Chapter 14 : Un-wanted questions, Un-expected gifts, and an Un-forgotton Love
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“Merry Christmas!” chorused back a tumult of voices. She laughed happily. There was a vat of porridge on the stove, a long wooden spoon stirring itself round and round. Mrs. Weasley was stood beside it, a bowl in hand, looking imploringly at Ginny.
“Yes please Mum!” she said, taking the bowl of steaming porridge from her and stirring in a spoonful of honey. She took her first mouthful and sighed contentedly. “It’s so good Mum! As always!”
“Aww, thank you baby!” Mrs. Weasley said, stroking her daughter’s hair. Her husband was sat at the head of the table, Victoire sat on his knee. She was playing with his glasses and wearing her new, hand knitted sweater from Mrs. Weasley. Ginny’s own was sat in a large parcel wrapped in beautiful paper covered with shining stars. She reached for it, carefully un-wrapped it and put it on. It was a bottle green, hand knitted jumper with a darker green ‘G’ in the centre. It was perfect. “Ronald is coming for lunch today and his is under the tree.”
“Maroon?” Charlie asked, grinning.
“Of course! It’s his favourite!” Mrs. Weasley said, indignantly.
“Sure Mum…” Everyone around the table laughed.
The morning passed with a frenzy of vegetable preparation and keeping Victoire entertained. Ginny found herself peeling potatoes in the kitchen with her mother. They were supervising the knives as they chopped the carrots and were making sure that the sprouts didn’t boil over.
“Are you alright Ginny? I mean, have you spoken to Harry recently?” Concern flooded her face and she reached out to pat her daughter’s hand. Ginny moved it deliberately, returning it to the pile of potatoes.
“I’m fine. And no; I haven’t” she replied shortly. Her mother’s brows knotted together.
“But, I’m sure if you just spoke to him…” she started
“No. I have tried speaking to him and it doesn’t work. He knows how I feel and it is now up to him to grow up and get over it. He can come to me.” Molly Weasley gave a small snort of disapproval. Ginny was maddened. In her mother’s eyes Harry could do no wrong. He was the golden boy turned into the golden man – responsible for making something of her youngest son’s life. Ginny put down the potato peeler and left, seething.
* * * * * * * * * *
Ron rolled over, and grunted. There was an owl tap-tap-tapping at the bedroom window. ‘Oh for heaven’s sake!’ thought Ron, grumpily. He dragged himself out from under the warm covers and over the un-latch the window. It was stiff in the morning frost, even though it was 10.45am as Ron found out when he looked at the large clock on the wall. The owl flew in and perched on the end of his and Hermione’s bed. It stuck its leg out and on it was a thick roll of parchment. He recognised the familiar elaborate writing at once. Giving the owl one of Pigwidgeon’s bird treats he untied the letter and read it.
To my darling Ronald,
Happy Christmas sweetheart! It is very strange not having you around all the time, I often find myself turning to talk to you and then realising that I must look like a mad woman, talking to thin air!
How are Harry and Ginny? I haven’t had much contact from anyone. Wish them Happy Christmas from me, will you? And your parents too. I have sent presents too (although, by separate owl, and straight to The Burrow – I figured that is where you would go for lunch!).
Things here are fine. Despite the unwanted company, as you well know, I am having a good time. The work is challenging and hard. It’s good, it keeps me from thinking about home too much…otherwise I would be very upset. But I’m not, and that is a good thing, isn’t it?
How is the wedding planning going? Have you got a date for me yet?! I can’t wait to find out! I want it not to be spoiled for you and so I’ve decided that I will find my own dress and sent it, via owl, to Ginny to look after. I hope that does not scupper any plans you already had, but I want it to be a surprise for you!
I just wanted to say, before I go, that I love you, and have complete trust in you. I can’t wait to see you again and I miss you with all my heart. Unfortunately it looks like I will be in this for the long haul, however. I will probably not be home before Easter. I know, it’s hard for me too, but it has to be done.
Lots of love and Christmas kisses,
x x x
Tell Crookshanks I say hello!
Ron smiled to himself. It was sweet of her, to send him a letter. He hadn’t thought to send one to her. He supposed he should have really but he thought she would be too busy and, well, to be quite frank, didn’t think she would want a letter from him burdening her conscience with thoughts of home. He’d rather she had a good time and worked hard than spent her whole time pining over him and home. He walked through to the front room and placed the card in which her letter had been contained in prize position on the mantle piece above the roaring fire.
