The Greatest Present
(A/N: Please forgive the fluffy unoriginality of this fic. It's kinda' cute, though…maybe…I guess…::cough:: Warning for some A/U-ness.)
Disclaimer: I own nothing! Are you happy now::sniffs::
Harry was agonizing over a Christmas present for poor Ginny.
Agonizing because he'd never truly grown to know her very much over the few years he'd been acquainted with her, and 'poor' meaning, well – she'd had a really tough time of it lately, and he found himself commiserating with her.
Over the past year her Mum had died, and she was still mourning, heavily, and well, they all were, but her mother's accidental death had hit her harder than the others, because she was the baby of the family.
He was sitting in the common room at Hogwarts, that fateful Christmas Eve night of his seventh year, talking and joking with Ron and Seamus and Dean, feeling wretched about not having been able to think of a nice present for Ginny, when he spied the little redhead walk in through the portrait hole.
Her expression was hollow and somber, her pale, heart-shaped face half hidden by the fall of her hair, and he couldn't take it anymore. Though he knew Ron would look at him as if he'd just sprouted a venomous tentacula out of the top of his head, he stopped the other boy in mid-discussion, and self-consciously voiced his dilemma.
After the expected reaction – and much, much prevaricating on Harry's part, Ron still hadn't quite lost the vaguely perplexed look on his face about why Harry was so bothered by the fact that he'd not gotten his little sister a Christmas present.
Dean and Seamus, who been listening with shameless attentiveness, looked at each other silently.
"I know what you can give her, Potter," Seamus said in a faintly mischievous whisper, his eyes twinkling above the ruddiness of his cheeks, "something she's been wanting for years, something that's been painfully obvious to everyone."
Dean, catching on, snickered, and leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees., interlocking his hands together in a gleeful manner. "Yeah, Potter, we know. Trust us. It'll be a present she'll never forget."
"What are you two on about?" Harry eyed them each in turn, unsure he wanted to hear.
After a few moments of confused frowning, as he listened to the other boys speak, Harry felt his heart thud alarmingly in his chest, and he fell back against the pillows of the sofa set before the fire with an exasperated sigh.
"You're all mad. What makes you think Ginny even still likes me in that way?"
"Oh, I don't know – the way she moons over you when she thinks no one's watching?"
"Could it be the fact that I see her nearly every morning, practically drooling in her cereal when you walk into the great hall?"
"Or that she still trips over everything because her eyes are too busy following you about? Come off it, Potter – it's painfully obvious she's still crushing on you. Just walk up to her, say "Happy Christmas" – and then," Seamus ribbed Dean with a laughter choked grin, "just plant one on her. She'll never know what hit her – and it'll be the greatest present anyone's ever given anybody."
"I can't …do that." Harry said in frustration, fisting his hands on his knees. "I'm being serious."
"I'm being serious, too – you know Ginny's practically in love with you, Potter. What better present could there be?"
"I'm not…I'm not playing with her emotions like that! It's not right. If I just go up and kiss her, like you two want me to, she's going to get the wrong idea," Harry answered seriously, green eyes steady on his friends. "She'll think that - that I like her or something, and then it'll be a big mess…" his eyes flickered over to Ron's momentarily, before he asserted tensely, "I don't want her feelings hurt, just because I don't, er…return them. In that way. I mean, don't get me wrong, I do care about her, but – "
"Harry, will you just shut-up and go snog my sister?"
The three boys stared at Ron, baffled.
"Oh, go on. She knows by now, after six years, Harry, that you don't like her that way. If anything, she'll just think you're pitying her, and get extremely cross with you."
"Yeah, and that's just I want," Harry said with soft sarcasm, narrowing his eyes at his friend. "You lot can forget it, I'm not doing it."
"Maybe he doesn't know how to kiss," Dean mock whispered to Seamus, who tried – unsuccessfully – to stifle his laugh.
Crossing his arms over his chest, Harry sat forward, back slowly straightening off the cushions. "What are you talking about?"
"Scared, Harry? Don't worry – I don't think Weasley over there has let anyone near enough his little sister to actually kiss her, yet. So if you screw up and snog her nose instead of her lips, she may not even notice!" Seamus hooted.
Ron coughed suspiciously into his hand, raising his eyebrows when his best friend looked at him. "What?"
