Chapter 14 : Christmastime.
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She loved Christmas and with the excitement of the season, quickly forgot the let down she'd experienced in the Shrieking Shack.
“What did you get me?” she pleaded with James for about the hundred time.
“You’ll find out on Christmas morning,” he replied.
“Oh, come on, tell me, come on.”
He shook his head.
“Well, give me a hint anyway. Did you get it in Honeydukes?”
“Rose, stop trying to get me to tell you! I’m not going to!”
She gave up. “Well, I hope you got me something nice anyway. You’ve no excuse not to, now you’re allowed into Hogsmeade, and I’m not.”
“Don’t worry.” He smiled.
Hermione wouldn’t tell her what she and Ron were giving her either.
“You’ll just have to learn some patience, Rose.”
It wasn’t just about patience, though. Theodora'd spent the last couple of weeks boasting about how her father was getting her a broom and speculating as to how she could sneak it into Hogwarts without being caught. Rose rolled her eyes in an exaggerated fashion whenever her rival started going on about it, but that was all she could do. She couldn’t compete when nobody would give her any idea what she was getting.
Theodora knew that and delighted in rubbing he nose in it.
“And what are you getting for Christmas? Did I tell you my dad is getting me a broom?”
“He hasn’t said yet, but I know it’ll be something good. He earns quite a lot as an Auror, you know. How much does your dad earn, being a waste of space?”
“Don’t you talk about my dad?”
Theodora drew her wand.
Both girls swung around to see Hermione standing being them.
“You know the rules, Theodora. No magic in the corridors. I’m sorry, but I’ll have to take ten points from Slytherin.”
“Ah, where’s your Christmas spirit, Professor?”
Hermione ignored her, and headed off down the corridor, followed by Rose, who had no intention of spending any more time than necessary in Theodora’s company.
“What was all that about, Rose?” Hermione asked without turning her head.
She shrugged. “Just Theodora being a pain. She’s always like that.”
“Well, don’t provoke her, ok.? Sometimes you really remind me of your dad.”
Rose smiled. She wanted to be like her father.
“Do you think I could be an Auror too, when I’m grown up?”
“I don’t see why not, so long as you concentrate a little harder on your lessons. You have to get high marks in Transfiguration, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Potions, Herbology and Charms in order to be an Auror.”
Rose made a face. She wasn’t stupid by any means, but she didn’t particularly like schoolwork. There were so many more enjoyable things to spend your time on than homework, in her opinion.
Anyway, she didn’t have to worry about it for a couple of weeks now, she thought, as she packed her trunk for the journey home. Anthea was the only one of the Gryffindor girls who was staying at school, so the dormitory was in quite a panic as the girls searched for their things.
“Should we take down our posters and stuff?” Megan asked.
“I don’t see why,” Rose answered. “We’ll be back soon enough.”
Finally, they were organised and they headed out to catch the Hogwarts Express.
Rose and Diana quickly found a compartment and settled down for a chat. For a change, neither Snape nor Lucius Malfoy was so much as mentioned. They were too excited about seeing their families and the fact that Christmas was only a matter of days away.
The journey passed quickly and it seemed no time until the train pulled into King’s Cross station. The students crowded off the train, their eyes searching the platform for their families.
It didn’t take Rose and Diana long to spot Tonks’ pink hair. Harry was standing with her, so the they both hurried over to their parents.
“We had Auror business in London,” Harry explained, ruffling his daughter’s hair. “So we decided to come and collect you as we were here.”
As he was speaking, James walked over to join them.
“Hi Dad. Hi Tonks.”
Parents and children greeted each other quickly.
“Are you ready to head off now?” Tonks asked.
“Oh, wait one moment. I need to give Diana her Christmas present.”
The girls exchanged presents and Rose ripped hers open quickly. It was another set of Unnoticeable Notes.
“I noticed you were running low, so I sent off an owl order to Weasleys.”
“Thanks Diana.” Rose hugged her friend.
