Ginny pressed her fingers against the cold pane of her bedroom window. She had lost track of how long she had been sitting there studying the flurry of snowflakes drifting across her field of vision. Aimless, and apparently unaffected by gravity, they tossed, rising and falling with the wind until coming to rest on one of the barren branches in the garden. Occasionally one would land on the mullion in front of her nose. Sticking to its edge and adding to the collection, crystal by crystal, until the snow became something that no one wanted to go out in—well, at least, not anytime soon. Her fingers left marks of condensation on the glass pane, melting only a little of what had collected there.
It was cold. The window was cold. Or maybe it was just the thick layer of snow outside that made her feel cold. She shivered, pulling her hands up into the sleeves of one of Ron’s too-small sweaters, and tucked them under her folded arms.
A fluttering movement outside caused her attention to snap to the lane.
Taking flight from a scraggy bush was a black raven, its departure clearly visible against the white canvas that spread before her. Her chest fell and she returned to sit on her school trunk, elbows forward on her knees and nose nearly touching the glass, gazing out of the window.
The garden slumbered peacefully—the snow on the lane still pristine.
The hovering cloud cover hung not so thick that the winter sun couldn’t be seen glowing through it in the west, casting a pinkish hue across the landscape. The lamps flickered on in the hall behind her were soon followed by the fairy lights that framed her dresser mirror, illuminating her otherwise dusky room. She could hear the distant clanking and clatter of pots on the stove and knew that her mother was cooking.
Of course she’s cooking…it’s Christmas Eve.
Ginny pulled back from the window. She should be downstairs helping, but she was hesitant to leave her station. She had a perfect view of the front gate.
Charlie’s belly laugh caught her ear, followed by George’s bellow of triumph and Bill’s groan of agony. They must be playing chess. Turning her head, she could just hear the light tinkle of Fleur’s voice and the pleasant laugh of Angelina and she knew that she wasn’t needed in the kitchen. They would all be help enough, if they weren’t already assigned specific tasks. And even though she hadn’t said anything to her mother, she was certain that her mum somehow knew where she was.
Hermione had said that they would not be in contact, or at least very infrequently, if at all. But maybe…she had said…maybe, if all went well…they would be able to make it home for Christmas. Somehow, deep inside, she knew that they would come. That he would come. And that it would be tonight. She hoped in time for dinner—but then, any time would do. She wasn’t really picky.
She glanced up at the twilit sky. There. She spotted one, only one, shining faintly through the dusky sky.
Closing her eyes she made her wish, as she had done every night since he had left last summer. Feeling incredibly childish but expectant nonetheless, she opened her eyes.
The lane still lie vacant…white and empty.
She looked down at her frayed jeans, fingering a loose string. It wasn’t so bad to wish…to dream…after all, it was far worse not to. How dreadful to give up hope. That would be just the thing that Tom Riddle wanted, wouldn’t it? Ginny swallowed at the thought.
All the death and destruction…
It wouldn’t be hard to give up, not really…but yet…hope still lingered. She knew that wishing on stars was something that only children did, certainly not girls teetering on the edge womanhood, however—bruises and battered bones aside—it still felt right, somehow.
Perhaps she never would grow up. Ginny sighed. Sitting at her window—waiting—was certainly making her feel as if she was eleven again. She tugged on the loose thread, slightly too hard, before tucking her hands into the warmth of her crossed arms and returning to look out the window.
Once more, waiting.
There. A movement. Faint voices.
It took her only a moment to focus. Her heart picked up speed, scarcely believing what she saw in front of her. Three figures tromping through the snow, down the lane, toward the gate. My gate. She stood up from the window, her heart pumping so hard that she could feel its rapid thumping in her arms still tightly tucked across her chest.
With a rush of air, she spotted him. He was walking behind Ron and Hermione. The top of his dark head peppered with snow. She couldn’t see his face.
Ron was limping. Mum would go spare when she saw that…but he was laughing…at something Hermione had said while ruffling her hair. Hermione was tucked under his arm, her curls exploding out from under the knitted edge of her stocking cap. Her face glowed as she looked up at him. Ginny smiled; limp or no limp, Ron was fine.
Then he pushed past Ron to open the gate. Her breath hitched as she took him in. He wasn’t limping…in fact, he looked healthy…happy as he unhooked the latch. His scarf tightly wrapped around his neck, his dark hair and shoulders flecked with snow and his glasses a sharp contrast against his red cheeks.
He glanced up at her window.
She sprang back from the pane as if scalded, catching her breath. She didn’t want him to see her there; for him to be reminded of the little girl that she had once been, peeping out at him from hidden corners…waiting.
Ginny bit her lip, contemplating her next move. She wanted to run—to fly—down the steps to the front door, but she stood frozen with a million thoughts racing through her head.
A sudden squeal from her mother was followed by an explosion of boisterous sound, and all thoughts were forgotten as she listened, focusing on what she could hear filtering up to her bedroom’s landing. Her family, both immediate and extended, jabbered all at once. She strained to hear him through the cacophony, but couldn’t distinguish his voice.
Just there—she heard him—his laugh. It was him. Laughing.
And in that moment her legs were free. Her body was free. She ran—flew—out of her room and down the stairs, two at a time.
Tears would not do. She hastily brushed them away, off her cheeks, with her sleeve and blinked. No more tears—no more tears. Biting the inside of her cheek, she forced them back; she couldn’t let him see—wouldn’t let him worry. Why were there so many stairs in her house? The last landing—the last stairs—the orange glow that was the blurred light of the kitchen. The back of every Weasley head—looking at—
Her feet slowed as she approached the crowded doorway to the front room. She watched as her mother scurried around Ron, fussing to remove his coat and scarf. Hermione shone, Ron beamed, and Harry looked amused yet still content somehow. The rest of her family gathered closer, laughing and merry, and none noticed her arrival. But then…wonderfully, he did.
Harry turned, eyes connecting with hers, and suddenly there was no one else.
Again she flew, as fast as she could, pushing through her family and through the front room, not stopping until she had her arms wrapped around him. Tightly. Winter snow and brisk pine, cold wool and melting ice crystals, all mixed up together, smelling of him. The rim of his glasses felt cold against her warm cheek; his gloved hand wove into her hair holding her to him just as tightly as she held him. She had never felt so warm.
Have this wish I wish tonight.
She pulled back. His nose brushed across her cheekbone, leaving a trail of electrified skin. And without thinking, without planning it, without worrying about the fact that her obnoxious brothers stood nearby watching, Ginny kissed him.
No more waiting. No more wishing.
It might have been possible to hear a pin drop. She thought she heard Fred say something, followed by a spattering of nervous laughter. But Ginny didn’t care. She truly didn’t care. Harry was here, holding her, and that was all that mattered. She broke away, looking up at him, smiling broadly. He grinned back at her—that grin that she loved so much.
“Happy Christmas, Harry,” she whispered, sinking back into the warmth of him.
“Happy Christmas, Ginny.”
A/N: This is for all of you who enjoy Christmas fluff (and wish that there might have been a little bit more of it in DH! :-) ) Definitely written a long time before the release of the last book, I really debated posting it—but my lovely beta talked me into it. :-) Thanks, Sherylyn, for all your help! Cheers and belated holiday wishes to you all.