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Author’s Note ~
Winter they Burn
Author’s Note ~
Some of you
may notice that this is the second time this story has posted. It was
accidentally submitted before it was beta read, and I would like to thank
everyone who read and reviewed the first time for their lovely comments. A huge
thank you also goes out from me to Zsenya, for beta reading this and giving me
such wonderful advice.
The sun lovingly
stroked the crumbling, wobbly house. The snow on the ground sparkled deep violets
and icy blues when draped in its golden rays. The stone house sported its new
white hat with pride, while the restless trees allowed the cold white powder to
slip through their fingers and fall anonymously to the paper-white ground.
was silence. The wind had stopped moaning and wailing and the air was still,
holding its breath with excitement. The chickens were still snoozing, fat
bodies sitting on fat eggs. The odd flake of Christmas drifted to the ground
like a whisper and the animals scattered on farms and hills nearby chewed
up in bed, his heart pounding. Fumbling, he reached for his glasses and slid
them hurriedly onto his nose. His eyes were instantly drawn to the ceiling from
which showers of red and green sparks cascaded like a waterfall to the floor. They
mingled on the mouldy carpet for a few moments, before flickering away.
identical, freckled faces peered up at Harry from their squashy sleeping bags
on the floor. They were grinning wickedly.
“Merry Christmas Harry!” Fred said happily.
“Seasons Greetings Ron!” George laughed.
looked over at Ron who had sat up and was irritably rubbing his eyes. His
vibrant hair stuck up at odd angles and he scowled at his brothers.
what did you do that for?!” he cried, failing to cover a yawn.
“To get you
up, my dear brother,” George said, jumping to his feet, still in his sleeping
both snoring away and there are presents to be opened and no time to waste,”
turned to a wide grin. He suddenly looked wide awake.
let’s go downstairs,” he said, his eyes shining with excitement. “We can…”
the house shook not from an explosion but from a door being slammed open. Molly
Weasley stood, towering in the doorframe, wearing a fluffy blue dressing-gown
over a large white nightdress. A hairnet covered the majority of her red hair
and Harry noticed she had mismatching socks on. She folded her arms across her
chest looking as if she herself was about to explode and sprinkle to the floor
in green and red sparks.
EARTH ARE YOU DOING?” she bellowed. “IT’S FIVE O’ CLOCK IN THE MORNING!”
Fred said mildly.
late,” said George, “it was half past four last time.”
Weasley advanced on them, purple with anger.
“DO YOU TWO
NEVER THINK TO HAVE CONSIDERATION FOR OTHERS?” she shouted.
said, getting awkwardly to his feet in his sleeping bag. “Before you do
to wish you a very Merry Christmas,” finished George.
Weasley swelled like a great purple balloon but just then two things happened.
First, she noticed Harry, sitting up in bed, looking sleepy, yet shocked, and
second, the door that had slammed shut upon her entering eased open and Mr.
Weasley, Hermione and Ginny all entered, looking very tired. By the sound of
it, the rest of the Weasleys, unable to fit in Ron’s cramped room, were
clustered in the hallway.
dear,” she said, ushering the girls out of the room, “just one of Fred and
George’s… ah ha… jokes.” Harry thought she said this with rather gritted teeth.
She clapped her hands together, suddenly businesslike. “I’ll start the
breakfast shall I?”
Weasley said turning back to the orange poster-plastered room, “and I’ll need
two helpers for table-laying and fry-up minding.”
lingered nastily on the twins.
kitchen looked magnificent. Strands of tinsel were draped over about every
surface possible. It sparkled and shone like Muggle tinsel, but Harry noticed
it also changed colour and sprinkled glitter like twinkling snowflakes to the
floor. A fire cackled happily to itself in the grate, and all of the Weasley
children’s stockings hung over it with their names embroidered in different
colours. Harry was pleased to see that he and Hermione also had a stocking
each, laden with sweets and trinkets.
scrubbed Weasley table had been pushed back, and the spotless, tiled floor had
been covered by a rather worn but colourful furry mat.
