Title: Enough Mistletoe, Chapter 1
Word Count: 4429
Summary: Unexpected visitors and the resulting lack of privacy teach Harry and Ginny about the reason for the seasons, and whether you really can have too much mistletoe.
Author's Notes: This was written for the LiveJournal hg_seasonsfest winterfest fic exchange. We all put in our requests, and were given an assignment. My prompt was: Canon pairings; I like stories just out of Hogwarts through when Lily is a baby; Neville would be good, as would any of the Weasleys. Snow, Fireplaces, Hot chocolate – really, winter is my favorite season you can't go wrong with most winter elements (but if you choose to include a sport – please don't go with snowboarding!)
Enough Mistletoe, Chapter 1
"Toss this," Harry finally exclaimed to himself, and threw the quill on the desk. A quick check of his watch, a sly glance down the hall, and his plan was made.
Drawers shut, papers (semi-)neatly piled on desk, over-robe on, and wand holstered, and it was time. He stepped out of his office, and turned away from the exit. It made it a little harder for him, since he had to go down the back stairwell, and it was . . . difficult dealing with the flocks of dead memos (they really should set up a default recipient when a person leaves the Ministry). But it was worth it to Harry to not have to pass Kingsley's desk.
Finally at the atrium level, Harry quickly slipped out of the stairwell door, batting at the two magenta high-priority notices that had somehow decided that he was the 1912 head of the Ministry Testing and Standardizations Committee.
Taking a quick moment to re-settle his robes, he strode off in a determined manner. The past months had ingrained in him the necessary attitude to keep from being interrupted. The key, he had found out, was to act as if he were slightly late, stare ahead anxiously, and never, never, never make eye contact.
It almost worked.
"Potter!" came the voice, and Harry flinched inside. Keeping his stride long and purposeful, he quickly looked around. The shout had come from off to the left, where the lifts were. It was Taggart, one of the up-and-coming Aurors. Normally, Harry would take the time to chat, perhaps discuss details of a case, or make plans for getting together. But not today. Today Harry was on a mission. He strode forward while waving ambiguously at the other man. He only had about ten more steps 'til the Floos, and he figured he could get away safely.
Curses! Harry hadn't counted on Taggart's abnormally long legs. Time for Plan B. Harry gauged his distances, set his right hand in motion towards the Floo powder, and gathered his belongings closer. "Oh, Taggart!" he called, cheerfully apologetic. "Hey, yeah, I'm just, and the thing, and really need to. . ." he threw the powder, lowered his voice and whispered "Potters' Paradise" and stepped into the green fire with a final wave.
Ginny was frantically rushing around the house, trailing ribbons and bows and all manner of festive holiday decorations. Harry was due home in a few short hours, and she had so wanted to finish decorating before he got there. It being their first Christmas as newlyweds, she had decided to go all out and do the entire Christmas experience for him.
It was turning out to be a lot more work than she had anticipated, especially as she had never done those types of charms very well, and was having to do much of it by hand. The green pine boughs looked really nice lining the stairwell, but had been a huge nuisance arranging. The holly and red bows looked great hanging from the light fixtures-she had burnt her hand on one of the lights, and it still stung, since she hadn't taken the time to heal it correctly. The mistletoe she was a little worried about. She was starting to think that truly, there might be such a thing as too much mistletoe.
At this precise moment, Ginny was decorating the mantel. She had once seen a magazine photo that showed how to decorate for Christmas, and the mantel in the photo had struck her fancy. As she was trying hard to remember exactly what was supposed to be there, a body tumbled out of the fireplace.
"Stupe-" was all she got off, as the invader managed to knock her over in its uncontrolled flight. Thoroughly entangled with each other, the pair fetched up against the sofa.
"Bugger, bugger, bugger," Ginny chanted as she pushed away the hand that was apparently trying to tell what color socks she was wearing. The intruder shook a bit, then let out something that sounded like wrblefn.
"Get off me, you, you. . . Harry?"
Harry tipped his head back and roared. He laughed so hard his eyes started watering, and he had to pound his fist on the floor. But he finally calmed down when he realized that his wife (which word should properly have been shouted by an angelic choir) wasn't laughing with him. In fact, she looked rather distraught, and as he went to kiss her 'hello', she burst into tears.
"Gin?" Harry asked, hesitantly. To be honest, he still hadn't gotten a really good grasp on what time of the month she was touchier, although he was sure it wouldn't be happening so soon. "Ginny? Um, are you okay?"
