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Chapter 17 : Christmas Arguments
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“Will she really print anything?” Lily asked.
“Yes,” Harry said.
It was Christmas Eve and Albus and the rest of the Potters had just Apparated to the field behind the Burrow. Albus was a bit nervous about being in the presence of a reporter from Wizards magazine and was not at all keen about being in an article. He was relieved they were late, as usual, because by now the reporter would probably be involved in listening to somebody else's conversation and might not even notice Albus.
“And James, don't even think about slipping something into her soup,” Ginny said sternly.
Harry, who had just put his hand on the doorknob, turned around and stared at James. “Seriously, James, absolutely not.”
“I wasn't going to!” James said. “I swear!”
Harry sighed. “Empty your pockets.”
“But I wasn't going to-”
“James Sirius Potter, listen to your father,” Ginny said.
Albus put his hand over his mouth to hide his laughter while his brother pulled a handful of Ton-Tongue Toffees and a vial of Weasleys' Itchiest Itching Powder out of his pocket. Ginny took them and incinerated them with her wand. She brushed the ash onto the ground and James stared at it longingly.
“Shut up, Albus,” James muttered as Harry opened the door.
That just made Albus laugh even harder, earning him a punch in the shoulder from James. Albus returned the punch while Lily rolled her eyes.
“Boys, cut it out,” Ginny scolded.
“Ginny! Harry!” Molly exclaimed as they stepped inside. “Happy Christmas!”
“Happy Christmas, Mum,” Ginny said as the two hugged.
Albus slipped past after giving his grandmother a quick hug, grabbing a handful of biscuits on his way to the den. The first thing he noticed was that the reporter was sitting on a stool in the corner. She stuck out like a Weasley at a Malfoy gathering, in her black skirt, flowery top, high-heeled shoes. Who wore heels to the Burrow? Weird, Albus thought. Her jet-black hair was done up in some sort of bun and her lips were smeared with bright red lipstick.
The second thing Albus noticed was just how clean the Burrow was. He hadn't noticed it in the kitchen, what with the many pots and dishes full of warm, steaming food, but out in the den, it was very noticeable. The Burrow was never dirty, exactly, but it wasn't immaculately neat like Matt and Kaden's houses were. Instead it merely looked lived in, Albus always thought. It was cluttered with piles of books and stacks of board games and various Muggle and magical devices. Blankets and pillows were thrown haphazardly onto couches and chairs, never being folded or stacked neatly. But today, everything was neat. The stacks of books had been shelved and the blankets folded. The sheer amount of stuff seemed to have been moved or vanished because Albus didn't see a single Muggle electronic device half-taken apart on the floor or table. It was bizarre. The Burrow didn't look like the Burrow without its clutter. You never knew what you'd find at the Burrow and Albus liked that.
Shaking his head slightly, Albus carefully stepped around a few of his cousins and walked over to where Rose and Amanda were sitting on the floor. They had a large platter of food in front of them, making Albus realize how hungry he was.
“So, what have I missed?” he asked in between bites of roll. “I see someone cleaned.”
“Gran did. Said she wanted to make a good impression. Uncle Percy's been bragging loudly to the reporter about all the laws he's helped pass,” Rose said. “But all the reporter wants to do is interview the rest of us. I guess her article is all about where Uncle Percy came from and what his family is like.”
“Who's she talked to so far?” Albus asked.
“Aunt Corrine, Gran, Gramps, Uncle Bill, Uncle Fred, both of my parents, Victoire, Samantha, and Lindy,” Rose said.
“She hasn't wasted any time,” Amanda said.
“There's a photographer around here somewhere,” Rose said as she glanced around the room. “Oh there he is.”
Rose indicated to the stairs, where Percy was leading a scrawny bloke back into the den.
“Is he wearing-”
“Dress robes?” Rose said. “Yeah, he's been wearing them all night.”
“Let's get a few shots of you playing a game with the twins,” the photographer said as he and Percy walked past Albus, Rose, and Amanda.
“Wonderful idea!” the reporter exclaimed as she hopped off her stool.
“How did she hear that?” Albus whispered to Rose.
“Harry Potter's son!” the reporter said as she grabbed Albus's arm, causing him to drop the biscuit he was holding. “Let's get him in the shot, too. Hmm...” she glanced around the room, her eyes finally coming to rest on Amanda. “We'll need a shot with you and Percy as well. Candidate plays Exploding Snap with the Prime Minister's niece! Perfect! I could not have planned this better.”
“How did she know that I'm the Prime Minister's niece?” Amanda asked.
“She knows everything,” Rose said darkly. “Creepy, really.”
Albus soon found himself playing a staged game of Exploding Snap with Uncle Percy, Samantha, and Lindy. The whole thing was very ridiculous since none of them were photographed with ash on their faces. Then it was Amanda's turn, but she was posed with a set of Wizard's Chess, “for variety.”
