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Harry Potter and the Forgotten Enemy. by Marauding hippogriff
Chapter 28 : Chapter 28: Christmas at The Burrow Again
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 2

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Chapter 28: Christmas at The Burrow Again.

Harry and Ron were exhausted as they trudged up the snowy driveway of The Burrow on the night before Ginny and Hermione were due to return, the twentieth of December. Robards had been working the entire department round the clock to improve everything from their duelling abilities to their stealth and their capacity to throw off the imperius curse, something Harry was particularly good at.

“It’s nice to be back,” sighed Ron, and Harry could tell he was drinking in every detail of the rickety house.

“We come back for dinner most Sundays,” Harry reminded him, but he knew what he meant. It was nice to be back and staying for a while, even though Grimmauld Place finally felt like a home these days. “Where are we sleeping?”

“My room I expect,” Ron replied, shifting his heavy rucksack onto his other shoulder. “Although maybe now I’m engaged Mum’ll let me and Hermione share.”

“Great,” groaned Harry. “Two weeks sleeping on the couch.” Ron winked at him, but their conversation was interrupted by Molly, who’d apparently been waiting at the door for them.

“Hello boys!” she said happily, crushing both their ribs simultaneously. “You look tired and skinny,” she told them, and Harry was hit with a wave of deja-vu. “Come inside and have some supper, I made cheese toasties.” Harry grinned at the dreamy expression on Ron’s face-only three things could get that look on his face; Hermione, his mother’s cooking and Chudley Cannons winning a game.

“I love you Mum,” he said, following her inside.

“Cupboard love,” Molly snapped playfully over her shoulder. Arthur was sitting at the table, reading the Evening Prophet by an oil lantern; while Charlie and George were playing a rather boisterous game of exploding snap-so boisterous Charlie currently had no eyebrows.

“Nice to see you three,” said Arthur warmly. Charlie and George, trying to best each other, merely grunted in greeting.

“It’s good to be back,” Ron said, leaning back on one of the kitchen chairs. “How’s work, Dad? I haven’t seen you around in ages.”

“I heard Robards has been working you hard,” Arthur replied, folding the paper away. “It’s a nightmare at the minute. Trying to rebuild Azkaban is proving even more difficult than we expected,” he explained. “Especially when we don’t know when the Consecrat might pop in for a visit and ruin what we’ve started.”

“Has that happened?” asked Harry, accepting a cheese toastie from Molly.

“Not yet,” replied Arthur. “But everyone’s worried. The sooner we finish this war, the better,” he said, and Harry and Ron nodded earnestly. “Robards was saying Blaise managed to get some information in today?” Harry nodded.

“Zabini reckons there’s about twenty in there at any one time, and he also sent us a map of the place. Robards said it was surprisingly detailed,” Ron said.

“Robards is going to change the plan according to what Zabini’s found out,” Harry put in. He yawned tiredly, as did Ron.

“Bed,” said Molly immediately. “You’re obviously exhausted. Harry, you’re in Ginny’s room, Ron you’re in your old room.” Ron and Harry’s jaws both dropped. “Oh please,” she said, smiling at their expressions. “All four of you are overage, Ron and Hermione are engaged. If I didn’t let you share rooms with them, you’d only do it in secret,” she said, and Harry had the uncomfortable feeling she knew more than she was letting on.
She smiled at them fondly. “Now go, before I change my mind!” she said, shooing them. Harry and Ron hurried upstairs, said a quick goodnight outside Ginny’s bedroom door before parting. Harry flopped sleepily on Ginny’s bed, falling asleep almost immediately, the lingering smell of her flowery perfume he loved so much leading him to an unusually peaceful sleep.
Ginny and Hermione arrived around dinnertime the next day on the Knight Bus. Stan Shunpike actually jumped out of the bus to wring Harry’s hand and thank him for defeating Voldemort and releasing him from the imperius curse. He was quickly pushed aside, however, by Ginny, who hadn’t seen Harry since mid-November, as Harry and Ron’s Hogwarts checks were among the operations cut once Robards started planning and training for the attack on Malfoy Manor.

“Bloody hell Gin,” Harry cried as she threw herself at him. “Nice to see you too.”

“Shut up,” she replied, and there, in full view of her parents and three of her brothers, she kissed Harry passionately. He felt his ears going red, but shrugged and returned the kiss with just as much enthusiasm. Eventually, she pulled away.
“Something smells good Mum,” she said brightly, pulling Harry inside as the rest of the family stood outside, slightly stunned. George was the first to snap out of it, giving a loud snort of laughter before heading inside, shaking his head. The rest of the family followed suit, and soon they were all sat around the very crowed Weasley kitchen table. Harry was squeezed between Ginny and Ron.

