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Chapter 47 : Christmas Words
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They’d known Voldemort would try something eventually – it was for sure he hadn’t gone through all the trouble of coming back just to hide in a cave without causing any trouble. They hadn’t expected, however, that it would happen that way, with Arthur Weasley being attacked by his snake while he was in some sort of Order mission in the Ministry of Magic’s dungeons… and they’d much less expected for Harry to watch the whole thing in a dream.
Though Arthur had survived the attack and was currently in a stable condition at St. Mungo’s, the incident had had repercussions in Harry, who seemed to be feeling that for some reason by having witnessed the attack on Mr. Weasley, he was responsible for it. So, he isolated himself in his room for the first two days after his return home with the excuse of being tired.
Sirius and Mia had noticed the change but, before they had the chance to go talk to Harry and get him to stop sulking or whatever it was that he was doing, Ron and Hermione had already teamed up with Ginny and Izzy and they’d all gone to have a serious conversation with him… or rather bully him into getting himself together. They seemed to be successful as, merely an hour after they’d all locked themselves in Harry’s room, he could be seen in Grimmauld Place’s living room with Ron listening to the wireless transmission of some Quidditch game.
His godparents were happy enough with it but that didn’t keep them from pulling him aside for a little talk later that day, three days before Christmas.
“I… I was the snake,” he told his godparents then, his voice barely a whisper as he stood in his bedroom.
“What do you mean, Harry?” Mia asked him in a soothing tone as she sat on the bed. She was doing the impossible to keep her tone calm after she’d heard him say that – it wouldn’t help him knowing that hearing it had freaked her out.
He sighed as he paced in his room. “In my vision I saw it all from the snake’s point of view. It was like I was it! And then, when I was telling Dumbledore about the attack, I still felt like one. Like I wanted to bite him too.”
Mia looked at Sirius, who sat on the desk chair in front of them – she had no idea of what to say to Harry about that. That certainly wasn’t the thing one expected their fifteen-year-old godson to say…
Sirius took over from there, as she didn’t seem to come up with any words. “Has this happened before? You’ve told us you had visions before but have any of those been like this one?”
He shook his head, sitting on the bed by his godmother’s side. “I’ve never seen them from someone or something else’s eyes – the other times were like I was there in my own body. This time, the body wasn’t mine.”
“And that’s why you were so freaked out,” Sirius said, receiving a nod in return.
“You’d be freaked out too if you saw yourself in something else’s body attacking someone you know and like,” he told his godfather, who gave him a sympathetic pat on the shoulder. “At first I thought Voldemort had somehow possessed me and gotten me to do the attack, apparated me out of the castle…”
“What? No, that’s impossible!” Mia told him with certainty. “You were in your bed at Hogwarts, Harry. It’s impossible to…”
“… apparate in and out of the castle,” he quoted Hermione. “I know, I know. The others have already covered those bases – Ron says he saw me tossing and turning in my bed and Hermione’s told me that thing about apparating for the millionth time. Ginny reckons I wasn’t possessed either – she’d know it, I guess, as she’s been possessed before. Izzy thinks this may be like the perselmouth thing… that Voldemort gave this to me too. I wish that it wasn’t me. Just for once, I wish it hadn’t been me.”
Mia sighed. “We know it’s not fair to you, Harry. And we wish we could do something to make things like this go away but we don’t have that power.”
Sirius nodded in agreement. “Exactly. And one thing is for sure: it wasn’t your fault Arthur was attacked. You saved his life, actually. That’s way more than any of us can say. Hell, by your age I was about to do one of the biggest stupidities of my life and nearly get Snape killed by sending him to Moony during full moon, as you already know. You saved a life – that’s pretty great, don’t you think?”
Harry sighed. That was a good way of putting it. Mia had told him once that everything had a good and a bad side… maybe this time, the good side had been bigger than the bad one. He’d just needed someone to remind him of that. For a moment, he smiled to himself and then replied to his godfather. “Yeah, that’s great. But it doesn’t explain why it happened.”