She burst into louder sobs and started pounding him on the chest. "NO! I just-" incoherent mumblings, "-and with the-" more mumbling, "-home early-" sobs and sniffles, "don't know how to make wassail!" she finally finished, then cried even louder.
Harry proved he was a true Gryffindor, then. He took both her hands in his left one, primarily to keep her from hitting his chest any more, then got to his knees. Taking a calculated risk, he let go of her hands, and in one not-quite-smooth motion, put his left arm around her back, his right under her knees, and lifted her. Making it to his own feet, he carried her up the stairs to their bedroom. Which door was locked.
"Gin?" he asked, hesitantly.
The quivering body in his arms mumbled something that might have been what?, although it might just as easily have been muck, or junk, or something like that. Harry soldiered on. "Why is the bedroom door locked?"
Ginny broke out into a fresh burst of tears and sobs, and Harry banged his head on the door in frustration. "Okay, no problem," he assured her, and went down the hall to the guest bedroom. Relieved to find the door standing open, he carried his wife in, and gently placed her on the bed. He took her shoes off, and reached for the covers to tuck her in. As he bent down to kiss her forehead, a small, slim hand crept out and latched onto his arm.
"Don't go," she whispered. "Please stay here with me."
Harry smiled, then toed off his owns shoes. Obviously, whatever had happened wasn't entirely his fault. He lifted the covers and climbed in next to her. "I'm here, babe."
Ginny scooted over as close as she could, laying one leg on top of his, her head on his shoulder, and wrapping her arm across his chest. Harry put his arm around her, and lay there listening to her breathing calm down. The sobs eventually disappeared, and her breathing evened out, and Harry knew she was asleep.
This was one of his favorite things-being able to hold his Ginny in bed with him. Even after having been married for almost six months, the newness of the feeling hadn't worn off.
There had been a lot of somewhat crude comments from his male friends when he had gotten married. Seamus had been particularly graphic about the supposed best part of being married, and Harry had to admit that the whole 'making love' thing had been rather a high priority in his mind. But as he and Ginny had grown used to living together, and being married, Harry had learned something very important. He had realized that the best part really was being able to spend all the time he wanted with his best friend. It was in moments like this, just lying here together, when he thought that perhaps this was what heaven would be like; an eternity of waking up together, and going to bed together, and, well, shagging was heavenly too! But there was so much more to his relationship with Ginny that he had a hard time comprehending how things could ever be better.
A yawn interrupted his musings, and he closed his eyes, 'just for a second', mind you. But Ginny's contented breathing lulled him into slumber himself.
"Harry!" The peaceful silence of the Potter residence was shattered by a rather desperate yell from the front room. Harry murmured something indistinguishable, and turned over slightly to recapture the warmth that radiated from Ginny's body.
"Harry! Merlin's Ghost, Harry, are you there!" came the ever-more-frantic voice of what could only be Ron Weasley.
Harry grunted again, and opened his eyes. Something felt a little "off" about their sleeping arrangements. Judicious handwork assured him that Ginny was there with him (the gasp and giggle indicated that she, too, was waking up). His glasses were off, so that wasn't it. The room was dark, so it was obviously getting towards evening.
Ah, that was it-why was Ron screaming for him?
"Harry?" came a soft whisper from the beautiful redhead in bed with him. "Why is Ron yelling at you?"
Harry chuckled. "I don't know-it's not like he's in charge of my work hours, so he can't be upset for my coming home early. . ." His voice dropped as he realized that it was his early arrival that had sent Ginny into a crying jag. "Um, Gin, I'm sorry for that, by the way."
"Don't be silly, Harry. I'm glad you came home when you did. I just wasn't expecting it and it kind of took me by surprise, you know?"
Harry smiled. "Well, I'm glad you don't mind my skiving off work to come spend more time with you."
"You skived off work? Kingsley didn't know you left early?"
"Well, I'm assuming he found out, but obviously there wasn't a problem. Otherwise there would have been more than just Ron yelling for me." At another tortured yell from the fireplace, Harry grimaced. "Speaking of the great git, I should probably go see what he wants."
As he made to stand up, Ginny sat up and stretched, arching her back and letting out a cat-like purr. When she felt like she had done enough, she looked back at Harry. He was sitting on the bed, staring. His eyes, which were shining rather more fiercely than normal, were fixed firmly on her . . .well . . . precisely what she had wanted him to look at.
