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we can't control (watch me unfold)

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2.

“Potter!”

Harry grimaces, reluctantly coming a stop. He’d had hopes of getting out of the office without having to deal with his cranky boss.

Five days of barely any sleep and a clusterfuck of a case have left him with little patience, and this may just be the day he finally tells his boss to shove his head up his arse. Getting the man to like him seems an impossible task at this point anyway. Most days he’d settle for being tolerated.

Stepping into Gerhardt's office, Harry somehow manages to find a final well of patience to draw upon. The thing is, despite the endless aggravations, he likes his job. Loves it, really. He is really sodding good at it, he feels like he’s actually making an impact, fixing things, and if he didn’t do it...well, he probably wouldn’t be able to sleep at night leaving it in the hands of others.

Ron is quick to tell him that makes him a prat, thinking he’s the only thing keeping the world safe or some bollocks. But Ron was able to walk away from the aurors. Maybe that was Hermione. Maybe that was his giant, supportive family. Harry doesn’t know. They’re just…different people. If Ron can sleep at night, more power to him.

Harry has seen way too much to ever be able to go back to living a life of blissful ignorance. As if he ever had a life of blissful ignorance in the first place. But he’s also never made the mistaken assumption that a war ending means people stop doing evil shite.

People are fucked up, war or no, and that’s the truth that keeps him here. That, and the fact that he is goddamned good at it.

And so he looks his livid boss in the face and doesn’t tell him to go fuck himself, instead promising to have his report on his desk first thing in the morning. A report that will detail the painful incompetence of a few of his peers. He may hold his tongue around his boss, but no one else is going to get that treatment. He doesn’t particularly care how unpopular it makes him.

His new partner is another question. In Harry’s experience, there are two kinds of people who aspire to become grey stripes—those who like power and those who distrust power. The former are dangerous as hell and have no place being here, in Harry’s opinion. But the latter are the ones who burn out and walk away, the ones who get ruined by the work. Then again, the work ruins everyone eventually. You care too much, you go crazy. You care too little, you become the thing you hunt.

It’s a fine line to walk, one that he isn’t sure his new partner will manage. The only certain thing is that the guy is a bulldog. Then train him, his boss insists.  

Harry would rather just work on his own. Just like he has ever since his first partner washed up.

Like Ron, his old partner has a wife and a family. Harry thinks that’s part of the problem. This job has to be your life. Trying for anything else is sabotage—for the relationship and the job. Which is why Harry spends half the night writing up a report and nursing his superficial wounds, and there is no one to inconvenience with that, no one to complain or wheedle.

He sends the report off to the office and falls into bed sometime around three in the morning.

Needless to say, he’s a little annoyed when someone bangs on his door shortly after nine.

He blearily opens the door.

“Oh, good,” Ron says, pushing past him into the apartment. “You’re back.”

“Just barely,” Harry says.

“Good mission?”

“Shite mission.”

“Ah, well, just like normal then,” he says, not put off by Harry’s abysmal mood. “And now I’m gonna need you to get dressed.”

Harry flops back on the couch, absently scratching at his chest, but making no move to put on any clothes. “And why would I do that on my day off?”

“Because we are going out. Bloke’s day. Glorious fun.”

Harry groans, pulling a throw pillow over his face.

“Come on, mate,” Ron says. “You look like you could use some fun.”

“Really, Ron,” he tries to put off.

He honestly isn’t sure why Ron puts up with him, why he insists on still being his mate. It’s what Weasleys do though—adopt strays.

Ron pulls the pillow off his face. “I’ve got an extra ticket to an exhibition match. A little quidditch and ale and yelling at the referees will do you good.”

This catches his attention far more than it should. “Your sister’s match?” he asks before he can stop himself.

Ron looks at him like he’s thick. “Yeah. Of course. How do you think I got the tickets? She finally got that exhibition spot she’s been harping on about. That’s why she was here last month. Trying to make a good impression for once.”

