A/N: This was written for the September Support Stacie author auction. The prompt was: one of the untold days or adventures when Harry came to stay at the Burrow. Year really doesn't matter, though I think either the summer before fourth year or sixth year. This was the result: two untold days.
Summer Games, Winter Flames
It is one of those perfect summer days. The ones where the air seems heavy as syrup and even the bees appear lethargic, flying in lazy circles from flower to flower, gathering pollen tiredly as if they can't be bothered. The dementor-induced mists have dissipated making it feel even hotter. It is, in short, the kind of day where the only possible way to spend it is lying under the shade of a large tree with a friend or two just talking or maybe drifting perilously close to sleep. Four people are doing just that, lying under an apple tree, none of them interested in moving. Movement generates the sort of sticky heat that can only be eased if you immerse yourself in cool water, so they lie together mostly silent, their limbs heavy with the wet heat around them.
Soon, however, Harry gets restless. At just-gone sixteen he is unable to stay still even on a day like today. He wants to fly, even though he knows it's far too hot and that he will get sweaty and uncomfortable. The idea of being in the air, with a breeze he generates whipping past him takes hold and won't let him go. He stirs briefly and sighs. Hermione slits an eye open and cocks an eyebrow at him.
'What's the matter?'
'I dunno. I just want to fly, I think. Anyone up for a game?'
Ron snorts, eyes still lazily closed. 'Not bloody likely, mate. It's bad enough down here, but actually moving? No thanks.'
'Hermione? You will, right? Think of the wind up there – it'll be cool, less sticky.' The longing in his voice doesn't sway her.
'I doubt that. The air is wet, Harry. It'll be just as bad up there and I don't like quidditch that much.'
'I'll go, Harry.' The voice is amused, and he turns to her with a grateful look on his face.
'That's great, Ginny.' He leaps to his feet, ready to rush off to get his Firebolt. She stands up more gracefully and playfully kicks his feet out from under him, laughing as he collapses back to the ground. She says, 'I'll race you to see who gets to go first,' and then she is gone.
By the time Harry regains his footing, she is almost at the broom shed, and he is already slick with sweat when he catches up with her. By contrast, she looks like it was a stroll in the park. The only sign that she feels the heat, too, is the rim of damp hair around her forehead. She hands him his broom.
'Took your time getting here. Are you losing your touch, Potter?' She smirks at him, and he growls at the suggestion, kicking off from the ground. She takes out one of the golf balls Fred and George enchanted to move and throws it into the air, sending Harry a challenging look as she takes off. Eyes alight they hold eye contact, each waiting for a signal from the other that the ball is far enough away to begin the chase. His eyes flicker towards the ball and that is all the go-ahead she needs. She shoots away from him and he curses his momentary lapse in concentration, willing his Firebolt to catch up with her Cleansweep.
The sound of her laughter drifts back to him and he almost forgets to look for the golf ball as he watches her fly. She is at home on a broom, getting up a reasonable speed on her decrepit model and he notices how good she looks in the air, as if she belongs here. Her face, looking back at him, holds the most amazing cheeky look, daring him to catch her. He notices for the first time how lean her body is. The shorts and tank top she is wearing emphasize the muscles bunched around the broom handle and he stares for one entranced second at the spot on her thigh where one tiny rivulet of sweat glistens, tracing the line of the muscle tensed beneath the skin.
She slows down slightly, letting him overtake her before veering off course in the direction the golf ball is now heading. Shaking his head to regain concentration, Harry pulls his Firebolt around and streaks after her. The breeze he had hoped to generate in the air whips around him, but instead of cooling him the warm air is making him feel hotter and stickier than ever. It looks like Hermione had been right, but he is still enjoying himself up in the air like this.
Just as he catches up to Ginny, his sights firmly on the golf ball and not her, the ball changes direction again and hovers near her ankle. Triumphantly, Harry grabs for it, only to find his hand clasped around silky skin. As if burned, he pulls his hand away and mutters an apology. Ginny looks at him mischievously and says, 'I know you just wanted to get your hands on me,' causing a fiery red blush to stain his cheeks. No idea of a comeback occurs to him even though he usually banters with her easily and Ginny's eyes remain alight as she continues to tease him, sensing his weakness.
