The Burrow, a ramshackle house just outside Ottery St. Catchpole, it's seven floors, hastily stacked on top of each other, bits sticking out haphazardly all over the place.
Muggles that saw it would swear, jokingly, that it was held together by magic. Wizzarding folk, on the other hand, would know that that is exactly what is holding it together. A cold biting wind flows and weaves its way around the outside of the building, as if seeking a way in, drawing a fresh flurry of snow with it, which slowly makes its way down to the ground, adding to the drifts which lay all around, the countryside blanketed in pure, unbroken fields of white.
Two figures, deeply asleep in one of the upper rooms, are oblivious to the cold whipping around them, due to both the enchantments that keep the cold out, as well as their shared body heat, from their bodies pressed together in a comforting embrace. The girl on the left of the bed, the youngest of the pair is sleeping with her face inches from her companion's, her hands clasped in front of her chest, as if in prayer, her normally neat, straight red hair, now splayed out on the pillow, forming a deep crimson halo, encircling her head.
Wrapped around her, ensuring that their bodies stay connected during the night, are a pair of long, supple arms, clasped together just level with the base of her spine. Their bodies are touching in the way of people completely at ease with the idea of physical intimacy, be it sexual or comforting: legs intertwined, snaking around the others so much so that you cannot tell where one begins and another ends; torsos, from navel to breasts, completely in contact with the other.
One of the figures shifts slightly, her legs tightening, pulling the other against her more tightly, breasts touching a little more firmly. Neither figure stirs however, remaining sound asleep, safe and comfortable with each other.
Until a knock at the bedrooms door shatters the silence, drawing the red-head awake. With a groan, she glanced at the clock on the mantelpiece, struggling to make out the numbers on the dial through the early morning light. Course she could have used her wand, a simple Lumos spell would have given her enough light to see by, but that would mean leaving the warmth of the bed and her companion to get it from the table beside her bed.
Of course, she has the feeling that she will have to leave it soon enough anyway, but she doesn't want to think about that yet.
Not yet. She groans again, as she makes out the hands position. Eight o clock. Eight o clock on a Saturday morning. Far too early. I call out anyway, figuring that it could only one person at this hour.
"Come in, mum." The door creaks open, and, as I'd guessed, my mother walks in. She's already dressed, few layers though, so she is obviously planning to spend the next few hours inside, so she's probably going to ask me to do a few errands for her, most likely outside, in the cold.
I'm right again. I listen as she speaks, listing the things she needs help with. Could have been worse, I decide. Just a quick trip down to Ottery, pick up a few essentials, then head back. I don't mind being asked. I'm really the only one she can ask. What with Dad and Percy at work at the Ministry most of the day, helping to sort out the chaos caused by Voldemort's take over and Fred and George busy with their shop in Diagon Alley.
She'd never think of asking Harry, even if he was here. But he's not arriving until later today. She could ask Ron of course, if she doesn't mind hearing my brother gripe about it for the rest of the day. No, it is just much easier for her to ask me. As she leaves, I have to face a difficult task. "Hermione." I whisper in her, shaking her shoulder gently. "Hermione, time to get up." Slowly, she stirs, but instead of getting up, she turns over, burying her face in the soft pillow, her chestnut hair, thick and bushy, hiding her from me.
"Urrgh. Gin, it's too early." "I know, but mom's making breakfast for us, then I have to run a few errands. You could come with me. Hit the shops, grab a coffee somewhere." He turns back over, her eyes, a little darker than her hair, meet with my bright green ones. Her eyes capture me, always have and always will. She might think that they are plain, dull. Not me. Her eyes, like the rest of her, are beautiful.
At first glance, they are simply solid brown, but as I look closer, I can see strands of three different shades laced into them. I've often thought that's like Hermione all over.
Most people only take a quick look, only see the plain package, not what lies deeper in it. Like those who only see a bookworm. They can't see the strong, brave, caring woman that is at the very core of her.
They can't see the real Hermione, the Hermione I fell in love with. The Hermione that loves me. She sits up, not breaking eye contact. "Sure. What's it like outside?" I toss the covers aside, reluctantly. The room, despite its heating, still feels a little cold after the warmth of the bed.
Good thing I've got warm clothes on, then. Both Hermione and I like thick pyjamas during winter, usually a heavy shirt and trousers. If it gets really cold, I'll put a thick nightdress over that. Today, though, I've gone for plain black, heavy cotton shirt and trousers. Grabbing a jumper from my chest of drawers, my favourite one from a few Christmases ago, pink with a my name in white letters across the chest, I slip my slippers onto my feet.