Harry scowled, feeling annoyed. They were completely missing the point of his intentions. And anyway -
"I'm not that blind, Seamus." He reached up to adjust his specs, and couldn't help casting a quick glance over at Ginny, who was doing her homework at one of the tables shoved against the far wall, across the room.
She had her head leaning against her hand, and seemed a bit down, as she alternated between scribbling away at her parchment with her quill, and sending quick, curious looks his way – until she realized he was staring right back at her, at which point Harry watched her blue eyes widen, her hand drop her quill, her elbow jerk, knock over a bottle of ink, and at the same time, send her neat pile of books and parchment crashing over the edge of the table to the floor below.
Flame-cheeked, she gave him a horrified look, before ducking under the table to pick up her mess – though it really looked as if she might just be hiding.
He was getting up, no other thought than to just help her retrieve her things, when Colin appeared beside her, making quiet jokes that had her smiling and laughing again in no time as they set things to rights.
"Aw, see that, Potter, someone's already beat you to it," Seamus announced mock sorrowfully in his thick accent.
"Creevey's just her friend," Ron told him warningly.
"Bet you keep it that way, too," Dean replied with a grin. "Come on, Harry."
"No way. Even if I did feel that way about her, there's only one reason girl's like me, in case you haven't forgotten," Harry said simply, with an air of slightly bitter finality. He reached up one hand to part his fringe, and pass a finger-tip pointedly over his scar.
"They think I'm famous."
"Well, you can hardly argue that point," Dean said. "You are famous, Harry."
Harry shook his head. "I like Ginny, as a friend, but – and no offense meant here, Ron – she's just like all the others. What I mean is, she doesn't really know me. She only sees what everyone else does. A curse scar and a reputation. Tell me any of you would want a–a relationship with a girl, built on that!"
The two boys looked at each other and shrugged.
"Relationship?" Ron was staring at him. "Harry, you've lost me – what are you talking about?"
"We didn't tell you to marry the girl, Potter – you asked our advice, and we gave it." Dean announced.
"Yeah, Harry – don't take it out on us if you don't have the guts it takes to give one little girl a friendly snog at the holidays," Seamus snorted.
Harry stood up then, knowing he was being played, somehow, but his masculine pride had gotten the better of him. "All right – I'll do it." He wet his lips, swallowing nervously as he drew in a deep breath. "But I don't want to hear one ruddy word about it if something goes wrong."
"Not from us," Seamus said agreeably, holding his hands up.
Feeling his left eye twitch slightly, as it had a habit of doing when he was faced with a stressful situation he wasn't sure of how to handle, Harry wiped his hands on the sides of his trousers, and then reached up to make sure his hair wasn't sticking out too badly. He was still staring at Ginny, clearing his throat, undecided, when he felt a none too gentle shove at his back, and stumbled forward.
"Go on, Potter. Blimey, we haven't got all bloody night."
"Get to it, mate." Ron said with an unconcerned yawn, sounding bored. "Charge, full speed ahead, and all that." He lifted his fist in a half-hearted salute and let it drop. "Right behind ya."
"Thanks," Harry said dryly.
Wondering why he feeling so…well, weird, he fisted his hands at his sides, and walked purposefully forward. As he neared her seat, he noticed everyone in the entire common room had their eyes on him, and he tried to calm the fierce thudding in his chest, all the while silently plotting the grisly murder of his friends.
Ginny looked up from her work with a skittish movement of her bright blue eyes as he came to a stop beside her chair. A blush colored her lightly freckled cheeks, and then she dropped her head, allowing her sleek red hair to hide her face.
Harry blinked at the odd, tingly warmth that tugged at his insides at the breathy, hesitant sound of her voice. He cleared his throat again, and lifted one hand to rub the back of his neck as he shot an unsure look over at the other boys, who were all sitting on the edge of their seats, watching avidly.
"Go on!" Seamus mouthed silently.
Ron only gave a slight shrug.
"Er…Ginny…" he shoved his hands into his pockets, and tried again, sounding strained and somewhat desperate, "Ginny, I, uh…I was wondering if I could give you something."
Wide blue eyes hastened to meet his again, and he offered her an uneasy smile.