She certainly did that.

Harry never really intended to spend another moment even thinking about Ginny Weasley, beyond the occasional stray thought at opportune moments—what he thinks about when he’s alone in his room really shouldn’t count. It’s not like he had a particularly long dry spell before Ginny Weasley walked her rather stunning arse into their local pub or anything. Or that there’s been no one since. She just seems to have…lingered.

“Hermione doesn’t want to go?” he asks.

Ron shakes his head. “She hates quidditch. I mean, she’ll go if I ask, bless her. But she won’t be any fun .”

So Harry finds himself agreeing to go along and tells himself it has nothing to do with a certain fiery-haired chaser. Maybe he’s slightly curious to see how much he’s obviously built her up in his mind.

Ron’s brothers are all at the match along with a motley collection of friends. They cram into a nosebleed section together, loud and raucous with laughter and abuse. There is plenty of ale and a careless energy to the stadium that really does go a long way to lifting Harry’s mood. Before he knows it, he’s laughing and giving as good he gets.

As for the match itself, Harry thinks it really shouldn’t be a surprise that Ginny is spectacular. She flies like she shags—daring and impressively competent and always ready to take control of everything around her. What’s more surprising is that someone this good isn’t already taking the international leagues by storm.

He follows quidditch somewhat, when he has the time, but doesn’t pay much attention to the continental leagues. He knew Ron had a sister that played, but not much beyond that.

“She’s good, right?” Ron shouts at him after Ginny scores for the sixth time.

“Yeah,” Harry agrees. She’s very good.

A couple of Ron’s brothers get shitfaced, but that just makes it all even more fun, watching Ron frown over them and stop them from devolving into fisticuffs. George in particular is stumbling fairly badly by the end of the match, a grinning Bill supporting him as they head down to the player’s level to loiter about and wait for their sister.

Ginny eventually comes out, hair still damp from a shower, uniform swapped for a trim tracksuit. “You made it!” she says, hugging them all.

They give her shite about her goals that were blocked, conveniently forgetting about the eight goals she did make against a fairly dominant keeper. Ginny takes it all with belligerent good humor, razzing them back with ease.

Before Harry can wonder how awkward this might be, Ginny is turning to look at him.

“Harry,” she says, stretching up to press a chaste kiss to his cheek, the floral scent of her hair wafting over him. “Nice to see you again.”

He relaxes a bit at this easy greeting, smiling at her as she steps back away. “You too. Great match.”

“Thanks.” She turns to Ron. “Couldn’t get Hermione to come, huh?”

Ron waves a hand dismissively. “Knew Harry would appreciate it more. He’s a bit of a fan, when he can find the time for it.”

“Oh, is he?” she asks, sliding him a look.

“Yeah,” Ron says, clearly unaware of the undercurrents. “He played back in his school days, apparently.” He looks to him as if for confirmation.

“Uh, yeah. A bit,” Harry admits. What little time he had for things like that growing up, and nothing as official as a school team. More like pick up games in an abandoned field between moving safe houses.

“Beater, was it?” Ron asks.

Before Harry can answer, Ginny shakes her head, eyes skimming down his body. “Seeker,” she guesses.

“Got it in one,” he says, trying to ignore the spike in his blood pressure. It’s honestly ridiculous that she can affect him this much by just standing there. He must be losing his mind, or just be harder up than he thought.

Ron gets pulled into an argument with one of his brothers then, leaving him on his own with Ginny. It’s only when she catches him at it that he realizes he’s staring, his eyes trailing over her body as he vividly recalls their last encounter.

Ginny leans into him, rather blatantly brushing up against his arm. “So, huge quidditch fan, any interest in a tour of the stadium?”

It’s not her home pitch or anything, so he doubts that’s what this is really about.

“Absolutely,” he finds himself saying before he can consider that this isn’t the best idea. Her brothers are all right there, not to mention they both agreed the last time would be it.

