What really matters

Hi! Welcome to my new story. Thanks to my wonderful beta Arnel, and all the nice people that encouraged me to write after That Look In Your Eyes.

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter and no profit is being made from this story.

Chapter 1

The Day Before

The Burrow, August 10th, 2000

"I just can't believe it."

"Believe what?" she said.

"That tomorrow we will be married," said Harry, staring up at the sky.

They were laying on a conjured blanket on the grass under the trees at the far side of the Burrow, their favourite secluded, private spot. Ginny looked at him, a smile playing on her lips.

"Are you getting cold feet, Potter? Because if that's the case, we can simply let the fake plan become real and just throw an ordinary, boring joint birthday party."

Harry rolled on his side, propped up on one elbow and looked at her, too. "Nope, Weasley. I can't wait to be your faithful, devoted husband." He arched and eyebrow and smirked. "Perhaps you were the one wishing I was having second thoughts? Maybe you are the one getting cold feet," he teased.

Ginny grinned. "Not in a million years. I'm not going to let go the perfect opportunity to marry a tall, handsome…"

"And I'm the one who's supposed to have bad eyesight."

"…funny, smart…"

"Smart? You're mistaking me for Hermione, maybe you should marry her-"

"…brave, good cook…"

"Your mother's better than me."

"…and wonderful, marvellous, amazing lover," she finished, winking at him.

Harry felt his cheeks flushing, but he retaliated on. "Oh, so that's why you're willing to tie the knot? Purely for carnal reasons?" he tutted.

Ginny nodded. "Those, and the chocolate gateau."

"Same thing, really," Harry laughed. "You're incredible."

"I am, and that's your reason for marrying me," she said, joining him in the laughter and stretching over the blanket.

She's right, thought Harry, but even she doesn't realise how incredible she is. And what difference she has made to my life.

He had spent the last two months, since she proposed to him at St. Mungo's, in a permanent state of awestruck wonder. He was so used to bad things happening to him, to living rough, to losing and grieving, he now felt he was truly living someone else's life. Things began to look better around them, too. After Avery's capture, only a few Snatchers and several second grade accomplices remained at large, and they all seemed to have given up active fighting. The climate at the Auror Office was visibly more relaxed. Some of the volunteer foreign Aurors were talking about returning home once the first batch of trainees qualified, which would happen in the course of the next months. Wizarding society was finally enjoying a much awaited calm and peace, and the predominant mood was joyful. All in all, Harry Potter was, for the first time in ages, or possibly forever, experiencing something that could be called happiness, and the girl laughing at his side was responsible of a big part of it.

I am going to marry Ginny Weasley. If someone had told me this two years ago

"You still can't believe it, do you?" asked Ginny, reading his thoughts.

Harry nodded. "Sometimes it feels like it's not real, and someone's going to wake me and get me out of this dream."

For all response, Ginny suddenly moved closer and pinched his arm.

"Ow! What did you do that for?" he protested, rubbing the place.

"To prove you that you're not dreaming," she clarified with a mischievous grin. "I've roused you from enough nightmares; now I am extremely pleased to let you know that you are wide awake. This-is-happening. Or at least-" she checked her watch- "it will happen if we get a move on. Aren't you supposed-"

As if on cue, a silver otter landed in front of them, raised its head and spoke with Hermione's voice.

"Ginny, wherever you are, I expect you are getting ready to go out, because if you're not, I am going to be most disappointed. I have a plan for us tonight and you being late will simply not do, so come to the Burrow AT ONCE. Oh, and if Harry's with you, Ron says, and this is his choice of words, 'mate, you'd better get your lazy arse at Wheezes real fast or Neville and I are going out without you, and believe me, you'll be sorry if you miss this.' "

The silver otter dissolved and disappeared. Both of them groaned, but got up from the floor and busied themselves Vanishing the blanket and cancelling the privacy spells around them.

"You know, at moments like this it's when I think Hermione's destined for something big. Not even my mother can order me to do something and get me going immediately. And same goes for you," said Ginny.

"Oh, your mother also has that power over me," he laughed, "but you're right. You should see her at the Ministry, she doesn't get intimidated even by the oldest, most pompous members of the Wizengamot, and there are some nuts up there that are really hard to crack. I reckon that, after dealing with hate and prejudice her whole life, and fighting a war against them, she still hasn't let her guard down."

"Or pulled in her claws," agreed Ginny. "That's why I made her my bridesmaid. Her sewing spells are crap compared to Luna's, but she's the one you want by your side organising a wedding, specially a secret-until-the-very-last-minute one."

"Why, will you need one of her pep talks before walking down the aisle?" he said, chuckling. "Maybe you are so used by now to Gwenog cheering the team up before matches, you think you will need a talk before going downstairs to get married," he teased her.

"Oh, I won't need her for that, I will not walk down to you, run is more the word," she smirked. Then she grimaced. "But I could use some encouragement before I break the news that we're marrying to my family."

"Are you worried about your parents' reaction? Or is this about your brothers? I don't think your older brothers will mind, and as for George, well, in fact-"

Ginny shook her head. "No, it's not them. Granted, my brothers will be shocked, but they all love you, I don't think they are going to cause trouble and if they do, I'll just tell them to bugger off, or they'll find themselves on the wrong end of my wand. But there will be another member of the family present tomorrow, one that I had not thought to invite."

Harry racked his brains for a moment, thinking about who could be, and suddenly paled. "No. Do you mean…?"

She nodded in response. Harry groaned inwardly and winced externally.

"My mother told me this morning she's taken the liberty to invite Aunt Muriel to the party. Some crap about how we should be grateful for sheltering the lot of us under her roof two years ago. And… she said yes."