Disclaimer: I am not JKR. I do not claim to own any of these characters or settings, nor am I making any money off them. Donations of high-quality chocolate, however, are not only appreciated, but expected.
Author's note: I was saving this story to post until it was actually snowing, but since it hasn't snowed here in several lifetimes, I'll just post it now in hopes that the weather gods see it and take note. Stupid climate change. This was directly inspired by the line in Dido's spectacular song "Take my hand" that goes "Catch the snow on your tongue, and show me, oh show me how it tastes..." Thanks, Dido!
AN2: Also, I just now realized that I posted this story with a typo in the title. It said "Snoflake Theory" instead of "Snowflake Theory." This is a truly reprehensible mistake, and I offer my deepest apologies. I would blame the fact that I was running out of the room to grab a bagel and get to class, but there really are no excuses for this type of thing.
"Four…five!" Ginny licked her lips. "How many have you got?"
Hermione stamped her feet to try and reintroduce blood flow into them. "None, so far."
She looked up to the thick white-gray sky, from which fat, fluffy, snowflakes were lazily swirling. "It's not even really snowing yet; they're just too far apart to catch in time."
"Excuses, excuses," Ginny smirked, and then dove after a particularly juicy specimen, which she caught, of course. "Six!" The gargantuan snowflake had really looked more like five or ten clumped together, but she could afford to be generous.
Hermione supposed she should have felt childish out here on the frozen pond with Ginny, running after falling snowflakes with mouth open and tongue out, but she didn't. They could have been easily observed from the house, but they were having too much fun to care. It was the first real snow of the Christmas holidays.
The pond was the largest, closest spot of open sky to the Burrow, the better for catching snowflakes, but it hadn't helped Hermione yet. She would set her sights on one that was falling straight down toward her, and then it would fall in her eye, or unexpectedly veer off at the last second.
"How do you do that?" she asked Ginny, as the younger girl effortlessly caught another one.
"Oh, I have my ways…" She threw a wink at Hermione and then turned back to staring up at the sky. "Watch and learn."
Hermione threw her hands on her hips and did as she was told. She hated it when she didn't know how to do something.
Ginny didn't seem to have any one strategy, however. She would stand still and wait for a snowflake to drop into her upturned mouth, but then she would put the next fluffy crystal up for a circuitous chase to the ground and only snag it in the nick of time. She looked like winter personified as she danced about with bright eyes and a pink nose-tip, big white flakes catching and melting in her hair.
Hermione smiled in spite of her frustration. Ginny looked beautiful. Almost like something that shouldn't be looked at for too long, or the looker would be overwhelmed. Hermione tore her eyes away from her red-haired friend and turned them back toward the heavens. The snow was starting to fall faster now, and she could feel it landing on her hair and shoulders.
Somehow, inexplicably, this did not translate into a greater success rate for Hermione. It just wasn't fair. "You have to tell me how you're doing that, Gin – if there's some spell, you know I'll find it out sooner or later, so you might as well spill now!" She called over to the redhead.
Ginny giggled. "Don't be silly, there's no such thing as a snowflake-catching spell. I just found a theory that works, is all."
Hermione boot-skated over to Ginny and grabbed her by the front of the coat, in mock distress. "You have to tell me!"
"No, I don't." Ginny giggled again, and made no move to free herself.
Hermione gave her a theatrical shake, which frankly didn't involve that much acting. She needed to know. "I'm begging you now. Honestly. Please?"
"Because I don't want to!"
Hermione dropped her hands in defeat and Ginny spun away after another flake, grinning cheekily. Hermione tried to content herself with just watching the sky, and managed to get a couple flakes on her chin without really trying. But still. They were falling faster now, and she still hadn't managed to catch a single one in her mouth.
"Mmm, they taste good." Ginny's voice sounded eerily close, as though the falling snow had turned the outdoors into a single crystalline room.
"There's no need to taunt me about it, you know," Hermione retorted. She had retreated closer to the shaded banks of the pond, seeing as how she wasn't catching anything anyway, but Ginny was still standing in the middle, face shining, practically eating the snow out of the air. "Besides, it can't taste like anything; they're just water."
Ginny stuck out her tongue and got two at once, and pretended to roll them around in her mouth as though considering a fine wine. "I don't know; it doesn't taste like 'just water' to me."
"Then if not water, what does it taste like?"
"Oh, you'd have to find out for yourself." Ginny pirouetted.
