Just a little
story that popped into my head one day listening to an old Dan Fogelberg song.
Same Auld Lange Syne
Harry stood at the bus
stop. There wasn’t a long queue this
late on Christmas Eve. Anyone with any
sense was already home, out of the snow and in the arms of their loved
ones. No rush there for him. All that awaited him at home was a cold
hearth and a cold chicken in the fridge.
An occasional snowflake shimmered in the light of the few shops that
were still open. The grocer across the way
was the busiest. People hurried in
searching for forgotten-till-the-last-minute mince and cranberries.
A flash of red caught
Harry’s eye. It was gone before it
registered with him. Could it be? No, not here. Not in Muggle London. But the colour was distinctive. Only Weasleys had hair like that.
Harry stepped off the kerb
and dashed across the street, earning him an angry honk from a car he hadn’t
seen. He wove his way through the people
on the sidewalk and into the grocers.
Where was she? The aisles of the
store made a maze with walls impossible to see over, forcing him to weave up
and down looking for her. At the back
corner of the shop he found her, bending over a freezer of frozen turkeys,
poking at one with an ungloved finger.
She had pulled off her cap, and her mussed hair fell over her shoulder
as she tried to determine which bird would suit. Harry reached out hesitantly. Should he speak to her? Would she speak to him? So much had happened since those days in
school when they could tell each other anything. She had always been the one who could make
sense of the chaos and calm him. In the
end though, he had left. Could she smile
at him, after what her family had endured because of him?
Just as he withdrew his
hand, she turned abruptly, her small frame bumping into him. Glancing up, she mumbled an automatic apology
and stepped aside. Then her eyes flew
She reached out her arms,
grabbing him around the waist, but her purse spilled open, dumping the bits of papers and oddments that seem to live in women’s purses on
the floor. Ginny flushed and stooped
hurriedly to pick it up. Harry bent down
to help, chuckling. Every receipt, every
pen seemed funny, until they were both laughing so hard that tears were running
down their cheeks.
“Well, some things never
change. I haven’t put my elbow in the
butter dish for years, and here you come round and I am back to my old clumsy
They stood, Harry handing
her purse back to her. She turned and
looked at the turkeys once more. “I
suppose I’ll have to get one of these.
None of them look great, but I guess beggars can’t be choosy.”
Harry lifted the one she
pointed to and carried it to the cashier.
Ginny pulled out her wallet, counted out correct change, and the two of
them walked out into the now steady snow.
“I’m parked around the
corner here. Come on, I’ll give you a
“Parked? You have a car?”
silly. I brought it in today so I could
do some last minute shopping and not worry about hauling everything around on
Harry mulled this as they
walked through the car park towards a late model car gleaming under a street
“Listen Ginny, could you
have a drink with me? Do you have time?”
She hesitated. “Alright. Quinton won’t be home for another hour or
so. Let’s. We can talk about… Well, we can talk.”
“Oh. Um…there’s a bar just up the street here.”
Ginny reached into her
pocket and withdrew her hand, pointing it at the car. Harry thought for a moment she was pointing
with her wand, about to cast a spell, but she pushed a small button and the car
chirped and the lights flashed. The boot
opened and Ginny took the turkey from Harry, put it in, and pulled the boot
closed firmly. She then turned and
tucked a gloved hand into Harry’s elbow and looked up at him with a grin.
“Now, how ‘bout that drink?”
They walked up the block,
exchanging comments about the weather and other mindless subjects. Neither seemed willing to talk about
themselves or their lives.
Harry pushed open the door
of the pub, ushering Ginny in.
“Sorry, mate. Closing up now. Christmas Eve, y’know.”
Harry sighed and turned to
Ginny with an apology.
“Well, it seemed like a
Together they retraced
their steps to the car park. As they
approached the car, Ginny pulled out the key and pressed the button again. She then turned to Harry with a gasp.
“I have an idea. You go on and get in the car and stay
dry. I’ll be right back.”
Harry climbed in and
watched her round the corner. What had
he been thinking? Had he expected her to
still be single and pining for him? She
was married. Quinton. Probably some swot that worked for the
Ministry. Well, she seemed happy. He certainly seemed to take good care of her. She drove a nice car, had expensive
clothes. Better off than if she had
stuck with him.
