Howdy Hey everyone, I wrote this during my writers' block and the good people at fa.org convinced me it was good, so here it is:

Twice in a Verse Tree

"For Heaven's Sake, Hermione, don't nag!"

"Well, I wouldn't have to if you would just listen to me!"

"The only time I should listen to you is when I want to, thank you very much!"

"What are you saying? That everything coming out of my mouth is worthless?"

"Most tf the time, I should think so!"

"Take that back!"

"Take a hike!"

Harry Potter looked up from a particularly nasty set of Potions questions only to make sure that no acts of mindless violence had taken place. Briefly, he reflected that the steaming, noisy kitchen of the Burrow may not have been the best place to start his holiday homework, supposedly the very first pieces of preparation for his NEWTs that would take place at the end of the year, and frankly, he was thinking of packing up his books and moving outside.

"Dinner's ready!" announced Mrs Weasley, dumping a pan of Shepherd's Pie on the hob and wiping her hands on her apron. Ron and Hermione stopped biting each other's heads off and moved to the table, tossing each other glares once in a while. Harry folded his parchment inside his book and popped the lot on the stairs so he could take it up after he'd eaten.

He should have known the silence was too good to last.

"See if I ever help you again."

"Well, maybe you shouldn't!"

Mrs Weasley sighed as she dealt out plates around the table. Harry reckoned she had learnt that Ron and Hermione's arguments needed to be left alone to run their course, or else they really would kill each other.

"Harry, dear," she said to him as she put the pan back in the oven, (better wait until it was all over,) "Would you go and get Ginny for dinner?"

"Yeah, sure," Harry answered, getting up, "Do you know where she is?"

"She's probably at her Verse Tree," Mrs Weasley said distractedly. Harry's expression flicked to puzzlement.

"Er, sorry, where's that?" he asked.

"Oh sorry dear," she said, straightening up and peeling off her oven gloves. "It's right down the bottom of the field, near the river. Oh, but don't tell her you know it's name, that's what she used to call it when she was little and she'd be ever so angry with me if she found out I'd told you."

Harry smiled faintly and stepped out of the back door. Verse Tree . . . maybe it was some sort of magical species? He hoped it wasn't hostile, he'd had quite enough bad experiences with violent trees.

Familiarly, that odd feeling had bubbled up in his stomach again. As he stepped on each stepping stone embedded in the long grass of the back garden, he grew nervous and worried. He'd realised

what the feeling was trying to tell him when he'd first arrived at the Burrow and he'd first seen her. All of a sudden, he'd come over more glad that he was there than he'd been before.

As he made his way across the field, the feeling grew steadily stronger and stronger until he was subliminally bursting with excitement that he was going to see his favourite redhead again . . . providing he could find the bloody tree where she was supposed to be.

He cast around for the river and spotted it in the failing light. The sky was being stained pink and orange and the colours were being reflected in the river's water.

He then spotted the tree Mrs Weasley must have been talking about. It was a strange tree and stood alone on a bit of land that protruded into the river, making the water meander around it. The fat, oval trunk had strange shapes contorted into it's bark and in the dim light, it looked a lot like a face with sunken, laughing eyes, a large, aubergine-shaped nose and a smiling mouth. Harry searched about in its branches that grew out-ways, forming a sort of flat cup shape, with an awning of leaves over it.

At last, he caught sight of red hair.

As he crept closer to the tree, she kept her head bent over something, signalling that she hadn't seen him. Silently, he stepped up into one of the tree's knotted roots so he could crane his neck and peer into the wooden cradle.

Ginny was sitting cross-legged between the branches, a bottle of ink beside her, scribbling with a disposable-pigeon feather quill on quite a thick stack of parchments. Some of the pages were dog-eared, stained at the corners with ink and crinkled with light folds. Her thin, pale fingers were stained with dark violet ink and on the sheets, Harry could see neatly-scrawled columns of writing.

Of course, Verse Tree . . . This must be where Ginny wrote her poems . . . ever since she was small, her mother had said.

Then Harry realised his head was a lot higher than it had been, before he had been straining to see into the branches and now the bottom of the flat bit was at his knee-level. He had just frowned in confusion when Ginny had looked up at him. Suddenly, she gasped and straightened up too quickly, loosing her balance, in a split second she threatened to fall straight out of the branches and into the river below. Harry didn't care about his mysteriously added height anymore, all he cared about was that now he had the means to seize Ginny's wrist before she toppled clean out of the tree, and he did so, instinctively crawling into the wooden cradle, pulling her to him, away from the drop.

"Sorry! Sorry!" he said, his breath shallow and shocked, "I didn't mean to scare you."

"It's OK," Ginny said faintly, pulling away from his embrace, sitting back and smoothing out her crumpled pile of parchment. Was it just Harry, or did it seem that the wood beneath his knees had softened slightly, as if the tree itself was relaxing? She turned her eyes back to him and asked, "What are you doing here anyway?"

Harry thought of the hectic kitchen in the Burrow, with Ron and Hermione's raging argument. He didn't think Ginny would appreciate being dragged back to the battleground, and anyway, he didn't want to go back yet either.

"No reason," he said offhandedly.

"Ah," she said absently, screwing the top onto her ink bottle before she upset it. With the two off them in the tree, it was a bit of a squeeze, although it didn't say on Ginny's face that she minded and Harry felt quite the opposite. He was just gazing at the youngest Weasley when he noticed a group of flowers clustering on a twig just behind her cheek. The tiny, scattered blossoms were exactly the same colour as her eyes, and he was sure they hadn't been there before. It was when he was making the comparison between the colours that he realised it really was a beautiful colour.