"It's your, ah…your Christmas present, from me. Could you…close your eyes?" He asked, his voice husky with nerves.
Speechless, the petite redhead nodded, and trustingly lowered her lashes – but her small face still showed her confusion.
The room abruptly went silent.
Harry heard someone cough, lightly, before they were shushed, and rolled his eyes, leaning over swiftly before he completely lost his nerve. He laid his lips against hers, closing his eyes resignedly – and everything within him suddenly went still.
He felt Ginny start, presumably in surprise, and then her soft exhalation against his skin as she went limp.
Lips tingling, he straightened back up, and looked down at her with a troubled expression.
He'd kissed girls before, sure, but…there had been something different about that one…
Ginny, in the meantime, had caught herself – just barely – from falling right out of her chair, and was hanging onto the edge of the study table with a white-knuckled grasp, her breath coming fast, her chest heaving. She was staring up at him with a dazed expression of surprised disbelief.
Harry gave her an unsteady, hopeless kind of smile, and, hands still in his pockets, took a step back.
"Er…Happy Christmas, Ginny."
He turned around, paused at the sight of all the Gryffindor's looking in their direction, and then felt heat creeping into his cheeks as Seamus started clapping and Dean wolf whistled.
"Way to go, Potter!"
"Sod off," Harry grumbled uncharacteristically beneath his breath as he flung himself back into his spot on the sofa, unsettled by the knowledge that his knees were trembling.
"I can't believe you actually did that," Ron said from beside him, voice gruff.
Harry made a noise in his throat. "Well, you told me to, you massive git!"
"But I didn't really think you would!"
"That doesn't make any sense at all."
He saw Ginny standing before him, and sat up, ready to explain his actions – but she motioned hastily at him not to speak.
"I, um…well, you didn't let me give you your present," she mumbled, looking everywhere but at him.
"Ginny, you don't have to – oof!"
Dean, Ron, and Seamus sat staring open-mouthed at the sight of Ginny Weasley practically sitting in Harry Potter's lap, where she'd flung herself moments before.
Sweet, shy little Ginny was giving the-boy-who-lived an open-mouthed kiss the likes of which none of them had ever seen!
They watched Harry's head hit the back of the sofa with the force of it, and his arms flail in alarm for a moment before, suddenly, his hands dove into her mass of silky red hair.
"Ginny!" Ron exclaimed in a scandalized, strangled tone.
She ignored him.
The clapping and cheering began in earnest then, as Colin Creevey emerged back downstairs with his camera, and yelled, "Alright! Go Ginny!"
"Don't you dare take a picture of this, Colin!" Ron yelled back, and stumbled to his feet as a flash went off – and another.
Harry and Ginny kept on, apparently oblivious to the chaos.
"You think we should stop them, now?" Dean asked Seamus, his brown eyes still wide.
Seamus shook his head, grinning. "Nah – they've got six years to make up for, right?"
After a long, log while, Ginny finally pulled away, and took a deep breath, gazing at Harry with soft blue eyes.
"Happy Christmas, Harry Potter."
He grinned at her, his thin, round specs crooked, and wrapped his arms around her tiny waist.
"I think Seamus was wrong."
She frowned. "Sorry?"
"I think that was the greatest present anyone ever gave anybody…"
(A/N: Okay, that was big time cliché and fluffy enough to fill about a million down comforters. Let me explain – I read through a couple of my first stories this week, and felt really horrible – not only because the first chapters were awful, but because I really let poor Harry have it. I'm having guilt. So, Harry gets the girl here. And it's really, really fluffy. But that's okay – it's Christmas fluff. As for updates on the other stuff, I'm still working on about three chapters at once, and they're almost done. I'm hoping to get them posted soon, as time allows. As for those crap-tacular, mistake laden first chapters of certain stories of mine…well, there's a favorite quote of mine I'll share with you guys…
"A mistake is evidence that somebody has tried to accomplish something." John E. Babcock
Anyway, I hope you guys liked this, and I really appreciate everyone who sent e-mails when I was sick – that was really thoughtful. Thanks for the reviews on the other fics, too – I'm still in awe!
If anyone has been keeping up with Potter Vs. Malfoy, chapter four is up, now, so be sure to check it out, let Jedi Tess and I know what you think!
Thanks again for reading!
- Lee )