Despite the spells that keep the cold out, parts of the house can be freezing if they aren't heated. The floors, first thing in the morning, can be like walking on blocks of ice.
I pull the curtains aside, revealing the white vista. "Hey," I grin, taking in the sight before me, "It snowed again over night." Before we went to bed, there had just been a light covering on the ground. Now it had been replaced by deep drifts. Hermione, as used to this house as I am, given all the winters, and summers, she has spent here, has dressed appropriately with deep blue dressing gown over her grey sweatshirt and jogging bottoms.
Fluffy socks, grey as well, are keeping her feet warm. She slides alongside me, linking her arms around my waist, as we both stare out of the window, taking in the magical view. Down in the kitchen, Mrs Weasley gives us both a kiss on the cheek, before directing us to the table.
As we take our seats, I notice that Ron isn't here. I share a look with Ginny, her brother is definitely not a morning person. If Mrs Weasley didn't drag him about of bed almost every morning, he'd probably be in there till gone midday.
Speak of the devil, she places a plate of sausages, fried bread, mushrooms, scrambled egg and fried potatoes in front of each of us, before stamping back upstairs, obviously intent on making good on that.
Ignoring that, we both tuck in. "So," I ask, pausing with a forkful of egg halfway to my mouth, "What does your mum want you to pick up?" Ginny shrugs, "Just a couple of things for Christmas dinner. Not a lot. We've got ages until Harry gets here, so we can take our time, really." I finish my breakfast, stacking both mine and Ginny's plates in the sink, before returning to her. Not returning to my seat, but joining her on hers. Or rather, in her lap, sitting across her legs, my arms draped around her shoulders.
I lean in, my head moving so that my lips almost touch hers, "I can think of a way to kill some time." Ginny's smirking a little, I can hear it in her voice, even if I can't see her mouth, "Oh, really? What did you have in mind?" She tries to act so innocent, and she does have an innocent face, so sweet and open, but she knows what I'm thinking.
She's probably thinking the same things. I know she is, I can hear her breathing quickening, as images run through her mind. My voice drops a little deeper, a little more seductive, "Oh, I don't know. A quiet corner somewhere, just you, me, a nice roaring fire.
Warm, very warm.
You might not need all those layers you'd have to put on." I don't know what's in Ginny's head, but if her soft moan is any indication, she's enjoying it very much.
I do know that I like what my mind s eye sees. "Mmmm. That sounds good. But." Whatever Ginny had been about to say, I never find out. "OI. Must you two do that." "Good morning, Ron." I say, without having to turn around to see who is speaking. Even though we ended our relationship on good terms, we both agreed it wasn't working, he still gets bent out of shape a little by me being with Ginny.
I remember how he was in our sixth year, when any boy so much as looked at her. I guess the same applies to a girl. Maybe 'cause she's his sister. I don't know. It doesn't bother us. Doesn't stop Ginny using it as an excuse to tease him a bit. "Oh, yeah? What about you, when Lavender visited last month? You couldn't keep your hands, or should I say your face, off her. Every time, I walk into a room, there you are, glued at the lips." She stands so quickly, that I have to jump up to prevent myself from failing over.
Grabbing my hand, she drags me out of the room, before can come up with a retort, leaving him red-faced and embarrassed. Hearing mum moving about above us, I shout up that we'll grab a quick shower before going out.
Entering the bathroom, I lock the door behind me. Hermione, having already undressed, is standing under the shower head, slicking her hair back, before working a handful of shampoo into it. As much as I'd love to be under there with her, our shower is mounted over one end of the bathtub and there isn't really room for 2 people to fit under the spray.
Still I content myself with the knowledge, as my clothes join hers on the floor, that we'll have plenty of time for that later. And with my little fantasy that it's my hands running over her body, as well as the water. As soon as she finishes, I take her place, giving my hair the same treatment, as Hermione towels herself off. It doesn't take as long for me. My hair doesn't get as tangled as Hermione's does during the night.
Rinsing the last traces of the suds from my head, I shut off the spray, stepping out into the towel Hermione is holding up for me. Now dry, we return to my room, dressing for the cold we know to expect. Layers of clothing is the key, nothing too thick, but not too thin either.
Underwear not included, we are each wearing a jeans, T-shirt and a sweatshirt, plus a Hogwarts jumper each, black with our House badge on the right breast, that of a gold lion on a red shield. The house feels uncomfortably warm now, but we'll need all this when we get outside, and more.
