Chapter 22 : Easter.
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Angie was once again the only first year Ravenclaw remaining at Hogwarts for the Easter holidays.
“I think there's a larger number of older students staying this time though," said Rose. “Probably to study. The O.W.L.S. and N.E.W.T.S. are getting close now and a lot of people find it difficult to study at home. Lucy said Uncle Percy suggested she should stay.”
“But her O.W.L.S. aren’t until next year.” Albus was confused.
“He thinks she should treat this year’s exams as a trial run, so she'll have some idea what she needs to focus on next year. Mum thinks he has a point about that. She says we shouldn’t leave all the preparation for fifth year.”
Albus paled. “I’m not looking forward to fourth and fifth year.”
“Well, we’ve got years to go yet,” Derek said. “No point in worrying about it now.”
“I suppose not.”
But he didn't feel entirely reassured.
The following day, however, all thoughts of school, exams and even the mysteries he and Rose had spent so much of the term worrying about left his mind, as he and the other Hogwarts students piled onto the Hogwarts Express.
This journey passed rather more quickly than the journey home for Christmas. He and Rose shared a compartment with Rasmus, Derek and Nathan and spent their time chatting, eating sweets from the trolley and playing Exploding Snap or with Albus's Quidditch game.
Since it was Easter, the trolley sold tiny chocolate eggs, filled with surprise fillings. Unlike Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans however, there were no nasty surprises like vomit or bogey flavour.
“Oh, my parents would like to meet yours if they’ve got time,” Derek told Albus as the train pulled into King’s Cross station.
“Why?” He was slightly alarmed.
“To invite you to come and stay with us in the summer, of course, you idiot. They’re worried about contacting them.”
“We’ve a box office number for Muggles to write to us. Dad thought it would be easier, especially when James started Hogwarts, but he had it even before that. I don’t know why exactly. Probably in case he needed to contact Muggles for his job. You know, if Dark Wizards were targeting them.”
“They’d still like to meet them.”
“OK,” he said distractedly, as he glanced around for his parents.
Seeing them, he rushed off the train, pushing past the students and parents crowding the platform.
Derek hurried after him.
“My parents are probably out on the main platform,” he said uncertainly. “I don’t think they can get through the barrier.”
“Mum! Dad!” Albus called.
Lily raced towards him.
“Hi Lils. This is my friend, Derek. I’m just going to introduce him to Mum and Dad. His parents want to meet ours.”
“Hi Derek,” Lily said. “Are you in Albus’s class? Are you in Ravenclaw? I’m going to be in Gryffindor like James. But it’s OK Albus got in Ravenclaw.”
Albus tuned her out and headed over to his parents.
“This is Derek. His parents want a word with you, if you’ve got time. They’re out on the main platform. They’re Muggles, so they can’t get through the barrier.”
“That’s all right,” Harry said. “We’re in no rush, are we Gin?”
“Well, I’m not, but I thought you wanted to get back to the office.”
“Before the day is out, yes. But a few minutes won’t make much difference. There’s no great urgency.”
Albus glanced at him questioningly.
“Oh, don’t worry. It’s nothing serious. Just need to get Phillips’s reports from him. I’ve been hearing excuses from him all week. The guy hates paperwork.” He laughed. “I’m not too fond of it myself. I don’t think any of us are. But it has to be done and it does make our lives easier in the long run.”
“What does?” James asked, catching the tail end of the conversation.
“Paperwork. I was just saying I’ll have to call into the office for a few minutes this evening to get the reports from one of my Aurors.”
James rolled his eyes. “If I was an Auror, I’d never do paperwork. I’d be too busy tracking down dangerous criminals.”
“Which would be a lot more difficult to do if we didn’t have the reports to refer to,” his father said.
Albus remembered Rose’s endless lists. Maybe they’d eventually yield up a result too.
“My dad says stuff like that too,” Derek said shyly. “He’s a policeman. Though of course all their reports are on computer nowadays.”
