Christmas Gifts, Chapter 1, Ships Passing

Title: Christmas Gifts, Chapter 1, Ships Passing
Rating: PG-13
Characters/pairings: Harry/Ginny
Summary: What do you get the love of your life when they already have almost everything they ever wanted?
Author's Notes: Written for the "Gift of the Magi, Harry Potter-style" challenge in LiveJournal's chest_monsters community. I didn't win anything, but I had fun writing it.


"Ginny!" Harry called as soon as he Apparated into their living room. The silence was deafening. "Ginny!" he called again, hoping that she was just asleep, or perhaps caught up in a novel, or, his personal favorite, in a hot, steamy shower, slowly lathering up the soap and preparing to clean herself.

Still no answer. Praying that one of his suppositions was true, he quickly waved his hand towards the lights, which turned on, climbed the stairs, and hurried down the hallway. The study was empty, as was their large bed. His hopes fell as he systematically didn't find any traces of his wife. Throwing open the door to their bathroom, only to find it correspondingly dark and cold, his face settled into its now habitual frown.

He sighed deeply, and turned around to shuffle back down towards the kitchen, hoping that there was something fast and easy to eat in the icebox. The usual note on the table caught his eye.

Dear Harry,
I'm so sorry I can't be there this evening--Gwenog called an emergency practice, and I don't know when I'll be back. I left some Chinese take-out for you, I didn't have time to make dinner either.

Please take care of yourself--I know this isn't the best time for me to be away, and I wish I could be there with you. Don't sit around and brood, Potter--you hear me? Go visit Ron and Hermione, or go to the Burrow if you want. I just don't want to think of you being home alone on Halloween.

I love you, my dearest Harry, I'll be thinking of you today, even though it'll throw off my game, and I'll come home as soon as I can. Leave me a note if you go out, so I can find you quickly.

Always yours,

Ginny Potter (I never get tired of writing that. . .)

Ginny's note sparked a grin on Harry's face, reminding him of the fiery spirit that he had fallen in love with so long ago. But that faded as he once again faced the prospect of an empty house, and reheated take-away.

Maybe I'll go to the Burrow, he pondered. There, at least, he'd get a wonderful hot meal, and he could lose himself in the chaos and love that always seemed to permeate the ramshackle home. Turning over Ginny's note, he quickly wrote:

Darling Ginny,
I hope practice went well, and you didn't get into too much trouble for thinking of me when you should have been thinking of the Quaffle. I'd apologize, but I like the fact that I can distract you at a distance. Do I need to talk to Gwenog about these unscheduled practices? It seems you've been away an awful lot lately. . .

Thanks for your note, it made me smile, and thanks for the suggestions--it's nice to know that you're taking care of me, even when you're not around.

I decided to go to the Burrow, since lemon chicken didn't sound very good (but thanks for leaving me some!). Your mum will feed me, and maybe I can see Tory. Hey, do you think I should start calling her Vicky, just to bug Ron?

Anyway, I should be there, and if not, I'll tell your mum where I went.

Be careful, and I look forward to seeing you, sweaty and dirty from your practice. Perhaps I can help clean you up? *wink*wink*

Always yours,

Harry Weasley (I wouldn't have minded taking your name, you know)


The subdued *pop* of Harry Apparating into the Burrow's back yard went completely unnoticed by the family. Harry smiled as he caught someone's voice raised high in protest, to be drowned out by another voice, obviously parental, scolding. It had taken awhile for Harry to become completely comfortable with the dynamics of living with the Weasleys--at first it had been too reminiscent of the Dursleys and their manner of treating him. Hearing Mrs. Weasley yelling at the twins had caused him no end of stress. But after a week of living with them after having been rescued in the flying Ford Anglia, he had become not used to it, per se, but at least he didn't jump each time it happened.

By the time summer was over, he had come to the startling conclusion that a family could yell, and fight, and hex, and still love each other deeply. And he found himself oddly desirous to be on the receiving end of Mrs. Weasley's diatribes.

