Written as a companion to my previous fics, ‘Whoever It Was Who Brought Me Here…’ & ‘...Will Have To Take Me Home’, which even though they were written pre-HBP, don’t have any conflicts with canon, and while the style is slightly different this time round, I felt that the world suited the Senses nature of the challenge.
You shouldn’t need to have read them first to understand and hopefully enjoy this one.
Most of his neighbours are not yet out of bed this early on a Sunday morning, but Harry Potter is incredibly content with the peace and quiet as he walks along the country lane from the nearby village towards his home. He loves this time of year; everything feels so crisp and clear. The yellow autumn sun lights the clear sky; shimmering tendrils seep everywhere, giving the fields and trees a warmth that betrays the autumnal nip in the air.
He moves to the side of the road to allow a cyclist to pass; the spinning tyres kick up the fallen leaves as she passes by, the red, orange and golden hues swirl round as they settle back down onto the path. He pauses to lean against the dry-stone-wall and watches a family of foxes amble across the fields. The nip in the air begins to bite as he turns to continue his stroll, so he pulls up his collar, wraps his coat further around him, and, quickening his pace, heads along the rutted-track that leads home.
He reaches his back door and with his wand taps a complicated pattern out using the iron studs that decorate the ancient oak door. A soft click indicates he is successful, and the door swings open, allowing him entry to the gentle warmth of his kitchen.
He knows from experience that it will not be long before his wife rises, so he places two mugs on the table by the stove, and prepares two steaming drinks of tea, being sure to leave one where he knows Ginny will find it. After removing his outside clothes, he carries his drink into his study and sits in an old leather chair – borrowed from his old school common room, but not yet returned (and only a few decades late). He supposes a professor may ask for it back eventually, though during their regular visits to the Potters’, most seem to take pleasure in using it themselves. Before he settles down to read the paper - his reason for the early morning stroll - he leans forward and stokes the fire, which he lovingly prepared and lit first thing this morning. The flames dance merrily, and he is careful to avoid the sparks that dart about the grate.
Taking a sip of tea, he gives a sigh of approval and settles back into the chair; the years of use by hundreds of students having softened the leather so much that it feels like it is enveloping his body, holding him snug and secure. He enjoys the weekend papers; something about the sheer size of a broadsheet feels more satisfying to read--of course, a quick spell to stop the paper flapping about helps.
He is engrossed in a story about a local Muggle farmer, when a pair of arms wraps round his neck from behind, and a beautiful head of red hair leans forward and kisses him soundly on the cheek.
“Morning, love,” she says as she steps round his chair, picking up one of the newspaper’s supplements he has left strewn around and settles down on the floor leaning back against his chair, “enjoy your stroll?”
He leans leisurely forward and kisses the top of her head, “Yes, dear, it’s a wonderful morning.
“Jim was in the news agents, by the way; he apologised for him and Holly - they might be a little late this evening, as they’re visiting his parents today.”
“That’s kind of him to let us know, but they’ll probably still arrive before most of my family; they wouldn’t know how to arrive on time even if the invite came from Merlin himself.”
“You wouldn’t have them any other way, dear.”
“Hmmm…,” is her only reply, as she wriggles further into the space between the chair and his legs, then wraps an arm round one of them and hugs it to her.
“Comfortable, are we?” he asks in an amused tone.
Later, when the mugs are empty, the newspaper lies read and folded neatly at the side of the chair and fire has been reduced to the smallest of flickering flames, Harry leans forward gently and looks at his wife from above.
“Do you need anything for tonight from the market, love?”
“Huh, you’re going to make me move?” she complains.
“Well, as much as it pains me to do so, if you want our guests to eat and drink tonight, I think I’m going to have to.”
After purchasing the seasonal fruit and vegetables on Ginny’s comprehensive shopping list, Harry calls in at the local off-license to collect a couple of bottles of wine. Arriving home, he deposits his load in the cool confines of the kitchen’s larder, and then climbs the stairs to take a well-earned shower, only to find his wife already there.
“Ten minutes,” says his wife as she steps from the shower and smacks him on the backside and they swap places, “I know what you’re like.”
