Chapter 1 : Christmas Is for Children
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Harry stood near the doorway to the kitchen next to Jane Granger and decided that the expression on her face could only be termed as “smug.” Her husband Joe was standing in the midst of James, Albus, Lily, Rose and Hugo. He bore four large boxes. Beside him was Arthur, looking as excited as a school-boy and correctly guessing that whatever was in the boxes was muggle-made. Harry suspected what those boxes contained, especially since there were only four of them and five children. There would be a new video game system and set of plastic replicas of instruments for the two families. He’d priced out these items himself and wasn’t pleased at the cost. Of course he could afford it, but that was quite beside the point. He and Ginny tried their best to teach their children to save their gold for things and to do without sometimes, as they both had been forced to do as children themselves.
Harry fixed Jane with a glare until she finally had no choice but to take notice. Her reaction was to nudge him playfully in the arm and say, “Don’t be such a killjoy, Harry.”
“I know what those are and I’m quite sure we’ve told you numerous times to stop spoiling the children,” he said, refusing to back down an inch. It had become almost a joke between them.
“It’s our prerogative as grandparents to do so, and besides I’d like to see you tell Joe that,” she said, looking at him with a gleam in her eye; although something told Harry that she just might like to roll those eyes.
He thought he could see what she meant. Joe had such a mischievous look on his face that Harry hazarded a guess. “He’s been practicing and hopes to be on even ground with the kids?”
“You have no idea, Harry!” she laughed. “He’s been working so hard for at least a month. I can’t possibly count the number of times I’ve had to go downstairs and drag him up to bed.”
Harry gave a reluctant laugh, but felt the need to say, “Even so, we told the kids they’d have to wait. We just got them a new system last year. This is getting ridiculous and you two are spending more and more money each holiday. The next thing I know, you’ll be buying them houses.”
It was an exaggeration, but certainly they were going overboard, in his opinion. Jane obviously didn’t agree with him and her look told him so. In fact, the look was so reminiscent of her daughter that Harry felt momentarily worried. It didn’t do to rile the Granger women, although they were slightly safer than the Weasley variety. But Jane caved first and pulled Harry into a brief hug. “It’s what grandparents are for,” she reminded him.
He couldn’t really argue with that, not since Hermione’s parents decided that his children were theirs for the keeping. He could have stopped it from the first, but there had been little chance of that. It had all happened during a Christmas more than ten years ago.
The Grangers, like all of the Weasley sons’ in-laws, came to the Burrow to visit their granddaughter on Christmas Day. It had become a sort of tradition over the years. Only they stayed the entire day, since everyone else had other children to visit with or parties to host at their own homes.
None of them really noticed that James wasn’t enjoying the festivities as he usually did, directly after opening presents. Only Jane caught the little boy eyeing his cousin Rose with acute jealousy. She nudged her husband gently and nodded at James. His mouth screwed up and she knew that he’d caught onto her idea.
Harry was giving Teddy some rules about the new broomstick he’d just unwrapped. Ginny, who had been helping Albus to put on his new Weasley jumper, suddenly noticed that her older boy was mostly sulking in a corner. After passing Albus to Charlie, Ginny approached James and asked him what was wrong. This was apparently the wrong question.
He was at the age where breaking into tears wasn’t a very cool thing to do and everyone in the room could now see him struggling to hold them back. It took him a few moments to finally burst out, “Where are my other grandparents? How come Al and I are the only ones to have two? Everyone else has four!”
Ginny couldn’t help but feel sorry for her children, just as she did her husband. She tried to pull her baby into a comforting hug but he squirmed away with his arms crossed over his chest. She settled for kneeling next to him, knowing that Harry was probably just behind her. “You know your dad’s mummy and daddy died many years ago, James. They would have been your other grandparents. I’m sorry, sweetums. It’s tough when you don’t have what everyone else does. It was hard on your dad, too. He didn’t have a mum or dad or any grandparents at all when he was little,” she said, forcing her wish to have James in her arms.
The boy looked up at Harry in horror and once again managed to get away from his mother. His arms went around his father’s legs and his voice was very earnest when he said, “You can share my gran and granddad. They’re the best and won’t even yell at you if you break a cup!”
