|SIYE Time:7:41 on 16th May 2022|
Fernando de Noronha
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Category: Christmas Challenge (2019-3), Christmas Challenge (2019-3)
Genres: Comedy, Romance
Story is Complete
Summary: ***Winner of Most Romantic and Best Overall in the Christmas Challenge (2019-3)***Girls are annoying chatterboxes who always cry and nudge up to you like Devil's Snares, and Ginny Weasley is no different... or so he thought. H/G AU. No Voldemort. James and Lily are alive.
Hitcount: Story Total: 2302
Awards: View Trophy Room
Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights Â© 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.
Special thanks to my wonderful betas, moomoogoat and Loquacious Lotus Blossom, who read over this story and patiently answered my endless questions, and to blvnk, who kindly looked over my Portuguese. I hope you enjoy!
Harry looks up and glares at the beaming sun. This is probably the worst Christmas holiday of his life. He hates everything about this place; he always wakes up sweaty, goes to bed sweaty, and gets out of the shower sweaty. It feels as though he is surrounded by a horrible everlasting heat.
What kind of barmy country celebrates Christmas during summer, anyway?
“Oh, you’ll get used to it,” his mum told him when she tucked him in last night.
But Harry doesn’t want to get used to it; he wants to go home.
Scowling at the ground, he walks along the beach and swears to never talk to his mum ever again. The sand gets stuck in his shoes and Harry is tempted to just toss the bloody things into the beach. He can’t do that though, they are a birthday present from Gran Euphemia and his mum will give him quite an earful if she finds out… And she always finds out. Not that Harry cares anyways, he’s not friends with her anymore.
With a hmph, he slumps onto the sand and puts his head into the palms of his hands. This place sucks!
This is all Sirius’ fault. If his idiot of godfather didn’t suggest a family trip to Fernando de Noronha for Christmas, Harry would be in Paris with his best friend Neville right now.
Neville almost cried when Harry told him they wouldn’t spend their holiday together this year, and Harry understands the feeling all too well. Neville and him have been best friends since forever and they have never stayed apart for so long.
“Give me a smile, Harry!” his dad told him when they got ready to take a Portkey to the Brazilian island. “It’s gonna be fun, you’ll see.”
But as it turned out, it wasn’t fun. And it’s not just because of the heat and the sand, Harry is simply bored here. There’s literally nothing to do; building sand castles gets old very quickly and he doesn’t fancy lying under the sun all day long like his parents do. He would gladly play frisbee with Padfoot, but Sirius is too busy talking to tanned girls with big boobs to play with him. Harry has tried to make new friends, but this attempt was quickly abandoned. It seems like kids around here don’t speak English and the ones who do look… weird. There is no way Harry’s going to play with them. They are not Neville.
A thought occurs to him. What if Neville made new friends in Paris? What if he replaced Harry with someone more fun, someone who is better at Exploding Snap? The pit of his stomach falls. Neville is going to forget about him, Harry is sure of it. If only he were in Paris right now!
Glaring at the beach, Harry stands up abruptly and grabs a flat rock. His fingers tighten around the stone. This is all Sirius’ fault!
Damn this stupid, ugly, old dog!
He brings his arm as far behind him as he can and throws the rock into the beach. The flat stone skips the surface of the water once, twice, thrice, four times before disappearing deep into the ocean.
“Not bad,” someone says behind him.
Harry turns around and finds himself face to face with a little girl. She’s staring right back at him with a pair of bright brown eyes. Her freckled face seems to glow under the sun, but this is nothing compared with her long vivid red hair. She reminds Harry of one of Gran Euphemia's French dolls.
“My brother Ron can do better, though,” the girl says again. Harry’s brows snap together. For some reason, this makes the little girl grin. “One time, he did thirteen skips across the pond behind our house. It was epic! No one can beat Ron at skips. He’s the best!”
Slightly annoyed, Harry turns his back to her and starts picking up some more rocks. “Go away.”
This doesn’t seem to discourage her, though.
