A/N: This story was written for the PuffySubmariner community writing challenge on LJ. Many thanks to Deadwoodpecker for being my beta on this story. This is Post-DH, however parts of HBP never happened, ie: Harry and Ginny never got together during HBP.
Chapter 1: A Noble Purpose
October 21, 2000
Harry Potter slouched in his seat, slowly untying the bowtie that had been strangling him all day. While he was glad that Hermione had insisted on muggle dress clothes for the bridal party, he could have done without the noose around his neck.
Reaching out to snag his glass, he took another healthy swallow of the whisky he'd been drinking since the formal dinner had finished. Harry had already had his obligatory dance with the maid of honor and bride, and was now well into his third glass and was beginning to brood.
"You look like you're pouting."
Harry glanced over at the woman who was sharing a table with him. He had no idea why she was hiding with him over in this shadowed corner of the hall that Hermione's parents had obtained for the wedding. She had joined him soon after the dancing started and had matched him drink for drink. Still… she at least, had no reason to hide away from the happy couples now spinning around on the dance floor. She was rarely without a boyfriend. She always had someone fun to go out with. She…
She was bloody gorgeous.
Maybe he ought to have another drink. Or two.
Waving his empty glass at a passing waiter, he looked over at his friend to see if she wanted a refill as well. Watching her down the last of her own whisky, he sent the waiter off with a request for a bottle, instead. No reason to keep having him come by every half hour.
"For your information, Miss Weasley, I'm not pouting. I'm enjoying some quiet time, while pondering the good fortune of my best friends." Harry thought that was rather articulate of him. Hermione's lectures must have paid off. Or you're drunker than you think, Potter.
"I think you're drunk, Potter," Ginny replied, laughing as she poured herself another glass from the bottle of fine whisky the waiter had just dropped at their table.
"What? Can't I be happy for my best friends, who are so obviously in love with each other? Can't I ponder the wonderfulness that is their very open and… oh, Merlin they're making out on the dance floor again," Harry scowled at Ron and Hermione as they clung to each other in a rather heated embrace. He slammed the rest of the whisky in his glass and grabbed the bottle to refill it.
Harry heard Ginny laugh again, and watched as she reached down with one arm, wobbling in her chair a little, and slipped off the straps on the heels she had been wearing all day. Kicking them away from her where they came to rest under an empty chair at the table, she sighed in relief.
"Honestly, I don't know what Hermione was thinking when she picked those shoes. They're horribly uncomfortable," Ginny complained as she rubbed the toes of her right foot. Even her toes are gorgeous. They're so tiny!
Harry saw her glass was empty again, so he splashed a bit of whisky in it before looking back at the bottle he still held in his hand.
Screw the glass.
Harry leaned back further in his chair, his bum sliding halfway down the seat, and took a large swallow, feeling the burn all the way down to his stomach. He could only imagine the lecture he'd get from Hermione if she saw his posture and the way he was drinking straight from the bottle. But she won't see you Potter, because she's in happy Hermione world, snogging the hell out of your best mate. And then later, she'll drag Ron off and they can shag all over the place and be happy, happy, happy.
Harry rolled his head to the left to see Ginny looking at him in indignation. He smiled wistfully at her and realized he was about to say something stupid, but the warmth of the liquor in his belly made him not really care too much. "Did you know you're pretty when you get all worked up like that, Gin?"
"…wha? I…" Ginny looked flustered for a moment, then she shook herself and pointed a finger at him. "No… no distracting me. I was about to yell at you for hogging the bottle. What's with only giving me this one little swallow and then taking the whole bottle for yourself, Potter?" she asked, pointing to the half-full glass in her other hand.
"Hell yes," she exclaimed, then he watched in amazement as she slammed the half-full glass of whisky in one large gulp, and plunked it back on the table. "So…"
"Why are you over here pouting?"
"I already told you," Harry said. "I'm not pouting. I just…" He sighed and pulled himself upright and leaned his elbows on the table. His head angled over towards her, as she mirrored his position. Harry absently ran his finger up and down the bottle, plucking at the label with his fingernail.
"You're just what?" Ginny asked him softly. Harry felt her hand land on his and pull it away from where he was shredding the pieces of paper he'd pulled from the bottle.
