The Sugar Quill
Author: simibee  Story: Forget Cho  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.

Sorry this is so late, not exactly Christmas anymore… Hopefully you can still enjoy it

Sorry this is so late, not exactly Christmas anymore… Hopefully you can still enjoy it. 

 

He could feel the blood rushing to his face, and his throat constricting. Stupid, stupid plant. Couldn’t even walk through doorways without mortal peril. Well, not mortal peril, exactly, but close.

            It was Christmas. Harry and Hermione had returned to the Burrow along with the rest of the Weasley clan for the holiday. It was nice, quite different from Christmas at Hogwarts, or… Grimmauld Place.

            Or, it had been nice. Until now.

            They had been eating dinner – the whole boisterous crowd, when Harry had stood to go retrieve something…what had it been?… While passing through the doorway, he was stopped short by a figure with flaming red hair and laughing brown eyes coming in the opposite direction.

            “Sorry, Harry,” Ginny said, obviously she’d been in a hurry to get back from wherever she’d been.

             “Erm… no problem,” he took a step to the side so that they could go on their ways, but was immobilized by a loud call from the kitchen.

            “Oy! Harry! Look where you’re standing! Got to kiss her now!” Fred’s gleeful voice was followed by Mrs. Weasley’s cheerful affirmation, “Ahh yes. Mistletoe. It’s tradition, m’dear.”

            Mistletoe. Stupid plant. That makes twice he’d been caught in this awkward position. Well, the last time hadn’t been so bad… sorta wet… but it had been Cho that made the first move. And, there had been no one else around. Her family, for example.

            Not that he fancied Cho anymore, of course.

            He could feel their stares and the stifled giggles. He looked up— to avoid meeting anyone’s gaze. There it was, white berries sparkling innocently.

            “Erm… Harry? You might want to get on with it. Ginny’s getting bored…” This was met by a general round of laughter. Harry made a mental note to punch Ron as soon as this was over.

            Taking a deep breath, he glanced down at the girl in question, and felt his insides turn to lead.

            She was staring up at him, one eyebrow raised and a slight smile playing around her lips. Her eyes revealed suppressed laughter.

            Ahg. He couldn’t do this. It was Ginny. Ron’s little sister. Not that she was still the same timid first-year she’d been when they first met; they’d even become friends since last year. But still. And it wasn’t like she still fancied him or anything. She dated other people. And this was just too weird.

            A sound suspiciously like a snort issued from the kitchen. That was it. He’d done harder things than this before, after all… though he couldn’t think of any at the moment.

            Taking one last fortifying swallow, he placed his hands firmly on Ginny’s shoulders and took a step closer, going in for the plunge. Briefly, he was aware of her startled face, and the eyebrow shooting up still farther, and muffled catcalls and applause. Then, he closed his eyes and made contact…

            …with her cheek.

 

* * *

 

            Her cheek. Her cheek! Not even the cheek actually… more of the corner-of-the-lip/ chin area. Harry winced with embarrassment. He’d missed. Missed!

            After a brief moment, he’d stepped back, blushing harder than ever. Ginny, some faraway part of his mind had noted, was blushing as well. Ginny’s eyes were darting from Harry to her family and then back to Harry; she’d bit her lip and smiled nervously at him.

            “Well… erm… all right then.” Harry had muttered, and then he’d turned and fled up to Ron’s room, on the errand that had started the whole episode.

            He sat now, on his bed staring blankly at the wall and replaying the memory. Had she noticed? Had anyone else noticed? Ahg. He would never live it down.

            And yet… that wasn’t exactly what was bothering him. His mind kept flitting back to Ginny’s face, filling his vision, her expression surprised, yet not unpleasantly so.

            It’s not like I wanted to kiss Ginny, he thought angrily. Hadn’t that been the problem in the first place? She was Ron’s little sister, and her whole family had been watching! Really, it was better that it turned out this way. Exactly right, actually. They were just friends. He didn’t want to kiss Ginny Weasley, especially not… like that.

