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Chapter 12 : Christmas
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Many of you, I’m sure, are anxious to know when this story is ending. As I have it planned now, the New Year’s Party should occur in either the next chapter or the one after that, so this story should be finished in two to four chapters (though don’t hold me to this! You never know how things can change…). Anyway, you get an H/Hr squee scene in this chapter, so I hope that tides you over. I promise I’ll do my best to get the next one out sooner!
Oh! On another note, during my writer’s block, I sketched pictures of Hermione’s/Ginny’s New Year Dress, as well as Mona and Lia’s Christmas dresses, and I also created a family tree for the Granger/Howard line. If anyone’s interested, I’ll scan/upload everything to my livejournal when I post the final chapter.
On another note, I know that many people are coming off a Deathly Hallows high. Nonetheless, please refrain from discussing the book in reviews. Many people haven't read the book yet, and it would be unfair to spoil them. If you have any questions for me concerning DH, please go to my "meet Hermione_Crookshanks" page and ask me there (though please SPOILER CODE your questions!!!).
Now, on to the chapter…
Why I have the right to be arrogant
By Ginny Weasley
1. Let’s face it – I’m always right. Always. Name one time that I wasn’t, and I’ll bat bogey hex you. Don’t worry – I’ve never been wrong.
2. My meddling has finally gotten one couple together. And about time, too! A certain brother of mine was driving me absolutely mental with his nonsense.
3. Even though Harry and Hermione have refused to write me (well, Hermione did write me, but her letter said, “Not going to happen; leave us be”), I just know that things are heating up between them. I mean, honestly, things would heat up between Malfoy and Hermione if they were stuck in a house together for that long (Merlin, that visual is going to haunt me for a few weeks).
4. I can get my ex-boyfriend to follow my bidding, even when we parted on negative terms. Now that is power.
5. I’m me. And yes, that might sound a tad conceited, but just wait a few years. Looking back, you’ll realise just how amazing I really am.
6. Conceited is a synonym for arrogant. I am conceited, therefore I can be arrogant. And there’s no way you can possibly disagree with this statement. And yes, I know this for a fact. Just like I know that Hermione will be forking over fifty galleons very soon.
“Love at first sight is easy to understand; it's when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle.”
As soon as Harry and Hermione reached the second floor, high pitched giggles reached their ears. Hermione’s face lit up at these sounds.
“Mona and Lia,” she said, more to herself than to Harry. She glanced over at Harry, and suddenly her expression became urgent. “Oh! I can’t believe I forgot!” she exclaimed as they began walking down the last flight of stairs. “No one in my family, other than Mum and Dad of course, knows that I’m a witch. They just think I attend this prestigious boarding school.”
Harry raised an eyebrow at this new information. “Why didn’t you tell them?”
“Mum thought it would frighten Lia and Mona, and she’s right. All of the stories that say witches are evil?” Hermione shrugged good-naturedly. “I’m not ashamed of being a witch, if that’s what you think. You know that. But I just don’t think my relatives would understand. And imagine asking two little girls of Lia and Mona’s age to keep such information secret! It’d be impossible. So no mentions of curses, or spells, or he— ” Hermione’s eyes widened as two girls ran up the last few steps and flung themselves into her arms. “—lo! Lia! Mona!” Hermione exclaimed, hugging the two.
Once Hermione had released the girls from her embrace, the smallest exclaimed, “My-knee!” The little girl’s brown wisps of curls framed her face, and her blue eyes lit up in excitement. “My-knee! My-knee! I missed you!”
“I missed you too, Lia,” Hermione smiled gently. “And look at you and your pretty frock!” Lia gave a small spin, showing off her maroon, velvet dress and many petticoats.
“Mummy bought it for her,” the older girl, who looked to be about seven or eight, explained. Harry deduced that this was Mona. She had strawberry blonde hair, which was divided into two plaits, and eyes that matched her sister’s. “And this one, too!” Mona pointed to her own frock, which was similar to Lia’s, but a deep blue.
“Did your mum give those to you as an early Christmas present?” Hermione asked as she led the girls into the living room.