“I’m Ginny, by the way.” The girl ‒ Ginny, apparently ‒ thinks it’s a good idea to pick up rocks with him. “I’m eight. What’s your name?”
She gives him a sweet smile and Harry looks away promptly.
“Harry,” he answers under his breath.
He is surprised Ginny is so close in age to him; she looks so small.
“Here.” She hands him three flat stones. “Let’s play together! My brothers are being meanies and I think I’m going to have a burst of magic if Fred throws another firework at me.”
Harry decides to ignore her. He figures she will eventually go away on her own if he doesn’t pay attention to her, but this doesn’t seem to occur to her.
“Mummy gets mad at me when I do magic,” Ginny is gabbing. “Fred gets away with it, of course! Can you believe it?”
Harry takes two steps away from her in an attempt to subtly puts some distance between them, but alas! Ginny follows him in his retreat.
“Mummy says I have to learn to control my magic. That’s bollocks!”
Harry’s annoyance flares. This is exactly why he doesn’t talk to girls! They are annoying chatterboxes who always cry and nudge up to you like Devil’s Snares!
“I mean, are we witches and wizards or not? It’s normal for us to do magic and we shouldn’t be grounded for that, don’t you think?”
Considering that just this morning his mum confiscated all his favourite toys after he tried to change the little rockets on his beach shorts into cool golden Snitches ‒ and accidentally set his shorts on fire ‒ Harry agrees completely with Ginny. He will never tell her that, though.
Swearing between clenched teeth, he wheels round to glare at her. He pulls himself to his full length, making it a point to tower over her. “Why don’t you go away? I don’t play with girls."
Ginny’s smile fades. For a brief instant, Harry thinks she’s going to cry, but darkness clouds her features and she glares right back at him.
“As if I wanted to play with you, anyway!” she says nastily. “You look weird and I don’t like your hair.”
Harry stiffens. “Sod off!”
He tries to flatten his messy hair by pushing it out of his eyes.
“What’s that?” Ginny asks, pointing at the thin scar on Harry’s forehead.
He feels himself going red. It’s an embarrassing story he would rather not relive.
“I fell off my broom when I was little,” he mumbles.
To his surprise, Ginny looks at him as though he has just told her she can have sweet for dinner tonight. “You know how to ride a broom?”
“You don’t?” Harry lifts an eyebrow.
A deep flush creeps up her neck. “Of course, I do!”
But she isn’t fooling him. He lifts his chin and gives a lopsided grin. “Bet you don’t! Bet you’ve never even been on one before!”
“I have! Plenty of times!”
“Oh, really?” he taunts.
“Yes!” she spits. “My brother Bill, he has a Cleansweep One, and last summer he let me ride his broom. It was super easy! Bill even said I was a brilliant flyer. So there!"
Harry roars with laughter. “A Cleansweep One? That ancient thing? Even my Grandpa Fleamont could ride that thing and he’s half blind.” A challenging glint crosses his green eyes. “I’m talking about a real broom.”
Ginny’s brows draw together and Harry can tell she’s intrigued.
“I have a Nimbus 800,” he says proudly. “That’s a real broom.”
But Ginny throws back her head and gives a derisive laughter. “Now you’re just lying! No one is rich enough to have a Nimbus 800.”
Harry clenches his fists. “I’m not lying!”
Ginny steps closer, eyes flashing dangerously. “You are!”
“I am not!”
They are almost nose to nose now, staring daggers at each other.
“Fine!” Harry throws his hands in the air. “Meet me here tomorrow after lunch and I’ll show you my broom. Try not to be in awe when you see it.”
Ginny rolls her eyes. “Trust me, I won’t.”
Harry is dead; he’s still breathing, but he is dead. What was he thinking when he agreed to take this annoying girl for a fly on his brand new broom? If anything happens to his Nimbus, his dad is going to kill him. Actually, scratch that. Sirius is going to give him the worse earful of his life, Remus is going to look at him in disapproval, his dad is going to forbid him from seeing Neville again, and if Harry isn’t dead by then, his mum will take care of that.
