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Animal Magnetism by Flavia
Chapter 12: Hippogriffs, Christmas and Awkward Conversations
another fabulous Chappy Image by cast!el @ TDA
Unlike the completely unnecessary fan club I had seeing me off on September 1st, only one person came to collect me from the train station. Being the middle of the afternoon, Dad, Simon, Phil and Alice were all at work, so it was just Mum that I saw standing on the platform, gossiping with Rose’s mum and –Oh Merlin No – Mrs Potter. What was this, a mother’s club?
“Lucy!” Mum exclaimed as I climbed down from the carriage, dragging my suitcase behind me. I made my way over to her and let myself be engulfed in a hug, vaguely aware of my friends greeting their parents around me.
“Hi Mum,” I beamed as she let go of me. “How’s things?”
“Wonderful, now that you’re home,” She replied, linking an arm through mine and turning towards the barrier.
“Lucy!” Rose called out as we passed, and I stopped to give her a quick hug. I noticed Albus glance over his shoulder to watch us briefly, before turning back to his own mother. Jane dashed over and gave me a quick hug before leaving with her own parents. The farewells over and done with, Mum and I headed out in to the busy muggle train station, ready to make the journey home.
The moment we appeared in the familiar kitchen with a loud ‘pop’, I dropped my suitcase and skipped out of the room, greeting each room in the house cheerfully. When I skidded back in to the kitchen, mum gave me an amused smile.
“You all set now?” She grinned, flicking her wand so that my bags began a slow descent to my bedroom.
“Absolutely,” I smiled back. Already, a warmth was beginning to spread through me, the kind of feeling you can only get from returning home after a long time away. Mum had obviously already started her Christmas baking, because the whole building smelt of cinnamon, sugar and chocolate; it was almost intoxicating. A few decorations had been strung up, but I had noticed on my quick run through the living room that the Christmas tree was bare, obviously ready for a family decorating session that evening.
“Have you eaten? Would you like some lunch?” Mum asked, fussing with my hair affectionately. All I had eaten since breakfast was the sweets on the train, so I was more than happy to sink in to one of the chairs at the kitchen table and be fed all sorts of delicious foods. It was so nice to be home.
Mum and I sat at the kitchen table for hours discussing school and my friends. She asked about boys at one point and I told her briefly about my date with Michael but explained it didn’t work out.
“He wasn’t the nicest of boys after all,” I said, trying not to give too many details away. “Don’t worry though, I can stand up for myself.”
“Good for you,” Mum beamed at me proudly; being the strong woman that she was, I knew she would be glad that I could defend myself. “You need to find a nice boy, one who’s sweet and caring and doesn’t try to take advantage of you,” Mum continued. I felt myself blush a bit and tried to keep a straight face. “Most of all though, he should make you laugh; your father always made me laugh, we were always having silly little ‘arguments’ with each other,” She raised her hands to make air-quotes around the word arguments. “But it was just our way of amusing each other. When you’re comfortable with a boy, when you feel like you are great friends, that’s when you realise he’s the right person for you,” My heart was pounding a little erratically and I almost blurted out everything to mum about Albus. Fortunately I was saved by a sudden popping sound.
“Lucy!” It was Alice who had appeared in the kitchen and I leapt out of my seat to embrace her. “I got off work a little early to come see you,” She smiled at me. It was wonderful to finally see Alice again, I hadn’t realised how much I had missed my sister until this moment, when she was sitting down in the chair next to me. Mum poured another mug of hot chocolate and joined us, looking positively delighted to have both her daughters sitting there in front of her. It hit me suddenly how hard it must be for Mum, having both her daughters gone now and having to put up with three men; the poor thing. It was a lovely moment as the sun set in the distance and I chatted happily with my mother and sister; I was home.
“I’m Home! Where are my little girls?” Dad’s voice boomed down the hallway as he emerged from his study where he had just apparated. A few seconds later, his smiling face poked around the doorway and I couldn’t help but laugh. Mum was busy at the stove, supervising the pots that were stirring themselves. Alice had charmed a set of knives to chop the vegetables and I was setting the table…without magic. Stupid trace, take away my magical birthright – and while I’m on holidays! So unfair!
“Hi Daddy!” I giggled like a small child, letting him wrap me up in a warm hug.
