Being huddled into a cobwebby corner in the broom shed and squished up against his younger cousin and best friend was not exactly how Albus had pictured spending his Christmas. But at this point, coming out of the shed in the near future wasn’t looking too likely.
Then again, good luck and Al never did seem to go hand in hand.
“Merlin’s beard, Hugo, your breath smells!” he snapped, feeling quite cross. Not only was the shed filled with cobwebs and so many brooms that he had to stand at a funny angle, but it was cold, too.
“Sorry,” Hugo piped up. “Nana Molly let me try some of her garlic dip before she put it out.”
“Nana Molly let you have some of her garlic dip?” It was dark enough in the shed that Hugo couldn’t see very well, but he could imagine the deep scowl that had settled on Al’s face. “That’s not fair! And now you have dragon breath, go face somewhere else,” he huffed.
“That’s why she calls it Dragon Breath dip,” Hugo offered up helpfully. “And I can’t, I’m stuck. There’s a broom poking me in the back.” He paused. “Actually, it kind of hurts.”
“It’ll build character,” Al snapped.
The third occupant of the broom shed finally spoke up. “Um, Al?” a hesitant voice came from the darkness. “How long do we have to stay in here, anyways?” asked Scorpius meekly.
Al gave a heavy sigh. “I don’t know,” he said miserably. “However long it takes for the adults to give up looking for us.”
“Well, can’t we wait somewhere else?” Hugo offered. “Why are we stuck in here, anyways?”
Al attempted to throw his arms up in frustration, but he ended up whacking a broomstick instead by accident, which then poked him rather hard in the eye. “Well, I don’t see you offering up any better suggestions!” he exclaimed, wincing a little as he tried to move his hand to rub the affected area.
“Well, what about out in the orchard?” Hugo said sensibly. “They’re not likely to find us there, and if they do, we can just hide in the trees. And it’s not like anyone’s about to play Quidditch any time soon.”
A silence fell over the current inhabitants of the shed (other than the spiders, that is, which were still scurrying about) as Al digested Hugo’s admittedly quite good suggestion and tried to think of the most graceful way that he could concede defeat.
“Well,” he finally said, “I mean, I guess we could.”
There was a sudden mad dash to the door as they scrambled to get out of the rather cramped space.
“Ouch! Damn it, Hugo, that was my eye, watch your elbow-”
“That wasn’t my elbow, I think that was a broom-”
“Oh my God, I’m going to die-”
“Scorp? Scorp, is that you? You’re not going to die, don’t be daft-”
“I got it! I got it!” a voice triumphantly exclaimed.
A moment later, light streamed into the shed and illuminated them, showing them frozen in place: Albus with a broom in his eye again, Hugo who seemed to be in some complex contortionist position, and Scorpius who had somehow ended lying on his stomach on the ground, one arm extended in a desperate grab for the door that he had managed to push open.
Al paused for a moment, taking in the scene, before standing up straight, removing the broom from his eye and leaning it up against the wall, and brushing himself off. “Well,” he said, attempting to exit the shed with as much dignity as he could muster, only slightly foiled by having to step over Scorpius’ body on the ground. “Are you guys coming or what?”
They somehow managed to make it out of the broom shed without much more fuss, though there were some holes in what had previously been clean robes.
At least they hadn’t received their presents yet, because if they had been wearing Nana Molly’s new Christmas jumpers and she saw that they had managed to get holes in them already, she would have been positively livid.
“We’ll be out there for awhile,” Al said, with a small sigh. “What with everyone’s short temper and all.”
“Does... does everyone in your family have a bad temper?” Scorpius hesitantly asked, his already pale face somehow impossibly becoming even whiter.
“‘Fraid so,” Hugo said bracingly, “just about. I reckon it’s the red hair.”
“Cheer up,” Al said. “They always see sense eventually. Besides, not everyone’s got red hair,” he said, motioning to his own.
“No,” Scorpius said gloomily, “but most do.”
Al just shrugged. “Best stay down and go quickly,” he sagely advised. “Don’t let ‘em see you,” he added, sharing the knowledge that he had acquired from years of having to avoid the adults of the extended Weasley family.
The three of them formed a sort of line, ducking their heads as they scurried across the back lawn, with Al leading, Scorpius close on his tail, and Hugo bringing up the rear.
Miracle of miracles, they somehow managed to make it to the orchard unseen, no small feat when taking into consideration the sheer size of the Weasley clan. Each of the boys let out a breath of relief as they sank down next to a tall tree, hiding in its shadow, their bottoms already becoming chilly as they sat on the frozen ground.
“Well, this isn’t so bad, now, is it?” Al said, attempting to be cheery.
Hugo gave him a look that reminded Al so strongly of Aunt Hermione that he automatically winced in reaction before catching himself. “I’m missing out on Nana Molly’s Christmas cooking. I don’t know what your definition of bad is, but that’s definitely mine.”
“Your family is going to hate me,” Scorpius said miserably, before correcting himself. “Well. More than they already did.”
