(Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling has claims to all previous HP plots and the characters , not me.) Thanks to Musings for the terrific beta job. This was written as an early Christmas gift of sorts, short but simple. Enjoy.
The weather wasn't exactly pleasant when Ginny stepped out of The Three Broomsticks. The wind was blowing snow and sleet hard, and she hiked up the collar of her coat, shivering as she headed out of Hogsmeade. Staring grimly at the slick ground for the last time that evening, she sighed once more. December the twenty-fourth had come all too-quickly for her, and she was running out of time to find her last two gifts: a present for her sister-in-law, Fleur; and, of course, a gift for Harry.
Ginny surveyed the bleary Hogsmeade area, feeling now a distinct worried clenching in the pit of her stomach. Ginny had known from the very first snowfall that a present for her boyfriend would be next to impossible to find, but now she'd had no luck in buying for her eldest brother's beautiful, huffy wife as well. Reaching the end of the Hogsmeade roads, she turned abruptly on her heel and was squeezed uncomfortably though space with a crack. When she opened her eyes, Diagon Alley's familiar sights greeted her. As she rubbed her slightly smarting ears, Ginny realized that the usual hustle of Diagon was greatly diminished. Only a few, heavily-cloaked people were quickly making their way about the streets. It must be the weather, she thought unhappily as she began her trudge through the unrelenting flurry; and then she stopped suddenly in her tracks. "Of course no one's out," she said softly to herself, suddenly understanding. "It's Christmas Eve."
She could have had a shouting match with the next person who walked by, but for the fact that it was her own fault. Christmas Eve; and here she was, running through the snow like an idiot looking for last-minute presents. Feeling resentful and desperate, she slipped into yet another Quidditch shop. She eyed the expensive polished broom handles and how-to kits sadly, then slipped a hand into her cloak to draw out an admittedly small bag of gold, silver, and bronze coins. Just as she'd thought, there was no where near enough to afford something like those, and Ginny replaced the bag into her cloak with some shame and bitterness before pushing the door open again.
Christmas and Christmas Eve were by no means Ginny's least favorite times of the year. She adored the holiday, for it meant a return to the warm, noisy Burrow where her brothers and friends laughed and ate together happily. The idea of it at the moment seemed exceptionally tempting, but she ignored the desire to abandon her search and set off for where she desperately craved to be, and looked round the streets. In relief, she saw Madam Malkins was still open, and hurried across.
Fleur was now three months along with her and Bill's first child. Contrary to gaining too much weight and looking less than perfect, she seemed to glow more than usual now, her face usually flushed and happy. Bill was different as well, walking around grinning broadly despite the scars his face still bore from the attack of Fenrir Greyback. To the Ginny's embarrassment and occasional disgust, Fleur and Bill were sometimes more affectionate than she really thought necessary in public, but she couldn't deny her excitement at the thought of meeting Bill's child. And, though in the end it had taken a long while, Fleur had grown on everyone, particularly Molly. At times, Fleur was still hard to be around, but Ginny was admittedly fonder of her now than she had ever been.
"How can I help you?" Madam Malkin piped solicitously, and Ginny studied the many fabrics and robes around.
"Er, well, I'm doing some last-minute Christmas shopping, for my sister-in-law…" Ginny said, having the grace to look abashed about the 'last-minute' business. "She's having a baby, and I wanted to get her something really lovely this year."
"How far along is she?" Madam Malkin asked, putting away her tape measure without waiting for an answer and beginning to expertly push aside robes to withdraw something pale blue and wonderfully comfortable. Ginny looked anxiously at the price, but smiled in relief and pulled out her pouch of coins.
