Chapter 6 : Part 1: Christmas, Fourth Year.
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J.K Rowling is queeeeen.
It was cold, and Amelie Harris sat shivering in the back of the Potter’s car. Her teeth were chattering as she was squashed between James and Albus, a Snitch flying around her head and Quaffle being passed between the two boys. Celestina Warbeck blurted out from the car stereo and Lily spoke loudly to her mother about when she could go to Hogwarts and whether the Holyhead Harpies would win the British and Irish Quidditch League. Ginny and Harry chatted merrily about plans for Christmas and goings on in the Auror office. An owl screeched loudly from inside its cage, and a cat clawed its way up Amelie’s leg. She couldn’t help but feel a little bit uncomfortable. And intimidated. Her first Weasley Christmas was looking a little bit dangerous.
“And then he gave me detention and that was that!” James and Albus laughed loudly, the younger brother hunching over in fits of hysterical laughter. James’ breath came in great gasps. Amelie sat unimpressed in the middle, awkwardly twitching her leg as the cat’s claws pierced her skin.
“You alright, Amelie?” James asked, wiping tears of laughter from his eyes.
“Err...” she answered vaguely, attempting to kick the cat off her, but failing, instead kicking the trunk that was squashed between her and the seat in front.
“The detention was a bitch!” Albus continued, completing ignoring Amelie’s on going struggle with the cat.
“Language!” Ginny shouted wearily from the front, before resuming her conversation with her husband.
“He made me serve drinks at one of Slughorn’s party! It was so boring!” He moaned,
“I’ve heard about those!” Lily squealed, leaning in from the other side of James, “the Slug Club!”
“Didn’t you get invited to one of those?” James asked Amelie.
“Well I...” Amelie started.
“Uncle Ron didn’t!” Lily shouted, twirling her plaited red hair around her finger.
“He must have been pissed!” Albus laughed, chucking the Quaffle towards James again.
“Language!” Ginny repeated, “Sorry Amelie, you saying something about the Slug Club.”
“I got invited to one last term.”
“That’s nice,” Ginny commented. “Do you remember our first Slug Club, Harry? On the train?”
Ginny’s husband nodded in reply, his eyes on the road.
Harry pushed the car horn violently as another car swerved into his path. The cat finally relinquished Amelie’s leg, leaping into the back of the car with fright. The Quaffle slipped through James’ outstretched fingers, bounced off the car window and hit Lily in the head.
“Ow! Albus! Why did you do that?” She started to cry, bawling her eyes out in the seat next to James.
“Oh shut up, Lily,” Albus said exasperatedly, “and stop crying, you are ten years old!”
“Sorry,” James whispered in Amelie’s in ear, “they are always like this.”
“Yeah, I got...” She began.
“Are we there yet?” Lily screamed, tears pouring down her cheeks.
“Almost, Lily,” Ginny said comfortingly from the front seat, “about two minutes now.’
“Oh Merlin. Why can’t we just get a portkey?” James asked his parents, when the trunk behind him spilt open, and several Honeydukes chocolates fell out.
“Because of all the trunks and stuff, James,” Harry said slowly, indicating and turning the car onto a long lane.
“Is it like this every year?” Amelie asked quietly.
“Yes,” Ginny answered, turning in her seat, “sometimes we are able to get a bigger car though.”
“Oh cool...” Amelie said weakly.
“So, Amelie; you excited for your first Weasley Christmas?” Harry asked, peering at her through the rear view window.
“I suppose so, I mean...”
“Mum! Albus is hitting me!” Lily screamed, glaring evilly at her brother.
“I am not!” Albus defended himself, “I’m on the other side of the car!”
“Oh right. Lily, don’t lie!” Ginny said.
“Yeah Lily!” Albus yelled triumphantly, sticking his tongue out at her.
“Albus! Be nice to your sister!”
“Albus Severus Potter! Be quiet!”
Amelie laughed. What sort of name is Albus Severus Potter? The car went silent. Celestina Warbeck warbled dangerously and the screech of the windscreen wipers beat the snow away.