She gives him a brilliant smile though, and he’s a bit disgruntled to realize that he’s in no way built her up in his memory. She’s every bit as enticing and gorgeous as he remembers.

Well, he tells himself, this can be the last time.

He might wonder at his powers of self-delusion if she weren’t already leading him to a door, flashing her player badge at a bored-looking guard. He lets them through without comment. On the other side of the door stretches a long, nondescript hallway. They don’t pass anyone other than one of Ginny’s teammates who gives them both a knowing smile.

Turning into a doorway, he follows her through a locker room still populated with various people, none paying them particular mind. She gestures for him to precede her into a dressing room, drawing the curtain around behind them.

“For a tour, this one is rather lacking,” he says, not sparing a glance for the small alcove, his attention still riveted to her.

“Is it?” she asks, fingers tugging the zipper on her sweatshirt down, baring a swath of toned sternum and the valley between her breasts.

Christ.

“I stand corrected,” he says, watching her approach, unable to stop himself from moistening his lips in anticipation, his brain already firing in a million different directions. “Best tour ever.”

She grins, stepping up against him and winding her arms around his neck. “I wish I’d known you were here earlier.”

“Yeah?” he asks, letting his hands slide down her sides to settle on her hips.

She seems to melt into him, and it takes a lot for Harry to stop himself dragging her hard up against him, or twisting around to press her against the wall behind him.

“Yeah,” she says, fingers trailing down the front of his shirt. “I’ve already partaken of my post-game rituals on my own. Twice.”

Her tone leaves little doubt exactly what kind of rituals those are.

“That is a shame,” he says, the mental image conjured by her words both painfully tantalizing and disappointing if it means she’s isn’t up for this, because, embarrassingly enough, he already is.

Her hands drag his shirt up out of his trousers, fingers sliding under the fabric. He sucks in a breath at the sensation of her nails raking faintly across his stomach. Her actions seem to signal that there is still a chance of something at least.  

“Nothing gets me going faster than playing quidditch,” she says, fingers now intent on popping open the buttons on his shirt, leaning forward to press her mouth to his chest.

“Winning quidditch, I imagine,” he says, heat flushing up his skin in reaction to her attentions.

Her teeth nip at his skin, just past playful in the best possible way. “What about you?” she asks. “What gets you going?”

Apparently just being within 100 yards of her to judge from his current state. “Watching you win quidditch does it pretty well for me too.”

“So it does,” she says, hand pressing against the front of his trousers.

He makes a rough sound at the back of his throat, leaning forward and finally catching that sassy, irresistible mouth with his own, everything narrowing down on the feel of her hand, her fingers teasing as she works at the opening of his trousers, all the while her lips and tongue warm and instant against his own.

He spreads his hands down over her arse, pulling her tight against him, rewarded with a deep groan from Ginny in response. She eventually pushes him impatiently back, giving herself room to pull open his belt and trousers.

“I always assumed Ron was bragging,” he says, taking advantage of her gaping top to brush his thumbs along the underside of her breasts, teasing gently. Her fingers fumble in their work, her teeth biting down on her lower lip. “But I think he was actually selling you short.”

“Well, you’d know, Mr. Big Quidditch Fan,” she says, pulling him free, fingers firm as they wrap around him.

He tangles his hand in her hair, as much to feel it as hold himself steady. “I promise I don’t have a poster of you hidden in my room.”

“Would you like one?” she asks, pushing him back against the wall, giving herself access to drag her mouth down over his chest as her hand settles into a smooth rhythm.

“Wouldn’t say no to that,” he somehow manages as she works her way lower and lower and her intent becomes clear.

She sinks down to her knees. “What would you say no to?”

Before he can respond, she takes him into her mouth, his head dropping back against the wall.

“Fuck,” he says, completely uncaring of the rumble of voices and lockers slamming shut just on the other side of the thin curtain. Of course, it’s hard to care about anything other than the feel of her mouth, the slick slide of her tongue as she pushes him to the edge only to pull back again and again, teasing just enough to remind him who is in charge at the moment.