“So Hermione,” said Angelina nonchalantly. She’d arrived earlier that day. “How’s the wedding planning going?” Hermione choked on a bit of potato, and Ron had to smack her hard on the back to dislodge it.

“Sorry,” she spluttered, clearing her throat. “Well, we were going to talk about it after dinner, but since you’ve gone and brought it up,” she said, giving Angelina an amused glare, “we’ve set a date.” Harry could tell by Ron’s face that it was news to him, but he managed to hide his surprise very quickly, and Harry was fairly sure nobody else noticed.

“Have you?” Harry said in surprise, asking Hermione directly. “When?”

“June the ninth,” she said promptly. “The day after we finish school,” she added. The family began congratulating Hermione, and the girls in particular began to talk excitedly about dresses. Harry leant close to Ron.

“You looked as surprised by that as me,” he whispered. Ron chuckled quietly.

“I was,” he admitted, and Harry snorted with laughter. He turned to talk to Ginny, intending to talk about Quidditch, but found she was looking at him with a curious expression on her face…he was pretty sure it was longing, or was it jealousy? Either way, she wiped it off her face once she noticed Harry was looking. Mentally shrugging it off, he returned to his dinner, leaving Ginny to talk to George about the shop.

After dinner, Harry found himself alone with Hermione washing dishes, while the others sat in the living room. “Hermione,” he said slowly. “Can I ask you something?”

“You know you can,” Hermione replied distantly. “Go ahead.”

“Did Ginny seem…off at all, to you?” he asked. Hermione sighed and put the plate she was scrubbing down.

“She’s been like that for a while,” she confessed. “I’m glad I’m not the only one to notice.”

“I’m not Ron,” Harry reminded her, and they laughed. “So what do you thinks up with her?” Harry knew Ginny was upset at something, but as for determining what that thing was? Well, that was beyond him. Hermione sighed again (this was not a good sign) and turned to face him.

“Isn’t it obvious?” she said. Harry gave her a blank look, and she rolled her eyes. Harry couldn’t help but smile-he’d been on the receiving end of that look so many times; he knew an explanation would follow. “She wants to marry you Harry!” Harry’s smile disappeared, his jaw dropped. He hadn’t expected that.

“But…what?” he stuttered weakly. She smiled at him, patting him comfortingly on the shoulder.

“She’s seen Ron and I have committed and she wants the same,” she explained.

“How do you know these things?” Harry asked in amazement.

“Woman’s intuition,” she replied, grinning at him. “So what are you going to do?” she said, folding her arms and leaning back on the kitchen counter.

“I haven’t a clue,” Harry admitted. “I don’t know if we’re ready, I haven’t asked Molly and Arthur, she’s not even finished school!” he said, throwing his hands up in the air and spraying soap suds everywhere.

“Shush,” Hermione warned him. “They’ll hear you!”

“Help me Hermione,” Harry begged, hoping she had a solution to this as she’d had a solution to everything else he’d needed her for.

“I don’t know what to tell you Harry,” she said sadly. “It’s your relationship, it’s up to you. But you love each other, so whatever you do eventually end up doing, it’ll work out,” she said reassuringly. Harry smiled, and they finished the dishes quietly.

“Thanks Hermione,” he said softly as they headed into the kitchen. She gave him an affectionate smile.

“Anytime,” she replied, giving him a quick pat on the arm. “Talk to her,” she hissed in his ear. Harry’s heart skipped a beat-what the hell was he supposed to say?
The thought continued to play on his mind as they lay in bed that night, Ginny entwined around him, her flaming red hair splayed out over the pillow. He sighed-he’d just have to go for it.

“Gin?” he whispered.

“Mmm?” she murmured sleepily. “S’matter?” Sometimes she was uncannily like Ron.

“Something’s bothering you,” he said, a little more forcefully than he’d meant too. “Isn’t it?” he added softly. She shifted, propping herself up on her elbow so she could look at him. He could see her blurred outline and knew she was searching his face for emotion.

“Why would you think that?” she said eventually, in a cool voice.

“I know you,” he said simply. “I don’t know what it was, but the face you pulled at dinner…” Ginny sighed and rested her head on his chest.

“I want to get married,” she whined. “Hermione’s been planning her wedding with Mum for weeks by owl,” she explained. That explains why Ron doesn’t have a clue, Harry thought. “I’m jealous,” Ginny confessed.

“I’m sure you will get married,” said Harry cheekily, trying to buy himself some time while he thought up a response. In hindsight, he probably should’ve done that before starting the conversation. Ginny giggled and punched his bare chest.

