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A Winter's Evening
By Truthrowan

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Category: "Baby, It's Cold Outside" Challenge (2008-1)
Genres: Romance
Warnings: Mild Language
Story is Complete
Rating: PG
Reviews: 9
Summary: A floo powder mishap, Harry and Ginny, and rare alone time. My entry to the "Baby, It's Cold Outside" Challenge.
Hitcount: Story Total: 4597

Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made for this work.

Author's Notes:
This is my first fan fic in a LONG time, and it almost didn't happen due to a sudden appendicitis, a week in the hospital, and pneumonia after that. There was a two week spread between when I started this fic and when I finished it, and I sort of lost my thread of thought between the writings. Please be kind, but honest feedback will be much appreciated.


The party had long wound down, with everyone departing for the most part by floo powder. "We'll see you back at the Burrow, right Ginny?" Hermione asked, standing next to Ron as they went to step into the fire.

"Sure, I'll be there in a bit," she replied, glancing at Harry. The other two departed, and there was quiet. The house warming party for Harry had been her idea, her way of breaking in his new flat. It was a stopgap measure, he said, and close to the Ministry. Moving out of Diagon Alley and into a Muggle flat (handily connected to the floo net work) had stopped the intrusiveness of the Wizarding media. Even almost half a decade after the defeat of Voldemort and three years from the end of all the trials, "The Man Who Won" was still closely followed by the Wizarding world. Tired of having reporters camp his doorstep and frequently fumigating the place to prevent entry by a certain buggy nuisance, Harry had finally given up and moved to where no one would find him unless he wanted them to.

He watched as Ginny puttered around his flat, banishing plates and cups to the kitchen where they began to wash themselves, vanishing a few spills, and couldn't help but admire her beauty, the glow of her hair in the firelight as she bent to retrieve something from the floor. The wireless was playing softly in the back ground, a tune he didn't know as she straightened and quirked her brow at him. A stocking was hanging from the end of her wand. "I knew I didn't want to know what Lavender and Seamus were up to over here," she said, glancing at the overstuffed chair in the corner and then back at Harry. "I'll just mail this to her tomorrow. From what Parvarti said before she left, they're like that all over the place and Lav is constantly having to replace something. Supposedly she's already lost half her wardrobe."

"It sounds like somebody was spreading a rumor, surely that can't be accurate. But think about it, what can you expect from newlyweds?" Harry asked. He couldn't help but smile as he thought of Lavender and Seamus' wedding. It had been quite the do, a happy occasion, the ceremony rather heart touching if one could ignore the banshee wail of Mrs. Finnigan's crying over her "only son going and getting married, with barely time for his mam to plan a thing." The reception could be called picturesque, but only if the picture were of drunken, brawling Irishmen. Most of the Finnigan clan had been present and if their Muggle eyes seemed somehow to magically pass over the enchanted ice sculptures and ever refilling buffet, they had not passed over the supply of drink. On the whole though, they had merely been a rowdy and cheerful bunch. The reception had been a blast, and as Dean had put it, "There was dancing, and singing, and moving to the grooving, and that was only during the first dinner course."

"What can I expect? How about a little more decorum. I swear Harry, when we get married, we definitely won-" Ginny cut her self off quickly, her face turning red. Though it was not an official thing, they had discussed it and was understood that someday, maybe even soon, there would be a ring and vows and they would get married. But not yet. They'd both been busy setting the world back to rights, finishing their educations and beginning life as adults. And somehow, after time, they just hadn't discussed it, and it had become an uncomfortable topic.

"I'd best be going," Ginny said, walking towards the fireplace and snagging the floo jar to lift its lid.

"With out kissing me goodbye?" Harry asked. He stood by the entry way to the kitchen, just across the room for her. She smiled back, placing the floo powder back on the mantle and taking a step towards Harry. His hair was just as messy as usual, his green eyes flashing with a smile behind his glasses.

