Being home again was odd after spending so long surrounded by magic and people my own age. It was really nice to see my Mum again, she’d been the only person I liked for years and I’d missed her whilst I’d been away. She was fascinated by the stories that I told and took me out to my favourite restaurant to say well done for being moved up a year.
“I’m glad you’ve finally found some good friends.” She said as we walked home, carrying bits of the meal we couldn’t finish in small boxes. “They all sound lovely and I’d love to meet them at some point. It’s also nice to see that they haven’t got in the way of your studies.” She smiled at me and ruffled my hair. “I’m so proud of you.”
“Thanks mum.” I said, allowing the ruffling because I hadn’t seen her for months. “You might actually get to meet them.” I said tentatively. “You see… um… Well Mrs Weasley, Hugo’s Grandmother, has invited us to spend Christmas with them and the family, and I think my other friends will be visiting at some point. So… um… can we go?” I’d stopped walking and was looking at her nervously. My mum was wary around new people.
“Of course we can.” My mouth dropped faster than you could blink. “Don’t look like that.” She laughed. “The family seemed really nice when we saw them whilst shopping and it’s been a while since we spent Christmas with anyone. You’re sure that we’re invited? Or did Hugo and Lily tell you to come along?” She frowned a little at me.
“No we are.” I assured her hurriedly. “She sent a letter to Hugo telling him to invite us. All we have to do is pack and floo ourselves there on the twenty third. Then we can stay for the rest of the holidays.”
“Err.” My mum said, “What’s floo?” She looked a bit anxious.
“It’s where we use magic to travel between fireplaces.” I grinned at her. “ But don’t worry, we won’t have to travel to a wizarding fireplace, they’ll hook ours up for a two hour period the day after tomorrow between 5 and 7.” I gave her a hug. “Don’t worry about it, I’ll make sure you’re fine.@
“Travel… through… fireplaces?” She said, face ashen. “Um… is that safe?”
“Perfectly” I replied, “Tomorrow can we go to get them presents? I’ve already got yours.” I smiled “you won’t be able to show anyone around here, but I think you’ll like it.”
* * *
The next day me and my mum got a bus into town and we started looking through the shops. Luckily it was a cloudy day but we still had to spend as little time outdoors as possible. I wanted to get each of them something muggle, something they definitely wouldn’t have or even know about. It took us about ten minutes to realise that there was nothing here we would interest them with that would work anywhere around magic. So we hopped on a train and went to London, my mother loving the excuse to visit a specialist bath shop to get some soap that it wasn’t possible to get anywhere else. Whilst she was looking through them I suggested that Mrs Weasley might like some of these, since both the wizarding world and muggle world could appreciate good handmade items.
From there we went to Diagon alley, stopping in at Olivander’s to tell him how the wand was shaping up. We went into bookshops and robes shops and even into Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, though I wasn’t about to buy anything from there for Hugo or Lily. For myself I got some Peruvian-instant-darkness powder and glass frog that sang softly to wake you up in the morning. If you didn’t wake up it would stick its long tongue into your nose and not let go until you had gotten out of bed. I figured that it might actually get Lysander up in the mornings.
Eventually I found the presents I wanted to give everyone and mum got what looked like a small pot of assorted sweets but could actually last someone for years, we thought it would be nice to share with the Weasleys and Potters. We went home in tired but satisfied silence, happy to be in each others’ company.
* * *
Two days later we were standing, packed and ready, next to our fireplace. I was talking over what we had to do with mum.
“… Then you just step into the fire and say, ‘the burrow’. You should arrive easily enough.” I smiled encouragingly, “you might feel dizzy because you spin a lot but it isn’t too bad really.”
“If you’re sure then.” She said dubiously, “When are we going to… you know?” She waved in the fire’s direction.
“It’s open now.” I said, “Come on, I’ll do the speaking you can just hold my hand and follow me in if you want.” I held out my hand and she grasped it gratefully.
I picked up my bags, put a pinch into the fire, said “the burrow” and threw our bags through one by one. Then I took another pinch, repeated the process and jumped into the green flames, dragging my mother behind me.
One bumpy, sick-making journey later, we fell in a heap onto the floor of The Burrow and arms came down to help us up. I looked up to see Albus grinning at me. “So we meet again.” He pulled me my feet. “Nice to see you Aaron.”
“You t – Oomph!” I started to say before a Lily-like blur tackled me to the floor again.
“Damn I’ve missed you.” Lily said. “You have no idea how much Hugo has been moping. You can sort him out.” She gave me a hug, “Sorry about the rugby tackle but I had to get there quick before my brother –“she smiled back at Albus “– stole your attention.”
I was still winded and couldn’t speak, though I was glad to see her. She then helped me up again and I adopted a wary stance, not sure whether this was a family tradition I’d have to dodge.