“Sorry, I - I - sneezed...funny,” Amelie slowly, looking at James, who was struggling to hold in laughter. Albus looked like he was about to cry. Lily sat staring at Amelie with her eyes red and blotchy.
“I have...allergies,” she continued, nodding her head vigorously. A snort escaped James’ lips.
“We’re here,” Harry said, pulling into the drive.
Oh thank Merlin.
Amelie waited until Albus had got out of the car before sliding out herself. The snow melted onto her shoes as she awkwardly stretched her legs. When feeling returned to her feet, Amelie walked over to James, who was pulling his trunk out of the boot of the car.
“Is he really that sensitive about his name?” She asked him.
“Hell yeah,” James replied, shutting the boot of the car, “Ted and I used to bully him like crazy. Now can we go in? My feet are fucking freezing.”
“Language!” Amelie said jokingly, and turned towards the house.
The Burrow was tall, tottering and held together by lots and lots of magic. A large extension at the base now presumably held the kitchen with a large kitchen table - for the ever-growing Weasley family. Ancient Grandma Weasley was standing outside the front door, her arms stretched wide and a gigantic smile on her face as she welcome all her grandchildren and children and relatives-in-law. Amelie saw Teddy and Victoire in amongst the rabble, Victoire showing off an engagement ring. She also recognised Rose and Dominique, who were chatting amicably. The sheer mass of people, all part of the infamous Weasley clan, most of them related to the ‘Boy Who Lived’ and the Golden Trio, intimidated Amelie beyond belief and she stood, rooted to the spot.
“Your first time here?” A voice behind Amelie knocked her from her reverie. She turned.
A pretty, blonde haired girl stood behind her, her blue eyes framed by glasses. Amelie nodded.
“I was nervous too. They do tend to be a little frightening at first, and whatever they say about the ghoul in the attic, do not believe them,’ the girl laughed. Amelie merely nodded again.
“I’m Alice, by the way. Alice Willoughby, Fred’s girlfriend,” she said, holding out her hand for Amelie to shake.
“I’m Amelie, James’ friend,” she replied, shaking Alice’ hand.
“Yes! Just friends,” Amelie reinforced.
“Sorry, sorry. You must get that all the time. Fred and me certainly did. Mind you, if you are just his ‘friend’,” she put air quotes around the word, “then they are going to give you a test run.”
“A test run?”
“I got it last year, Quidditch, cleverness, prank ability. You know the score.”
Amelie looked Alice up and down. With the glasses, neat hair and perfect outfit, she didn’t exactly look the part of Fred’s girlfriend. Fred was a world-class prankster. Maybe she was the mastermind.
“Right,” Amelie said.
“And if you’re not James’ girlfriend, you soon will be. The family can be very persuasive.”
“You make it sound like they are the Weasley mafia or something, and I don’t intend to be his girlfriend, Alice. Far too incestuous.”
Alice laughed, “Well look out for the test run, and don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Fred Weasley came bounding towards the two girls, and slung an arm around his girlfriend, planting a kiss on her cheek before noticing Amelie.
“Oh Alice, don’t stand too close, according to Albus, Amelie has got allergies,” he said mockingly. Alice raised an eyebrow surprisingly.
“Anyway, I’m going to see Roxy before I catch something,” he finished, kissing Alice again and running off to find his twin.
“You have allergies?”
“I laughed at Albus’ name, needed an excuse.”
Alice made a face, “oh, never a good start. I got a scar from doing that.”
“I better catch up with Fred,” Alice said, “and it looks like James is looking for you. Good luck. I’m sure you’ll be fine.”
Amelie turned around, looking for a familiar black head of hair amongst a crowd of redheads.
“Amelie! There you are! Where have you been?”
James had appeared and a tiny blond boy had clutched onto his hand, staring up at Amelie with wide blue eyes.
“Hey James. Who’s this?”