Hermione pushed off away from the branches and valiantly turned her face up again. Logically, she could not fail – the space between the falling flakes was, on average, much less than the size of her face. However, after patiently skating around with her head tilted up, with no results, for what seemed like a more than sufficient time, she was ready to admit defeat.
"All right, I found the one thing I'm not good at. Now can you just tell me what they taste like?"
Ginny regarded her seriously through the white, dancing air. "I can't tell you," she said. "I don't know how to explain it in words."
Hermione sighed. So here, finally, was something that she was just doomed not to know.
"But I could show you," said Ginny, and her voice sounded like it was coming from right next to Hermione's ear.
Hermione looked up, feeling as though she was about to miss something.
"Come over here." There was still a grin playing around the corners of Ginny's mouth.
Hermione obeyed, and closed the span of meters between them in a few glides. "Yeah?"
She was standing so close to the younger girl. She could see the flakes collecting on Ginny's eyelashes, and the way the rosiness of her cheeks subtly changed the hue of her freckles. "Ok, when I get one…" Ginny was whispering. She held up one finger, the universal signal forwait patiently, and lifted her eyes to the sky. Hermione followed her gaze.
Hermione's heart quickened in her chest, as though it knew what would come next. Hermione just gazed upwards, blinking against the snow, and tried not to move a muscle. It suddenly seemed of vast importance to remain entirely still. What she was thinking made no sense, really, butjust in case. Just in case, she didn't want to ruin it.
Soon, Ginny managed to extract a snowflake from the sky – even from this close, Hermione couldn't tell how she was doing it – and she closed the half step between them without closing her mouth, and lifted her head to Hermione's. Something else seemed to take over, and Hermione wasn't unsure of what to do at all.
As far as first kisses generally go, it was backwards. Hermione inclined her head slightly down, and they met open-mouthed, and their tongues brushed together almost before their lips did. Hermione felt the world condense down to the single spot of coldness dissolving between them, and it tasted crisp, and sweet, and ethereal.
She leaned into the kiss, wanting more of the snow-taste, and to her delight she found it there, but then Ginny's tongue was gone, and it was just their lips pressing together, slightly numb. As they hovered apart, still breathing the same air, Hermione wanted. It came all of a sudden, as if that single brush of cold lips and warm tongues and air and snow had pulled the want out of where it had been hiding.
They stood that way, foreheads almost-but-not-quite leaning together, and Hermione wanted Ginny. She wanted to pull her back to where she had been a moment ago (where she belonged), and knock her winter hat off as she ran her hands through her hair, and search every last corner of her mouth for the snow-taste, and kiss her until both their lips were numb again.
The power of her want almost scared her away, and she hung for a moment, her rational mind tipping on the point of the decision. And then something took over, and she reached out and drew Ginny against her, and did it. And that tipped the scale, and all of her desire was rushing forward and carrying her along, and then Ginny was kissing her back, and oh. And then all her thoughts stopped for a while, and whirled in her head like snowflakes.
Ginny was right. It was impossible to explain with words.
Later, after they had picked up the snow-caked hats and buttoned up their coats again, Ginny volunteered, "You know, I don't think I mind telling you, now."
"Telling me what?" asked Hermione bemused, settling her hat back on her head.
"My snowflake theory." Ginny's eyes were sparkling. They sparkled more when she saw she had succeeded in piquing Hermione's interest. "You have to be breathing in when it comes close, otherwise the heat from your breath deflects it. But not when they're too far away, mind. And you're not trying to inhale them."
Hermione's laugh rang out like a chime. "That's it? That's the great big snowflake theory?" She tilted her head up into the endless skyful of snowflakes, and caught a flake in her mouth, and then another, just because she could.
Ginny smiled, watching her.
The snow was falling so hard now that Hermione would have caught some no matter what she did, but that didn't stop the bubble of triumph from rising up in her chest. It was such a good feeling to finally know something.
Another note: By the way, Ginny's snowflake theory is my own. I have no idea whether it actually works in real life though - as many times as I've tested it out, I still can't tell if your breathing makes a difference. (Which probably means that it doesn't)
Shameless plug: If you liked this story, (or even merely tolerated it!), then I highly recommend my other recent oneshot, "Footsteps." I hear from reliable sources that it's pretty good; however, the pairing is so rare that hardly anyone will find it on its own. It's darker than this one, and decidedly not fluffy (but has more sex - perhaps a deciding factor?). You are under no obligation to leave favorable reviews if you do read it. (End shameless plug.)