A blast of cold wind whips up the street and makes you both shiver. You pull her closer to you, but not before brushing off the flakes of snow that have settled on her nose. The roughness of your gloves makes her wrinkle her nose in playful disgust. Her eyes tell another story however, and you can't resist a grin as you both chuckle and make your way down the snow-covered streets.
You had initially thought her suggestion to go Christmas shopping today was a joke, especially as she had that playful look in her eyes. It had been snowing continually for the last day and a half; nobody in their right mind would choose to go out in this weather.
Maybe you weren't in your right mind, but she always had a way of persuading you, and now as you walked snuggled close to each other, you couldn't think of any place you would rather be.
Something catches her eye, and the two of you stop in front of a small shop window. The upper floor of the building juts precariously over the pavement; the shop opposite is almost as bad. So that what is visible of the leaden sky blends into the snowy roof-tops seamlessly, and together the wood and stone construction provide ample shelter from the snow.
Peering through the distorting imperfections of the small-paned window, you see her eyes light up when she spots something that appeals to her. Eventually she tears her eyes away from one particular item, and you follow her gaze as it wanders over the rest of the display and turns to you. Your heart skips a beat as she pulls you even closer.
"Come on, that's enough window shopping today. We still have to get my git of a brother his present, and then you can take me for that food you promised."
With that, she pulls on your arm and drags you off down the street. You steer her discretely so that she will avoid the slush. You know how much she prefers to step in the fresh snow.
"Don't you mean your git of a brother and his lovely wife?" You smile as you remember your best friends' both finally tying the knot the previous month, on the only day the sun shone in November.
"I told you last week what we had bought her!" she replies. "You know sometimes you have a brain like a sieve!"
"Hey!" you reply, pulling away to feign being upset.
"Which is one of the reasons I love you, you daft git." She playfully whacks you on the shoulder. It may have been playful, but you've taken gentler hits from a Bludger, "But if you don't stop pouting, and bring your body warmth back over here this instant, there will be consequences..." Now she's eyeing you meaningfully, but you have a plan.
"Actually... I tell you what, love, why don't you get yourself in there." You nod your head toward the inn across the street and start to push her in that direction. "Get yourself warmed up and I'll run ahead and get your brother's gift. It shouldn't take me more than half an hour or so." Then, with a wicked grin, you press some money into her gloved hand, kiss her cheek and add, "You might even have decided what you want to eat by then..."
Before she can respond, you push her through the door, ignoring her threats and complaints. There is something you need to get and you really don't want her with you when you get it.
The thick door whoomphs closed in your face, shutting you back in the chill of the late afternoon. You hurry along, adroitly avoiding the less sure-footed shoppers until you reach your destination.
The old shop is very dim inside, and the man behind the counter looks like he has been there since the day the shop opened. He's very helpful and with no dithering on your part you're soon leaving his emporium, tapping your cloak pocket, where her Christmas gifts are now concealed.
As you step back out into the street, you are almost overwhelmed by the biting cold, and you instantly miss her presence by your side. So you hurry down the street, pulling your cloak collar up around your ears, in a futile attempt to ward off the chilly wind attacking your neck with its icy fingers. You still have to get her brother a gift before you can rejoin her, and enter the warmth of your favourite inn.
The chill hurries you along, and you hope the thing you have in mind hasn't been bought by somebody else.
You click the latch, push open the door and step inside, and the slightly dim interior beckons you –nay, welcomes you- and, as you walk further in, the warmth envelops you like a blanket and soon, the bitter cold of outside will soon be a distant memory. Grumbling as your vision suddenly disappears, you remove your glasses using the end of your scarf to clear the lens'. There's the aroma of home-cooked food drifting in from the kitchen along with the hint of spices so subtle you could have half-convinced yourself you've imagined it.
