It was Twelfth Night and the Burrow was
teaming with people, happily celebrating Bill Weasley’s engagement. Harry was having quite a lot of trouble
remembering who was who, but the fact that a good half of the guests had red
hair meant it was easy to pick out the Weasley relatives. Unfortunately the small matter of his scar
meant he was just as easily recognisable, and Harry longed for some
It seemed being the Boy Who Lived meant he
was ripe for picking – not to mention pinching.
His abused posterior had been tweaked and pinched by virtually every
single-woman at the party, with the exception of Hermione. And she barely counted as single, considering
she and Ron were still dancing their weird courtship ballet of arguments and
The older women, meanwhile, had been
pinching his cheek, or clasping him to their impressive bosoms, and thanking
him for saving them from You Know Who. A
couple had even offered to thank him further…in private.
It didn’t help that someone – probably Fred
or George, or maybe even Charlie – had be-spelled a leftover piece of mistletoe
from Christmas to follow him around like his own personal rain-cloud, and he’d
had to put up with being kissed, smooched, and all out snogged
(this last, luckily, was Ginny) by every female who came across his path. Thankfully Ginny had taken pity on him and
incinerated the mistletoe with a quick flick of her wand and a muttered bit of
Latin – but only after she’d snogged
him almost senseless in front of her smirking brothers.
Harry was used to being the focus of
attention, but this type of attention had him puzzled, and not a little
frightened. Deciding a strategic retreat
was in order, Harry sneaked off towards the kitchen. Perhaps he could help out Mrs Weasley by
doing some dishes, or making cups of tea, or something; anything to get
him away from the witches with claws.
Unfortunately the kitchen was inhabited by
a group of Weasley aunts, sitting around the table, which was centred with a
steaming teapot. They resembled somewhat
the witches from Shakespeare’s Scottish Play, which was unsurprising
considering witches were what they were.
One of them thrust a cup of weak tea into his hands - laced with too
little milk and far too much sugar - as she continued to gush about what robes
she and her legion of children would be wearing to Bill and Fleur’s
Heading out the back door with only a few
more bruises to show for his kitchen foray, Harry continued to ponder his
problem. Maybe it was due to a phase of
the moon? He leaned against a tree and
looked up at the stars, twinkling in the clear blackness of the winter’s
night. Harry wished his astronomy books
were not back at Hogwarts, but perhaps he could nip up to Ginny and Hermione’s
room? Undoubtedly, Hermione had brought
masses of schoolbooks with her, for a little light reading over the Christmas
“What are you doing skulking out
here?” Ginny asked,
handing him one of the goblets she was carrying.
“Escaping,” Harry replied succinctly. “I don’t think my ar-”
He looked sideways at Ginny and changed what he was going to say, slightly, “- rear
end has one spot left un-pinched!”
Ginny giggled. “Well, it’s your own fault, silly.”
“My fault?” Harry’s jaw dropped open,
and he did an interesting fly-catching impression for a few seconds. “How can it be my fault that all these
women think it’s ‘open season on Harry’?”
“It’s those green eyes of yours, mate,”
said Ron, moving into the garden followed by Hermione. “Women take one look and want to take you
“You’re making me sound like a lost puppy!”
Ron grinned and lay down on the picnic rug
Hermione had efficiently spread out, gazing up at the sky as Harry had been
doing only minutes before. “Look,
there’s a shooting star. Hmmm, in the
house of…what was that constellation called again? I think that means dark-haired men should
Harry grabbed a nearby leaf and flung it at
him. It proved singularly ineffective at
stopping Ron’s teasing, as he kept pointing out silly predictions from random star
movements. Harry decided Ron could
almost write predictions for the Quibbler - if people didn’t mind reading about
doom and gloom every second sentence.
“So how is it Harry’s fault?” Ron
continued, addressing his sister. “I
doubt he instigated that whole mistletoe business.”
“Well it wasn’t his green eyes!” Ginny
replied tartly. “Honestly, are you two
totally clueless? It’s his jumper!”
Harry blinked his eyes in shock and
wondered if this was some sort of female code he should know and understand. He looked at Ron, only to find his best mate
was equally mystified. “My jumper?” He
looked down at the hand-knitted jumper he’d received from Mrs Weasley the
previous Christmas. “It still fits. And I like green. What’s wrong with it?”
“The problem is it’s
green,” Ginny said significantly.
paused. He really didn’t have any idea
what Ginny was getting at. “Hermione, I think I’m in the Muggle loop here –
what is this about my poor jumper?” he asked plaintively, deciding to try
asking the fountain of all knowledge.
“It’s all about signals, Harry,” Hermione
giggled. “You’ve been giving off
‘available’ signals all evening.”
“I have not!” Harry was offended. “All these women have been coming up to me
without me doing anything!”
“You started it the minute you got dressed
this evening. You should have worn your
new jumper Mrs Weasley made you – the red one.”
“What’s the diff-” Harry began.
“What’s the colour of his jumper got to do
with anything? I thought Mum usually
made him a green one because of the colour of his eyes,” Ron interrupted. He glared down at his own jumper, lovingly
knitted by his mother. “Though why on earth she keeps making me maroon beats
“Harry,” Hermione put a wealth of
long-suffering into her voice. “Have you
not heard of ‘traffic lights’?”
Harry frowned. What did Muggle traffic signals have to do
with the price of fish? “Erm – of course?”
“What does ‘red’ mean?”
“Stop, of course.” Harry still didn’t see where this random
question-and-answer session about traffic rules was going.
“It also means ‘taken’. At least at engagement parties - even in the
questioned both Ron and Harry together.
The girls nodded.
“You two are so thick!” exclaimed
Harry ignored that; he was afraid Ginny
might have a point – at least on this issue.
It seemed that for every sentence Hermione uttered, he was feeling even
more confused. “So… if red means, er, taken, what does… um…green mean?”
Hermione stared at him expectantly.
“Bloody hell!” breathed Ron. “You’re joking, right?”
Harry’s mind was still scrambling around in
the dark. “Uh-”
“Those women certainly have jumbled your
brains tonight, Harry.” Ginny grinned
affectionately. “‘Available’ is the word
you’re searching for, and is what those women thought you were.”
“You’ve got to be joking!” Harry leapt to his feet, looking around
frantically as if he expected women with pincher-type fingers to appear out of
Hermione dropped her face into her hands,
and her shoulders began to shake.
Looking up at him he could see tears of mirth streaming down her
face. “Oh, Harry!” she said through her
“I better go and get changed,” he decided,
pointedly ignoring his best friend who was currently having hysterics at his
“Don’t worry, I can fix it.” Ginny pulled out her wand. A few murmured words later and his jumper was
a pleasing shade of red. “Perfect!” she
said, taking Harry by the arm and pulling him towards the house. “Come on, let’s get some eggnog; I think the
twins spiked it.”
“Not with anything too unsafe, I hope,”
said Harry as they went into the house, little realising the youngest Weasley
had stamped her claim upon him for all to see.
The last Ron saw of them as they went
through the kitchen door was ‘Property of Ginny Weasley’ emblazoned across the
back of Harry’s jumper.
“So, Hermione,” Ron said, taking her hand
and pulling her close. “What does maroon mean?”
replied, leaning into his kiss.
“I’ll agree with that,” he said, and
proceeded to show just how hot he could be.
Author’s note. I pinched the idea of the
mistletoe following Harry from Regann’s ‘Heart Over Mind’ fanfiction. I hope she doesn’t mind.