Striding out of the robe shop a few minutes later, Ginny lifted the wrapped gift a little higher in her arms. She glanced nervously at her watch, it now read eight o'clock. She groaned despite herself; she was an hour late to get to the Burrow. Panicking, Ginny turned down another street, casting around for another shop…
The next couple of seconds found her colliding solidly with a tall man hurrying around the corner. Packages rained through the air and scattered onto the ground, and Ginny was mortified to see a few fall into a brown, slushy puddle. Not only did she run into him, she actually bounced off him painfully and tripped straight onto her bottom. Managing to keep Fleur's packaged robes out of the slick, cold mess she'd just fallen into, Ginny began to apologize profusely; her face glowing brilliantly. "Sorry! Sorry, I should have looked…" she muttered hastily, wishing she hadn't left the previous street. Pointing her wand at the half-sodden packages; they were dry with a flick of her wrist. She fumbled with the first few boxes, and then her fingers touched the frames of familiar glasses. Her eyes remained on the glasses for a moment before shooting upwards.
Harry Potter was staring just as intently at Ginny down on the sidewalk. His eyes were beyond surprised, and, to Ginny's bewilderment, he was flushing a deep red. "Ginny?" he asked, looking down at her with dismay. He quickly offered a strong, warm hand; which she accepted and allowed him to pull her off the ground. Harry took the packages he'd dropped from her, slipping his glasses back on. Despite herself, her eyes traveled abut him. The black coat he wore was spattered with snow, and a red sweater Ginny suspected her mum had knit was wrapped loosely around his neck. His hair looked particularly windswept tonight, and the bits of untidy dark hair falling onto his forehead didn't quite hide his lightning-shaped scar. His eyes however, were locked curiously on Ginny.
"What are you doing here?" he asked, looking first at her and then around at the shops as though they would answer. "I thought you'd be at the Burrow by now…" he trailed off, looking at her expectantly.
She studied him apprehensively. The last thing she needed was for him to guess she was buying his gift, but wondering at his preoccupied behavior, she answered. "Last minute shopping," Ginny said casually. "Are you doing yours as well?" she added with some apprehension, but he nodded, returning to a brilliant scarlet for some reason.
"I, er, need to get Ron's still," he said sheepishly. He gestured at the Quidditch shop as the wind gave another nasty blow. "I better go finish that," Harry ended somewhat lamely, his eyes lingering on her. Ginny felt a little warm under the collar as she kissed him good-bye, but he ended it quickly and stepped away, offering a half-wave before hurrying away.
Ginny watched his retreating figure feeling a bit hurt. She shoved her hands in her pockets brusquely. "Can't even get a bloody kiss anymore," she muttered, but with renewed determination she turned and walked the rest of the way up the street. She would find him a gift even if it took all night.
The Burrow was nothing less than Ginny had hoped: warm, crowded, and full of cheerful people. Her mum and Fleur and even Hermione had worked most of the morning and into the afternoon to prepare such a spread of food, drink, and décor. Amidst a small group of people, Fred was recounting the development his and George's latest product, to great amounts of laughter and chuckling.
Fred was grinning as he recounted the tale. "And then I took George aside and said, '"Well, George, I'm afraid that you seem to have grown tremendous amounts of green eyebrow hair,"' and he said, '"Well, I would say the same for you, but yours' are purple!'" The group roared with laughter. Ginny was still laughing as she pushed her way out of the crowd to look for Harry, who still hadn't been seen at the party. Across the room, Hermione was giggling and called her over merrily.
"Hermione, how are you?" Ginny asked smiling widely as Hermione embraced her tightly. The small bump of Hermione's stomach was not quite as visible, but up close Ginny could see that the pregnancy would probably soon be changing that stomach to a full swell of the baby. Hermione, however, seemed happier than ever; her eyes were bright and her cheeks held a healthy red tinge, and Ron seemed very unwilling to let her leave an arm's distance from him. Tonight they both were grinning and standing with Lupin, Tonks, and Kingsley Shacklebolt; Ron and Kingsley seemed to be discussing the most recent Chudley Cannons game affably.
"They're not in a losing streak, they just haven't got into their swing yet," Ron insisted, but Kingsley shook his head, smiling wryly.
"Ron, if they haven't gotten their swing by now, they probably never will."