“Computers would be a great help in our job, I think,” Harry said. “But the Ministry has the same problem as Hogwarts. Too much magic interferes with technology. And of course, the purebloods would have no idea how to work them anyway. I’m afraid there are still a lot of people in our world who can’t even contemplate the idea that Muggles might be ahead of us in some areas.”
They strolled out through the barrier.
“Mum! Dad! OVER HERE,” Derek called.
A tall dark-haired man and a smartly dressed brown haired woman walked towards them.
“You must be Mr. and Mrs. Potter,” the woman said, reaching out a hand. “I’m Judy Thompson and this is my husband, Edward.”
“Pleased to meet you.” Ginny shook her hand. “You must call me Ginny and my husband is Harry.”
“We’ve been looking forward to meeting you,” Judy said. “Derek is very anxious to have Albus come and stay over the summer holidays.”
“Of course. And Derek must come and stay with us too.”
The two boys exchanged pleased glances.
“I’ll give you our post office box number,” Albus’s father said. “It’ll probably be easier for you than owl post. And we can arrange the dates.”
The adults continued talking, while James, Albus, Derek and Lily waited impatiently. Why did adults always take so long about things?
“I’d love to hear more about how your world is policed,” Derek’s father was saying. “We must discuss it sometime when we have more time. I think the kids are anxious to be home.”
Albus looked up, hopefully.
“Is Derek your only child?” Albus’s mother asked.
It looked like the conversation would continue a while longer.
Eventually, however, the adults said their goodbyes and both families made for their cars.
“Bye, Derek,” Albus called.
“Bye. See you next week.”
After spending so long waiting in silence, both James and Albus launched into detailed accounts of the term that had just ended.
Their mother sighed. “Any chance you could speak one at a time?”
“Well, we could if Albus would just wait for me to finish,” James said.
“Or you could wait until I’m finished,” Albus argued weakly.
“Sure, little bro! I’m the eldest. That means I get to go first.”
He continued with a minute by minute account of his last Quidditch practice. Albus liked Quidditch as much as anybody, but not when he’d so much else he wanted to talk about.
“OK,” his mum said, after what felt like forever. “How about you give Albus a chance now?”
“I’m doing well in all my classes,” Albus said. “Professor Blackburn says I should get a really good grade in Transfiguration if I carry on as I’m doing.”
“Boring!” James said. “Honestly, I can’t believe you’re my brother sometimes. Two terms he’s been at Hogwarts now,” he announced to the car at large. “And not even one detention yet.”
Albus shifted awkwardly. “Well, I kind of got one from Professor Blackburn at the start of the year.”
“That was cancelled; it doesn’t count. You’ll have to try harder next term. You can’t possibly go a whole year without a single detention.”
“I think you’ve had enough for the two of you,” his mum said sternly. “How many is it so far this year? About eight.”
“About that," he replied, sounding proud of this achievement.
She sighed. “Actually, I’ve changed my mind. That’s enough for all three of you. So you needn’t think of following in his footsteps either, young lady.” She turned around to give Lily a warning glance.
Lily just giggled, promising nothing.
It was great to be home, Albus thought, great to be able to just hang out with his sister or his parents, great to sleep in his own bed and to eat his mother’s cooking and would only have been better if his father hadn't been so busy at work.
“Unfortunately, criminals don’t take Easter off,” he told them. “And I have to set an example. A lot of the Aurors have children or younger brothers or sisters at Hogwarts and want time off during their holidays. I couldn’t justify denying them the time and then taking it off myself. But I’ll definitely be free Easter Sunday. Unless there’s a mass breakout from Azkaban or something.”
“And if there is, I’ll personally box the ears of the criminals who deny you your day off,” Albus’s mum said fiercely.
“Wonder what we’ll get from the Easter bunny,” James teased Lily.
“I’m not a baby.” She placed her hands on her hips and glared at him. “I know there’s no Easter bunny.”
“So who brings our Easter eggs then?”
“Mum and Dad, obviously.” She glanced at her mother.