“As if I’d dare take longer,” Harry replies with a cheeky grin as pulls the shower door closed.
“Just make sure you don’t!”
Harry lets the heat and steam of the shower wash away the stresses of his shopping trip; it had been unusually busy this afternoon, a contrast to the peace and quiet his morning stroll had offered him. It seems that it was the village’s turn to lead the local Michaelmas celebrations, bringing many visitors from across the county to the market square and village church.
Ever since the fall of Voldemort, and the intense interest in his life that followed, Harry had felt uncomfortable where large crowds were concerned. The hustle and bustle that most people accepted as normal, left him with the suspicion that someone in there was after something – a piece of the-boy-who-triumphed. That was one of the reasons they found and moved to this house. Apart from the beautiful surroundings, the place gave them both the space they needed.
So Harry throws back his head, lets the hot water wash over him, and stays in the shower far longer than the ten minutes Ginny had allotted him.
He exits the shower, towels himself dry, and after dressing himself in a pair of moleskin trousers and a copper-coloured fleecy top, he pads barefoot downstairs to help his wife finish the preparations for tonight’s party. As he reaches the foot of the stairs, the smell of his wife's cooking causes him to pause and inhale deeply. Wonderful aromas waft through the doorway, vegetables roasting slowly in the oven mingled what definitely smelled like her special mulled cider recipe – he really must thank Cara for teaching her the recipe before she and Rupert retired. That pub just had not been the same since their tenure ended.
As he walks in to the kitchen, he winces when his feet touch the cold slate floor; her back is turned as she works at the counter, wrapping baked potatoes in his morning’s newspaper before storing them in their charmed hot box, so he treads quietly over to the stove and lifts the ladle to sneak a taste.
“Take one sip and I’ll hex that thing to your lips!”
He places his most innocent look on his face, before turning round to face his less than pleased wife, “You wouldn’t do that, would you? Not when we’ve got family and friends round.”
“Well, why don’t you take a sip and find out,” she replies, twirling her wand round her fingers.
Being the Boy-Who-Lived, Destroyer-Of-Horcruxes, Gryffindor, Boy-Who-Triumphed, and many years of living with his beloved wife, gives him the insight and self-assurance to deal with such a challenge.
The ladle plops back into the concoction, its contents untouched. As he steps towards his wife, he notes she is wearing the antique emerald and ruby dragon brooch he bought her for Christmas all those years ago.
As he stands in front of her, he rubs a thumb over the precious stones before running his hands slowly up her bare arms and looking into her still youthful eyes. Neither of them is breathing as he slowly lowers his lips to hers.
As they finally part, she places her hands on his shoulders and gently pushes him back.
“You’re no fun anymore,” she pouts.
“I’m a respected member of society, darling, not to mention we’re both adults in the winter of our lives, not children, and having a ladle hexed to my gob is hardly a dignified way to welcome the Minister for Magic into our home, is it?”
“It’s only Hermione, dear, and she’s known you since you were eleven, so you can hardly claim a need for dignity in front of her,” she laughs gently as she replies.
“That’s not the point.” Harry takes his turn to pout.
“Whatever you say, dear,” she replies as she takes his hand and pulls him closer.
“What are you doing?” he asks with a furtive grin.
“Well, the food’s ready, the cider’s simmering away happily, and we have an hour before our guests arrive ...”
“Is that so?” he replies, grin widening, as he closes the gap between them.
“Yup,” she grins, “and I think I need to teach you how to have fun again, not to mention remind you we’re barely in the autumn of our lives, never mind the winter.”
Later, as the first guests arrive, Harry decides he would quite like it to be forever autumn.
A/N: Thanks to Yoda, Kelleypen, Baffy and Allie for their fantastic beta work on this story, it wouldn’t nearly be as good without them.
Written for the ‘The Seasons and Senses Challenge’ on LJ
The premise of this challenge is to incorporate one of the four seasons into a sensory fic based around one of the five senses. There is a definite lack of post-HBP canon fic being written right now, so this challenge is restricted to canon and gen. AU, post-Hogwarts, dark, and post-war are welcome, as long as it follows basic canon rules.