"Of course not you-" a crash and sudden roar behind her made them both jump and draw their wands. The broken remains of the jar lay on the edge of the fire, which roared a violent green momentarily as it consumed all the floo powder. "Oh Harry, Oh, I'm so sorry! I must have missed the mantle"

He put his wand away and reached out a hand to cup her cheek. "It's okay. It was an accident. Certainly woke me up though." He used his other hand to pull her in as he stepped towards her and gently brushed his lips against hers. Like always, it was like pure joy burned through her whole body, electricity zinging the second their lips met. She felt her breath catch in her chest, and her head begin to swim. She finally pulled away.

"I need to be going, Harry, it's late." Her voice was breathy, her lips bee stung.

"Just stay a little while longer, and then we'll get you home," Harry said, his eyes locked to hers. She could almost sense what was going through his mind.

"I really can't stay Harry. I'm expected home soon, and we've got to be up early for the big Sunday brunch Mum's planning. You're coming, right?"

He stepped away, still holding her hand, towards the couch, and smiled softly at her. "Of course, but can't you stay for a little while? I haven't gotten to hold you lately. I've missed you." His voice went a little gruff with embarrassment as he admitted this. Ginny sighed. How could she resist?

"You have a very charming smile, Potter. It could convince me to do almost anything." He brushed her hair from her face, pushing it behind her ear.

"That's good to know, I'll make sure to remember it in the future. So will you stay?" His smile widened.

"There's nothing more dangerous than a man with charm. Yes, I'll stay for a little while."

He pulled her beside him, down onto the couch, Ginny almost in Harry's lap, her head resting under his chin.

"You know, this evening has been really nice," Harry said, his voice rumbling comfortably from his chest and into Ginny's back. "It made me realize that this move was definitely the right one. It was nice to have people over. I haven't been able to do that in a while." Ginny nodded, and looked over her shoulder at him, admiring the strong shape of his jaw and his oh so sexy lips.

"I know that you mean," she told him, glancing up to meet his eyes.

"I used to hope you'd drop by, so we could spend the evenings together, but with the reporters constantly by the place, it was impossible to actually relax at the old flat, even when you were there." He wrapped his fingers through hers as he wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her closer. His fingers rubbed her hands. "Are you cold? Your hands are like ice." He raised them up, and she half turned so he could put them to his lips, blowing on them to warn them. Ginny shivered.

"No, they're fine. I really should be going soon Harry. Without Ron and Hermione here to play chaperon, Mum will start to worry." Harry grinned at her.

"Yes, and your dad will be pacing back the floor debating the best way to soothe her. Besides, you know they trust me."

"Yes, but it's me they don't trust. I am a Weasley, after all. And you really don't think Dad's the only reason there are seven of us, do you?" It was her turn to grin as Harry blinked at her, the thought obviously never crossing his mind before. He groaned, putting his hand over his eyes.

"Thanks Ginny, that's a mental image I really didn't need." Her grin broke into laughter, and she cuddled back against him. They spent a few companionable minutes together in silence, just holding one another. She had nearly fallen asleep in his arms when a gentle kiss on her hair stirred her.

"Harry, I really need to go. Where do you keep your spare floo powder?" She pulled reluctantly away.

"I'm afraid you can't go Ginny." She blinked at him, and Harry smiled sheepishly. "I forgot to mention one little thing. That was my only jar of floo powder, and there is no way you're Apparating out of here. You know the two drink limit."

"Harry! You know the Knight Bus doesn't run after one in the morning! How am I supposed to get home?" She glared at him.

"I guess you'll just have to stay the night." She shot him a dirty look, and he held up his hands placatingly. "Don't worry, I may not have furnished the second bedroom yet, but I'll sleep on the couch and you can have my bed."

"Are you crazy? You know Hermione and Ron will be waiting on me. No, I'll just have to walk to the Leaky Cauldron and floo home from there." She stood up and walked towards the coat rack.

"Ginny, look out the window. It's freezing out there. You'll never make it, and there aren't any cabs running with this snow and sleet."

"Well I can't stay here." She started to pull on her coat and hat.