She drags it out until he finally can’t stand it anymore, winding his hands in her hair, wanting to show her exactly what he wants. She laughs—the soft rumble of it only pushing him further—and finally relents, teeth gently grazing before giving him what he needs without any further prompting.

He curses, hands tugging gently but insistently at her hair, giving her a chance to back away, but she only impatiently bats him away and increases her attentions, pulling him closer, deeper, and he’s completely lost.

Some part of his brain knows he is far from quiet, the various people nearby completely fading from his mind in the face of the sharp pleasure she elicits. He’s weak and shaky by the time she finally pulls back.

Quidditch is definitely not the only thing she excels at.

She pushes slowly to her feet, licking her way up his chest, but he’s still just trying to keep his legs under him, one arm braced out against the wall.

She presses closer, her breasts firm and tantalizing against the skin of his chest, her face near his neck. “Just a little something for you to think about every time you look at my poster,” she murmurs. She grazes his earlobe with her teeth and then she’s zipping up her top and disappearing out into the locker room without saying goodbye, the curtain left hanging open behind her.

In a daze, Harry watches her leave, belatedly scrambling to turn his back so he can right his clothing. His fingers fumble enough that it takes longer than it should, his brain still struggling to process exactly what just happened.

He carefully doesn’t make eye contact with anyone as he finally crosses the locker room to leave. Remembering the look on Ginny’s face as she walked away, he has the sneaking suspicion that she likes seeing him back-footed, that part of her pleasure in this entire thing was showing just how much this happened on her own terms.

He feels like he should be annoyed by that, but he’d be lying if he said it didn’t do surprising things for him. He shakes his head, deciding Ginny Weasley might just be a mystery he never unravels. That’s probably a big part of her allure.

Yeah right, he thinks with a laugh.

Back up in the main level, he locates Ron and his brothers. There’s no sign of Ginny. He isn’t sure if he should be disappointed or relieved. There’s no telling what she might do.

“Where’d you bugger off to?” Ron asks.

Harry waves vaguely behind him. “Loo,” he lies.

Ron seems to take him at his word. He gives Harry a quick once over, smiling brightly at him. “I told you a match was a good idea. You seem more relaxed already.”

Harry doesn’t even bother risking a reply to that.

One week later, a cardboard tube arrives at his flat. Inside is a poster of Ginny laid out low over her broom, round, tight arse lifted in the air as she dives.

In case you ever find yourself in need of a hand, the inscription says, a pair of deep red lips pressed over her signature. The poster Ginny winks at him.

He quickly loses count of how often he wanks off while she watches.

*     *     *

Harry throws a tennis ball at his office wall, absently reaching out and catching it before throwing it again. It makes a satisfying thunk as it hits Felix Jugson’s picture square in the face. The at-large murderer scowls at Harry, but can’t walk out of frame. It’s a hollow sort of satisfaction, knowing the real Felix Jugson is more than likely still walking around free somewhere.

Harry throws the ball again, hitting each of the other pictures taped to his wall in turn—a handful of unsolved cold cases, including two war criminals still evading him after all these years. Part of climbing the ranks of the auror department was just so he would have access to this, the last high-level targets, the worst of the worst of Voldemort’s cronies.

Harry’s eyes narrow, taking in the familiar images and pages taped all over the wall. If there is an answer here, he hasn’t found it. But that doesn’t stop him trying. Thunk, thunk, thunk. The other aurors sharing walls with his office have long since given up complaining about the noise, instead layering on muffling wards. They all have their processes after all.

Harry leans back in his chair with a groan, letting his head fall back as he switches to tossing the ball at the ceiling. He hates office days. Almost as much as he hates loose ends.

This is only his second year with the grey stripes. The missions are far more complicated and intense than anything in his other previous roles. They often run far longer too. But there are fewer of them. Meaning downtime.