“No,” Mona replied, wide eyed. “We saw them in the store and she said we could have them.”
“Oh.” Hermione’s tone was slightly clipped, and she looked up to exchange a look with Harry. Clearly she disapproved of her Aunt spoiling her cousins.
“Hermione,” came a voice when the four entered the room.
“Aunt Anna,” Hermione smiled. She walked over and gave her aunt a hug as Harry had his first view of the woman who gave Mrs. Granger a run for her money. Immediately he recognized that Mona took after her mother. Hermione’s aunt had strawberry blonde hair as well, although hers was considerably thicker than her daughter’s. Her tresses were pulled back with two clips, and they fell down her back in gentle waves. Although she looked considerably younger (Harry guessed Mrs. Granger was at least ten years her senior), Hermione’s aunt still looked remarkably like her sister, right down to the brown eyes, and Harry could’ve sworn the two had the same smile.
“Anna, this is Harry Potter Hermione’s boy— ”
“My friend, Aunt Anna,” Hermione interrupted, glancing at her mother warningly. Aunt Anna, however, simply raised an eyebrow at this statement, as if to say, “Honestly, Hermione. You’re fooling no one.” “One of my best friends since I was twelve.”
“Right,” Mrs. Granger said, suppressing a smirk. “And this, Harry, is my sister: Anna Howard. And this,” Mrs. Granger continued, pointing to a man to her right, “is my brother-in-law, Andrew Howard.”
“Nice to meet you Mrs. Howard. Mr. Howard.” Harry nodded at the man.
“Best friends for six years, hmm?” Mrs. Howard asked Harry. “Well isn’t that charming.” She smiled at Harry, a smile that clearly said, “I have your number,” and Harry could only smile nervously back. He felt as if she was appraising him, and he couldn’t say that he was exactly happy with this situation. Perhaps Hermione sensed this uneasiness, as she quickly asked Harry if he would help her set the table for breakfast.
“Oh, we already ate before we came, didn’t we darlings?” Mrs. Howard looked over expectantly at her children.
“Yes, mum,” Mona chimed in, as Lia was busy playing with one of the ornaments on the Christmas tree. “I’m not hungry. Thank you, Auntie Lizzie.”
“I wish you would’ve informed me earlier,” Mrs. Granger told her sister coolly. “I wouldn’t have bothered buying food for eight.” Harry looked nervously between the two sisters, wondering if the mild tension would explode into a heated argument.
“Oh Lizzie, dear, I’m sorry,” Mrs. Howard apologized breezily. “Lia’s developed some strange allergies and you know me. Always the overprotective mother.”
“Well, you won’t mind if we move this conversation to the dining room while we eat, would you Anna?” Mrs. Granger asked.
“Of course not. Come on girls.” Mrs. Howard ushered Lia and Mona into the next room, and Mr. Howard followed her. Harry got the impression that Mr. Howard was an incredibly meeker version of Mr. Granger. He was yet to say a word, and he followed his wife as if she was going to yell at him if he did otherwise.
“Well, this is going to be interesting,” Mrs. Granger sighed. “I’m so sorry about that, Harry. Anna can be quite a handful.”
“Don’t worry about it, Mrs. Granger,” Harry replied.
“Yes, mum, don’t fret. We can handle Aunt Anna. After all, we’ve managed to stay sane while living with you.” Hermione looked up at her mother innocently.
“Oh aren’t you the comedian,” her mother laughed. “You can use that humour to entertain yourself while you set the table.”
“I’ll help,” Harry offered immediately. The last thing he wanted was to be in a room alone with the Grangers, even for a second. His last encounter with them still had him scarred.
Half an hour later, Harry, the Grangers, and the Howards (who appeared to still be hungry, despite Mrs. Howard’s claims) sat at the dining room table, feasting on various foods and talking animatedly. Mrs. Howard was incredibly interested in Harry and Hermione’s school, especially Harry’s experiences there.
“So Harry,” asked Mrs. Howard as she placed a few pieces of fruit onto her plate. “Which is your favourite class?”