Harry’s voice caught in his throat but he scooped James up and held him tight. “Thanks, son, that’s a very generous offer and I think I’ll accept it. But if it’s alright with you I’ll keep calling them Mum and Dad,” Harry said, once he found his voice.
James giggled but then was very serious of a sudden and blurted, “But then who made your hurties go away and tucked you in at night?”
Harry gave his wife a horrified look and realized that they would have to be having this conversation sooner rather than later. It took a long time to explain what they could to James, who had plenty of questions with which to plague them.
Neither Harry nor Ginny had noticed Joe Granger’s absence from the Burrow until they all sat down to a rather late breakfast. They didn’t think much of it when Jane explained that he had an errand to run, until Ron said, “But it’s Christmas Day. What could he possibly be doing?”
Jane waved a hand dismissively and said, serenely, “He had to meet a colleague for a bit.”
Only Harry and Hermione shared a look at that. Despite the amount of time the Grangers had spent with the Weasleys, the magical folk still didn’t have a good grasp on exactly what the Muggles did. It was rare to plan a meeting for Christmas Day, no matter the urgency.
But none of them had much time to wonder as Joe walked into the Burrow just as they had moved back into the sitting room. He was wearing a Father Christmas suit and bore a sack thrown over his shoulder.
Ginny’s hand flew to her mouth as did many in the room. Joe called, “Ho, Ho, Ho! Are there any good young wizards in the room?”
“Me! Me! I’m a good young wizard,” shouted James, while trying very hard to look his most angelic.
“Well, that’s a fortunate thing since I believe I have some special gifts from your grandparents here,” said Joe, in a very deep voice unlike his own. He reached into his bag and began to mete out parcels to both James and Albus, who was too young to really know what was going on but old enough to know what to do with something wrapped in pretty paper.
Joe went on to explain what the toys were and managed to get himself found out in the process. James, too shrewd by half, looked up at Joe and said, “Wait a minute. You’re Mr. Granger!”
Joe spluttered for a few moments, trying to declaim the argument. James finally said, in a tone that no one would expect of a four-year-old, “These aren’t from my grandparents. They’re from you.”
It wasn’t accusatory, but dejected at the thought that it wasn’t really possible. “James!” said Ginny, outraged at his audacity.
“It’s okay,” insisted Joe, pulling off his hat and beard and sitting down next to the little boy. He then spoke in a conspiratorial aside. “You know, I couldn’t fool your Aunt Hermione when she was your age. You’re clearly just as clever as she’s always been.”
James’s eyes grew wide at this and said, “I’m not as smart as Aunt Hermione. Everyone knows she’s the brightest witch anyone’s ever known.”
Hermione gave Harry an amused look that was somewhat questioning. He tried to defend himself and said, “You know how they repeat everything they hear.”
“I’m not the brightest ever, Harry,” she admonished.
“I’ve always thought so,” Joe continued to confide to James. “Now, what do you say to Mrs. Granger and I being your other grandparents?”
“Really?” gasped James, his eyes wide with the excitement they’d been missing most of the day. He looked to Jane for confirmation. She crouched down and opened her arms. James wasted no time launching himself into them.
From then on the Grangers had become an integral part of the Potters’ lives. They attended birthdays and important events for Harry and Ginny’s children just as they did for their own grandchildren. The kids spent special weekends with them where they went hiking or out to the cinema. On rare occasions the Grangers allowed all five children to stay over at the same time. Every time Ginny and Hermione tried to talk them out of it and eventually picked up their kids a bit early, leaving Joe and Jane quite relieved and exhausted.
Author’s Note #1: I wrote this a few years ago as a part of a larger story, but it worked so well on its own. It’s my way of saying that I haven’t left, not really. Harry is always in my heart and I am still working on finishing the drama I started in “A Time to Live.” It will take time though, especially since I’m writing out of sequence at the moment. But I haven’t forgotten, nor do I ever intend to do so. Happy Christmas and Happy New Year to all!
Author's Note #2: Since we don't know the Grangers' names, I just used the names of an older couple that I've always admired.