Technically, this time is supposed to be used to finish reports and tabulate the much-censored, abbreviated versions that go to the Wizengamot to become part of the permanent record. Even worse though, are the requisition forms, which are the opposite of abbreviated. Those damn bean counters want to know to the knut how much they spend and exactly how and why. Everything has to be justified and accounted for.

It is by far Harry’s least favorite thing.

Hence the cold cases and game of catch.

“They said this about you.”

Harry doesn’t startle at the unexpected voice, smoothly reaching out to grab the tennis ball as it bounces back towards him. “Did they?”

“That you’re obsessive.”  

Harry swings his feet down, finally looking back over his shoulder at his new partner. “Yeah, well, if you’re doing this job, you’d better well be obsessive.”

Hyrum Rosier doesn’t look particularly impressed by this nugget of wisdom, his arms crossed over his wide chest, dark eyes impassive. Despite his size, he’s young to even be here, only a few years out of the academy. It took Harry more than a decade to climb to this level, and he’d been particularly motivated. Then again, Harry was an unknown nobody with only a handful of ministry figures willing to vouch for him when he’d applied to the auror academy. All in all, it probably took him longer than most and left him with much more to prove.

Rosier’s rapid rise through the ranks could mean he is exceptionally talented or dedicated. Then again, he’s also a son of one of the richest, most powerful families in England, and that still means far more than people like to pretend it does.

Harry still hasn’t quite worked out where Rosier falls, not helped by the fact that he was assigned as Harry’s partner without any say from him. But he tries not to take that out on him. Much.

“I thought that one was closed,” Rosier says, gesturing at the picture of Langston Nott tacked next to his bookcase. Member of the Azkaban Thirteen. Killed while trying to evade recapture.

“Yeah,” Harry says. “It is.”

“More a reminder then?” he asks.

Once again, this is either a stupidly lucky guess, or Rosier knows far more than he’s letting on. It could be either, and that only annoys Harry more.

“You could say that,” he says, refusing to throw him a bone.  

Part of that is general peevishness, but also because he doesn’t really want to get into the fact that something has always bothered him about that particular case. Maybe just that it was the last case he worked with his partner of seven years. The one that made Byron walk away from the job.

Rosier doesn’t say anything else, but doesn’t leave either, even when Harry goes back to tossing the ball against the wall. He’s either just as bored as Harry or is trying to force him into confidences through uncomfortable silence.

Harry smiles grimly to himself. He’ll have a long wait.

Sure enough, Rosier breaks first. “We’re supposed to be partners, aren’t we?”

It’s a low blow, or maybe that’s just Harry’s conscience belatedly kicking in. He sighs, throwing the ball particularly hard so it flies past his shoulder and towards the door where Rosier stands.

There’s no satisfying yelp and the ball doesn’t come back.

“What exactly is this thing?”

Harry turns, and the tennis ball is floating in front of Rosier as he stares at it with suspicion. He’s not surprised the wizard used his wand rather than just catching it with his hand.

Purebloods, Harry thinks with disgust. “It’s a tennis ball. A game played with rackets.”

Rosier only looks more confused.

“Here, partner,” Harry says, grabbing a cigar box of scribbled receipts and tossing it to Rosier. “You can fill out the requisitions forms. Big team help.”  

This time Rosier catches the box, letting the ball fall to the ground and bounce into a dark corner. He scowls, clearly no more eager for the thankless task.

Harry finds himself bending. He’s never been much of a teacher, used to being the youngest around at any given time, but he supposes it’s time he at least tried.

Opening a drawer, Harry pulls out a random file from his so-called ‘obsession drawer’, glancing cursorily at it before flipping it to Rosier. “And when you’re done with that, look these over and let me know if anything stands out to you. What your overall impressions are. We can go over it together when you’re done.”