So on top of that we add scarves, gloves, hats and coats, blue for Hermione, deep green for me. The coats are fur lined, for that extra bit of warmth. Molly comes down to see us off, fusing over our clothes; checking we have our scarves, fastening coats a little higher around the collars. "Geroff, mum." Ginny complains, as Molly pulls her hat down so it covers her ears.
She never likes it when her mother fusses. Neither of us can really blame her. Not after what happened over the previous year, all the people that were killed, or nearly killed, or could have been killed. Ginny and I included. Now satisfied that we are wrapped up warmly enough, she bustles us out. The snow, even here right next to the house, comes up over my ankles, making me glad that we both agreed to Molly's suggestion that we take our wellingtons, instead of regular shoes.
They would have been soaked through before we had even gone any distance. The fresh snow crunches under out feet. No other people have come this way, so the surface of the snow has not been disturbed.
It always feels a shame to have to trek through it, but there will be more snow over night. When it snows at the Burrow, it's never a one off event, usually we get snow for a least a week.
The wind is bitingly cold, I can feel my cheeks going red. As red as Ginny's look. I extend my left arm and she slides under it, letting me wrap it around her, as much so that I can have an excuse to cuddle her, as to keep her warm. I don't think she'd object to either reason, as her right arm attaches itself to my waist. We trek along at a leisurely pace, just listening to the sounds around us. Most couples, I think, would feel the need to try and find something to talk about, just to have something to talk about.
Not us though, if we have something to say, then we say it. If not, we prefer to lose ourselves in the presence of the other, simply enjoying the fact that she is there. This comfortable silence continues until we actually reach Otteryquickly grabbing the items we need; just some vegetables.
What's Christmas dinner without spuds, parsnips, carrots and sprouts anyway.
Mum likes to get them as close as possible to the day, so they are as fresh as can be. I grab Hermione's arm suddenly, as an idea pops into my head. "Hey, Hermione, do you want to take a walk somewhere? I know this great place." "But doesn't your mother want us back soon?" "Nah, its fine. Come on." Ginny maintains her grip on my arm, as she walks away, dragging me with her. If I thought the view from Ginny's room was spectacular, the one she has led me to is even better. A scene almost right off the front of a Christmas card stretches out in front of us.
We stand at the top of a hill, a landscape before us, covered in snow. The fields, both crops and grassland, are covered in deep drifts.
The trees and bushes have a light dusting on their tops, almost like someone has sprinkled icing sugar over them. Suddenly, something cold and wet hits my neck, bits of whatever it was falling down my collar. I think I know what it was though. I turn to Ginny, her right hand extended in front of her, her glove covered in small white flecks. She is grinning.
She seems to be pleased with herself. I let a grin of my own slide across my face, watching hers falter. She probably expects me to throw a snowball back at her. I don't. I run at her, instead. But those Quidditch reflexes of hers, damn them, kick in and she dodges away from me.
I don't let that stop me, as I tear after her. She has to work through the drifts, while I can follow the path she has already made. It is this difference that allows me to close the gap quickly, diving at her as I get near enough.
My arms wrap around her waist as she turns, trying to dodge away from me again, my face pressed into her chest. Sadly, neither of us notices the edge behind her. Her foot slips, then the other and we go tumbling down, rolling over and over, until we come to rest against a large snowdrift at the bottom.
She's laughing, as am I, so she must be okay, but I ask anyway. "Sorry. You okay?" "Yeah. A few bumps maybe." I sigh.
I had been a little concerned. I could say how relieved I am. But, with the sudden proximity to her and the combined adrenaline and relief flooding through me, my body kinda reacts on its own. My lips brush hers, gently at first, then more deeply, as my eyes close, letting me concentrate only on the kiss. I know that Ginny will have done the same. I notice nothing else, not the wind whistling around us, not the cold biting at my nose, not the snow hitting my face.
My eyes snap openas I realise what I'm feeling. The snow is falling again, much more heavily this time. My coat and hat are already covered with flakes. We have to get back home, now. I stand, pulling Ginny to her feet and together we run. The snow is really, really coming down now. We've never been out in a blizzard and hope never to be, but this must be similar to what it's like.
We can hardly see, just flakes flying in front of our eyes. The Burrow is almost a blur, just a large black shape, but we've never been so glad to see it. Pushing the door open, we hurry inside, not really looking where we are going. I collide with someone's back, as Hermione slams the door, keeping the snow and cold out. I catch a glimpse of black hair, meaning that it can only person.
Shaking the worst of the snow off me, I pull him into a hug, as he turns around. "Harry, did you just get here?" He shakes his head, Hermione takes my place, hugging him as well, "No.
