Chapter 15! Hooray!

"I can't believe he didn't even get you a ring, at least! Stingy bugger, wait until I get my hands on him…"

Ginny rolled her eyes. "We are not old fashioned Victorians, Ron. I didn't expect him to do the whole 'down on one knee' thing you see on feletision and read about in those soppy romance novels Percy reads." She bristled, suddenly baring a striking resemblance to her mother. "It's not about the proposal after all."

"Yes, quite right." Agreed Hermione, giving Ron a look.

Ron sighed and bounced his Daniel in his arms, receiving a hearty round of giggles as a consequence. "Well son, looks like the women are severely outnumbering the men today. And a real man knows when to back down, too."

Ginny and Hermione exchanged a laugh and shook their heads.

The three of them had spent a good portion of the morning talking non-stop about the upcoming wedding between Harry and Ginny. Hermione had been beside herself with the news as soon as the couple had broken the news to them, and Harry had known that Hermione also was only just holding herself back from having a very smug smile on her face. To Ginny's relief, they had not been offended that she and Harry had not gone to them first with the news. But, predictably Ron had been horrified at the tale of the situation Ginny had found their parents in.

Ginny sighed and rubbed her eyes. She was rather, and quite unexpectedly tired from going through choices for her dress for the past hour, and to give her eyes a break from staring at ink words of the descriptions, she looked up around the living room and smiled.

This is all going to be legally mine soon. She thought. I wonder if it's natural to be this happy.

As if this thought were a cue, Hermione, who had been sitting beside her at the table, got up and walked over to Ron at the sofa. She stood behind him, leant down and wrapped her arms around his neck. She must have whispered something in his ear, as he burst out laughing, turned his head toward her and kissed her.

Ginny put her chin in her hand and smiled at them. They were disgustingly cute sometimes, but also very happy. She wanted that so badly with Harry. To have been married to someone for years and yet still have that spark of love teenagers had with their first crush.

"So, where is the bum anyway?" asked Ron, looking around.

"In his room. I don't know what he's doing, he said he wanted time to go over some stuff." Said Ginny with a shrug.

Ron sniffed in amusement. "Probably jumped out the window and ran for the hills by now."

"Ron!" cried Hermione, looking at her husband clearly scandalized. "I can't believe you'd say something like that about Harry – and to your sister!"

"Oh come on, she knows I'm only fooling her! Don't you, Gin?"

"All joking aside, it was insensitive!" snapped Hermione. "Merlin, is your brain ever attached to your mouth?"

Ginny laughed and held her hands up. "Honestly Hermione, it doesn't matter…"

"Why are you having kittens over it then?" demanded Ron, his eyes narrowing. "We've got nothing to do with their lives as you so often love to remind me. Or was your brain out of commission then as well?"

Ginny groaned, giving up her attempts of mediation before she too headed down the path of probable decapitation like her brother.

Hermione flared up, her eyes flashing. "I beg your pardon? How dare you speak to me like that!"

Ron laughed through his lips and turned back around. "Are you sure you're not pregnant again? I haven't seen you this sensitive since the second Trimester."

"Okay, time out!" cried Ginny, as she saw Hermione slip into the icy calm state that really meant danger. "Ron, how about you and I take the kids for a walk? Get them out in the fresh air for a while? Not to mention I really want to get outside." She said, giving her brother a look that suggested that this was not a suggestion.

He took one look at Hermione's face, and then very hastily said "Oh yeah! I totally feel the same way. Come on kiddo, let's go." He said, standing up with Daniel.

Ginny gave Hermione's hand a squeeze, stood up and plucked Gypsy up out of the playpen.

"Oh sure, just go." Said Hermione briskly. "I don't mind. I'll just sit here with nothing but the half dead pot-plants for company."

"Oh stop picking for a fight." Said Ginny. "Go bother Harry if you really want someone to annoy."

Hermione folded her arms over her chest with a pout and watched as Ron and Ginny put the twins in the stroller, waved goodbye and left the house for the warm outdoors. Once again she was left not having the last word – something that had been happening more and more lately.