It happens to be a file on the Azkaban Thirteen. An old closed case by everyone’s standards but Harry’s. The escapees have all been caught. But no one has been able to explain how they escaped in the first place. Probably little more than an academic exercise, but a second pair of eyes never hurts. Besides, it will keep him busy.  

This seems to be far more what Rosier was looking for. He nods. “Sure thing.”

Harry dismisses him with a wave, and goes back to bouncing the ball and staring at the pictures for another hour, but nothing comes to him. Eventually he gets up and goes home, running by a nearby market when he remembers how empty his kitchen is.

He’s only a block from his place when a flash of copper hair in the crowd drags him out of his thoughts. It’s barely a glimpse, but it catches his attention, instantly dragging up memories of convenient alcoves and teasing fingers, a quiet laugh and warm eyes full of promise. Without conscious thought, his pace speeds up as if chasing another chance to catch a glimpse.

A group of blokes leave the sidewalk to cross the street, and he has a clear view of the woman now, walking away from his street. Despite not having seen her in weeks, something about the figure is very familiar.

“Ginny?” he calls out before he can stop himself.

He tells himself he’s barmy. She doesn’t even live in London. What are the chances it could actually be her? It’s just wishful thinking because a shag would really improve his mood at the moment.

Only the figure stops, turning back to look at him, and it is her. Even if she looks quite different than he’s used to, her hair pulled up in some complicated twist and her robes rather severe and business like.

Definitely her though, as she walks back towards him, the two of them meeting at the corner. “Hey,” she says, giving him a slow, slightly predatory smile.

“Hey,” he says, not even bothering to be annoyed by how thrilled he is to see her. But he also has no intention of letting her put him on his back foot so easily again. If she can treat this so casually, he can too. “Were you coming to see me?”

“I was,” she says, clearly not interested in playing coy. Harry doubts she’s ever been coy a day in her life. “I’m in town for a few days and thought I might drop by. I hope you don’t mind.”

“Not at all,” he says. He cants his head towards his flat. “Want to come up?”

“I definitely do.”

They cross over to the entrance in silence, Harry gesturing for her go first. She gives him a look that makes it clear she knows this is more for his benefit than any fit of gentlemanly behavior.

“So,” he says as he thoroughly enjoys watching the sight of her legs as she climbs the stairs ahead of him, her robes hitched a little higher than strictly necessary for the task. “Do you have another match? Or just visiting family?”

“Neither,” she says. “I’m in town for…business.”

“Yeah?”

Reaching the landing, she looks back at him. “I can’t really talk about it.”

That just piques his interest more, but he doesn’t push. “Sure.”

Reaching across her to open the door, she doesn’t move back away, letting him rather thoroughly invade her space.

“Such manners,” she says as she slips inside the open door.

Following her in, he lifts his grocery bag. “I’ll just put these away.”

“Sure,” she says.

Harry stows his milk in the icebox, making sure the cooling charms are still holding.

Ginny watches him from the doorway. “So I know we said this would only be a one time thing…”

Deciding the rest wouldn’t spoil, Harry drops the bag on the counter. “Three times ago, by my count.”

She lifts an eyebrow at him. “Keeping track are we?”

He shrugs, refusing to feel embarrassed. He knows they’ve both enjoyed their times together. The very fact that she is here again seems to confirm it. “What can I say? They were pretty memorable.”

She smiles. “And here I thought you just had a mind for details.”

Harry can’t help but laugh, and he’s amazed how quickly the annoyances of the day have dropped away. Apparently the possibility of really good sex can do that.

Ginny takes a step towards him. “I thought I would drop by and see if there was any chance you’d be interested in…upgrading.”

The anticipatory buzz dulls enough for him to frown slightly at her, a hard pit forming in his stomach. “Meaning what, exactly?”

She laughs. “Merlin, the look on your face. I’m not asking you for a relationship, Harry. I don’t really do relationships.”

