Pizza and Bunny Slippers

Harry was in the kitchen kneading pizza dough. He was aiming to have a margarita pizza ready for Ginny when she returned from the Harpy's match against Puddlemere United. Her Patronus said she'd be another hour. It was a Harpy post-match “shake'n an' sign'n” and these were getting predictably longer. Harpy followers almost doubled since the team started meeting fans after home pitch matches. Wearing their new, very attractive after-Quidditch outfits hadn't hurt either. Although witches still filled most of the stadium, wizards were a larger and larger part of their fans. Ginny, on or off pitch, was the most popular. Gwenog put her at the far end of the reception line to spare her teammates the embarrassment of fans who'd stay only long enough get her autograph, then scarper on the rest.

Harry figured he had an hour and a half. Ginny's estimates were pretty much always on the optimistic side. Tonight he needed the extra time. He would already be late with dinner if Nessie hadn't kneaded the pizza dough after its first rise. Ideas arrived unexpectedly for Harry, stimulated by something hard to put a finger on. Tonight it seemed they were bubbling out of the tomato sauce. When he realized how to solve one of the problems he was working on, he was stirring the bottom of the cauldron to be sure the heat wasn't too high. He left the sauce magically stirring and took the kitchen portal to their Muggle-side flat, anxious to work on his new idea.

When he got to his work, he was carried away until he remembered the pizza. He rushed back through the portal, thanked Nessie, who had taken over kneading the dough, and used one of Molly's spells to roll the crust while he finished grating the cheeses. When Ginny stepped out of the fireplace and set her broom against the wall next to the kitchen fire, he had just finished lightly garnishing the chicken slices with oregano.

Ginny was still in her after-match uniform. It was like a Quidditch uniform without the guards and padding. It wasn't protection; it was fashion. Ginny's hair and complexion out-shown even the gold talon on the Harpy green cape. The fit of the after-match uniform did nothing to disguise her athletic figure. She slid her right hand behind his neck and teased before she kissed him, “Margarita, my favorite, how's it you're such a sweet boy Harry Potter?”

She kissed him before he could reply. After years of living together, they had many meaningful kisses. Kissing was a language of sorts. This one said they loved one another and were happy to be at home but it wasn't time for foreplay. It was a friendly kiss, more affectionate than sexual, although no kiss between them was ever guaranteed to remain absent of passion. It was one of the joys of being in your own home that it was so easy to let affection run when and where it would.

When they finished, Harry turned back to the pizza, “How'd the match go?”

“We won; I flew Seeker; it was a nothing catch. We were up by 60 or something and I was just circling and watching, hadn't even really seen the benighted thing as yet. Then, it did one of those annoying buzz around your nose bits. I grabbed it without thinking. It was more like swatting at Nargles than catching a snitch. Anyway, we won, Gwenog will be back at Seeker next week and I'll fly Chaser to season end.”

“How's she doing?”

“Oh, she's fine, she just took an extra week off to work with Silvie.” After a moment's thought, “I don't think that's all though. She's got a lot of time on her broom Harry. It costs your body something. She likes coaching and the new kids are talented. I think maybe she's even a little tired of flying Seeker.” She looked at the pizza waiting for the cheeses and changed the subject, “So, if you put it in now, do I have time to shower? We jumped into our show suits when we saw how long the lines were; shak'n an' sign'n was harder work than the match. Soon, they'll last longer.”

“Sure, go ahead, shower; you'll know when it comes out of the oven. The aroma should be nice and spicy,”

Harry preferred cooking at Grimmauld Place because a magical kitchen is more adaptable than Muggle machines. Since he could control the magical fires with a spell Molly taught him, he could get the big old stove to the high temperatures he needed for the thin, crisp pizza crust they preferred. The gas stove in their Muggle flat would probably explode if he tried it there. The sound the heaters made when they came on inspired the same expectation. There were some really wonderful Muggle machines, others not so much.

