Christmas Gifts, Chapter 4, When Life Gives You Ice, Make Ice Cream
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.
I'd love to have some constructive criticism on this if you have the time. If not, then at least let me know if you like it.
After the normal argument about where the Potters would wake up Christmas morning, this time conducted by Floo, as both Harry and Ginny were blessed to be home together Christmas Eve day, Ginny and Harry relaxed on the sofa in the glow of the lights on the tree. The day had been wonderful, finishing up the decorating, cooking, talking, and, on three separate occasions, looking for clothing which had been rather carelessly flung around whichever room they had been in when the exchanged looks had grown too heated.
Ginny had refused to tell Harry what she had done special for the Christmas decorating this year, and he was trying his best to figure out what it might be, interrupted occasionally by sly questions about what Harry's gift to Ginny would be.
"Is it the garden gnome on top of the tree?" he asked.
"No—we do that every year, kind of a Weasley family tradition," Ginny responded, cuddling closer into Harry's side.
"And I assume that George got you the gnome again this year?"
"Of course, after all, the Twins are the ones that started it. Is it a new broom?"
"Ah yes, I remember that Christmas well. And no, it's not." Harry sank down a bit more into the sofa, and started running his fingers up and down Ginny's arm.
They sat in silence for a bit longer; Ginny closed her eyes, enjoying the light tickling sensation on her arm, and letting desire for her husband grow slowly inside of her.
"Does it have something to do with the garland on the fireplace?" Harry finally asked.
It took a moment for Ginny to realize he'd actually asked a question—the sound of his voice rumbling in her ear was just too pleasant. . .
"No, it's just a normal garland that, I might add, you put up. Is it clothes?"
"Oh. Um, can I get a hint? And, no. I told you—you'll just have to wait until Christmas. Besides, what are you giving me?"
"Unh-uh, Potter. If you're not telling me what my gift is, then you'll just have to wait too." She looked up at him through her eyelashes, then decided to try a stronger tactic. She backed away from him a bit, ignoring his frown of disapproval, then got up, turned, and sat down straddling his lap, bringing her whole self much closer to him, and giving her the opportunity to apply more physical encouragement to her verbal pleas. Her voice took on a much lower, more seductive tone, as she leaned forward, pressing herself against his chest. "But I'm sure there would be some very, very good rewards if you wanted to tell me now. . ." and she licked his earlobe again.
Harry just about came undone. His mind went blank, and all he could think about was how close her body was to his, and how much he loved her, and how much he wanted to get even closer. But, some small, very small, exceedingly tiny rational part of his brain interrupted his libido. "Oh, Gin," he groaned, "I want to tell you, I really, really want to, but I can't—I can't tell you until tomorrow. Oh Merlin, don't stop!"
Then she decided that she was enjoying the moment, and his arms around her, far and away too much to deny herself pleasure just because her husband was as stubborn as she was, and melted even closer to him.
A not insignificant time later, as the loving couple lay on the couch together, wrapped in the soft, fleece blanket that they kept there for just such times, and nothing else, Harry noticed something on the mantel.
"Ginny?" he asked softly.
"Mmmhmm?" she answered, slightly perturbed at being bothered when she was so warm and comfortable.
"Gin? Do you want to tell me why there's a little statue of Hagrid on the mantel, looking at me like I owe him something?"
Harry's voice finally penetrated the fog in Ginny's mind, and she started giggling. "Noticed, did you? Took you long enough. . ."
"Is that a . . . a nutcracker?"
"Yeah. I decided that our normal nutcrackers were looking rather boring this year, so I made them look like our favorite teachers from school. Hagrid's not alone, Harry."
Sure enough, as Harry inspected the row of nutcrackers, he could see one that was unmistakeably McGongagall--complete with stern face and a tartan muffler. Next to her was one that was significantly shorter, and had distinctly goblin-esque features, obviously Flitwick. Harry chuckled. "Ah, Gin, that's what's been missing from the decorations. I never would have thought to do something like that--it's perfect! Although the idea of Hagrid cracking nuts is slightly. . . um. . . disturbing."
Ginny looked quizzically at her husband, then caught on to his implied joke and laughed loudly, making Harry join in.
"Oh, Harry, this has been one of the best days that I can remember, just spending it here with you. In fact, there's only one thing that'd make it better."
"Really? And what would that be, Mrs. Potter? You ready for another go-around? Perhaps with chocolate sauce?" Harry asked, with a lascivious gleam in his eye.
Ginny blinked and then blushed as she imagined his suggestion. It was almost enough to take her mind off what she wanted to ask. Shaking her head, she said, "No, although maybe we could explore that option tonight? But what I was really talking about was the gift you're going to give me. If I could just know what it is, I think I'd be completely happy--no niggling concerns about appropriateness tomorrow or whether I'm going to be too embarrassed."