He lets out a breath. “Me either,” he says, deciding it’s best to be upfront about it. He’s been sucked down that path twice before, and neither left him eager to give it another go.

She doesn’t seem put out by that. “Well isn’t that convenient.”

He watches her step closer, the anticipation growing again. “So what exactly are you proposing?”

Her head tilts to the side. “Look. We’re both busy people with rather consuming jobs. And it seems to me we have a certain rare...compatibility.”

That certainly was one way to put it.

“It just seems a shame to waste that,” she continues. 

“It certainly would be,” he agrees, gratified to hear that she thought their times together were something out of the ordinary as well.

“I’m glad we’re in agreement,” she says, and he wonders if he imagines that she looks a little relieved. It’s even more alluring somehow, this idea that there is so much more lurking under her brash exterior. “I thought we should take advantage of it. Whenever we like. Call it…recreational sex.”

“Recreational sex,” he repeats, amused. “So pretty much what we’ve already been doing.”

“Yes, only with a few rules in place. You know, just to keep things…” She waves a hand.

“Convenient and thorough?” he guesses.

She laughs, nodding. “Yes. Exactly.”

“What kind of rules?” he asks.

She doesn’t even hesitate, clearly having thought this through ahead of time, and he can’t help but notice that the prim business look is really working for her, or for him, he supposes. He’s never had a librarian thing, but for her, he thinks he could develop one.

“I was thinking, one of us shows up, and it’s a simple yes or no. No explanations needed. I don’t expect you to be exclusive, and if I start to get in the way of something or you’re not into it anymore, just tell me and I’ll do the same. No bad feelings. No drama. We’ll just be done.”

“Sounds simple,” he says. Almost too good to be true, honestly.

It’s not often that an attractive, sexually adventurous quidditch star offers to have no strings attached sex at his convenience. He would have to be a fool to pass that up, even if part of him wonders if he’d be quite so willing to agree if there weren’t something about her.

The truth is he likes her. She’s interesting. A bit of a puzzle. And she clearly doesn’t want more from him than he’s able to offer. It seems a nice middle ground between meaningless hookups and entangling himself in a relationship.

“Simple is the whole point,” she says.

“Just to clarify,” he says, needing to be completely clear, “this isn’t going to be wining and dining, spilling all our secrets to each other, me having to tell you where I am and what I’m doing all the time kind of thing, right?”

She pulls a face. “Merlin, no. That sounds rubbish.”

“Okay then,” he says, ignoring any niggling doubt telling him this isn’t the best idea, because his body is too busy sitting up and screaming what an amazingly awesome idea this is. “I’m pretty sure I can live with that arrangement.”

“Good, because you owe me.”

He laughs, finally letting himself pull her up against him. “I definitely do.”

“Is that a yes?” she asks.

“Yes,” he says, fingers pressing through the heavy material of her robes in search of her body underneath as he leans down to kiss her.

They don’t make it to the bedroom this time. But that’s just as well because beds are overrated. Harry very carefully makes her come twice, once with his hands and once with his mouth.

“Just to make sure things stay even,” he tells her.

“Such a gentleman,” she says once she recovers enough to speak.

“I try,” he says, looking up at her sitting on the edge of his kitchen table, legs wide with her business robes nothing but a forgotten mess on his floor. Her hair is still twisted up, other than a single strand that trails down to brush against her collarbone, and fuck, a damn poster has nothing on her.  

“Do you mind?” he asks, gesturing towards her hair.

“Oh, sure,” she says, reaching to pull the clasp out of her hair.

“No,” he says, reaching up to stop her. “Let me.”

She drops her arms. “Okay.”  

Urging her down off the edge of the table, he turns her around so her back is to him, fingers carefully pulling the clasp free. There’s a charm there too, clearly, and he neutralizes it with a wordless spell.

She shivers as the fiery mass brushes down her bare shoulders, falling nearly to the middle of her back. It’s hugely impractical considering her job, but damn if it isn’t gorgeous, the deep color contrasting against her pale skin.