Ginny has no idea of the danger they are in, of course. The silly girl is too busy whooping and rolling over his broom to notice. Although, Harry has to admit, it’s impressive how good she is at flying. But that’s beside the point!
Sirius was right about the danger of pretty girls. “Never trust a girl with a cute smile, lad.” His godfather gave him this wise advice once. “They’re the most dangerous creatures in the world.”
Cursing himself for being such an idiot, Harry reaches over and grabs the handle of his Nimbus in an attempt to slow the broom, but in front of him, Ginny pushes his hands away, eyes full of mischief. Harry swallows hard; this isn’t going to end well.
He only has himself to blame, he supposes. That’s what he gets for being so full of himself! To be fair, the look of awe on Ginny’s face when she saw his broom was worth it.
“A Nimbus 800,” she has said. “Only the best Quidditch players have one.”
Harry couldn’t help it. “Yeah, it’s the best broom ever made. Very good speed, lightweight, and exceptional handling ‒ not for beginners!”
Ginny’s face has lit up. She grasped her hands in front of herself and pleaded. “Let me try it! Please, please, please!”
This sobered Harry rather quickly. “Er…” He rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m not sure my mum would let me…”
But then Ginny batted her lashes, her mouth curving into the cutest smile. “Pretty, pretty please, Harry?”
This was his doom.
Harry curses himself again. What an idiot! Being led by the nose by a little girl. He would be the butt of the joke if Neville could see him right now.
“This is the best day of my life!” Ginny squeals.
Air rushes through Harry’s hair and he has to squint to keep his eyes open. He knew the Nimbus 800 was a fast broom, but he has never seen anyone fly this fast in his life.
“I think we should slow down,” he shouts over Ginny’s shoulders.
Her cheeks are flushed and a bright smile is dancing on her lips. “Slow down? I think we’re not going fast enough!”
And with that she shoots forward, gathering speed in a steep dive. Harry’s arms tighten around her waist. He wants to scream, but no sound is coming out of his mouth. The broom gives a nasty wobble. Suddenly, Ginny plummets through the beach, not caring about the crowd gathered under them. Wind whistles in Harry’s ears, mingled with the screams of people running out of their way.
“What are you doing?” he yells.
“I don’t know!” she shouts back, fear apparent in her voice.
Only then does he realises Ginny is shaking.
“We’re going to crash!” She sounds on the verge of crying.
His nerve kicks in. Leaning forward, he grabs the handle of his broom and tries to brake. He clutches his broom, trying harder, but he can’t pull out of the dive. Ginny screams at the top of her lungs, Harry is barely able to breathe. He squeezes his eyes shut, waiting for the crash. A split second later, they hit the sand with a thud and land on top of each other in a jumble of arms and legs.
Harry is pretty sure he is dead now. His body is in pain and he is covered in sand ‒ he can even feel sand in there. Beside him, Ginny is panting, her long red hair intertwined into a beautiful chaos. They look at each other and without knowing why, they start to laugh. It’s one of those laughs where you end up with tears in your eyes and a tummy ache.
“That was wicked!"
“I can’t believe you did that!”
But their blissful recklessness is short-lived. The lifeguard is running towards them, wand in hand and eyes narrowed dangerously.
“Que diabos estão fazendo?” he yells.
Harry’s heart sinks faster than they have just dived. Ginny and he quickly get to their feet.
“Vassouras são proibidas na praia!” the man roars. “Onde estão seus pais?”
Harry steps swiftly in front of Ginny ‒ his dad told him a man should always protect his lady when there is danger ‒ but Ginny pushes him out of her way.
Jaw set, she stares daggers at the lifeguard. “Corno!”
The lifeguard’s face turns maroon, bypassing red. “Como se atreve a falar assim com os mais velhos?!” he bellows.
Harry pulls Ginny back behind him. “We’re sorry, Sir. We don’t speak Portuguese.”
The man shoots a dark look at Ginny, who glares right back at him, then he points his wand toward his throat, murmuring a spell. His neck glows blue and when he speaks again, it’s in English.
“Brooms are forbidden on the beach,” he says coldly. “Muggles could have seen you.”
