Something's Wrong This Christmas by aprilmoon92
Summary: [For Jaq] Something's wrong this Christmas, and the Twins are going to find out what. Join Harry, Jackie, Ginny and the Twins in a tale of deceit, trickery and tom-foolery to find out what is really wrong... [Written for Christmas Engagement (6-2006) Challenge]
Categories: December Engagement Challenge (2006-6)
Something's Wrong This Christmas by aprilmoon92
Chapter 1: Something's Wrong This ChristmasAuthor's Notes:
Disclaimer: This is JKR's world, I'm just messing in it.
A/N: With the deliverance of the news of her passing, I offer my condolences to the family and friends of an author, dedicated Archivist and H/Gshipper. In memory of Jaquelyne Hawkins and her avid love of fluff. For the Christmas Engagement (6-2006) Challenge. Enjoy (:
"Err... Actually, these aren't much to my taste, sorry..." Harry said sheepishly, causing the shopkeeper to shoot him a black look as he slid the tray of rings back into the display cabinet for the sixth time in a row. Squeezing his eyes shut tiredly, Harry sighed and ran a hand habitually through his unruly raven hair. It had seemed so simple in the conception- buy a ring and propose to the woman he loved; but he was having real trouble in the execution of his plan.
The woman he loved... How thick had he been not to notice her before his fifth year? Sure... he was about as thick as one could possibly be, but gosh... He had first noticed her during the DA meetings, where she had always been a talented and responsible member. One day, she had stayed back, and they had kissed. They had been inseparable ever since then, but he had never thought... love? Wow. It was a really strong word; and he didn't really know what it was after a childhood like his...
No. He was sure. He had realised it at the beginning of this year, his seventh, and her sixth. Things were definitely much clearer after he had defeated Tom. With no more blood-thirsty Dark Wizards after him, and after everything they had survived together, he became sure. He was madly in love with Ginny Weasley, and there wasn't anything anyone could do about it, so there. A loud cough interrupted his thoughts.
"If you're still undecided, perhaps you would allow me to return to my work?" the jeweler said coldly as he turned and stalked into the back room; just before the door slammed shut, Harry heard him mutter, "Young people nowadays..."
"Bet he can't remember how it feels to be young; come to think of it, by the look of him, it was probably a few centuries ago..." Harry laughed and turned to see a shapely brunette who promptly stuck a hand out for him to shake, "I'm Jackie, but my friends call me Jaq." Nodding, Harry couldn't help but warm quickly to the smiling young woman. Remembering his manners, he quickly introduced himself.
"I'm Harry, Harry Potter. Pleased to meet you," Harry grinned inwardly that she didn't do anything other than let her eyes flick quickly to his scar and back to his face, deciding that she was alright; he decided to continue, "So, you don't sound like you're from around here..." He let his question trail off.
"Oh yes, I'm from the States, Michigan. I'm here to visit some relatives over Christmas. Bit early actually, that’s why I decided to pop over here for a while to look a bit at you Brits' work," she nodded to the gold-decked shelves surrounding them; at his confused glace, she elaborated, "I'm a Magic Smith... Been doing it for four years, ever since I graduated."
"Oh, I see. Sorry, I was raised by Muggles, came over seven years ago and I still don't know everything about wizards," he said bashfully, eliciting a short but pleasant laugh.
"Aw, don't worry. I'm a pureblood myself, but I don't know most of it either..." they sniggered a little but recovered quickly, "Anyway, what were you looking for just now?" At her words, Harry blushed, but answered anyway.
"I was looking for a ring to propose to my girlfriend, but I just can't find anything that is, y'know, perfect for her. I have some idea what I want to get for her, but I just can't seem to find something that fits what I have in mind..."
"Actually, if you're free sometime before Christmas, I could teach you enough to make an engagement ring for her..." Harry looked up, surprised at the offer, blushing; Jackie said hastily, "It really doesn't take much to smith something alone, most of the work is in the enchantments and stuff. Of course, that doesn't mean you don't need time-" At the word, something clicked in Harry's brain.
"Time... time! Oh gosh, I was supposed to meet my friends fifteen minutes ago!" Biting his lip in indecision, courtesy finally won out, "Err. Do you want to meet them? After that we can find a time we're both free..." He trailed off nervously, but heartened as she smiled and nodded assent, following him quickly out of the Jewelry shop. Dashing through the holiday crowd, they made their way to the fountain in front of Gringotts where Harry quickly spotted the red-headed mob that he knew to be the Weasleys. Skidding to a stop, he was immediately engulfed in one of Mrs. Weasley's famous hugs. Breaking free, he looked guiltily at their worried faces and apologized for being late.
"Sorry, I was at the-" Harry caught sight of Ginny elbowing her brothers aside to get to him and quickly stopped, instead saying, "Err, I met Jaq over here, and we lost track of time while we were talking." Right on cue, Jackie burst through the crowd behind him and gave a little wave, smiling as she did so. All of a sudden, the smile slid off her face to be replaced by a look of shock.