the icy outside flooded the room, and the windows looked like a Muggle
Christmas card, steamed up by the snow, revealing an idyllic family scene
inside. Delicious smells of Christmas dinner wafted around the room, teasing
everyone’s nostrils. Mrs. Weasley didn’t seem to do Christmas by halves.
probably the most impressive thing about the room was the gigantic Christmas
tree. It stretched, much too tall for the low ceiling of the little kitchen, its
tip having had several feet severed off. The dark green apparition was weighed
down by every sort of Christmas decoration Harry had ever seen. Sweets and
sugar sticks, bows and bells, candles and baubles, fairies and streamers and on
top, a glittering, icy crystal star. Harry had helped decorate the tree a few
days before and knew it to be quite an experience. Seven Weasley children, plus
he and Hermione had all clamoured around the tree, pushing to hang the most
upon its spiny arms. He secretly thought that the reason there was so many
decorations was to avoid too much conflict. This of course, had happened
anyway, with Fred ending up with a bloody nose, and Ginny elbowing Percy in the
to admit that their efforts, however violent, had been rewarded. The tree
towered above the room, sporting all its embellishments with honour and pride,
its feet piled upon by mountains of presents.
“Oy, Harry!” Ron yelled, as Harry narrowly avoided a present
hitting him square in the face, “open mine first.”
Weasley exclaimed. “Gently.”
her, the sound of Fred and George attacking identically wrapped presents, and
the shower of paper that came from the wrestle told her that her efforts to
retain order were to no avail.
Weasley tried to preserve a tight-lipped expression, but a grin crept through
as she observed her indistinguishable sons delve delightedly into their new boxes
of tricks. Instead she made do with a half-hearted; “you really shouldn’t
encourage them Arthur.”
meanwhile, had ripped off his wrapping to reveal an enormous box of sugar quills
Ron,” he said, holding them up.
you,” Ron said, brandishing a Chudley Canons T-shirt
at Harry and grinning.
distracted by Hermione who had unwrapped a large, dark
green book entitled: A History of
House-elves by Professor R.K. Wickle.
what I was looking for in the library all last year,” Hermione said, excitedly,
“how did you get it?”
it,” Ron muttered, his ears a tell-tale red.
you,” Hermione said breathlessly. Everybody in the room seemed to be looking at
them. Ginny, perhaps deliberately, chose that moment to unwrap her Weasley
thanks Mum, that’s lovely,” she said, holding up a navy blue woolly jumper with
a robin knitted boldly on the front.
pleasure dear,” said Mrs. Weasley, kissing her daughter. Ginny pulled the
jumper over her head immediately. The static wool made her bright hair stand on
end, and she patted it down self-consciously. Harry felt himself watching, and
turned back to Ron and Hermione, he saw that Ron had unwrapped her present, a
book about the Cannons, but had decided that he was not going to go about a
public display of gratitude in front of his family. Instead he smiled, and
turned his attention to the huge box of BertieBotts bestowed on him by his elder brothers.
gave an animated squeak, “Careers in High
Places, by Professor M. Bishous.Oh! Thank you, Mother! Father!"
George simultaneously opened their mouths but shut them under the glare of Mrs.
included a small, gold, goblin-shaped earring for Bill from his parents (“it’s
less conspicuous dear”), new dragon hide gloves for Charlie, a talking recipe
book from Mr. Weasley to Mrs. Weasley, and a Muggle tool box to Mr. Weasley from
his children (“Amazing! And Muggles actually use these to stick things onto the
wall with!”) Numerous boxes of Chocolate Frogs, BertieBotts Every Flavour Beans, and Fizzing Whizzbees were also equally distributed among the group
from various friends and relatives, and everyone seemed to be happily digging
into each other’s sweets.
was strewn with so much wrapping paper that Harry felt as if he was swimming in
a vast sea of shiny holly leaves and Christmas puddings. The snowmen on Ginny’s
wrapping paper were laughing, and hollering messages of Christmas cheer in
deep, fatherly voices so frequently that she had to sit on them to make them
faint ringing sound was heard, struggling to make an impression above the
gaggle of noise. Mrs. Weasley jumped to her feet, and bustled over to the oven.
