Title: Snow Blind

Author: Syn

E-Mail: veruca_werewolf@hotmail.com

Rating: PG-13

Fandom: Harry Potter

Content: Harry/Ginny and a lil bit of Ron/Hermione fluff

Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me.

Summary: "Light burst over the unbroken sea of snow, blinding him until he blinked red sparks the color of Ginny's hair away from his vision."

A/N: Fluff. Pure, unadulterated FLUFF. Harry/Ginny fluff at that. And hey...sequelish to my R/Hr story Slide. Yay!

Feedback: I would greatly appreciate it.


The door of Zonko's Joke Shop slammed shut behind Harry with a clang, the bell over the door clattering in protest. It was cold outside, snow ankle deep over the streets of Hogsmeade. A sharp wind tore at the hem of Harry's thick black robes, swirling errant whirlwinds of snow into his eyes. The blurred flakes melted on the surface of his glasses; he ignored them and looked around the street, seeing the bundled dots of Hogwarts students as they hurried from shop to shop trying to avoid the cold.

He glanced up at the sky and saw it was still uniformly gray, the clouds low and pressing down on the tiny wizarding community in its winter splendor. He squinted through the eddies of snow and then hunched his shoulders, trying to keep his ears warm as he quickly walked down the main street.

He didn't have a specific destination, though the smell of warm butterbeer greeting his nose on the bitter wind made his mouth water and he turned immediately toward the Three Broomsticks, where the snow was well trampled and slushy under the soles of his battered, soaked trainers. He moved to open the door and it swung outward before he could catch it. The edge of the door slammed into his nose; he grunted in pain, slipped in the slush and went down painfully on his back on the drift-covered cobblestones.

His eyes crossed with the pain in his nose and he clamped his gloved hands to it, feeling the warm gush of blood trickling out onto his wind-chapped face.

"I've never been so insulted in all my--Harry? Oh! Harry, I'm so sorry! Are...are you okay?" a familiar voice said frantically. He squinted up through watering eyes at the red-faced, red-haired, freckled girl hovering over him with a look of extreme mortification on her face. Harry felt just as mortified.

His stomach contracted and he flushed through the blood and pain. Lately he'd been spending more time with the youngest Weasley, as they were both on the Quidditch team together. Not only that, but...well she was quite pretty and he was getting very confused about certain things. He'd opted to avoid her until he could work through it, but that plan had come back and smashed him in the nose.

"'Ullo Giddy..." he got out through the pain and embarrassment.

Ginny stooped down in the snow and grabbing the front of his robes, hauled him into a sitting position. "Oh! You're bleeding!"

"M'fine," Harry said, swiping at his tender nose with the sleeve of his black robes as he climbed to his feet. Ginny stood and, seeing him do it, and pushed his hand away. She pulled a worn but clean handkerchief from her pocket and dabbed at his nose tenderly. "'Fanks. What're you doing out here?"

Ginny's kind, sympathetic smile turned sour and she glanced darkly at the closed door to the Three Broomsticks, where the smell of warm butterbeer and the hum of conversation poured out into the street. "No reason. I thought I'd maybe head up to the Shrieking Shack. All the shops are boring..."

"In dis weather?" he asked curiously, glancing at the sky, the blood on his nose already freezing there from the cold. Carefully and with a twinge of pain, he scrubbed it off, using a scooped handful of snow to wipe it clean of any traces. He sniffed and things seemed to clear up. "Bit cold, don't you think?"

"Its better than being in there. Now if you're all right..." She moved to walk past him, a full bag of Honeydukes' sweets in her hand. He grabbed her arm before she could walk away.

"I'll go with you, if you want," he offered with a bulky shrug, stuffing the bloody handkerchief into his pocket next to his wand. "I'm not doing anything either..."

She studied him for a moment and then shrugged in agreement. "Sure."

