My Christmas gift to the world of Harry Potter fanfiction...Just a short one-shot, around six years after the Battle of Hogwarts. I hope you like it. I apologize for any spelling or grammar mistakes. I really tried! And by the way...reviews make some pretty stellar Christmas presents.
In case it isn't obvious...I don't own the rights to Harry Potter. If I did, I would be J. and a hell of a lot better at writing.
"Harry! Are you ready to leave yet? We're going to be late!" Ginny yelled up the stairs slipping her earring into place. She was wearing a dark green dress and high heels, her flaming red hair framing her face nicely. Harry looked in the mirror one last time, trying to calm his nerves. He was wearing a pair of dress pants and a dark green button down shirt; Ginny had wanted to match. He'd tried to tame his hair, with no success.
"Yeah!" he called back to her, patting his pocket to make sure he had everything. He felt something bigger than the rest, a small box, and his stomach lurched. He hurriedly turned his thoughts to different things. It was Christmas Eve, and they were going to the Burrow. The whole family would be there; Ron and Hermione, George and Angelina, Bill, Fleur, and Victoire and Dominique, of course. And then there would be Andromeda Tonks and little Teddy Lupin, Harry's Godson. It had been six years since the Battle of Hogwarts. Six years since the war was won. It was good to spend time with the whole family without having to worry about some Death Eater bursting through the doors at any moment. It had been a big job, rounding up all the former followers of Lord Voldemort, trying to figure out who had been blackmailed, who'd been cursed, and who were truly guilty. It was good to rest.
Harry trotted down the stairs. This was his home. He and Ginny lived together now, and had for a few years now. Harry smiled, remembering how long it had taken for the black eye to go down after Ron had gotten wind of the whole thing.
It was small, but it was enough for now. He was proud of the little house. They lived in Godric's Hollow now, not far from the ruins of Harry's first home, actually. It was a little strange, walking by the ruins every almost every day. Harry had gotten Kingsley Shacklebolt, old friend and current Minister of Magic, to help him put the Fidalius charm on the house, having Hermione act as the secret keeper. Harry stopped on the bottom stair and smiled at the sight of Ginny. "You look so amazing." he said to her, and stepped down the last stair and kissed her. She smiled, but broke away after just a moment. "We need to get going. I would rather George didn't make any snide remarks about us this year." she said, pulling on her coat, then turning to attempt to get Harry's hair to behave. It wouldn't work for her, either. Harry laughed. Last year, he and Ginny had been a half hour late and George couldn't help but make remarks about what the two were probably doing in that extra half an hour. He pulled on his coat as well, and took Ginny's hand.
They walked out the front door together and Ginny locked up with the usual spells. "Are you ready?" she asked, suddenly more serious as she tucked her wand back into her coat pocket. Harry sighed, wrapped his arm around her waist, and nodded, looking down at the icy path. They walked down the path and out onto the sidewalk. They walked through the quiet streets, snow catching in their hair and on their shoulders, nodding to the neighbors they recognized, wishing Happy Christmas to a few, but not stopping. Finally, they came to the little church, where they could hear the Christmas Eve service still going on, and see the glowing light behind the windows as people held their candles high, but didn't go in. Instead, they walked around to the graveyard behind it, empty and silent. The two walked through the rows of graves until they came to a particular one, covered in snow. Ginny soothingly rubbed Harry's back as he conjured a bouquet of Christmas roses to place on his parents grave. He didn't visit all that often, but made sure that he payed the spot a visit every Christmas Eve. He'd first been to the spot with Hermione on Christmas Eve, while they were searching for horcruxes. He felt it was a special time. He knelt slowly rubbing the snow off their names, and gently placed the roses at the foot of the headstone. He lingered on his knees, becoming lost in wondering as he always did on his visits, then, shaking his head, got to his feet again.
"Merry Christmas, Mum. Merry Christmas, Dad."
