Now And Forever
Many thanks to my brilliant Brit-picker, Kelpie, and my fabulous betas, Alexander, Asad, Iris and Rich! Thanks too to Mark Anders Harrison for help with a Latin incantation, and Mike McKean for his help with a sports question!
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Late that night, Harry flashed Ginny down to his quarters, where he took his time undressing her. She had on a flannel gown with what seemed to be a hundred buttons on
the front. Rather than lift it over her head, he opened one button at a time, tenderly kissing whatever skin he could find in the newly-opened space. He savoured the taste of her, the smell of her,
the silky texture of her skin under his lips, tongue and gently wandering hands. By the fourth button, she was already gasping. He chuckled and knelt before his petite wife who was opening buttons as
fast as she could now. Harry moved his mouth to her breast and she leaned against him, her fingers tangled in his hair, holding him where she wanted him.
He was too busy enjoying himself to stop and look up at her. His mouth never left her breast as he answered, "Mmm?"
"H-h-harry! Bed! Now!"
Harry chuckled. "Can’t take it, can you?"
"No!" She pulled on his shoulders, trying to get him to stand up. "Harry, please!"
"Your wish is my command," he said, getting to his feet and lifting her in his arms. He sat her on the bed, whisked the gown over her head and did a Transference Charm on his pyjamas, which landed neatly atop her gown.
"You’re too far away," she said with a pretty pout, then grabbed his hand and pulled hard, making him fall on the bed beside her.
"I love it when you get bossy," he murmured against her neck.
"And I love it when you cooperate," she sighed, giggling when he blew a raspberry on her neck. "Be serious!"
He raised himself on one elbow and looked at her. He didn’t think he’d ever tire of those beautiful eyes, that sweet face, the luscious body that trembled so deliciously under his hands. "I couldn’t be more serious. I love you, Ginny Potter."
"Say it again!"
"Ginny Potter. Ginny Potter. Ginny Potter."
* * * * *
When they lay in an exhausted tangle of arms and legs, Ginny giggled. "Look."
Harry was happy where he was, with his face nestled in the crook of her neck. "Mmm?"
He raised his head and studied her face. "Look at what?"
"It’s a new record, I think," she said, making a sweeping gesture with her arm. "Maybe nine feet this time?"
"Nine feet?" He looked around him then. They were floating at least nine feet above the bed. At least my aura isn’t showing like it used to when we wound up floating. As usual, when he became aware that he was floating, they began to fall. He flipped over so he was on the bottom when they landed, their landing cushioned by his quick Arresto Momentum.
"Are you all right?" Ginny said, pushing away from him enough to see his face in focus.
"Yeah." He held Ginny in place on his chest, loving the feeling of her skin against his. "Just stay there. I’m happy."
She chuckled as she relaxed against him again. "I’m happy too. I love you."
"Love you more."
She lifted her head and grinned. "OK."
Harry lifted his lips to hers in a slow, tender kiss. When they parted, Ginny nestled her head under his chin and fell asleep.
Harry ran his hands lightly over her silky hair and her back, over and over. The weight of her body on his was so comfortable, so cherished. He found himself wishing they could just merge and be one body forever.
As he began to doze, Ginny woke enough to slide off his chest and nestle against his side, her head on his shoulder, her arm around his chest, her legs tangled with his. In a few minutes, they were both sound asleep.
* * * * *
BAM! BAM! BAM!
Harry awoke with a start. "What theâ€”?"
BAM! BAM! BAM!
"Grab your things and go back to your room," Harry whispered, getting up and trying to pull his pyjama bottoms on without falling over. "Merlin, flash her back, but fly back instead of flashing when you return."
BAM! BAM! BAM!
"Who could it be?" Ginny said in a hushed voice as she tied her dressing gown around her. She’d put her nightgown on so fast, it was inside-out.
"No idea, but it can’t be good. Stay in your room until I send for you."
"Right. Go!" He watched her grab Merlin’s tail and disappear in a flash, then hurried to the door.
Harry opened the door, his wand at the ready. Standing just outside were the three men from the Board of Governors who had caused him so much trouble, with Filch hovering behind them.
"What the bloody hell do you want?" It was all Harry could do to avoid snarling.
"Where is she?" Thistlewood said, shoving the door open and striding inside Harry’s quarters.