His heart leapt and he smiled nervously; she didn't seem to notice though. They moved off down Hogsmeade's main street, lone black figures in the mercilessly white snow, with more coming down, making their trek nearly impossible. The cold, crooked frame of the Shrieking Shack on its hill above the town stared down morosely at them as they approached it.

Harry glanced at Ginny as she stepped lightly through knee-deep drifts of snow, powder caking on her robes and sliding off as she walked. "May I ask you something?"

"I suppose," she said, squinting at him through the swirl of the falling snow.

"Who were you avoiding back in the Three Broomsticks?"

Her face went dark once more before she could control her emotions. "Dean," she said shortly, as if his name were something quite nasty.

"Oh," Harry intoned, biting down on his lip, disappointment soaring his stomach. "I thought you two had...had..."

"Broken off?" Ginny finished for him with a sigh. "We have and we agreed to be friends and I'm fine with that but now he's flaunting that COW Sally-Anne Perks, as if she's so wonderful! And she has the NERVE to wave at me and smile and then kiss him in front of EVERYONE in the place. ARGH!"

Her face went red and not just from the wind. He knew that look quite well, as it was the same Ron made when he was angry. "Er...Sally-Anne Perks?"

"She's in your year!" she exclaimed, as if he were a complete dunce. He thought for a moment and then he placed a face with the name. Sally-Anne was a rather quiet Ravenclaw with short brown hair. He'd never seen the need to talk to her, but he didn't think she was horrid. Of course, he wasn't the ex-girlfriend of her new boyfriend and frankly he had no idea how to respond to someone who was.

"Oh yeah...her. She, she seems nice enough," he hazarded as Ginny flashed him a dangerous scowl.

"So I thought too! Just because she can draw and, and...oh what do I care? I don't even LIKE Dean anymore. That's why I broke off with him in the first place!" She stopped dead in her tracks and whirled around to face the whole of Hogsmeade spread out quaintly down below them. "I'm just so irritated."

"I can tell." Harry said in a flat voice. She looked at him and then smiled.

"Sorry. You probably don't want to hear about my love life--or lack of one. You've got your own problems."

"I do?" He puzzled, scrunching up his nose in thought.

"For instance, where are Ron and Hermione? You three are perpetually attached at the hip and here you are all alone. The world might just end any moment..." Ginny teased, plucking at his sleeve. Together they started back up the hill toward the Shack, Ginny sinking in even deeper, so that he had to help her through the deepest drifts.

"Oh, them. Well they, they wanted some, some alone time; I suppose you could call it. You know I caught them snogging in the common room the other night? I was really..." he trailed off when he heard Ginny giggle, irritating him to no end. Seeing the look of vexation that crossed his face, she stopped, but couldn't contain the smile on her face. "What?"

"I was wondering when that would happen. Those two...well lets just say Hermione threatened to club Ron over the head and drag him off if he didn't get the hint soon. I suppose he finally did, though I wished she'd told me," Ginny groused good-naturedly, linking arms with him as they stopped at the top of the hill. The wind tore at her hair, whipping it across his face with a sting.

"Well, at least maybe now they won't be fighting so much," Harry said, remembering the look of surprise on Hermione's face when Ron had grabbed her hand and asked Harry if they could be alone for the day in a stammering, embarrassed voice.

"I wouldn't doubt if it got worse," Ginny laughed in her throat, a most pleasing sound to Harry's ears. He went pink suddenly as he glanced at Ginny's smiling face and the arm she had looped with his. "Where did they say they were going?"

"I don't know, but I wouldn't doubt it if she dragged him to Madam Putifoot's for tea just to get back at him for springing this date on her. I'd pay ten galleons to see that," Harry grinned, glancing at her sidelong. She laughed again.

"That place is horrid! Give me the Three Broomsticks any day," she choked out through her bubbling laughter. Harry definitely agreed. He doubted he'd ever step back in the place, not after the fiasco last Valentine's day with Cho. "The Shrieking Shack is more romantic compared to that place!"