"Look at them, Ginny. Ron and Hermione. George and Angelina. Even Neville bleeding Longbottom has a date," Harry said, exasperated.
"And what's wrong with that?"
"Nothing's wrong with it, I'm just…"
Ginny looked at him oddly, tilting her head to the side as if she was studying him closely. She reached out and pulled the bottle from his hands and took another drink, then seemed to set it back down decisively.
"I'm… I'm not jealous of anyone in particular, Gin, that's not what I'm saying."
"So what are you saying, Harry?" Ginny asked. "Why didn't you bring a date if you were going to get that worked up about it?"
Harry scowled and snatched the bottle back from her, taking a swallow before answering. "There was no one to ask." And I can't ask you.
Ginny scoffed aloud at that. "No one to ask?! Harry, you have half the wizarding world falling at your feet! You could have walked down Diagon Alley and picked any girl there to ask to go with you and they'd have gladly said yes."
Harry glared at the woman next to him. "I'm not going to date some fan girl, or someone who's out for my so-called fame or fortune, Gin. And anyway, where's your date if you're so bent on me not having one?"
The red head scowled at him, and grabbed the bottle again. "You're the one bent on not having one, Potter. And I don't need a date, thank you very much."
"What? No current boyfriend-of-the-month?"
Ginny rolled her eyes at him and snorted. "Please. I can't remember the last time I had a date."
Harry sat up straighter at that comment. "Waitaminute You were just with… whatsisface… Boredly? Gordly?"
Ginny laughed and answered, "Jordly? I was never dating Jordly, Harry. He's the Harpies' trainer. And he's gay. I think he's dating Ernie Macmillan, actually."
Harry's heart thumped overtime at that. What the hell?
"What the hell? Ron said you were having some mad love affair with the guy, and he was getting all worked up. I remember because he was storming around my flat, and Hermione had to come calm him down. Ew… that reminds me. I need to change the sheets in the guest bedroom. And teach Ron a better silencing charm."
Ginny laughed harder, and snatched their whisky bottle, taking another large drink. "I don't know where Ron gets his information, Harry, but I've not dated anyone in ages. Since Hogwarts, in fact. And as for mad love affairs… well…"
Harry watched as she broke off and leaned back in her chair, crossing her arms and holding the bottle against her. Her face was looking flushed, and Harry thought she must be almost as drunk as he was. "Well, what?"
Harry raised an eyebrow at this. He knew she was feeling prickly about something, but he was just drunk enough to not care about risking her temper, and he was in a rather masochistic mood. Besides, she's so damn gorgeous when she gets peeved. Damn. Have another drink, you idiot.
Reaching over he took the now half-empty bottle from her, his fingers trailing over her skin in passing. It sent shivers down his spine when he felt her soft skin against his, and he jerked the bottle to his mouth to hide the trembling in his hands.
Once he felt he'd worked up enough courage to continue, he reached out and poked her in her shoulder with one finger. "C'mon Gin… tell me. You said something 'bout 'mad love affairs'?" He poked her a few more times, mostly as an excuse to touch her skin, but he knew it'd annoy her to the point that she might just tell him. He couldn't help torturing himself – it was like pressing against a bruise, just to see if it still hurt.
Ginny reached out and made a grab for his offending hand, but her reflexes were dulled by the alcohol and she missed. He chuckled at her and poked her again.
"Fine! Fine, just… fine. There have been no 'mad love affairs', Potter. Like I said I haven't dated anyone since school, and even then the last guy I dated was Dean my fifth year," Ginny huffed out after she was unable to catch him. "I'm a pathetic virgin," she finally mumbled.
Harry was stunned and absently handed the bottle to her when she growled out a quick "Gimme that thing!" Ginny took the bottle by the neck and tipped it back. She swiped the back of her hand across her mouth after she had downed a healthy amount, and shook her head as if to clear it. Harry watched her fiery hair shimmer in the few soft lights that shone in their quiet corner, his mind trying to grasp onto the thoughts whizzing back and forth like mad snitches.
Wait… did she just say…?
"You too?!" Harry blurted out finally, and then clapped his hand over his mouth in shock.
Ginny's head shot up at his rather loud announcement and her jaw dropped open. "What d'you mean, 'You too'?" she asked.