“Don’t mind James, Lily. You know what he’s like. James, could you please refrain from teasing your siblings and let us have a peaceful Easter?”
James cocked his head to one side, pretending to think.
“Nope. It’s too much fun.”
On Easter morning, Albus came downstairs to find three Easter eggs sitting on the kitchen table.
“But they’re not to be eaten until this afternoon,” their mother warned. “I don’t want you spoiling your lunch.”
On Easter Sunday, the entire Weasley family had lunch at Grandma and Grandpa Weasley’s. It had been the tradition for as long as Albus could remember and this time, even James didn’t object.
“Can we just open them?” Lily pleaded. “I promise I won’t eat any.”
She tore the box open and her brothers followed suit. They were large Honeydukes eggs, filled with magical surprises.
“I can’t wait to see what’s in mine,” Lily said excitedly.
Albus couldn’t either. Of course, the items included were always cheap rubbish really, but it was fun when you broke the egg and it whistled or crackled or boomed out loud and glitter and smoke flew up in the air. Then you reached into the egg to remove the sweets and small toys it contained, some too large to really fit in the egg but magically resized to fit.
He fidgeted with the box, wishing he could start eating. Not that he wanted to seem too eager. James was already tucking into the large breakfast their mother'd just dished up and appeared to have lost all interest in his egg. Albus would look like such a kid if he seemed too excited.
The morning passed lazily and eventually, it was time to leave for their grandparents.
“I bet Grandma will have delicious Easter eggs for us,” Lily said. “Do you think Charlie will bring us some from Romania?”
“If he can make it,” their mother said. “It’s a long journey back just for one day.”
“He’ll want to see us though, won’t he?” Lily said.
“Of course he’ll want to, but we don’t always get what we want in life, my dear. Not by a long way.”
“Very optimistic this morning, aren’t you?” Their father leaned over to kiss her.
She took down the Floo Power and they each stepped through the fireplace and into their grandparents’ living room.
“Good to see you.” Their grandmother bent to kiss them.
“Have you got Easter eggs for us, Grandma?" Lily asked, bouncing up and down on her heels.
“I’m afraid not,” she said seriously.
Lily’s face fell.
“But I have these instead.” She handed them each a chocolate bunny, that twitched their noses and bounced in their hands as if trying to escape.
“I don’t think they want to be eaten, Grandma.” Albus laughed.
“I’m sure they don’t.” She smiled at her grandchildren, then turned to greet her daughter and son-in-law. “So good to see you again, Ginny. And Harry. I really wish you could make it more often.”
“I’m sorry, Molly,” he said. “I’m afraid we’ve been quite busy in the department lately. Oh, nothing serious. Our world is still reasonably safe. Just the ordinary Muggle baiting and that sort of thing.”
“Not that that isn’t serious.” Grandpa Weasley entered the room.
“I totally agree with you,” Albus’s father said. “But unfortunately, it’s a daily issue in our job.”
“How many are here?” Albus’s mother interrupted them.
“Percy, of course and all his family. Percy’s always punctual.” Their grandmother smiled. “And Bill and his family. Charlie’s been delayed, but he says he hopes to be here within the hour. He just sent an owl. And…”
Before she could finish the sentence, Hugo bounded out of the fireplace.
“Hi Grandma. Have you any Easter eggs for us?”
Albus’s mother laughed. “You’re just like Lily.”
Rose appeared in the room and glared at her little brother. “Don’t tell me he’s been begging for Easter eggs. Mum’ll kill him.”
“Who am I going to kill now?” Hermione stepped out of the fireplace.
“Oh, nobody.” Rose started to laugh.
Their grandmother took out two more chocolate bunnies and handed them to Rose and Hugo.
“Thanks Grandma,” Rose said.
“Yeah, thanks,” Hugo echoed.