Ron showered and dressed quickly, before gathering the presents from under the tree and floo-ing to his parents’ house. He was greeted by a cheer of recognition and cries of welcome. He put the presents under the large tree, laden with homemade decorations from years ago, and went into the kitchen to give his mother a hug. Before long they were all sat around the living room, the aroma of cooking turkey making their stomachs rumble and the elderflower wine flowed, making conversation easy and genial. At around 3pm, Mrs. Weasley called them all through to the dining room. The table was laden with all sorts of wonderful delicacies. In the centre there was a large, golden turkey, surrounded by crunchy roast potatoes. In separate bowls were the sprouts, the carrots, the broccoli and the creamy leeks. There were also jugs of Molly’s homemade gravy, bread sauce, and cranberry sauce up and down the table. Everyone took their allotted places and, after making sure they all had one, pulled their crackers with the person next to them. Mr. Weasley made sure that everyone put their hats on before announcing that it was time to ‘Dig in!’
It was delicious, as always! They ate as much as they possible could but there were still piles of food left on the serving plates. With a wave of her wand, Mrs. Weasley vanished the plates to the kitchens to clean them selves, before Mr. Weasley broke out the eggnog.
The hours passed with present opening and many, many thanks passed between them. By half past 7 all was quiet, apart from the traditional Celestina Warbeck’s Christmas Concert on the WWN. They were all sitting listening sleepily, including Fleur, who, after many years decided that there was no point arguing about it, Mrs. Weasley would always win! Ron remembered Hermione’s letter.
“Oh! By the way, I had a letter from Hermione this morning. She says hello and Merry Christmas to you all.”
“Oh did she love?” Mrs. Weasley enquired contentedly, “That was nice of her. How is she?”
“Fine I think. Says its hard work but she seems to be having an alright time.”
“Even though she’s living with an idiot like Malfoy?” Ginny piped up.
“Yes.” Ron’s answer was short, his ears coloured up and Ginny took the hint. Malfoy was not a topic area he was willing to discuss, especially not on Christmas day. Ginny quietened down, lost in her own thoughts once again. She let the music wash over her and wondered, not for the first time that day, what Harry was up to. She didn’t know whether or not he would even bother to celebrate at all. She felt sad for him. On his own, Harry tended not to bother much and retreated into his own head – something she knew would end up making him more depressed, angrier than before. But she knew that she must stay strong. She had made it perfectly clear what she needed him to do. And it was now up to him to do it.
* * * * * * * * * *
Hermione woke up early that morning. She did every Christmas. It was the child inside her coming out once again. She sat up in bed rubbing her eyes. The cold wintery light came through the thin curtains making the room glow a delicate purple. Slipping out of bed, she slid on her dressing gown and knelt down to reach under her bed. She drew out a beautifully wrapped present and sat, holding it in her hands, wondering. Nodding decidedly she stood up and made her way down the stairs. Malfoy was sat at the table, a plate of chocolate chip pancakes in front of him. Hermione came past and sat on the opposite side of the table. Peep hurried forward with a mug of freshly made coffee and another plat of pancakes.
“Thank you Peep,” Hermione said, “And Merry Christmas!”
“Merry Christmas to you too Miss. Granger!” Hermione smiled indulgently at her and began to eat the pancakes. Malfoy looked up at her.
“Merry Christmas.” He said in a flat voice.
“Oh, and to you.” Hermione smiled. It was Christmas; she was going to be nice. “This is for you by the way” She tossed the present over the table. He picked it up, confused.
“Well, yeah! It is Christmas after all.”
“Oh. Right. Thanks, I guess.” He opened the gift, putting the wrapping by the side of his plate. His long fingers turned the lid of the box and lifted the gift out from its centre. It was a beautiful, elegant Eagle feather quill. The feather itself was a deep brown in colour and had golden tints towards the edge. The end had a golden nib to make writing easier. It also had built in spell check function with an erasing button on one side. “It’s really…nice…thanks. I didn’t get you anything, I’m afraid…I didn’t realise we were doing presents.”
“It’s fine. Season of goodwill and everything.”
“Not really. I should have thought. S…” Hermione thought he was about to apologise to her but no, he stopped himself just in time. ‘Hah!’ she thought, ‘Just when I thought he was going to turn into a half decent human being!’
They finished breakfast with nothing more than polite conversation passing between them. Hermione got up and vanished the dishes. It was Christmas, Peep deserved a day off. Draco said nothing but got up and left for, what Hermione presumed, was his office.
He climbed the stairs and pushed open a heavy, wooden door about half way up. He sat in a large, shiny leather armchair and took out the quill. It really was lovely and he felt bad that he hadn’t thought to get Hermione anything. Ever since that evening, which Hermione was acting like had never happened, he thought that he ought to stick to what she expected – being an arrogant pig. He would treasure that quill. His old one was bought by his father and carried an awful lot of bad feeling. Something he would never forget. But now, well, she had bought him a gift. And a fantastic gift at that. He shook his head kind of sadly. He had thought this would be good for them. A good way of rekindling an old friendship. An old…love, if you will. A love he had never given up on. Not really.
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