A big thank you to Thobeobo for beta-reading this short little one-shot.


Ethereal


The blue sky above was perfect, dotted with clouds. A soft breeze rippled the grass and rustled the leaves, providing a cool respite from the summer heat. The large oak tree in the middle of the park cast shadows across the ground, almost like an umbrella, allowing those who sought it a place to sit and recover, or even just laze away and relax.

Two such people were taking advantage of it. Laying on a blanket on the grass, the couple looked as if they had fallen asleep, and no one thought to disturb them.

"I wish we could stay like this forever," the man whispered, running a hand up and down the woman's back while the other gripped one of hers over his stomach.

"I do too," she said, her breath hot against his neck, "but we can't."

The man sighed and closed his eyes, slowly breathing in through his nose. He caught the scent of vanilla through all the other, more natural ones that came from the world around them.

Unthinkingly, he burrowed his face in her hair, seeking more.

She laughed, the sound musical to his ears. "Had I known you would like my new shampoo this much, I would have changed years ago."

He hummed, unable to stop the smile that pulled his lips. He had never been the best when it came to controlling his reactions, but with her it became impossible.

He let out an annoyed grunt when she raised herself on one elbow.

She raised an eyebrow, her cobalt eyes sparkling with tender amusement. "Were you comfortable?"

"Yes."

"You'll live," she grinned.

He rolled his eyes.

"So…" she said slowly. Her expression turned into one oddly reminiscent of a puppy begging for a treat, and he knew what was coming before she said it. "Ice cream?"

He laughed, "Later."

"You said that half an hour ago," she retorted with false frustration. Her expression may have looked as if she were actually upset, but her eyes still smiled.

"Half an hour ago, we'd just laid down," he said. "And I don't want to get up yet."

"Harry," she whined, dragging out each syllable.

"Five more minutes."

She pouted. Then mischief entered her eyes and a sly smirk twisted her lips.

Before Harry could do or say anything, she threw one leg over his body and sat up straight, straddling his waist.

Harry's breath caught in his throat.

The little sunlight that was able to break through the leaves lit her up from behind. Her brown hair, long and silky, hung over her shoulders and shined as the light landed on it. Her pale skin, only just starting to tan, seemed to glow.

She leant forward until her face nearly touched his.

"Are you sure you want to wait?"

Her whisper swept across his face, almost seductive.

"You're obsessed with ice cream," he said weakly.

"Not as much as you are with treacle tart," she argued.

They both knew that was a lie, though.

Harry raised a hand to her face, softly stroking her cheek with his thumb. She didn't so much as blink, staring into his eyes with a familiar determination. He knew that there was nothing that would stop her from getting what she wanted—the fact she had won his heart, no matter how hard he had fought against it, was proof enough of that.

Harry sighed, only slightly upset that their time at the park had come to an end.

"Fine," he said. "Let's get ice cream."

She grinned triumphantly and gave him a quick kiss. "You're the best."

"Love you too," Harry snorted.

They climbed to their feet and she picked up her bag. Then, hand-in-hand, they walked away from the large oak tree that had become their spot over the years. It was somewhere they always returned to when they found the time to escape reality; their special place away from everything.

It was a few minutes later that they arrived at the ice cream parlour. A bell tinkled above the door as they pushed it open, the cold inside air washing over them like a wave.

The young man behind the counter smiled and greeted them before returning to taking the order of the family ordering treats of their own. A little girl—no older than eight or nine years old—bounced on her toes, licking her lips as she watched the employee scoop ice cream.

Harry looked beside him and saw the love of his life smiling softly, watching the girl.

"Do you have a sister I don't know about?" he asked, glancing between her and the girl.

"Oh, shut up," she laughed, turning her gaze to him.

Harry wrapped an arm around her and pulled her close, and her arms wrapped around his waist.

It had been a long twenty-five years to get to this point in his life, but Harry could honestly say that he had never been happier than he was right now. She had been there with him through so much, and he prayed she would be there for more to come.

"What can I get for you?" the employee asked as they stepped up to the counter.

"Double scoop of strawberry."

Harry grinned and mouthed, 'Obsessed.'

She rolled her eyes.

"I'll have a single scoop of the same," Harry said.