He recovers his poise and begins searching for the ball again. He spots it at the other end of the orchard, flitting about among the tree leaves. Grinning to himself, his competitive nature awakened by her easy manner and teasing remarks, he refuses to let her win so easily. He feints in the other direction, drawing her towards the tree under which Ron and Hermione still lie. He skims down near enough to alarm them out of their lethargy, but when Ginny approaches he suddenly changes direction and heads for the other tree line with Ron's curses echoing in his wake. His focus on the golf ball fluttering up ahead, he wills his broom to go faster. He is almost on top of it when he senses a presence behind him but he doesn't allow himself to risk distraction again as his fingers tangle around the tiny ball.
He sinks to the ground, fist raised in triumph. She lands a few feet away from him, and he grins at her. 'Hah! Take that Weasley!'
'Pah!' she grins. 'You were always going to win that one. In a chaser competition I'd have you.'
'Really? I think I may just have to put that one to the test ... last one in the air gets a two goal penalty.'
He is on the Firebolt ready to kick back into the air when an owl appears and pecks Ginny to get her attention. She glances at the envelope it holds, and her face lights into a brilliant smile.
'Sorry, Harry. It's from Dean. I'd better go answer it.'
Humming cheerfully, she heads back into the house. He stares after her, feeling a slight twinge of disappointment. Even though it is so hot and he can already feel the fatigue seeping back into his bones, he has had fun today, and he's vaguely irritated that it has been brought to such a sudden close by her boyfriend intruding.
Only his seeker instincts get him out of the way fast enough as a beater's bat whistles through the air, barely missing hitting him on the ear. He turns, squinting, to see where it has come from and sees Ron grinning at him.
'Come on mate, this heat has addled your brains. Let's get these brooms back in the shed and go for a swim. You look like you need it.'
Shrugging his thoughts away from the lithe form disappearing in the distance, Harry complies and the rest of the day slips away in lazy motion, but the memory of the quidditch game lies dormant under his skin, nearly (but never quite) forgotten in the months that follow, until the day a tapestry is ripped aside, Harry sees Ginny kissing Dean and a monster erupts inside him.
* * * * *
It is one of those bitterly cold winter days. One of those days where even the fire crackling in the hearth seems to feel the chill and shrinks away from the air whispering down the chimney. It is a day where the only possible way to spend it is snuggled on a couch inside with a steaming mug of cocoa and a few friends. Five people are doing just that, laughter and chatter ringing out across the worn furnishings in the cosy living room. None of them is particularly interested in moving. Movement would break up the ease and camaraderie they have generated in this moment.
Soon, however, Ginny feels guilty. Her parents have done a lot this holiday making sure everyone has a good time, and she feels the need to give something back to them. She sighs, reluctant to leave the fun. Ron notices and looks toward her with a raised eyebrow.
'I'm going to get the kitchen ready for dinner while Mum and Dad are out. Who's with me?' She asks it knowing that there is little hope any of them will help her. She is not disappointed
Ron grunts disbelievingly. 'Not me. I've been working like a house elf all day already.'
Ginny rolls her eyes at him. 'More like pining over Lavender,' she says but turns away from him and quirks an inquiring eyebrow at the next pair.
'No way, Ginny. You're not roping us into that again. Last time you had this bright idea we were there for hours.' George is emphatic.
'Besides,' Fred grins evilly, 'we have a prank to plan. No time to do domestic chores.'
Ginny huffs in disappointment and walks towards the kitchen alone.
'I'll help.' She hasn't even thought to ask him because he's not actually one of her brothers. 'You don't have to do that, Harry. You're a guest.' She is flustered looking at him, unsure how to fend off his help as her mother would.
'I want to. No, I insist,' he adds as she tries to stop him again. 'It makes me feel at home.' The grin he gives her is cheeky. By the time she thinks of a reply he is already in the kitchen and has started getting plates out to set the table. She stands leaning on the door and watches him as he works. He has rolled his shirt sleeves up a little, and as his arms stretch and relax with the motion of his actions she is entranced by the way she can see the tendons shifting under his skin.