“No one saw us!” Ginny shoots back.
“Silence!” the man orders. “Rules are rules. You could have injured someone, or worse! Put your lives in danger. Where are your parents?”
Alarms ring in Harry’s mind. Not his parents! They can’t know about that! Beside him, Ginny has turned as white as a sheet. They share a look and swallow hard; he knew this wasn’t going to end well.
Harry and Ginny wheel round. A plump woman is stomping toward them, closely followed by a tall man and three boys. They all have flaming red hair.
Ginny lets out a gasp. “Oh, no.”
“Can't believe it… Flying on a broom… Could have died…” The woman is trembling with fury.
“Quiet, young lady!” the woman shouts. “I would have expected something like that from Fred or George‒”
“Hey!” one of the boys exclaims.
“But not from you, Ginny!”
Ginny doesn’t dare say a word. Harry thinks he should do something ‒ after all, they were flying on his broom ‒ but he barely has time to open his mouth that another red-haired woman is marching toward them.
“HARRY JAMES POTTER!”
All air in his chest freezes. His mum comes to a halt in front of him, looking as dangerous as a Hungarian Horntail. Behind her, his dad, Sirius and Remus look worried… and amused? Harry isn’t sure.
“What were you thinking? Did you forget how you got your scar?”
Harry looks down at his feet. For a split second, he almost forgot his mum always finds out.
“Come on, Lily.” His dad tries to calm her down. “Harry seems alright.”
“Don’t! I told you this broom was bad idea, James!”
“Is the broom alright, though?” Sirius asks, which only serves to anger Lily even more.
“That's what you’re worried about?!”
It takes the lifeguard to cough rather loudly for the three adults to stop bickering.
“Aurelio?” Sirius looks at the lifeguard, recognition dawning on his face. For some reason, his mouth curves into a bright smile. “How is it going, mate?”
But Aurelio doesn’t seem as pleased to see him. “Sirius Black. Is this your son?” He jerks his head toward Harry. “I should have known.”
“My godson, actually.” Sirius grins. “But I can understand your confusion, Harry has my charm.”
Judging by his stern look, Aurelio doesn’t find this little joke funny. “Brooms are forbidden on the beach,” he repeats. “As a wizard, you should know about the Statute of Secrecy.”
“Muggles saw them?” Lily asks, voice slightly shaking.
Sirius puts a hand on her shoulder. “Let me handle this, Lily,” he says, then points his wand toward his throat, using the same spell Aurelio used on himself earlier.
As the two men have a quiet conversation in Portuguese, Harry turns to Remus. “How does he know the lifeguard?”
A mysterious smile tugs at Remus’ lips. “Aurelio caught him with two girls… in a compromising situation.”
“For Merlin’s sake, Remus!” Lily covers Harry’s ears.
His dad roars with laughter. “Always use a notice me not charm! Hasn’t he learnt anything from Hogwarts?”
“Remember Amberley Wood in fifth year?” Remus grins.
“Isn’t she the girl who‒”
But Lily catches James’ eyes and he falls silent.
Just then, Ginny’s mum nudges the tall red-haired man next to her. “Shouldn’t we go talk to the lifeguard too, Arthur?”
Harry forgot they were there.
“Don’t worry about it.” James gives them a reassuring smile. “Sirius is good at handling stuff like that.”
The plump woman casts a glance towards Sirius and purses her lips. Quite honestly, Harry can’t blame her for doubting his dad’s words; Sirius is currently threading a hand through his hair, flashing what he thinks is a charming smile at the lifeguard. As expected, Aurelio looks like he is a step away from hexing the young man.
“I’m James Potter, by the way.” James extends his hand towards the tall red-haired man. “And this is my wife, Lily. My son, Harry. And my best friend, Remus Lupin.”
“Arthur Weasley… and this is my wife, Molly.” The man shakes James’ hand, not quite meeting his eyes. “I’m sorry about… well… Ginny can be a troublemaker sometimes.”
Ginny crosses her arms over her chest, pouting, as her brothers snigger behind her. Harry scowls at them.