A few minutes later, there was a small *pop* and two figures appeared at the gate of the Burrow. "Tori! Tori, look!! It's Uncle Harry and Aunt Ginny!" a small boy with a mop of both mousy brown and bubblegum pink hair and brown eyes yelled, pulling on the hand of a smaller girl with silky blonde hair and blue eyes. He was pointing wildly out the window, and a moment later he wrenched the door open and ran out into the snow. "Teddy! Oh, Teddy you'll freeze!" Molly Weasley cried, racing to the door. She saw the boy leap into the arms of a tall, thin man with a mop of messy black hair and she sighed, smiling, and leaned against the frame of the door. She didn't really feel like chasing the energetic six year old out into the cold. He would be alright, really.
"Uncle Harry!" Teddy shouted, and Harry grinned. He loved Teddy like he was his own son. He knew how it was, growing up without a dad, and was determined that Teddy would at least have a good father figure in his life. He'd decided that as he held Teddy for the first time at Remus and Tonks' funeral, and had stuck to it. "Hey, Teddy! What's with the hair?" he asked, ruffling his godson's hair before setting him back down on his feet. Teddy shrugged casually, obviously trying to make it seem like it wasn't a big deal. "I was looking at some pictures of mom and dad the other day and..." he trailed off, finishing with another shrug, and put his small hand into Harry's larger one. Harry nodded. He understood. The brown pieces matched Remus's hair, and the pink was Tonk's favorite shade.
The three, Harry, Ginny, and Teddy, walked into the warm house. Harry loved the Burrow; it had been his second favorite place throughout his school days, and still was. Mrs. Weasley hugged Ginny, then Harry. "Oh, I've missed you two. You really need to come around more." she said, brushing a piece of hair off Ginny's face. Harry noticed for the first time that there were a few strands of gray mixed in with the red now. Why hadn't he noticed before? He felt a little guilty. Mrs. Weasley had grown to be a mother figure to him over the years. She and Mr. Weasley had even given him his Wizard's watch when he came of age. It had been her brother's, and he wore it almost every day now.
"I'm sorry, Mum." Ginny said, her tone sincere, "Harry's been working on a big case. He got called in at three in the morning for a raid in the past couple of weeks. It's just starting to wind down." Harry nodded. This was true. His work as an auror had been keeping him very busy lately, along with Ron. "And Gwenog is scheduling practices every day...we have that tournament coming up, you know. She wanted to schedule one for tonight, but the other girls and I put our foot down. We get today and tomorrow off, but day after next it's back to work." Ginny sighed, shrugging out of her coat. Harry hung it on one of the pegs on the wall for her, right next to his.
Mrs. Weasley looked at her daughter for a moment longer, thinking about how tired she looked, Harry too. After a moment she said, "Oh, it's alright, dear. I know you're both very busy. I just worry about you. You're running yourself ragged, both of you," here she pointed to Harry, "and you're not even twenty five. You're too young for this." she said, shaking her head. She sighed. "Go on, go on. You're the last ones to get here." and with that she shooed them into the living room while she bustled back into the kitchen.
After fifteen minutes of hugs and small talk with the people crammed into the small living room, Teddy was begging to go out and play in the snow. "Let's have a snow ball fight! Or we could build a snowman!" he glanced behind him at Victoire, who was staring at the presents gathered around the Christmas tree. "And Tori could make some snow angels. Please, Uncle Harry?"
How could Harry say no?
So, Teddy and Victoire, Harry, Ron, George, Ginny, and Hermione had gotten bundled up again and went outside. Soon enough, a snowball war was raged, but after Victoire was accidentally hit in the face by a ball gone off target (thrown by Ron) and started crying, Hermione put a stop to it, glaring at Ron while she held a sobbing Victoire. After that, Ron as banished to making snow angels with his niece while everyone else pitched in to make a giant snowman.
The night went on. Dinner was eaten. Presents were handed out and opened. But, towards the end of the night, when things were beginning to quiet down and everyone was squeezed into the living room again, sipping on hot chocolate and swapping stories from the year gone by that they hadn't had the chance to tell until then, Harry excused himself to the kitchen. He was sweating, but not because he was hot. To his surprise, a moment later, Ron followed him.