“Well, I was just trying to be positive,” Al said, exasperated. “It is Christmas Eve, for Pete’s sake.”
“Who’s Pete?” Hugo asked.
“Never mind, Hugo,” Al said hastily.
Scorpius sighed heavily. “It’s awfully cold out.”
“And I’m hungry,” Hugo added, a bit petulantly.
“Oh, stop whining, Hugo,” Al snapped. “You got to have onion dip.”
“Onion dip isn’t dinner!” Hugo exclaimed.
Another silence fell over them as they collectively sunk lower in their seats, all of them feeling quite sorry for themselves.
Albus hadn’t meant to spoil Christmas. Honest. And he hadn’t meant to drag Hugo and Scorpius down with him, either.
Well, okay. Maybe Hugo, just a little. But definitely not Scorp.
It was Scorp’s first Weasley Christmas and he was understandably a bit nervous. There was already an immense number of Weasleys, and with the amount of noise that they made when all of them were together, it sounded like there were twice the number that there actually was. Even the quietest Weasley was louder than the average witch or wizard; projecting your voice was a necessary survival skill learned at a young age in their family.
Not to mention all the weird... stuff between Al’s family and Scorp’s. Al’s dad had sat him and James and Lily down one day and explained everything to them, but to be honest, Al was still a little fuzzy on the details. Not the whole Voldemort killing thing - because that was pretty cool - but the whole why the Weasleys didn’t like the Malfoys thing.
Al thought it was a bit silly, really. Scorpius was a good bloke and Al rather liked him, so why shouldn’t they be friends? And friends didn’t let friends stay at Hogwarts alone for the holidays, and seeing how there was about as much chance of Al not being dragged home for the holidays as there was of Hagrid learning to cook properly, the only logical solution was to bring Scorp home with him, too.
Scorpius had explained offhandedly that his parents had to go sort some things out at the Ministry in December concerning his dad’s parents and that they didn’t think it was going to be very pleasant, so they wanted Scorpius to stay out of the picture. Scorpius had said that he didn’t mind in the slightest, but Al wasn’t having any of that - he couldn’t picture not being able to go home for Christmas and not being with his family.
Besides, the way he saw it, people with ridiculous names need to stick together.
Anyways, so Albus had managed to cajole both his parents and Scorpius into having the blonde come over during the break, which was how Scorpius found himself at the Burrow. Al had known that Scorp was a little anxious, so he had decided to diffuse the tension a little bit upon their arrival.
Unfortunately, that hadn’t gone quite as planned.
(None of Al’s plans ever did, it seemed.)
See, all Al really wanted to do was to cheer Scorpius up some, because when he had first entered the Burrow, the expression on his face had looked more appropriate for someone walking to their death than that of someone walking to a holiday party. And holiday cheer - cheer of any kind, really - tended to be abundant whenever his family all got together.
But even Al noticed the way that some of his aunts and uncles clammed up whenever they seemed to lay eyes on Scorpius’s platinum blonde hair and the way that Scorpius seemed to shrink into Al’s side whenever they did so.
He might have only been 12, but he wasn’t stupid.
So, Al had figured, what better way to break the ice than a joke?
While the adults were talking, he had snuck into the sitting room and nicked what had to be one of the newest Wheezes products. Whenever Uncle George was over, he always just so happened to leave some of his products from the shop scattered around the Burrow. It was almost as if he wanted his nieces and nephews to make mischief and wreck havoc.
Al hadn’t bothered to look at the label; he’d been more concerned about making it out of the sitting room with as few witnesses seeing him as possible.
“C’mere,” Al motioned to his friend, who slunk over to him, doing his best not to be seen. “Let’s have some fun. Oh, hey, Hugo,” he’d said, nodding at his younger cousin who was licking something off his fingers.
“‘Lo, Al, Scorp,” Hugo said, before focusing on the object in Al’s hand. “Hey, what’s that?”
Al quickly calculated the odds of Hugo being able to keep a secret; they were dangerously low. Very well, Hugo’d just have to be let in on the plan. Al could use a sidekick, anyways.
“Dunno,” Al said with a shrug. “Wanna find out with me?”
“Well, what does the label say?” Hugo asked.
At the same time, the sound of Uncle George’s voice in the sitting room drifted over to where the boys were standing around nearby the kitchen. “It’s my latest invention, it’s got quite a kick to it, you might say. Here, let me show you-”
Meanwhile, Nana Molly had managed to sneak up on the group of boys unnoticed by them, thanks to years and years of practice, as Albus handed the small bottle over to Hugo who began to study it. “Why, Hugo, what do you have there?” she said sternly and with suspicion, just as Hugo’s eyes widened and he began to hand it back to Al, saying, “I don’t think we ought to use this, Al, it says it’s-”
At the sound of his grandmother’s voice, Hugo jumped a full foot into the air, an ingrained response after years of being caught in the act of Weasley shenanigans. Unfortunately, in his surprise, the small glass bottle slipped out of his hands and-
BOOM! The bottle exploded into a hundred pieces onto the floor, and as they did, each piece hissed and smoked before exploding over and over again, creating a cycle. The crackle of bursting glass created the most dreadful din as the hallway filled with smoke. The boys could only look on in horror as a piece flew up and landed on the platter that Nana Molly was holding - and as the Christmas ham sitting atop it caught fire.