"Aunt Molly?" she cried wondrously as she leapt into Mrs. Weasley's arms. Surprised but happy, Mrs. Weasley gave her a warm hug and held her at arms length for inspection.
"Jackie, dear, I haven't seen you since you were twelve!" she said, turning to the assembled Weasleys and Harry, she explained, "Boys, you remember your cousin Jackie, don't you? Her visit tonight was supposed to be a surprise, and she's staying until Boxing Day." To Harry's amazement, Bill, Charlie and the Twins stepped forward and hugged Jackie like old friends. He shot a questioning look at Ginny, who was now leaning against him.
"Oh... I don't remember much about her; I was pretty young when she visited, but she used to spend a lot of time with my older brothers," she said as the large group trooped back to the Leaky Cauldron to Floo home, "Gave Mom a headache once, when they accidentally turned the lawn blue on one of her visits... Ron and I reckon she's the reason why Fred and George became such pranksters." Laughing softly, Harry asked something which had been on his mind since he had found out Jackie was related to the Weasleys.
"Gin... I thought Weasley females were very rare... Aren't you- " Nodding, she cut him off.
"Yeah, I'm the first in several generations. Actually, Jackie isn't really our cousin, more like fourth cousin once removed, or was it... Anyway, you get the picture," she said, glancing at Harry's thoughtful expression, she said in a suspicious voice, "Not looking for another woman, are you, Potter?"
"Wha-!" he nearly jumped, but wrinkled his nose when he saw the mirth in her eyes, he smirked, "Why would I look for another one when I got a pretty little thing right here?" He purred, purposefully dragging his eyes up and down her figure. Blushing furiously, Ginny slugged him in the arm as he stepped into the Floo.
"Uh uh, Ginny. Stay here and help me get lunch ready," Mrs. Weasley said as Ginny made to follow Harry and Jackie out to the Quidditch Pitch the next morning.
"Aw, Mom! Can't I go fly with Harry and Jackie?" she whined, feeling put-out as she had been intending to spend as much of the week-and-a-half break with Harry as possible. With her mother's refusal yet again, she sighed resignedly and waved Harry and Jaq on, wishing that she could join them.
As they reached the broom shed, Harry suddenly realised that Ginny had been carrying the key, and that he didn't know how to pick the lock. Discussing it with Jackie, they decided to just bask in the nice mid-morning sun and further discuss his intention to make Ginny's engagement ring. Settling in side by side on a small slope, Jackie turned to face him as she explained the intricacies of smithing a ring. Having come up with an idea the night before, he proposed it to Jaq.
"Well, I suppose you could do that, but you'll need to have quite a bit of practice first... probably a few hours worth, but I'm not sure because I've never tried it," at his despondent look, she added, "but the theory is sound enough, we'll just need a bit of hard work on your part." Looking slightly more cheerful, Harry voiced another concern.
"How can you infuse a stone into the ring, and what kind of stone do you think I could put in?" he asked.
"Well, basically, you just need to charm the gem stone first with a bit of a cooling charm before you insert it so that it doesn't mess up the ring setting. For the choice of stone, well, there are quite a few popular ones; some even have magical benefits associated with them..." As she explained, Harry got more and more confused. As his brain saturated with the new knowledge, he quickly clarified a little.
"Wait, so what's the significance of a Topaz again?"
"Well, the word Topaz comes from the Greek word Topazos, which means "to seek"..." she replied patiently.
"...and the ruby means...what...?"
"It means... Passionate Love," she replied in a slightly higher voice as a deep blush suffused her cheeks, she quickly changed the topic to cover her embarrassment and Harry's snort of laughter, "but we can do that later... Right now we need to concentrate on getting you to make a passable ring setting. Perhaps this afternoon I can teach you the theory first-" She was cut off abruptly as Fred and George came round a small rise to their left.
"You guys to come in"
Harry fought to push the flush at being caught out of his cheeks, and drew their attention away by shaking his head and whispering loudly to Jackie.
"Don't ask." Which caused her to burst out laughing as they walked back.
Fred and George were trekking steadily towards the Quidditch Pitch to fetch Harry and Jaq when Jackie's voice carried over the upcoming hill.
George smirked and looked over at Fred who had a more concerned expression on his face.
"...but we can do that later..."
George's expression morphed to mirror Fred's as Harry's guwaff echoed clearly in the midday air. As they rounded the corner, Fred was struck by how close the two were sitting together... almost like conspirators... or lovers... He wiped the unwanted thought from his mind as he fell into step next to his twin, the other two a dozen steps ahead.
"George..." he muttered, "Did you notice how... friendly Harry and Jackie seem?"
"Yeah, did you see how close they were sitting? They were virtually plastered together..." George replied.
"You don't think he fancies her, do you?" he asked worriedly.
"I don't think so, I mean, I was so sure he was going to propose to Gin-gin already," he added as Fred raised an eyebrow in question, "Didn't you notice how close they've been getting? Or how he refused to let Ginny follow him yesterday in Diagon Alley? I was pretty sure he was buying the ring..."
