisps of hair where they curled at the nape of her neck. The gown slid down her body and puddled on the floor, leaving her clad only in her bra, knickers, hosiery, and shoes. Ginny's heart thudded as he gave her his hand to help her step over the chiffon and satin. Did she dare believe she saw desire for her smoldering in the depths of those amazing emerald green eyes? Unaccountably nervous again, her fingers went to her nape to unclasp the strand of gold pearls Harry sent up to her childhood bedroom as she dressed at the Burrow this morning,his wedding gift to her.

His green gaze caught hers. "Leave them," he told her brusquely, and she wondered for the first time if he might be as nervous as she. His dress robes joined her gown; he loosened his tie and pulled it up over his head, and it landed atop his robes. She kicked off her shoes whilst he toed his off, letting his trousers drop to the carpet, too. He tossed his shirt onto a nearby armchair. Now he was dressed only in his boxers. She resolutely kept her eyes steady on his even though she badly wanted to look at him; she didn't want to give him any ammunition to use on her later.

Suddenly he swept her up into his arms and carried her to the bed. A wave of one hand closed and locked the door. He divested her of her unmentionables and hosiery and then laid her on the mattress where someone, probably Winky, had turned back the bed linens. Leaning over her, his hands on either side of her, he bent his head. Then his mouth was on hers, ravaging hers, his tongue demanding entrance. Overwhelmed, she didn't think about denying him; in truth, on some level she had been looking forward to this even whilst on another had been dreading it.

Afterward, Harry fell asleep with his arm holding her to his side. He had been gentle with her, seemed pleased that she was indeed a virgin, and made sure she enjoyed the marriage bed as much as he obviously did despite the initial pain. Lying in the circle of his arm, she reflected that he had been more considerate than she would have given him credit for. If things went on as they did today, she was sure she would at least enjoy the conceiving of his children. At that thought she wondered if she would become pregnant from their joining – it was close to if not at the middle of her cycle.

The third night of their marriage Ginny was abruptly yanked from sleep by Harry's loud moans and movements. He was obviously in the throes of a nightmare, and Ginny wasn't sure what to do for him when shaking him didn't rouse him. Finally, she began stroking his forehead down to his cheeks and chin whilst she softly talked to him. Gradually his agitation lessened and he subsided into quiet slumber once again. She found that his sleep was disturbed, and therefore hers, several times a month. She never mentioned it to him.

Over the course of the next fortnight it became apparent that Harry had a voracious libido. They had sex any time of the day or night during their 'honeymoon,' and it continued when she was not working. She wasn't sure if this was because he was determined to get her with child, had been chaste since Cho's death, or if, as she hoped, he was 'inspired' by her body and its reaction to him. She rather thought it was more likely the first than the other two.

Outside the bedroom she was making her mark on the house they now shared. Although the ground floor public rooms were decorated in a more formal fashion than she liked, she left them alone. The first floor family rooms, however, she decided to make over to erase as many traces of Cho's influence on their home as she could. She rather thought that the less there was to remind Harry of his first wife, the better it would be for their marriage. Before starting, though, she made sure Harry was all right with the idea without revealing her reason to make the changes; he told her to suit herself. All of the things Ginny privately thought were 'high-society' inspired went up to the attic. The furnishings she chose were either antiques brought down from the attic or traditional in theme, with comfortable, squashy seating, navy, autumn gold, and red plaid or a single one of those colors for the upholstery. Autumn gold drapes hung at the windows, except in their bedroom. Harry didn't mind her getting rid of the Ravenclaw blue and bronze but seemed to comment most favorably on the red furnishings. She was happy with that; her Mum had told her that the color red stirred the emotions. It wasn't that Harry needed the hint but that she herself felt more alive when the Ravenclaw blue and bronze duvet and draperies were taken down and replaced with crimson. Gold and white patterned throw pillows lightened the room some.

She discovered that Harry did not have an "eight-to-five" job he went to; he had inherited a good deal of money and the house from his parents as well as the ruined property in Godric's Hollow. It turned out that his grandfather had developed Sleek-Eezy's Hair Potion, vastly increasing the family finances already made healthy by one of his ancestors' developing Skele-Gro and Pepper Up, two of the three amongst the most widely used potions in the Wizarding world. In addition, his godfather, Sirius Black, left him the Black fortune and real estate which was almost as prosperous as the Potters. He spent much of his day in his office, increasing his fortune through judicial investments he investigated and decided on himself.

Harry allowed her to ask questions about his investments, and she wondered aloud if he would mind her telling her father and brothers about his prowess in increasing his wealth. Though Arthur had been given a promotion and hefty raise when Kingsley Shacklebolt was elected Minister of Magic, and there had been no children at home for two years, she knew that her father could use a few pointers so that when he was ready to retire he and her Mum would be comfortable. Harry was amenable, and at the following Sunday family dinner she brought it up. Arthur was immediately interested in hearing what advice Harry might give him, and Bill, Percy, and Ron seemed curious, too. He talked with each of them, individually, in his office. Her Dad told her Harry seemed to know what he was doing, and he was going to implement some of the options Harry had given him.

Just shy of them being wed one month Ginny found herself running to the loo immediately upon waking and retching at the toilet. Harry was still abed and seemed smug when she finally crawled back under the sheets, her face pale and with a thin sheen of moisture. That evening Harry placed a packet of salted crackers on her bed sidetable without comment. After a week of the nausea and throwing up Ginny finally asked Harry to cast a Conception charm on her. The charm elicited a golden aura around her stomach, and Ginny knew she was on her way to motherhood.

Now that Harry knew for certain that she was pregnant with his child he went out of his way to be considerate to her, joining her in the loo to hold her hair back as she got sick, having Winky fix some of her favorite foods, rubbing her back or feet, or both, and going himself for food or beverage if she expressed a want. Sometimes she found him watching her, as if making sure she was taking care of herself and her precious cargo. She had thought that once she was pregnant his attention to her in the bedroom would cease, but she was silently pleased to be proven wrong and did not ask about his seeming change of mind.