The Sugar Quill
Author: Mosylu (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: New Year  Chapter: Default
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After the warmth and cacophony of the Burrow's kitchen, it was a bit of a relief to duck out into the chill and silent night. So Harry was dismayed to find that his refuge was already occupied. Ginny was standing on the porch, her elbows on the railing.

"Sorry," he said, backing up. "I didn't know you were out here. You must want to be alone."

"It's all right," she said. "You can stay if you like. Did it get to be too much in there?"

"A bit." He had been invited to the Burrows for the holidays. The invitation, rendered in you-are-coming-so-it's-really-no-use-arguing fashion from Mrs. Weasley, had come as a relief. He hadn't been looking forward to the long weeks wandering about Hogwarts on his own. It wouldn't have been any fun without Ron or Hermione.

He loved the Burrows--its warmth, its constant energy, its overflow of people and affection. Sometimes, however, the oppurtunity to be alone was irresistible.

He thought for a moment of retreating back inside the house--perhaps to Ron's room--or wandering out into the yard, but he found himself cautiously approaching the railing. Ginny's silence was tacit permission.

Somewhere between her first year and now, she seemed to have gotten over her red-eared, wide-eyed crush on him. She'd apparently figured out he was no larger-than-life hero, but just Harry. That was a definite relief, in some ways--no danger of Valentine dwarves for instance--but it was also faintly depressing, for some reason Harry didn't want to examine.

She smiled at him, not the reserved smile she'd been using lately, but open and friendly as her brothers'. He liked it better. "I love New Year's."

"Even better than Christmas?"

"Even better." She propped her chin in her hands. "It's a new start, don't you see? A fresh year . . . with no mistakes in it yet." She wrinkled her nose, and her smile was now wry.

"Why does your family--" He gestured back over his shoulder into the kitchen.

She glanced back. "Oh. The kissing." She shrugged. "We always have. It's luck, I think. The twins have an unholy amount of fun with it."

"They seem to have an unholy amount of fun with everything."

"Yes, that too." She slid him a sidelong look. "You've been complimented, you know. Mum never invites anyone but family for Christmas and New Year's. Of course, with the Weasleys, that's not as exclusive as it sounds."

"I feel a bit left out," he told her. "I'm the only one in there without red hair."

"That can be fixed."

"Oh, no. I've already had an offer, thanks. The--"

"--twins," she finished, and laughed.

Her laugh broke out into the silent newborn hours of the year, as if it were the first sound. Her hair, so brilliant in the sun, was silvered in the moonlight.

Impulsively, he leaned over and kissed her on the cheek.

Or he would have, had she not turned her head at the last moment, her mouth already opening to say something. Their lips met instead.

Their noses bumped, and Harry's glasses slid down, and it was over in half a second, and Harry wondered wildly if the world would be able to tell that his brain had melted and run out his ears.

Had a choir of holy angels wafted out of the clouds at that very moment and started caroling the Hallelujah chorus, Ginny would not have so much as blinked.

Harry had kissed her.

She stared at him, and he stared back--her romantic cavalier with shining armor and crooked glasses. After a moment, he opened his mouth, and she waited breathlessly for his words. Ginny, I need to tell you something . . . something I've been feeling for such a long time . . .

"Oh, god, I'm sorry."

The angel choir hit a sour note.

Harry backed up, fumbling at his glasses. "I--I didn't mean that to happen, honestly I didn't . . . I'm sorry . . .


The angel choir gave up in disgust and went back into their cloud. Ginny felt sick. "It's all right," she said hollowly.

"Are you sure?" He looked at her anxiously.

She made herself smile, but it was a tight, ghastly little smile. "Yes, of course. I've already forgotten it." Liar. "Why don't you go in." Before I start screaming.

"Are you going to be all right out here alone?"

"I'll be fine."

He escaped into the house, and she let her head thump down onto the railing.

He stood leaning against the door, breathing as if he'd just escaped from Voldemort again. Congratulations, Potter, you great prat. That's got to be a record. Half an hour in and you've already gone and ruined the girl's perfect New Year.



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