She sighed impatiently, stood up and went around opening some windows.

"Stupid pillock." She muttered angrily to herself. "How dare he… can't believe… ridiculous insinuations…"

Once this chore had been done, along with fluffing up pillows, putting away dishes, straightening up the living room and even dusting the bookshelves, Hermione had once again found herself with nothing to occupy her mind but her frustrations about her husband.

She sighed, rubbed her eyes and headed off towards Harry's room. Although he was most likely busy, even just sitting with him would suffice her needs for now.

She knocked on his door. "Harry? You busy?" There was no answer. She frowned, turned the handle and pushed the door inward just a little bit, enough to stick her head through.

Years ago, it would have struck her as weird to hear people talking about someone's room being soaked in their essence. 'A load of nonsense' she would have said to them – but either she had been turned from her ignorance, or Harry was the exception. Every time she stepped into a space that was just his, she was if she could sense him standing with her. His room was fairly clean and bathed in sunlight, illuminating every piece of furniture and making the glass of his picture frames sparkle. It smelt strongly of his deodorant, but it also held another sort of vibe about it that Hermione had always, even since their first day to Hogwarts, associated with Harry.

She found him sitting at the desk, his elbow propped up and his head resting in the heel of his hand. He was staring off into space, his quill still clutched in his hand and papers scattered before him on the desk. She would have found it all rather amusing, had his expression not concerned her so.

Stepping into the room fully, she closed the door behind her and crossed slowly over to him. "Harry?"

He blinked and looked up at her with slight surprise. "Hermione?"

"Are you okay?" she asked, her eyes narrowing in suspicion. "I knocked and you didn't answer."

"You knocked?" he asked, blinking rapidly as if he had just been stupefied and woken up once more.

She snorted. "Forgot your hearing aide today, did you?"

"Oh yeah, going a bit senile. Happens at this age I've heard."

Hermione sighed. He still looked a little dopey, as if he had been yanked harshly from his deep, fast-traveling train of thought. "What's the matter, Harry?"

"Nothing." He said, giving her a hasty smile. But he knew even before he had finished his sentence, that he wasn't fooling her for a single second. He sighed and put his head in his hands. "Must you look at me like that?"

"Like what?"

"Like you can see right through me. Dumbledore used to do that."

Hermione leant on the table, not letting him change the subject. "Harry, what's troubling you?"

He didn't look at her, but simply let out a low, deep breath as if gathering himself up. His shoulders sagged, his aura pulsed lazily... even his hair seemed to droop. He had gotten himself into a rut over something, that much was obvious.

Harry shivered. Although he wasn't looking, he could feel her eyes boring into him. He didn't want to tell her, but he did at the same time. Such conflict he used to possess in his teen years had not yet left him, and he wondered if it ever would. But, if there was one person he knew he could tell anything to, it was Hermione.

"I've been sitting here for the past two hours,' he said ', looking over table settings, RSVP's, menu's, song choices, suits, prices…and do you want to know the only thing I've been able to think about is?"

"No, what?"

Harry looked up at her and smiled sadly. "I wish my parents were going to be there."

Hermione felt her heart break at the look on his face. He laughed, shook his head and picked up his quill again, not wanting to look at her anymore. She moved around to his side of the desk, bent down beside him and took his hand in hers.

"They will be."

"Not the way I want them to be." He said his eyes boring determinedly into the desk. "Dad won't be there to slap me on the back at the reception, and Mum won't be there to dance with me after the dinner. They won't smile up at me when I kiss the bride, they won't be there to hear me give my speech of how much I love Ginny and they won't get to hug her, welcoming her into the Potter family. They just… they wont be there, Hermione. They've never been there."

Hermione didn't know what to say. Talking about people living on in our hearts, and their spirits being around us did not seem an appropriate thing to say at all. Harry's parents had always been an ever-growing hole in his heart that nothing could ever fill. So she did the only thing she could do.