Harry's stomach flip-flopped again and he glanced at the looming frame of the Shrieking Shack before them. Its boarded up windows peered down at them darkly and menacingly. Snow blew off its laden, sagging roof in tiny white handfuls and there were dangerously long icicles hanging like shimmering, jagged teeth from the eaves. The place certainly lived up to the name, especially as the wind carried with it a moan as it creaked through the bare branches of the trees.

"Its not haunted, you know," he said conversationally, sniffing through his throbbing nose. "I went inside it once."

"Ron's told me the story. Its still quite creepy though," Ginny said, shivering and pulling her red and gold scarf up over her nose.

"Definitely...but I bet its warmer in there than out here..." he trailed off, suddenly realizing what he was suggesting. He wanted to go into the Shack. He knew exactly why too. This was the place where he'd first met him after all...

He wanted to go in there and see it again, at least once more. Just to remind himself. He glanced at Ginny, who had pressed her lips into a thin line, skin turning white around her mouth. Her cheeks were as red and chapped as his felt. Her brown eyes moved over the frame of the house a couple of times before she nodded her head, as if making up her mind.

"Right, well how do we get inside?" she said in a take-charge tone. He looked at her in surprise.

"You're sure?"

"Its not haunted, like you said. And it has to be warmer in there than out here. I can't feel my toes and my socks are soaking wet. I'd like to dry off." She shrugged and let go of his arm, approaching the Shack with him in tow. With wonder, he watched as she threaded through the long, hanging icicles and climbed the steps of the sagging, rotten porch. He followed her cautiously; careful not to knock any of the icicles off, afraid they'd all crash down on them if he did.

"I don't know if the door is locked or not..."

"Let's try..." She immediately grabbed the knob and turned it. It squealed rustily in protest, the ice coating it flaking off in Ginny's glove. She pushed to no avail. "I guess the ghosts value their property..."

Harry smiled in amusement and pulled out his wand. With a tap and a muttered, "Alohamora!" the lock clicked open and the door creaked on its sagging, rusted hinges, swinging open a few inches.

Despite her seeming bravery, she still grabbed hold of Harry's arm as he walked forward, pushing the door open wider with his gloved hand. Their shoes clunked and squelched loudly over the wooden floor as they marched inside. The inside was dark as a cave and dust itched Harry's nose.

"Lumos!" Ginny muttered beside him, light erupting from the tip of her wand and hitting the wall in front of them. It illuminated a ghastly, ripped painting on the wall. "Lovely."

Harry nodded in agreement and closed the door behind them with a click, the cold swirl of wind and snow cut off behind them. The house was cold, but warmer than outside by a noticeable margin. Harry lit his own wand, moving the light over the floor and ceiling, taking in the decrepit room with interest. He hadn't gotten a good look at the place the last time he'd been in here--there simply hadn't been time.

"Its not so bad, really..." he muttered to himself, trying to imagine Sirius as he had been that night in his third year. Harry's heart ached as he thought about it and he clenched his hands into fists.

Ginny let go of his arm and stepped forward, her breath curling up around her nose and disappearing into the murky air. She played the light from her wand over the rickety curve of the stairs, which was covered in a thick layer of dust. "Not bad at all...if you like dust."

"Let's explore then, shall we?" Harry grinned, feeling the spirit of adventure washing over him. Ginny nodded and together they walked into the living room, which was covered in even more layers of dust, the furniture torn to bits and pieces, claw marks over every available surface.

"What made those?" Ginny asked, pointing to them with her lit wand, the deep furrows stark even in the dust.

"Lupin, I suppose. Back when he was a student, he stayed here during the full moon," Harry said with a shake of his head, playing his wand light over the boarded up windows, where bits of snow was stuffed into the open cracks, blocking the creep of the wind.