“Louis, he’s Dominique’s brother. Anyway, do you want to come meet some other people?”
Louis grabbed hold of Amelie’s hand, and the three of them made their way towards the group of people gathered at the door to the Burrow. Amelie was introduced to hundreds of James’ uncles, lots of aunties, one pair of grandparents and thousands of cousins. And all of them seemed to think that James had grown about four feet, ask what Amelie’s mother did for a living (nothing, as she lived off multiple divorce settlements - although Amelie just said that she worked in a shop in Diagon Alley) and they all thought that they were a couple before James quickly corrected them.
“My, haven’t you grown?”
“Thanks, Auntie Audrey.”
James pulled Amelie along by the arm, wrestling through the crowd of relatives to the kitchen table, grabbing two seats at the far end.
“Why this end?”
“Parents sit at the other end. Kids plan Christmas prank,” James said quickly, beckoning Fred over to the seat next to him. Slowly, the other Weasley children gathered around James, including Teddy and Victoire and baby Louis.
“Tradition?” Amelie asked.
“Of course. There are plenty of them,” he answered, looking around at his comrades, “anyway, I picked up a couple of ideas from Filch’s cabinet when he had me in there for detention and...”
“So, Amelie, do you play Quidditch?”
Teddy, who had leaned in to talk to Amelie, had interrupted James. He looked a bit surprised when Teddy had stopped him mid-flow, hastily unfolding carefully drawn plans of the Burrow and various dangerous looking contraptions.
They are going to give you a test run, Amelie remembered Alice saying.
“Yeah,” Amelie replied hesitantly.
“Good,” Teddy said, nodding thoughtfully.
“She’s very good,” James said quickly, flicking through pieces of parchment, “but I think we should go with the...”
“And do you support the Wimbourne Wasps?” Fred asked next.
Amelie looked up from the sheet James had passed her, only to realise that the majority of James’ cousins were staring back at her, with the exception of Louis, who was smiling serenely and twirling Victoire’s hair between his podgy toddler fingers.
Think, Amelie, think. James supports Chudley Cannons; he said his Uncle does as well. Ginny used to play for Holyhead Harpies.
Alice coughed delicately from beside her boyfriend, and Amelie made eye contact with her. With the utmost subtlety, Amelie saw her shake her head.
“No,” Amelie said, turning once again to Fred, “dreadful team.”
Fred nodded smugly, and Amelie relaxed. Alice gave her a thumbs up from behind Fred’s back.
“Well that’s lovely,” James said, passing out bits of parchment for everyone to look at, “but can we get on? I think that our best bet is that at...”
“And what do you think of Oliver Wood, for Puddlemere United?” Albus asked next, interrupting his brother who shot him death glares.
“Oh Merlin! Why do you need to know?” James asked him angrily.
“Just asking. Some of us haven’t met Amelie before.”
“You live in the same tower! She’s on the team! What’s wrong with you?” James demanded.
“Just making polite conversation, that’s all,” Albus retorted.
“You’ve never done it before, Al. Why start now?”
“What are you doing down there?”
Elderly Arthur Weasley tottered down the length of the gigantic kitchen, peering over the shoulder of his grandson, squinting through his glasses to read the pieces of parchment scattered all over the table.
“Homework,” the Weasley children said at once. Amelie just stared blankly up at the old man.
“Good, good,” Arthur said tiredly, clutching his walking stick and walking back up to sit next to his wife.
“Right, you two, stop arguing and get planning. I’m pretty Angelina’s on to us,” Teddy said authoritatively, and Amelie glanced down the table to see Angelina eyeing them suspiciously.
The rest of the afternoon was good, if not a little hectic. Amelie sat next to James on a squashy sofa in the living room, watching several sets of his uncles and aunties get very drunk, Albus managing to throw the pudding at Dominique, who then succeeded in shoving a garden gnome down his trousers. Amelie winced and James laughed himself hoarse. Plans were drawn up for the annual Quidditch game, Fred sneakily sent prank plans through the crackers at the dinner table, which meant that Molly had to completely improvise a joke when her father had asked for hers (it was horrifically bad, but Percy laughed all the same). The presents around the tree had grown considerably as family friends dropped in and out, including the Scamanders and, to James’ horror, the Malfoys, whose son Scorpius was one of Albus’ good friends.