"I didn’t invite you in," Harry snapped. It took every bit of strength he had to avoid hexing them as the other two followed Thistlewood inside. Harry sent a quick Adfero to Dumbledore while glaring at Filch, then slammed the door in Filch’s face.
"We know she’s in here, Potter. Where is she?" The three men poked around in Harry’s sitting room, bedroom, bathroom, even the wardrobe, but Ginny, of course, wasn’t there. The men looked at each other in frustration and then scanned the area again.
"Look at that bed!" Smedley’s voice had a victorious ring. "Two people were there! We have you now, Potter!"
Harry’s face twisted in disgust. "No, you don’t. Everyone knows I sleep very badly since the war. Even you know that. You had testimony from my healer about it, remember? By morning, the sheets are usually off the bed from me tossing and turning. And yes, I use both pillows." Grateful he was so adept at lying, Harry used the time while their attention was on the bed to do a wandless cleaning spell to make certain there were no red hairs evident anywhere in his quarters. Ginny didn’t keep any of her things there, so there shouldn’t be any other evidence of her visits. "Why are you here?"
Peabody turned and glared at Harry. "We received information that she was here."
Harry spread his hands and shook his head. "You can see for yourself that she isn’t. Why are you harassing me this way?"
"Whether you’re a volunteer teacher or not, you must follow school rules! We’re making certain the rules are followed!" Smedley said from the corner, where he was examining Harry’s Firebolt Excalibur.
"Don’t touch that. It isn’t school property," Harry said, snatching the broom from his grasp. "And Ginny isn’t hiding in it, either."
A polite knock sounded at the door. Harry went to open it. "Thanks for coming." A glance at the Board members told Harry they hadn’t expected to see Dumbledore tonight.
"And to what do we owe this visit?" Dumbledore said, studying each Board member in turn.
"We got a tip that Miss Weasley was spending the night in Potter’s quarters, so we came to see for ourselves," Thistlewood said.
"And Mr. Filch let you in?"
"I’ll have to speak to Mr. Filch about that," Dumbledore said mildly. "No visitors are permitted on the grounds until they have checked in with either me or Professor McGonagall. You checked in with neither of usâ€”I’ve already spoken with Professor McGonagall to be certainâ€”so you, sirs, are in violation of school rules. As to your accusation, I don’t see Miss Weasley anywhere, do you?"
"No, we didn’t find her," Peabody growled. "But she was here! Look at that bed!"
Dumbledore glanced up at Harry. "It is well known that Mr. Potter has trouble sleeping."
Harry nodded, glad his grandfather was backing him up. "I told them that. They chose not to believe me."
"So where is Miss Weasley?" Peabody demanded.
Harry’s temper was dangerously near the surface. "In her room! And probably asleep!"
"We’ll just see about that," Thistlewood said with an imperious sniff as he left Harry’s quarters.
Soon the whole group was standing outside the Gryffindor portrait hole. Dumbledore turned to Harry. "Do you know the password for this week?"
"What? That’s not possible!" Smedley cried. "You’re a Gryffindor!"
Harry sighed. "I’m a Gryffindor who finished school last term. Since I teach students from all the houses, I try to treat each house equally, so I don’t visit any of their Common Rooms. If I meet any of my Gryffindor friends to study, it’s in the library, not in Gryffindor Tower."
A moment later, Minerva McGonagall bustled up. "I’m sorry to keep you waiting."
"Not a problem, Professor," Dumbledore said. "Thank you for coming."
"I’ve already contacted Miss Weasley. She should be down in a moment," McGonagall said, giving the three Board members a disapproving glare.
A few minutes later, a sleepy-looking Ginny came through the portrait hole and stared at the group gathered in the hallway. Her eyes were puffy, her hair was mussed and her dressing gown was tied crookedly. Harry had to suppress a relieved smile when he noticed her gown was right-side-out now, with every button he could see fastened properly.
Ginny yawned and frowned at the strangers, then turned to McGonagall. "What’s going on?"
"How long have you been in there?" Peabody demanded.
Ginny instantly bristled. "What business is it of yours?"
"These are those three blokes from the Board," Harry said.
"It might speed things along if you simply answer the question, Miss Weasley," McGonagall added.
Ginny shrugged, as if the answer weren’t important at all. "I studied in the library, then did some more work in the Common Room and went to bed, I don’t know, probably eleven-thirty or so." She looked at Harry. "Are you all right?"