I got here a few minutes after you left, actually. Molly said I just missed you." As he said that, mum appears, following Harry out of the kitchen. "Welcome back girls. Looks like you got back just in time." She takes a quick look outside, as I hand her the bag we had taken turns carrying back, where the blizzard is continuing in all its fury.
"Ron's upstairs, I've got him cleaning his room, since you'll have to share it, Harry. But you three go into the sitting room. Your father has just left work. He's going to meet Fred and George, then head back here." The sitting room is, like the rest of the house, filled with Christmas decorations.
Tinsel around the walls, and across the ceiling, a bright mix of red, gold and silver. The central point of the decoration is the Christmas tree. Fred and George brought this one from a dealer in London and had it shipped down here. The tree is enchanted, nestled amongst the baubles and tiny snowflakes, made of pure crystal, are points of light, not sitting on the tree, but floating around it.
They flicker, either winking in and out of existence or changing colour. A incredibly detailed star sits on the top, traced with stars and moons, cast of what looks like gold. Not gold plated, or gold coloured, but actually made of solid gold. The curtains are drawn, blocking out all of the natural light. The lighting being provided by a score of candles dotted around the edge of the room.
This, coupled with the roaring fire, gives the room a comforting warmth. Hermione takes one of the arm chairs around the tree, her arms wrapping around me, as I settle into her lap. Harry takes the sofa on the back wall, stretching out along it.
He glances at us, a small smile touching his lips. He's never reacted the same way Ron does, even though we dated a bit, before he and Cho got together. Unlike Ron, he's actually openly happy for us. As I sit here, my mind wanders back to the things Hermione said earlier, about a nice roaring fire, a quiet place and layers of clothes, or lack of. The kiss we shared, back at the hilltop, still feels fresh on my lips, and in my mind, along with thoughts of where it could have led.
The image of Hermione slowly pulling my shirt over my head is hard to ignore and I feel a sudden rush of warmth in my body, very low in my body. I'd like to continue what we started, but with Harry here, I really can't do anything about it. As comfortable as he is with me and Hermione, I'm not sure how he'd react if we started making out across the room from him.
Not to mention the fact that mum is just in the next room, she might not like that either. Hermione senses what I'm thinking somehow, maybe my breathing speed up or something. Or maybe she's just thinking the same thing as me. Either way, she whispers in my ear, "Later. Think of it as an early Christmas present." I check on Harry, his eyes are closed, I think he's asleep, so I take a chance, whispering back.
"Really? Am I the present? Or are you my present?" "You're my present, of course. And I'm going to take a long time unwrapping you." Fred and George walk in then, whacking Harry on the foot.
He grins, as he catches sight of the twins, moving his feet so they can sit down. So, he wasn't asleep after all. Or not very deeply, anyway. "How's business?", Harry asks, sitting up, a more comfortable position that having his legs crushed against his chest. "Manic. The place was heaving, right up 'til closing time. So many people doing last minute shopping." "Yeah, we almost had to hex the last few, just to get them out. I guess more people feel in the mood for a joke now that you know who is gone.
Which is good for us." Ron, Arthur and Molly follow a few minutes later, Molly carrying a tray with seven glasses of mulled wine on it.
She hands one out to each of us, keeping the last for herself. So we just spend the evening as a family, chatting, listening to the radio, Fred, George, Ron and Harry playing a vicious game of exploding snap.
In the middle of all this, Hermione and Ginny are happy just to sit and be with each other. We have a late supper, then decided to head to bed.
Bidding everyone goodnight, we climb the stairs, making straight for Ginny's room. As soon as the door is closed behind us, I lead Ginny to the bed.
I kiss her neck gently once, before raising her arms above her head, pulling her shirt and sweatshirt over it in one smooth movement, tossing it away. I pop the button on Ginny's jeans, letting her slide them down her legs and kick them away, as I unclasp her bra, getting that out of the way as well.
Leaving her standing in only her white panties, I grab the sleep shirt she had worn last night, tossing it to her. As she slips it on, I quickly strip my clothes off, throwing them to all corners of the room, until I'm in the same clothed state as Ginny, covering my body with my night shirt.
Ginny has already climbed into bed, leaving the covers down around her ankles. I slide alongside her, wrapping the covers around us. My lips find hers, gently caressing them. I feel her kiss back, her arms pressing into my back ,linking together. Not a sexual kiss, full of urge and desire.
But a soft, intimate kiss, a physical manifestation of our love. As we continue to kiss, breaking contact briefly, so we can breathe, I place a hand on her head, running my fingers through her hair, feeling the illustrious strands play over my skin. Ginny's eyes are closed, losing herself in the soft caress. Just focusing completely on the sensations flowing over her head.