Moments later she returned, armed with an enormous tray of mince pies in pink oven-mittened hands. Harry felt his mouth begin to water, as he
became aware of the smell for the first time. He was not the only one. Seven
Weasley boys and one Weasley girl knelt up, tongues practically wagging, like
dogs begging for scraps.
Mrs. Weasley said, waving a large finger at them. “I believe it is guests
first.” She smiled fondly at Hermione. “Guests, and ladies first.”
you,” Hermione said, helping herself carefully to a
piping hot mince pie.
pleasure dear,” Mrs. Weasley beamed. “And now,” she said, taking care to wave
the tray past her husband and youngest son on her path, “Harry dear.”
the mutinous expressions on Fred and George’s faces, Harry took a sizeable
mince pie and sank back against a table leg.
“Hey, Hermione!” Ron yelled.
falling for that!” Hermione called, running with her hands over her head.
idiot,” said a voice behind him. “You have to be subtle.”
Ron felt a
horrible trickle of ice skip down his back before the rest of the snowball
followed with a slushy thump. He let out a strangled cry, and scooped up enough
snow to take down a small army, let alone his attacker.
seemed to be prepared for his offensive, for as soon as he turned around, he
got a face full of snow. Giggling madly, she ran, pursued by her enraged
watched the scene with interest. Both Ron and Ginny were desperately scooping
at snow, ducking behind trees in their furious warfare. Ginny’s face was
flushed, and her hair was covered in snow, dripping onto her coat.
looked too long.
shouted a twin.
again!” shouted the other.
his shock of hair, sending snow flying in all directions, and then he attacked.
With a lunge at the twins, he hurled as much snow as he could carry in their
direction. The alliance shattered as the twins scattered. Coughing snow, they
turned against him and each other, in a whirl of crystal flakes, glittering in
the sun like diamonds.
was building a snowman using magic. She had discovered from “The Standard Book of Spells Grade 5”
that she could enchant the snow so it had the texture of clay, yet still
glistened and sparkled like snow. It made it much easier to mould, she thought,
stepping back, pleased with her work. She had added buttons for the eyes, and a
carrot nose. Mrs. Weasley had suggested she use one of Arthur’s old cloaks to
make it a proper snow-wizard. Hermione had liked this idea, and now it only
needed a scarf to complete its outfit. She began to pull her own off from
around her neck.
covered in snow from head to foot, tangled in his father’s old wizard robes
with a carrot stuck behind his ear, and his sister bearing down on him with a
handful of snow, sat in the remainder of Hermione’s snow-wizard.
“Oops, ‘orry ‘ermione,” he said, through
a mouthful of snow. “What’s this carrot doing ‘ere?”
looked on the verge of violence. Her lips had gone tight and she folded her
arms, watching Ron spit on the ground.
cried, “you’ve completely ruined… I spent all that time… and now you…”
snow, she threw it as hard as she could at Ron. It hit him square in the face,
so that his head resembled that of the former snow-wizard, his long nose poking
out in the place of the carrot. Ginny laughed hysterically, backing away and
falling right over Harry. Harry tried to regain his balance, failed, and they
both came crashing to the ground, dazed. Ginny blushed furiously, trying to
disentangle her arm from his leg.
Harry,” she squeaked, still on the verge of giggles.
problem,” Harry said, reaching for his glasses. He attempted to wipe them, and
then pushed them up his nose. Then he suddenly became conscious of his
identical red-headed figures charged towards them. Ginny screamed, throwing her
arms over her head, while Harry caught the full blow of the attack.
George, heaving with laughter, stumbled to a nearby tree, leaning against it to
support their mirth.
A big pair
of brown eyes exchanged a conspiratorial glance with electric green ones.
“Did – you
see – Harry’s face!” Fred panted.
couldn’t!” George gasped. “It was covered – in snow!”
once more, they sank to the ground, watching Ron chase Hermione all around the
icy chicken coop. George began to idly examine the shape of the tiny snow
flakes. Suddenly, Fred gripped his arm.