Amelie felt as if she had eaten her entire body weight in Mrs Weasley’s delicious cooking, so when she dragged her exhausted feet up the many, many crooked staircases in the Weasley house to a bedroom that she shared with Rose and Dominique, she fell straight asleep as her head hit the pillow.
Amelie awoke to the sound of girlish giggling, and opened her eyes to see Lucy and Lily, wearing matching pink tiaras and fairy wings, gazing down at her.
“Hello Amelie!” Their shrill voices pierced Amelie’s tired brain as she sat up. Dominique and Rose were already up. That’s strange.
“What time is it?” Amelie asked, rubbing sleep from her eyes.
“Six o’clock,” Lucy said proudly.
“Oh God,” Amelie said, flopping back onto her pillows, “what are you doing here anyway?”
“Fred sent us. There’s Quidditch training for the match in two days.”
“But it’s freezing,” Amelie complained.
“Wear a jumper,” Lucy said.
“You can borrow mine! It’s Babbitty Rabbitty on the front!” Lily said proudly, smoothing the front of her clothes.
“It might be a little bit small, Lily,” Amelie said kindly, “but thanks for the offer.”
She pulled herself out of bed, pulling on some jeans and putting a jumper on top of her pyjamas. After fishing her Firebolt from underneath her bed and stopping the two girls from trying on her clothes, she made her way downstairs, opened the door and Lily and Lucy showed her the way to the orchard.
“There you go,” Lucy said, when they had reached the outskirts.
“Aren’t you coming to watch?”
“Quidditch is a boys game,” Lily said superiorly, “playing fairies is a much better game.”
“Right,” Amelie said slowly, “well I’m going to go.” She turned to walk into the clearing, but was almost knocked to the ground when the two girls attacked her with a hug.
“Can’t breathe!” Amelie gasped.
“We’ll let go if you say that we can be your bridesmaids!” They squealed.
“You know,” Lucy said, pirouetting on the spot, “when you James get married.”
“Well, we’re not going...”
“You are! I saw it with my inner eye!” Lily said, pointing at the space between her eyes.
Oh God, they are tiny Professor Trelawneys, Amelie thought. She stared at the two girls, one attempting to poke her eye out and murmuring about crystal balls, the other twirling so fast that the bright red plaits were a blur.
“Listen, Lily, divination is a load of shit, so...” Amelie said, bending down to the little girl’s level and prising her finger away from her forehead.
“What’s shit?” She replied innocently.
“Oh shit,” Amelie whispered angrily. Young children are not meant to know swear words. Or maybe Weasley children have some sort of dispensation.
“You said it again!”
“Well, it’s a...I’ve got to go, you know, play Quidditch. Maybe you should stop Lucy from spinning quite so much.”
“OK Amelie!” Lily said, hugging the older girl again and tugging on the arm of her cousin, “come on Lucy, spinning is shit!”
The two girls skipped off, Lucy swerving off the right a little, and Amelie turned back towards the entrance to the makeshift Quidditch pitch.
“Oh my god,” she murmured to herself. I should be more prepared next time.
Walking into the silent clearing, she looked around. There was no one there. The sun was just rising on the other side of the trees and Amelie walked into the centre, her Firebolt dragging along the floor behind her. A twig snapped under her foot. She heard Lily and Lucy giggling from far away. They must have got it wrong. Amelie walked back towards the path that led to the Burrow, and was just reaching the trees at the edge of the clearing when something landed next to her foot with a horrible squelching sound. She peered down a realised an old, mouldy apple was just millimetres from her shoe. The tree above her was dead and so it could have not come from there. Turning around to face her attacker, Amelie gripped her broomstick tightly.