“Predators!” Hermione cut him off. “Defence Against Predators.”
“That’s an odd name,” Mrs. Howard commented, looking strangely between the two.
“Well, it’s always wise to know how to protect yourself. Don’t you agree, Harry?” Hermione gave Harry a pointed look, and he quickly nodded his head.
“It’s a very useful course. Much better than po…er, I mean, chemistry.” Hermione smiled approvingly at Harry’s codename.
“I was never too fond of the sciences myself,” Mrs. Howard said. “So, Hermione, to which universities have you applied?”
Hermione choked on her eggs as her eyes grew in horror.
“You have started, haven’t you, dear?”
“Well, you see,” Hermione answered, her voice slightly higher than normal as she attempted to come up with a proper lie, “at our school we get the credits for uni, so we, er, we get a uni degree in addition when we graduate.”
Mrs. Howard blinked at her. Before she could ask more questions, however, the phone rang.
“Oh I’ll get it,” Mrs. Granger sighed, running into the kitchen. Mrs. Howard’s attention immediately turned towards her sister as she signalled the room to quiet down. Clearly she was as nosy as Ginny.
“Hello, Mum!” Mrs. Granger’s voice exclaimed. “How are you? … What? … Is he okay? … Well thank goodness. How did it happen? … Mum! You’re supposed to be watching after him. You know what the doctor said! … Fine, fine. I understand. … Yes, well, I’ll be sure to tell Anna and Hermione. … Yes, we’ll be fine without you. … Mum, I can cook the Christmas meal. I do it every year. … Yes, I promise you, everything is under control. … Yes. … Tell Dad I love him and to get better. … I love you.” Mrs. Granger walked back into the room.
“Well, Dad broke his hip,” she sighed, sitting next to her husband. “So they won’t be able to make it.”
“But Grandfather’s all right?” Hermione asked, concern tearing at her voice.
“Yes, he’s fine,” Mrs. Granger said with a wave of her hand. “Sore, but fine.”
“Well, at least Aunt Sylvie’s still coming.”
Mr. and Mrs. Granger exchanged looks.
“What?” Hermione asked defensively. Mrs. Granger bit her lip. “Did I say something?”
“Aunt Sylvie’s not coming this year, Hermione,” Mr. Granger told her gently.
Hermione’s face fell at this news. She adored her father’s sister. She always broke the Howard-Granger tension. “What? Why not?”
“Apparently she wanted to spend Christmas with my father, seeing as she hasn’t seen him in such a long time. But because my stepmother’s dragged him to spend Christmas with her children…”
“They’re spending Christmas in the States?” Hermione asked. She gave an exasperated sigh and set her fork down. “Well then, I suppose I’ll have to ship her gift over, won’t I?”
“Gift?” Lia’s eyes lit up as she uttered this sacred word. “Is it time for presents?”
Mrs. Granger turned and sighed at her daughter. “Now you’ve done it.”
Ten minutes later, the Howard-Granger crew, and Harry, settled down in the living room, Lia and Mona unable to contain their excitement. Gifts were handed out, and everyone quickly began the process of unwrapping.
Hermione was rather proud of her gift choices this year. For her mother, she had picked out a gorgeous pair of earrings that she had seen in a small jewellery shop over the summer holidays, and she had chosen a book on new dentistry techniques for her father. Hermione gave Lia a picture book and Mona the complete collection of the Chronicles of Narnia, which she had read at Mona’s age.
Her own presents were equally satisfying, save for Ginny’s. Ginny had gotten both Harry and Hermione a book entitled How to Get Past Denial. Mrs. Granger didn’t even bother to hide her smirk as the two teen-agers quickly hid the books behind them. Ron, on the other hand, gave Hermione Hogwarts: A History – A Revised Edition, with a letter attached that read, “Happy Christmas. I know how obsessed you are with this thing. Hope you enjoy it. Just don’t ever mention this book to me again. Ever.” Hermione smiled and shook her head at Ron’s note, then quickly hid the present next to Ginny’s – she didn’t want to try and mugglify Hogwarts to her relatives.