"I'd never have thought it of him. He's so gentle," Ginny said in a hushed voice. He noticed both of them were speaking softly, as if not to disturb the ghosts of the past. The whole house creaked and groaned around them, as if protesting their presence within its sagging, peeling walls.

"You never saw him transform. It was horrible..." Harry shivered at the memory and felt Ginny touch his arm.

"At least no one was hurt," she said with a small smile, then, blinking, she turned around and started toward the doorway at the rear of the room, where great cobwebs fluttered in the draft like lace curtains. She tore through the sticky mass with her hands and peered into the next room. "I've found the kitchen."

Harry followed her in, the cobwebs itching his nose as he pushed his way through. He entered the kitchen and grimaced at the smell. The whole place smelled of old rubbish and there were bits and pieces of rotted food and paper parcels on the floor and on the cracked counters. There were spider webs all over the place and strewn across the ancient, rusted porcelain sink.


"No wonder Sirius lived in the forest instead of staying here," Harry said under his breath. Ginny glanced at Harry, flinching at the sound of the name.

"You miss him don't you? Is that why we're here?" Her brown eyes were huge and deep. He had the sudden urge to lose himself in them.

"I do miss him, Gin. But..." he couldn't quite bring himself to say it. He wasn't exactly the type to speak about his feelings, especially not to her. And especially not when he had the sudden urge to wrap his arms around her and warm her up.

He felt very warm all of a sudden.

"I understand. You don't have to talk about it. I hate talking about it. Just hurts too damned much," she said and then smiled gently. "So? More exploration?"

He nodded and, before he could stop himself, he grabbed her hand in his own and pulled her after him. They went from room to room, marveling at the destruction and laughing at the thought that the place was haunted.

They finally made their way around to the crooked staircase, the dark well leading upward looming like a dark crypt. Without waiting for him, Ginny let go of his hand and took off upstairs, her wand light glancing off the narrow walls. Harry followed, careful not to break through the weak, rotted wood as he went.

The upstairs was colder than below and there was a good draft from a broken window coming in at them, chilling their cheeks once more. There were three rooms, one with an open door, the other two closed tight. Ginny peered into the opened room and looked impressed.

"Nice bed, bit dusty though." Harry peered around her and smiled.

"This is where Sirius dragged Ron, so he could trap us. Or we thought it was a trap..."

"This is the room? Where Scabbers transformed?" Her eyes went wide and mouth went white. "I still have trouble believing that, you know."

"I know," he said, closing his eyes for a moment, picturing Wormtail's watery eyes and hateful squeak of a voice. "But that's the past. Let's poke around a bit..."

"I need to warm my feet! They're like ice!" Ginny said, moving to the bed and flopping down on it, her Honeydukes bag sliding to the floor with a rustle of paper. "Oh no! My butterbeer!"

Harry rushed forward, scooping up the bag and looking inside. There were two unbroken bottles of butterbeer amid several handfuls of candy. "They're fine, though I think your Pepper Imps are a bit squashed."

"Oh good. Pop them open and we'll have a picnic!" Ginny said brightly, drawing her left leg onto the bed and peeling off her shoe and drenched sock. Her feet were white with cold. Harry noticed her toenails were varnished pink and was surprisingly amused by it. She massaged her cold foot as he turned his attention to the bottles of butterbeer that he withdrew from the paper bag.

The liquid was cold, but with a muttered word, he warmed them both to a comfortable temperature, and then popped them open, the smell greeting his nostrils invitingly. He handed one to Ginny and kept the other for himself. The liquid went down, warming his chilled insides and making his numb fingers startle alive.

"I hate winter," Ginny groused, massaging her white feet and grimacing at her wet, worn socks lying on the dirty, dusty duvet next to her. She thought a moment and then picked up her wand once more, the light flicking her out as she whispered, "Nox."

Harry took another swig of the warm butterbeer and watched as she took a cue from Harry and said a drying spell on her socks and shoes and then conjured a blue fire much like Hermione's in the middle of the room. It burned brightly before them, warmth rising immediately from the magical fire, but not scorching the old wood beneath it.