Harry's eyes widened and he wasn't sure what he should say. Yes, Ginny, I'm a pathetic 20-year-old virgin, too. Wanna join the All-Virgins Club? I can be President, and you can be the Treasurer.
Merlin, he really should stop drinking.
Ginny got her composure back before he did. "You mean… you haven't? But, I thought…" She stared at him and finally a small snicker came out and then another, and before his eyes Ginny started laughing madly, clutching the bottle to her chest as she rocked back in her chair. Harry watched in a mixture of attraction and annoyance as she threw her head back and laughed harder, exposing her long, creamy throat to his gaze.
Seeing her laugh, however, was enough to whisk away his annoyance at what he'd just admitted and her laughter about it. A wry smile worked its way reluctantly across his face.
"Okay, okay… laugh it up, Weasley. Go ahead. Make fun of the Virgin-Who-Lived."
Ginny, who had finally wound down to chuckles, leaned forward at that and started laughing again, her eyes streaming tears from her amusement. Harry couldn't help but grin at how beautiful she was when she laughed.
"Oh Harry," Ginny practically sobbed as her laughter continued, trying to wipe her eyes and hold onto the whisky bottle at the same time. "It's just… I can't believe… Oh, Merlin this is just too much."
Ginny finally looked up at him, a grin on her flushed face, and her hair in a wild disarray. "You have to admit it's funny, Harry."
Harry chuckled at her and leaned back in his chair, reaching over for the whisky again and taking a quick drink. It IS funny, Potter, just admit it.
"So," he drawled. "You haven't had sex."
"Nope," she said cheerily, her bemusement over their mutual situations still affecting her.
"And I haven't either. So here we sit, drinking in a corner by ourselves. Surrounded by our friends who're all happily getting a leg over."
"We're pathetic, Gin," Harry said in a playfully sad voice.
"Yep," she sighed.
A silence descended between them as they both stared back over the dance floor. They slowly passed the bottle back and forth, taking sips as they watched their friends and family having fun. Harry could see Ron and Hermione swaying together off to one side, foreheads touching as they whispered to each other. He smiled. He really didn't begrudge them their happiness; those two were made for each other and he was very happy they'd finally – finally! – gotten together.
His gaze ran over the rest of the dance floor, seeing George swing Angelina around the other couples, the both of them laughing like loons. Neville and Hannah Abbott were standing together near a table of other Hogwarts alumni, their arms around each other and Neville's hand running idly through her hair.
He glanced across to the other side of the room, where pillars surrounded a small lounge area with overstuffed couches and chairs. He squinted his eyes in the low light, then widened them as he realized what he was seeing. Luna Lovegood! He couldn't believe it. Luna Lovegood was over there, snogging the hell out of some bloke Harry didn't recognize.
That. Is. It!
Harry slammed the bottle on the table, startling Ginny out of her own reverie, and swung around to face his comrade in celibacy.
"That's it, Gin! No more. No more pathetic brooding about our 'situations'. No more, no more, no more," he said fiercely.
Ginny raised an eyebrow and leaned back away from him. "Harry… have you gone mad? Or are you just completely pissed?"
"No, I'm serious, Ginny. And yes, I'm a wee bit drunk, but I'm also right about this. We have to stop brooding about it and finally DO something about it," he told her.
"About what?" she asked him, sounding confused.
"About the whole, y'know… virgin thing," Harry said. Merlin, hasn't she been paying attention? He felt energized all of the sudden. His thoughts raced as the conviction he felt about this flowed through him. He KNEW he was right. His whole body felt hot, and his face and ears burned. Harry thought this was the fire of a Noble Purpose running through him. Or perhaps this suit is made of wool. He stripped off the coat and flung it on the empty chair next to them.
Ginny blinked at his coat blearily, then turned her eyes back to him and furrowed her brow. "But…"
"C'mon, Ginny, you know I'm right."
Her gaze went through him as he watched her think about it. Harry swayed a bit in his chair as he waited patiently, his thoughts straying a little to her deep brown eyes that he loved to look at. They're amber, he thought inanely. Like a fine whisky. At that thought, he reached over and, grabbing their bottle of liquor, sucked down the last few swallows. He wondered where the rest of it had gone, and thought maybe someone had come and stolen it when he wasn't paying attention. He carefully replaced the empty bottle on the table, making sure it was perfectly in the center. Harry nudged it a centimeter to the left with his fingertip.