“Enjoying the view?” she asks, leaning forward on her arms and only improving it.

“Immensely,” he says, hands trailing down her back and over her hips.

The vast majority of his brain is tied up in the very impatient demands of his body at having been denied so long, but that dry, assessing auror part of his brain passively identifies the decade old telltale scars of a particularly nasty curse curving across her lower back. For all the shite he’s seen in his job, this curse is one of the worst—painful as hell, but also meant to deliberately leave a mark. He’s rarely come across it since the peace was established. His fingers tighten on her hip, and he reminds himself that they all had their own war.

“You gonna stand there all day looking?” she asks, wiggling her hips in invitation.

“Impatient, are you?” he says, finally reaching to undo his belt.

“Merlin, yes. I’ve been purposely putting this off until my negotiations were complete. I’ve been in town for days.”

“Have you,” he asks, kicking his feet free of his pants. “And you were thinking about this the whole time?”

She makes an impatient sound of agreement, her legs rubbing together. “Being unsatisfied makes me cranky and sharp. Perfect for arguing with arseholes looking for any way to take advantage.”

He presses his hand against her shoulder, urging her to lean further down over the table, his other hand sliding between her legs.

She makes a low sound of appreciation that makes him suspect he’s made her lose her train of thought. He feels a rush of pleasure and satisfaction at the break in her composure.

“I imagine you showed them,” he says, urging her legs further apart.

She blows out a heavy breath, bracing herself on her forearms, her pert arse lifting in the air as she presses impatiently back against him.

“You know I did,” she says, voice wavering. “Now please stop playing and get on with it.”

He doesn’t need any more invitation than that, sliding into her firmly from behind, both of them groaning in appreciation.

His hand skims up her back, burying in her hair while the other holds tight to her waist as he idly flexes his hips, taking his time enjoying the nearly painful expectation, the slow drag of her body tight around him.

“Pull harder,” she says.

He pauses in his motions, just the slightest hesitation before twisting his hand in her hair. She arches her back as it pulls against her scalp, pressing back against him, taking him in deeper.

“Like this?” he asks, voice rough and uneven, because as much as she seems to like it, he’s surprised to find that he likes it too.

“Yes,” she says, rocking her hips. “Now stop messing about.”

He widens his stance and does as he’s told, fist tightening in her hair. She rather loudly vocalizes her approval, the table threatening to skid across the floor in reaction to his enthusiasm. He impatiently casts a spell on it as Ginny laughs.

It turns into a gasp as he gains better leverage. She curses as he settles into a hard rhythm he has no hope of maintaining for long, but fuck does it feel amazing. He closes his eyes, his hand pressing up and down the curve of her back.

He holds on as long as he can manage, pressure building until it’s nearly painful, and then she does something with her hips and it all gives way in a blinding moment of shattering relief. He erratically drives through the pleasure as everything but the feel of it seems to disappear entirely.

He collapses down over her, loosening his hold on her hair to brace himself as best he can on one shaking arm, the other wrapping around her waist as he fights to catch his breath.

Fuck, he thinks, completely overwhelmed. His body feels boneless, all of the annoyances and aggravations of the day so very far away. Just what he needed, really. 

He thinks he must zone out entirely for a while, brought back by Ginny shifting slightly under him.

“I think I’m going to like this arrangement,” he says against her back.

“Good,” she says, patting his thigh absently. “Now get off me, you giant lump, and help me find my knickers. I have a portkey to catch.”

“Done with me already?” he asks, reluctantly rolling off her.

She turns, giving him a slow smile full of promise. “For now at least.”

Then she lifts up, pressing a lingering kiss to his lips. He drags her against him, relishing the feel of her body along the length of his as he intently kisses her back.

As Harry watches her leave, far less prim than when she arrived, he has no doubt that this is going to be the most brilliantly stupid idea he’s ever agreed to. And that was really saying something.