            So why did he feel so… disappointed?

             

* * *

 

            The chaotic sounds of Weasley celebration eventually roused Harry from his wandering thoughts. Realizing that he had been gone for nearly ten minutes he stood and hurried down the stairs, franticly collecting his thoughts and hoping that they wouldn’t show on his face.

            They were all seated around the table. George, it seemed, had just been relating an especially funny story at which they were all still laughing. All of the Weasleys were present, as well as Hermione.

            “Harry!” Ron exclaimed as he stepped through the doorway, “Nice of you to return. Been hiding?” Ron was laughing, and a few titters went around the table that sounded suspiciously like Fred and George, and perhaps Bill. Harry shot Ron a glare and sat down.

            Ron, however, did not take the hint. “So, where’s the letter?”

            This comment was met with a blank stare. “Letter?” Harry said dumbly, “What letter?”

            Ron rolled his eyes and a grin began to tug at the corners of his mouth. “Yes. The letter. From Remus? The one you went to retrieve?” Ron’s eyes were positively sparkling.

            “Oh. That.” Harry’s brain was making astounding progress in catching up to the conversation. “Er. Well… I couldn’t find it,” he finished lamely.

            Fred let out a cough that sounded suspiciously like “Mistletoe,” and Harry felt his cheeks redden for the second time that evening. Inadvertently his eyes darted to Ginny. Thankfully, she was looking studiously at the corner of the ceiling. Harry’s eyes dropped back down to his plate and, picking up his fork, he began pushing around the remains of his dinner.

            Mrs. Weasley mercifully chose that moment to bring out the Christmas pudding and attention was diverted from him for the time being. Conversation began to start up around the table once more and Harry was left to himself.

            He found himself watching the others, not able to focus on any of the topics. Ron and Hermione were whispering to each other, with the occasional glance at him, leaving him no doubt as to what the subject of their discussion was. Every once and a while, Hermione would sit back and look from Harry to Ginny with a thoughtful expression, and then smile. Harry found this intensely annoying.

            He could hardly stand to look at Ginny, which was also rather frustrating. What was going on? It was almost like Cho was back in the room… except he didn’t get that way about Cho anymore… and he most certainly couldn’t see why it should be happening when he looked at Ginny. His hands were starting to sweat again and his stomach felt a bit queasy. It couldn’t be the same. Did he fancy Ginny…? and with that startling thought he tried once more to focus on what Fred and George were saying about Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes.

            He was very glad when the evening finally came to a close and he was able to stagger up the stairs after Ron.

            It is surprisingly hard, he realized, to avoid one pair of brown eyes for several hours.

 

* * *

 

            Ron was emitting inhuman snorts from his side of the room. Harry rolled over on his back and stared at the ceiling. He’d long ago grown used to Ron’s nighttime chorus; that wasn’t what was keeping him awake. He’d nearly memorized the cracks patterning the ceiling above him.

            With a sigh he rolled out of bed and onto his feet. If he was going to remain awake, he might as well have some tea or something. He threw on his dressing gown and padded silently out of the room and down the stairs, making sure to step over the areas that creaked.

            His feet moved on autopilot, while his mind drifted through other issues, getting caught in the same loops that had entrapped him so many times that evening. So it was rather a surprise when he walked into the kitchen to find the fire already lit and someone occupying the table.

            Ginny glanced up form the cup of tea she had been idly stirring. Her mouth fell open a bit, but she called out, only mildly startled, “Harry… What are you doing up? It’s two in the morning. “

            Harry, whose first instinct had been to flee back to the safety of the hallway, took a step forward and swallowed. “Well,” he croaked, “erm… I couldn’t sleep… I thought I’d come and get some tea… or something…” His voice trailed off. His mind was having trouble sending words to his mouth. He supposed it was lack of sleep.

            Ginny just nodded, “Oh. Yes. Tea is always good when you can’t sleep. That’s what mum always says anyways…” Harry was slightly pleased to note that she looked almost as awkward as he felt. Her eyes were darting around the room, searching for something. They fell on the teakettle and she looked back at him with a smile. “Would you like some? I made it a few minutes ago.”

