The Sugar Quill
Author: Nundu (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Same Auld Lange Syne  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

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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 open wide.

 

“Harry!”

 

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 self again.”

 

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 lift.”

 

“Parked?  You have a car?”

 

“Of course, silly.  I brought it in today so I could do some last minute shopping and not worry about hauling everything around on buses.”

 

Harry mulled this as they walked through the car park towards a late model car gleaming under a street lamp.

 

“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.”

 

“Quinton.”

 

“My husband.”

 

“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 good idea.”

 

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 laughed.

 

“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 those.”

 

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…”

 

“Where else?”

 

“But…”

 

“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 Quinton.”

 

“Well, he’s an architect.”

 

“A what?”

 

“An architect.  You know, designs buildings.”

 

“I know what an architect is.  I mean, what sort of buildings does he design?”

 

“Office buildings, mainly. He has his own company.  He is quite in demand recently.”

 

“Office buildings.  Then he’s a…”

 

“Muggle, yes.”

 

“Well, that explains it.”

 

“Explains what?”

 

“The car.”

 

“Oh, yes.  The car.”

 

“And what do you do?”

 

“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 Weasley tradition.”

 

“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, I’m safe.”

 

“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 steering wheel.

 

“Ginny, thank 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

//
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