His godmother shrugged. “You know, Izzy may be right. You-Know-Who gave you powers he didn’t know he was giving you when he tried to kill you. Maybe he gave you this… window to his head too. A way to know what he’s doing.”
Harry huffed. “A view of a dark-lord’s thoughts out of my head… that sucks.”
“I have to agree with that,” Sirius said. “But at least it doesn’t happen all the time, does it? You haven’t been having dreams like that one since, have you?
“No,” Harry told him. He’d been having dreams of that door again – the one that lead to the Department of Mysteries. And he’d been so close to opening it this time… But he always woke up before. Maybe he’d never open it. “It freaks me out,” he murmured, referring to the possible cream connection to Voldemort.
“We know,” Mia told him, wrapping one arm comfortingly around her godson’s shoulders. “Look, we’ve talked to Dumbledore about this. He wants you to learn occlumency – it’s a way to close your mind from invasions. Maybe it will help with the dreams, maybe it won’t. But it can be useful later.”
“Do you know Occlumency too?” Harry asked.
Mia shook her head while Sirius nodded. “Your grandfather taught me and your father a bit – he was a very good occlemens and wanted James and I to be protected. Your father was fairly better at it than I am, though.”
“Hum, so who’s going to teach it to me? You?”
Sirius shook his head. “You’d do better learning it from someone who actually knows the stuff well,” his godfather explained. “We don’t know who’s gonna do it yet. But we’ll ask later.”
Mia nodded in agreement. “Yeah. Just don’t worry about it now and try to be a regular kid for Christmas.”
“Which shouldn’t be hard with the Weasleys spending Christmas here,” Sirius told him with a chuckle. “A prank or two by the twins will fix you right up. I heard something about them wanting to try some sort of candy that makes you sing with Celestina Warbeck’s voice. Priceless.”
Harry made a face. “I’ll keep an eye on my plate to make sure they don’t slip me one of those, then,” he mumbled. “I’d only make a fool of myself.” Though, he was pretty sure everyone else would consider that image even better than a Christmas present…
“Well, that’s the point, isn’t it?” Sirius asked, giving him an obvious look.
Mia turned to him. “Where do Fred and George get those ideas from, anyway? More, where do they get the funding to put them in practice?” She shot her husband a suspicious look. “You’re not the one supplying them, are you? Because Molly would have a fit if she found out.”
“Me? No. I know better than getting on Molly’s bad side,” Sirius said quickly. He had a feeling he knew exactly who’d given the twins the money for their business. Or was it a coincidence that just after Harry had won a good sum of money at the Triwizard Tournament that had puffed all of a sudden, Fred and George had won a silent partner for their business and a gotten around a thousand galleons richer?
“Well, speaking of Molly, she must be arriving from the hospital soon. I’d better go check if Kreacher needs help with dinner – it’s not every day he has over ten people to feed,” she said, getting up. “You can get to those sordid male conversations you guys have behind woman’s backs.” She made her way out and closed the door behind her when she left.
Sirius then leaned against the back of the chair, crossing his arms against his chest. “So, I’ve been meaning to ask, how’s that super secret rebellion against Umbridge of yours going? I can’t really ask these things at Hogswarts – Merlin knows that sneaky bat or her Slytherin snitched may be hearing all we say.”
“Yeah, you can never be too careful with them,” Harry agreed. “But the ‘rebellion, which is not actually a rebellion, by the way, is good. It’s really good. We’re making loads of progress. Those spells you and Aunt Mia thought me last year were really useful.”
“Well, we’re here to help,” Sirius replied with a grin. “Do you need us to teach you any other specific spell?” He grinned. “I know a few that aren’t so defensive but they could provide a good distraction.”
Harry chuckled, only imagining what it might be. “Thanks. Maybe I’ll take you up on that later.”
“I’ll be waiting. And what about in… other types of subjects? Need any help?”