Rose was obviously anxious to talk to Albus privately, but there was little opportunity. Not when their grandparents and aunts and uncles wanted to hear all about their first year at Hogwarts. Albus didn’t mind, not even when Uncle Percy decided to launch into a long lecture on “how to get the best out of your years at Hogwarts.”
Albus and Rose tried hard to look as if they were listening and to ignore James, who was rolling his eyes and mimicking Uncle Percy behind his back.
After about forty minutes, Uncle Charlie arrived, full of apologies for the delay. “I had to get a Portkey and there was some delay. It was supposed to go at ten this morning, but they changed it. I don’t know why. I’m really sorry. I hope I haven’t delayed lunch or anything.”
“Not at all,” Grandma Weasley said. “Your brother and his family still haven’t shown any signs of arriving. At least you sent an owl.” She looked at him fondly.
“No need to ask which brother that is,” Charlie said. “We should just start without him. That’d teach him to be constantly holding us up.” He grinned.
“Oh, we couldn’t do that, dear. Especially not on his birthday."
“No, I suppose not." For a moment, conversation paused and Albus shifted awkward, aware the adults were remembering the other man who should have been celebrating with them, the man who'd never had the opportunity to age beyond twenty. It was Charlie who broke the silence. "Anyway, where are all my favourite nieces and nephews?" he asked. "I’ve got something here for you.”
All the children gathered around him, Lily and Hugo pushing to the front. He handed each a chocolate egg, which morphed suddenly into a chocolate dragon and then back again.
“No eating them now, mind,” Grandma Weasley called. “You’ll spoil your lunch.”
James, Albus and Lily began to laugh.
“That’s just what Mum told us this morning,” Albus explained to Rose.
Almost another two hours passed before Uncle George and his family arrived, by which time Grandma Weasley was fussing over the dinner, Lily and Hugo were pleading to be allowed start their Easter eggs and Molly was glancing at the chocolate wistfully.
“Thank goodness you weren’t any later.” Grandma Molly said, wrapping her arms around her son. "How are you, dear?"
"I'm fine, Mum. It's Easter, let's just enjoy the chocolate. I'm sure Fred would want us to."
Six year old Fred seemed oblivious to the undercurrents. “Grandma, can I have an Easter egg?”
“You can have them after lunch,” she said.
“I don’t want any lunch. I’m not hungry.”
“I think they’ve eaten enough already,” Angelina said apologetically. “They’ve been gorging on chocolate all morning.”
“If you’ve room for another Easter egg, you’ve room for your lunch,” Grandma Weasley told Fred sternly. "Sit down now. I'm about to dish up."
Neither Fred nor Roxanne did more than pick at their meal and George too seemed to have little appetite. Despite his insistence that Fred would want them to enjoy the day, he seemed unusually quiet and distracted. The other adults too seemed somewhat quieter than usual.
Albus tried to ignore the atmosphere and concentrate on the food. Grandma Weasley was the best cook ever. But he couldn't help heaving a sigh of relief when the meal was finished and he and Rose could finally slip away by themselves.
“I got a letter from Scorpius,” Rose said.
Albus almost choked on his chocolate bunny. “WHAT?”
She gave him a shove. “About his dad and Marcus Flint, of course. What did you think?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. I just couldn’t imagine him writing to you, that’s all. Or anyone. He’s not exactly…I don’t know.”
“He doesn’t seem too anxious for friendship, you mean. But this is different. He really wants to know who broke his broom.”
“And what did he say?”
“He asked his dad if he remembered a Marcus Flint at school and his dad said he did, that they’d been pretty friendly at the time or as friendly as two schoolboys could be when one was five years older than the other, but that he hadn’t heard from him since. He didn’t think Flint had done particularly well for himself and he didn’t move in the same sort of circles as the Malfoys.”
“So maybe the Flints are jealous,” Albus suggested.
“It’s possible.” She sighed. “There was nothing really conclusive, but at least he’s doing his best. Scorpius, I mean. We could do with all the help we can get.”
“So is it all right if I tell Derek what we’re doing? If it comes up, I mean.”