I pull back, just gazing at Ginny, at her peaceful relaxed face. Her eyes crack open, as she realises that I have stopped my caress.
Her hands find their way to my sides, pulling me back to her. Her beautiful eyes are pleading with me to continue, as one hand moves to stroke the inside of my leg, first the right, then the left. Her touch feels so good, that it's hard to concentrate, but I do manage to continue my caress, tipping her head back, so my mouth can reach her neck, running up and down it with soft touches from my lips and tongue.
Ginny's eyes have closed again, her hand still pressed against my leg, but not moving. She's tired, I can tell. "You should go to sleep, baby." I whisper, as I turn onto my side, letting Ginny snuggle against me, pressing her back into me.
She keeps her eyes closed, as my hand returns its attention to her hair. Her breathing becomes slow and deep, sleep is only moments away. I whisper in her ear again, "Merry Christmas, Ginny." She would reply, but she is now asleep.
I can feel sleep creeping up on me, as well and I am more than happy to embrace it, as I am embracing Ginny. Happy and content, I fall asleep with her in my arms. I awake early the next morning, the sun is only just rising, the darkness outside only broken by a thin sliver of light. Hermione is still asleep, her arms still encircling me. I place my hand on hers, stroking it absent mindedly, as I catch sight of the items that have been placed at the end of the bed, just a few presents, mixed together in a jumbled pile.
I can see my present to Hermione sticking out of the bottom. Mum must have dropped them in, either after we went to sleep last night or early this morning. I grin in half concealed excitement. Since they're here, we might as well open them.
I sit up, reaching for the pile, quickly rifling through it. The action of breaking free of Hermione's grip has woken her up. Present in hand, I crawl back to her.
"Merry Christmas, Hermione." I say, giving her a quick kiss, before handing her the small parcel. Her eyes light up as she unwraps it, pulling the paper away from the long, black box inside.
She gently works the lid off, gasping at what she sees inside. A new peacock feather quill. Hers is several years old and she's been saying for the past few terms how it's wearing out and she should really get a new one.
I wanted to get her something that she would keep with her every day, that would make her think of me. But not something decorative, I wanted something that she would use, something practical, but fun.
Hermione places the box down softly on the bed, the lid securely on again, before turning to the pile of presents herself. I guess she is looking for my present. She finds it, under a large, squashy parcel that I recognise as one of mums hand knitted jumpers. She eagerly takes it, literally ripping the paper off to get at it. The box inside is smaller than the one she gave me, short and square, like one you'd keep jewellery in.
Which is exactly what Ginny finds when she opens it. A pendant, cast in bright, solid silver, in the shape of a seven pointed star, untarnished despite its age.
She lifts it out, letting it dangle from the chain, as she stares at it, taking in the details, particularly the runes in the centre. A large, central rune, with a series of smaller ones around the edge. Those ones are so small that I can't make them out, but the larger one I can and can translate it. It is an ancient rune, from a language that hasn't been used for several thousand years.
Ginny can't though, ancient runes was never her best subjects. So I tell her it is a number, the number seven. Her fingers trace the flowing lines, taking in this information. For her, the seventh Weasley child, that number has its own meaning. She's always felt like she was the last, that she can do nothing that hasn't been done already.
I don't agree. The number seven is magically significant and a seventh child of a wizard family is equally significant. Most people think it's just an old superstition, but I can't deny my feelings that Ginny is the most special to me, out of all of her family.
Her talent, her heart, it's compassion, it's love, even her determination and anger, are so powerful that they could almost be physical. Yes, her brothers are talented too, in their own way. Look at Fred and George, not the most academic students, but they took what they learned and made some pretty complicated magic and potions for their joke shop.
Even Ron, when he puts his mind to it, has done some difficult magic. But Ginny could outshine them all. She's only just begun to tap her potential. That's what I wanted this gift to symbolise, something to remind her of that.
I think she's grasped the meaning, if the watery mist in her eyes is any indication. I take the chain from her hands, opening the clasp, as I place it around her neck, fastening it again, letting it hang down over her breasts. I wipe the tears from the corner of her eyes, as she turns to face me, more flow out to replace them.
But that doesn't matter, as we kiss again. Nothing matters, the kiss consuming and blocking out all concerns. The rest of the day will be spent with the Ginny's family, but this time, right now, these few hours, they are ours, about nothing but us.
I smile, even as the kiss continues. I think this is going to be a Merry Christmas.