“No need to apologise,” Lily says softly. “We know how our son can get when he’s on a broom.”
Harry opens his mouth, ready to riposte, but before he can even utter a word, something seems to occur to his dad.
“Weasley… Weasley… Where did I hear this name?” James rubs his chin. “Aren’t you the head of the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office?”
“I am!” Arthur beams.
“Really?” James’ eyes twinkle behind his glasses. “My wife wanted to work in your division. She’s Muggle-born.”
Arthur’s face seems to glow. “You’re Muggle-born?” he asks Lily. “That’s fascinating! I’ve always wondered how Muggles do without magic. And you were lucky enough to grow up in both worlds! You must have had a thrilling childhood!”
Lily gives a nervous laugh.
Just then, Sirius comes back, one arm around Aurelio’s shoulders. The lifeguard is still wearing a deep scowl, his own arms crossed firmly over his chest.
“Harry, dear,” Sirius says with a honeyed voice that doesn’t suit him at all. “Don’t you have something to say to Aurelio?”
Harry lifts an eyebrow, not quite sure of what his godfather wants from him. Sirius gives him a pointed look, subtly flicking his head towards the lifeguard.
“I apologise for my bad behaviour, Mr Aurelio,” he says sweetly. “I promise to never do it again.”
Aurelio grunts, but at least he isn’t crossing his arms anymore.
Sirius grins and turns to Ginny. “And what about you…?”
“Ginny.” Molly glares at her daughter, who is still pouting.
“What about you, Ginny?” Sirius asks again.
Ginny glances at Aurelio, then looks down at her feet. “I’m sorry,” she mutters.
“Alright!” Sirius claps his hands. “It’s settled, then! It’s always a pleasure to do business with you, Aurelio.”
The lifeguard shoots one last dark look at Harry and Ginny, then goes back to his seat, where he has an overview of the beach.
“Good job, Padfoot!” James punches Sirius’ arm playfully.
Sirius runs his hand through his hair. “Told you no one could resist the charm of Mr Black.”
“Then explain to me again, why did Marlene break up with you?” Remus smirks.
Sirius touches his hand to his heart, pretending to be hurt. “Ouch. Too soon, mate.”
Bells chime in the distance, announcing dinner time.
Arthur turns towards James and Lily. “Let me take you to dinner!”
Lily’s cheeks redden. “Oh, you don’t have to‒”
“I insist. You helped us with the lifeguard.” He smiles from ear-to-ear. “Plus, I want to hear all about the Muggle world. You must tell me about eckeltricity!”
"Electricity,” Lily corrects as they walk toward the beach restaurant.
“Electricity. Do you hear that, Molly? Fascinating!"
Harry can’t help but chuckle.
“You’re laughing now, but it can get annoying pretty fast,” Ginny says. “Daddy is obsessed with Muggles; it drives Mummy up the wall. One time, he tried to enchant a skateboard to make it fly.”
“Cool.” Harry grins.
Ginny giggles. “I guess it was kinda cool… until it stopped working and Charlie almost broke his neck.”
“Who is Charlie?” Harry asks.
“My brother.” She points at the three boys running toward the restaurant. “This is Ron, Fred and George. Bill is my oldest brother, then there is Charlie and Percy.”
Harry looks at her with wide eyes. “How many brothers do you have?”
"Only six.” Ginny grins. She takes his hand and runs after her brothers. “Come on! I’m starving!”
The beach restaurant is full of gold sunlight and shadows of palm trees moving quietly. The air is thick with the scents of so many different foods ‒ roast beef, shrimp, barbecued meat, coconut milk ‒ Harry doesn’t know where to start.
At the far end of the table, his mum is telling Arthur all about London buses. “I guess you could call it a symbol of the city. They’re similar to the Knight Bus in a way, except they’re red and only have double-decker.”
Arthur looks delighted by this new information. “Their own version of the Knight Bus.Amazing! Muggles are simply amazing!”
Lily chuckles and sips on her caipirinha, smiling almost as brightly as Arthur.
In the middle of the table, Sirius and James are teasing Remus.