"Harry," she called lightly, then kissed him on the ear. "I'll just go talk to Ron, shall I?"
Harry nodded dumbly, not even realizing what he'd agreed to.
Ginny smirked, then walked out the doorway. She thought about adding an extra little wiggle to her exit, but Harry hadn't managed to turn his head yet, so it would have been wasted.
Arriving in the sitting room, the only room in Potters' Paradise that had a Floo entrance, Ginny was just in time to stop Ron from letting loose what she was sure would have been a rather loud, long, and somewhat profane scream. His face had that curiously deep tone, visible even through the flames, that indicated that Ron Was Not Happy.
"Hey, Ron. What's the problem?" she asked, in a light, carefree tone that she knew would further increase her brother's ire.
Ron, to her surprise, ignored the gibe, and looked at her with relief. "Ginny! Can you. . .well. . . see, the thing is. . . " Ron stopped, then tried again. "Can I come through? Please?"
Ginny was surprised at his not going into a full rage, but released the wards on the Floo, allowing travel.
Only a few seconds later, Ron's lanky frame tumbled into the sitting room and ended up sprawled on the floor in front of Ginny.
"Merlin, Ron! That was a rough landing, what happened?"
"Oh, um, nothing really. Uh, is Harry around?" Now that Ron had arrived, he seemed to be much less upset-or maybe it was because he was trying to hide his secret, whatever it was, from his little sister.
"Yeah. He'll be down in a bit. What's the matter?'
Ron looked down at his shoes. "I don't know, Ginny. It's just. . . it's all gone wrong, and I don't know how to fix it."
Ginny was again surprised at Ron's attitude. He virtually never admitted frailty in front of his little sister-she supposed it was some macho code that all men (even Harry, though he was getting better) subscribed to-but this Ron seemed to be almost, she paused before even thinking it-sensitive.
Making an instant decision, she put the Floo back on voice-only and took Ron's arm. "Well, brother mine, let's go get some hot chocolate and talk about it, okay? Harry should be coming down any minute now, and we'll see what we can do, okay?"
Ron nodded sheepishly, and allowed her to pull him into the kitchen.
Potters' Paradise was a relatively spacious home. Ginny and Harry had found it the month they had gotten engaged. Neither one of them wanted to stay at Grimmauld Place, with its narrow halls and claustrophobic memories, and Godric's Hollow was too full of imaginings and feelings to be comfortable in. But the home they had found had enchanted them. It was small enough not to need an army of house-elves, but large enough that the Potters could comfortably live there, even with a few kids underfoot.
Ginny had put her foot down about living too close to her mother, which Harry agreed to instantly. It had taken them a few days, but they'd finally found the place that, unknowingly, they had both been searching for.
The kitchen was the heart of the home, much like the Burrow's, to Ginny's occasional dislike. But there was no denying that the airy room, with windows letting in copious amounts of sunlight, and the inviting table, expandable to seat the entire Weasley clan, emitted a peaceful, happy spiritual susurration to any and all comers.
Ron sat at the table, head in his hands, while Ginny busied herself making cocoa. Midway through the process, Harry wandered in, with a goofy smile still attached to his face, and slightly-unfocused eyes. Well, unfocused until they landed on his beautiful wife, who was currently stretching to reach the mugs, and, incidentally, showing a little skin as she did so.
Harry walked up behind her, and put his arms around her. "Hey there, Gin. When did you leave the bedroom?"
Ginny blushed and laughed. "Oh, Harry, you're perfect. Don't ever change."
It took Ron coughing rather loudly to alert the two Potters that they were not, in fact, the only people in the room.
Harry looked over, surprised, and slipped his hands down out of the back of Ginny's shirt. "Hey there, Ron. I didn't see you."
"Obviously," Ron replied, but the humor died as quickly as it had arrived.
Harry exchanged a concerned glance with Ginny, then moved to sit next to his brother-in-law. "Okay, Ron. What's the problem?"
Ginny had finished the mugs of cocoa, and slid Ron's to him while taking a seat next to Harry.
Ron shook his head and sighed. "Well, I guess it all started last Monday. Hermione was going off on something about her parents, you know, like she does?" Not waiting for an answer, Ron plunged on. "I mean, I think the Grangers are great, really! But she was all worried about them for the Christmas season. I guess she really wanted to make them a part of the family."
Ginny looked at Harry, and mouthed, They're a family?