Ginny listened absently before slipping off with a wave, searching the people around her for the person she couldn't find. She was wondering where he was with irritation and some concern when the kitchen door swung open suddenly, sending waves of frigid air through the kitchen. Harry stepped in and forced the door closed, then, looking around the people crammed in the kitchen, he grinned.
There were shouts of greeting and vigorous amounts of hand-shaking and hugs. Harry fought his way through the crowd to Ginny, and finally caught her in a tight hug. "Hi," he said, looking down at her happily. She had to grin at the sight of his face, still tinged red from the cold, and she slipped a hand behind his neck quickly.
"Where were you?" she asked as Harry released her to sneak his arm around her waist. Most unusually, he gave her a mysterious smile and merely pushed a piece of hair from her face, his eyes glinting merrily.
"You'll see." Ginny blinked at him, and then at once felt both curious and a bit nervous. What was he up to now?
At dinner, Ginny watched Harry over the table. She took a bite of turkey thoughtfully and considered everything they'd been through in the last few years. All of it, even when Voldemort had still been alive, still seemed like something straight from a dream. And in the beginning, when she was falling in love with him all over again, sometimes she would wake up and lie there, afraid it was only a dream-but it wasn't. It was real. It was for real that they just worked without trying to, like riding a broomstick. Harry wasn't perfect. At times, he had a quick temper; he was noble to the point of stupidity, and he was every bit as stubborn as her.
And she was far from perfect, she knew it, he knew it. They had shouted themselves hoarse during the Second War arguing about her safety and his future right up until the last battle with Voldemort. But shouting or even magic didn't change feelings, and now here they were; eating dinner at her mum and dad's on Christmas Eve. Looking at him choking on potatoes while Ron, Fred, and Bill laughed uproariously, Ginny shook her head, stifling a laugh. The swift feeling that arose, deep and pitted in her chest, was nothing new to Ginny. Harry, his green eyes sparkling with laughter, caught her looking and grinned. She grinned back. Her heart gave a little swell as he stared at her, looking content. Love was in those eyes, and she knew it.
A sudden chorus of voices at the end of the table caught everyone's attention. It seemed several people were rallying for Lupin to make a toast, to which he was protesting firmly. Instead, Arthur Weasley stood from his chair and straightened his glasses in the flickering light of the enchanted candles round the room. He smiled at the fairly large crowd of people around him kindly. "Well, tomorrow is Christmas day, and tonight I get to eat and drink with the people I am closest to. I have a beautiful wife," and here Molly turned a deep red and Arthur's eyes twinkled at her. "I have seven children, all of whom are now very much adults," and Fred and George did their best to keep straight faces as many chuckled appreciatively before Arthur went on. "I also have a happy assortment of friends and people I should count my blessings for." He beamed at them before raising his glass. "To Christmas and to all of you, and to a new year. Cheers."
"Cheers," the entire table echoed enthusiastically as the clinking of glasses ensued. Ginny raised her glass to everyone she could reach, but looking around the table, Harry was nowhere to be seen. Ginny scanned the room for him over the laughter and loud talking, and then she saw his tall, dark-haired profile leaving the room abruptly. She set down her glass, waving off Luna Lovegood politely, and then stood and followed Harry. In the kitchen, the door to the backyard was swinging closed. Ginny caught it by the handle and stepped out of the house…into the cold air and the dark backyard of the Burrow. She squinted around for a moment in the dim light. She looked up to see a handful of grey clouds that were hovering over the moon loosely. The clouds slipped away and moonlight covered the yard, illuminating the frozen pots and browned, wilted flowers. And next to her, Harry reached out to catch her hand gently.
She smiled and squeezed his hand faintly. "Hi." Ginny studied the white, glistening snow-covered backyard, shivering slightly. She wondered why they were standing out here in the cold briefly, but then his arm was around her, full of warmth and comfort. For a few seconds, they stood quietly, with their arms around each other, and then she turned to look him. Harry was already watching her with a smile. "Number two-thirteen Aspen Street," he said. She stared.