'So you get someone else roped in and then watch them work, is that it? No wonder the others didn't want to help.' Harry's teasing voice cuts across her thoughts and she drags herself together and moves to help him, poking him in the ribs as she passes.
'Prat,' she smiles. 'I'm thinking what needs to be done.'
He raises one eyebrow at her but doesn't say anything. They work together in companionable silence getting everything ready for her parents' family meal that evening. She is thankful that she doesn't have to cook; aware that she isn't exactly competent in the kitchen. Her mother has enchanted everything to start cooking at the right time while she is out. Just as Ginny notices this, a pot begins to boil on the stove, startling Harry. His eyes widen as he spins around to look at the stove, and her gaze is drawn to the way the glints from the candles dance over his glasses as he twists his body. She watches for a few moments as she tries to tease out what colour his eyes are in this light. The candlelight makes them appear almost amber but hints of their real green shine through. He catches her staring and holds her gaze for a moment before she blushes and looks away, embarrassed.
She shakes her head to clear it and mentally gives herself a slap. You are not going down that road again, Weasley, she admonishes herself. That way lies more heartbreak. Besides, what about Dean?
On her guard, she moves to help him with the candles. They have just set the last one in its place on the table when a cool draft finds its way between the cracks in the window pane. Despite her sensible words to herself, she can't help but notice the way he shivers as goose bumps appear on the skin of his neck and she gazes at the spot where his shirt reveals the small bumps, watching the way his muscles move as he shrugs to rid himself of the discomfort the tiny lumps cause. She shivers in response, and pulls away to examine their work, unwilling to admit even to herself why she might be shaky around him.
'Should have worn something warmer,' she says, rubbing her arms to cover her reaction, and he smiles and agrees.
Dammit, Weasley, do not go there. She is angry at herself and forces her eyes and thoughts away from Harry. She has a boyfriend and this hyper awareness of another guy, especially this other guy, infuriates her. It's obvious that he will never see her that way, and even if he did: I have a boyfriend she growls at herself.
'Oi , Ginny! Wake up,' he says as he snaps his fingers in front of her face, pulling her out of her thoughts. She grabs his fingers and twists them til he yelps.
'Whoops. Automatic reaction when you have so many older brothers,' Ginny smirks at him, unrepentant. This is better, she thinks. Treat him like another annoying older brother. Much better option.
'Well, if you're going to try and break me,' he says with a grin, 'I think I'm just going to stop helping.'
'Nuh-uh! The rule is if you start helping you're in it 'til the end.'
'I see why your brothers refused, now. You're a real slave driver.' He is putting the final pieces of cutlery by the plates as he speaks, and she is once more caught by the way he moves with a certain lanky grace even doing these menial tasks. She watches the way he stands back and cocks his head to the side as he admires his handiwork, her eyes drawn to the hair that flops over his forehead. He brushes it away impatiently and she sighs. He looks up at her quizzically.
'I don't know what I'm going to do with you, Potter.' She giggles a little as he looks confused. 'You've gone and proven that it doesn't take long to do this, and now I can't hold table setting over the boys as a form of terrifying punishment.'
'I won't tell if you don't.' His eyes glint at her, and she almost loses her resolve not to think of him that way as she smiles back. Brother ... like a brother, remember.
Ron peeks his head around the door and takes in the neat, orderly kitchen and already-laid table. Ginny sends him packing with a few well-chosen words but the damage is done.
'I think we've been busted,' she says and he shrugs, eyes still glinting. 'Oh well,' she adds grinning a little, 'I think some hot cocoa by the fire is needed – and a little punishment for those lazy sods out there, what do you reckon?'
'I'm game. What do you want me to do?' She tells him and the way his eyes light up with mischief and Ginny has to remind herself why she shouldn't go there. They grab some un-meltable ice from the ice box and retreat to the warmth of the living room, laughing at the howls of her brothers as the magically non-melting ice drifts down their backs and Ginny manages to forget the feelings that swished so unwelcomingly into this bitterly cold day.
That is, she nearly manages to forget them until the moment several months later when the portrait hole opens, Harry steps into the Gryffindor common room and she decides that she completely should go there after all.
And so she does.