"Are you sure about this?" Fred said, as they neared the Burrow, "'Cos if it's true, then we've got to step in and do something. I think Harry and Gin-gin are suited for each other..."
"I guess..." George said, doubt in his voice.
"Good," Fred said quickly, "Then we must interfere, call it... Brotherly Assistance. Just keep Jaq and Harry apart as much as possible, okay?" With a quick nod from George, the Twins dropped their serious faces and entered the Burrow.
"Okay, let's see..." Lunch was over in the kitchen, and the Weasley matriarch was giving out the afternoon chores, "Bill, Charlie- you two go out into the woods and find a nice tree, god knows your father doesn't have time this year. Ron, Hermione- Could the two of you head down to the market in the village and get two baskets of apples? I'm planning on baking some pies for Christmas Dinner. Fred, George- take you sister up to the attic and help her look for the chest of Christmas ornaments for the tree, would you? Err... oh yes, Harry and Jackie, dears, do you mind degnoming the garden a little? They get a bit lively in the cold..." She trailed off as everyone groaned and got ready to carry out their chores.
"Mom, don't you think George and I should help Jaq degnome the garden? She'll need more hands in the cold... Harry can help Ginny up in the attic..." Fred said as he elbowed George beneath the table. As their mother shot him a questioning glance, George spoke up, finally cottoning on.
"We haven't really had a chance to catch up with her either... relive old memories, eh?" He smirked at their Blue Lawn co-conspirator, who smiled back at the memory.
"Fine, fine. Harry, you go with Ginny. Fred and George, you help Jackie," Mrs. Weasley seemed to remember the Blue Lawn incident as she added to everyone's laughter, "...and NO MESSING WITH THE LAWN!"
Feeling disappointed that he would not be able to learn the theory of Ring Smithing from Jaq today, he shot her a look. Shrugging understandingly, Jackie set off behind the twins. All of a sudden, he was literally pulled from his thoughts as someone caught hold of his sleeve and began dragging him towards the stairs.
"Ginny!" he cried at his amazingly strong girlfriend, unsuccessfully trying to regain his feet without falling on his butt. Without even stopping, she turned back and smirked.
"Pretty little thing am I?" she said archly as he was bumped up the first landing, "That'll teach you to get fresh with me, Potter."
"Woah. Look at all this stuff..." Harry said reverently when they had finally reached the attic. The Weasley house, being pretty narrow down at the base, should naturally have been pretty narrow up at the top. However, this didn't seem to be true from the number of boxes Harry could see crammed inside what should have been a tiny space. There were probably enough cardboard boxes, trunks, drawers and chests up in there to fill up the Gryffindor Common Room, and that was saying something.
"Call it centuries of existence and collection," Ginny said off-handedly, "The Weasleys have never been very wealthy, and poor people tend to be pack rats, I guess. Dad inherited everything when Grandma passed away long ago..." Mentioning her family's wealth seemed to dampen her mood slightly, so Harry grabbed her shoulder and gave her a tender kiss on the lips. Brushing a stray strand of scarlet hair from her forehead, he looked deep into her eyes.
"I don't care how poor you are, Gin. I love you all the same."
"I-... you-..." she seemed to recover some composure at his words, as she whispered breathily just before her lips touched his, "I love you too, Harry." The intense emotions at play brought about a bout of intense snogging, and by the time they returned to reality, nearly a half-hour had passed. Lips swollen and flushed, Ginny gently pried away from Harry as she reminded him of their task. With one last chaste kiss, they turned, only to see a sickly gray apparition hanging in the air before them.
"W-What is t-that?" Harry asked, much in the tones Ron used when faced with spiders. Stepping forward purposefully, Ginny turned and held out an arm in introduction.
"Harry, Casper. Casper, Harry." Harry's fear was forgotten as he let out an ungentlemanly snort.
"You named your Ghoul Casper?" he asked incredulously of his girlfriend.
"I was young. Besides, I saw it in a Muggle comic book Dad brought back from the office," she replied testily. With a dramatic sniff, she made a shooing motion, and Casper left them through the floor. It took them all of two hours, but they finally plowed through the boxes and found the Ornament Chest hidden in a shadowy niche. With in bit of grunting and pushing on both their parts, they had soon moved it to the small area left empty around the ladder down. By then, both their shirts were damp with the exertion in the stuffy attic. Leaning against the trunk as they rested, Harry idly stroked Ginny's hair. After a couple of minutes, he broke the silence.
"What's in there anyways? It's got to be heavier than my school trunk..."
"I don't remember it being this heavy either, let's take a look inside." She murmured as they both turned around lazily. Snapping the clasp undone, they swung the lid open. Just beneath a protective cloth lay two large, leather-bound tomes. As Harry poked around the shiny ornaments, Ginny flipped the books open and exclaimed in disgust.
"I can't believe Mom stored her cooking books in there! Making us drag them all the way..." her mumbling grew incoherent as she indignantly dropped them to one side.