"I’m pretty well annoyed. I was asleep."
She turned the full fury of her temper on the Board members, shaking her finger under the nose of the nearest one. "I know you’ve been informed that he doesn’t sleep well! How dare you wake him up! Shame on you!"
Harry almost smiled. It was kind of fun to see her attack somebody on his behalf. Then he remembered that she was under their authority and might get in trouble for scolding them. Before he could say anything, McGonagall stepped in.
"Yes, indeed. How dare you disturb Mr. Potter’s sleep, as well as Miss Weasley’s, Professor Dumbledore’s and mine! What evidence do you have to back up your accusations?"
"We had a tipâ€”" Peabody began.
"And who gave you this tip?" Dumbledore demanded.
Thistlewood drew himself up to his full height and sniffed imperiously. "We cannot reveal our source."
"Then we have nothing more to say to you, either," Dumbledore said. "Mr. Potter, Miss Weasley, Professor, I apologize for them disrupting your rest. Good night." With a gracious gesture, he invited the three Board members to precede him down the corridor. As he left, Dumbledore gave Harry a very deliberate wink.
"Well, that was a ridiculous waste of time," McGonagall said, wrapping her arms around herself tightly. "Miss Weasley, go back to bed. I’m sorry you were disturbed."
"Good night, Professor. ï€„Night, Harry."
Harry took her hand and kissed it, not willing to do more that that under McGonagall’s stern gaze. "ï€„Night, sweet girl. See you in the morning."
Once the portrait hold closed, McGonagall turned to Harry. "Will you walk with me, Harry?"
"Of course." Here comes the lecture. And yeah, I probably deserve it.
McGonagall spoke lightly of unimportant things until they reached her quarters. "Thank you for walking with me. I just found a new kind of tea that’s supposed to help you get to sleep. Would you like to try some?" Her look said he’d better agree.
"That sounds good. Thanks." He followed her into her quarters, took the seat she offered him, and watched as she cast an Imperturbable Charm on her door.
"I do have that tea, if you’d like some, but what I really wanted was to talk to you." She bustled around her quarters, opening a tartan tin of Ginger Newts. "Have some," she said as she got out her tea pot and set the tea to steep.
Harry took a biscuit and ate it slowly as he waited to see what was on her mind.
Once each of them had a cup of tea, Minerva sat down opposite Harry and got right to the point. "Professor Dumbledore informed me of your secret marriage. While I can’t say I approve, I do notice a change for the better in both of you. You seem more rested and she seems less stressed and worried all the time."
Harry frowned. "She wasâ€”"
"Constantly worrying about you, Harry. She loves you greatly, and I’m sure you feel the same way. It shows on your faces when you’re together. I’m very happy for you."
"That said, this visit by Board members is quite disturbing."
"I agree." Harry sipped his tea. "This is good, thanks."
"I hope it helps. I know how hard it can be to lose sleep. I’ve suffered similar problems myself since the war. Many of us here at Hogwarts have, actually."
Hearing McGonagall make such an admission was a shock. "I didn’t know. I’m sorry."
She sighed, then waved a dismissive hand. "Yes, well, you’re not the only one who mourns all those dear children and friends who died. And that’s not to diminish your suffering, which I’m sure is dreadful. But those men don’t understand, nor will they understand if they ever do catch you and Ginny together in your quarters."
Harry shook his head. "I don’t know how to be more careful. Merlin flashes her back and forth, so she’s never seen out of her room at night, nor anywhere near mine. I had him fly back tonight rather than flashing, so there wouldn’t be any flash of light when those blokes were around. They didn’t even notice him return."
"Someone is spying on you, Harry. You need to be more careful. I think we should view this evening as a warning. Even if they’ve accepted the fact that you don’t really work for Hogwarts but are a volunteer teacher, they can expel Miss Weasley."
"I know. We’ll be careful."
"See that you are."
* * * * *
Ginny sat on the edge of her bed waiting for Harry or Merlin to come for her. Finally, Merlin flashed into sight.
"Hi, Merlin! I’m ready to go." She started to stand up to leave, but noticed the bird had a note in his beak. "What’s this?" She took the note and sat on her bed again.