“You know what I mean,” she said, smiling. “But I suppose, if some guy was going to propose to me, I’d want him to be ready.” Harry took a deep breath before answering.

“Maybe that guy was ready, he was just waiting for the right moment?” he suggested, winking at her. She cocked her head to one side curiously.

“What do you mean?” she asked curiously. Harry yawned theatrically.

“It’s late,” he said, a smile creeping onto his face. “Night Gin!” he said loudly, closing his eyes.

“POTTER!” she hissed loudly, but Harry merely grinned and didn’t open his eyes again. With a sigh, she settled back onto his chest. He could tell by the rhythm of her soft breaths on his neck that she’d fallen back to sleep. He wrapped his arm around her, pulling her close. She snuggled even tighter into him, and he fell asleep peacefully, content to simply hold her in his arms.
“Merry Christmas!” yelled Ginny, shaking Harry awake. He opened his eyes blearily and fumbled for his glasses, which she handed to him, before kissing him, her elbows resting on his chest. “If you’re good, you might get more later,” she said slyly, before jumping off him and beginning to get dressed. Harry threw on the Puddlemere United top he’d bought in Diagon Alley along with the new jeans he’d gotten when Ginny had insisted on taking him shopping in muggle London the day before, as he apparently ‘dressed like a cross between a tramp and an old man.’

“I think I can manage that,” he said cheekily, taking her hand in his. They hadn’t discussed any engagement plans since their conversation four nights previously, nor had they mentioned that such a conversation had ever taken place.

They trotted downstairs to find George and Angelina sitting on the living room floor, looking as excited as four year olds about the looming presents. Molly was in the kitchen being helped with the food by Kreacher, who’d arrived two days ago to help around the house. Arthur was sat with Bill and Charlie at the table, engaged in a conversation about the dragon that had helped Harry, Ron and Hermione break out of Gringotts.
 Fleur was sat by the Wireless, as if to prevent Molly from switching on Celestina Warbeck. Ron and Hermione were nowhere to be seen, and Percy was spending Christmas morning with his girlfriend Audrey’s family, before returning for Christmas dinner later that day. Andromeda Tonks looked to have just arrived with Teddy Lupin, who was squirming furiously in her grasp. They were both covered in a light dusting of snow.
At eight months old, Teddy had mastered the arts of crawling and babbling. His favourite word was ‘Hawwa’, his attempt at ‘Harry’,  which he screamed with delight as he saw his Godfather.

“Hello kid,” Harry said, and Andromeda beamed at him as he took Teddy into his arms. The child’s hair, which was previously bright blue, turned jet black once again. Teddy giggled and babbled away, pawing Harry’s face with a sticky hand.

“He found his sweets this morning,” Andromeda explained. “You should see the mess he left. Would you like a hand Molly?”

“You’re quite alright dear,” said Molly, shooting her a smile. “Kreacher’s helping.” There was an uncomfortable silence as Kreacher turned to Andromeda. He seemed to be struggling not to say anything rude, but eventually turned back to the counter, where he was peeling potatoes.
“Ron and Hermione are fetching Helen and Niall,” Molly explained. “They won’t be too long, and then we can start opening presents.”

“Pwesas!” Teddy babbled excitedly, now trying to steal Harry’s glasses. Harry laughed, and Ginny cooed at him, stealing his nose as they sat down on the sofa in front of George and Angelina.

“Aren’t you an angel,” she said in a baby voice.

“Don’t you buy it for a second,” grumbled Andromeda, flopping into a chair. “He’s got his parent’s mischievous side, though from who I have no idea,” she added thoughtfully. “Remus was a little troublemaker too, from what I remember.”

“Only when Dad and Sirius forced him into it,” Harry replied, laughing.

“I can’t imagine what our kids will be like,” said Angelina from the floor, leaning affectionately on George, who looked as though he’d just been struck by lightning. “Yes dear, we’re having children,” she said gently, patting him on the cheek. He was saved from responding by the arrival of Ron and Hermione, bringing Mr and Mrs Granger, who looked as though they still weren’t particularly fond of apparating.

“Ah,” said Arthur, rubbing his hands together. “Presents. Well, everyone dig in,” he said cheerfully, and they did. Harry had a rather good haul. Ron had gotten him a brand new wizards chess set, since Harry’s old one was so battered after being beaten by Ron’s so many times. Hermione had gotten him a book, unsurprisingly, on interesting curses and hexes. He had his usual Weasley sweater, this time Gryffindor red with a golden H on the front, from Arthur and Molly. Charlie had given him a necklace with a dragon earring that he claimed would flash purple when someone was trying to sneak up on him. George had, as usual, given him a large box of new Weasley Wizard Wheezes merchandize, while Bill and Fleur had bought him a pair of broomstick goggles that were impervious to all types of weather and even charmed so that he wouldn’t need to wear his glasses.