"Ginny, what are these?" Harry asked, holding out a small box of shimmering and clearly magical ornaments from within the chest.
"Oooh, those are our personal ornaments. We made them two Christmases back..." She burbled, cheerful as they sorted through them. Each of the shiny balls had moving magical pictures on them. A tiny Muggle in the bath for Mr. Weasley. A freshly-cooked Christmas feast for Mrs. Weasley. A sandscape of the Egyptian Pyramids for Bill. A pair of flying dragons for Charlie. Fred and George each had Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes products on them. Ron had made one with pictures of his Quidditch team, the Chudley Cannons. Ginny had...
The couple both flushed deep red with embarrassment at the picture of a dark-haired boy with a tiny scar on his forehead blowing a kiss while riding a broom.
Coughing to cover up the awkward silence, Ginny couldn't bear to look at her boyfriend as she tried to direct their attention away from the embarrassing ornament.
"So, why don't you make one now, I know the spell that will make it hold the picture. Hermione and Jackie can make theirs later," she said, rummaging through the chest for a blank one. Holding the dark blue ball in his hand, Harry concentrated deeply on the picture, and transfigured the ball to match. Against a background of twinkling stars, a couple lay embracing upon the ground, basking in the tranquility of the scene.
With a fond smile at his choice of their shared memory, Ginny muttered under her breath and gave a quick wave, causing the ball to glow for a moment. Satisfied, she placed it gently in the box with the others. As they returned everything to the chest, Harry and Ginny stood up.
"Now all we have to do is figure out how we are going to get the darn chest down that ladder."
The morning of the day before Christmas Eve found Harry and Jackie sitting by the fireside in the living room, while Mrs. Weasley cooked breakfast in the kitchen next door. The rest of the house had not woken up yet. Having spent a half-hour explaining the details of ring smithing to Harry, Jaq asked he had decided which gem stone he intended to set in the ring.
"Well, I've narrowed it down to the topaz or the ruby," he replied, "I like the topaz because it has a double meaning; "to seek" can refer to how we are both Seekers and I... well, how I never found true love before I met her..." Harry blushed slightly at mentioning the very private thought, however, he collected himself.
"The ruby... well the ruby is... erm... appropriate to our relationship, emotionally and I hope... physically," his face was now red enough to rival any of the Weasleys' hair, "It's also the colour of Gryffindor, which we are both in; but I think it’s more important in that it reflects her Gryffindor spirit... her bravery..." His mood darkened as he remembered the diary and all the horrible things through which she had stood by him in the war. Jackie merely nodded understandingly at the unsaid references; she had learnt quite a bit sharing a room with Hermione. The things the couple had faced would definitely have altered their relationship drastically. Even now, while she found Harry very attractive, she knew she had no hope in ever gaining his full affection. His heart already belonged to another.
"What?" Jaq said, startled out of her reflection.
"I'm going to set a ruby into the ring. My Ginny... she..."
"She's very brave and loyal, just like you are, Harry," Jackie smiled at the pride for his girl clear in his eyes. Definitely belongs to another. They sat in thoughtful silence for awhile, before the first sounds of stirring in the floors above caused Jackie to quickly sketch the plans for the next two days.
"Okay, so we'll go down to Diagon Alley today and find a suitable ruby. Just remember to ask Mrs. Weasley for permission after breakfast, okay?" As he nodded, they stood up to join Ginny, who looked like she had just awoken, as she entered the kitchen for breakfast.
"Mrs. Weasley, can Jackie and I go to Diagon Alley today? We need to get some shopping done." Harry asked once breakfast was done.
"We can't have them spend the day together!" Fred whispered quietly into George's ear. Taking the initiative this time, his twin spoke up.
"Ginny, could you follow them and help Fred and I get some candy? We'll be pretty busy in the shop today, since it is only two days to Christmas..." Looking surprised at his courteous tone, Ginny nodded her assent as their mother said she could go. Fred saw Harry and Jaq exchange looks and pointed it out to George.
"Now, if we could only get her out of the way..." he murmured as the family dispersed to go about his or her own business. In a few moments, he had thought of a plan.
Pretending that they each wanted one last slice of toast, the Twins lingered in the kitchen as their mom began washing up. As their luck would have it, Jackie finished getting ready first and re-entered the kitchen while Harry and Ginny were still upstairs.
"Jaq," Fred began in friendly tones, "About your trip today."
"I was wondering if you could make the trip tomorrow when George and I have a day off? We really want to show you our shop," he said.
"Plus, we can give lover boy and little Gin-gin a bit of time alone," George added, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively, "What d'you say, Jaq?" Fred nerves began to fray a little as the seconds drew on...
"Yeah, Jackie, why don't you give those two a day together, I'm sure they'll appreciate it very much," Mrs. Weasley cut in suddenly, much to the surprise of the Twins. With a raised eyebrow from Fred, they both gave Jackie slightly pleading looks. With all the pressure, Jackie couldn't do anything but agree with them.