A couple minutes later, the two of them sat at a table outside eating their ice cream. They had pulled two chairs together, uncaring that they had the entire table to themselves. Harry watched as she devoured her favourite dessert, eating his at a much slower pace, knowing she would want to steal whatever was left when she finished her own.

"Careful," he warned teasingly, "you'll get brain freeze."

She playfully glared at him, slowly taking another bite while making direct eye contact.

"That was one time," she said in her defence after swallowing. "And it hasn't happened since."

"That I know of," Harry corrected, smirking. "How often do you have ice cream when I'm not around? Has to be a common thing, doesn't it?"

She blushed yet maintained eye contact, unwilling to back down.

"Not as common as you probably think."

"So if I ask—"

"Don't even think about it."

Harry laughed, and it was only a second later that she joined him.

His presumption that she would want his ice cream was correct, as always. Harry had only managed to eat about half of it before she finished hers, and he smiled when she held out a hand, silently demanding he share.

"Obsessed," he said once again.

She stuck her tongue out at him.

Changing topic, he said, "I've got something for you."

She paused, the ice cream stopping halfway to her mouth. "Oh? And what would that be?"

"Telling you would ruin the surprise."

"And what a shame that would be," she drawled.

Harry grinned. She hated surprises, which only made him want to give her more of them.

He held out a hand, silently asking for her bag.

She didn't hesitate to pass it over, watching him intently.

Harry withdrew his mokeskin pouch—the same one Hagrid had gifted him for his seventeenth birthday—and pulled a small box out of it. He set the box on the table and looked at her, waiting to see her reaction. He knew she would love this present; there was no way she wouldn't.

She raised her eyebrows. "Jewellery? What's the occasion?"

"I saw it the other day and thought of you," Harry said.

She hummed, picking up the box.

When she opened it, Harry couldn't help but stare admiringly as her face lit up with the kind of childish joy she never displayed for others. Her eyes lit up and she grinned, looking so happy that Harry wished this moment would last for eternity—that she would never have reason to lose the happiness she felt right now.

Her fingers curled beneath the silver chain of the necklace and lifted it from the box. The small koala charm swayed where it hung, her eyes watching its every movement.

"Help me?" she requested without looking away.

Harry helped her clasp it on, gently kissing her cheek.

"Thank you," she mumbled, hugging him tightly around his torso with one arm while the other held the koala. She brushed her thumb across it reverently.

Harry knew just how much she loved koalas. Ever since her parents had taken her to Australia as a child for one of her father's business trips, she had been taken by the small animals. It was one of her fondest, most treasured memories, she had admitted to him. One of the happiest times of her life, she called it, having her family together for a vacation like that.

Harry pressed a soft kiss to the top of her head.

"Ready to go home?" he asked.

She silently nodded, tucking the koala beneath her collar.

Harry stood up and held out a hand. She stood up and took it, smiling at him.

They walked down the street until they found somewhere they wouldn't be seen. She gripped his arm tightly, he twisted on the spot, and they Disapparated with a sharp crack.

They reappeared in the grimy square of Grimmauld Place. Neither of them so much as looked around, heading straight to number twelve.

Little had changed about Grimmauld Place since the first time Harry had seen it, and everything that had was inside. Kreacher had worked hard to truly clean it, and even allowed Harry to store the portraits of deceased members of the Black family in a room never used.

To think that the only thing needed to remove Walburga's portrait was house-elf magic…

"I'm going to take a shower."

"Okay," Harry said. "I'll start on dinner, then? Assuming you didn't have too much ice cream," he added with a teasing grin.

She mock-glared at him. "Never."

Before Harry could reply, she turned on her heel, her hair whipping around her, and disappeared up the stairs to their bedroom.

'So dramatic,' he thought with snort. But that was one of the things he loved most about her. She made him feel like any weight on his shoulders was missing; as if all that mattered was them. It was a feeling he would probably never get used to, but Harry was okay with that. He liked it.

He especially liked it when she directed her dramatic flair at anything that could tease others. She was one of the few people who could keep up a witty banter with him, which made Harry love her all the more. Verbal sparring while they went about their daily routines was one of his favourite ways to pass time.

Harry turned his attention to preparing dinner. It would take a few hours to complete, but they had nothing but time today. It was the first day in months they had both had off work, and they were taking advantage of the opportunity to enjoy themselves.