They said goodbye and both families left the station.
It was good to be home, Rose decided that evening. She hadn’t realised just how much she’d missed her mother, until she saw her waiting in the kitchen for her children to return.
“Oh, what’s cooking,” Rose asked.
“Just a few sausages and chips. I thought you might be hungry after your journey. Now sit down and tell me all about Hogwarts, while I dish up. Did you have a good term, James.” She turned to her son.
“Yeah,” he said eagerly, launching into a long story about his friends and their last trip into Hogsmeade. Rose would have been interested, if she hadn't had quite a lot to tell her mother herself. She just wished James would shut up and let her begin. He’d been at Hogwarts years, after all. He couldn’t have as much to tell as she had. It was all new to her.
They spent the rest of the evening chatting. Rose and James told about their term at school, their classes, their friends and all that had happened, and Harry told them some stories from his work.
“You’re still looking for Malfoy, aren’t you?” Rose said casually.
“Yes. Nobody really thought he could remain in hiding this long. Sirius did, of course, but he had the entire Order helping him.”
“Malfoy probably has people helping him.”
“He must have. He couldn’t manage it, otherwise. We’ll get him, though. It’s just taking a little longer than expected.”
“Do you have any idea who could be helping him?”
“Oh, we’ve a pretty fair idea, all right. It’s just a matter of proving it.”
She didn’t say anything about Snape. Glad as she was to see her father again, she was still slightly annoyed at him for the way he'd dismissed what she and Michael had heard. If he wasn’t going to believe her, then she wasn’t going to give him any help. He could just wait until she and Diana proved it.
There was far more on her mind than Lucius Malfoy, however. One of her main priorities was to ensure that her parents took her to Diagon Alley before Christmas.
“I have presents to buy,” she explained. “We’re not allowed into Hogsmeade, after all, so I've hardly had a chance to do any shopping since I started Hogwarts. Only what I could get by owl order.”
“All right, we’ll go to Diagon Alley.” Ginny smiled.
“Em, tomorrow, maybe, if I have time. I’m not sure, Rose, but if we don’t go tomorrow, we’ll go the day after.”
“Can we go tomorrow? Please, please, please, please.”
“If I have time,” Ginny said. There was a note of warning in her voice and Rose shut up abruptly. The next thing her mother would say would be “we won’t go at all, if you don’t behave yourself” and that was the last thing she wanted.
Diagon Alley was beautiful at Christmas time, Rose thought as she and Ginny arrived on its festooned streets the next day. Lanterns hung from the buildings and fairies fluttered all around the street. Music floated magically up and down the alley. Witches and wizards, dressed in their warmest robes, hurried to and fro, laden down with parcels.
James hadn’t wanted to go with them, so it was just Rose and her mother. After spending most of the last four months at school, it was nice to have her mother to herself for a while, particularly as Ginny didn’t have much shopping of her own to do and was able to give her full attention to her daughter.
“Does this mean you’ve already bought our presents?” Rose asked.
Ginny raised her eyebrows and didn’t answer.
“What do you need to get anyway?” she asked.
“Well, I want to get present for you and Dad. And James. And Jessica. I think that’s all. Oh, I know what I want to give Jessica.”
“What?” Her mother sounded a little suspicious.
“A sugar quill and a liquorice wand.”
Ginny nodded. That was ok. Neither of those things was actually magical, even if they didn’t exist in the Muggle world.
It didn’t take long for her to choose what she wanted to buy. She got the sweets for Jessica, a new quill for James, Beating the Bludgers-A Study of Defensive Strategies in Quidditch for her father, and a bracelet for her mother.
“All done?” Ginny asked, as her daughter came out of the jewellery shop.
“Will we call into a café for some cauldron cakes before we go home, so?”
She agreed enthusiastically and mother and daughter sat in the nearest café eating cakes and chatting, for half an hour, before taking the Floo powder and returning home.
“Did you have a nice time?” James asked, looking up from the book he was flicking through.