“How are you my little Hippogriff wrangler?” He teased me. Dad’s got a thing for Hippogriffs, he says it’s because they’re a symbol of strength and power or something. I think he just likes saying the word ‘Hippogriff’, but then again it is a pretty awesome word.
“Not too shabby,” I replied, placing the last of the forks on the table. Dad moved around to give Alice a hug, and then wrapped an arm around Mum’s waist, kissing her on the lips.
“Ugh, gross!” Alice and I chimed, the traditional response we always gave when Mum and Dad get a little too public in their displays of affection. Truth is, they’re actually pretty adorable but I’d never tell them that I think that! Dad gave us a cheeky grin and kissed the top of Mum’s head.
“Phil’s on his way, just had to finish up some filing and I imagine Simon will be here soon too.” Dad explained as I walked over to the sideboard and pulled out six glasses. Dad conjured up a large jug of pumpkin juice and placed in the centre of the table as mum began putting the contents of the pots into large dishes.
As thought to illustrate Dad’s point, there was a loud ‘Pop’ and both of my brothers appeared in the kitchen, having obviously apparated together.
“Lucy Goosey!” Phil shouted, picking me up and swinging me around in the air. I clutched tightly to the one glass I was still holding so that it wouldn’t fall to the ground and smash into a thousand pieces. “You’re looking good little sis,” He added as he finally lowered me back to the floor. I placed the glass down on the table and pecked him on the cheek. His face was covered in stubble and I wondered if he thought it made him look more attractive.
“Same to you, big bro,” I laughed. “Loving the caveman look, I must say.”
“Yeah well not everyone has my rugged manly bone structure, but I think I pull it off,” He teased as he moved over to hug Alice. Simon gave me a hug next, and whilst it was a lot more subdued than Phil’s, it was still warm and full of brotherly affection.
“Welcome home,” He smiled at me, planting a kiss of my forehead.
“So why did you two apparate in together?” Mum asked as she levitated the now full and steaming dishes to the table.
“Oh I stopped by the ministry to see Dad and Phil on my way home,” Simon explained as we all took our seats at the table. “But Dad had just left, so I waited with Phil and we came home together.”
It was a wonderful ‘Welcome Home’ meal, full of Mum’s delicious cooking, Phil’s jokes, Simon’s questions and plenty of laughter. When we had all finished the chocolate pudding Mum served for dessert, Dad waved his wand, causing the dirty dishes to fly to the sink, where they landed with a stack before beginning to wash themselves.
“Now we haven’t put the decorations up yet, we thought that would be nice to do as a family,” Mum explained and I remembered the bare Christmas tree in the living room.
“I get to put the star on top!” Phil shouted and leapt from the table with Simon, Alice and myself hot on his heels.
Dad turned the radio on to a station that was playing Christmas Carols and we sang loudly along to our favourite songs as we trimmed the tree together. Dad resolved the argument about the star by suggesting they let me do it, since I’d never actually been allowed to. Our star was a magical ornament, which floated just above the tip of the tree and sparkled periodically. It also changed colour and played music if you cast the right enchantment. I’d never been allowed to do it before because you had to use magic to attach it to the tree, but Dad suggested that since there were three wizards and two witches in the house, all of whom were of age, then it wouldn’t hurt to let me use magic this one time. Delighted, I retrieved my wand from where I’d tossed it on my bed and cast the enchantments I’d watched my family members do for the last fifteen years. Mum smiled happily as she conjured up some more hot chocolate for everyone, but reminded me that this was a one-time treat and I should put away my wand straight away.
After the tree was trimmed, we set to work on the rest of the house, attaching garlands of holly to the mantelpiece and stringing up a few pieces of mistletoe in doorways. Eventually, when Dad’s favourite Christmas Carol came on (God Rest Ye Merry Hippogriffs…no surprises there!) and he started singing it with such abandon that he knocked over his half-full mug, Mum suggested it was time we all headed off to bed. Alice even agreed to stay the night, since it was so late at there wouldn’t be a fire lit at her place anyway, much to Mum’s delight.
The next day was Christmas Eve, and whilst Dad and Simon had to go to work, Phil and Alice didn’t, which meant we could spend the majority of the morning ‘helping’ mum make gingerbread, like we did when we were little, and just generally getting under her feet.