Harry looked around, and the family seemed happy. Teddy was playing merrily with the stuffed wolf Harry had got him, out of sentimental reasons. George was laughing at the muggle boxers Charlie had bought him-ones that claimed ‘size matters not’ with a picture of a small green creature than reminded Harry of Dobby but with a smaller nose. Ron, who was wearing a new Weasley jumper that was blue rather than maroon, was putting a necklace around Hermione’s neck, who had tears of happiness in her eyes.
Arthur was examining the new ballpoint pens Harry had got him with great interest, while Molly rolled her eyes. Finally, his eyes rested on Ginny, who was unwrapping her final present-the one from him.

“Oh Harry!” she squealed in delight, clutching the two tickets to the Holyhead-Tornado’s game he’d got her. “How did you get these? They’re supposed to be sold out!” He tapped his nose, grinning at her.

“I’m not saying, but I hope it was worth all the hard work. He caught Ron’s eye, and they both turned away to hide their laughter. In reality, Harry’d gone and asked Alicia in Magical Games and Sports if she could help him out.

“It is,” she gushed, hugging him. “I suppose I should get you your present now.” She detached herself from him and walked into the kitchen, bending down under the table and pulling out a large cage, containing a very handsome Barn owl, who hooted loudly as it was brought out. “She’s yours,” she said, smiling at him.

“She’s beautiful,” said Harry softly. He reached through the bars of the cage and allowed her to nibble his fingers.

“What you gonna call her?” asked Ron through a mouthful of chocolate frog. Harry looked at the owl, particularly it’s heart shaped face. He smiled- he had the perfect name.

“Dora,” he said, and saw Andromeda’s face break into a wide, yet slightly sad smile.
Naturally, being in the company of Charlie Weasley, most the family found themselves all rather drunk my around ten that night. Charlie and George were standing on the table, singing a very mocking, hilariously passionate version of A Cauldron of Hot Strong Love, much to Molly’s amusement. Even Fleur appeared to be enjoying it. Ron was kissing Hermione’s neck, and she was responding with very un-Hermione like giggles.
 Arthur was snoring in his chair, having passed out not so long ago, a bottle of butterbeer in his right hand. Harry was charming red puffs of smoke to come out of the end of his wand, much to Teddy’s delight. In his mind, this was the best Christmas ever, surrounded by his friends, his adoptive family. He was content. The drink swilling around his head gave him a sudden impulse. He jumped to his feet.

“Alright!” he called. “Who wants to see a party trick?” There was a murmur of interest. Harry grinned, took out his wand, and with a theatrical bow, conjured up a swirling smoke to hide himself from view. When the smoke cleared, standing in the room was a large, reddish brown stag with black markings resembling Harry’s glasses around its large, bulbous green eyes. There was silence for a moment.

“Harry?” said Hermione slowly. The deer nodded. “You’re an animagus?” The deer nodded again-he seemed to be smiling. Then, he screwed up his eyes and began to return to normal, the antlers retreating back into his head, his body shrinking and returning to an upright position. Finally, Harry was standing in front of them again.

“Dad and Sirius told me how to do it,” he explained. “I’ve been trying since September, and yes Hermione I am registered,” he added before she could ask. “I did it last week.”

“Well,” she said slowly. “I must say, I’m impressed.” Harry grinned at her. “But why?” Harry shrugged.

“No idea, I just liked the sound of it,” he admitted with a rueful smile

“I think it’s brilliant,” said Ron, smiling. “Should be fun if we ever have a surveillance mission in some woods,” he added, laughing. Harry laughed too.

“Dad, Remus and Sirius are calling me ‘Little Prongs’ now,” he said with a smile. The rest of the family continued to congratulate him on his new talent, and then slowly began to file away. First, Andromeda scooped up the now sleeping Teddy and headed back to Appleby, then Bill and Fleur apparated back to Shell Cottage. Ron and Hermione went upstairs as Hermione was in danger of falling asleep, while Charlie and George helped Molly haul their drunken father up to bed. Percy had left after dinner, so it was just Harry and Ginny left in the living room.

“I think my stag should take me upstairs and show me a thing or two,” she said, biting her bottom lip seductively. Harry grinned, and very happily obliged.
“Question,” said Dudley drunkenly. “Why do you have to hide? You’re a wizard.” Draco rolled his eyes-he was sure he’d explained this before. Then again, in the state he was in, he wasn’t really sure of anything.