            “Oh. Erm. Yes. That would be… great.” Harry shuffled over to the table as she moved to get the tea. Nothing was said for several minutes as they both savored their drinks.

            As the silence stretched between them, Harry stared at her hands, which curled lightly around her cup. He shifted in his chair uncomfortably. Should he say something? Should he maybe apologize? For the whole kiss thing?

            “I’m sorry about what happened at dinner,” Ginny blurted. Harry’s head snapped up, eyes wide. It was her turn to look away. “I mean… my brothers are such prats…” she continued.

            “err... No problem?” Harry ventured. But she had continued on, not seeming to hear him.

            “And, well… I’m sorry about… moving away.” This last part come out in a rush and she winced as she said it, not meeting his eyes.

            “Moving away?” Harry repeated, confused. When had she moved away?

            “umm yes. I… umm… turned. I’m sorry. It wasn’t very nice I guess.”

            “You turned?” He repeated stupidly. This wasn’t quite making sense.

            “Yes! I turned my face, at the last moment… when you were about to kiss me… I don’t know why… well I do,” She seemed to be speaking to herself by this point. Harry let her continue, still trying to process the situation. “I just… well… it’s just…”

            At this Harry’s befuddled brain finally caught up. “You moved?” he said incredulously. “Really? I thought it was me. That I’d… you know… missed.” His face colored at the last declaration, but Ginny only let out a small giggle.

            “No. It was definitely me.”

            “Oh. Well. I shouldn’t have tired to kiss you, on the lips at least,” he mumbled, everything finally settling into place. Now he was embarrassed for another reason. Stupid, stupid mistletoe. He should have kissed her on the cheek in the first place, of course.

            Ginny was blushing now as well. “Oh that was fine. I mean tradition and all… it’s just…” She trailed off once more and stared down at the table, one finger nervously tracing the wood grain.

            “Just what?”

            She took a deep breath and plunged on, her voice barely audible. “I’ve never kissed anyone before.”

            “What?” Harry blurted.

            “I’ve never kissed anyone. Not on the lips anyway.” She spoke more clearly now, her eyes meeting his, daring him to challenge this proclamation.

            He did. “Never?” his voice was disbelieving. “What about Michael?”

            “Not even Michael.” She spoke with finality, and a look of distaste crossed her face at the name.

            Harry was a bit astounded by this information. “Why?”

            Ginny got a faraway look on her face and seemed to stare past him as she pondered her answer. “I’m waiting for the right person.”

            A simple sentence. It hung in the air between them, and suddenly Harry felt the room turn cold. The right person. She was waiting for the right person to kiss her. The idea filtered through his mind, eventually reaching the obvious conclusion. The right person. Which meant he wasn’t that person. She’d turned away when he’d tried to kiss her.

            It was surprising how disappointed he could feel, when he hadn’t even wanted to kiss her in the first place. Not the right person.

            “Oh. Well… I suppose I should be getting back to bed.” Suddenly he was very, very tired.

            “Ok,” Ginny muttered and began tracing the wood patterns once more.

            Harry stood, numbly and stumbled out of the kitchen and up the stairs.

 

* * *

 

            He didn’t see Ginny look up and gaze intently at his retreating form. “…The right person…” she repeated sadly,  “…and for him to realize it too.”

 

 

 

Thanks so much to my incredibly awesome beta reader, Stella, who helps me iron out all the little wrinkles that I am oblivious of.

         And, thanks to J.K.R., who actually owns all genius relating to the world of Harry Potter- though I often wonder if she would rather not be connected with  such fluffy stories as mine…I wrote this after reading Sugar Quill stories late into the night… so perhaps the honor more accurately belong to all of you… Sorry if it seemed too much like any other Mistletoe story, I haven’t read any, but I’m sure there are some out there. No similarity was intended. Comments welcome…

 

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