Lily laughed. “Come on, we’ll help you take your bags up.” She turned and snapped her fingers. “Hugo? Come on he doesn’t bite… hard. You have to show him to your room, that is where he’s sleeping isn’t it?” she took a bag in one hand and my arm in another and dragged me towards a flight of stairs. I waved good bye to my mum who was happily chatting to Professor Granger. I also waved in Albus’ direction but I don’t think he saw.
Hugo followed me up the stairs and smiled. I grabbed his arm and dragged him up with me as Lily seemed determined not to let him catch up. I looked into different rooms as we went past and eventually reached the ninth floor of this teetering building and walked into what was Hugo’s room. Hugo muttered behind me “wasn’t moping…” I just smiled and didn’t comment. Hugo’s room was huge. It didn’t seem to fit with the tiny house but I knew better than that. Hugo’s mum must have been through the house and enlarged the rooms on the inside, I knew she’d made modifications and this must have been one of them.
This room had three beds in. Two with blue and bronze sheets, the other with green and silver sheets. I assumed that Lily would be sharing a room with us as well. I had mixed feelings about that. I mean she was one of my best friends I had it on good authority that she spoke in her sleep and kept the other slytherin girls up at night. Still, it would nice to spend so much time with my friends outside of lessons.
I unpacked my things and sat on the bed they’d given me. “What have you got me for Christmas Aaron?” Lily asked suddenly.
“I’m not telling you.” I said, smiling. “You’ll just have to wait.”
“If you tell me then I’ll tell you what Hugo’s got for you.” She said.
“Oh no you won’t!” Hugo said, pulling out his wand.
“Hugo,” I said, “You can’t use magic outside of school. And it’s ok, I won’t tell her or let her tell me.”
Hugo came to sit on my bed with me. “Thanks” He said.
“Will I have to leave?” Lily asked us “I feel ill already.”
Hugo rounded on Lily, “Listen, you can shut up ok? Whatever you think is happening is just your imagination.” He stormed out.
Lily and I sat there, stunned. “Do you want help getting him back?” Said a voice from the door. I looked up and saw Louis.
“Yes please.” Lily said “I need to tell him how stupid he’s being.”
Louis waved his wand and said “Accio Hugo.” There were crashes and cries as a red eyed Hugo flew up the stairs, bashing not so lightly into every corner.
“You’ll be expelled Louis.” Lily said with a smile.
Louis snorted “There are so many adult wizards and witches here that it could have been anyone. They can’t tell exactly who the caster is.” He flicked his hair out of his eyes. “Could I sit with you guys for a while? Dom and Victoire have run off to see a movie.” He said the last word with just a small sneer. “But I have no love of action films and after the train I thought I’d come and talk to you all, if you’ll let me.”
“Sure” I said, “I mean, it’s ok with me at least.” I looked at Lily and Hugo, “But first I think me and Lily need to talk to Hugo for five minutes.”
“Hmm… I can see.” Louis said, tapping a long, elegant finger against his leg. “I’ll go and get something for us to eat.” And with a small wave he gracefully swished down the stairs.
“I’m sorry.” Hugo said. “I didn’t get much sleep last night and… well I don’t like being teased. Richard Abbot won’t leave me alone at school, though I ignore him. And it just touched a nerve is all.” He looked at me “I’m really sorry Aaron, but honestly –“ he gave a weak smile “– would you last long living with this monster?” He nudged Lily playfully.
Lily scowled, “We forgive you but honestly, keep the temper tantrums under control. We aren’t Dick Abbot and I don’t mean to tease you.” She shrugged “James is my brother, it's in my blood. I can’t help it.”
I went to sit next to them on Hugo’s bed. “It’s ok.” I said quietly. “I know what it’s like to made fun of.” We sat together until we heard a clattering on the stairs, and a not-so-graceful Louis stumbled through the door, arms piled high with sandwiches, crisps, chocolate frogs and other assorted foods.
“Grandma decided you looked underfed Aaron.” He said with a scowl. “And she threatened me with a haircut if I used magic. Far more compelling than the prospect of expulsion let me tell you.” He dumped the pile of food on the floor and then, with great dignity, set himself on an armchair. “So” He began, “Have you decided what you’re doing for the talent show? It isn’t long away now you know.” He looked me directly in the eye, “I simply cannot wait to see your performances.”
“I know what I’m doing!” Lily said, “I won’t tell you what it is but the name of the act should give you a clue.” She smiled. “I call it musical potions.”
“Sounds thrilling” said Louis dryly, “I hope it’s less like a five-year-olds party game than it sounds.”
“You’ll see.” Lily said with an air of mystery. “I’ve seen Hugo practicing his but honestly, I still have no idea what it is he’s doing. It involves mmph mmm…” Hugo had clamped his hand over her mouth.
“I’m calling mine the mists of Avalon.” He said with a small smile “And Lily does know what it is, ours' is sort of a joint act. But if she does tell you, I'll tell Mum where she put that potion she failed at making. Who knew that it would turn the roses..."