Nearly an hour later, a voice behind Harry said, "Smells amazing."

"Your mother's recipe," he replied without looking away from his task.

There was a soft hum, then a pair of arms wrapped around him, a chin resting on his shoulder. A vanilla scent once again pervaded the air. Combined with the smell of the food, Harry couldn't imagine anything more lovely.

"Is Teddy coming over?" she asked.

"Not today. He'll be by this weekend, though. Andromeda wants a night off."

He sensed her smile as she said, "I look forward to it."

His task complete, Harry slowly turned. Her head pulled back to look at him and her arms moved to wrap around his neck.

He smiled when he saw that she was wearing her favourite green dress. Thin straps over smooth shoulders held it up, the hem floating against her calves. Her hair was pulled back in a quick braid—she must have used magic to dry and style it. Her bare feet propped up on the tips of her toes so she could look into his eyes. Harry's smile grew when he noticed that the koala-charm necklace was still fastened around her neck.

"We have a couple hours to kill," he said. "What do you want to do?"

"Dance with me."

Harry picked up his wand and flicked it at the wireless on the counter, turning it to a random station with some song he didn't recognize playing.

That wasn't saying much, though, considering he knew next to nothing about music in the magical world, even after all these years. Life as an Auror didn't give him much time to do such things, so it was always an adventure to listen to something new.

The gorgeous woman in his arms swayed on the spot, resting her head on his shoulder even though the song playing wasn't very slow. Harry lowered his cheek onto her hair and closed his eyes, letting the music carry him away.

The soft melodies changed into something magical. For a moment, he could almost imagine they were back at the Ministry ball where they had first spoken nearly three and a half years ago. She had looked so beautiful that night, and the image was forever imprinted in his memories. It wasn't something he ever wanted to forget.

"I wish we could do this more often," she whispered.

Harry held her tighter. "I do too."

"You should quit your job."

Harry hummed.

"I should quit my job."

He hummed again.

"We could travel the world together," she said wistfully. "See everything we want to with no one to stop us. I'd love to go to Paris or Rome with you."

"I'm sure Fleur could help us if we went to France."

She snorted. "Gabrielle, you mean."

Harry kissed her hair and grinned. Every time Gabrielle saw him, she took it as an opportunity to flirt with him. Ever since she had come of age a few months before, however, she had taken it as a personal mission to get at least one date with him.

"I'm sure a candlelit dinner could go a long way."

She pulled back to glare at him, though there was no actual heat in her eyes. "Only if you want to be burnt by those candles."

"Kinky."

She snorted and rested her head on his shoulder again.

"Maybe we could go to Australia," she suggested. "I think you'd like it."

"You just want to see the koalas again."

He felt her grin against his chest. "Maybe."

Harry thought about it for a moment.

"Okay," he said. "We can plan a trip to Australia."

She looked up at him, excitement making her face shine like a beacon.

"Really?" she asked, her voice warming him in a way words couldn't describe.

"Really," he confirmed. "But only if you steal a koala."

She raised her brow. "You think I won't?"

Harry grinned.

"Hmph." She scowled at him, "Challenge accepted."

"Then you have a deal."

"Bastard," she muttered, tucking her head against his neck.

One song turned into two, and two into three. Harry wasn't sure how long they stood there, just swaying on the spot, but it was the best part of the whole wonderful day. Everything that had happened since waking up that morning had been amazing—it was something he wished more than anything could be repeated every day of his life.

"I love you," he whispered, kissing her hair.

She kissed his neck. "I love you too."

Harry's life may have gotten off to an awful start, which didn't improve much during his school years, but he could say without any doubts that he would do it again a thousand times if he could always end up where he was now. All of the pain, suffering, and loss, while incredible and something he would change if given the chance, was worth going through just to have this woman in his arms. With her to shine like an ethereal light, guiding him through his darkest moments, he felt that nothing could truly be wrong.

Harry Potter, after twenty-five long years, was happy at last.


I hope that was enjoyable. Let me know your guesses as to whom the girl is.

And just because: I do NOT own Harry Potter or its universe. All rights belong to JK Rowling and her publisher.

THANKS FOR READING!