Ginny finished lacing her skates, stood, and stroked out over the frozen pond, feeling her hair float free behind her like a banner. It was so quiet and peaceful here outside the bustle of Hogsmeade, which was full to bursting with black-robed students clamouring for Dungbombs in Zonko's and elbowing their way through the throng at Honeydukes. After nearly four years of Hogsmeade weekends, the charm had worn off. Besides, she didn't have anyone to go with. All the other sixth-years had paired off. All but her, and if she went with any of them she always felt like an outsider.
She'd sneaked off by herself on the first Hogsmeade weekend of the year last autumn, and discovered this pond when she'd wandered down the side-road that ran out into the country between the post office and the Hog's Head. At the time she'd had no particular reason for coming out here, but when she'd seen the pond she immediately thought of the possibilities for the coming winter.
As a child she'd always loved to skate on the pond at the Burrow. Her mother would Transfigure her boots into skates, and place an Unbreakable Charm on the ice, so that Ginny could skate to her heart's content. When she'd started at Hogwarts, she'd missed this. The lake seldom froze even around the edges--perhaps it was charmed on purpose for the benefit of the mer-people and the giant squid--but a pond such as this one stood a good chance of freezing. When she'd come down to the village today she'd immediately turned aside at the post office, passing unnoticed among the throngs of students, and her heart had leapt in delight to see that the pond's surface was covered in a sheet of ice.
She stroked around the perimeter of the pond, enjoying the icy bite of the breeze in her face. The cold air was refreshing. She began to skate faster, feeling almost as if she was flying. It had been years since she'd done this, and she'd forgotten how much she enjoyed it.
She slid to a halt at the sound of her voice carrying over the white snowfields, unable to prevent the bubble of irritation towards the intruder that rose in her. Looking towards the village, she saw a black-haired boy jogging down the road towards her, his breath coming out in white clouds.
"Ginny!" Harry called again when he was closer. "What are you doing out here by yourself? You know we're supposed to stay in groups."
Ginny wondered why Harry of all people had followed her out here. In seven years of knowing him, he'd never paid her much heed at all. "What business is it of yours, Potter?" She tried to turn it into a joke, but she wasn't sure if she'd completely succeeded. There had been a bit of and edge to her voice.
Harry blinked in surprise at her tone, and took a step backwards. "It's just, well… Those are the rules, aren't they? We're supposed to stick together."
"You wouldn't know a rule if it came up and bit you in the arse."
A smile almost broke out on his face at that, but she could see his eyes were wary now. He swallowed visibly as if making his mind up about something. Then he held out his hand. "Come on, just come back to the village."
Why did he sound so concerned? She wasn't sure she liked the feelings that thought was arousing in her. She'd got her hopes up often enough in the past, only to have them dashed. But she couldn't let him see that, either. "You want me?" she replied, swizzeling backwards away from the shore. "You'll have catch me first."
"Come on, Ginny. This is no time to play games."
"I don't know, I think it's the prefect time, myself." She took another stroke backwards.
He took several steps forward until he was at the very edge of the pond, but he seemed hesitant to actually step out onto the ice. "What if that ice is too thin? You'll fall in!"
Ginny laughed. "No, I won't! I put an Unbreakable Charm on it. Crabbe, Goyle and Millicent Bulstrode could come out here and dance the Irish jig, and this ice wouldn't break."
Harry leaned forward, almost as if he wanted to take that final step. He wavered for a moment and then found his balance again, both feet firmly planted on the shore.
"Come on, Harry, try and catch me!" Ginny teased. "I bet you can't!"
"Of course I can't. I haven't even got skates. And besides I don't know how…"
"That's easy to fix." She drew out her wand and pointed it at this sodden trainers. In an instant she'd Transfigured them into a pair of skates.
"Ginny…" he began to protest.
Harry lurched forwards with a grunt, and came hurtling towards her. Ginny took another stroke backwards at the last possible moment, as Harry landed in a heap at her feet. "Thanks loads," he grumbled. "Now what am I supposed to do?"
"Easy, you stand up and skate."
"Easy. You call this easy? Standing up on these tiny things?"
Ginny knelt down beside him. "Just give it a try."
He looked up at her. His eyes were so green. And so close. Her heart did a funny sort of flutter, but it wasn't altogether unpleasant. It seemed to take him a while to find his voice. "I think I'm going to need some help here."
Ginny held out a hand to him, feeling an electric tingle travel up her arm and down into the pit of her stomach when he took it. She wondered if he'd felt it too for a moment, and then she wanted to laugh at herself. She needed to stop thinking about him that way.