Harry just shook his head. "Give it up, Gin, I'm not going to tell you, so stop asking. It's the most perfect gift you will ever have gotten, and you're just going to love me for it. And I'm not going to ruin the surprise by telling you. Although, if you wanted to give me a hint as to what you're giving me, I won't make you wait as long tomorrow for yours. . ."
He could tell she was tempted, but her stubbornness in refusing to give hints ranked up there with his, and both of them remained mute on the subject, although very quickly their mouths were engaged in other things, which occupied them delightfully for the rest of the evening, and far into the night.
Ginny had always woken early on Christmas morning. It was one of her favorite days of the year. First, of course, it had been her favorite because she always got wonderful gifts from her family. Then, as she had grown older, the enjoyment had come from being able to give gifts to others. For awhile it was made even better because she had an excuse to give Harry something from her heart, even if it was never recognized as such. But she couldn't ever remember a Christmas that had been so anticipated in her life. The past year had been so hard for both her and Harry, with their demanding schedules and barely being able to see each other, the prospect of spending a second day together, after Christmas Eve day, was indescribably wonderful.
Harry had always been awoken early on Christmas morning. It had turned into one of his favorite days of the year. Originally, of course, it hadn't been such--his Aunt had make him wake up so he could make breakfast for the Dursleys before they went and opened their gifts and he listened to them from where he was secluded in his cupboard. After he started at Hogwarts he had seen that it could be a wonderful holiday--he still had that very first Weasley sweater, knitted for him by a woman who didn't even really know him. Of course, Ron took care of the waking-up-Harry duties during those years. Now, with Ginny in his life, she had taken over that most delightful of duties, and as Harry rose through layers of sleep up toward wakefulness, he thanked whatever cosmic force had allowed them to fall in love with each other. The way that Ginny chose to wake Harry up on Christmas morning had varied each year, ranging from sweet and caring, to deliciously naughty. Harry could tell how excited Ginny was this morning, because she wasn't wasting any time in soft caresses--rather her hands and mouth were urgently attacking him, insisting on a passionate response from him that left them both sweaty, disheveled, and grinning like fools.
"Good morning, Gin," Harry breathed. "Thanks for the wake-up call. A little bit anxious about presents this morning, are we?"
Ginny smirked at him, refused to answer, and got out of the bed, walking towards the bathroom and adding a seductive sway into the normal rhythm of her walk. Harry took the time to admire in great detail, the beautiful sight of his unclothed wife, then jumped out of bed and joined her in the shower.
Surprising them both, the shower was just a shower, albeit with lots of help in soaping up, but both participants were looking forward to giving their presents to the other.
They dried off rapidly, raced each other downstairs (Ginny winning by the simple expedient of vaulting down the last flight of stairs, impressing Harry to no end), and grabbed the muffins and hot chocolate that they had set up the night before.
Once settled on the sofa, they sipped their drinks and simultaneously said, "You first!"
Harry smiled and said, "Okay, I get to give you yours first. That is what you meant, right?" Ginny shot him a disgusted glare, but excitement overtook her face as Harry handed her the small wrapped box that she'd been watching ever since it had appeared under the tree a few days previously.
"Should I save the wrapping paper?" she asked, and Harry just about inhaled his chocolate. For as long as Harry had known her, she had never once opened a gift with enough patience to save any of the wrapping. He had decided, long ago, that the wrapping was just viewed as another obstacle to happiness, kind of like she viewed Bludgers, Keepers, and opposing Chasers. This helped save him money, as he didn't have to buy any of the expensive, animated paper that was so the rage.
His lack of answer was completely ignored as Ginny ripped open the paper and scrabbled at the box, finally loosening the sticking charm enough to pull out the contents.
Ginny looked up, with a puzzled look on her face. "Um, Harry? Why are you giving me your Auror badge?"
Harry smiled down at his beautiful wife. "What? Don't you like it? I worked hard to be able to give that to you, and now I find that you don't even appreciate--Ow! Stopping hitting me! Okay, okay!" He grabbed her hands and pulled her into his lap.
"Ginny, you know I love you, right?" She nodded, still somewhat mystified by his gift and trying to divine where he was going with the conversation.
"Well, I haven't really had the best year. Don't get me wrong!" he said quickly, hoping to head off any misunderstandings. "I love being married to you, and the time we've spent together has been the best of my life. But that's just it--we don't get to spend enough time together. You have such a demanding training and playing schedule, and I'm always off doing Auror things whenever you have time off. I just don't think it's very fair to us to never be together."
