Chapter 36 : Shopping Frenzy
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Once the tree and the house were all decorated, Harry knew it was time to go Christmas shopping with his sons. He usually didn't like to shop alone, so he owled Draco to see if he wanted to go along with Cory. But Astoria owled him back that Draco was in bed sick with the flu and would he mind taking Cory, because her son was going stir crazy and driving her up the wall asking when Alby and Sevvy were going to come over and see the big white tree with all the fairy lights and floating ornaments.
Harry wrote back that they would come and pick up Cory, so then they could see the decorations at Malfoy Manor which were usually pretty unusual, and also so Severus could see Lily, as he had been driving Ginny and Harry crazy over that. Then he firecalled Remus, and asked if he had completed his shopping yet.
"What? I've barely started, Harry!" the werewolf laughed. "I've gotten Dora's gift from me, but haven't gotten her one from the boys yet, or anyone else, except Andromeda. I was going to hit Diagon Alley this morning with the boys, and let them pick out presents for their mum and friends and cousins. You want to come with me?"
"Yes, I'm terrible about picking out presents without someone else's input. This way I can see what your kids want and vice versa." Harry said. "I have Cory with me too, since Draco's come down with the flu."
"Ah, too bad. Draco has better taste in clothes than me," Remus sighed.
"Yeah, he's always been a snappy dresser. Gets that from Lucius." Harry chuckled. Last year, Draco had helped him pick out some lingerie for Ginny that she had absolutely loved. "Oh, well. We'll just have to make the best of it. I'll meet you at The Leaky Cauldron. Tom told me he's giving out samples of his new brew—spiced ale, and he also has caramel butterbeer for the kids."
"Oh, I am so there! See you, Harry!" Remus said, before withdrawing from his fireplace.
Harry cancelled his call, then stuck his head out the back door, where Alby and Severus were feeding some squirrels and rabbits. With Alby's talent awake and flourishing, his house appeared to be a stopping point for hungry wildlife, and he had supplied the boys with peanuts, popcorn, carrots, and seeds. Every morning, the two were outside, sometimes before breakfast, to greet the wild animals and feed them. Harry had to modify his wards so he wasn't always woken out of a sound sleep by the boys opening the back door and running into the yard to feed their furry visitors at 6AM. He modified them so that they wouldn't alarm if the back door opened out into the yard, which had Boundary Charms set so the kids couldn't leave it, only if someone tried to break into the house.
"Alby! Sevvy! It's time to go to Diagon Alley . . . and we're going to stop over at Malfoy Manor to pick up Cory and say hello to Lily and whoever else is at home."
Severus immediately turned away from the wildlife. While he enjoyed feeding the animals, nothing beat going over to Malfoy Manor. "C'mon, Al. Tell them we'll be back later on."
Alby reluctantly tossed down a last handful of sunflower seeds and peanuts before going inside. He would have liked to stay and chat some more with the rabbits, but he knew Severus wouldn't appreciate being delayed and neither would his dad. "See you later!" he waved and then he headed inside too.
Harry, Severus, and Alby admired the beautiful white pine tree the Malfoys had picked out this year, it was huge, and towered almost to the cathedral ceiling. Twinkling fairy lights of all colors lit the branches and there were streamers of frosty-like tinsel hanging from the branches and all sort of ornaments floating upon it, including a picture of Lily inside a spun glass globe and the words Lily's 1st Christmas on it.
"Grandpa made that for me," Lily told them proudly. She was wearing a blue apron over her shirt and jeans and had a smudge of flour on her nose. "I'm helping Mum and Granny bake some shortbread and pecan divinities," she said happily.
"Your grandmother bakes?" Severus repeated in astonishment. When he had known her, the closest Narcissa had come to entering a kitchen had been to wait in the entryway for her house elf.
Lily nodded. "Yes, why are surprised? Your Grammy bakes."
"Molly always cooks. But Cissy . . .I thought she had house elves to cook for her."
"Oh, Jinxy helps," Lily said. "But Tori . . . I mean Mum . . .likes to bake things, so she taught Granny and now they do it together. And I know how to bake too from before. I taught them how to make thumbprint jam biscuits."
"I remember those! We used to help your mum make them when you lived on Spinner's End," Severus recalled. He had always liked those biscuits, which were made with a sugar dough and you pushed your thumb in the middle of the biscuit to make a print and then put a half teaspoon of jam in it. His favorite had always been the apricot and raspberry ones, and Lily had liked strawberry and orange marmalade. "Did you make any of those yet?"
"Yes. You can have some, they're cool now," Lily said, and she led the way back into the kitchen.
Severus was greeted by the two witches and told to take some biscuits for himself and his family.