“Ok!” Lily said, cutting him off. “Fine I won’t say. Spoilsport.” She muttered herself into silence.
“Well now I’m not simply curious.” Louis said, “I’m fascinated in what you guys are doing.” He continued looking at me “What have you got to show me?” he purred. I blushed and Hugo stiffened beside me.
I didn’t know what to say. Louis was blatantly flirting and I wasn’t sure how to react. He was older than me by a year and Hugo and Lily’s cousin. He was… well a he. So I settled for glancing in Hugo’s direction before blurting, “My act’s called ‘Firework’ and I swear that it’s more interesting than it sounds. Or at least I think it is.” I looked down and leaned slightly towards Hugo and Lily, they acted as a safety net. They felt comfortable and didn’t evoke complicated emotions like I was feeling for being looked at like… like that.
My head suddenly cleared. That was just it. I wasn’t nervous because it was Louis, I was nervous because of what he was doing. That made it easier to deal with. Actions are easier to deal with than the people themselves. “Thanks for the food by the way.” I sat in the middle of the floor and began to stuff my face full of food. Hugo came to join me and Lily went over to sit next to Louis.
Hugo whispered to me so that the others couldn’t hear, “Sorry about Louis. He barely realises he does it. It’s just that he’s part Veela and so has an increased… well he gets easily attracted to people and he usually gets what he wants. So you’re doing well to um… to err…” He looked flustered “to… resist his… his advances. Um… I’m glad. I mean he’s obviously gay and… I hope that doesn’t freak you out at all… because… well it shouldn’t. Should it? I’m going to shut up now. Sorry.” He blushed and suddenly became extremely interested in the cauldron cake he was eating.
It was a good thing I was facing away from Louis because I was blushing furiously. Resist his advances? I’d never been… advanced on in my entire life. And anyway, I didn’t think I was gay. But then again I didn’t like any girls either. It didn’t seem like much of an issue next to being a wizard and half-vampire. In fact, maybe I was. Did it matter? Who would I like if I was? I looked at Hugo. No I thought It’s just because he’s your friend. So I looked over at Louis. He was attractive. Very attractive actually. But there wasn’t… there was just something missing.
“It doesn’t freak me out.” I said eventually when my brain had shut itself up enough for me to speak.
“What doesn’t?” Lily asked looking at me. Oops. I’d missed half a conversation whilst thinking.
“Nothing, just thinking out loud.” I said quickly, but I couldn’t help glancing first at Louis, then to Hugo.
Lily looked as if she was about to say something but at that moment a small bundle of energy slammed the door open and shouted in a high pitched voice “We’re going to watch you play Quidditch now because I want to see you fly and you have to because it’s cloudy so we won’t be seen and mummy said you would and who are you? Are you nice? Is he nice Lily? Why is he pale? Are those sweeties? Can I have some? I don’t like beans can I have a frog please? THANKS!” Young Molly Weasley threw herself into the room grabbed a chocolate frog and then dashed back downstairs shouting “COME OUT IN TEN MINUTES THANKS HUGO, LILY, LOUIS AND STRANGER NICE BOY!”
* * *
Twenty minutes later we were up in the air, Hugo was showing me how to grip the broom. Flying wasn't really that hard, I was floating around easily enough. Not quite as fast as the other but still about as fast as someone sprinting.
"Aaron! CATCH!" Lilly yelled as she blew by, chucking a quaffle right at me so I couldn't miss. It slid straight into my face and almost sent me off my broom because I had just watched the big ball fly towards me, mind blank as to what to do.
The next ten minutes showed similar incidences until they decided I could referee from the air, but wasn't to touch any of the equipment. It seemed that whatever instinct you needed to play Quidditch was something I didn't possess. In fact I had the opposite of whatever it was. The best I could manage when someone threw anything to me was to get out of the way. Often accompanied with a lot of screeching like a little girl. Even if I hadn't been terrible, I would have had to go in anyway. Despite the heavy clouds I was beginning to feel uncomfortable and a little ill.
* * *
That night I lay a few feet away from my best friends and wondered how I had become so lucky. In a few days I would be spending Christmas with so many people I liked that it was ridiculous. And before that there was the talent show. I smiled as I thought about my act. I knew it was impressive. But then again all magic seemed impressive to me so I just hoped it was enough. With thoughts of fire and falling sparks I drifted into pleasant dreams of the burrow.
As I was lying, trying to get to sleep, I thought about the stupid talent show. I snorted quietly and wondered whether any of the others would be stupid enough to give away all of their abilities just to impress people. Another snort. Really, who cares about impressing people now when soon I'd do things that wouldn't just impress, but bring the world to its knees. Pleasant dreams.
A/N I know this has taken ages to upload but I have been up to my eyeballs in exams and coursework :( Quicker next time, I promise. Next chapter will be the talents show. Hope you like it so please review to let me know what you thought. Oh and I don't own any of it because it belongs to JK Rowling and she has scary lawyers ect ect.