Author’s Notes: Thanks to Chreechree for exploring something different with me (again). Thanks also to moshpit, Jonathan Avery, regdc, and Sherylyn for their assistance in making this fit to read.
On Christmas morning, Harry came downstairs to share the day with the Weasleys. They were all there except for Bill and Fleur, who had said that they wanted to be alone together for their first Christmas Day as husband and wife. According to Ginny, Mrs. Weasley had sniffed a bit when Bill told her that, but the Weasley matriarch had made no objection.
Percy, of course, was also missing, but that loss had become familiar in the past three years.
Harry was flooded with gifts. Apparently, the Weasley family and his friends had conspired to help him replace some of the things he had lost. Package after package contained new clothes and other basics of daily life. Mrs. Weasley had found a book of household charms and given it to Harry on Hermione’s behalf. Ron, with Mr. Weasley’s help, had sent Harry a red Gryffindor Quidditch shirt.
Harry opened the presents gleefully. None of them were very expensive, but they were all heartfelt, and Harry truly appreciated having things that he could legitimately call his own.
He had very little to give in return, but he had found a few things that he thought might suit their recipients. He had given Ron his Agrippa card, and he had written Hermione a long, sincere letter thanking her for all of her help over the years. He planned to cook breakfast for Mr. and Mrs. Weasley on Saturday, and he had given the twins an I.O.U. allowing them to test their products on him for a full week. He had no idea what to get for Charlie, Bill, or Fleur, but Ginny had simply added his name to each of her gifts to them. He had been unable to think of anything meaningful enough to give her, so he had simply conjured a bouquet of her favourite daisies. They were hardly a proper Christmas present on their own, but he decided that he would also offer her himself. He hoped that it would somehow be enough.
After opening a collection of clothing and necessities, only his present from Ginny remained. The rest of the Weasleys stopped their own unwrapping to watch him open it.
Ginny sat on the floor next to him and handed him the small box. He unwrapped it carefully and found a watch unlike any other he had seen. It was made entirely of some grey metal, but it was surprisingly light in his hands. Its face was the same flat grey, and it had shining silver hands displaying the time. A fourth hand was made of a lustrous red metal, and it did not appear to move as he watched it. Instead, it remained firmly pointing at approximately nine o’clock on the dial.
Gently, Ginny reached across and turned the watch in his hands so that he was looking at it sideways. The red hand turned also and now pointed at twelve o’clock. Fascinated, Harry turned the watch a few more times on his own, but that mysterious hand always pointed firmly to his left. Looking more closely, he saw that the hand was tipped in a tiny arrow. He looked up along its length and found Ginny smiling softly at him.
“It always points to you,” he whispered.
She nodded. “Turn it over.”
He flipped the watch onto its face and noticed tiny letters engraved on the back.
I’ll always be yours.
I love you,
Harry stared for a moment at the simple words in front of him. For a moment he marvelled at how a few short phrases had made such a difference in his life. Carefully, he slipped the watch onto his wrist. He clasped it, and though it was much too large at first, a few of the links in the band vanished until it fit him properly. Just to be safe, he drew his wand and placed a locking charm on the clasp.
He looked up. The entire Weasley family was smiling at the young couple on the floor, and none of their smiles held any reservations or worries. He turned to Ginny and found her practically glowing at the expression that he knew must be on his face. He reached out and gathered her into his arms, crushing her to his chest and rocking her slightly in his lap.
Releasing her, he looked around and spotted his new Weasley jumper. It was emerald green, as most of his jumpers had been. He pulled it on over his head and then spotted Ginny’s jumper at his feet. It, too, was green this year. When he picked it up and bunched it for her, Ginny looked puzzled, but she smiled and raised her arms above her head. He pushed the jumper over her arms and tugged it down, carefully avoiding brushing her chest or stomach with his hands.
As Ginny straightened her jumper, Harry climbed to his feet and pulled his new winter cloak from the pile nearby. He threw it over his shoulders. Ginny was looking up at him with a bemused smile, and he finally smiled in return. “Want to go for a walk, Ginny?”
“Alright,” she agreed. He pulled her to her feet and towards the back door, where she put on her own cloak, and they quickly pushed their feet into their boots and pulled on their gloves. When they were outside, he led her to the bench where he and the twins had talked a few days earlier. Brushing the snow off of the bench with his sleeves, he gestured for her to sit, and then he sat on her left.