"Alright then, tomorrow it is," she replied almost cheerfully, before turning as footsteps were heard coming down the stair, "Hey, Harry, Ginny, I think I'll go to Diagon Alley tomorrow with your brothers instead, okay? They want to show me their shop." Looking out for it, Fred noticed the look the two exchanged immediately. However, Harry seemed undisturbed as he waved it away airily and walked Ginny to the Floo, elbows linked. Just before the twins left for work, they could have sworn Jackie gave them a speculative look. Uh oh...
As he finally stopped spinning, Harry stepped out of the fireplace, only to be wrapped in lithe arms just before he collapsed into a dizzy heap. When the effects of the ride had worn off, he unsteadily regained his feet and grabbed on to Ginny again as he willed the floor to stop moving. When he was sure everything was going to stay put, he looked up, only to see a very red-faced Ginny glaring at him. Seeing the lost look on his face, she arched an eyebrow at his arm which was still wrapped around her torso.
Very red in the face himself, Harry hurriedly retrieved his hand and mumbled an apology. Accepting the proffered elbow, Ginny followed Harry as they made their way through the pub and into the back where the entrance to Diagon Alley was concealed. As he tapped the correct bricks in sequence, Ginny tiptoed and spoke huskily into his ear.
"I didn't actually mind that, Potter. Just make sure next time, I get my share..." Leaning back on her heels, Ginny ran her pink tongue sexily over her lips and started into the Alley. Swallowing hurriedly, Harry followed, sweat beading on his forehead.
"So, where do you want to go first, Harry?" Ginny asked, all fluff and innocence now. Grinning, her pulled her close and burrowed into her soft hair. These were the things that made her special. Wrapped in each other's arms, they made their way leisurely down the street, stopping here and there to glance into the finely-decorated windows or to do a little last-minute Christmas shopping.
They dropped in to the Diagon Alley sweetshop, where Harry found out that Diagon Alley held a large range of sweets in addition to what was sold at Hogsmeade. Ginny spent quite a bit of time, and a few spare Knuts, introducing Harry to each of the new kinds, even having to eat some to show him they tasted fine. Before they left, Harry purchased a small box of simple truffles and slipped them into Ginny's bag, much to her chocolate-loving delight.
Leaving the shop, they were both nursing mild stomach cramps, and were shocked to find out that it was already past midday. Stopping by a cozy roadside café, they ordered grilled chicken sandwiches and cups of hot tea to ward off the chilly air. In the quaint rattan chairs, Harry and Ginny fed equally off the simple fare and the company, chatting amiably as they did some people watching, till the Gringotts clock tower struck one.
With contented sighs, they rose, dropped a couple of Sickles into the hand of a waiting server, and stepped back into the street. With barely a thought, the duo whiled away another two hours, dropping by Flourish and Blotts and Quality Quidditch Supplies to admire the new brooms. As three o'clock came and went, Harry decided that he couldn't put off the last stop any longer.
"Hey, Ginny, I need to make a stop to buy Jackie a present. Do you mind waiting for me a moment?" He asked, desperately hoping she would opt to stay in the Quidditch shop. Lady Luck seemed to have left his company, however, because Ginny insisted that she would be able to help him in his selection, and he had no choice but to accept. With ease, Harry retraced his steps of the trip before, and led his girlfriend to the little Jewelry shop off the main alley. Entering the shop, they swung the door shut quickly behind them as the winter chill fought to gain entrance.
"Why don't we browse a little first?" Harry said, as a young man, who appeared to be the grumpy old smith's assistant, came out to serve them. Nodding her assent, Ginny stepped over to the necklaces while Harry strolled to the other side of the shop. Pretending to be looking over the various pieces of gold, silver, platinum and costume jewelry available, he subtly made his way to the case where the unset stones were kept. Searching quickly through the rows of glimmering crystals, he found a row of cut rubies in the next display case.
The heart-shaped one looked a bit tacky, and the oval-cut ruby had many inclusions and was cloudy, which, from his talk with Jaq, was not good in any gem. Finally, his gaze settled on a classic round-cut ruby with almost no inclusions. It was quite small, no more than half a carat in weight, but had a rich colour that was neither too light nor too dark. With a small smile of satisfaction, he memorized the reference number on the tag and walked over to where Ginny had chosen a few pretty necklaces for him to pick from.
"Thanks, Gin," he murmured, slipping an arm around her and kissing her neck softly. Looking over the ones she had narrowed down, he picked up a delicate pendant on a fine golden chain. The pendant was in two small links, joined by a two parallel strands, which the assistant informed him was the shape of a Josephine Knot. It was very intricate, as each strand of gold seemed to be woven of many tiny flaxen strands, and the overall effect was capped by a pale blue seed pearl embedded in the crux of the Knot. It was perfect, Harry thought, as it represented both the elegance of its recipient as well as her sturdiness as a friend.
"I'll take this one," he told the assistant, digging into his wallet and removing the seven galleons it cost. As the necklace was boxed and wrapped, he thanked Ginny for her help with a kiss. A few moments later, after the assistant had coughed pointedly several times to get their attention, they left the shop and headed back towards The Leaky Cauldron. A pensive look came over her face as they stepped onto the street.