“Nah, I think I’m doing fine at all subjects… well, except for potions but I’d say that’s to be expected.”
Sirius smirked. “I didn’t mean school subjects, kid. I was talking more about… female subjects.” He watched in amusement as a blush worthy of any Weasley covered his godson’s face. “Is it me or that Chang girl who plays seeker for Ravenclaw has been sending you a few doe-eyed looks lately? I think I’ve noticed her stealing a glance or two at several occasions. You had a thing for her last year, hadn’t you?”
“Hum… er…” Harry stuttered nervously. “Yeah, kind of. She’s been… hum… showing some interest lately. A lot, actually. But… listen, the other day, in the afternoon before Mr. Weasley’s attack, we were alone together and it looked like she was… like she was going to kiss me.”
“No. Not nice. There was no kiss – she just started crying all of a sudden and talking about Cedric and what they’d done last Christmas. I know she’s upset but… it’s like she’s only with me because I was there when Cedric… died. Like I’m replacing him.”
Sirius nodded in understanding. “It happens sometimes, Harry. But you don’t have to go along with it. If it makes you uncomfortable you can just let go. Unless you think there’s more to it.”
Harry shook his head. “No, I don’t think I like her that way anymore. Is it normal? Last year I could barely stop thinking of her.”
He laughed. “You had a crush – that’s as normal for a teenage boy as rain here in London. Some stick, others don’t, Harry,” his godfather said with a smile. He had a feeling that the bonding he’d had with a certain redhead girl in the past summer had contributed to the end of Harry’s crush on Cho Chang but he wouldn’t mention it now. The kid was embarrassed enough by talking to him about girls. “I had plenty of crushes myself. My point is it’s normal so there’s no need for you to feel guilty about it, mate.”
He sighed in relief. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome,” Sirius replied with a grin and he just couldn’t help himself asking, innocently asking. “So, do you have anyone else in your mind now?”
The return of the furious blush to Harry’s cheeks gave him away before he could even say a word. “I… er… sort of.” He paused. “But it’s complicated. See, we’re friends. I don’t want to ruin our friendship over a crush. What if it fades too like Cho’s did?”
Sirius snorted, causing Harry to look at him in alarm. “Sorry. It’s just that you sound like me twenty years ago. Let’s just say I had a crisis like yours.”
“Oh,” Harry murmured. “And what happened?”
“Well, at first I was confused, then the girl and I started snogging from time to time, then we started dating and, well,” he showed his wedding ring to his godson, “you know the rest.”
“Oh… Oh! Aunt Mia?” Harry asked in amazement.
“Yep. The thing about crushes is that you don’t really know what they’ll lead into until you do something about it. Sometimes, they may be your lucky break. My only advice is that you don’t jump into it – first think if you really like her that way. Not just the idea of her – I mean her: the way she acts, the way you connect and all the other stuff. If you do, give it a shot. It’s worth the risk.”
“There’s other thing,” Harry mumbled. “There are some people I’m friends with that might not like it so much. Not because they wants to date her or anything. They’re just… protective.”
If Sirius had any doubt his godson had been referring Ginny Weasley, now they had disappeared. He was clearly talking about her family, mainly her very numerous, very protective brothers. “Don’t mind them – they’ll get over it.”
He grinned. “Thanks for the advice.”
His godfather chuckled, getting up. “Yeah, well, I feel like lately I’ve been giving relationship advice as if it was candy. Now, I’ll get going and leave you to start evaluating how much you like that girl.” Sirius made his way to the door and left the room in a good mood before starting to descend the stairs – as long as his godson’s mind was occupied with the fiery Ginny Weasley, he wouldn’t be worrying about his possible connection to that snake-faced bastard Voldemort.
“… they’re going to spend the Eve with Dad’s side of the family,” he heard Tonks’s familiar voice downstairs. “I gave them an excuse and said I already had plans with some friends – see, Dad’s side is all Muggle and they don’t feel too comfortable with my ‘colourful attributes’, like they call it.”