“… A bit quiet?”
the twins looked around. Except from the squeals Hermione made, as Ron’s
snowball hit her on the back of the head, it was completely silent.
Harry?” George asked.
him I’m worried about,” Fred said.
where is the little sister?” George said.
said a voice.
have been more perfect. Both twins, perhaps in a moment of foolishness, perhaps
just by natural instinct looked up into the tree. They were greeted by a red
face with red hair, grinning at them. Then a soaking boot shook a snowy tree
and the world went white.
helped Ginny down from the tree, admiring their handiwork. Fred and George were
reduced to spluttering mounds of snow, with the odd patch of red hair sticking
out from the blizzard indignantly.
you for that Weasley!” Fred coughed.
said Ron, running towards them, “look!”
as he walked out from the Burrow, opening the gate carefully so as not to
disturb a confident robin. He had been watching the snowball fight from the window.
Ginny’s shrieks of laughter had reached the house making Mrs. Weasley tut in a
warm sort of way. Percy had remained inside to tend the fire and enjoy watching
his father bang little metal sticks into the wall with a wooden mallet.
Percy called. “It’s lunch time!”
around. There was no one in sight. The snow was disturbed, and there were
remnants of Hermione’s snow-wizard scattered across the ground, but he couldn’t
see hide nor hair of his younger siblings or their
Percy said as loudly as he thought was decent, and walking into the lawn. A
Charlie had used to climb seemed to have been shaken vigorously, and its entire
icy cloak lay in two heaps at its feet.
says you have to come in now,” Percy shouted crossly, “or the turkey will get
Still nothing. A few chickens, venturing out from their cosy houses regarded him coldly;
shaking their feathers in what Percy thought was a rather condescending manner.
to all that effort,” Percy continued, sniffily. “The least you could do is…”
a red-haired, freckled face had appeared behind a wall. It grinned at him
nastily. Percy recognised it at once.
he said, “it’s time for dinner, I think you should come in now.”
know what I think Percy?” said Fred, who had popped up next to his twin on the
didn’t give Fred the satisfaction of an answer.
“We all think,” said Ron, who had been
crouching behind the style with Harry.
should duck,” said Ginny, appearing with Hermione behind a bush.
opened his mouth to ask impatiently what they meant, and was met by six huge
snowballs that knocked him clean off his feet.
dinner was a little later than planned. Harry had thought that Mrs. Weasley had
looked like she was about to faint when he, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Fred, George
and Percy, had entered the house, soaking wet and shivering.
half hour or so of shouting in which the words “covered in snow” and “you’ll
catch your deaths” featured heavily, Mrs. Weasley ordered them all to have
was only one bath, this took some time, and a line of shaking children
materialised outside the bathroom, awaiting their turn.
being a guest, had got his bath third, after Hermione and Ginny who had used
their “I’m a girl” cards with relish. When he had dressed, he ambled downstairs
and gasped. The kitchen table was covered in the Christmas feast and it looked
magnificent. A huge turkey sat in pride of place emitting mouth watering
smells, while potatoes, peas, carrots, Yorkshire pudding, gravy, fresh bread
and little sausages on sticks framed it tantalisingly.
Harry dear,” Mrs Weasley said, taking yet more potatoes out of the oven. “Find
a place for these will you, that’s right, hold it by those handles. How many
people are ready?”
Hermione and Ginny,” Harry said.
“I hear you
had a pretty intense snowball fight out there,” Bill said, leaning against the
mantelpiece. Harry grinned.
agreed. “We absolutely covered the twins in snow.”
chuckled. “They’ll want revenge,” he said. “I remember the time when I threw a
bucket of water over them during a water fight; they somehow managed to conjure
up a cloud that followed me around for three days, raining on me.”
about half the Ministry rules,” Mrs Weasley muttered.
weren’t because they hadn’t started Hogwarts. I think it was probably an
accident that went terribly right,” Charlie said.
of their lives,” Mrs Weasley growled darkly.
and Ginny entered. Ginny was wearing her Weasley jumper, the big robin
protruding from the front. Her hair was fluffy after the wash, and she kept
patting it self- consciously. She didn’t look at Harry and had seemed to have
stopped laughing at last. Instead Harry saw the familiar blush rise in her
cheeks and decided he preferred giggling Ginny. Hermione crossed straight to
need any help?” she asked.
dear, but I think we’re all done. Arthur, do stop playing,” she chided her
looked up mildly from his work. He had successfully and much to Mrs Weasley’s irritation, sawn a corner of the kitchen work
surface off, all the time murmuring things like “amazing, it’s quite amazing.”