Hermione’s mum had gotten her a dress, which Hermione had not yet opened, fearing that the dress would be more to Ginny’s liking. Her father bought her a new watch, and Aunt Anna gave her a biography on Jane Austen (Hermione had thanked Aunt Anna profusely, despite the fact that she already owned two copies).
Hermione waited to open her gift from Harry, instead opting to watch as Harry opened the present she had given him. His eyes widened in disbelief as he stared at the book in his hands.
“Wow, Hermione!” he gasped, staring at Quidditch – A Complete and Accurate History. “This is –”
“You get an update every month,” Hermione nodded at the book. She was, in all honesty, quite fond of this gift. She had not only found the last copy, but she had charmed it so whenever a muggle looked at it, the book simply appeared to be a football magazine. Needless to say, Aunt Anna was a bit confused by Harry’s enthusiasm (“It’s just a magazine subscription,” she whispered loudly to her sister).
“Wow,” Harry repeated. “I just…. Thank you.”
Hermione gave a small laugh, pleased that Harry liked his gift so much, and began opening her last present.
As the wrapping paper fell to the ground, Hermione felt her breath catch at her throat.
“Harry,” she breathed, staring down at the five books. “Oh, Harry…you didn’t…I mean…” She carefully separated the five novels, laying down one next to the other. Her fingers lingered on Emma, and she picked it back up and caressed its spine.
Looking back up at Harry, Hermione croaked, “Please tell me that these aren’t original editions.”
Harry immediately felt his heart rate increase. Was he just imagining it, or was she upset with his gift? “I…er…yes. They are.”
Mrs. Granger beamed at the scene that was unfolding. No “just friend” gave gifts this meaningful.
Hermione carefully opened up Emma, confirming what Harry had just told her. “Oh God, Harry,” she whispered. “I…I can’t believe…” Her throat was quickly becoming constricted by a sob, and she bit her lip as tears blurred her eyesight.
“Do you like it?” Harry asked hesitantly.
Before anyone could blink an eye, Hermione had thrown herself onto Harry, wrapping her arms firmly around him, and planted a kiss on his cheek. “I love it,” she whispered into his ear, burying her face into his shoulder as she felt tears stream down her face. “Oh, Harry. You have no idea…”
Mrs. Granger guessed that Harry actually did have a pretty good idea. At least his goofy grin and the fact that he seemed oblivious to the world seemed to indicate so.
“Well, shall we leave these two alone and get started on afternoon preparations?” Mrs. Granger asked the other occupants in the room, clapping her hands together.
“But I want to see them kiss!” Mona exclaimed. “Just like in the movies.”
“Yeah!” Lia agreed, though it was highly doubtful that she understood what she was saying.
Mr. Granger glanced over at Harry and Hermione, who still seemed to be in their own little world.
“I think this is enough for now,” he told the two girls, which displeased his nieces. “Let’s just leave them alone.”
Mona crossed her arms across her chest and glared at her uncle. Mr. Howard rolled his eyes at his daughter’s sudden visit to the world of two-year-olds. “Come along now,” he motioned to her.
“Mummy,” whined Mona, turning to the one person who hadn’t insisted that they leave. “Please?”
“Well now, we can’t just force them to kiss, Mona,” Mrs. Granger admonished from behind. Truthfully, as much as she would love to do just that, she didn’t want to destroy such a precious moment. “Just leave them be.”
“You know, a bit of mistletoe would solve all of this…” Mrs. Howard suggested innocently, her sly smile ruining the effect.
Mrs. Granger appeared to be considering this, but for once in his life, Mr. Granger chose to take control, and ordered, “No, absolutely not. Everyone: out. Our time would be better spent in the kitchen. Out. Now.” Mrs. Granger narrowed her eyes but followed everyone out of the room.
Harry and Hermione remained unaware of what was occurring around them, too wrapped up in their own world. Hermione gave Harry one last squeeze, and then regretfully let go of him and scooted back, her face rather pink.
“Thank you,” she whispered again.
