Chapter 2. Brooding

As always, Ginny loved getting back to Godric's Hollow for the summer. It meant Harry had to Apparate farther to the Ministry, but Ginny could set up meetings with clients to suit her own travel plans, and as for Severus, his owl-order potions business and research could be carried on in either of the identical labs in the two houses.

Sometimes Ginny wondered why they bothered to keep up the Grimmauld Place white elephant at all, especially since Kreacher had died last winter. But Harry liked the connection with the memory of Sirius, and it was sometimes convenient to be in town during the week. And since the bonding with Severus, a new advantage had presented itself: the multi-storey house with its warren of rooms and corridors afforded a privacy not possible in the more compact but open design of the country place.

In the early days of the Tripartite Bond she had bustled into the sunny kitchen at Godric's Hollow once and almost trodden on Harry and Severus just beyond the door. They were kissing; that was nothing new. What made Ginny stop and gulp was the sight of Severus's strong hands firmly cupped around her husband's jeans-clad arse.

"Sorry, sorry," she'd gabbled, hiding her red face behind her fingers, peeping just a little.

"It is I who must apologise," Severus said in a strangled voice, leaping away from Harry. "In future I will endeavour to be more discreet. I had no wish to give offense, or to cause you pain."

Harry had burst into guffaws. "You've not got Ginny's measure at all, Severus," he'd said. "Look at her face. She thinks it's hot!"

"Harry!" Severus's voice was scandalised.

And "Harry!" Ginny had chimed in, more exasperated than embarrassed. "Severus will think I'm a shameless tart!"

"Only because he doesn't know much about women," Harry had said complacently, upon which both Ginny and Severus descended on him with pokes in the ribs and tugs to the hair.

When they'd all stopped laughing and settled down with the tea that had been Ginny's aim in coming into the kitchen in the first place, she'd said more seriously, "Listen, gents, if this is to succeed we can't be kneazle-footing around the place the whole time. I want this to be a house full of love and affection, openly expressed. Just—" she'd given Severus a sly look from under her eyebrows "—let's say hands above the waist when the children are in the house, yes? And let's none of us forget the Silencing charms on our bedrooms at night. Agreed?" They'd clasped hands in a three-way knot across the table.

Now, with the children home for the summer, solitude—or privacy for a twosome—became even harder to achieve. Severus had taken over the former guest room, which was now referred to as "Father's room"; the one where Ginny slept was still called "Mum and Dad's room." There was an unspoken agreement that no one mentioned or appeared to notice which one Harry came out of on any given morning.

"My friend Keiko says it's like that in Japanese bath houses," Lily had said when Ginny tactfully probed to see whether she was bothered by the situation. "She calls it 'looking but not seeing.' To tell you the truth, Mum, the boys and I don't really want to know what the, erm, older generation is doing. Or even to think about you doing anything. In fact, please can we change the subject?"

This reticence on the children's part left Ginny in something of a quandary when Teresa Zabini was scheduled to visit for the weekend after Midsummer's. "Are we really supposed to pretend they're not sleeping together?" she asked Harry and Severus one evening when Al had friends playing music in the sitting room and the ensuing noise covered the adults' conversation in the kitchen.

"There is such a thing as decorum to be observed," Severus said.

Harry snorted. "I've never been able to tell where decorum ends and hypocrisy begins."

"I am aware," Severus said snidely.

"Git," Harry said.

"All right, boys, behave yourselves," Ginny said. "We're getting off the subject. Where shall we put her when she comes?"

"Let's see how things look when we go to Malfoys' next week," Harry said. "We are actually doing that, right?"

"Don't you want to?" Ginny asked.

"I reckon," Harry said. "Only I still have some fairly ambivalent feelings about him."

"I believe that is the purpose of the exercise," Severus said. "To find—what is that ghastly American expression?—ah, 'closure.'"

"I'm more a 'let sleeping dogs lie' sort of bloke myself," Harry said.

"You're forgetting about Scorpius and Albus," Ginny reminded him.

"True. I suppose we should try to get along for Al's sake."

"Lucius would be rolling in his grave, if they'd let him have one." Ginny immediately regretted her flippant remark, seeing Severus shift his eyes away from her and twitch his long fingers just a fraction. "I'm sorry, Severus. I know you were… close, once."

"'But that was long ago, and in another country, and besides, the wench is dead,'" Severus quoted softly.

Harry touched his arm and Ginny got up to refresh their tea by hand instead of using magic, to give them a moment together.

In the warm days that followed, Ginny watched her nestmates broodingly, thinking about love. She and Severus had grown fond of each other, while her own relationship to Harry had sharpened and deepened as his bond with Severus became a full-fledged marriage. Where she had feared feeling excluded, she found instead that Harry saw her afresh, and appreciated her more keenly than ever.

When he came to her at night, there was a spontaneity and romance to their lovemaking that restored peaks and dips to a landscape previously worn smooth with habit. Though the patterns of their interactions were essentially the same, there were little gestures and touches that were new. But more important than any innovative technique was the sense she had that her husband was reveling in her femininity, seeing her as a woman and as the particular woman she was with sharpened perspective.

For her part, she found that knowing Harry was also sleeping with another man had a double effect. On the one hand, it accentuated his maleness, her sense of him as other than herself. On the other hand, it meant they had a shared experience that added an almost sisterly sympathy to their interactions. And on a purely physical, atavistic level, she did find thinking about Harry and Severus together both erotic and sentimentally appealing, now that the Tripartite Bond had regularised the relationship and brought it within the safe boundaries of the nest.

As a bonus, on the nights Harry spent with Severus, Ginny rediscovered solitude, owning her own space and her own body as she had not been able to since her childhood as the only girl in a houseful of boys. She even asked Harry whether he wouldn't like to have a room of his own to retreat to on occasion, but he said he'd had his fill of isolation at the Dursleys' and never wanted to sleep alone again if he could help it.

Severus, predictably, required more private time than both Ginny and Harry put together, and was capable of snarling and snapping to ensure it when the cosiness of their life together threatened to smother him. Then he would retreat to his lab.

If the children were home, Albus would often join him, ignoring the threats and grumbles of the man Lily had first suggested they call "Father." But Severus's mutterings seemed pro forma where Albus was concerned; the boy had developed an interest and facility in potions brewing that forged a silent bond between them. James continued to treat Severus with a sort of brisk, respectful affection, while Lily unselfconsciously clambered onto his lap or twined her arms around his neck from behind his chair as freely and frequently as she did with Ginny or Harry.

Perhaps love really is enough, Ginny thought. Let's see if it gets us through this Midsummer's Eve venture.