“Yeah, but I’m not telling you what I got you, seeing as you wouldn’t tell me,” Rose said.
James and Ginny both smiled. She knew they were laughing at her, or trying not to, anyway, but she didn’t really care. She'd had a nice day. It was a lovely start to the Christmas holidays.
The next few days passed equally pleasantly. On Christmas Eve, she went around to Jessica’s and the two girls sat in her friend’s room, chatting about their new schools. Jessica loved secondary.
“We’re treated much more like grown ups,” she said. “And we have different teachers for every subject, so at least we don’t have to put up with the really horrible ones all day. What’s your school like? I know you said a bit about it in your letters, but tell me more. Hey, what happened to that teacher who was helping that bad guy escape?”
Rose shrugged. “Nobody’ll believe us, and we searched the school, but we couldn’t find him hiding anywhere around. There are all these secret passages around the school and one leads into this little cottage in the town, so we thought he might be hiding there.”
“But he wasn’t.”
“I wish my school had secret passages. You know what it’s like, don’t you?”
Yeah, Rose knew the sixties style building where Jess now went to school and she much preferred Hogwarts. She said as much.
“Not that your school isn’t nice too.”
It was late in the evening when Rose and Jessica finally exchanged presents, before Rose finally left for home.
“Stationary,” she said, ripping her present open.
“Maybe it’ll remind you to keep in touch. Oooh, what are these?”
“I’ve never seen anything like them before. Where did you get them?”
Rose muttered something inaudible. She usually found that when she did that, people barely noticed she hadn’t really answered. It didn’t always work, and never worked with her parents, but this time it did. Jessica was too busy taking a bite out of the sugar quill to interrogate her.
“Thanks Rose,” she said, as soon as she took the quill out of her mouth. “It’s really delicious.”
“Glad you liked it.”
The two girls hugged and said goodbye. Then Rose left, arriving home just in time to avoid trouble with her parents. Not that they could have said all that much. It was Christmas Eve, after all.
It was the one night of the year, when Rose had no objections when it was time to go to bed. That night she didn’t even wait to be told.
“Night Mum, night dad, night James,” she said.
“Are you going up already,” Harry asked.
“Yeah, the sooner I go to sleep, the sooner it’ll be Christmas.”
“Ok, I’ll come up to say goodnight, just as soon as I’ve finished reading this.” He indicated the Daily Prophet article he was reading.
Despite going to bed early, Rose was far too excited to get much sleep and she woke up at six the next morning, having got only about five hours sleep.
“James, James, wake up,” she called, rushing into his bedroom. “It’s Christmas morning.”
“What time is it?” he asked sleepily, pushing himself up to look at the clock on the wall. “Five past six. Ok, Rose, I’ll be down in a minute.”
Ten minutes later, he had dressed and joined her in the living room. Rose was still in her pyjamas, ripping open her presents in excitement.
“Oh, wow! James, James, look at this.”
She held up Harry’s old Invisibility Cloak. Oh, why hadn’t he given her that a few months ago? It would have been so useful on their trip to the Shrieking Shack. Well, she had it now, anyway. It would come in handy in the future, she was sure. Apart from anything else, it would make spying on Snape easier.
James smiled. “Yeah, Dad told me he was giving it to you. He said it was only fair as I got the Firebolt.”
Never mind the Firebolt, she though. This was a hundred thousand times better. She didn’t say that to him, of course.
They continued opening the rest of their presents, but none of the others really compared to the Cloak in Rose’s mind. James got a really good wizarding chess set, which Rose considered a pretty boring present, but he liked it. There were plenty of sweets for each of them, a couple of records of famous wizarding bands and some new clothes. Their grandmother had sent them each a new sweater, which she had made herself and some chocolate frogs.
James’ present to her turned out to be a pair of extendable ears.
“Seeing as you get so much use out of Michael’s. I’ve heard you annoying him for them.”