"Two-thirteen Aspen Street. It's a house I bought."
At this, Ginny continued to stare at him, bewildered. "You…bought a house? Why?" Harry chuckled as she let go of his hand, and gazed at him in confusion.
He pushed his hair away from his forehead, grinning. "Actually, it's our house. Or it will be when we move in. I probably should have waited to ask you, but…"
Ginny gaped at him, flabbergasted and unable to find her voice for a few moments. Why would he have bought a house? She looked up at him. He was still smiling, a secretive, tiny smile. "We can't just get a house, Harry," she exclaimed when she found she could speak again. "We can't just move in together like that; my parents would go off their rockers, not to mention the fact that all of my brothers would kill you, and I'm in my apartment and you've got yours, and…"
Harry was grinning broadly now. "Ginny."
"I'm serious, Harry," she said, running a hand though her hair, her mind reeling. "I thought when we moved in together, we'd be..."
When Harry spoke, his voice was soft. "You thought we'd be married?"
"Well," Ginny flushed, hoping he couldn't see her blush the way she felt it burning in her cheeks. She was quiet for a moment. "Yes, I suppose," she murmured.
"I love you, Ginny."
She looked at him. Even in the dim light, Harry still evoked a rush of passionate emotions from her, and she pulled him closer, settling against him. "I love you too," she said in a tender tone. He crushed her against him briefly, then reached inside his robes and pulled out a small box.
"Marry me, Ginny."
For a few heart-stopping moments, Ginny gazed at him, stunned. Then she caught his jaw and pulled his face to hers. She stood in his arms, soundly kissing him a long time. When she pulled away, she felt warmth seeping all the way down to her toes. "Is that a yes?" Harry asked, leaning his face against hers breathlessly.
She smiled, then grabbed him and kissed him again briefly. "Yes, that's a yes!" she cried, seizing him in a hug.
"I'm glad you like the gift," Harry said with a smile, slipping onto her finger a silver ring adorned with three shining diamonds. She laughed happily; and then he caught her and lifted her off the ground, both of them laughing like mad.
And then, in the midst of their celebrations, she remembered. "Wait. You have to open my gift as well!" she said insistently, and pulled out her wand. "Accio Harry's gift!" she called, and inside the house there were several yelps as an odd-shaped package came flying out the door with a bang. Harry caught the gift, and then he looked at her fondly.
"Thanks, Gin," he said, the surprise and delight clear in his voice. And Ginny watched anxiously as he opened the package, and lifted a gleaming new broomstick from the wrappings.
"A Nimbus-two-thousand…" Harry murmured, examining the broom closely. "I had one once, you know, but it was wrecked in my third year at Hogwarts…"
"I know," Ginny said in a rush, feeling harried. "Hermione told me that a long time ago, and I remembered you were upset. I know it's an old model now, and it can't hold up to the Firebolt's, but I figured…you always said you liked the first one you had."
Harry stopped examining the broom, and Ginny saw with relief that he had broken into a wide smile. "Ginny, this is wonderful!" he said, hugging her happily. "I hope you didn't go to too much trouble to get it, though."
"It was worth it," Ginny said firmly, smiling as he looked the broom over enthusiastically. The money hadn't been as much of a matter in the end, especially if he liked the gift. The trudging around in the cold had been worth it, to see the delighted look on his face.
"So…are we going to tell them all now, or tell them later?" Ginny asked with a sly grin. Harry set down the broom, a furtive smile on his face, his eyes glinting with laughter.
"I think they can wait a while," Harry suggested, pulling her back into his arms. She smiled up at him.
She leaned into him, and his arms wrapped around her tightly. "Happy Christmas, Harry."
"Happy Christmas, Ginny." Harry smiled down at her and then kissed her gently.
She pulled back, smiling teasingly. "About the house…"
Harry shook his head with a groan, covering her mouth. "Ginny," he said firmly. "We'll talk about that later." And with that, he covered his mouth with hers, and Ginny lost herself in the kiss.