“Not all wizards are good,” he said simply. “My parents got involved with the wrong crowd.”

“Not you though?” said Dudley curiously.

“Well, me as well,” admitted Draco. “But I had no choice,” he added defensively. “I was brought up to be on the bad side, basically.”

“You have a choice now though,” Dudley pointed out.

“Yeah,” said Draco slowly. “I don’t think I’ll go back to that life,” he admitted.

“So did you agree with that sort then?” Dudley asked, swigging at least his ninth bottle of beer.

“No,” sighed Draco. “Never. I regret a lot of what I did.”

“So do I…” said Dudley sadly. “The dementor showed me that. Showed me what a total git I was.”

“Maybe I could do with that,” Draco laughed humorously. “You were a git to Potter as well weren’t you?” he asked. Dudley nodded. “I even regret that,” Draco said emphatically.  “I shouldn’t have done it.”

“It’s not all our fault,” Dudley replied pointedly. “We weren’t brought up right,” he said simply.

“No,” agreed Draco. “We weren’t. Still. It’s up to us now.” Dudley nodded.

“We’ll be…better,” he said softly, before falling off his chair and snoozing gently. And Draco reflected, that maybe muggles, particularly this one, weren’t so bad at all.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------On Boxing day, Harry treated the other three to the cinema, going to Newcastle for a change, where there was a rerun of Star Wars being shown. Harry was hoping to avoid the wizard population in London. Ron was totally amazed by the whole thing-so amazed he hadn’t even kissed Hermione.

“I want a lightsaber,” he announced loudly as they left. Harry chuckled, and Hermione rolled her eyes.

“They’re not real,” she said for at least the twentieth time. “I should’ve got you a toy one for Christmas.”

“You can get toy ones?” said Ron excitedly. He insisted they go to look for one, but as so often happens, Harry and Ron found themselves waiting outside a muggle shoe shop, the girls taking advantage of the post-Christmas sales.

“This is your fault,” Harry grumbled as Ron munched a pasty. Ron shrugged.

“If I find a lightsaber, it’s worth it,” he replied firmly.

“Harry! Ron!” called a familiar voice. Harry looked up quickly, and saw the broad figure of Oliver Wood approaching them, alongside Alicia Spinnet, their arms linked. “Alright boys?” he said cheerfully.

“Not bad,” Harry replied, shaking Oliver’s hand, almost wincing as Wood’s grip crushed his hand. “What’re you doing in Muggle Newcastle?” Harry asked curiously.

“We’re staying here, I have a game against Appleby in a few days,” Wood explained. “Alicia wanted to check out the shopping. Listen, is Ginny with you?” he added in a low voice.

“She’s in the shop,” Harry replied, indicating the shop over his shoulder. “Why do you ask?”

“I was speaking to Gwenog Jones after we played the Harpies. She says Ginny’s one of the best raw talents she’s ever seen,” Wood said excitedly. “She’s got a real shot of making it!”

“That’s great,” said Ron, looking excited. “Don’t tell her though,” he warned them all. “She may not act it, but she gets bloody nervous under pressure.”

“Can’t be as bad as you Weasel King,” Alicia said, patting his head affectionately. Ron’s ears turned pink.

“It’s a shame you wanted to be an Auror,” Wood said glumly. “My coach asked me to get you to come for trials, our seeker’s nothing on you.” Harry grinned apologetically.

“I considered it,” he admitted. “But the Aurors appealed more for some reason.”

“Only you would go through what you did and then want more of it,” Wood laughed. “Anyway, we’ll be off. See you round Harry, Ron.”

“See you Oliver,” Ron and Harry chorused, and the two of them disappeared into the crowd, just as Ginny and Hermione returned, their arms laden with bags which were promptly deposited onto their ‘willing’ boyfriend’s arms.

“Was that Wood?” said Ginny curiously, standing on her tiptoes, scanning the crowd.

“Yeah,” said Harry dismissively. “He was just saying I could’ve tried out for Puddlemere.”

“You should have!” Ginny said. “Then I wouldn’t worry about you so much!”

“What, and leave me?” said Ron, grinning. “I’d be paired with Neville, and we’d both be dead within the week,” he laughed, and Harry and Hermione joined in. Ginny looked stern, however.

“Neville was great last year,” she snapped.

“Shall we find some place for dinner?” Harry suggested quickly as Ron opened his mouth to retort. They found a small restaurant in the shadows of the enormous football stadium at the top of the city, and ate comfortably, Quidditch or Neville not being mentioned again. 

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