"Wotcha lookin' at?" she asked, spinning round. The flowers vanished. She turned round and looked at him questioningly.

"Nothing," Harry said, shaking his head slightly, "What are you writing?" he asked, his curiosity invading his brain.

"Oh, it's nothing," she said dismissively, "Just a few random poems."

"Will you read me one?" he asked.

"I don't think so," she said, folding up the parchment.

"Why not?" he asked, a lilt of teasing in his voice. It really was endearing the way her cheeks turned a faint shade of pink.

"Because they're terrible, and I don't want you thinking me pathetic, spending all this time up here and not having anything good to show for it."

"I wouldn't think you pathetic," Harry said, "Ever," he added, before he could stop it slipping out.

"Well, the fact remains that they're all dreadful," Ginny said, leaning back against the tree's branches.

"Not all of them are dreadful, and I know," Harry said truthfully.

"Pff, how?" she asked, and Harry hoped she didn't think he'd been going through her things.

"I remember it, it goes:" He cleared his throat,

"His eyes are green, as fresh as pickled toad . . ."

Ginny burst out laughing, covering her face with her hands.

"His hair is as dark as a blackboard,
I wish he was mine, He's really divine,
The hero who conquered the Dark Lord
," Harry finished off, chuckling along with Ginny as she brushed tears from her freckles.

"Oh Merlin, probably the worst thing I ever wrote in my life," she said, still grinning. Harry stopped laughing.

"I . . . I thought it was good," he said quietly.

"No you didn't" Ginny accused him.

"Alright, I didn't," he said, smiling as she nodded in a self-assured way, "But I think it's brilliant now, and . . . I hope it still holds true."

Her smile vanished and she gave him a very strange look.

Alright, Potter, it's now or never.

"Ginny," he started, "I've been a bit thick lately, well, I say lately, more like the past five years, but I wanted you to know that even though you obviously don't feel the way you did all those years ago, I don't either . . ."

By now, the redhead's mouth was hanging slightly open and even the tree seemed tense. Behind her, his eyes flicked to a single leaf that jerked forwards, even though there was no wind, egging him on.

"It's really hard for me to say this, knowing that it's definite I'll get rejected but . . ." Suddenly he was hit with idea, "But I'm desperate to get this across to you so . . . if it helps:" he coughed.

"Her hair is long, as red as a Gryffindor banner,
Her skin is as clear as a pearl,
The tables have turned, Coz now I have learned,
That I love the only Weasley girl
."

A few minutes of silence proceeded this glittering performance on his part, in which she blinked at him wordlessly, mouth open like a carnivorous plant. Then, all of a sudden, she started laughing, eyes sparkling, hand to her mouth while Harry smiled bitterly at his folded knees.

"That was almost as bad as mine," she said, laughter in her voice.

Well, what were you expecting, Potter? For her not to think you completely ridiculous?

He couldn't smile anymore, it was too painful.

"By the way, your mum says dinner is ready," he said quietly. He turned to climb down from the tree, but he found there was no foothold that he had used to get up. He felt a touch on the hand that was resting on the bottom of the wooden cradle.

Spinning round, he found that she was tracing round the outline of his fingers with her own, this simple action sent shivers in and out of the nerve centres all over his body.

"You said my poem was brilliant," she said quietly, "And I said yours was almost as bad . . . so that must mean yours is fantastic."

He looked her in the eye then. He had to, to make sure, and she was smiling at him with such a breathtaking smile that if she had not been resting her hand on his now, he probably would have fallen out of the tree.

She blinked as pink sunlight shone in her eyes. The sun was setting and the tree had moved its branches so that the multicolour view was spectacularly displayed beyond the river.

Harry didn't care much for the view, though. While her head was turned, he stealthily leaned forward and kissed her on the cheek.

Her head jerked back to him, her expression all smiles, until she shifted her knees in between his and deeply returned the favour.

Harry could have sworn he heard the tree give a contented sigh.

·.,.·*'"°·~·°"'*·.,.·



Five years later, Ginny was overjoyed to see her Verse Tree was still there. Now she lay with Harry in the cradle of the branches, her head on his shoulder and her hair flowing down his chest, that same, summer sunset not even distracting him for a second from the beautiful girl beside him. She had a crown of white jasmine in her hair and was wearing a long, heavy, silk dress, dotted with tiny pearls. Harry was wearing a black suit, a green silk waistcoat, and, for the first time in his life, a light green bow tie. Their legs were leaning against the sides of the cradle, his smart black shoes and her white high-heels lying discarded in the long grass below them.

Ginny's dress had fallen down around her hips, exposing her legs that were propped up against the branch. Harry gazed happily at the hole in her silvery stockings that she'd acquired while climbing the tree, through which he could see the freckles on her legs. Below the white lace of her stockings was a frilly white garter that made him blush slightly. How could every aspect of her be more beautiful than the last?

"I just thought of one!" Ginny said suddenly.

"Pardon?" asked Harry, shaking his head slightly. She shifted her position so that she was lying on her stomach, her chest leaning on his, her arms folded. She ran her fingers along his collarbone, under the undone top button of the cleanest white shirt he'd ever worn, and smiled, clearing her throat in a mimic of him.

"Her ring was a diamond, as bright as his eyes,
And now she forever his partner
. . ."

Harry smiled as she propped herself up so her face was right over his, her hair making a curtain around them.

"They were wed today, and from now they will stay,
Together happily
. . ."

Harry could feel her breath on his lips and she bent lower.

". . . ever . . ."

He wanted to hear her say the last word before he kissed her, or she kissed him, in any case, it would rhyme and mark how perfect their lives were at that moment.

". . . after."

·.,.·*'"°·~·°"'*·.,.·