“I still can’t believe you’re going to work for that slimy git.” Sirius shakes his head.
“I’m going to work for Dumbledore,” Remus corrects. “Snape just happens to be part of the staff members.”
James makes a face. “How did that idiot even become a Professor?”
“He was always good at Potions.” Remus shrugs.
“Look at him, already defending the greasy git!” Sirius says with fake outrage. “Soon you’re going to have tea with him.”
“Would you like some biscuits with your tea, Sev?” James asks with an exaggerated high-pitched voice.
“Why, thank you, Professor Moony,” Sirius says with a bored, drawling voice. “Although, I’d rather eat your biscuit.”
Remus almost chokes on his drink. “Screw you!” He laughs.
Beside him, Charlie is talking about dragons. “It’s said that Brazilian Greenhorns live in the jungle and only come out at night to hunt those who got lost.”
Fred sniggers. “We should leave Percy in the jungle, then.”
Percy shoots him a dark look. Harry thinks he is going to come back with a nasty retort, but Percy simply clears his throat and straightens his back.
“You are so immature, Fred,” he says pompously. “This attitude won’t do at Hogwarts; discipline is very important there.”
George rolls his eyes. “He’s been acting all know-it-all about Hogwarts ever since he got back this summer,” he mutters to Harry.
“Tell us more about Brazilian Greenhorns!” Ginny begs Charlie.
“They’re fascinating creatures,” Charlie says through a sizeable chunk of steak. “Contrary to what we might think, their horns aren’t actually green, but golden. Their fangs are extremely venomous, which is quite unusual for dragons. It’s said that female Brazilian Greenhorns are more ferocious than the males.”
Ginny grins at that. “I think they’re my new favourite kind of dragons.”
“They aren’t as dangerous as Hungarian Horntails, but they’re alright, I guess.” Charlie shrugs. “Their fangs are very valuable, though. About five hundred Galleons.”
“Five hundred Galleons?” Bill says with a low whistle. “Imagine how much we could buy with that money.”
“Thousands of Filibusters Fireworks,” Fred muses.
“And Bertie Bott’s Beans,” George adds.
“And new brooms,” Ron sighs.
Harry is confused. What’s the big deal about five hundred Galleons? That’s how much Grandpa Fleamont gave him when they went to visit him in Scotland last month. Then he remembers what Ginny told him about his broom… No one is rich enough to have a Nimbus 800. Suddenly, he feels dreadful. What if the Weasleys were not as rich as he thought? Judging by their reaction, they probably don’t know what five hundred Galleons look like. Yet, Arthur took Harry and his family to dinner and ordered all their favourite meals without a second thought. Harry’s stomach gives a painful lurch. He doesn’t dare imagine how much this dinner is going to cost the Weasleys. He looks down at his plate full of food, then puts his knife and fork down upon it. He feels even worse as he remembers how he made fun of Ginny for having a Cleansweep One. He cringes inwardly. What an idiot!
“You’re okay?” Ginny places her hand on his shoulder, interrupting his train of thought.
She is wearing that cute smile again.
The words come out of his mouth before he has quite got his brain around them. “Wanna play with me tomorrow?”
She stares at him for a while, her face slowly turning red, then the corners of her mouth turn up. “We’ll have to hide from Aurelio.”
He laughs. “Yeah, no kidding!”
Harry eats a mouthful of rice, suddenly hungry again.
It’s much more fun to build sand castles with Ginny. Unlike other girls, she isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty, she doesn’t complain about the blazing sun, and sharp stones don’t seem to hurt her bare feet. When they finish their masterpiece ‒ three towers and a bridge that Ginny made all by herself ‒ she raises a brow at Harry, her mouth curving into a mischievous smile. Responding to her grin, he takes her hand and they both stamp on the sand castle, laughing their heads off until there is nothing left of it.
Aurelio decides to pass by them at this exact moment, the now familiar scowl plastered on his face. He has been keeping a close eye on them all morning, and even though Harry understands why, it got annoying pretty quickly.
This reminds him, “Ginny, what does the word you told Aurelio yesterday mean? I think it was coro… something?”
