A short piece of nothing very much from the summer after 'Carpe Diem'. This begins as a story, but chapters two and three will be thoughts from Ginny's and Harry's perspectives.
Characters and most of the setting belong to JKR. The riverbank, fields and trees, however, are mine, and are very good friends!
Chapter One: Ottery St Catchpole
"The swallow of summer, cartwheeling through crimson,
Touches the honey-slow river and turning
Returns to the hand stretched from under the eaves -
A boomerang of rejoicing shadow."
Ted Hughes: "Work and Play"
It was going to be a glorious summer's day Harry Potter reflected, halfway through dressing. He leaned out of Ron's bedroom window, staring out across the Weasley's rambling and overgrown garden, towards the orchard. The lightest of breezes ruffled his hair seductively off his forehead, and he could see the leaves of the aspen tree on the hill quivering gently. Sunlight was already streaming through the sky, mere wisps of clouds idly lazing in their blue bed, too sloth-like to spoil the clearness of the day. A whistling, chirruping of the swallow above his head made him smile. It had recently made its nest under the eaves, much to the displeasure of the family ghoul, who was clanking things more noisily than ever in a fit of pique. The bird took flight again, lithe and graceful, and Harry watched her, fluttering and swooping as she cut through the sky until she became a mere speck in the distance.
The smell of summer wafted around him; a soft smell of flowers, freshly cut grass, and warmth. The perpetual downpour from the last week had vanished, and now, here with the Weasleys, it felt good to be alive.
Still smiling, he was just about to retreat back into Ron's bedroom, when a sudden movement caught his eye. It was Ginny. Propping himself up comfortably at the window he watched her in amusement. She was padding barefoot around the garden like a sleek ginger cat. Sunlight bounced impatiently off her hair as she wound her way back down towards the house, the summer breeze tugging gently at the hem of her dress, making it dance above her knees. A small squeak of surprise caused his grin to widen when she narrowly avoided standing on a gnome, and had to dodge swiftly away from his wrath, her hair rippling in a wave of sunlight down her back. Lazily she collected flowers together, darting butterfly-like between this flowerbed and that, clearly enjoying the early morning solitude. Hedwig hooted jealously from her cage.
"Shush!" Harry said to her. "I'm enjoying this."
He turned his attention back to the garden to find Ginny grinning up at him.
"Morning, Harry!" she said cheerfully. "I was wondering if you were ever going to get up." "Nice flowers," he retorted. "Very girlie."
She pulled a face at him and he laughed.
"I thought I'd surprise Mum," she said.
"Not much of a surprise now. She'd have heard you two counties away." Fred's voice interrupted sleepily from his window on the floor below. "What are you two yelling about anyway?"
"Yeah, it's bad enough having you drooling all over each other, without you waking us up at the crack of dawn as well," George moaned.
"It's nearly eight o' clock," Ginny retorted. "You're due in Diagon Alley before nine. At this rate you'll never get that shop of yours off the ground."
"And Ron's in the bathroom," Harry pointed out. "You could be cutting it a bit fine."
There was a mad scrambling in the room below, and Harry grinned down at Ginny.
"Where are my socks?" Fred could be heard yelling from inside their room. His head appeared at the window again, and he glared down at his little sister. "Ginny?"
"Not me this time," she laughed in delight, showing him her bare feet. "I can pinch some from you if you want me to, though. I wouldn't want you to feel neglected."
There was a growl of frustration and Fred disappeared again.
"Speaking of you pinching things," Harry said, struggling to hide his laughter. "You don't happen to have the white t-shirt I've been looking for this morning, do you?" He loved the way she blushed and squirmed at the question. She rubbed her foot up and down the back of her leg.
"'Fraid so," she confessed, eyes sparkling with a distinct lack of repentance. Harry laughed. He'd have forgiven her anything, especially after what had happened to her a few months before, when he'd believed Voldemort had killed her. She could steal his entire wardrobe if she wanted it.
"It's OK. I'll find something else," he teased, clambering down from the windowsill. "See you for breakfast?"
"Definitely," she said, blowing a kiss up to him, and disappearing into the house in an energetic whirl of hair, legs and laughter.
The Weasley kitchen was increasingly chaotic in the mornings now that four of the family were Apparating to work at roughly the same time. Harry wandered down to breakfast with Ron, and rapidly pinned himself against the wall as Mr Weasley charged past, robes awry, frantically searching for an important piece of parchment that he knew he'd left somewhere safe, but couldn't remember where.
"I left it here, Molly," he said in agitation, burrowing through a mountain of parchment on the dresser. Percy was standing by the table, robes neatly pressed. He had a slice of hot buttered toast in his hand, and was using it almost like a weapon as he gesticulated at the twins.
"Honestly, you can't expect to run a business dressed like that. You have no idea!"
"Shut up, Perce," Fred retorted darkly. "What would you know about having a laugh anyway?"
"That's hardly the point," Percy said, bristling with anger.
"Boys! Boys!" Mr Weasley said vaguely. "Ah! There it is! Goodbye then, Molly. I shouldn't be late." He kissed her cheek briefly and then disappeared from sight with a little 'pop'.
"I'd better go too," Percy said haughtily. "I've a busy day at the Ministry today, doing an important job, not like some I could mention."
"Enjoy testing the Belgian owl feather quills," George said, grinning at Fred. They vanished into thin air before Percy had a chance to reply, and with a snort, Percy followed immediately afterwards.
The whole house seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. Harry and Ron sank into chairs at the scrubbed deal table in the centre of the small kitchen and began to help themselves to tea and toast. Mrs Weasley was cooking, and a heavenly smell of bacon and sausages pervaded the entire room.
"What are you three up to today?" Mrs Weasley asked, when her daughter wandered into the room and put the flowers in a vase in the middle of the table. She waved her wand at the sausages and they obligingly rotated themselves to cook on the other side.