She said nothing, and simply held his hand.

Ron laughed.

Ginny looked at him and raised an eyebrow. "What?"

"Oh nothing, just thinking."

"And it tickled?"

Ron smiled and shoved her a little, making her stumble off the dirt road a little and almost knock into passers by. "Actually, I was finding it quite amusing how you and Harry seemed to have suddenly switched roles in your up-coming nuptials."

Ginny snorted, shoved him back and took the handle of the twin stroller, pushing it slowly down the hill. "Er, please explain?"

"Well, he's up at the house with the maid of honor, going over all the finer details of the wedding and reception and stressing over it no doubt, while you're out with the best man, having a jolly good time doing nothing and worrying about nothing."

"I'm not as calm as I appear on the exterior you know. That little trick I learnt from Bill."

Ron laughed. "Still, you're not having kittens over it… a rare occurrence for you about something as important as this."

Ginny smiled. "I spent six years with Dragons, Ron. I learnt to keep my hysterical outbursts in check until a safer, more private situation presented itself."

"Well, as long as all that pent-up hysteria doesn't combust at the alter, I think you'll be right."

She laughed and looked at her brother. "Can I talk to you?"

"You know you can."

She paused. "Do you think I'm doing the right thing?"

Ron blinked and looked at her. "Are you serious?"

Ginny bowed her head in shame. "I know! It sounds so horrible and I feel wretched enough just thinking about it!" she said angrily. "Merlin Ron, I don't want to have these doubts. I love him more than anything."

"Isn't that enough?"

"He's not giving me everything." She said, looking up at her brother. "He's still holding something back and I can't for the life of me think what it is! I'll give everything I have to him. My trust, my loyalty, my body…"

Ron looked at his sister in sympathy. "Ah well, Harry's always been a bit funny like that. Kinda thinks he doesn't deserve the love we want to give him. I mean, take me for example."

Ginny looked around as Ron stopped, lifted his shirt up and exposed the long, pink scar that went all the way across his chest, starting under his right shoulder and diagonally stretching all the way down to just below his ribs. It was an everlasting reminder of the moment where Ron had jumped in front of Harry to save his life. It had been during the final battle in their seventh year, and Lucius Malfoy had sent a very hard cutting spell right for Harry… but Ron had gotten their first. Ron had nearly died from blood loss at the depth of the cut he sustained.

It was a harsh, bitter-sweet reminder of the relationship her brother and Harry had, but Ron never saw it as anything terribly heroic.

He smiled and smoothed his shirt back into place. "I was willing to give everything for him – I still am. Well, maybe not my body so much."

Ginny giggled as he put one arm around her shoulders and fixed the sun visor of the stroller before they began walking again.

"Look, none of my business… but I suggest you just talk to him. Worst case scenario, he closes up and turns in 'don't-talk-to-me-or-I'll-blast-your-eyes-out' Harry. But I highly doubt he'd do that to you for very long."

Ginny nodded. "Indeed. We wouldn't have much of a marriage if we didn't talk to each other about these sorts of things."

"Oh I wouldn't say that. Some people have perfectly wonderful marriages living in two different countries."

Ginny rolled her eyes and elbowed him in the side. "Well, you can definitely count 'Marriage counselor' off your list of future career ambitions. Bloody useless you are!"

But, as he grabbed her and gave her a quick noogie before resuming their slow walking pace, Ginny found his advice to be quite the opposite of useless.

Huh, Ron gave good advice. She mused, closed her eyes and tilting her face up toward the sun. Who would have though that?

Harry laughed quietly to himself as he watched Ginny across the table as she tried to retrieve her noodles from inside the box she was holding. First she would stab it, then she would stir it around and shove it into a corner, and then she would attempt to drag it out using the corner of the box as a support.

Ginny, whose face was screwed up with concentration, looked up when she heard Harry laughing at her. She rolled her eyes. "Stop that, it's not funny."

"Oh yes it is." He said, getting his food with complete ease.