“Mum can we
eat now? I’m starving.”
come in, clutching his stomach. He hadn’t bothered to dry his hair, and it
stood up at spiky angles on his head.
“Ron! Your hair!” Mrs Weasley exclaimed. “Do something about it
right this instant!”
Ron attempted to flatten his vivid hair, and Harry noticed Hermione's eyes
linger on him, a small smile appearing on her lips. Bill and Charlie noticed
too and exchanged a glance. Charlie looked as if he was about to comment, when
Percy entered, still wet with a blanket over his soaking clothes.
he said crossly, “George pushed me on the way to the bathroom, and took ages,
and now Fred is also taking an awfully long time.” He made sure his teeth
chattered for effect.
George!” Mrs. Weasley roared up the stairs so loudly that Harry had the strong
urge to clap his hands over his ears. “Hurry up! Or we’ll start without you!”
instantaneously, the thunder like noise of two pairs of feet came thumping down
“No need to
shout woman,” Fred said, trying to extract water from his ear.
deaf,” George said.
to most things,” Fred said with a grin at his twin.
Weasley sighed, “we’ll have to start; otherwise everything is going to get
he said indignantly, I haven’t bathed!”
better hurry,” Mrs Weasley said. “Otherwise they’ll be none left.”
mouthed soundlessly for a few seconds, like a goldfish out of water, before
dashing up the stairs.
you a few peas, Perce!” George shouted after him.
Mrs Weasley snapped. “Now,” she clapped her hands together, “who wants turkey?”
on for several hours. Harry couldn’t remember ever eating so much, even at a
Hogwarts feast. Mrs. Weasley seemed to have been prepared to feed an army, and
like soldiers they ate, ploughing through the food they were given as if it was
some great task that had been assigned to them. Besides, Harry thought, as he
was served his third helping of roast potatoes, it was a shame to see perfectly
good food go to waste. Percy arrived ten minutes into the meal and quickly made
up for lost time, much to Fred and George’s disappointment. Even Mr. Weasley
had tugged his attention away from his tool kit long enough to have several
helpings of turkey.
explosive Christmas pudding that still occasionally spat blue sparks every few
minutes, and Fred and George had carelessly done the washing up, the Weasley
family and their guests made their way slowly to the living room.
they had arranged themselves peacefully into a content family scene. Mr.
Weasley and Percy sat reading sections of the Christmas edition of the Daily Prophet. Mrs Weasley had arranged
herself beside him on the sofa, with her knitting. Bill and Charlie talked by
the window, sharing a box of “BertieBotts Every Flavour Beans” with caution (several lay
untouched on the coffee table). Hermione sat on an armchair, Crookshanks in her
lap, reading A History of House-elves.
Fred and George sat on the floor by the door, heads bowed over their newest box
of tricks. They were whispering conspiratorially in a manner that made Mrs
Weasley frequently glance over and tut loudly. Ginny lay on her stomach by the
fire, staring into the flames. Harry thought she looked tired, drained by the
day’s events perhaps, but he said nothing. He himself was losing spectacularly
to Ron in a game of chess. Harry wondered how it was possible, after numerous
games spanning the course of over four years, for Ron to get more
smug each time he won. He kept grimacing every time Harry’s hand hovered
over a bishop or a knight, until Harry got confused and his chessmen shouted at
you’re letting him get to you, you fool!” The Queen squawked. “He’s bluffing!
a pawn of Ron’s piped up, “only a complete idiot would move you there!”
you’re not implying my queen is an idiot!” said Harry’s King wearily.
any chance you could make your men be quiet?” Hermione asked testily.
scoffed. “Of course not,” he snapped.
shut her book with a crack.