Harry shrugged. As far as they knew, Ron and Hermione hadn't even officially become a couple, although it was rather evident that it would happen sooner or later.
"-so I just sort of said, 'yeah, alright'." Ron stopped and looked at the other two, as if he were expecting them to agree. Or disagree. Or offer outraged denials. Or something. Not getting any response at all, he just shook his head and continued. "So I took today off, you know? George was okay with it, 'cause Verity wanted some extra hours anyway. We headed up into the mountains in some sort of automobile. Hermione called it a SVU or something. Anyway, it was brilliant going off the roads. Did you know they make cars that go off the roads?"
Ginny nodded-not because she knew that for a fact, but just because Ron tended to get sidetracked way too easily.
"So we're banging away through the trees-I swear the Whomping Willow has some cousins up there or something, 'cause we kept getting hit by these branches. And then Ophelia screams, 'Look at that!'. Well, what am I supposed to do? But we got them un-Stupefied in a trice, and Hermione only hit me three or four times, so that's a bit of okay, although Floyd was rather upset for a bit. Come to think of it, Ophelia wasn't too chuffed either-she didn't really talk to me for the rest of the day. Although maybe it was because . . .
"Well, anyway, apparently it was the-how did she say it?" Ron raised his voice in a rather poor impersonation of Hermione's mother. "The most perfect Christmas tree ever! And right there! Oh, go on now, Floyd. Cut it down." Ron frowned. "She didn't even say I had to! But Hermione just gave me that look-you know, where if you don't do what she wants she's gonna rip your-" He looked at Ginny. "Um, your tongue out?"
Harry nodded, and Ginny smirked. They'd both seen that glare directed at Ron numerous times. And it wasn't the tongue that was the body part being threatened.
"I wanted to make them happy with me, you know? I figured I owed them for the Stupefy already. So I pull out my wand to do a Lacerous. But Hermione just stares even harder at me and points to the saw. Fine, they want to go all Muggle, I can do that. I grabbed the saw and started cutting down the tree. Floyd is holding it for me, and Ophelia is looking through the branches and such, talking a mile a minute about how it's going to look in their living room. Well, I'm almost done, when it started to lean a bit more and these great bleedin' rat things come running down the trunk, and up Ophelia's arm, and start biting her coat and Floyd screams something I don't understand, and I kind of jump back out of the way, but I landed on Hermione. Floyd's jumping around trying to stomp on one that's got his shoelace in its mouth, and Ophelia's waving her arm trying to get the one off her. And Hermione's on the ground crying."
Harry was hard-pressed not to burst out in great guffaws. Ginny's eyes were watering, and Harry was forced to bite his knuckles so hard he thought he tasted blood.
"So I started Stupefying the little blighters, but I hit Ophelia too, and she fell and banged her head on the ground pretty hard. Floyd yelled at me to stop it, but what am I supposed to do? Let them eat Hermione's parents? I'm trying to make a good impression on them, but what else can I do?" He stopped and drank some of his cocoa. "So I start kicking at them, and manage to get them away from Ophelia, and Floyd got rid of his. I helped Hermione up and tried to brush her off, but I wasn't looking where I was brushing and she slapped me.
"I figure everyone's okay by now, but it's rather quiet, with Floyd and Ophelia glaring at me, and Hermione looking like old McGonagall. So I asked if they still wanted to get that tree-"
Harry couldn't hold it in any longer and burst into great gouts of chortles. Ginny laughed too, leaning her head on Harry's shoulder. Ron looked morosely at his empty cocoa cup, and then switched his and Harry's. Finally the Potters calmed down enough for Ron to continue.
"So, Hermione tells me to just go home-she took them to St. Mungo's, 'cause you know some magical creatures are attracted to wizards and what-not, and there's the best place to fix up her parents."
"Did they find out what they were?" Ginny asked, wiping her eyes.
"Yeah. Ice weasels. They're not too dangerous, but that didn't make Hermione any happier with me."
"Merlin, Ron! That's just, just-"
"Bloody hilarious is what it is," Ginny put in. "But that doesn't explain why you needed Harry so bad you had to just about bring down the house with your yelling."
"Oh, yeah, that. Well, Hermione told me to go home, right? I figured we were going back to her parents' house to put up the tree. It took them forever at St. Mungo's, so I just kipped on their couch while I waited. Apparently, that wasn't where I was supposed to go, 'cause next thing I know Hermione's yelling at me, and Ophelia's screaming at me, and Floyd is yelling something about a cricket bat. I figured here was the best place to come. And it's a good thing you came down when you did, Ginny-my shield wouldn't have held out much longer."