“Hello?” She asked, but there was silence. There was a rustling in the top of the trees, and looking up, Amelie was momentarily blinded by the sun. Just in time, her eyes recovered their vision and another apple came soaring through the sky towards her. She quickly batted it out of the way with her broomstick before looking into the trees, trying to find who sent it. Running towards the trees, she saw a flash of red hair in amongst the branches, and she paused.
The test run.
Amelie smiled. Fred can definitely do better then that.
She walked towards a thick clump of bushes, poking it experimentally with end of her broom. When there was nothing there, she moved onto the next one, all the while peering into the darkness for another red headed person. After searching through the undergrowth for about a minute, Amelie heard a giggle from behind her, and she turned to see Louis walking in the centre of the clearing, his toddler legs short and stumpy.
“Am!” He squealed as she picked him up.
Hey Louis,” she said gently, “how did you get here?”
“And do you know where Fred is?”
“In tree!” Louis smiled, pumping his tiny fists into the air. Amelie heard the crunch behind her, and turned swiftly. Fred was mid-launch, a mouldy apple clasped in gloved hands and a smug look on his face.
“Mouldy apples, really Fred?” Amelie said as Louis played with her hair, “I would call that a certain lack of originality. How many others have you got out here?”
“A small army,” he replied cockily, his hand still poised as the reminder of the Weasley children ran out of various hiding places, apples held tightly in dragon-hide gloves.
“Fire!” Fred shouted, and Amelie ducked as the fruit soared through the air, lifting her arm up to shield Louis from harm. He squealed happily. The fruit landed all around them.
“What’s going on?” James had arrived, carrying his own broomstick, “Lily and Lucy said that there was a Quidditch practice.”
“You got up early?” Amelie asked bewilderingly, still crouching on the orchard floor.
“Yeah,” he said, “anyway, what are you doing?” He looked around at his cousins.
“Well, we...err...” Fred began.
“There was this thing...” Victoire tried.
“And there were apples...” Teddy said.
“You’re not doing the test run on Amelie, are you?” James asked, scrutinising his cousins.
“Of course not!” Molly shouted, “what made you say that?”
“Well you are all up at about six in the morning, and you used the mouldy apples trick on your boyfriend about two years ago,” James said gesturing at Molly.
“That was not the test run,” Molly answered haughtily, “he was just an arsehole.”
“Language!” Victoire said.
“I told you not to do it on Amelie!” James persisted.
“It’s tradition!” Dominique said, flipping her blonde hair over her shoulder, “do you think we would have let Teddy marry my sister without giving him the test run? He succeeded, but you know what happened to Molly’s ex. He failed and he turned out to be a cheating bastard!”
“Maybe he cheated on you because he realised that your family were a bunch of psychos!”
“We’re just testing Amelie’s strength of character,” Fred said.
“I’ve known her for ages! So have you! “ James argued.
“Calm down,” Amelie said, putting Louis down on the floor and walking over to her best friend, “it’s just a laugh. If you really thought that I’d back down to some flying mouldy apples, then you’ve got another thing coming.”
“See! She’s up for it!” Fred shouted.
“But now she’ll be prepared,” Rose said, “now she’ll know it’s coming.”
“I already knew you were up to something,” Amelie said exasperatedly, not letting them know that Alice had warned her, “your questioning at lunchtime wasn’t exactly subtle.”
Teddy’s hair went a bit red. He was embarrassed.
“Well there is no point in doing it if she knows. The fact she knew before you actually started shows her strength of character, doesn’t it?” James asked.
“Fine,” Fred said dejectedly, “we’ll stop it. You do realise you’ve broken four years of Weasley tradition?”
“Oh boo hoo,” James said sarcastically, turning around to pick up his broomstick and the Quaffle.
While his back was turned, Fred leaned towards Amelie.
“Don’t think this is over just because your boyfriend said it is,” he whispered.
“I wouldn’t dare,” Amelie answered sweetly, flashing him a brilliant smile.
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