Ron, in Muggle chess, the pieces don’t speak or move
sounds boring to me,” Ron said, idly picking off one of Harry’s pawns.
rather less anti-social though,” Hermione said shortly.
you go somewhere else then?” Ron asked.
Weasley!” Mrs Weasley snarled. “Don’t you dare be so rude to one of your guests!”
“Oh, I knew
you’d take her side Mum,” Ron said miserably.
think so too, when it was you that was being bad-mannered and uncouth!”
said she had to move, Mum,” Fred cut in.
weren’t bothering us,” George added.
rounded on the twins.
dear…” Arthur began tentatively.
amazing how the fight escaladed in a matter of seconds. Harry opened his mouth
to say he didn’t mind moving somewhere else to finish the game, but found his
voice useless against the noise of the room. Mrs. Weasley was bellowing at Fred
and George, about everything from the morning’s awakening to their Wizard
Wheezes of the previous year. Mr. Weasley was trying to calm her down, while
Percy was pompously supporting Mrs. Weasley and earning himself harsh words
from Bill and Charlie, somewhere along the lines of “smarmy little suck-up”.
Ron and Hermione meanwhile, were shouting so furiously at each other, Harry was
reminded of their argument after the Yule Ball. And in the midst of all the
excitement, the chessmen lost their heads completely and began wrestling one
another violently to the chessboard. Harry watched Ginny quietly slip out the
room, unnoticed by her quarrelling family.
It took a
shower of sparks from Mr. Weasley’s wand to stop the
commotion. His livid family turned on him.
he said, “it’s Christmas.”
high, Hermione walked determinedly out of the room. There was a short silence.
her Ron,” Mrs Weasley said.
“But why do
given up Christmas with her parents to spend it here with you and Harry. Go
Ron stalked out.
sighed theatrically. “I’m making tea,” she said, and left.
settled himself back into his chair with the paper. Gradually, Bill and Charlie
began to resume their conversation; a vivid account of Charlie’s ride on a
Chinese Fireball. Gradually, Fred and George began to pour over their Zonko’s treats once more. Awkwardly, Harry took up
Hermione’s book and pretended to read it.
Percy began pretentiously, “I’ve always said…”
Mr. Weasley said, turning to the horoscopes.
up the first flight of stairs, up the second and flung open Ginny’s door.
Hermione said crossly. Then, “oh, it’s you.”
been so cross climbing the stairs that he had now forgotten what he had wanted
to say to her. She also looked upset; it was disconcerting. The silence seemed
to drag out for hours.
yell at me some more?” Hermione asked acidly.
“Me yell at
you?” Ron retorted, rapid as lightning now he had material to work with. “I
believe it was the other way round Hermione!”
not!” Hermione shouted.
they stared at one another, at a complete loss. Hermione turned away first,
looking out of Ginny’s window, at the setting sun. It was blood red against the
golden sky. She was strongly reminded of the Gryffindor colours, blaring out at
fight,” she said quietly.
Ron’s mouth, open in anticipation of the next insult, closed.
fight with Harry, except for last year, and I never fight with Harry. I never
fight with anyone as much as you.”
Ron put his
hands in his pockets and leaned against the wall, watching her. After a while
he attempted conversation in a more level tone.
getting pretty good at it I’d say,” he commented. “I mean, I can almost predict
what you’re going to say. I get my arguments stored up.”
turned around, stunned at his honesty. Ron was relieved to see she was smiling.
“Same here,” she said.
“So the way
I see it,” Ron continued, “is that our incredible bickering skills are just
another one of our substantial talents, another inch to our wands.”
nodded seriously. Ron grinned, turning to leave. Hermione stopped him with
hand. She drew it back quicker than necessary, feeling an odd tingling
sensation as she touched him.
okay?” she asked earnestly.