Ginny snorts. “Corno? Fred taught me that. It means…”
She whispers something in his ear and Harry decides now and then that Ginny is the most hilarious girl in the world.
They play in the ocean after lunch. The water is so clear that Harry can see the seashells at the bottom of the shallow part. After a splashing fight, Ginny bets two chocolate frogs that she can do a headstand under water.
“I’m really good at this,” she says with a proud smile. “Bill taught me when I was little.”
Then she dives, lifts her knees and extends her legs straight up. When she comes up, her hair looks like a red blanket plastered to her freckled face. Harry sighs. He wonders what can't Ginny do?
“How was it?” she asks, trying to shove her long hair away from her face.
He tucks a red lock behind her ear. “It was brilliant.”
Ginny falls silent and gives him an intense look. For the first time Harry notices that her brown eyes are flecked with what look like yellow precious stones. He feels this weird tightness in his chest again.
“My, my, my! Would you look at that, George!”
Harry and Ginny break apart. Fred, George, Ron, Charlie and Bill are watching them from the beach. For some reason, they’re all grinning from ear to ear.
“Should we prepare for the wedding?” Fred teases. Then, George and he start to sing, “Ginny and Harry, sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G."
Ginny ducks her head, blushing to the roots of her flaming hair.
“Stop it, guys,” Bill says, even though Harry can tell he’s trying really hard to rein in his own laughter. “We’re going to play Quidditch in the paddock, behind the hotel, but we’re missing a Chasser.”
“For you see, Sir Percy Weasley does not play with us, mere plebeians,” Fred says in a perfect imitation of Percy, which makes George and Ron roar with laughter.
“Wanna play with us, Harry?” Bill asks.
A grin slowly spreads across Harry’s lips. Bill Weasley is tall, good-looking, with a nonchalant attitude. He is like a cool version of Sirius. Being invited to play Quidditch with him feels like receiving the Order of Merlin.
Without a second thought, Harry grabs Ginny’s hand and hurries out of the ocean. But Ginny doesn’t follow him.
“They want to play with you,” she says. “Not me.”
Harry’s forehead creases. “What do you mean?”
Ginny gives a half shrug and looks down at her feet. Something akin to anger swells up in Harry. This isn't fair!
He turns toward her brothers and asks, “Can Ginny play too?”
Harry doesn’t miss the look of surprise that crosses their faces. Although, they don’t say a word; they look at Bill and wait for his verdict.
“Ginny doesn’t have a broom,” Bill states.
“She can use mine,” Harry says promptly. “We can share my broom.”
Unconsciously, he brings Ginny closer to him and squeezes her hand. Bill seems to study them for a moment, then comes to some sort of conclusion with a nod.
“Alright, then. Ginny can play with us.”
Ginny squeals and throws her arms around Harry.
Ten minutes later, they’re marching toward the paddock, brooms over their shoulders.
“There are lots of magical shields surrounding the area, meaning we can fly as high as we want,” Bill says.
“Or plummet through the trees a la Ginny style.” Charlie winks at Ginny, who sticks her tongue out at him in response.
Harry notices that Ron is staring at his broom with awe and wonder.
“I still can’t believe you have a Nimbus 800,” he finally whispers.
Harry glances at Ron’s Shooting Star ‒ the old broom is falling apart ‒ and he feels a bit awkward again.
“Er… Wanna try it?” He offers.
Ron’s eyes widen, a deep flush creeping up his neck. “You’re not taking the Mickey out of me, right?”
For some reason, this makes Harry smile. “I am not,” he assures. Then he thrusts his Nimbus in Ron’s hand. “Go on, try it.”
Ron doesn’t waste time. Grinning madly, he mounts the broom and kicks off from the ground with a loud whoop. He isn’t as good as Ginny, but he has a good control of the world-class broom.
The Weasleys take turn riding Harry's Nimbus after that, each of them laughing and playfully insulting each others. It's the happiest Harry has ever been in a while. They play all afternoon in the paddock and only stop when it's dinner time.