It was a couple of hours before their parents finally came downstairs, by which time, Rose and James had already placed one of James’ new records on the record player and Rose had dressed in the Invisibility Cloak and was annoying her brother by sneaking up behind him and grabbing his ears or poking him in the back with her wand.
“Stop that Rose,” Harry said, as soon as he entered the room.
She lowered the Cloak.
“How did you know?”
“Remember I got that the Christmas I was eleven. I know all the tricks, I can assure you. Now, did you both like your presents.”
They both nodded.
Christmas day at the Potters was quiet, but enjoyable. They played games, listened to records, pulled crackers and ate far too much food.
“I’m stuffed,” Rose said, as she finally headed to bed at eleven that night. “I don’t think I could eat again for a month.”
“That’s a pity,” Ginny remarked. “I’m sure Ron and Hermione will have plenty at their party tomorrow.”
“Oh, I’m sure I’ll manage it.”
“Hmm, I thought you might.”
Rose loved the Boxing Day party at Ron and Hermione’s almost more than she loved Christmas day itself. They would get even more presents from all their relatives and Fred and George always gave good presents. It was also fun to meet all her cousins and have a laugh, even if it did mean Albert and his boring parents, Percy and Penelope as well.
However, there was a disappointment in store for the Potters the next morning, when an owl arrived for Harry.
“I’m sorry,” he said, lowering the letter. “I won’t be able to go to the party with you. Tell Ron and Hermione I’m really sorry. I wouldn’t miss it if it wasn’t important.”
“Aw, Dad,” Rose complained.
“Don’t tell me you have to work today." Ginny sounded as disappointed as her daughter.
“I’m afraid so. And I have to go right now. It’s urgent, or so they say. It’ll probably turn out to be a wild goose chase, but I have to check it out anyway. Sorry about this.”
“Don’t worry about it. I know what your job is like. We’ll let them know.”
Ron and Hermione were as disappointed as his family had been that Harry wouldn’t be able to attend, but they understood that there was nothing he could do.
“He’ll join us later, if he gets finished in time,” Ginny said. “I wouldn’t be too hopeful though. These things can take forever, and usually turn out to be some flight of imagination of somebody in the Ministry. You know what they’re like. Sorry, Ron, I didn’t mean you.”
“Oh, believe me, I know what they are like.”
Bored of listening to their conversation, Rose hurried off to find Fred and George.
“How’s my favourite niece?” Fred said, grabbing her and swinging her up in the air.
“Fred! Stop! I’m not five years old, you know.”
“Where’s your brother? George and I have a couple of presents for the two of you.”
“I’ll get him.”
She rushed off to find him and dragged him over to their uncles.
“Come on. Fred said they have presents for us.”
As usual, their uncles didn’t let them down. James got a Reusable Hangman game and Rose got a Skiving Snackbox. All of their cousins did similarly well, with Michael receiving U-No-Poo and Steve receiving a Snackbox like Rose’s.
Despite her father’s absence, practically everybody had a good time at the party. Percy spent most of his time collaring anybody who would listen and boasting about Albert’s fantastic results in the O.W.Ls. Strangely enough, nobody had much time to talk to him.
At half past seven that evening, Harry finally arrived at the party.
Rose raced over to him.
“What were you doing? Anything exciting?”
“You could say that,” Harry replied. “For once, the Ministry had a genuine reason for calling us out.”
Ron, Hermione, Ginny, James, Michael, Steve, the twins and others joined them in time to hear the tail end of his answer.
“Well, what was so important that you had to arrive here late?” Ron teased.
“We’ve found Malfoy.”
“Found him as in arrested him?” Ron asked.
“Did you catch his accomplices?” Rose said.
“Yes, we’ve arrested him, but no, Rose, we haven’t arrested anybody else, I’m afraid. He was alone.”
“Oh.” She didn’t know whether to be disappointed or relieved. At least, she could still have the pleasure of being the one to capture Snape, but it was going to be much more difficult if Malfoy was back in Azkaban.
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