“Out!” She shouted eventually after I’d dumped a rather large spoonful of icing on Phil’s head. In my defence he’d just said that the gingerbread wizard I’d decorated looked like the Giant Squid, so I think I was fairly justified, but Mum was unimpressed nonetheless. Alice decided to pop home and get some fresh clothes and check on the flat, while Phil and I went for a walk down to the village. I must say, Phil’s pretty fantastic, despite being Quidditch mad and slightly immature for his age; he always lets me chatter on and will listen to whatever I talk about; which is exactly how we spent the first ten minutes of our walk, with me chattering on about classes and who was winning the Quidditch matches at school, while Phil listened patiently.
“So Luce,” He eventually said when I stopped to take a breath. “Any boyfriends I should know about? Anyone I need to punch or hex or lock in a vanishing cabinet?” I felt a slight tremble in my stomach when he said this. Sweet Merlin, what does he know? How could he have found out about Albus?
“Sorry?” I replied, trying to remain calm. Problem was, my voice came out as a high pitched squeak, causing Phil to laugh.
“A little birdie told me you went on a date with some Hufflepuff, McMillan was it?” He asked coyly, nudging me with his shoulder. I let out a huge sigh of relief, He only knows about Michael, thank Merlin!
“Oh yeah that,” I said nonchalantly. “Yeah we went to Hogsmeade together but he was a bit of a prat so…yeah…” I let my voice trail off.
“A bit of a prat?” Phil raised his eyebrows at me. “You’re not usually that mean to people who are just a bit awkward. What did this McMillan clown do?”
Hearing Phil describe Michael as a clown made me want to laugh; I’d have to tell Jane about that one.
“Oh, he just wasn’t much of a gentleman,” I shrugged my shoulders casually, hoping Phil would take the lead from my flippant behaviour.
“What’s that supposed to mean; what did he do Lucy?” Phil narrowed his eyes at me suspiciously. Ok, so we’re not going to go for calm and casual I suppose.
“It was nothing; well not nothing, but I sorted it ok?” I didn’t like where this conversation was headed and I was trying to keep Phil from flying off the handle.
“Lucy,” There was a warning in his voice, and I sighed, knowing he wouldn’t give up until I told him the truth.
“Fine,” I grumbled. “He tried to kiss me when I didn’t want to, and then a few days later he called me a bad name.”
“Lucy!” Phil stopped dead in the snow, caught my shoulder and turned me around to face him. “How could you have not told me this? I need to track this guy down and kill him!”
“Calm down superhero,” I rolled my eyes and started walking down the lane again. Phil caught up with me in two strides. “I told you, I dealt with it. When he was trying to kiss me, I slapped him and ran away. I can take care of myself you know.”
“You slapped him?” Phil asked with a smile. “Good girl.”
“I learnt from the best,” I smiled back.
“But you said a few days later he called you a bad name. What did you do then?” Phil’s eyes were scrutinising me again.
“Oh, well I was with a…friend,” I replied, hoping Phil hadn’t noticed the hesitation on the last word. “And they stunned him for me. I mean I had my own wand in my hand but they got to him first,” I didn’t want Phil to think I needed my friends to protect me at school, he was overprotective enough as it was.
“Oh, well that’s good,” Phil looked a little surprised but pleased nonetheless. “So who was the friend?”
Damn it! Giant piles of Mooncalf dung! How did we get here again?
“Albus Potter,” I mumbled, hoping my cheeks weren’t turning too pink. Phil however, didn’t seem to be looking at me, he was staring straight ahead at the approaching village.
“Al Potter hey?” He said. “Remind me to shake his hand next time we go round to the Potter’s,”
Christmas morning at home was just as fantastic as it had always been. I was the first awake (as always) and promptly woke my siblings, and together the four of us bombarded our sleeping parents.
“Upsy Daisy Mumsy and Dadsy!” I cried as we all scrambled to climb on to the bed.
“You are all too old for this!” Dad mumbled sleepily as the wooden bedframe groaned beneath us.
“Never!” Phil cried, throwing his hands in the air.
“You’d better not be planning to bring your spouses and children in here once you all get married,” Mum joked as she sat up. “Come on you lot, let’s go downstairs and I’ll make us some breakfast.”