Suddenly, Ginny sat straight up in her chair and reached out, quickly grasping his hand. Her brown eyes were now bright with purpose and looking at her, he realized she'd found the same conviction he had.
"Harry! You are so very, very right," she exclaimed.
"Yes! I am!" Harry grinned back at her, almost giddy that she was agreeing with him. This was a Noble Purpose. It was right. It was perfect. It was –
"So what DO we do about it?" Ginny suddenly asked.
Harry blinked twice.
"I um… I guess, I hadn't gotten that far," Harry said slowly. No! Their Noble Purpose was ruined! Harry hung his head, his torso lurching against the table and knocking over the now-empty bottle of whisky.
"Wait, I've got it!" Ginny squeezed his hand hard and pulled him back from the table towards her, overbalancing a bit in an effort to keep him, and herself, upright. He grabbed her bare upper arm and they swayed together in their seats. When they had finally found a somewhat stable position, Harry found he couldn't stop the gentle strokes his thumb kept making against her bicep. Wow… her skin is like… velvet. Warm velvet. His thoughts were a little muddled as he raised his head – when did it get so heavy? – and looked back at her.
"Harry you're a virgin!"
Didn't we already establish that fact, he thought to himself.
"Um… yes," he said slowly. Maybe she's really, really drunk.
"And I'm a virgin!"
"Again with the yes."
Ginny's smile was blinding, and he realized that she had come to some crazy conclusion that he was obviously not privy to, regarding these two statements.
"Don'tcha see? It's perfect!" she said, her words slurring slightly.
"A Pact!" Ginny exclaimed, folding her arms proudly against her chest and leaning hard back against her chair.
Except she was sitting sideways, and there were no arms on their chairs.
Harry blinked at the empty air where Ginny had been just moments before. All he saw now were two slender, yet muscular calves.
Silence. And then a soft, "Ow" came floating up from the other side of her chair. Harry flung himself forward a bit and managed to brace himself on the seat of her chair, his hands placed on either side of her shapely legs. Looking over the edge, he saw Ginny sprawled on the floor, her dark blue bridesmaid's dress flung dangerously high and her hands clutching the back of her head.
"Are you okay?" Harry asked her thighs.
"C'mon. Lemme help you up," Harry said, and he stumbled a bit as he made his way around the chair, taking a few extra steps along the way. He reached his hands down and, after she had pulled her feet off of the chair and braced them against the floor, he tugged her hands hard up towards him.
Ginny sprung up easily and then lost her balance. She stumbled forward and into his chest, Harry's arms wrapping quickly around her to hold her in place. He had to spread his legs a little wider because the floor was shifting a bit. Muggles must've had a problem with the cement here. The floor is a bit uneven.
They stood there swaying in place, Ginny's arms creeping around his waist and clutching the back of his dress shirt. Harry rested his chin on the crown of her bright red head and closed his eyes, the scent of wildflowers making him lightheaded. He smiled as he felt her cheek laying against him, a quiet humming floating up to his ears.
"Ginny," Harry said quietly.
He arched his neck a bit to see her face, and saw that she had her eyes closed and a small smile on her lips.
"You said something about a… a pact?" Harry saw Ginny's eyes pop open and her hands moved to his hips as she leaned backwards.
"Yes! A Pact. It's perfect, Harry. We make a pact that if by a certain date neither of us has lost their virginity, that we'll lose ours together. See? We're both virgins, so we'll do something about it together!" Ginny gave a throaty chuckle that made Harry's legs feel suddenly very weak. "I'm bloody brilliant, I am."
Harry stared at her and Ginny stared back. Slowly they both grinned.
"It's a Noble Purpose. A Pact – to lose our virginity together," Harry said, puffing his chest out a bit at the thought. Ginny nodded her head smartly at him, then stepped out of his embrace and grasped his hand.
"C'mon Harry," she said, tugging his hand as she weaved her way along the wall towards the door in the back marked with an 'Exit' sign.