When Ginny returned to the kitchen, she was wearing a dark green dressing gown and her bunny slippers. These were white with a nose and eyes rendered in pink thread, whiskers in white yarn. The sides were patterned like long rabbit ears and the backs were folds of white yarn meant to look like fluffy tails. They were a present from a nine year old fan, Melissa Gauchfarb. In one of her Prophet interviews Ginny had come on strong that the traditional Quidditch boots should be replaced because they so tortured everyones' feet. The first thing all the women and most of the men did after a match was get out of their boots and wish they had someone to massage their aching arches.

Melissa appeared with her mother at the very next autograph night. One look and, if you knew Ginny, you knew she would encourage the small, thin, pigtailed redhead holding a shoe box and smiling excitedly at her hero.

Melissa started as soon as it was their turn, “Mrs. Potter. . .”

Ginny cut-her-off by kneeling so they could talk eye-to-eye, “I think you should call me 'Ginny.' What should I call you?”

“I'm Melissa”

“Well Melissa, would you like an autograph?”

Melissa opened the shoe box and held it up to show her, “Oh, thank you, I knew you'd be nice, but I want you to have these. When I read how you liked to get out of your boots, I knew you needed a pair of bunny slippers. They're my favorite.” It would be hard not to be charmed by her smile, even if the bunny slippers were a bit kitsch for a grown woman.

Ginny glided onto one knee and began to undo her boots, loosening the laces through the many eyelets. She switched knees and undid her other boot. She stood, took the bunny slippers from the box and set one next to each foot. When she removed her boots, she slid her feet into the bunny slippers. While Melisa beamed, Ginny took a quick turn around her and her mother, skipping in her new slippers. When she faced mother and daughter again, she put her boots in the shoe box and again knelt to face Melissa.

“Do you fly Melissa?”

Melissa grinned and bounced on her toes, while Mum answered, “Only when she's not tied down!”

Ginny laughed and handed Melissa the box with her boots. “Here, keep practicing and by the time you fit these, you'll be a Harpy.”

There are things that are not much fun about fans, especially the continual labor of fan mail, at least until Nessie's family absconded with the job. Ginny knew that many men thought her beautiful but the arrogance of some, the rich, was hard to bear politely even in a reception line. She knew too that most of the witches and wizards who bought her posters, the capes and shirts with “Ginny P” emblazoned above a gold talon, knew little of Quidditch or flying beyond matches they saw at school, or at the pitch of the team their family traditionally supported. Nonetheless, Quidditch was wizarding's favorite excuse to gamble and selling seats made it happen. Fans were part of the job, Melissa was part of the pleasure.

Harry and Ginny sat next to each other at the end of the table nearest the stove. It was the same table where the Order of the Phoenix discussed what next step the war required. It was where Sirius and Regulus took every meal of their childhoods. Harry and Ginny's whole family had eaten here, both their mothers and fathers had enjoyed a meal and company – James and Lilly many years past, Arthur and Molly quite regularly still. Cauldrons that had been old when Kreacher cooked for the Blacks, or made steak and kidney for the trio at war, were still in place but joined by un-wizardly items like the round tray on which their pizza lay, or the round rolling blade used to slice it.

The Blacks liked things sombre, it must have meant something to them, perhaps it was a sign of being Pure-blood or near-noble. Harry and Ginny liked things light, bright and open. So, they kept the kitchen's main furnishings but wand-colored the walls a relaxing cream color and lined them from floor to ceiling with sturdy shelves instead of the ancient, worn and heavy cabinets. Evanesco is often the remodeler's most useful tool. The glass shelves were set on hangers of burnished brass; their reflective lightness added to the sense of comfortable spaciousness. True, there were ancient cauldrons burned black by generations of magical fires and a huge wizarding stove where Muggles would expect sleeker objects in shinning steel and enamel. The great old stove next to the ancient table was the center of the kitchen and the kitchen was the social center of the house. There is an ancient magic in hearths and cook stoves that even Muggles can tell.