The driver’s door opened
and Ginny climbed in, dropping a sack in Harry’s lap. The sound of bottles clinking together made
Harry handle it carefully. Ginny turned
the key and they were soon accelerating through the streets that were rapidly
turning white. As they zipped past shops
that were shuttering up and the few pedestrians making their way home, Harry
realised that Ginny drove like Ginny flew.
He reached up and gripped the grab bar over his head as they rounded a
corner. Ginny looked over at him and
“Lose your nerve, Harry?”
Harry grinned back at her,
but wished she’d keep her eyes on the road.
They came to a halt in a gravelled car park for the Fulham Palace where, through
the dark trees, a glimpse of the Thames glinted under
the streetlights that lined its banks.
Ginny switched off the lights and ignition and turned to face Harry,
leaning against the door.
“Now, hand me one of
Harry reached into the bag
and pulled out the bottles, twisted off the cap and handed one to Ginny. Without looking at the label, he opened the
other and took a swallow from it. He
pulled it away from his mouth in shock.
“Where the hell…”
“There’s a safe place to
Apparate in the alley behind that grocers.
I just popped over to the Leaky Cauldron. I wanted something warming on a night like
this.” Ginny finished with a deep pull
on her own bottle.
Harry grinned once
more. He had grinned more in the last
half-hour than he had in the last half decade.
He lifted his bottle and said, “To old friends and old times.”
Ginny tapped his bottle
with hers, and they drank to the toast.
“So, tell me about
“Well, he’s an architect.”
“An architect. You know, designs buildings.”
“I know what an architect
is. I mean, what sort of buildings does
buildings, mainly. He has his own company. He is quite in demand recently.”
buildings. Then he’s a…”
“Well, that explains it.”
“Oh, yes. The car.”
“And what do you do?”
“Yes, what do you do? Are you with the Ministry? You had such grand plans for improving the
government. After all, the Ministry is a
“Um, no. I don’t work.
No need, really. Quinton more
than takes care of me. We have a lovely
house and I can just stay at home and tend to it, just like my mum did.”
“But no children
yet? You just sit at home? Doesn’t sound like you, Ginny. What happened to all those ideals?”
Ginny’s ears went red and a
flush suffused her cheeks. “I’m happy
‘just sitting at home’. Nobody is coming
after me. Nobody is trying to possess
me. Nobody is trying to kill my family
or me and I like it like that, thank you very much.”
“Ginny, that’s all over and
done with. You’re safe. He’s gone.
He’s never coming back.”
Ginny looked up at him with
eyes brimming with unshed tears. “Yes,
“So,” Harry said, changing
the subject. “A Muggle. Did he sweep you off your feet?”
Ginny picked at the label
of her bottle. “He’s very nice. He takes good care of me and he loves me.”
“Well, you look
wonderful. I’m glad you’re happy.”
“You look good too. I saw your picture in the paper the other
day. That was quite some save.”
“Thanks. I like playing, but I hate the travel. Someday I’ll have a house and a family, but
it’s all too temporary right now.”
Ginny lifted her
bottle. “Well, here’s to new lives.”
Harry tapped her bottle and
together they lifted their drinks, draining the last dregs. Harry watched Ginny staring out the
windscreen, watching the water run in it’s endless
rush to the sea. He reached out his hand
to smooth out a lock of her hair that had tangled on the headrest of her
seat. She turned her head and looked at
him with an expression he didn’t understand.
She was almost begging him for something. Without thinking, he leaned into her. Just before his lips touched hers, she turned
to face the windscreen again.
“I’ve really got to get
home. Quinton will be home any moment,
and I’ve got to get that turkey in cold water to thaw if there’s any hope of
cooking it tomorrow.” She turned the key
in the ignition and the engine roared to life.
Harry sat back against his seat as she jerked the car into reverse,
gravel spattering the undercarriage.
Following his directions,
she soon pulled up across the street from his building. Harry leaned over and covered her hand on the
you. I enjoyed seeing you
tonight. I’m glad you’re happy. I’m glad you’re safe.”
Ginny pulled his hand,
drawing him closer, and kissed him on the cheek.
“Good bye, Harry.”
He climbed out of the
car. Standing on the kerb as he watched
her pull away, he realised she had never said she was happy. She never said she loved Quinton. The ache he had felt five years ago when she
had walked away from him reared into his heart again.
As he turned to make his
way back home, the snow had turned to rain.