“N…Not a problem,” Harry managed to choke out. With a small smile, Hermione leaned over and pecked Harry on the cheek once more, and then stood up and ran back into the kitchen, where she knew her mother would be awaiting her help with Christmas preparations. Harry took a few seconds to control his blush and lower his heartbeat, and then went to rejoin the party.
“Ronald Bilius Weasley, if you don’t get your arse out of this common room I am going to bat bogey you!” Ginny threatened her brother, brandishing her wand.
“For Merlin’s sake, Ginny, I’m your brother!” Ron cried, throwing up his arms. Ginny raised an eyebrow and took another step towards him. “Fine. You know, just because you got a good middle name doesn’t mean you have the right to middle name me!”
“Get. Up,” Ginny snarled, poking Ron in the arm. Ron did as she said, all the while glaring furiously at her.
“It’s just Luna, Ron. It’s just Luna and the Christmas feast. Why are you making such a big deal out of it?” Ginny demanded as she took Ron’s arm and led him through the portrait hole and towards the Great Hall.
“What if there’s mistletoe!” Ron cried, looking horribly pathetic.
Ginny rolled her eyes. “You kiss her and pray she doesn’t mention nargles. Knowing you, mistletoe would be a stroke of luck. You’re never going to get off your lazy arse and do anything about the fact that you’re absolutely crazy about her.”
“If you don’t stop insulting me, I’m going to hex you off the face of this earth.”
“Oh please. You can’t even transfigure a button into a pin.”
“I can too!” Ron exclaimed, turning red with anger.
“Look,” Ginny continued, ignoring Ron. “The fact of the matter is you need to do something before Luna decides that some snarkled woodpuff is more interesting that you are.”
“What’s a snarkled woodpuff?”
“They don’t exist.”
“Well, obviously. If it’s something Luna talks about. I mean, I like her and all, but I can’t ignore the fact that she’s rather eccentric.”
“No, I mean, I made it up. It sounded like something Luna would say.”
“Are you sure you made it up?” Ron asked.
“Ron, that’s not the point!” Ginny exclaimed, giving a small growl of frustration. “The point is that Luna’s going to think, ‘He hasn’t made a move. Maybe he doesn’t like me? Ooh, look, there’s a snarkled woodpuff…’”
“I thought you said that you made up the snarkled woodpuff?” Ron interrupted.
“ARGH!” Ginny screamed, and Ron had to duck as Ginny threw a hex his way. “Would you just listen to me you insufferable little…”
“Hello, Ronald,” came a dreamy voice, dispersing the anger and tension between the two Weasley siblings.
Ron gulped as he turned around. “L-Luna! H-How are you?”
“I’m all right,” Luna replied, staring up at Ron, while Ginny, smirking, silently removed herself from the picture. “Though I must say I’m a little frightened.”
“Mhmm,” Luna nodded. “Lately, empritents have been following me everywhere.” Her already large eyes widened as she said this. “And I don’t know what to do!”
“Well, er, is there anyway I can, well, you know, help…or something?”
Luna smiled dreamily at him. “Well, they’ll go away if I just find someone else who’s being followed by a horde of empritents, because if we kiss, then the empritents will mate, which will blow them up.”
“That sounds…pleasant,” Ron commented, feeling rather awkward as well as slightly upset by the news that Luna was trying to find this mystery person to kiss. “Well, I can’t see empritents, so I guess…I guess you’ll have to find your snogging partner on your own.”
“Don’t be silly, Ronald,” Luna laughed, sending pleasant shivers down Ron’s back. “You can’t see empritents. It all has to do with emotion.”
Ron scratched his head. “Well then how are you going to— mmph!” His question was cut off as Luna reached up, pulled Ron towards her, and kissed him gently on the lips. A few seconds later she released him, and for the first time in his life, Ron was in a more dazed state than Luna.
“There,” Luna said happily. “Now they’re gone. Do you want to go to the Christmas feast with me?”
“Huh? Yeah. Sure. Whatever,” Ron said, not understanding a word Luna was saying.
Beaming, Luna hooked her arm through Ron’s and began skipping down the hall, dragging a positively confused, but blissful young man behind her.
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