She broke off the kiss with this definitive statement and backed away.
It was these times Harry treasured most—when Ginny sneaked up on him, smiling, and brightened up his life, or at least his life at the moment.
"Well, I ought to," Harry replied, "I've been eating one." The red-striped candy had quickly become his favourite Christmas treat at the Burrow. He brandished his half-eaten candy cane like a wand. "Accio Ginny!"
She giggled and took a step backwards into the wall behind her. Harry and Ginny were again taking advantage of the abandoned upstairs hallway.
"Seems as though your charms aren't quite up to par—too many Christmas spirits, perhaps?"
"Don't you mean ‘too much Christmas spirit'?" Harry stepped closer.
"No, I mean spirits— mulled apple cider, alcoholic eggnog…" She took a step forward to meet him.
He chortled and cupped her face with his hand. "You're terrible."
She smiled sweetly. "And you wouldn't have me any other way."
He leaned in.
They jumped apart at the sudden booming bellow from downstairs. Harry recognized Kingsley Shacklebolt's voice in the fireplace.
"Wasn't that Kingsley—"
"Sh!" She held her hand up, focusing on Mr. Weasley's prompt footfalls below. Harry watched her bright hair fall into her face as she listened intently.
Suddenly, she winced and bit her lip.
"What?" Harry asked, wishing he had half as much experience eavesdropping as she.
"Wait a tick." Ginny listened a minute more, then shut her eyes, sighed, and looked up again at Harry.
"Guess who's not going to be spending Christmas Eve at home this year." She flatly revealed.
Harry grimaced. "Attack?"
Ginny nodded. "Two. Didn't say where. They're calling in Bill and Dad—they need all the help they can get." She sighed. "I'd better go down to talk to Mum, she'll be disappointed. It was going to be a real family Christmas… She gets so worried, Harry…" Ginny met his eyes, and Harry saw she was just as disappointed as her mother.
He pulled her into a hug. "After the war, Gin, she'll have all the time in the world. We're all going to make it." I hope.
She ended the hug and smiled. "Would you go tell Ron and Hermione? I expect they're upstairs in his room, so make sure to knock first." She winked and turned away.
She looked back.
"Before you go to bed, could you come and find me?" he asked, raking a hand through his hair. "I'd like to give you your present tonight, without anyone else around."
"Sure, I'll meet you by the fireplace," she said, and headed downstairs.
The fire was slowly dying out in the living room. Harry sat by the fireplace and watched the embers fade.
It had been a long night, and Mrs. Weasley had, indeed, been upset about Bill and Mr. Weasley having to leave—but not as upset as everyone had been about the attacks. It seemed like Harry found a new reason to loathe Lord Voldemort every day.
Ginny appeared at the end of the settee he was lounging on. She held out a rectangular, green gift. "Merry Christmas," she spoke softly.
Harry took the present in one hand and her fingers in another. He pulled her down and kissed her on the cheek. "Merry Christmas to you, too," he murmured.
He passed her a small white package with a red bow. "You first," she said.
He obliged, tearing into the paper. He first found a few candy canes, at which he grinned and promptly stuck one in his mouth. But the next part took him completely by surprise.
"The Boy Who Cried Erkling?" He looked up at Ginny.
She grinned. "Go on, see the rest!"
There were four children's books—The Boy Who Cried Erkling, Cliodne's Daughter, How Many Knuts? and My Favourite Quaffle.
Harry was stunned. "What— I—"
Ginny laughed. "Since you didn't have the childhood you ought to have had, Harry," she explained, "I wanted to give you some books of mine from when I was younger."
He grinned. "These are brilliant. Thank you…" He gathered the books into a pile and put them on the side table. "Now you."
I hope she likes it.
She tore off the paper and opened the box. "What's this?"
"It's a mirror…you can communicate through it. I got it so that I could…well…" She's going to be angry. Or worse, hurt.
"…so I could make sure you're safe from time to time. Look—see—I have one too—" He held out his own handheld mirror, a copy of hers. "You just say the other person's name."
He waited for a reaction. She was staring at the mirror with wide-eyes. "To tell you the truth, I got one for Ron and Hermione too. You can talk to them through here also…" he trailed off. She hates it.
"Oh…Harry…" In one swift movement, the mirror was on the table and Ginny's arms were around his neck. Her voice sounded constricted. "Harry…"
She said his name with such emotion he shivered. He rubbed her back until she pulled away.
"I could have asked for nothing, absolutely nothing, more for Christmas than this." She gave a small smile. "You gave this to Ron and Hermione, too?"
"Yes…" Harry hesitated. Is that bad, or good? "Do you like it, then?"
Ginny obviously sensed his confusion. "Harry, you giving this to me shows that you care what happens to me."
Harry nodded. "Of course I do. Very much."
"And now you've given it to Ron and Hermione too… I feel like I'm almost on an equal level with them. It feels wonderful."
She crawled over and into his lap, placing her head on his shoulder. Her warmth enveloped him and he wanted to stay there, with Ginny, forever.
"You'll be hard-pressed to beat this gift next year," she giggled drowsily. The warmth and late hour was beginning to affect them both.
"No, I'll just give you one of my candy canes, and that would be giving a lot," he chuckled.
"You would do that for me?" She joked.
Harry paused and began to stroke her hair. "In a heartbeat."
The weight of his words permeated the room. It was silent, and both dwelled in their own thoughts until Ginny spoke up.
"I really care about you, Harry."
"I really care about you, too."
"Thank you for the gift." Her arms tightened around him.
He kissed the top of her head. "Thank you for everything."
A big Thank You to Allie, who did this at the last second, Julia, who fixed my split infinitive :o), and Rachel, who begged and pleaded for ANY Christmasfic to be written.