A/N: Written around Christmas 2007 for an Advent Calendar project in which I was participating; this is a Harry/Ginny one-shot. For form, I am not now, have never been, and will not ever be JK Rowling; I am merely playing in her exquisite sandbox.
Snow dusted across the grounds, among the trees, along the rooftops and over the hills, announcing winter's arrival at Hogwarts with blinding brilliance in the morning sun. Fragile, ash-thin ice clung like a lover to the banks all around the great lake, the water lapping gently along its edges. The air rippled gently as a frosty breeze blew the scent of winter into life. And standing incongruously on the pebbled shore was Ginny Weasley, staring out over the still silence with arms folded against the chill.
Professor McGonagall smiled to herself. Only one thing could have the youngest Weasley willingly out of bed at this hour on a Saturday - and that one thing had just left her office, whistling tunelessly through his teeth.
Harry took the castle steps three at a time, leaping the last four only to skid to a halt at the feet of Luna Lovegood. He smiled widely as she greeted him, "Good morning, Harry! Ginny's outside, I think she's waiting for you."
"Morning, Luna," he replied, not bothering to pull his hand away when she grasped it and began leading him to the front door, "I'm glad to hear it. You're doing well?"
Harry smiled easily as she began explaining her father's latest letter to him, and once they reached the main door, he disengaged himself from her with a promise to see her in a few weeks' time over the holidays. She waved him off, and he went through the door and made his way quickly through the snow toward the redhead he'd been unable to get off his mind all morning.
Hearing him tromping along, Ginny turned and drank him in as he came toward her. Though she'd fought long and hard, her mum had made her come back here for her last year of school, and it had been difficult. She'd not slept well since she'd been here, although not because she'd felt unsafe.
Losing Fred had been hard on the Weasleys, and Ginny hadn't been quite all right with leaving her family so soon after the end of the war. Most of the time, she just wanted them out of her hair for five minutes so she could breathe. Here, none of them were left to get in her hair, and she missed them.
Especially Harry. They exchanged letters every week, sometimes every day. Harry was a lot less guarded now about his thoughts, his feelings, than he had been. He still had a tendency to brood and suffer silently when things were bothering him, it wasn't a complete turn-around – but it had been so much better.
She'd nearly burst out of her skin when she'd gotten his note yesterday. He said he'd be here early this morning for tea with McGonagall. And if she were awake enough, he'd sneak a bit of time with her down by the lake. So here she was, shivering just a little and watching him stamp through the snow toward her with a smile on his face.
And then he was there, and she was laughing as he swung her in a quick circle before hugging her hard. Ginny burrowed into his chest, breathing in his scent before saying, "Good morning."
"'Morning. Wasn't sure you'd drag your bum out of bed this early."
Harry laughed when she swatted at his arm and replied, "Not much choice, prat – you couldn't have had tea with her at tea time, like the rest of the civilized world?"
"Guess not. Besides, irritating you makes your cheeks turn pretty shades of pink."
Ginny blushed at the compliment, impulsively pulling his mouth down to hers for a soft kiss before leaning into him and looking out over the lake again.
"I've missed you, having you around. And Ron, Hermione. George and…" she sighed, "And Fred."
Harry said nothing for a moment, just rubbed a hand absent-mindedly down her back as his eyes darkened at the mention of Fred. Then he said quietly, "I've missed you, too, you know that. Everyone has."
Harry paused as she hugged him, then went on, "But the holidays are almost here, it's nearly Christmas. And I'll be picking you up at King's Cross myself."
Harry shrugged one shoulder, smiling as he said, "Well, what kind of hero would I be if I didn't pick up the woman I love for the best holiday ever?"
Ginny snorted out a laugh and batted her eyelashes at him, sighing theatrically as she pretended to swoon in his arms.
Grinning widely, Harry pulled her back up and kissed her breathless before she could say anything, then laughed as she mumbled, "No hero but mine," against his lips.
They held onto each other for a few minutes before Harry said, "I have to go, Gin." She sighed and hugged him hard, not bothering to protest when he gave her own ribs a squeeze that had her wincing, and she answered, "I know."
"But don't frown like that, Christmas is coming. It's in the air, can you smell it? And I'll be waiting for you at King's Cross."
"Got a time-turner?"
He chuckled. "Nah, a bunch of kids smashed the entire lot of them at the Ministry a couple years ago."
"Damn kids." Ginny giggled, then kissed him once more before hugging him and stepping back.
"Go on, get lost. It's my school now, Harry Potter, and I have Christmas cheer to spread."
She'd bent low and gathered a large handful of snow as she'd spoken, and he narrowed impossibly green eyes at her and said, "Don't even think about it, Ginny."
She laughed and nailed him square in the chest, then had the audacity to announce, "I love you, Harry."
He closed the few feet between them in two quick strides and kissed her hard before responding, "I love you, too. Now get your pretty bum inside before I open fire…which I absolutely haven't got time for."
She giggled again and beat a hasty retreat into the school, and Harry grinned and waved at both her and Luna when they peered back out the door. He wiped the snow off his chest and made his way quickly to the gates, smiling all the way.
Christmas was indeed in the air.
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