31st December, 1998
The small kitchen groaned with more people than it had contained for several months and there was a buzz of excitable chatter as the hands of the clock ticked ever closer to midnight. Mrs Weasley was, as ever, the perfect hostess and weaved expertly amongst her guests ensuring everybody had a full glass. Her expression would appear, to most, as that of a giddy, content mother, so large was the beam on her face. But Ginny knew the true mix of emotions present behind her mother’s smile, because she felt the same.
They had never hosted a New Year’s Eve party like this before, preferring instead to quietly greet the new year in as a family sitting around the just-about-still-standing Christmas tree, the old wireless playing softly in the background. Ginny could still remember the pure excitement the first time she, aged ten, had been allowed to stay up for the big moment, instead of sneaking downstairs to peek with Ron and hurrying back to their bedrooms when Mr Weasley emerged and pretended not to see them.
As the years passed, the impromptu new year gathering changed in nature, slowly seeing the older Weasley siblings absent. Bill and Charlie off seeking adventure, Percy just not there at all. The year it must have just been Molly and Arthur when the children chose to stay at Hogwarts for the Yule Ball. The year it happened at Grimmauld Place. The year Harry had been there too; she remembered his amusement at her paper chain decorations.
And then last year. It hadn’t felt like a celebration at all. It had barely felt like Christmas.
Ginny knew. Knew why her mother had insisted on exchanging their quiet tradition for this noisy, busy affair. It’s hard to stop and think when there are glasses to be filled and food to hand round. It’s almost impossible to notice the people who aren’t here when the kitchen is full to bursting, people spilling out into the freezing garden already. It might not have felt like any New Year’s Eve Ginny had experienced before, but then again, this year wouldn’t be like any Ginny had experienced before.
Ginny watched a particularly giddy pair stumble over the threshold, drawing her eyes to a tall, brooding figure outside, stood slightly away from the rest of the party-goers. She recognised that stance.
He jumped as she lightly touched his shoulder, turning his blank stare in her direction, immediately replacing it with a warm smile as he recognised who it was. Ginny didn’t think she would ever get over how it made her feel to see him smile.
“Aunt Muriel’s accosted Ron again, got him carrying her drink round for her and everything.” She said in a bright, cheery voice that would have convinced most. Harry narrowed his eyes. The small amount of space between them where she had lowered her hand from his shoulder disappeared in an instant.
“I’m sure Hermione’s thrilled.” Harry responded, matching Ginny’s tone of voice. His hand found hers and interlaced their fingers, the familiar grip of her boyfriend’s hand saying everything they were both thinking.
“She’ll have him back soon.” Ginny took Harry’s other hand and squeezed it gently. “Some muggle thing about kissing at midnight bringing good luck for the new year.”
“Oh yeah?” Harry raised an eyebrow suggestively. “I reckon I’ve used up the last of my good luck this year. I could really do with a top up.”
One of the wonderfully infuriating things about Harry was the way he could so expertly suppress his emotions and put on a brave face. Ginny wasn’t going to let him get away with it.
“It feels good, a new year, hmm?” she cocked a brow at him, looking for his reaction. “What we all need, a clean slate and a fresh start...”
“A chance to move on.” Harry finished quietly and immediately looked scandalised. “Not — move on… er, I didn’t mean we should all…” he broke off and looked up towards the stars, his hands still clasped in Ginny’s. “We’ll always remember them.” He said, almost fiercely, and looked back at her with a hard look.
“I knew what you meant.” She responded calmly, for she too shared Harry’s feeling that this new year was the chance for repair and recovery from the horrors of the previous one. He wrapped his arms around her, their gazes still locked and in unison they turned to look up at the stars again. “It’s going to be okay you know, everything.”
“I know.” Harry murmured, casting a glance around at the happy atmosphere of the party and really believing it.
The atmosphere peaked as the last few guests trickled from the kitchen and into the now crowded garden as Charlie Weasley loudly began to count down from ten, his arm strewn drunkenly around a bewildered-looking Neville. Everyone joined in as Ginny spotted Hermione tactfully removing Ron from Auntie Muriel and turned to Harry, who had seen the same and smirked at her.
“TWO… ONE!” the party shouted as one. “HAPPY NEW YEAR!”
A noise like a cannon joined the cacophony, as several fizzes and whizzes accompanied a rainbow shower of sparkles and light overhead. Swirling patterns and beautiful music seemed to emit from each firework as together they created a display more impressive than Ginny had ever seen before. She felt Harry’s arms wind round her from behind, his head resting gently on her left shoulder, the soft bristle of his chin nudging her neck. “For good luck?” he whispered in her ear.
Ginny turned in his embrace, her hands coming to cup his face as their lips met softly. Of course, Ginny had enjoyed the luxury of having Harry around to kiss in recent weeks, but this kiss contained more meaning. Whether it was the conversation they’d had before about this marking a new start, or the knowledge that Ginny would be going back to school in a few days’ time while Harry returned to London to resume his Auror training, or maybe it really was good luck, but Ginny knew she would remember that New Year’s kiss.
The fireworks continued as Ginny’s hand ran through the back of Harry’s overgrown inky black hair, longer than she had ever seen it on him before. She loved it.
“GEORGE!” Mrs Weasley’s familiar scolding voice interrupted the moment. “Goodness, you frightened the life out of your Auntie Muriel.” Harry and Ginny broke apart, their arms still intertwined, to see Molly reprimanding her son, gesturing wordlessly to the sky, still crackling and fizzling from the final few fireworks (which appeared to have been somewhat of a surprise to Mrs Weasley). It was remarkable how quickly he reverted back to his teenage self in the moment.
“They wouldn’t have been a surprise if I’d warned her.” George stated defensively as Lee Jordan sniggered uncontrollably behind him.
Ginny looked back up at Harry, who had placed a hand on her shoulder. “Walk?” he asked, cocking his head in the direction of the orchard where they had played so many games of Quidditch together as children.
“Walk.” Ginny replied, taking the hand Harry offered her and moving by his side. “Happy new year Harry.” She leaned on him slightly as they walked, their bodies pressed together comfortably.
“Gin?” Harry had stopped walking now they were some distance away from the still noisy party.
She gave him a questioning look.
“I love you.”