"You're actually going to do it then?" Ron asked him looking skeptically at him. Harry blinked and stared at him in surprise. "What?" Harry asked, his hand jumping to his pocket. Ron smirked. "I knew it...you're going to propose to her, aren't you? I was starting to wonder if you were ever going to get the guts to do it." he said. Harry sighed, and nodded. "Is it that obvious?" he asked, running a shaking hand through his hair. Ron laughed. "To the girls? Probably not. But to me, to the other guys? Yeah, probably. Well, probably not George, but he hasn't gone through this yet." Ron strode closer to Harry and placed his hands on Harry's shoulders, and gave him a gentle shake. "You think we don't remember it? Merlin, it's the most terrifying thing I've ever done! And that includes walking those bloody skrewts in fourth year." Ron laughed again, then picked up a glass bottle of firewhiskey that was sitting on the counter and handed it to Harry. "Have a couple swallows. Trust me, it helps."
Harry looked down at the bottle in his hands and realized what it was. He grinned up at Ron. "So, you're not going to hex me?" he asked, unscrewing the lid. Ron smiled, a little more serious now, and shrugged. "I figure you're the best man for her. I'm glad it's you, Harry." he said, his voice a bit lower than it had been before. "Just...be careful with her, won't you? Look after her." he sighed, and boosted himself up to sit on the counter by the sink.
Ron looked at the floor for a moment before speaking again. "It's harder than it sounds, you know." he said quietly. Harry leaned against the wall. Hermione and Ron had gotten married just a year after the Battle of Hogwarts. They'd been married for almost five years now. Harry could remember a couple of times when Ron had slept on Harry's couch when Hermione had kicked him out after a particularly bad row. "You're stuck with each other. You get into more fights than you ever would've had before. Even if you lived together before...there's something different. Because this time, you know that you're going to have to make it work. And suddenly you find out things that you never knew about each other, even after years and years of knowing each other. Like how it can annoy the hell out of her when you leave the cap off the toothpaste, or leave your shoes by the door and that sort of thing. But you learn to deal with it." Ron looked up at Harry, and smiled. "I'm not trying to scare you, honestly." Harry gave a shake laugh, and rubbed his temples.
Ron looked back down at the floor, serious again. "Harry, it is worth it. Every minute of every fight is worth it. Because after it's over and you've cooled down...you realize that you still love each other. You've gone through some new crap, and come out of it, and you're both okay. It's a good feeling, knowing that you can get through stuff together. You end up looking back over the past few years together and you realize that all this time, you've been teaching each other how to deal with life." He looked up at Harry again, and held his gaze. "It's going to be rough." he promised. "But you'll make it, you and Gin. I'm glad it's you."
Ron hopped off the counter, and tapped the glass bottle in Harry's hand. "It really does help." Then, he was gone, back to the living room.
Harry stared down at the bottle in his hand for a long minute, then chugged down a couple mouthfuls. He sputtered a little as the drink went down his throat. His mind seemed to tingle, and then go clear again. Ron was right; it did help. It made Harry feel a bit more daring. He set the bottle back on the counter, then strode back into the living room, one hand wrapped around the small velvet box in his pocket. He sat down next to Ginny, waiting for George to finish his story. He hadn't even thought of what he was going to say...or do, or anything, really.
You're an idiot, Harry, he thought taking a deep breath to steady himself. It was quiet again. Harry felt Ron staring at him, and it felt like there was a giant sitting on his chest, making it almost impossible to breathe. Without really knowing what he was doing, Harry leaned over and whispered into Ginny's ear. "Let's get away for a few minutes." Ginny turned as Bill started to tell his own story. Harry jerked his head towards the door, and she smiled, and nodded. "Meet me outside." he whispered, and got up once again. Ron watched him go, but the others just glanced at him for a moment. He pulled on his coat and stepped outside into the cold, waiting for Ginny, trying to form a plan. Too soon, Ginny joined him. "Where are we going?" she asked, looping her arm through his as they walked down the path. Harry shrugged.