"Dunno," Ron replied, through a mouthful of hot buttered toast.
"I thought a picnic by the river might be nice," Ginny said, smiling softly at Harry, her dark brown eyes melting into his own and filling him with warmth. She reached across her brother to pinch some of his toast.
"I get the message," Ron grinned, slapping her hand away from his breakfast. "You want to borrow Harry for a few hours, for a romantic picnic down by the river. I don't know, Gin. I really don't think we should let you go unchaperoned."
"Ron!" she exclaimed incredulously. "You're not being serious are you?"
"Deadly serious," Ron replied, watching her horrified expression for a moment and then bursting out into fits of laughter.
"Just you wait," Ginny's eyes twinkled mischievously, and she leapt at her brother and tickled him mercilessly.
"Stop it!" he gasped breathlessly, writhing off his chair onto the floor. "Mum! Tell her!"
"Ron, get off the floor! You're making the place look untidy!" Mrs Weasley said briskly, filling plates with sausages, bacon and eggs and putting them on the table. "Ginny dear, I think that's Pigwidgeon outside. Could you let him in please?"
With a final baleful look at her red-faced brother Ginny opened the window, and the tiny owl fluttered in, bouncing around the kitchen madly in his excitement.
"Keep still, you stupid feathery git," Ron exclaimed in exasperation, now on his feet trying to unfasten the parchment from his owl's leg. "Honestly, you'd have thought he'd have learnt how to behave by now, wouldn't you?"
"You haven't," chuckled Ginny, sliding onto the seat beside Harry, and helping herself to breakfast. Harry couldn't keep his eyes off her. He had been away from her for six long weeks, and it felt so good to be beside her again. He couldn't believe that she was actually there. He reached for her hand just to check that she wasn't a figment of his imagination, and was thrilled to see her smile with sheer pleasure at him, as she squeezed his fingers gently.
"It's from Hermione," Ron said, unravelling the parchment and beginning to read the note. "She's arriving on Saturday afternoon." His eyes scanned further down the page, and Harry could see a small smile playing across his mouth, before he folded the parchment away into his pocket. "It's going to be a terrible wrench, but I suppose I can just about deal with not coming on this picnic with you! I really should write back to Hermione." Ron chuckled. "How about some Quidditch in the orchard when you get back, Harry?"
"Sounds perfect," Harry grinned.
The sun was high in the sky, casting short black shadows on the ground as they left The Burrow. Harry was carrying the willow basket of food, not so much out of any sense of chivalry, but rather to leave Ginny free to wrestle with her wide-brimmed hat, which her mother had insisted that she wore due to the heat of the day and the Weasley tendency to freckle and burn. They strolled lazily through the garden and over the fence into the meadow.
"Oh this is ridiculous," Ginny grumbled as her hat flew off in the breeze again. "Don't tell Mum I'm doing this," she added removing the offending article altogether, grinning at Harry, and swinging it loosely from her hand. Her hair glinted in a myriad of shades of red in the sunshine, and the sheer beauty of it entranced him once more, tempting him to touch it. Hand in hand they wove their way through the rustling, whispering grasses towards the old gnarled oak standing proudly on the knoll claiming dominion over the fields, which sloped gently down to the water. They paused on the ridge beside it, staring at the scene before them. The windows of Ottery St Catchpole glinted in the distance, nestled cosily at the foot of the steep hill Harry remembered climbing for the Quidditch World Cup a couple of years before. The river wound its way lazily across the verdant landscape, hiding from sight behind trees along the banks and reappearing a little way further on as if playing a game with the observer. It glittered and shone in the sunlight, flashes of gold rebounding enticingly off the ripples.
"Race you down?" she said impishly grinning at him, and set off quickly before he'd had a chance to respond, hair and dress fluttering in the breeze behind her. Harry followed, hindered by the picnic basket, but fast enough to level with her toward the bottom of the hill. She slowed and stopped beside a couple of ancient trees leaning out across the river, gasping for breath, and he abandoned the basket on the ground, to pull her into his arms.
"I've missed you," he said breathlessly, his blood beating erratically through his veins. His hand slid at last into the thickness of her hair, and she looked up, suddenly and directly, at him with her dark eyes, making his breath even unsteadier. A moment later and they were entwined in an embrace, his lips on hers, burning with a new desire, which had caught him entirely unaware until he was enveloped in the velvety depths of it. Ginny's body moulded against his, as she responded with equal passion to his every touch.
At length, they pulled apart, Ginny's eyes wider and darker than ever, searching his soul.
"Wow!" she gasped sounding slightly dazed. "I wasn't expecting that."
"Me neither," Harry admitted, feeling rather intoxicated by the experience. "That was…" He had no words to describe what it was exactly, so he simply smiled at her, and she giggled.
"It was, wasn't it?" she said, hugging him tightly. "I've missed you too. It's been awful this summer without you."
"Ah, but there's no getting rid of me now," he teased, spreading the picnic blanket beneath the tree right next to the river. "You're stuck with me until next July."
"I don't know how I'm going to cope," she sighed tragically, her eyes twinkling with mischief. She settled herself down on the rug beside him, tossed her hat aside and grinned. "I'll just have to learn some repelling charms or maybe even a good magical barrier one to keep you away."
"You dare," he spluttered, leaning over to tickle her. She squirmed beneath his fingers, making Harry's pulse race. He stopped abruptly, uncertain of himself and his feelings, and stared out quickly over the water.
"What's up?" she asked curiously.
"Nothing," he said, vaguely, and reached over to the basket. "Here you go," he grinned, throwing her book of Muggle poems across. His own Quidditch book was there too, so he settled down on the blanket with her, for what promised to be a wonderful afternoon.