She glared at him and went back to her food. "Barmy invention. How in the world is anyone meant to eat their food using two sticks?" she cried, looking at her chopsticks in disbelief. "Bloody muggles, have to do everything the hard way. And you had better stop laughing at me, Potter!"

Her threat only made him laugh more. "I told you how to use them."

"Oh yeah, 'put your fingers here and hold them like this and use them like this.' Not exactly an award-wining instruction manual." She scowled.

Harry rolled his eyes and put more pork into his mouth. "Go and get a fork if it bothers you then."

"I don't need a fork! I can do this."

"You're so stubborn."

"Are you're so smug. Look at you sitting there, all superior 'cause you know how to use chopsticks and I don't." she snapped. She sighed and paused, a sudden thought coming into her head. "How do you know how to use chopsticks then anyway?"

Harry smiled, expertly pulled some noodles out of his take-out box and loaded them into his mouth. "I spent a few months in China few years back. It was this huge assignment and Moody wanted me over there. I had to learn the customs, the streets…"

"You pick up any Chinese while you were there?" she asked.

"Nah, but there was this one American girl…"

Ginny threw her napkin at him and he laughed. "I do not wish to hear about past flings so close to our wedding, Mr. Weasley." She said, giving him a look.

Harry snorted. "Mr. Weasley?"

"Merlin, yes! I am not changing my name."

"Good, I didn't expect you to."

They continued to eat in silence for a few moments after that, but Ginny – aside from the fact that she was ready to stab Harry in the eye with her chopsticks in sheer irritation – still had things she wanted to discuss with him. Wedding discussion had long ago exhausted itself.

"So,' she said, breaking the silence. 'What did you and Hermione get up to this afternoon while we were gone?"

"Oh you know, just bitched about our partners, dwelled in the dismal meaningless of our lives, had a bit of a snog… normal stuff."

Ginny shot him a look. "I know you're joking."

"Of course I am. My life isn't meaningless."

"Hermione told me about what you said."

This stopped Harry's humor. In fact, Ginny was quite sure she could actually feel it drain from him. His smile vanished and he looked at the table, suddenly quite still. This is where he would decide whether he was angry or embarrassed or both at the same time.

"She did, did she?"

"Don't say it like that. I had to practically drag it out of her, she was that determined not to tell me." Said Ginny. "Why didn't you say anything to me?"

"I didn't want to bother you."

"How would it bother me?"

Harry sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "You have enough to be worrying about at the moment without me loading off my personal misgivings onto you on top of it all." He said, as if this were final.

"But I want you to." She said firmly but kindly, trying to catch his eye. "I want you to tell me everything, give me everything – don't hold back Harry. If you want to give it, I will more than happily take it."

Harry looked at her. "I can't do that."

"Oh bollocks. I don't believe that." She said.

"It's not fair on you. Why should you have to listen to all the little things that bother me when I can not do the same for you?"

"I don't have any problems, but if I did you would most certainly be hearing about them."

Harry smiled weakly. "Look, it doesn't matter…"

"Don't do that." Said Ginny, cutting him off. She looked at him across the table, her eyes unwavering. "Don't shut me out. I want you to lean on me. That's what a relationship involves. I want you to need me."

Harry snorted. "I happen to like my manly independence."

"I don't mean like that!"

"I know you don't." he took her hand from across the table and kissed her knuckles softly. "And I do appreciate what you're trying to say. But honestly, I'm fine with it. Everybody has moments of self pity once in a blue moon and quite frankly I'm used to them."

Ginny surveyed him suspiciously for a moment, but he was giving her that cheeky, infectious grin that made her own mouth curl up into a smile.

"Ah, you are going to be the death of my sanity, Harry Potter."

"That means I'm living up to my basic requirements as a husband. Now go get a fork and finish your dinner, I want to take you away and do naughty things to you."

A/N – I realize this was very short, but I'm making the next chapter the last. I have run out of petrol people, and need a serious hiatus from fanfic! But don't worry… I'll be back.

Please review!