“Now that's something Laurentis won't have,” Percy said jovially after the photographer finished. “Photograph with the Prime Minister's niece.”
“But nobody knows I'm the Prime Minister's niece,” Amanda said once she, Rose, and Albus escaped into the kitchen. “It's supposed to be a secret.”
“Maybe it won't get printed,” Albus said.
“God, I hope not,” Amanda muttered. “So is this what Christmas Eve is usually like?”
“Mostly,” Albus said as he walked over to the doorway. He peered into the den and took stock of what his family was up to.
His uncles Fred, Ron, Bill, and Charlie, were closest to the kitchen and were singing 'Odo the Hero.' All four had mugs of eggnog in hand. Gran was listening to Celestina Warbeck while Aunt Fleur glared at the wireless. It seemed to be distracting her from the conversation she was having with Aunt Katherine and Aunt Hermione. Most of his cousins were eating or laughing about one thing or another. Samantha and Lindy were playing Exploding Snap for real now, along with Eddie and Angie.
In fact, the only one who seemed to be acting any differently was Uncle Percy, who was talking with the reporter and the photographer. Aunt Corrine was as well, but none of their older children were anywhere in sight.
“Have you seen Bradley, Cedric, or Georgia anywhere?” Albus asked Rose.
“Actually, no,” Rose said. “Let's go find them.”
Albus and Amanda followed Rose out of the kitchen and up the stairs. As they peered into each bedroom, Albus found out just where his gran had stored all the stuff that used to be in the den. Every single room had a pile of random stuff in it. They eventually found their three cousins hiding out in Uncle Ron's old bedroom at the top of the house. They were sitting on one of the beds and were deep in conversation.
“What's going on in here?” Albus asked as they shut the door.
All three startled, but then seemed relieved to find it was only Albus, Rose, and Amanda.
“We're avoiding the reporter,” Georgia said, “and talking about how much it will suck if Dad gets elected.”
“But Laurentis is bloody insane,” Albus said as he stepped over a typewriter and sat down on the opposite bed. “Uncle Percy has to win.”
“Well, I don't want him to,” Bradley said. “Do you realize how much life will change if he does?”
“I've got a bit of an idea,” Amanda said, sitting down next to Albus. Rose sat on his other side.
“Before his campaign started no one really knew what Dad did,” Bradley said. “Or even who he was. I mean, if they heard his name they would know him, but he was just Percy Weasley. Do you know what I mean?”
“He'll be Percy Weasley, Minister of Magic. Not just Percy Weasley, your dad,” Amanda said. “Minister isn't a just a job. It's not something he'll leave at the office at five. It's more a lifestyle.”
“Exactly!” Bradley agreed.
“And you'll always be the Minister's son,” Amanda said.
“How do you know all this?” Cedric looked at Amanda strangely.
“My Uncle's the Prime Minister,” Amanda said casually.
“Of Britain?” Bradley exclaimed. “And you've kept this secret for four years?”
“Yeah. It won't be for much longer since that photographer just took a picture of me with your dad,” Amanda said. “Anyway, you're right that your life won't be the same if he gets elected. And even after his term is up you'll still always be the Minister's son.”
“And we'd have to move into the Minister's Mansion,” Bradley said.
“You wouldn't. You're going to graduate in June,” Cedric pointed out. “And Georgia already moved out.”
“You'll be in Hogwarts most of the year,” Georgia pointed out.
There was a knock on the door and then it swung wide open. Percy stood in the doorway flanked by the reporter and photographer. Percy had changed out of his robes and was now wearing a green Weasley jumper with a red 'P' on the front. In his arms was a stack of what appeared to be more Weasley jumpers.
“There you lot are,” Percy said. “We're doing a picture of the whole family in our jumpers.” He tossed one to each of his children and then one each to Albus and Rose. “Get changed and get downstairs.”
“Are they all initial jumpers this year?” Georgia asked as she held hers up. It was grey with a purple 'G.'
“Must be,” Albus said as he yanked off the jumper he was wearing and pulled on his new one. It was blue with a gold 'A.'
“Bet it's to make us look like a cheesy family,” Bradley muttered as he changed.
Once they'd all changed Albus and Rose followed their cousins back down to the den. Amanda followed as well, but she lingered on the stairs, clearly not wanting to be dragged into anymore photographs.
Albus's entire family was posed in half the den. The photographer was running around making small adjustments, which Albus thought was pointless. There was no way he was going to get thirty-two people to all look at the camera and smile nicely at the same time.
The photographer noticed Albus, Rose, Georgia, Bradley, and Cedric and shoved Albus in between James and Lily, who were sitting right in the middle, on the floor.
“Lovely!” the photographer exclaimed a few minutes later. He ran to the other side of the room and stuck his head behind the camera. “Everyone smile! Beautiful!” He took dozens of pictures and Albus soon grew tired of sitting still and smiling.