He peered into Ginny's eyes and saw a mixture of sadness and an emotion he couldn't identify. But he thought he could guess why she was sad. "Ginny, don't worry about your schedule--I know how much you love Quidditch--no, don't interrupt, I need to get this said, okay?" She nodded, and he went on. "Anyway, you're a brilliant Quidditch player, and I love watching you play it, you're so exciting to watch, especially in your skin-tight Quidditch leathers,--" He stopped to give her a quick kiss and a slow caress, bringing out goosebumps on her arms and a warmth in her belly. "So, I decided that something needed to change--I wasn't getting to spend enough time watching you play, and traveling with you to games, and being with you when you had time off."
Harry took a deep breath, knowing that this was the moment of truth. "So, I quit."
Then. . . "What! You quit your job?! This was the big surprise? You quit so that you could come with me while I played Quidditch!?"
Harry was worried--he hadn't expected quite this level of. . . wait. . . was she. . . laughing? Of all the possible reactions, Harry had never expected Ginny to break out in full-bodied laughter.
"Um, Gin? Are you. . . are you okay?" He didn't discount the possibility that the shock might have unhinged her slightly. She continued laughing, and Harry became so worried that he wasn't even able to enjoy the secondary vibrations caused by her laughter, like he normally did. But she seemed to be calming down slightly, so maybe she was really okay.
"Gin? Are you mad?"
Still chuckling a bit, she shook her head.
Finally, she calmed down enough to be able to speak. "Oh, Harry, we're quite the pair." Before he could ask for clarification, she continued, "I'm not saying anything else until you open your present, okay?"
Harry stared at his quite-possibly-unbalanced wife, then shrugged. He'd never yet been able to get her to do something she didn't want to do (although it had come close with the whole eloping question), and since it wouldn't take too long, he figured he could do as she requested.
He leaned over awkwardly, reaching around Ginny to pick up the long, surprisingly light package that had lain under the tree for the last few days. Ginny refused to leave his lap, so he laid it on the sofa next to them and started to unwrap it one-handed. Eventually he was able to get the paper off (charmed to show Beaters using vampire bats to swat blood-sucking Bludgers at the Cannons players) and reveal. . . Ginny's Holyhead Harpies broom case. Harry looked up at Ginny in puzzlement, but she just motioned to him to open the case. Doing so, he found her broom inside.
"Um, Gin? I already have a broom. . . and yours doesn't like me, remember?"
Ginny snickered, remembering his one abortive attempt at riding her temperamental Swiftfire, which had ended in his being dumped unceremoniously into the lake, then turned to face him fully.
"Harry, love, I know you already have a great broom. But when I said we're quite the pair, I meant it. I'm not really giving you my broom in exactly the same way you're not really giving me your Auror badge."
Harry thought about that, and started to smile. "You mean . . .?"
"Yup. I've quit the Harpies. I got tired of never being able to be home when you were--I love playing Quidditch, don't get me wrong, but you're so much more important to me than that! I've had a good number of years, and winning that award this winter seemed like a great note to go out on. The Daily Prophet will have the story tomorrow, and everyone will know. But what they won't know is that I quit because I can't stand to be apart so much from you. You are my everything, and I wanted so much to be able to support you in your chosen career. Being a Quidditch player meant that I couldn't do that. And Harry? When it comes to a choice between playing Quidditch, and showing you just how much I love and support you, there's no contest."
Harry found himself rather teary-eyed at Ginny's declarations. She had told him, many, many times over the years how much she loved him. But there was always that little doubt, that little voice that sounded suspiciously like Uncle Vernon, that whispered, "No-one will ever love a freak like you." But this--this was real, this was his Ginny, and this was real love.
Harry pulled Ginny closer to him, buried his head in her shoulder, and cried. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders, and stroked his arms, and whispered her love to him, over and over, until finally she felt his tears slow down, and a smile appear on his face. She leaned back a bit and kissed him, and they snuggled back together on the couch.
"We are quite the pair, aren't we?" he said, finally, and she just smiled and nodded.
After a moment of contemplation, Harry spoke. "Ginny, I really meant it when I quit the Aurors. Yes, I found quite a bit of enjoyment in capturing Dark Wizards, but I don't want to find fulfillment away from you. We don't have to worry about money, you know that, but maybe sometime we can try to find something that we can work on together, you know? I don't think I can sit around all the time, but I am not willing to be so separated from you any more. Does that. . . does that sound okay to you?"
It was Ginny's turn to get teary-eyed. "Oh, Harry. I can't think of anything I'd rather do than spend my days working beside you on something worthwhile. That seems to me to be one of the better definitions of heaven that I've heard. Thank you for everything, love."
Harry turned to her and said, sincerity overflowing his eyes, "No, Gin. Thank you for loving a poor little orphan boy, and teaching him what love really is."
They kissed then, a kiss full of love, and hope, and promises for the future. As they settled back onto the couch to contemplate what had become the best Christmas in the world, just one thought appeared to mar the peace.
"What are we going to tell the family?"