"Where we goin'?" Harry asked as he plodded along heavily behind her.
"We hafta go make the pact." Ginny stopped suddenly and Harry barely managed not to plow into her back.
"Wait – d'you have parchment and ink and stuff back at your flat?" Ginny asked, quickly looking back over her shoulder at him.
Harry nodded his head and found he had a hard time stopping as he answered. "Yep. Parchment and ink and stuff. Lots of stuff."
"Brilliant. Let's go." And without a backwards glance, the two shoved their way through the back door, stumbled down the alley to the main road, and hailed a passing taxi.
"But where on earth did they go?" Hermione Weasley was rather distraught at this point. Somehow, during the evening's dances, her maid of honor and Ron's best man had disappeared from the small muggle dance hall. "We checked the loos, we checked the bar, we even checked the alley out back."
Her husband shrugged and rubbed his hands over Hermione's shoulders. "I don't know, 'Mione. Did anyone see where they were sitting?"
"No. Harry danced with me and Ginny, then I think he wandered off when I danced with my father. But Ginny danced a few more times, with your dad and a couple of your brothers. No one has seen her since," Hermione said, clutching her bouquet tightly to her chest.
A passing waiter caught her attention and Hermione called him over. She described Harry and Ginny to the young man, and he smiled at her, nodding his head.
"Oh yes, ma'am, I saw them. They ordered a bottle of whisky and were sitting over there in that corner for quite awhile. But I think they left about an hour ago." The young man nodded at the newly married couple and headed back to the bar.
Hermione hitched her dress up in one hand and shoved her bouquet at Ron's chest. As Ron bemusedly grabbed the flowers before they could fall to the floor, he watched her march off in the direction the waiter had pointed, her curls bouncing around her shoulders. Ron ambled along behind her and hoped they'd find a clue. He wanted to just chuck the bouquet and carry his wife off to their honeymoon suite. Ron wanted Hermione all to himself.
Reaching the table, Ron saw Hermione clutching a pair of dainty, strappy shoes and a black suit coat.
"Well, they were here alright, and there's an entirely empty bottle of expensive whisky on the table. Honestly, those two, drinking a whole bottle themselves. They're going to have the worst hangovers tomorrow and Merlin only knows what nonsense they'll get up to now that they've scarpered off. Hmph. They'll probably go off and do something rash," Hermione huffed in front of him and Ron smiled at his wife. Merlin, I love this woman!
"Hermione, stop worrying. They probably got tired and are passed out back at Harry's flat, already. Tell you what, if they don't show up by the time we open our presents at the Burrow tomorrow, we'll floo over and check on them. Alright?"
Hermione still looked worried, but nodded her head reluctantly.
Ron slung a long arm around her shoulders, and steered his wife back towards the waiting crowd of single women. "Now, c'mon 'Mione, this is Harry and Ginny. They're both level-headed people. Well, Harry is, anyway. S'not like they're gonna run off and do something crazy." He laughed at the thought of his best mate, who had become a rather composed and sedate young Auror, doing anything rash.
The crowd of women welcomed them back with a cheer, and Ron watched Hermione toss the bouquet. He laughed out loud as he saw Luna Lovegood calmly catch the flowers that had fallen right into her hands, the other women falling to the floor in their eagerness to push and shove their way to the front. Now THAT was the craziest thing that was going to happen all day, Ron thought to himself.
"There! S'all done. The pact's complete," Ginny sighed happily, her mind starting to become a bit fuzzy and tired. "Now, c'mon Harry. M'sleepy."
Harry looked up at Ginny from his place slumped over his kitchen table. He grinned at her and heaved his tired body up off the chair. "Leave it there t'dry, Gin. Let's go t'bed."
Arm in arm, they slowly walked down the hallway to his bedroom, bumping off the walls occasionally when they got too close. As they approached the bed, Harry toed off his dress shoes and tossed his glasses on the bedside table. Then he crashed face first into the mattress and passed out.
Ginny snorted at the sight and plucked her wand from the garter on her thigh where she had kept it all night. Dropping it next to Harry's glasses, she crawled over his sprawled out body and shoved his right arm up out of her way. Ginny curled up next to Harry, laid her head on his outstretched arm, and joined him in slumber.