Hermione bit her lip, “thank you for the book. It’s
scratched his head."Oh, that's
okay," he said, "it really wasn't that hard to…" He
stopped.After a moment of staring at
the floor, he looked up at Hermione.Hermione caught his eye and his ears turned red almost immediately.
of eye contact was thrilling, but frightening, and they both quickly looked
upwards.Big mistake.Hanging from a crooked dark wooden beam, it
hung, bathed in the golden dusk light. Like the white of the snow outside, and
the green of the barely recognisable Christmas tree, it mocked them from its
looked at Ron, who appeared to be doing some considerable quick thinking.
began, but gave a start as Ron moved. For a wild second she didn’t know what he
was doing, but was able to breathe again when he plucked the offending plant
from above them.
said, twirling it in his fingers, and looking everywhere but at her face,
“Ginny’s put this stuff up everywhere. Dunno what for, must be a Muggle thing.”
Hermione said, deciding that Ron should never, ever go on stage.
er, take it away then,” Ron said, pocketing it.
grinned, and then without warning, threw her arms around Ron. Ron, shocked and
unready for this, staggered backwards slightly. Hermione knew she was red in
the face, but the thought of her featured was driven far from her mind as she
felt Ron’s arms slowly wrap themselves around her, holding her tight. It was a hug; a proper hug. He didn’t tap her
head or shake her off embarrassedly. He didn’t gape at her, or call her
barking. He just held her.
apart shortly. Ron, without looking at her, walked slightly dizzily to the
door, and out of the room. Hermione sank down on Ginny’s bed feeling the soft
sheets underneath her hands. She lay back staring at the darkening room just as
the door clicked shut, leaving her alone with her jumbled thoughts.
dragged his feet up the rickety stairs, debating whether to go to bed or not.
The atmosphere of Christmas cheer had definitely taken an unpleasant nose dive
and he was still feeling very full of turkey. He reached a landing, opposite
Percy’s room, and was just considering going to find his toothbrush, when a
breeze ruffled his hair with an icy touch that exposed his scar. Surprised,
Harry saw that the little window to his left was open. He tugged the curtains
back and tried to find the catch, feeling that Percy would have a terribly cold
night if the wind continued to howl through the landing.
frowned, peering out of the window.
squinted into the darkness. The little window opened onto what would normally
be a corrugated iron roof, but was now a sheet of undisturbed snow. A tarpaulin
had been arranged over it and a figure, hands hugging knees, stared at him with
What are you doing here?”
away from him, observing her garden, and the contrasts of black and white that
it contained. Harry ducked away from the window, but curiosity overcame him.
Awkwardly, he scrambled up onto the roof. Ginny’s shoulders seemed to tense,
but she didn’t say anything.
share your seating?” Harry asked.
y-yes,” Ginny said.
down. He felt the cold snow underneath him and a sheen
of condensation began to form on his glasses.
cold?” he asked.
Ginny said looking at him, her voice changing suddenly into something close to
Hermione’s scolding tone. “I’m wearing this,” she plucked at her Weasley
jumper, “I could trek through the arctic in this. It’s
tailor made you know.”
grinned. Ginny blushed suddenly, apparently startled at her behaviour, and
stared fixedly forwards again. Small snowflakes teased the top of her hair,
looking ironically white hot against the red. Her brown eyes were wide and
moist in the bitter evening cold. Her nose was slightly red from the
temperature, and adorned neatly with the Weasley freckles, and from her small
mouth escaped uneven breaths of winter, rising above them both in cloudy white
you doing here?” Harry asked her, reluctant to allow her from dodging the
here every Christmas,” Ginny said quietly. “Every year it gets like this, it
gets too much. We wake really early, really excited, use up all our energy and
pretty soon we’re all sniping at each other.” She shuddered. “It’s horrible.”
blushed. “It sounds silly,” she said. “But once, I wanted to run away; Fred had
hidden all my Christmas presents and I was so cross with him. So I got all my
stuff together and prepared to climb down the drainpipe. I’d written a note and
everything, whining about how hard it was having six older brothers or
something. I shut the window behind me and prepared to live as an outcast.”
grinned again. “What happened?” he asked.
up,” Ginny said simply.