The summer before fourth year had shown him even more of the love that existed in the Burrow, and he found himself even more envious of the Weasley children, wishing that he had been able to grow up with a mother that truly cared about her children. And the desire to make sure that his children, should he ever have any, were raised in such an atmosphere, albeit with slightly less yelling, blossomed deeply in his heart.

It was the summer before fifth year when it finally happened. Ginny had coaxed Harry into planting spiders in Ron's sock drawer, and the resulting chaos had landed squarely on their collective heads. Harry found himself, for the first time, the target of a full-blown Molly Weasley scolding.

Ginny stoically endured the various and sundry pleas to obscure deities, exhortations to shape up, and threats of bodily harm. Harry, on the other hand, couldn't help his smile. It grew, and grew, and grew, as Molly vented her ire on the two teens. Finally Molly had noticed.

"--and if I ever catch you--Just what do you think is so funny, young man?" she demanded, when she saw the grin on Harry's face.

"Nothing, Mrs. Weasley, honestly." Ginny looked over at Harry, blinked, then quickly turned her face to the floor to hide the smile on her own face.

"Then why are you smiling? This is not a laughing matter! Ron could be scarred for life--and it took forever to heal those scrapes he got from falling down the stairs!"

Ginny, caught off guard, snorted, then tried, unsuccessfully, to turn it into a cough. Molly wasn't fooled, and turned to excoriate her daughter for laughing too, but Harry intervened.

"Honestly, Mrs. Weasley. I wasn't laughing. I was just thinking how nice it is that you treat me just like one of your children. No-one's ever cared about me like that. Aunt Petunia's yelled at me all my life, but when you do it, I know you won't make me go without eating. It's just. . . it's just nice to be able to pretend I have a real family."

Harry couldn't have chosen anything that would melt Molly's heart better. Instantly her anger disappeared, to be replaced by tender warmth and a wish that Harry really were hers to take care of. Her eyes shone, and she wrapped her arms around the black-haired boy.

"Oh, Harry. You've always been one of ours, dear. Of course I care--Arthur and I love you just as much as we love any of our other children. And I just hope that. . ." she very obviously changed what she was going to say, ". . . that one day you'll feel like you can call us Mum and Dad."

Harry hugged Mrs. Weasley back, and they just stood there; Harry basking in the glow of a mother's love, and Molly enjoying hugging a teen-age boy who wasn't trying to rush off.

Ginny had told him later that she had watched, agog, as Harry managed to completely defuse a full-on Molly Weasley rant, and turn it into a rather touching family bonding moment. Just for a moment, she had allowed her feelings for Harry to suffuse her, and she had made a quiet vow to herself that, if she ever had the opportunity, she'd make sure that Harry had a family, and that he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he was loved.


Shaking off his memories of the past, Harry stepped quickly to the back door, and walked in. The meal was, apparently, just finishing up, as plates were just about empty, and there were already some seats vacant. Molly saw him first, and jumped to her feet.

"Harry! It's so good to see you! Have you eaten? Please, sit down and I'll dish you up something. Is lamb stew all right? I could make you up something--"

Harry interrupted, laughing. "That's just fine, Mum. I like everything you've ever given me--"

"Especially Ginny!" interrupted Ron, with a triumphant smirk.

"Honestly, Ron," started Hermione, and Harry rolled his eyes, too used to their mode of interaction to pay much mind to it, until Hermione continued, "Molly didn't give Ginny to Harry, he had to work for her!"

Harry quickly shot Hermione a look, but she just sat there, looking back at him, the picture of innocence. . . at least until Ron snickered. Then the whole room broke into laughter, and Harry just shook his head, happy that he'd been able to join such a warm and happy family.

He took a seat at the table, greeted Arthur and Bill, and started in on the delicious meal.

"So, Harry, what brings you over this evening?" Arthur asked him. "Don't you and Ginny usually get a hotel room and hole up for the night?"