As you remove your coat, and start to unwind the long scarf her mother knitted for you from round your neck, you spot her. The clever witch has claimed the booth nearest the open log-fire. The one with the tall, unforgiving back and the wide board for a seat, that, if it were not softened with aged cushions, would require a discrete Cushioning charm to prevent your buttocks going to sleep before you had time to enjoy your drink. Yet more importantly, it offers a surprising amount of privacy. She catches your attention with her grin and indicates she wants another drink.
You approach the worn oak counter, and the gleaming display of glasses ranged behind it catches your eye. One of the reasons you both like this place is that it oozes character and history. How many people have stood here over the years; the arguments, the possible conversations, the multitude of thoughts, discussions, romances -and here you grin and blush slightly at the memory- as you stand and wait for the barman to serve you, you can almost feel them.
He takes your order and, whilst you wait for it, you take a moment to look around. You can't believe your luck that you found this place. The Muggle world wasn't like the magical one, in that pubs and inns like this were getting increasingly hard to find. It's simply more evidence of 'Muggle Madness' according to Ron, and you can't help but agree.
So finding this place had been a real boon. Here was somewhere they could go out, relax and feel at home, without the still almost-constant attention you would get if you walked into a wizarding pub, and yet the patrons could be just as eccentric, none more so than Old Matt at the end of the bar, who grins toothlessly at you. After enquiring after his health and buying him a generous shot of Bruichladdich, you pick up your drinks and make your way over to the secluded spot at the back of the room where she is waiting for you. You place the drinks on the table. It, too, is showing signs of age, but you prefer to think of it as signs of 'life'; it's not just an object. It has a tale to tell, and that's the way it should be.
Before you take your seat, you give her a quick kiss on the lips and put on your best innocent face.
"Just what have you been up to?" she demands, arms folded across her chest. You know she's not really angry with you, as this is one of the 'little games' you like to play with each other.
"Nothing, love. What would make you think that?" You aim for nonchalance in your tone, but avoid eye contact as you're having a hard enough time keeping your face straight; and besides, you know the rules of this little game.
"Well, pushing me in here -and you will pay for that by the way- for a start, and that stupid grin or your face for seconds."
"Talking of seconds, " you reply, "have you ordered the food yet, I'm starving!" You hear her huff and have to swallow the snigger trying to escape your throat.
"Stop changing the subject, or I'll hex you so bad you won't be able to eat!"
Having been on the receiving end of her hexes more than once, you still flinch even though you know she isn't really angry with you.
"Ha! Got you, you always were a chicken," There's a triumphant note in her voice that tells you she got the upper hand yet again.
Before you have chance to respond she leans across the table and the roaring fire, and noise of the inn slowly fades away as she lightly presses her tongue against your lips and deepens her kiss. Your hand reaches across and intertwines in her hair as you return the favour, and your tongue begins to explore her mouth. You can taste the mulled wine she had been drinking earlier, and the spices tingle slightly still. You break off the kiss, but before you pull away you rest your foreheads together and in a breathless and hushed voice only she could hope to hear, you tell her exactly what she means to you.
At last you settle back in to into your chair and take a sip of rare Islay Malt that Rupert keeps hidden away and serves only to his regulars; you don't think you could be any happier than you do feel right now.
As you look over your glass, rolling the peaty flavour over your tongue, you meet a pair of smouldering eyes looking straight at you.
"Well, whoever it was that brought me here, Mr Potter, will have to take me home," she says in a low voice. The kind of voice that sends chills along your skin and matches the fire in her eyes.
"But, Mrs Potter, I'm still hungry," you reply. You are, yet, at the same time, your appetite has become less important.
She leans right over to whisper in your ear, "I know." Only two words, but they contain whole worlds of emotion. You don't know if it's the response they evoke or the breath over your ear that sends the shiver down your back.
A/N: You have bringandfly to thank/blame for this fic. It began as a simple post in my LJ about finding somewhere to write for NaNoWriMo, she made a comment that spawned a plot bunny and here we are! She was also the first to read it and a lot of her comments and improvements are contained with in, so if this is any good she deserves some of the praise.
Thanks to Allie who won't have been expecting this to Beta so soon after getting the first part of my new chaptered fic to work her magic on.