Harry had a minor fetish for order. He admitted it himself and it explained some of their household furnishings. He arranged the kitchen shelves with the heaviest containers and stores on the bottom, and the less used, like wine goblets, egg cups, and champagne glasses, on top. Any close inspection would reveal that Nessie managed it all with hover charms and Turgio, so the weight of things didn't make much practical difference. Harry just found the order more appealing. With the hutches and cupboards replaced by open shelving, and everything needed to cook either hung in neat rows above the table or in racks next to the stove, the room had become even more inviting. Ginny or Harry needed Accio to get the pots and pans from over the table, only Ron could reach them without magic, but this seemed no price at all for luxurious head space.

Tonight the kitchen would be where they would end their day. Ginny needed time. A match took days. Her mind state on match day favored intense concentration on a rapidly changing puzzle of flyers moving in three dimensions. Ginny prepared for each match with increasing intensity as it drew nearer. Three days before tonight's match she started practicing basic flying skills, turns, climbs, dives and rolls. Harry came part-time to fly close maneuvers and practice dueling to bring her reflexes to a peak that seemed destined to be ever faster. They liked working; they liked working together, so the time passed quickly.

The day before a match she practiced working goals with the other Harpys. Most days-before Ron came to Hollyhead and went to mid-practice lunch with Ginny. The siblings would apparate to a hidden corner of an old Roman fort near Old Harbour. Exiting like tourists having viewed the ancient carvings on St. Cybi's church, they drew no attention and were only a short walk to Stanly Street where they'd lunch at one of the restaurants or take a cappuccino at a coffee shop where the talkative owner regaled them with tales of Hollyhead folks they would likely never meet.

Although their teenage years were often enough abrasive, Ron and Ginny had lived most of their lives together. More and more it was the good times as brother and sister they remembered. Married to Harry and Hermione, they were further bonded by their love for each others' partners. Along with their bonds from the war, they were a family. Complex? Indeed! But nonetheless good company. After an hour or so of casual talk, some silly nostalgia and happily competitive banter, Ginny would be back on the pitch, relaxed and ready to practice afresh.

On the night before a match, Harry and Ginny would lay in bed together and talk about the opposing flyers, their skills, and how the other team would try to contain her. When tiredness came, or they were bored repeating what they had long known, they would kiss a while. Then, ready, and no reason why not, they'd make love. In the deep connection lovers know, Ginny would curl up inside the folds of Harry's body and sleep as soundly as on any other night.

It was only on the night after a match that sleep came hard. With her rigorous preparation and intensity of play, it took time to refocus. To fly faster, to miss the Bludgers and to see her way through the opposing Chasers to the goal, she had to empty her mind of everything but the space around her. If she could see a path to the goal through the three dimensional alignment of Harpy chasers and opposing flyers, her broom would fly it. She kept a hand on it but not to steer. It gave her a stable hold in a grapple for the Quaffle or a radical turn.

Harry knew Quidditch. He knew Ginny. He knew she needed time so they sat comfortably close and ate quietly. There are times when lovers don't need to talk.

As the rest of her inner world returned she made a mental note to spend more time on maneuvers because she was done covering for Gwenog at Seeker. Then, she told Harry what was first on her mind. "Look Harry, I need a little T&T tonight. Standing, shaking and signing for a couple of hours brings all sorts of things up, perspective you know."

"Sure. Meeting stranger after stranger would exhaust me. I figured you'd be beat so I thought maybe I'd give you a bit of massage."

Ginny grinned as she folded-over the apex of her pizza slice to form a messy sandwich. After enjoying a large bite, she licked the sauce from her fingers and seconded Harry's idea. "You're sweet, margarita and massage all in one night!. You deserve a treat Mr. Potter. How about tomorrow morning you sleep in? I'll get up earlier, get on my Muggle running kit and hustle down to Wilberforce's bakery. It's not a big run, I'll get the croissants back warm, you know, the fresh buttery ones. You grind a couple press pots of that fancy French roast Ron brought back from Harrogate. We can wand-boil the water, so we won't need trips to the kitchen for more coffee."

"If you're going where I'd like to go, I'd better magic the shower ready."

"Oh yes, Mr. Potter. . ." She lay her head on his shoulder, pushed back his hair with her right hand, pizza still secure in her left, and kissed his neck beneath his ear. Then, facing him again, she winked, and pressed the tip of his nose with her forefinger, “I'll be on top and you'll be in heaven."

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