"Good idea!" Harry said, once more feeling the spirit of adventure in him. This was much better than trying to hear over the dim of the Three Broomsticks. Here they could relax without worrying about anyone or anything. Here he could be alone with Ginny.

He went pink to the ears and not from the heat of the magical fire. Ginny smiled at him and pulled her warm, dry socks back on, then reached for the Honeydukes bag Harry had set on the bed beside her.

"Squashed Pepper Imp? It'll warm us up," she offered, holding up a piece of the black, fire-inducing candy. Harry took it and popped it into his mouth; sucking on the spicy sweet, fire filling his mouth. Smoke billowed out of the corners of his mouth until he hiccupped a lick of bright red flame into the air. On the bed, Ginny did the same, waving her hand over her burning mouth before taking a swallow of butterbeer to rid herself of the remaining soot. "Well...it seemed like a good idea at the time..."

Harry laughed and sat down on the bed next to her, reaching into the bag and pulling out a nice, safe Chocolate Frog. He opened the box, grabbed the frog by its slippery chocolate foot before it could hop away and then deftly split the thing in two. He offered the flopping end to Ginny, who took it, then bit down on it tenderly.

"This is pretty fun," he said awkwardly. This was the most time he'd spent in her company and he wasn't quite sure how to act. It was a feeling all too similar to the one he'd felt with Cho, only they had something to talk about besides Quidditch. Though he was hard-pressed to think of anything right now. Her proximity was almost painful.

"Yeah. Way better than the Three Broomsticks," she said, echoing his earlier thought. The blue fire crackled cheerfully in front of them and Harry felt drowsy from the heat coming off of it and the warmth of the butterbeer in his stomach. "Imagine what Ron would say if he could see us now!"

Ginny laughed and Harry looked at her in confusion, not getting what was so funny. "What would he say?"

"Oh you know how he is. He's so protective when it comes to boys and me but he practically pushes me toward you most of the time. Like you're going to start liking me because he says so! He just doesn't get it. Brothers!" She snorted in a most unladylike fashion and nibbled on her bit of Chocolate Frog once more.

Harry grew quiet. He was quite aware of how Ron felt about protecting his sister and he'd gotten the feeling that Ron wouldn't be opposed to him taking an interest in her, but he didn't know he'd mentioned it to Ginny. He felt mortified. What if Ron knew he liked her? What would he say?

"He d-does?" he stammered, swallowing a bit of chocolate that seemed to stick in his throat.

"Yeah. He just doesn't seem to understand we're just friends and always have been. Sure I had that crush on you for ages, but I was a little girl..." Her voice faded out as Harry's stomach dropped. He glanced sidelong at her, seeing her dismiss the idea of him liking her out of hand. It seemed cosmically unfair that now that he'd finally started looking at her as more than just Ron's sister, she wasn't even interested in him and found the very idea of it laughable.

The butterbeer sloshed uncomfortably in his stomach.

"Harry?" Ginny called his attention back to her and he saw her sitting there, completely unaware of how he'd been feeling since the beginning of the school year and seemingly unaware of how he was feeling at this very moment.

"Ginny, I...um...you...I..." He wasn't quite sure what he was going to say, but he couldn't make his mouth form words. Ginny's eyebrows shot up as he struggled to make himself tell her how he felt.

Before he could get it out though, there was a rattle from in the other room, making both he and Ginny jump. Ginny grabbed for his arm and he fought the urge to smile, despite his terror. Something bumped again, the rattle like something slamming into wood. Harry picked up his wand and stood, Ginny right behind. He peered out of the doorway of the room and into the hallway, the cold draft swirling over him. He waited a moment, Ginny clinging to his back, her wand pointed outward in defense.

Something slammed into the door of the room opposite, making it rattle on its hinges, dust drifting down like snow.