“Wonderful!” the reporter shouted once the photographer finally finished. “I think we've got what we need. I wish you all a happy Christmas. The article should be out just after New Year's.”
“I thought she was staying for tomorrow, too,” Albus whispered to Rose.
Rose shrugged. “Maybe she got enough from just one night. Either that or she got overwhelmed.”
Percy walked the reporter and photographer out of the Burrow, thanking them profusely as he did so.
“Bedtime, everyone!” Molly shouted.
No one objected. It had certainly been the strangest Christmas Eve gathering the Weasley family had ever had and Albus was very much looking forward to tomorrow, when things would get back to some semblance of normal. Albus walked up to bed with Rose and Amanda, wishing them both good night when they reached Uncle Charlie's old bedroom, where the two would be staying. James, Ben, Cedric, and Bradley were already in Uncle Ron's old room when Albus arrived.
“Quidditch tomorrow?” James asked as all four boys climbed into their beds.
“You're going down, Potter,” Bradley replied.
“Is that a challenge, Weasley?”
“Sure is,” Bradley said.
Yes, tomorrow would be a lot more normal, Albus thought. Quidditch was a Christmas tradition for his family and nothing, even his uncle running for Minister, was going to prevent it.
“And that's how we do it in Kenmare!” Georgia exclaimed, having just saved a goal by spinning in midair and hitting the Quaffle back into play by the end of her broom. “Kenmare Krazy Keeper move!”
“You're still going to lose!” Bradley shouted as he hit one of the Bludgers toward Albus, who dodged it and caught the Quaffle. “We've got Teddy!”
“If Teddy were a real Seeker he'd be playing for a League team and not studying to be an Auror!” Georgia shouted back.
“He's still not as good as James,” Bradley said.
“Yeah, I taught James everything he knows!” Teddy said as he flew past, heading toward Georgia's left goal post. “And that's game!” he shouted, returning with the Snitch clutched in his hand. “Aurors have to have constant vigilance, just like Seekers.”
Albus flew to the ground, still holding the Quaffle. It had been a good game, even though his team had lost, but the temperature was dropping and the clouds were rolling in. It was a good time to head back inside for Christmas dinner, especially since the scent of roast turkey and potatoes had been drifting outside for the past half hour.
Tables, already covered in numerous dishes of food, had been set up in the kitchen extending into the den while they played. Albus hurried upstairs to change and when he returned, everyone was drifting toward the tables. Albus hurried to the seat Rose and Amanda had saved him, which thankfully was nowhere near Percy.
“How was Quidditch?” Rose asked.
“Good,” Albus said. “We lost, but Teddy's pretty much unbeatable, so I wasn't surprised.”
“I'm surprised he didn't play professionally,” Amanda said.
“He thought about it,” Albus explained. “And he had offers, but he deferred them for a year because he wasn't sure. Then he just decided to join the Auror Academy, because of his parents, you know.”
“Makes sense,” Amanda said.
“I'd like to make a toast,” Percy announced after everyone was seated. He held up his glass of pumpkin juice. “I just want to say thank you, to all of you, for putting up with the reporter yesterday, and for everything you've done for the campaign. We only have three months to go, so let's make the most of it. Keep up all the great work. Here's to a win in April!”
Albus clinked glasses with Rose and Amanda and then served himself a large helping of turkey. This was what he enjoyed the most about Christmas at the Burrow. As he he ate, he listened in on the conversations his cousins, aunts, and uncles were having.
To Albus's left, his aunt Hermione was giving James, Cedric, and Ben study tips for their O.W.L.s. The boys were nodding as if they were listening, but Albus knew they weren't. Victoire and Teddy were holding hands under the table, which was kind of funny because Victoire was having to eat with her left hand, a skill she clearly did not possess. James, Bradley, and Georgia were discussing Quidditch with Uncles George and Ron. Eddie was showing the twins, Lily, and Hugo just how many peas he could fit into his mouth at once. Percy was, of course, discussing the gritty details of his campaign with his wife and parents. Fred and Mark were telling Angie about the secret passageway that lead into the basement of Honeyduke's. The rest of his family was too far away for Albus to hear what exactly they were saying, but everyone seemed happy.
“This is what it's really like,” Albus told Amanda. “Usually there are a few pranks.”
“You missed one earlier,” Rose said while Amanda laughed. “James put one of those wind-up Pygmy Puffs in Gran's biggest pot, so while she was chopping vegetables it jumped out and started screeching. Aunt Ginny knew it was James, too. He got chewed out while you were upstairs changing.”
“She had no proof!” James cut in. “It could have been Cedric.”
“But it wasn't,” Rose said. “It was you.”