Harry tilted his chin to the heavens. He gasped. The sky was alive with stars,
shining so brightly he didn’t know how he could have missed them. It was as if
someone had taken a handful of glitter and thrown it over the inky blue
background excitedly and at random.
they burn,” Ginny said. “I think it’s the cold air. I suppose it’s just
tradition that I come here now. But…”
off, aware that she was talking too much. Her eyes flickered downwards and she
became very interested in a thread that her mother had failed to tie in
Harry asked. He had never heard Ginny talk this much before. Ginny seemed to
mutter to herself, then looked at him, her expression daring him to make her
you know,” Ginny said. “It seems out of place.”
swallowed, aware that she was struggling to explain herself.
Ginny waved an arm around. “It’s so cheerful, it’s wonderful. And then we
fight, and that’s fine. We sulk, it’s normal. I come to look at the stars, it
happens every year.”
pretence.” Ginny bit her lip, making it go as white as the snow on which she
sat. “I mean, it’s different now. He’s back, and everyone’s really worried.”
it seems inappropriate?”
Ginny said appreciatively. “And I know I sound ungrateful for everything, or just horrible but…”
what you mean.”
silent, feeling oddly prickly all over, having shared this forbidden
information. Harry was amazed that he was having this conversation with Ginny
of all people. He supposed she wasn’t the same girl who had sent him a singing
valentine. But then again she was. He scratched the back of his head, confused.
remember first year?” Ginny asked suddenly. “My first year?Your second year?”
looked at her. “Of course,” he said, surprised that she had brought up such a
taboo subject. Ginny’s knuckles around her knees whitened, and she looked like
she was trying to make herself as small as possible.
it?” Harry asked.
“I was so
scared,” she said, face burning. “I was so frightened all year. And it was more
because I didn’t know what was happening than because I knew the truth. Tom – I
didn’t know who…”
off, shaking her head, frustrated.
like that now,” Harry said. “Afraid of the unknown?”
nodded. As Harry looked at her, he was startled to see her eyes brimming with
tears, threatening to overflow. She blinked hard, frowning.
“And I feel
horrible,” Ginny said, her voice cracking slightly. “I feel so bad because they
go to all that effort. But I think Mum and Dad have forgotten Harry. I think
they’ve forgotten what it’s like when he’s around. He was gone when I was still
a baby, but I've read about what it was like.And… I've met
him, Harry.How can they be so
cheerful when we're all so helpless?"
suddenly, the words caught in her throat. Without realising quite what he was
doing, Harry had put his hand on hers. It was icy cold to the touch, and he
remembered once when it had felt like this before, probably the only time he’d
ever touched her.
hand away from her tense torso, Harry squeezed it slightly.
circulatory purposes,” he said, a little sheepishly.
stared at him, her mouth an ‘o’ of shock, then quite suddenly burst into a fit
of giggles. The sound filled the air, like bells, shattering the atmosphere
with joy. Harry decided he liked Ginny’s giggles much more than those of other
girls, much more than the likes of Lavender’s or Parvati’s.
Ginny’s soft brown eyes came alive in laughter, her nose wrinkled, and her
smile lit up her face better than all of the stars in the universe. She was
beautiful, Harry thought recklessly. Suddenly a feeling hit him, as if a wand
had been pointed directly at his chest and had Apparated hundreds of little
butterflies inside him. He let go of Ginny’s hand quickly. Noticing, her
laughter subsided slightly. She hugged her knees again, her head cocked to one
side, watching him.
we going to do Harry?” she asked quietly.
sighed, leaning back on his elbows in a reclining position.
going to stay out here, discussing very important things, such as how many of
my BertieBotts can I trade
with your Chocolate Frogs, and what will annoy Filch more next year, a farting
skipping rope or belching juggling balls. Then the sun will rise.” He scoffed
at the sky, “you think your stars are impressive, wait for my sunrise.”
tucked a strand of red hair into a hair clip. “That’s not what I mean,” she
said, smiling. Harry was conscious of her body shifting slightly towards him.
It was comforting.
he said. “But I think now we just have to wait until the dawn.”
The Sugar Quill was created by Zsenya and Arabella. For
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