Ron stood up abruptly from the table, pink-faced. "Um, I'm just going to go check on the kids, okay?"

Hermione slapped him on the arm. "Fine, run off, you big baby--they've been married for five years, you'd think you'd be used to it by now."

Ron just gathered his shards of dignity around him and stalked off to the front room. Hermione watched him go, with a fond look of exasperation on her face, then turned back to Harry.

"Yes, Harry, what happened? Did Ginny have to--"

"Work," Harry said. "Gwenog called an emergency practice on them. I imagine it has to do with that last-minute change-up in the schedule."

Hermione's face fell. "Oh, but that really rots, doesn't it? You and Ginny haven't missed a Halloween together for, well, since seventh year!"

"I know, Hermione--trust me, I've already thought all about it. But, it's not like she can plan for emergencies, can she?"

Arthur and Bill were watching this conversation, and Bill took the opportunity to stir the cauldron. "So, I guess she'll have some making-up to do when she gets back, won't she?" he asked, with a suggestive leer.

Harry swallowed his mouthful of stew and tried to grin back, but didn't succeed very well. "No, not really. I mean, I missed being home with her on her birthday this year, remember? So I really don't have a leg to stand on when it comes to tonight." He shrugged fatalistically, and went back to his food, missing the significant glances that Bill, Arthur, and Hermione exchanged.

Molly bustled over at that point. "I don't know why she has to do whatever Gwenog says. I mean, she's a starting Chaser, for Merlin's sake, she should be able to have more say in when she plays and when she doesn't! Having to miss Halloween with Harry is just criminal--"

"Mum!" Harry interrupted. "It's okay! I mean, sure, it's not the best timing, but I'll be all right. And, after all, she suggested I come over this evening, and I'm sure I'll have a good time here. I mean, unless you all are going somewhere. . ." He trailed off slowly, hoping against hope that his sudden appearance hadn't thrown a spanner into their plans.

The look on Molly's face gave her away, but she made a valiant effort. "Oh, um, no--well, I mean, some of us are going out with the girls--Victoire and Rose have been looking forward to Halloween for the longest time, after all. And Hugo looks absolutely darling dressed as a garden gnome. Oh, and Dominique is just the most adorable snap-dragon. . . But we weren't all planning on going, were we, Arthur?"

Arthur blanched, but dutifully played along. "No, of course not. I was going to stay home this evening--it is getting a mite cold, and I'm not getting any younger. So, I thought I'd just miss it this year."

Harry smiled sadly. Trust his adopted family to try so hard to keep from disappointing him. He knew as well as anyone that Arthur loved taking his grandchildren anywhere, and he no more would choose to miss this evening's festivities than he'd choose to throw away his rubber ducky.

"No, that's okay. If the girls have a party or something, then you all go ahead. Maybe I'll just sit here by your fire and read, or something. I'll be okay here." He ducked his head again to take another bite of his food, and, yet again, missed the looks that flickered around the room.

Apparently Hermione had been elected to broach the subject, for she cleared her throat. "Um, Harry? You could always come with us. . . I'm sure Rose and Tory would love to have their Uncle Harry come along, and you know how much Dominique likes to be held by you. . . And we'd sure love to have you, too. You've been working so much lately that we haven't had a lot of time to spend together."

Harry looked up, surprised. It had been a long time since he'd thought about actually doing something Halloween-y on the anniversary of his parents' murder, but the idea took root. Maybe it was time to try to find some good in the holiday. It helped that he remembered his note to Ginny. His smile became somewhat more devilish, and he nodded. "Okay, I'll come with you. We need to make sure we leave a note for Ginny, so if she shows up, she won't worry."

The subject settled, Harry went back to eating and chatting lightly with Bill. Arthur, Molly, and Hermione all looked rather pensive though, and decided that they needed to keep an eye on Harry's and Ginny's relationship. They weren't worried, necessarily, but there were some disturbing trends developing in the relationship between the Head of the Aurors, and the Harpies' Top Chaser.