The only thing that stopped the Potters from rolling on the floor in laughter was the horribly woebegone expression on Ron's face. They knew that the romance between Hermione and him was going slowly-Hermione wanted Ron to grow up a little more before she was willing to make any sort of long-term commitment, and Ron didn't see why he had to change-but it was times like these when they despaired of any progress being made.
Harry looked at Ginny carefully. There was a decision to be made, and he didn't want to make the wrong one. She looked back, and tilted her head a bit. Harry bit his lip, then nodded slightly. Ginny raised her eyebrows, and Harry nodded back a little more firmly. Ginny looked sadly back at him, but sighed.
"Ron," she said. "Would you like to stay here for awhile? I was just working on decorating, and Harry was just-"
"Helping her, mate, you know." Harry jumped in. He wasn't really happy about the addition to their family at the moment-he'd been looking forward to spending all of his stolen time with his wife (cue heavenly choirs again), but he couldn't, in good conscience, throw Ron out. But that didn't mean he couldn't subtly reinforce the fact that he was going to be spending the time with Ginny, specifically NOT spending all his time with Ron.
"Are you sure?" Ron asked, a pleading in his tone. "If it. . . if it wouldn't be too much trouble. I could help, maybe."
"No, Ron. It's not a problem," Ginny insisted. "But you just go ahead and drink your-or Harry's, I guess-cocoa. Harry and I will go finish the mantel together, yeah?"
Ron nodded, picked up Harry's mug in both hands, and took another sip. Ginny bounced up and pulled Harry with her out of the kitchen.
"I'm sorry, Gin, I didn't really want-"
"It's okay, Harry. We couldn't just throw him out. We'll just have to, I don't know, slip away every so often to test out the mistletoe."
"Mistletoe? Oh, I see. Well, it certainly looks like we'll be able to find some whenever we need to." Harry's voice was filled with gentle humor, and Ginny blushed.
"I know, it's a little bit much-"
"Are you kidding? If anything, you haven't got nearly enough for us. I mean, there isn't any in the landing, is there? And if you remember, that's certainly a place that needs it."
Ginny blushed, but her eyes sparkled. "Oh, is that how we decide where it goes? Wherever we've shagged?"
Harry waggled his eyebrows. "I think that's a great idea. Only, we've only been married for six months, there might be some places where we want to shag that deserve to be marked, too. Like, next to the tree. . ." His voice trailed off seductively, giving Ginny goose bumps, and making her wish there were some way of getting Ron out of the house, even for just fifteen minutes.
"We might need more mistletoe," she managed to say, around a mouth that had gone very dry in response to her imagination.
Harry pulled her close and kissed her. Forgetting about decorating, or her brother, she melted into his arms and kissed him back with all her soul. This-this was the part of marriage that she had found most surprising. She had looked forward to being Harry's wife, to being able to (finally) live with him. She had imagined raising children, and working together. She had even, in the blushing darkness of her quiet bedroom, wondered what making love would be like. And those things (well, not the raising of the children, that would come later) had all proven to be just as wonderful as she'd hoped. But never in her wildest dreams had she realized how much she would want to give to Harry.
Ginny had always been independent. Her fierce temper and absolute faith in her own abilities had stood her in good stead as the youngest of seven, and the poorest of her year, and any number of other -ests. She had envisioned marriage as being a constant give-and-take (which it was) and a lifetime of sharing things (which it also was). But she had never realized how much her own heart would change. Rather than a desire to win, to be the best, to prove her capabilities, she found instead a desire to please Harry, to make him happy, to give him anything he wanted. It was a strange and wonderful thing, to see such a huge change in herself. And it would have rankled more than anything else in her life ever had, except that Harry seemed to feel the same way. He had once tried to talk to her about it, but his voice had faltered, and he had hesitated. He couldn't find the words, but Ginny knew. Ginny knew beyond any shadow of a doubt what he meant, and rejoiced in knowing that they both felt the same way.
And this kiss was just another way they showed it to each other. Certainly they could be demanding towards each other-Harry had a tendency to brood, and Ginny had a tendency to allow her temper full sway. But they never forgot their love, and the feelings that flowed when they sank into a kiss, or into an embrace, or into a night of passionate love always brought them back to each other, with full arms, and bodies, and hearts.
Which was what made the yelling from the fireplace such a shock.