Hi, sweet girl, it began in Harry’s untidy scrawl, I’m sorry, but I don’t want you to return this evening. McGonagall says someone’s spying on us, and I agree. I’ve just finished thrashing about in my room, "going spare" as Ron would say, but now I’m setting some wards in place so I can catch the bastard who’s doing it. You don’t need to see me in a temper, and you do need your rest, so go to bed, sweetheart, and dream of me. I’ll do the same as soon as I’ve checked my wards.
I love you.
Ginny folded the note and sighed, then turned Harry’s note over and wrote a quick response.
When you catch him, can I help you teach him a lesson? I’d be quite happy to rip him limb from limb at the moment! How dare he (or she!) invade our privacy that way! I’ll be SO glad when we don’t have to go through this anymore!
I miss you. I love you. Sleep well, love.
* * * * *
The next night, Harry sat in his room alone, talking to Ginny on his ring. Her voice came through loud and clear, and he could see her lovely face floating above the
ring. They’d decided to stay apart for the rest of the week to avoid any problems, but that didn’t mean Harry had taken the wards down around his quarters.
Ginny was telling him about some incident in the Common Room when Harry’s Sneak-O-Scope started spinning. Harry pulled his ring off and left it on the bed. From the sound of the story, Ginny would talk for quite a while without needing his input. Treading softly, he moved to the window and peeped outside. An Extendable Ear dangled just above the window frame. He wouldn’t have seen it if he hadn’t been looking for it.
I’ve got you now! He picked up his ring and said, "Huh," which was enough to keep Ginny going for a bit longer while he opened the Marauder’s Map and whispered "I solemnly swear I’m up to no good" as he tapped it with his wand. He quickly found what he was looking for. Addison Thayne. In the office above my quarters. He folded the map, picked up his ring and said, "Really?" then moved into his sitting room and put an Imperturbable Charm on the bedroom door. He sent an Adfero to Ginny to tell her to keep talking, that he’d found the spy and was about to catch him. Then he sent a message to Dumbledore to tell him what he was about to do.
Grabbing his Invisibility Cloak, Harry raced out of his quarters and up the nearest staircase, then down the corridor to the unused office located above his quarters. He checked the map again. Thayne was still in there. Wand at the ready, Harry opened the office door and entered, still wearing the Invisibility Cloak.
Thayne sat by the window at the far end of the room and hadn’t noticed the door’s movement as Harry came in. Harry knew the boy vaguely. He was a fifth year Ravenclaw who wasn’t taking any flying classes. He looked sad most of the time and seemed to stay to himself.
Harry walked close behind the boy and then said in a sepulchral voice, "Why are you spying on Harry Potter?"
The boy jumped and spun around, his eyes wide and frightened. "Wh-wh-who said that? Who’s there?"
"Why are you spying on Harry Potter?" Harry repeated.
The boy stared around him, but couldn’t see anything. Harry could see him gathering his courage. After a moment, he straightened, a defiant look on his face. "He’s breaking the rules!"
"He got away with breaking the rules all the time when he was a student! He shouldn’t be able to do that as a teacher!"
"Harry Potter spent a great deal of time in detention whenever he broke the rules as a student." Harry wondered what he should say next. Was the boy spying simply to get Harry into trouble? "Do you have a grudge against him?"
"Who are you? Where are you?" the boy demanded, more confident now that the disembodied voice had done nothing to harm him.
"That doesn’t matter. What does matter is why you’ve sullied your own reputation by spying on someone."
"He killed my grandfather and my uncle," the boy snarled. "He killed all those people and he didn’t get any punishment at all. My other uncle and my father are in Azkaban now because of Harry Potter. He doesn’t deserve to live, much less have a beautiful girl in his room!"
Harry sensed the door opening and turned to see his grandfather enter the room.
"Mr. Thayne, why are you here?" Dumbledore asked quietly.
"I, erm, I . . ." the boy stammered.
"You are out of bed after hours, Mr. Thayne. I’ll ask you again. Why are you here?" His blue gaze, which Harry knew could be so piercing, focused on the boy before him.
Thayne took a deep breath, then faced Dumbledore with a determined look. "Harry Potter has Ginny Weasley in his room again! He’s breaking the rules, Professor!"
"I happen to know that Miss Weasley is not with Mr. Potter," Dumbledore said. "I just spoke with her, and she’s in Gryffindor Tower, just as she should be."
"B-b-but . . . I can hear them talking down there!" Thayne gestured wildly toward the window, where one end of an Extendable Ear could be seen on the sill.