“James, did you hear me?” Hermione asked. “I was just saying how you need to start with your weakest subject first. Honestly, you should've started preparing last year. Albus, Rose, Amanda, are you listening? You should start revision now.”
“I started weeks ago, Mum,” Rose said.
Hermione smiled. “That's my girl.”
“She'll be lucky if James starts revising a month before,” Albus whispered to Amanda.
“That would be stupid,” Rose said. “What does he want to do after Hogwarts? He'll need certain O.W.L.s to get into the right N.E.W.T. classes.”
“He's got no idea,” Albus said, “except he wants to play Quidditch.”
“He'd better get going,” Rose said.
“Oh, and I suppose you've got it all figured out, Rose?” James asked.
“As a matter of fact, I'm thinking of getting into psychiatry,” Rose said. “Get my healing degree, specializing in psychiatry.”
“Fine, then,” James muttered.
“Really?” Albus asked.
Rose nodded. “I've been thinking about it since summer and it's really want I want to do.”
“Don't you think you're a bit young to have decided that?” Albus asked.
“Matt's sister had it all figured out in fourth year and look where she is now,” Rose pointed out.
She did have a point there, Albus thought. Matt's sister was well on her way to getting both her healing and brewing degrees, with only two and a half more years to go. Albus didn't even want to think about what he would do after he graduated from Hogwarts. It was too far away.
“I have an announcement to make!” Gabriella said as she stood up.
The room quieted and everyone turned to look at Gabriella. She wasn't usually one to make speeches or announcements during family dinners. In fact, she was one of the quieter of Albus's cousins, certainly not coming near to the level of boisterousness of Bradley, James, or Georgia.
“Thanks,” she said. “None of you know this yet, since I figured I'd just tell you all at once today. I've decided to move to France.”
The room was silent, much like it was after Percy announced his intent to run for Minister at the before school dinner. Then, as happened after Percy's announcement, everyone began to talk at once.
“You're what?” Bill exclaimed.
“Gabriella, honey!” Fleur shouted, dropping her glass of wine. “What prompted this?”
“The political climate in France is very unsteady,” Percy said. “I wouldn't recommend moving there.”
“What are you going to do there?” Heather asked.
Albus wasn't at all surprised. Gabriella had spent a few weeks in France that fall and seemed to enjoy it. He wasn't sure why her parents seemed so surprised.
“If everyone could just let me talk!” Gabriella shouted. The room quieted one more. “I've already cleared it with Grandmere and Grandpere. They're going to let me stay with them until I get on my feet. When I painted there this fall it just felt so right. My paintings there were so much better than the ones I've painted here-”
“But what will you do for money?” Bill asked. “You know I could still get you that internship. This is crazy.”
“Dad, it's what I want to do. I don't want to spend everyday in an office and miss out on life. No offense. Painting is what I love. I want to try this.”
“But Gabriella, it's not practical-” Bill began.
“Bill,” Molly said quietly. “She's just rebelling a bit. You did the same when you were her age. Remember the earring? The hair?”
Bill's face reddened. “It's not the same, Mum. I had a job. I wasn't learning the finer points of being a starving artist!”
“Dad! I'm a good artist! I'm not going to starve!”
“You know my parents would never let her starve,” Fleur said.
“That's not the point. The point is that she should be doing something productive. When Victoire was her age-”
“I'm not Victoire!” Gabriella exclaimed. She turned and left the room, running up the stairs. A few moments later a door slammed.
Bill made to get up, but Victoire put her hand on his shoulder, forcing him back into his seat. “Dad, I'll go.”
The room lapsed into uncomfortable silence after Victoire took off after her sister. Albus was slightly shocked at his uncle's dislike of Gabriella's plan. Albus had always thought of Bill as his cool uncle, the uncle who would be supportive of whatever his kids wanted to do. But now he was acting just like Percy had about Georgia's desire to be a Quidditch player.
“I support you, Bill,” Percy said pompously. “Artist is not a career. You've got to fight this. Went through the same thing with Georgia-”
“Really, Dad?” Georgia asked. “After the past few months of going to my games and making the press think you're supportive of my dreams, you still don't think I should play Quidditch?”
“Quidditch, like painting, is a hobby,” Percy said. “It's not a career.”
“You're unbelievable!” Georgia exclaimed. “The support, the cheering, it's all fake, isn't it?”
“You know what, Dad? Don't even bother.” Georgia stood up and left the table in a similar manner to Gabriella.
“This,” Albus whispered to Amanda, “is not normal.”
“I thought Gabriella liked Uncle Percy's fake support,” James muttered.
“Well, she did at first but she probably thought there was no way he could fake it for so long and not begin to come around. She surely thought it was real by now,” Rose said.
“You're going to make a good psychiatrist,” Albus said.
“Yeah, you can start with Uncle Percy,” James said.
“Does anyone want pudding?” Gran asked.
A/N: Thanks for all the reviews!
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