"You don't have much choice. Neither of us can Apparate, there is no floo powder, and there's no way you're walking. You can't get a cab or catch the bus. Face it Ginny, you're stuck."

She glared at him a moment before visibly wilting. "You know, Hermione's not going to believe this."

"Yeah, my 'sister' is as bad as your brother. She'll be suspicious."

"At least she'll keep Ron from waiting by the door. Though Mum and Dad will be another matter. I wish I could at least send them an owl." She groaned loudly, covering her eyes with her hand. "Oh No!"

"What? What's wrong?" Harry asked.

"I forgot Aunt Muriel is staying at the Burrow tonight Harry! She decided to visit over the winter holidays. Oh God, when I think of the nasty things her little maiden mind is going to come up with if I stay here!" He watched as Ginny bit her lip, her arms folded over her chest in worry.

"Ginny, I promise, it'll be okay. If I have to, if you really must go, then I'll carry you to the Leaky Cauldron. We'll pile on coats and warming charms. But neither one of us is Apparating when there is the least risk of splinching." He sighed heavily. "Come on. Bundle up." He started to put on his own winter clothes and heavy boots.

"Harry, I wish I could stay, but really, I can't. There would be so much talk tomorrow, and even though everyone knows us, well, I'd just rather avoid it all together." She sighed heavily, her breath blowing a strand of golden red hair out of her face and up onto her hat.

"Ginny, talk is something I'm used to. To quote Skeeter, of all people, gossip is the "sorrow of my life." For you though, I'll do anything to avoid it."

A few moments later found them out the door and into the cold. Despite the heavy snow and icy paths, Harry held her gloved hand in his own they walked along.

"Ginny, in case I forgot to say it earlier, you were really grand tonight. Thanks for planning the house warming." They trudged along through the cold.

"You're welcome Harry." Her breath puffed out in front of her through the snow falling around them. Through the glow of the street lamps Harry could see the cherry red in her cheeks and of her nose. He made up his mind right then, and tugging her hand, stopped her.

"You know, we're really going to have to do something to prevent this from happening again."

"What? Keep spare floo powder on hand from now on?"

"No, I was thinking something more permanent." He stopped, and knelt down in the snow in front of her. "Ginny, I've had this for some time, I was going to give it to you tomorrow." He held her hand in his as his gloved fingers fumbled with the small box, finally getting it open. "Ginny, will you marry me? Stay with me in the apartment forever, or at least until we want a house. Don't ever leave, and take away all the reasons anyone would have to talk?" His breath steamed his glasses as he spoke. She was silent for a moment, staring at her Harry, on his knees in front of her, in the ice and snow. Then it was as if she shook herself.

"Oh! Oh! Of course I will you prat, now get up out of the snow!" she squealed, pulling him up, and kissing him. She finally pulled back for a breath, seeing the grin on his face that had to match her own. "Of course I will," she said more softly, and held still as he started to pull off her glove to place the ring on her hand. "Harry, that's the wrong hand," she whispered to him, half giggling. His ears turned red as he tugged the glove back up and removed the other, sliding the ring onto her finger to glitter in the snow and lamp light, and then pulling her glove back on her hand before raising it to his lips. "It's too cold out here to leave your hand bare," he told her, and she smiled up at him.

"I don't think it'll ever be bare again," she said. She whispered three words to him, and pressing his fore head to hers, looking her in the eyes, he whispered them back, before taking her hand and continuing through the snow to the Leakey Cauldron. It was cold outside, but they certainly didn't feel it.

Authors Note: Feedback so far has been that this doesn't seem to follow the challenge. In my opinion, that's not true. The challenge is to be used to inspire the story, but does not have to be the whole story. I don't feel the characters of Ginny or Harry would use the term "Baby" when talking to each other. They may have pet names, but that wouldn't be it. I thought it'd be fun to use the lines of the song to try to outline, and the challenge lines just a little. Of course, nothing fits perfectly, but that's the fun of it, figuring out how the character would say those sort of things when those aren't the words they would use.

~ Em

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