"You know, Ginny," he began conversationally, "We ate lunch, but I never got my dessert..."
"What?" Ginny blinked her eyes owlishly as she realised he was speaking to her, then protested, "But you ate all that candy!"
"I didn't get my favorite one..." he whispered sulkily, before her mouth descended upon his for his devouring pleasure.
Fred grabbed George's shoulder and stopped him from entering the den. Placing a finger on his lips, crept to the edge of the room divider and cocked his head. A soft conversation from the fireside reached his ears.
"...but you know which one you want?" That was Jaq's voice.
"...just go and pick it up tomorrow when you go. Ginny shouldn't have a clue..." Harry's cadence this time.
"...practice the spell as much as possible, so you won't have problems with that part when we meet..."
"...night, when they're all asleep...garden?"
Thinking he had heard enough, Fred backed up a little and told George what he had overheard. Creeping back up the stairs to their bedroom, the boys slumped into their beds to sort out what they had heard. After a bit of a debate, George finally concluded.
"So you don't think we can do anything about the meeting then?"
"Nope," Fred replied, looking his twin straight in the eye, "but we can do a stakeout..."
"You mean all night?" George asked, "But what good will it do? Plan Brotherly Assistance didn't do much." All of a sudden, Fred got a hard look in his eyes.
"Maybe its time to scale up, then. Time to let Ginny see things for herself," he begun pacing, "I think we should write a note and ask Gin-gin to go to the garden at twelve tomorrow night. Whatever happens, she'll be able to deal with it. Better to be heart broken than in the dark..."
"But what if Harry finds out we sent the note?" George asked dubiously, ever the cautious twin.
"There is no bloody was he could know. We'll do it tomorrow," Fred said angrily, curling up in bed by way of ending the discussion. Was this the right thing to do? he didn't know, but one thing's for sure, something's wrong this Christmas...
"Again," Jackie ordered, teeth chattering slightly as the warming charms began to fade. With a sigh, Harry raised his wand and began manipulating the substance hanging in mid-air before him. Murmuring incantations occasionally, he made a few deft movements with his wand and formed it into a perfect loop.
"Now the gem," she murmured, inwardly pleased that her pupil was so talented at this aspect of her craft. With his unoccupied hand, Harry picked up a pair of tweezers and clasped a transfigured ruby in its prongs. With a shiver of anticipation, he set it perfectly and completed the spell. As the completed piece fell, he quickly snatched it out of the air with a Seeker's practice and admired his first perfect piece.
"Good work, I was starting to think that you'd never get it," she joked; suddenly, her face went still and her eyes narrowed, she whispered, "Someone's coming!" Quickly, they gathered all the fruits of their labor for the night and Evanescoed it with a wave of Jaq's wand. Ducking behind some bushes, they removed the warming charms and waited. A pale, cloaked figure stepped into the clearing.
"Harry? I got the note," the hood shifted and a flash of long, scarlet hair was seen. Even without seeing her, Harry could have recognized her voice anywhere. Shrugging her shoulders at the reference to the note, Jackie gestured for him to go and speak to Ginny. Climbing out of his hiding place, he crept around the circle behind Ginny and recovered where she herself had entered.
"Ginny? It's me," he said, casting another warming charm around them. His girlfriend turned and smiled at him, stepping close and hugging him warmly.
"Thanks, I was wondering if I was going to freeze before I found you," she murmured, her face buried in his warm robes, she looked up, "What did you want to meet here for? Something you don't want my brothers to know?" She smiled devilishly, and Harry couldn't help but smile back. Thinking on his feet, Harry decided to play it by ear.
"Is a meeting of lovers something you wish to share, my lady?" he drew back, bowing dramatically. She looks so beautiful with that pink tinge in her cheeks...
"Why, fair sir, do you intend to take advantage of me?" she replied loftily, getting into the role play with just as much enthusiasm. With a finger, she lifted his chin and gazed into his eyes searchingly, and then looked down her nose at him.
"The cheek of you!" she said scornfully, turning away. He fell to his knees and cried in mock placation.
"No, fair queen. I wish nothing more than to praise your beauty and virtue to the heavens," at his words, she turned and looked oddly at him. Getting back into the role, she waved for him to carry on.
"If your brothers only knew...how graceful, how fair, how true..." he began singing shakily, but then brought his voice to bear, "It is the way we see you..." He rose and caressed her cheek gently.
"Your gentle touch 'pon my cheek... When I lie abed and sick...You're the one that we all Seek..." he paused as he planted little kisses down her throat, causing her to moan slightly and wrap her arms around him.
"We were faced by that old snake... We bent but we didn't break..." he could feel her flush against him, her breathing even as she basked in his voice, "With you're will you're hard to shake." He could feel her legs trembling as her ran his tongue over her dry lips, always pulling back before she could capture him in a kiss.