Twenty minutes later, we were all sitting around the Christmas tree in our pyjamas as Mum and Dad levitated trays of food in. Warm Butterbeer, mince pies and chocolate chip muffins seemed to be the order of the day and we all munched happily away as we exchanged gifts. Mum and Dad had bought me a new cloak in a beautiful shade of deep purple, Simon and Phil had gone in together to buy me the biggest box of sweets I had ever seen, and Alice gave me – what else – a book! But it was actually a first edition of Magical Beasts and Where to Find Them, so it was a pretty amazing book actually. The girls and I had exchanged gifts before we left Hogwarts, Jane had given me a fine gold necklace with the word ‘Gryffindor’ spelt out in yellow and red stones.
“You can wear it to Quidditch matches!” She’d explained, making me laugh. It was a little tacky, but it was the perfect gift from Jane. Rose had bought me a basket of WonderWitch products and Gwen a pair of pale pink gloves that kept my fingers exceptionally warm.
“All right, let’s get this place cleaned up!” Mum eventually said, looking around at the mountains of wrapping paper that littered the floor. “Lucy, your brothers can clean this up with their wands, you may as well go have the first shower,” She added. Smiling at the fact I’d gotten out of clean-up duties, I skipped up the stairs with my gifts bundled up in my arms. I dumped everything unceremoniously on my bed and had begun digging through my suitcase for something to wear when I heard a light tapping noise. Surprised, I looked up to see Kenrick outside my window, shivering in the cold wind. I quickly jumped to my feet and pushed the glass open, allowing the beautiful bird to fly in and land on my bed post. I closed the window, shutting out the frigid wind again, and turned to look curiously at Kenrick.
Albus sent me an owl on Christmas Day? My heart was thumping erratically as I walked towards Kenrick, who seemed rather happy to see me. He pressed his soft head in to my hand as I tried to untie the small parcel tied around his leg. My fingers were trembling as the tiny package tumbled on to my quilt. Taking a deep breath, I sat down and unwrapped the brown paper, revealing a small velvet bag and a tightly folded piece of parchment. Following the protocol I’d been taught as a child, I picked up the parchment first, unfolded it and began to read.
Merry Christmas Lucy!
I hope you’re having a good time with your family. Weasley family Christmases are crazy! Grandma Weasley knits everyone a jumper every year and this year I got an orange jumper with a broomstick on it. I’m telling you, it is super stylish, everyone at Hogwarts is going to be totally jealous of me. Well they would be if I was stupid enough to wear it out in public. Don’t tell my Grandmother that though, she thinks I love it!
Anyway, I’m sure my jumper story has bored you to tears so I’ll just say that I saw this recently and it reminded me of you, you’ll understand why when you open it.
So Season’s Greetings or whatever else we’re supposed to say. Have a great holiday.
P.S. Kenrick’s pretty excited to deliver this to you. Yet another animal that you’ve won over!
My heart seemed to have lodged itself in my throat where it was beating steadily as I put down the parchment. Albus had bought me a Christmas present? Tingles ran down my spine as I picked up the small velvet bag and gently pulled the strings to open it. I tipped the bag upside-down and a small silver bracelet fell in to the palm of my hand. I gasped as I held it between two fingers, astounded at the beauty of what I was holding. Dangling from the silver chain, reflecting the light from my window and casting little rainbows across the room, was a tiny crystal charm in the shape of a unicorn.
AN: Merry Christmas!!!! I thought it would be appropriate to update this Chapter for Christmas Day, and it's Christmas afternoon here! I hope you liked it :) And here's your sneak peek at the next chapter, which isn't actually finished yet so I'll try and finish writing that soon! So sorry that the peek is really short:
By the time Alice got home from work that evening, I’d made a decision: I was going to tell her about Albus. Wandering Diagon Alley for hours, trying to find the perfect gift for a boy who was supposedly just my friend was the tipping point, the thing that made me realise just how insane I was. Also, I had realised that if I confided to Alice about Albus, I might be able to get her to open up some more about James. So after we’d sat down to our delicious dinner of Mum’s leftovers and Alice had made us some tea, I turned to my sister and took a deep breath.
“Alice, I need to tell you something,” I said nervously.
“Hmmm?” She said, looking up from the books she was stacking neatly on one of her many bookshelves.
“It’s about a...well…um…” I stammered. Alice left the book on the shelf and turned to face me, her eyebrows raised. “a boy,” I finished.