"What is that?" Ginny hissed in his ear. He glanced at her and put out his arm, protecting her from whatever was in the room should it come out at them.

"I don't know...could be an animal. A cat maybe..." he whispered back at her, holding out his wand. Cautiously he approached the door, his hand reaching for the knob.

"A cat's not doing THAT!" Ginny said frantically, pulling him back before he could touch it and open the door. Something slammed against it again and the whole house rattled with the force of the blow.

"Whatever it is, we can handle it..."

"Harry..." Ginny clutched at him and he squeezed her hand, and then reached for the knob again. It didn't move, but whatever it was slammed against it again. It proved too much; Harry heard the metal hinges go and the crack of wood as the door gave. It hit Harry on his already tender nose and knocked him backward. He tumbled to the dusty floor, taking Ginny with him. They landed in a heap as something dark burst out of the doorway of the closed room.

Harry squinted up through his pain and saw a dementor standing there, slimy gray hands reaching toward his leg. Behind the creature, Harry expected to see a room through the splintered doorway, but it was merely a shallow, dusty broom closet. His eyes widened in understanding.

He groped for his wand and spotted it several feet away, where it had rolled against the cracked baseboards. Ginny squeaked in terror behind him, obviously not yet realizing that it wasn't a dementor, but in fact, a boggart.

Harry kicked out his leg, connecting it with the boggart-dementor's knobby knee. It doubled over in pain and let go of him; he immediately scrambled out from under the collapsed door, darting beneath the creature's putrid, outstretched hand and tumbling in the direction of his wand.

"Ginny! It's a boggart! Confuse it!"

Ginny recovered in an instant and lifted her wand, which she'd managed to keep in hand. The boggart-dementor turned on her and immediately there was a crack! as it changed to menace Ginny.

For a moment Harry was frozen with fear. He'd forgotten just how BIG the thing had been.

A basilisk, no THE basilisk that had lived in the Chamber of Secrets and had terrorized the school his second year at Hogwarts towered over Ginny, its head scraping the cracked ceiling, tongue forking out over its sharp, poisonous teeth. Its long, slimy tail disappeared into the blackness of the closet and seemed to go on for ages.

"Ginny..." Harry began in fear, not knowing what to do. Before the boggart-basilisk could turn on Harry, Ginny's voice rang out clearly, though there was a noticeable quaver to it. "Riddikulus! RIDDIKULUS!" she shouted, pointing her wand straight at the basilisk, her eyes squeezed shut.

Harry watched in morbid fascination as an apparition of himself came out of the closet and stabbed the massive reptile in the eyes, blinding it. Then he took a mighty swipe, the sword slicing cleanly through its neck. The basilisk drooped and Harry disappeared.

"Here! Over here!" he shouted, scooping up his wand and pointing it at the boggart.


The dementor appeared at him once more, wheezing, reaching. Harry lifted his wand and shouted, "Riddikulus!" The boggart-dementor stumbled and slipped to the ground; Harry laughed and the creature disappeared in a thousand tiny puffs of smoke, leaving Harry and Ginny alone in the wreckage of the Shrieking Shack.

He turned his shaken gaze on Ginny and saw her head buried in her hands, her shoulders shaking slightly. Her wand rolled out of her fingers and clattered on the ground. Harry's shock wore off and he crouched before the red-haired girl, taking her wrists in his own and prying her hands away from her face. To his surprise, she wasn't crying.

"Ginny, are you okay?" He asked as she opened her eyes and sighed in relief when she saw it was just Harry.

"Is it gone? Did you kill it?" she gulped, her chest heaving up and down. He nodded and helped her to her feet.

"Twice...I...you're afraid of the basilisk?" he asked on tenterhooks but intensely curious about her boggart. She gulped again and then took a steadying breath.

"Yes, wouldn't you be if you had to let that great ugly thing out of its Chamber because your best friend made you? And you knew it was awful and you dreamt about it and knew that it almost killed everyone you loved?" she said defensively, as if he were making fun of her. He didn't see what so wrong about being terrified of the monster. He'd had dreams about it many times himself, in fact.