She looked at him expectantly, and he took a deep breath.
“Ginny, I…” He trailed off and swallowed heavily as his enthusiasm was replaced by realism. “I have nothing left to offer you. I have no money. I don’t have a racing broom. I don’t even have my own wand. The clothes I got today are just about the only ones I own.”
He looked down at the snow at his feet and continued in a whisper. “Most of the world hates me. I’ve tried to find a job, you know. I asked at all sorts of places, but they either threw me out or couldn’t afford to have me around. I even went to try out for the Cannons with Ron’s broom, and the manager said they couldn’t associate with me, no matter how well I could fly. I… I definitely can’t be an Auror.”
He turned his body and faced her directly, deliberately showing her the ruin of the left side of his head. “If I was ever… attractive, or anything… I’m not anymore. I won’t look the way I used to for a long time. Months, maybe years, if ever.
“I have no idea what there is left to like about me, and I have no idea how I will support myself, much less you. But I love you, Ginny. I love you more than I ever thought it was possible to love someone. I know we’re young, and I’ll wait as long as you want.”
Ginny gasped as he fell to his knees in the snow in front of the bench and took her mitten-covered hand. “I have nothing left to lose except for you. If you don’t want me anymore, I’ll understand that and I’ll leave you alone from now on, but I have to know.
“I don’t have a ring, but…” He leaned over and lightly kissed her mitten where he imagined her ring finger to be. “Ginevra Weasley, will you marry me?”
She gaped at him for several moments. He saw the astonishment in her expression, but he had no idea how she might answer. Finally, she blinked rapidly and reached down to stroke his scarred cheek with her free hand. Her eyes had lost their shocked look, as though she had reached some sort of decision.
“I love you, too,” she whispered. “Now tell me something, Harry. Who are you?”
He furrowed his brow in confusion, but for her, he would do his best at anything she might ever ask of him. “I’m… I’m Harry Potter.”
“That’s your name,” Ginny said tenderly. “Who are you?”
“I… I don’t know anymore,” he replied.
She nodded. “What do you love?”
“I love you, Ginny,” he said simply.
“I know you do, Harry. And I truly do love you. But what else do you love?”
He looked down at the snow, distantly noticing the chill seeping through his robes and trousers. “Just you, I suppose,” he muttered.
She nodded again and raised his chin to look into his eyes. “What do you want to do with your life?”
He shrugged helplessly and answered in a whisper. “I don’t know.”
She pulled her hand out of his and reached up to wipe the moisture from her eyes. In that moment, Harry was sure that he had lost her. After all the twins’ misdirected efforts, it was he himself who had ruined his chances by not knowing the answers to her questions.
”I know what you’re thinking, Harry,” she said softly, putting a gentle hand on his shoulder. “I don’t want you to leave me. I don’t want to leave you. But…” Shifting her grip to his hand and holding it tightly, she reached up to wipe her eyes again with her other mitten. “Harry, do you love me enough to wait for my answer? Can you do that for me?”
This question, at least, was easy. He would wait as long as it might take to get the one thing in the world he still truly wanted, the only thing that made waking up bearable. “I’ll wait forever if you want me to, Ginny,” he said, climbing to his feet. “Just tell me when you’re ready, either way. If you want me to… to give you some space, or something, just say so. I’ll do whatever you want.”
Ginny shook her head. “I don’t need any space, Harry. I never want space from you. And I hope it won’t take much time.” She took a deep breath through her nose and released it sharply. “Wait right here for a minute, okay? Promise me that you’ll stay right here until I get back.”
This, too, was easy. “I promise, Ginny. Right here.”
She hugged him quickly and then turned to run into the house. Less than a minute later, she ran back outside carrying a broom in one hand and with the other stuffed into her pocket. Halting abruptly, she held the broom out to him. He recognised the Firebolt he had sent her for her sixteenth birthday.
“Here,” she said.
“That’s your broom, Ginny.”
“I know it’s my broom,” she replied with a grin. “And I’m not about to give it up. But I want you to fly on it. Now.”
He took the broom reluctantly and mounted it. It was not his broom, but the handl