“I suppose so. After all, he was with you when Scorpius’s broom was damaged, right?”
“Right.” He breathed a sigh of relief. It was good to feel he could trust somebody in his dormitory.
James burst into the room. “Come on outside. We’re just about to have a Quidditch match.”
They followed him outside.
Harry, Ron, James, Albus, Rose, Lucy and Lily formed one team and Charlie, Ginny, Victoire, Dominique, Louis, Molly and Hugo the other. Fred and Roxanne were considered too young to play.
“It’s not fair.” Fred threw himself on the ground in the beginning of what looked like being a full-scale tantrum. “I want to play too.”
“Tough luck,” Hugo said. “You’re too little.”
“Don’t make things worse!” Ron dragged his son away, while Angelina moved to comfort Fred.
The two teams were fairly equally matched, so the game was a long one, but finally, Charlie caught the Snitch, ensuring his team’s victory.
“Let’s play again,” James said.
“Better not,” his father said. “If the next game takes as long as this one, it’ll be dark before we finish.”
“And the younger ones need to get home by their bedtimes,” Percy said.
“Ah, Lily’ll stay up a little later tonight,” Albus’s father said.
Percy looked disapproving. “Routine is very important for children, you know.”
Albus’s father laughed. “I don’t think one night will do much harm.”
Albus smiled. He’d even missed listening to Uncle Percy pontificating, he realised.
Unsurprisingly, Uncle Percy’s family were the first to leave, with Charlie following soon afterwards.
“I’ve to catch another Portkey back, I’m afraid.” He sighed. “I should have more free time in the summer.”
“I do wish you’d get a job closer to home, dear,” Grandma Weasley fussed. “We all miss you so much, you know.”
“I miss you all too, especially all my lovely nieces and nephews, but I’m afraid there’s a shortage of dragons to be studied in Britain.”
“You could do something else.”
“No, he couldn’t,” Grandpa Weasley interrupted. “Charlie loves his work and you know how few people can truly say that. Would you really want him back here, working in an office or something and hating every minute of it?”
“I suppose not.” She sighed.
“Of course you wouldn’t. Bye Charlie. Great to see you, son.”
The rest of the family started to leave shortly afterwards. Albus would have hated to see the day end, if he hadn’t had Teddy’s visit the following day to look forward to.
“Teddy’s brought us Easter eggs,” Lily announced excitedly, when she opened the door to him the next day.
“Oh, Teddy, you really shouldn’t have,” their mother said. “They had quite enough yesterday.”
He grinned. “Now I’ve an income, I might as well spend it, and how better than on your family?”
He handed Lily an Easter egg with a chocolate heart on the front and James and Albus eggs with Snitches on them.
“Thanks Teddy,” said Albus.
“Yeah, thanks,” said James and Lily.
“When are we going to have your birthday tea?” Albus added. “We will have it before me and James go back to Hogwarts, won’t we?” He looked around at his parents anxiously.
“Of course we will,” his father said. “Next Friday OK, Ted?”
“Next Friday’s fine.”
Albus grinned to himself. He’d sent off by owl order for a new gramophone record of Teddy’s favourite skeleton band. He couldn’t wait to give it to him.
Although Teddy’s birthday wasn’t until mid-April, they’d celebrated it during the Easter holidays for as long as Albus could remember, ever since Teddy had started Hogwarts.
“I’ll have to go in to work in the morning,” Albus’s father was saying. “But I should be finished around three. So if you come over around two, I won’t miss much of it.”
“You’d better not,” Teddy teased him.
“Unfortunately, I do have to head in now though. I’m running a bit late actually. But if you’re planning on staying for the day, we can chat when I get home.”
It was another perfect day. In fact, the entire holidays were almost perfect. Other than his dad’s work schedule, the only problem was that they ended far too soon and before Albus knew it, he was packing to return to Hogwarts.
Hope all my readers have/had a happy Easter (if you're celebrating).
And thanks to water_lily43175 for her advice on British Easter traditions.
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