"What...why did I come out and kill it though?" he found himself asking, biting down on his lip. She looked at him as if guilty of something.

"This is kind of embarrassing, but whenever I think of the thing, I remember that you killed it and saved me and then I don't feel so bad anymore. Its pretty silly, but...I don't know..." She blushed a deep crimson and ran a nervous hand through her disheveled red hair.

Harry smiled. "I don't think its silly at all, Gin. I'm flattered. In fact, I was, was..." And there he went again, stammering in embarrassment.

"Was what?"

"IwaswonderingifyoulikedmebecauseIsortoflikeyou!" Dammit. Couldn't he ever talk normally to a girl he liked?

Ginny blinked at him in surprise. "What?"

"Lately...I, really like you."

"Lately?" she asked numbly, her eyebrows rising. He chewed on his lower lip and looked away.

"Since this summer, but you were seeing Dean and I wasn't sure I even liked you then or, or..." He shuffled in place, wondering what she was thinking. There had to be an easier way of handling the opposite sex, there just had to be. His gut clenched up. What if she didn't like him at all? The thought had occurred to him a million times before and it plagued him mind now. What had he been thinking in telling her?

"Why didn't you say something earlier?"

"I didn't think you liked me. Do you?"

"I don't know..." Ginny said uncertainly, obviously very confused at what had just transpired. "Do you want me to?"

"YES! But, but not if you don't want to...no pressure or anything." Did that just come out of his mouth? And did it even make sense?

Ginny smiled. "Well, I...this is so weird. You're not just playing with me are you?"

"NO! I would never do that!" He said desperately, grabbing her hand. "I really, really like you Ginny. You're sweet and smart and, and you hexed Malfoy and you play Quidditch and you beat me at Gobstones and you're creative and you're worse than Fred and George sometimes and, and..."

He couldn't stop talking. Not when he was looking at her and she was smiling at him and everything suddenly felt really, really right. Like it hadn't been for a long time. Like it hadn't been since before Sirius died.

"Harry!" Ginny interrupted his babble, laughter bubbling up out of her throat. "Stop!"

She was laughing at him. Bloody well laughing at him! "Its not funny!"

"Yes it is!" she giggled, throwing back her head with mirth. "Its very funny!"

"No its not! Here I pour my bloody heart out to you and you laugh at me! Women!" Harry said indignantly, letting go of her hand and sullenly crossing his arms over his chest.

"I'm not laughing at you, I'm laughing at the situation! Here I give up on you after four years and suddenly you like me! Boys are all alike!" Ginny got out between each shaking bout of laughter. Harry scowled at her.

"How so?" he demanded, retreating in on himself.

"Boys always want what they can't have! You've just proven it!"

"Well bully for me!" Harry shouted, stuffing his wand into his pocket and storming past her.

"Harry! Where are you going?" Ginny called after him as he started to tromp down the stairs, hurt and angry. She was laughing at him! How dare she? He suddenly hated everything about her. Even the way she smiled. He'd once thought it charming but now he saw that it was a big fake meant to draw him in and bite him. "Harry!"

"Go laugh at Dean if you want! I've had my fill!"

"But...Harry you don't understand! Wait! I--"

But Harry was beyond hearing. He opened the rickety front door of the Shack and stormed out onto the cold wind and snow, flakes swirling and hitting him in the face with the force of a whip. He flinched but his anger kept him going. He stormed off the porch and past the huge icicles, his legs sinking into the snow as he stepped out into it.

He stormed forward three steps before something landed on him, knocking him headfirst into a snowdrift. He came up sputtering, cold snow caked on his face, his bruised nose throbbing. He swiped the snow from his glasses and saw Ginny glaring down at him.

"Ginny? Why'd you do that for?"