“-Weasley’s Wicked Dragon Fire Chain Reaction Explosive Liquid,” Hugo finished with a quiet gulp.
Standing frozen in front of his grandmother and their now ruined Christmas dinner, Al uttered the only thing he could think of: “Run!”
And they had booked it out the door before Nana Molly even had an opportunity to open her mouth and say a single “Hugo Weasley” or “Albus Severus Potter”, huffing and puffing as they ran for their lives until Al had the bright idea to hide in the broom shed.
Which led to their current state of exile in the orchard: cold, a little shaken up, and without a Christmas dinner to fill their bellies.
It was a sorry state of affairs.
“Why’d you have to go and drop it, anyways?” Al griped. “Nice going, Hugo.”
“Hey!” Hugo protested. “I didn’t ask for any of this, you dragged me into it! Besides, I didn’t mean to.”
“It’s my fault,” Scorpius said morosely. “If Al hadn’t been trying to cheer me up, none of this would have happened.”
“Stop talking rubbish, Scorp,” Al ordered. “It-”
All of the sudden, they heard the sounds of footsteps approaching. They froze before scrambling to hide.
“Behind the tree! Behind the tree!” Al loudly whispered, and so they tucked themselves behind the widest tree they could find as they waited for the stranger to approach.
“Uh, Al?” It was Hugo who broke the silence. “We don’t exactly all fit here, we’ll be seen-”
“Hush! Your negativity is going to make us visible!” Al hissed in retaliation.
“That doesn’t even make sense-” Hugo began, only to cut himself off as a figure in the distance advanced.
With bated breath and sucked in tummies, they waited and watched the person’s arrival. As he came nearer, his identity became clearer - it was Uncle Charlie.
Al gulped. Charlie was the cool uncle, the one who didn’t always make it to every family function and only popped in every other Christmas or so. He worked with dragons, for crying out loud! Way cooler than working in the Ministry like Al’s dad. Charlie was intimidating.
“Hello, boys,” he said, somehow seeing through their excellent hiding place, unsurprised to find them there.
Slowly, three heads poked out from around the edges of the tree. “Hi, Uncle Charlie,” Hugo squeaked.
He gave a deep, rumbly kind of laugh, a bit like a bear. “I’m not going to bite you, don’t worry.”
Hesitantly and cautiously, they exited from the security of the tree and approached him.
“I’ve just been sent to fetch you so you can have some dinner with us is all,” he explained.
“So there’s still dinner?” Hugo asked at the same time Al said, “ hey’re not mad at us?” and Scorpius spoke, “They don’t hate me?”
Charlie laughed once again, addressing each of them one by one. “Yes, Hgo, there’s still dinner. No ham, unfortunately, but you know your grandma, she’s always got a backup plan and there’s always more food than we know what do with, anyways. And no, I promise they’re not too mad. Actually, you should’ve seen George’s face. Beet red from laughing so hard, matched his hair. Angelina had to give him a good whack on the back and then Silence him. Mum’s face was priceless, anyways. It brightened the mood considerably and everyone’s perfectly fine now. Isn’t a proper family gathering till the first accident, anyways. And George reckons the new product works just fine.”
Charlie then turned to Scorpius and his voice got quieter. “And why on Earth would we hate you?” he said softly.
“Well- well, because of-” Scorpius gestured to his hair and himself, “-you know, this. Me. And... well.”
“You’re Al’s friend,” Uncle Charlie said firmly. “And you’re not your father. Any friend of Al’s is welcome here. It’ll be okay, I promise. Now why don’t we all head in? Dinner will be ready in fifteen minutes.”
Scorpius’ shoulders sagged as the tension visibly drained out of him. “Okay,” he said finally, looking more at ease.
Uncle Charlie crouched down in front of them. “See?” he said. “You’ll be just fine.”
“But I’m hungry now,” Hugo frowned.
Charlie laughed once again. “Well, that I can fix immediately. There something you’d like to snack on?”
Hugo brightened. “Uncle Charlie, you wouldn’t happen to have any of Nana Molly’s Dragon Breath dip, would you?”
Charlie looked a bit bemused, but shrugged. “Well, no, not on me, but I can Summon some if you’d like-”
“-Oh, for Pete’s sake,” Al interrupted, “enough with the onion dip, Hugo,” he groaned.
Momentarily distracted, Hugo questioned, “Wait, but seriously, Al, who is Pete?”
“Never mind, Hugo.”
A/N: This very silly one shot is a Secret Santa gift for Gina, I hope your holidays were wonderful and that you have a lovely New Year! :) And for clarification: Al and Scorpius are both second years in this, while Hugo is an ickle firstie.
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