Harry climbed unsteadily to his feet, gripping her hand as if it was a lifeline. When he had his legs under him, she attempted to loosen her hold, but he refused to let go. "What now?" he asked.
"Well, you push off with one foot and let yourself glide," Ginny explained. He was still grasping her hand so hard, she was sure he was cutting off her circulation. "If you let go, I can show you."
He did so reluctantly, and Ginny was able to demonstrate. She skated forward a step or two and then turned around. "Now you do it. Skate over to me."
Harry looked as if he'd rather face a Hungarian Horntail. He remained rooted to the spot for a long time, and she could almost see him working up his courage. Finally he put one foot forward, and then the other, taking baby steps towards her, his arms stretched out in front of him. Ginny glided backwards once more.
"Hey!" Harry protested.
"You're doing it wrong," said Ginny. "You're supposed to stroke and glide, not walk on them. Here, let me show you again."
She took a few strokes forward, skating past him, and causing him to wheel his arms several times as he teetered before landing on his posterior. Ginny skated back over to him and extended a hand, pulling him to his feet.
"Perhaps we should try something else. Here." She reached up and put her hands on his shoulders, thankful that the chilly air had stained her cheeks red a long time ago, for she could feel them heating now. "Put your hands on my waist," she said, her heart jumping when he touched her after a moment's hesitation. Was it her imagination, or had his cheeks just gone redder, as well?
"Now, I'm going to skate backwards. You try to follow me. As I push back, you push forwards. Ready?" Harry nodded. "Steady, go!"
It could have been worse, Ginny reflected, when Harry landed on top of her, knocking them both to the ice, and she found herself staring into his eyes once again. Harry pushed off her as if she was on fire, but he was having trouble getting to his feet.
"Wait, Harry," she said. "I think this calls for drastic measures."
She drew out her wand again, and sent a jet of light towards his skates. A second thin, silver blade appeared alongside the first blade on each skate. "There, now if you can't keep your balance in those, we'll just have to call you hopeless."
"I can hardly wait," Harry said dryly, but Ginny thought she detected a spark of humour in his glance.
She helped him to his feet once more, and they tried again. And again. And again. Harry was definitely getting the hang of something, but it certainly wasn't skating. He seemed to have become an expert at landing on top of her, double blades or no. And each time he did so, it took him just a bit longer to clamber off of her.
Ginny was beginning to have her suspicions, when he did it again. He'd taken two stokes forward and landed directly on her. She was about to open her mouth to tell him off for doing it on purpose, but the words never found their way past her lips. She found herself staring into his eyes once again, and a shiver passed though her when she realised he was not looking back at her, at least not directly.
He was staring at her lips. She unconsciously parted them in anticipation. Blood began to pound in her ears, and she heard no other sound. He seemed to look at her for an eternity, and then slowly he brought up one hand and brushed the hair back out of her face. Then just as slowly he leaned down to her, softly kissing the tip of her nose.
He drew back, and Ginny felt disappointed for a brief second. But Harry wasn't finished with her yet. He took a deep breath--she could feel his chest press against her--and then he was leaning down again. She raised her head, determined not to let him get away this time.
The first kiss was shallow and a bit hesitant, and when Harry seemed ready to pull away, Ginny gathered her courage and touched his cheek, cupping it in her palm and holding him in place. At the same time she opened her mouth, feeling the rush of his breath as he let it out in surprise, but he followed her lead and kissed her more deeply, gently beginning to explore. Her hand became entangled in his hair.
On one level Ginny knew she ought to be cold. She was pressed against the ice, after all, but she'd never felt warmer in her life. Her heart was pounding hard in her chest, when he pulled back to look at her again.
"I've been wanting to do that for the longest time now," he said.
Ginny was too shocked to reply right away. "You have? You never let on. You…"
"It doesn't matter. I was an idiot."
Ginny shivered in spite of herself. Now that Harry was no longer kissing her she could feel the cold penetrating her cloak. Harry sensed her shiver and got off her. He held out a hand with the obvious intention of helping her up, but almost as soon as she'd taken it, he'd sat down on the ice again.
"I guess I am hopeless," he laughed.
"It doesn't matter," Ginny said, "we've found one thing you aren't hopeless at."
And she helped him up and pulled him towards her, supporting him this time, while she drew his lips to hers once again.
A/N: To quote Marian: "Jack the Ripper of Gryffindor Tower wrote fluff." Won't happen again. All Weasley killings were conducted off-screen during the bloody Death Eater attack that happened while Harry and Ginny were obliviously snogging away. When they got back to the village and found it in smouldering ruins with bodies littering the streets, they decided to take vows of chastity to atone for their guilt.
Thanks to Margot for the title.