“Well, now it’s not an excuse. You’re spending Christmas with us,” his wife’s voice replied, making him grin just as he reached the ground floor and made his way to them, standing by the front door. Tonks’s hair was back in its usual pink that day.
Mia turned her face to him just as he stood by her side and slipped an arm around her back. “Oh, there you are. Tonks escorted Molly back here from the hospital – I was just inviting her for Christmas dinner.”
“You don’t have to, really,” Tonks told them. “I know you have plenty of guests already, with the Weasleys here and all.”
Sirius shook his head. “Don’t even think of it, Tonks. The more the merrier. Besides, you’re family. You’re definitely coming.” And how nice was it that Moony was coming for Christmas dinner too and staying afterwards?
Tonks lifted her arms in defeat. “Alright, alright. I give up. I’m coming.”
The couple grinned victoriously. “We’ll serve dinner by seven but I’d say it’s safe for you to show up from six on,” Mia told her happily. “If you come earlier, be ready for the madness.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” the auror replied with a chuckle.
“Oh, and bring a change of clothes because you’re spending the night. There’s plenty of rooms in this house so don’t bother discussing it,” Mia told her in a firm tone that almost made Sirius believe she was possessed by Molly Weasley.
Tonks sighed. “Alright, alright.”
They talked for a couple more minutes before Tonks realized she should be back at work in five minutes and quickly excused herself, leaving Sirius and Mia standing on the hall by themselves.
“Quite a Christmas dinner we’ll be having the day after tomorrow, hum?” Sirius said with a chuckle.
Mia smiled. “Well, at least I’m not a pregnant hormone bomb then.”
He grinned back and dropped a kiss on her forehead. “You did have a special charm back then, though. Despite the whole kicking me out thing.”
“Oh, I’m still kicking you out this year,” she told him like it was the most natural thing in the world. “You and the kids. Get Remus, Bill and Charlie and take them all out for a few hours because I don’t want the whole bunch of you trying to sneak food out of the kitchen all afternoon long.”
Sirius groaned. “You’re a cruel, cruel wife.”
“Yes, I’m completely heartless. But you love me anyway,” she said with a grin, patting his cheek. “Now, go give Alex a bath before dinner, would you?”
Eight Weasleys, four Blacks, one Potter along with Remus, Tonks, Lulu and Gabriel made one hell of a lot people to spend Christmas Eve with and there would have been five more if them if Elizabeth hadn’t gone to spend her Christmas with some relatives overseas along with her father and children and Hermione hadn’t gone home to her parents. But, like Sirius had said, the more the merrier and Christmas Eve that year hadn’t lacked cheerfulness at 12 Grimmauld Place.
While the twins had been entertained poking the live fairies that decorated the tree and turning them into different colours, Harry and Ron had been rather entranced in a chess match, that was, before the twins had gotten the fairies to chase them all over the house.
In the meanwhile, Ginny and Izzy sat on the floor, entertained by trying to get little Alex to walk. At nearly ten months, however, the most the little boy could do was standing while holding onto the sofa, always ending up falling on his butt before he could even take a step, to his older sister and her best friend’s dismay. He hadn’t seemed so bothered by it, though, laughing like he’d just seen the funniest thing in the world every time he ended up on the floor. From time to time, Tonks would turn up and join the girls in entertaining the baby.
The adults had sat around the fireplace, talking, reminiscing and laughing. Gabriel had seemed the most nostalgic of them all, Mia had noticed. It might be because that was the first time he celebrated Christmas in fifteen years. It might also be because that was the first time he celebrated it with her in his life. Deep down, she felt happy for it too – as the months passed, that friendship she’d promised her birth father to try and get back had been lightly restored, despite the initial awkwardness. Though she still couldn’t bring herself to look at him and see him as her father, it was good having an old friend back.