The remaining of the holiday is a blast. Harry spends his days playing Quidditch with the Weasleys, and his evenings playing Exploding Snap with Ginny.
On Thursday, his mum wakes him up with a surprise. “Happy Christmas, dear.” She kisses both his cheeks.
Harry yawns. “Is it Christmas yet?”
He was having so much fun on the island, he lost track of time.
Lily ruffles his hair. “Yes, sleepyhead.” She hands him a parcel wrapped in red paper, with a golden bow on top of it. “From Grandpa Fleamont and Gran Euphemia.”
Harry tears open the parcel to find a broomstick servicing kit and a large box of homemade treacle tart inside of it.
“Nice!” He says, trying a piece of treacle tart. “Delicious, as always!”
“No sweet before lunch,” his mum reminds him.
“Come on, mum! It’s Christmas. Just for today?”
Lily stares at him for a moment, her brows drawn together. Harry gives her a sweet smile, hoping his smile is as cute as Ginny’s.
Rolling her eyes, Lily finally gives in. “Fine. But just for today!”
Harry grins and helps himself another piece of treacle tart.
The beach restaurant looks magnificent tonight. Not only are there festoons of white light and mistletoe hanging all around the walls, but there are also hundreds of fairies fluttering around the ceiling, leaving a trail of silver sparkle behind them. Harry finds the big Christmas tree standing proudly in the middle of the room a bit out of place ‒ specially because it’s covered with frost and enchanted candles ‒ but he doesn’t really mind. It reminds him of home, of Neville.
“Happy Christmas!” someone says behind him, wrapping their arms around his waist.
Harry doesn’t need to turn around to know who it is. “Happy Christmas, Ginny.”
“Did I scare you?” she asks, a mischievous smile dancing on her lips.
She’s wearing deep purple robes and her long mane is piled on top of her head with a few soft curls about her face. She is beautiful.
“You scared me to death.” Harry grins.
Ginny bumps her hip against his. “Liar.”
She hands him a parchment. It’s a drawing of a red-haired girl and a boy with dark, messy hair. They’re riding a broom on a sunny afternoon.
“This way, you’ll never forget about me when I’m gone,” Ginny says.
Her words strike Harry in a completely unexpected way. Of course, he knew they wouldn’t stay in Fernando de Noronha forever and at some point they would have to go home, but he hasn’t expected it to hurt this much.
He takes in Ginny’s face ‒ her brown eyes, the cluster of freckles on her nose, her plump lips. To his horror, he feels his eyes flood with tears. He can see the same longing, almost desperate look in Ginny’s eyes.
Without really thinking about it, he tilts his head and gestures wordlessly towards the beach. They walk in silence for a while, listening to the waves of the ocean and the distant music of the party.
Then Ginny suddenly says, “Oh! This is where we met!”
Harry looks around. A nostalgic smile spreads on his lips. Just a few days ago he was furious to stay in the Brazilian island, to spend the holidays away from Neville, but now that he’s here, holding Ginny’s hand, he can’t think of any better way to spend Christmas. This might even be the best Christmas of his life.
Harry bends over and grabs a flat stone. He wishes he had a quill to write something on it to Ginny, something special. As if hearing his thoughts, two letters appear in bright green on the stone: H + G.
“Blimey! How did you do that?” Ginny asks in awe.
Harry puts the stone in her hands. “This way you’ll never forget about me when I’m gone.”
Ginny stares at him, her brown eyes glossy under the moonlight.
A fairy flutters above their heads, holding something that looks like… a mistletoe! Harry’s eyes widen and he can feel himself going red. It’s quite reassuring that Ginny is also blushing to the root of her hair. But as if to prove that she’s not a chicken, a blazing look crosses her eyes. She leans in closer and kisses Harry on the cheek.
Ginny is scarlet now, still she’s grinning. “Happy Christmas, Harry.”
Fireworks shoot up into the night sky as everyone hurries to the beach to watch the magnificent burst of light.
Harry wants to laugh, to fly, to dive deep into the ocean. Joy and excitement race through him.
Indeed, this is the best Christmas of his life.
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