Dumbledore walked to the window and picked up the Ear and listened for a moment. "Ah yes. Miss Weasley is telling Mr. Potter a rather involved story, from the sound of it." He put the Ear down and turned to the boy. "They have rings with a spell on them that allows them to speak to each other. That’s what you’re hearing."
"No, she’s there! I’m sure of it!"
"Shall we go to Mr. Potter’s quarters and see?" Dumbledore said, still as calm as before.
"Yeah! Yeah, if you catch himâ€”but wait. You’re his grandfather. You won’t do anything to him!"
Dumbledore tilted his head and studied the boy for a long moment. "I will forgive you for thinking such a thing, Mr. Thayne, but only this once. If Mr. Potter is breaking a rule, I will deal with him. But I believe he and Miss Weasley are talking on their rings. Shall we go and see?"
Harry took this as his cue and left the office quietly, then ran down to his quarters. He shoved the Invisibility Cloak into his bag, then forced his breathing to slow as he crossed to the window. The Ear was gone. Dumbledore and Addison Thayne should be here soon. He picked up his ring and wished he could kiss Ginny. She was sounding a bit hoarse now, but was still chatting away.
"You’re brilliant, you know," Harry said, interrupting her.
Ginny sighed heavily. "Did you catch him?"
"Yes. Grandfather’s bringing him here now, so let’s just chat normally, OK?"
Ginny chuckled. "My voice could do with a rest! Why don’t you tell me something funny that happened today?"
"Do you have any idea how much I love you?" Harry said, his voice soft and tender. "I miss you so much."
She smiled. "I’m not that far away, and you did see me today, you know."
"Much too far away to suit me, but it will have to do for now. Oh, funny things. Hmm. Oh, remember that little first year girl who was so afraid of flying at first? She did a spiral barrel roll today! I was so proud of her! That isn’t exactly funny, but it’s cool."
"Yeah, it is. You’re such a good teacher, Harry."
"I really enjoy it, too." Harry heard a knock on the door. "Hang on, sweet girl. Someone’s at the door." He slipped his ring on his finger as he walked toward the door. "Who is it?"
"Professor Dumbledore and a young friend."
Harry opened the door and smiled at his grandfather. "You’re wandering the halls late, aren’t you?"
"I’m not the only one." He moved aside to reveal Addison Thayne behind him.
"Mr. Thayne," Harry said. "Why are you out of bed so late?"
"He believes you have Miss Weasley here," Dumbledore replied.
Harry pulled his hand from behind his back. Ginny’s face still floated above his ring. "We were talking, but she’s not here." Harry felt a bit bad about his deception when he saw the colour drain out of Thayne’s face.
"I, uh, I didn’t know," Thayne stammered. "I’m sorry."
"Are you the one who contacted the Board about Mr. Potter?" Dumbledore asked the boy.
Thayne hung his head. "Yes, Professor."
"Come to my office, Mr. Thayne. We need to discuss a few things such as your motive for this behaviour and what punishment I should give you."
"Yes, Professor," the boy said.
Harry watched the two of them leave, then went back into his quarters. He wrote a note to his grandfather detailing what he’d learned from the boy and asked Merlin to deliver it. Once the bird flashed out of sight, Harry dropped onto his bed and rubbed his eyes tiredly.
"Harry?" Ginny’s voice called to him from the ring.
"Are you all right?"
"I don’t feel right about what I did tonight. That boy has reason to resent me, but he shouldn’t have done what he did. And I shouldn’t have scared him the way I did, either." He sighed. "I was angry and wanted to get him, to stop him, to get even with him. But that’s why he was spying on me in the first place. We’re no different."
"Yes, you are! You were right to be angry about his spyingâ€”"
"But he was right that I’ve been breaking rules and getting away with it."
They were silent for a few minutes. Then Ginny said, "I’ll bet he never spies on anyone again."
"Yeah, that may be true."
"And if that is true, then you’ve done that boy and the world a service."
Harry chuckled, but it wasn’t a humorous sound. "Or I’ve cost the wizarding world a budding spy."
"He wasn’t a very good spy, after all. He got caught." Ginny’s voice was light and teasing.
Harry laughed. "True." He smiled at her, the ache in his heart easing a bit. "You always know the right thing to say."
"I do my best. And now I’ll say goodnight. I love you."
"I love you too. See you tomorrow."