At some point, Sirius had found an excuse to leave Remus and Tonks alone by the fireplace – which was worth a glare by his old friend – in the hope that they’d fall to their senses and just get together once and for all. They hadn’t. Those two, or rather just Remus, needed way more effort than normal people did.
It was nearly midnight when people started to retire to their rooms for the night and, in Lulu and Gabriel’s case as well as Bill and Charlie’s – who’d insisted in spending the night at the Burrow in order to be able to sleep late – leave to their own place.
As the others prepared to go to bed, Sirius, followed by Mia, carried their sleeping son into the nursery as quietly as he could, in order not to wake the little boy. He’d eventually fallen on his sister’s lap and, as it didn’t seem to bother Izzy, they hadn’t had the courage disturb his sleep until it was actually needed.
“This is his very first Christmas,” Mia whispered as Sirius laid the baby on the changing table so Mia could dress him in his pyjamas. “And he’s already gotten so big.”
Sirius grinned. “You know what we could get him for Christmas this year? A little sibling.”
His wife chuckled. “We’ll see,” she promised, carefully removing the red jumper the baby had on, trying unsuccessfully not to wake him.
The little boy whimpered, not so happy with being disturbed in his sleep, and opened those grey eyes that matched his father’s exactly and gave his mother an upset sleepy look. And then, he surprised both of his parents by saying his very first actual word. “Mama,” he said, as if complaining sleepily.
Mia’s eyes opened wide and she turned to Sirius in amazement. “Did he…?”
Sirius nodded, also in amazement. “Wow. Quite a Christmas gift.”
Her lips curled and she looked at her son again, before leaning down to press a proud kiss on his forehead. Alex didn’t seem to quite understand the commotion but he was pleased with the attention he was receiving, so the little annoyance that had covered his face before quickly vanished. “We really love you, you know?” she whispered to the baby before resuming dressing him.
By the time Mia had zipped the snowflake-covered sleepsuit up, Alex was back asleep and still likely unaware of how happy he’d made his parents with a single word. They placed him in his cot and just watched him for a moment or two before leaving the room, feeling their hearts melting with pride.
“Our little boy’s just said his first word,” Mia said, smiling widely as they entered their room.
Sirius closed the door, grinning too. “I sure hope the next one’s first word is ‘Daddy’ or something in those lines, or else I’ll take it personally.”
“In my defence, he sounded like he was scolding me for waking him up,” Mia replied, sitting on the bed, looking absolutely happy. It was like there was no evil in the world at that moment. She sighed and looked at her husband before getting up again. “I love you. Thank you for giving me our son.”
He chuckled, reaching for her and wrapping his arms around her waist. “If anything, you gave him to me, Mia. But I love you too.” He caressed her cheek with his thumb and pecked her lips. “It’s probably after midnight already.”
Mia smiled at him softly. “It is.”
“So, when will I be receiving my gift, Mrs. Black?”
“In the morning like a good boy, Mr Black,” she replied with a smile.
He slipped his hands under her shirt and roamed them lightly on her back, lifting her soft wool shirt a few inches. “But I’m already unwrapping it,” he said innocently.
“That’s because you’re naughty,” she told him with a smile, her lips very close to his. “Next year Father Christmas will only give you a sac full of coal.”
“Well, then I guess I might as well finish unwrapping my gift, considering I’m in the naughty list already.” He grinned and his lips touched hers for a single moment before he pulled them back a couple of inched. “And then maybe give it a try before we go to sleep, don’t you think?”
“What I think is that I’m going to the naughty list too,” she replied, pulling him firmly to her. “Kiss me now or I’ll have to make you.”
“As if you’d have to,” he told Mia. “I’ll do way more than kissing you tonight, love.” And his lips landed on hers, finally. What gift was better than that?
A/N: Well, the Christmas chapter came a week later. Too bad I couldn't match the dates... I'll admit holiday-themed chapters are not my strength, though. I hope you liked it, anyway. Send some feedback - the last of this year :D Review.
And now I wish you all a Happy New Year!
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