"And you're heart's so big we find... Ev'ry turn, you're firm but kind..." he looked her straight in the eye, their lips inches apart, "That's why we pursue fair Ginevra... That's why we pursue her... for all time..." The last was barely heard as their lips met in a lover's bliss. Lucky for Jaq, she had retreated to the house the moment he had started singing, for the moment the lovers kissed, she was swept from his mind.
"Thanks, Harry, it’s beautiful," Jackie burbled happily as she opened his present. With everyone else caught up in their own present-opening sprees, she motioned for Harry to help her put it on. With one hand, she held up her brown locks, and with the other, held out the necklace for him to take. With deft movements, he closed the clasp around her and adjusted it so it hung nicely. Turning her around, he smiled and conjured a small mirror for her to look into.
"You look gorgeous," he said, smiling as calmly as possible at his teacher. Seeing the nervous strain before her eyes, Jackie took him by the shoulders and murmured into his ear.
"Don't worry, when she sees it, she will ask, and you will have no problem doing your special something, okay? Don't worry," she smiled and kissed him daintily on the cheek.
"GET YOUR HANDS OFF MY BOYFRIEND, JACKIE!" Ginny snarled, causing everyone's gazes to snap to her. Mrs. Weasley seemed to get her senses back the fastest.
"Ginevra Weasley! Don't you-"
"Not now, Mom," she snapped, but lowered her voice all the same. She turned back to Harry and Jackie, who had moved apart a little.
"Don't think I haven't noticed how much time you two have been spending together cozily around the fireplace, or those looks you've been exchanging! If you don't want to date me anymore then just say it, Harry!" she yelled. As Ginny continued her tirade, George looked and Fred and whispered.
"...and here we thought little Gin-gin hadn't noticed anything..." As Ginny's steam ran out, Molly made a move to step in again.
"Now listen here, young lady-" She was cut off for the second time that day as Harry spoke.
"No, Mrs. Weasley, she has every reason to be angry with us," at this, Ginny's eyes flashed with hurt and anger, he quickly continued, "but not for the reasons she thinks. You see, Jackie and I have been spending a lot of time together, but I haven't been cheating on Ginny with her, I wouldn't do that with anyone, ever. Jackie has been helping me plan a surprise." Everyone kept silent as Ginny's face drained of blood with a combination of surprise and being touched by his words.
"A surprise?" she said timidly, wrapping her mind around the idea.
"Yes, for you, Ginny," Jackie added softly.
"For me?" her voice was tiny now, the blood returning to her face, not in rage this time, but in embarrassment. She couldn’t face Harry's loving eyes, and lowered her gaze. She heard a faint movement and looked up when a small but beautifully wrapped box was held before her.
"Open it, love," Harry murmured, with not a trace or anger or resentment in his eyes. Heartened, she lifted the tiny box out of his hand reverently, still embarrassed for jumping to such a wrong conclusion in front of her whole family. Ginny didn't even notice that she had been holding her breath till her lungs started to protest. With a deep breath, she slid her nail under one of the flaps, and loosened the Spell-o-tape before unwrapping the box carefully. With a sizeable orifice, she carefully slid the simple blue box out of the paper and into her hand. The whole (extended) family waited with bated breath as she lifted the top and saw...
"...a ruby?" she looked up at Harry questioningly. With a reassuring smile, he drew his wand and placed it to his temple. Biting his lip in concentration, he pulled out a pale, white strand of memory, interspersed with transparent pockets. With a murmured incantation, he waved his wand, and the room seemed to waver before everyone's eyes, before they were all absorbed into the memory.
"...but you should need a Pensieve for this!" They heard Hermione gasp, always a stickler for all things logical.
The sky was a blanket of navy-blue silk, stretching from one horizon to the other, studded with the shimmering gems that were the stars. Not far from where they stood, rockets and fireworks blazed short-lived trails into the air, falling in delicate umbrellas of sparks onto the ground below. Around them, however, not a sound disturbed the natural beauty of the place, high up and far away from the celebrations taking place all around them. Voldemort had been vanquished by the Chosen One, saviour of the Wizarding world!
These things did not seem to be on the minds of the two young lovers lying languidly upon the grass, however, as they basked in the peace of the moment, curled up in one another, happy to just be in each others presence. The larger youth, a boy, with raven black hair and wire-rimmed spectacles, brushed a stray strand of scarlet hair from his girlfriend's face.
"You're so beautiful, Ginny..." he murmured, kissing her hand lovingly.
"You're not so bad yourself, Potter," she smiled, drawing his lips to hers for a proper kiss. He leaned in further, till his lips were planting butterfly kisses along the nape of her neck.
"I love you, Ginny Weasley," he whispered so softly so that the silent observers had to strain their ears to hear it.
"What?" the girl murmured dreamily, clearly lost in the pleasurable feelings bombarding her. The boy just smiled as he returned to worship her lips.
"Nothing, Gin," For a last moment, the lovers lay upon the hill, the stars twinkled brightly in their temporal existence, and all was right in the world...
...and they were back in the Burrow, the silvery memory still hanging in the air before him.