"You're so stupid, Harry!" she said with a sigh and then bent down, dusting snow off of him. He knocked her hands away.

"Laugh at me, attack me and then insult me! How do you like that?" he growled, moving to stand up out of the deep, cold snow. She pushed him back down.

"But I wasn't insulting you! You're as bad as Ron, I swear!"

"Oh am I?" he shouted back at her then scrunched up his nose, peering at her through the rapidly freezing moisture on his glasses. "What do you mean?"

The hands on his shoulders suddenly clenched in his robes and brought him forward, toward her mouth. He closed his eyes and kissed her back, her lips surprisingly warm in the cold air, the taste of chocolate lingering on the edges. She finally drew back, drawing in a sharp breath, her eyes fluttering open.

"Why'd you do that?" he asked, bewildered, his heart hammering in his chest.

"You really are thick!" she exclaimed, laughing again. He couldn't help the scowl that formed on his face. She snatched his wet, rapidly freezing glasses off his face and peered into his naked green eyes, so close she was blurred on the edges, her hair like a warm, crackling fire around her face. "I do like you Harry. I always have."

"But I thought..."

"Made a good show of the opposite, didn't I? I gave up on you...after so many years, I decided to cut my losses and get on with my life. But you...you just had to go open old wounds, didn't you?" Her full lips twisted wryly and he took a breath.

"I didn't mean to. I mean, I did, but not to ignore you all that time." He thought for a moment and then sighed, "Boys are stupid, aren't they?"

"Only the ones in my life. Now get out of the snow before you catch cold," Ginny laughed, helping him up. He brushed the caked snow off of his robes and squinted up at her, watching as she wiped the thin skin of ice from his glasses and then reached out, placing them back on his ears.

She came into focus and before he could stop himself, he grabbed her hands and pulled her close. He hadn't known kissing could be scorching in such cold weather, but he felt the heat of her sink into his skin as he kissed her, his hands tangling in her hair, her mouth just so and the cold wind whipping around them...



Harry broke away from Ginny, his face going red to the roots of his face. Ron and Hermione were standing hand in hand just at the rise of the slope leading from Hogsmeade to the Shrieking Shack. Ron's eyebrows were raised and he was red in the face too, though that might have been from the wind.

"R-Ron. Hermione. Hullo," he said, running his numb fingers through his hair.

"What are you two doing up here? Were you in the Shrieking Shack?" Ron asked, pulling Hermione toward them. Harry glanced at Ginny and saw her smiling at Hermione, who grinned back.

"Yeah, mate. Its pretty cool...we were having a...a..."

"Picnic!" Ginny finished for him, grabbing Hermione's hand as Ron stared up at the Shack, squinting in the snow.

"Cool! We've got sandwiches from Madam Putifoot's if you want to share!" Hermione exclaimed with giggle, pulling out her bag and waving it around. Harry and Ginny exchanged amused, knowing looks.

"Sure! Come on!" Ginny said, pulling Hermione up the porch and into the house, casting one a look at Harry over her shoulder, her smile brilliant. They disappeared, leaving Harry and Ron outside in the snow. Ron looked him over and then clapped him on the shoulder.

"Break her heart and I'll kill you," he said simply, his gaze on the Shack for a moment before his face split into a grin.

"Fair enough," Harry said, smiling back.

"We'd better get in there before they eat it all...you know Putifoot's makes good food but if I ever have to set foot in that place again, I might just kill myself," he said over his shoulder as he made his way up the steps of the Shack. Harry watched him go for a moment, looking back up at the sky as the sun managed to peek through the mass of gray clouds. Light burst over the unbroken sea of snow, blinding him until he blinked red sparks the color of Ginny's hair away from his vision. He smiled, feeling content and warm despite the snow swirling around him. "You coming, mate?"

Harry looked back at Ron and waved. "Definitely!"

And then he followed him into the house, leaving the snow to swirl over Hogsmeade, covering the world in a beautiful, white blanket.