"I don't really know yet. Just for a walk, I guess." he answered, and they started walking towards the village. Soon they got into town, and after walking around for a few minutes, Harry said, "let's stop here." and gestured to a bench. Ginny nodded, and Harry brushed the snow off. "Harry, what's going on?" Ginny asked after they had both sat down. "You're acting strange tonight." she watched him closely. Harry took another deep breath, then turned so that he was facing her. "Actually, Gin, there was something that I wanted to ask you...but the thing is I'm not quite sure of how to do it." he admitted, and ran his hand through his hair, making it stand up even more than it usually did. "Just ask me, Harry." Ginny urged.
"I love you." Harry said. Ginny rose an eyebrow. "Yeah...and I love you too. You know that, Harry." she responded, thoroughly confused. Harry laughed nervously. "Ginny, I love you so much." He leaned forwards and kissed her forehead, one hand digging in his pocket. "I promise that you'll never be around. I promise that even if we get into a huge fight, I'll always love you more than anyone in the world." He opened his hand and showed Ginny what was inside it.
A small ring lay in the palm of Harry's hand. The center stone was a heart shaped opal, with two tiny round diamonds set on either side of it. The band itself was made up of gold hearts.
Ginny stared at it, wide eyed. "Does this mean what I think it means?" she asked in a shaky voice. "I you think it means I want to marry you...then yeah. It does." Harry said. He was so scared he though he might pee his pants. Ginny covered her mouth with both hands, glancing from the ring to Harry's face and back again, over and over. "Ginny, please say something." Harry begged after a few minutes. Ginny shook her head.
Harry's heart dropped below his navel. He sighed, and closed his hand, his shoulders slumping. Ginny gasped in horror. "No! Oh, Harry, that wasn't my answer!" she choked, her eyes filling up with tears. Harry's heart shot up so fast that it almost choked him. "What?" he asked in disbelief. "I didn't want to talk because I knew I would start crying!" Ginny sobbed, and flung her arms around Harry's neck. He automatically wrapped his arms around her, very confused, as Ginny sobbed into his shoulder.
I should've had more firewhiskey. Harry thought, stroking Ginny's hair, utterly bewildered. Ginny was rarely tearful. Harry had often thought that growing up with six brothers had toughened her up a bit. After a long minute, Ginny started nodding. She pulled away from Harry just enough to look into his face, pulling herself together and beaming at him, beautiful despite the the red eyes and damp cheeks. She kept nodding and Harry's eye widened.
She's nodding. Does that mean yes? Yes? Yes. She said yes! Harry's breath left him in a long whoosh. He hadn't realized he'd been holding it, but now he needed air. He took several long gulps, then grinned. "You're serious? You mean it?" he asked. Ginny laughed shakily. "Of course I'm serious, Harry...I'm saying yes." she giggled a little at Harry's grin. He couldn't help it.
"Do I get to put it on?" Ginny asked, picking up the hand that had been holding the ring. Harry laughed. "Yeah. Of course." he opened his hand and plucked the ring from his palm, then slid it onto Ginny's finger. She looked down at her hand for a long moment, silent and smiling. "Harry, it's beautiful." Harry watched her, that silly grin still on his face. He stood up slowly, not wanting to leave the moment but knowing that he had to. He held out his hand to Ginny. "Come on. We need to get back before too many people notice we're gone." Ginny sighed, and nodded, getting up as well.
"They're coming!" Teddy cried, scurrying away from the window as he spotted Harry and Ginny. Everyone hurried back to their seats, and had just started a fake conversation when the two walked back into the room, brushing snow out of their hair. People continued to talk for a couple of minutes until Harry and Ginny stood up.
"Finally!" George yelled, even before either of them could speak. "Yeah, who would've thought I'd get up the guts before Harry? Five years before him!" Ron said, laughing. "Ooh, Ginny dear, let me see the ring!" Mrs. Weasley squealed, standing up and hurrying forwards to take Ginny's hand.
As the two were swarmed by the entire Weasley family who all wanted to wish them well, along with the few guests, Harry thought for the second time: I should've had more firewhiskey.
Merry Christmas! Hope you enjoyed...if you did, let me know! =)