"I love you too, Harry!" Ginny managed to get out, before she burst into tears and fell into his comforting embrace. Soothingly, he stroked her hair and rubbed circles on her back. A minute later, she regained control of herself, and remembered her still-speechless family all around.
"I botched it all up, didn't I..." she whispered hoarsely, wiping the tears of misery from her eyes. Instead of answering, Harry merely lifted her chin and kissed her softly on the lips. Stepping back, he began waving small circles with his wand, chanting softly the correct spells as he did so. Everyone watched in fascination as, ever so slowly, the shapeless memory began morphing into a perfect loop hanging in mid-air. Without stopping the motions, Harry reached into his pocket and withdrew a pair of tweezers, carefully picking up the ruby from the box still held in Ginny's outstretched hand. Without a word, Jackie stepped forward and whispered a cooling spell over the ruby, and nearly glowed with pride as he set the stone expertly onto the ring, intoning the spells which would make the whole thing hold its shape permanently.
Letting out a long breath, Harry stopped chanting and waving his wand, his other hand darting out in the blink of an eye to snatch it clean out of the air. Holding it up, he fell to one knee. As the various women in the room saw the beautiful ring, they gasped in awe. Even Fred and George felt they couldn't have done any better. Instead of the traditional gold or silver setting for the ruby, the memory Harry had used was formed into a flawless band of pale white crystal, strong, but delicate all the same. Harry gazed up into Ginny's eyes, holding the ring aloft before him.
"Ginevra Molly Weasley, will you marry me?" his voice was clear, as was the love, trust and loyalty in his eyes. The tears that now flowed, were instead, of joy; and with a radiant smile, Ginny offered a dainty hand.
"I will, Harry. Of course I will," she said softly, as he slid her newly-made ring onto her finger. Urging him to rise, Ginny drew him into a passionate kiss, much to the applause of all present in the room.
With everything out of the way, Christmas Dinner, presents, the proposal and the explanations, the newly-engaged couple lounged upon one of the loveseats by the fire, feeling at peace with the world as they saw their loved ones happily interacting around them. It had taken awhile for it all, but at last, everyone knew about Jackie's being a Magic Smith, of the lessons, and how the wrong conclusions had been drawn by all concerned.
"This has to have been the most unusual Christmas I've ever celebrated, Harry..." she reflected, "It's been a rush of emotions: Happiness, anger, embaressment, sadness and love... and I got the best Christmas present too..." She smiled, adding the afterthought.
"Don't forget the seranade," he replied.
"I can't believe you managed to come up with that song on the spot, Mr. Potter," Ginny said softly, snuggling up closer to her fiancé.
"Call it desperation of the moment, but I meant every word. I can't believe Fred sent you a fake note... from me of all people," Harry murmured, a little sleepy, exhausted by the events of the day.
"Well, I guess he thought it was justified, with all the "wrong" things he had seen this Christmas," she replied, "I can't believe he was so protective though, I mean... he's Fred!"
"I heard that!" someone shouted from across the room, but the couple ignored it.
"I'd rather have protective brothers than not for you any day, except against me, of course. But, the only thing wrong for me this Christmas," Harry murmured as he drew Ginny closer into his lap, "is that we're still talking." He closed the short distance left and locked lips with her, only to be shoved gently back.
"I happen to like to talk, thank you very much..." she said primly before being pulled in for a much longer and deeper kiss. Ginny managed to squeeze out one last thought before they were lost in the whirlwind of emotions in the kiss.
...but I like this... even more...
A/N: Yay! Finally done with this challenge. I've been really driven, and managed to push this out in a day and a half. I really hope you guys like this story, because I know I loved writing it. Thanks for reading, now review :)
For the Challenge:
The author’s challenge is to write a story to include:
1. Describe Harry’s adventure in getting the perfect ring.
-Takes place through the story, from his troubles in the Jewelry shop 3 days before Christmas Eve all the way to his lessons with Jaq on Christmas morning.
2. Explain three things the Twins do that interfere with the couple and how Harry gets out of one of them.
-Twins volunteer to degnome the garden with Jaq so that Harry and Ginny can spend time together in the Attic; Harry had to put off his lessons with Jaq.
-Twins ask Ginny to follow Harry to Diagon Alley on the pretext of helping them buy sweets, and they pressure Jackie to stay at home; disrupting his plans to buy the ruby.
-Twins send the fake note to Ginny, intending for her to find out about Jaq, but Harry thinks on his feet and gets out of it by serenading her.
3. Tell how one person nearly ruins all of Harry’s plans.
-Fred nearly ruins his plans with his brotherly instinct, when he convinces George to send the fake note etc.
4. Describe Harry’s proposal to Ginny.
-This one is pretty obvious, right?
5. Describe a very unusual Christmas Day.
-Ginny's array of emotions makes quite an unusual Christmas for her: Jealousy, anger, embarrassment, sadness, love.
I also used all of the bonus phrases. Can you spot them? (:
Copyright © Geoffrey Lim 2006
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
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