"Lily, you give Sev, Alby, and Harry some thumbprints for now, and I'll fix up a tray for the Potters," Cissy ordered. "You can pick that up when you drop off Cory, Severus. I'll send Dora hers with Majestic." Majestic was her owl, a beautiful gray spectacled female.
Severus thanked them and they brought the thumbprints out to where Alby and Harry were admiring the tree.
"What about me?" Cory pouted.
Lily frowned. "You're not allowed to have any more until you eat lunch. Mum said."
Cory rolled his eyes. "I hate that stupid rule."
"Me too," Alby said. He broke his thumbprint in half and said, "Here, Cory. I can share mine."
"Thanks!" he took the half and ate it. Then he looked at Lily. "That was a gift, so it doesn't count."
Lily shrugged. "I didn't see anything." Then she tugged on Severus' sleeve. "Sev, come and see. Look what Granny did with Lucifer."
Severus followed her to the window, where Lucifer and his hens were walking on the lawn. He saw that the princely peacock was now sporting a big green Christmas bow. The hens had smaller bows around their necks too. He started to giggle. "How did she ever manage that?"
"They're her peacocks, so none of them will bite her," Lily said. "She fed them some corn and tied the bows on and not even Lucifer tried anything."
"Hey, I wonder if Al can talk to them? Maybe try and tell Lucifer to back off or something?" Severus mused.
But Harry overheard their conversation and said softly, "Ask him later, Severus. We need to be going, I promised Remus I'd meet him soon."
Severus nodded. "All right. I'll see you later, Lily. Tell Draco I hope he gets well soon."
"I will. Have fun!" she threw her arms about him and hugged him.
"I'll try," he said. Shopping wasn't really his thing, especially when going along with Sirius. But he would try and make the best of it.
Harry gave both Severus and Cory some Stomach Soother before they Flooed into The Leaky Cauldron. Alby never needed anything like that. They found Remus and his boys waiting for them, and they all sat down at a table, and Remus and Harry ordered a spiced ale each and the boys all had the new caramel butterbeer. Everything was delicious.
While they drank, Remus took a pad out of his pocket and a quill. He handed the pad and quill to the boys and said, "I need all of you to write down two presents you'd like to receive, not ones you put on your lists for Father Christmas, mind. Okay?"
Everyone nodded, though Alby and Cory said, "Uncle Remus, we can't write."
"I'll write yours down," Severus said calmly. He, of course, did not believe in Father Christmas any longer, but he would play along for the sake of the other children.
Once they had all written down two presents, Remus took back the oad and quill and tucked them back in his pocket. "Okay. Here's how we're going to do this. Everyone uses the bathroom first, then we're going to go up one side of the street and down another. When we come to a store we want to shop in, we stop and look around. Keep in mind that this shopping trip is not just for you, but for your friends and relatives. I expect you all to behave and to stay together at all times. No going off on your own. We'll stop for lunch after two or three hours. Oh, one more thing. No whining, crying, or tantrums will be tolerated by me or Harry." He eyed both Sirius and Jamie sternly. "Pull any of that and you'll get no sweets or joke products at all and a time out. Understood?"
"Yes, Dad," his sons replied.
"Yes, Uncle Remus," Cory and Albus said.
"Yes, sir," Severus answered.
"Okay, then. There's a men's room over here," Harry said, and they all went inside.
They stopped first at the Slug and Jiggers Apothecary, where Severus purchased something for Alby and Remus something for Severus. Then they went across the way to the Pottage's Cauldron Shop, and Severus finished shopping for Alby and then Remus took him out of the store with his boys so Harry could shop for a special present for Severus.
Next along the route was Quality Quidditch Supplies, but they weren't open yet, they opened at 11 o'clock, for which both parents thanked God, so they didn't have to deal with whiny children so early in the morning. Then they stopped in the stationary store, where Severus chose Lily's special gift and Harry picked up a few more things.
Jamie whispered to Teddy, "Hey, maybe we should get Mum a new daybook and some quills with cool inks. You know her old daybook's looking kind of . . ."
"Shabby? Worn out?" Teddy supplied.
"Yeah. What do you think, Siri?"
Sirius considered. When he'd had girlfriends, he'd usually gotten them flowers, or chocolate, or tickets to a movie or taken them to a restaurant. But Dora was different. And her sons knew her preferences better than he did. "That sounds nice." He looked at Moony. "What do you think, Moony?"
Remus considered. "I think . . . that would be a fine gift to give your mother. You know how she uses her daybook to record all her appointments and things. And she definitely needs new quills and inks, she always wears her quills to nubs."
"And her inks get dried out cause she forgets to put the cap on," Jamie remembered.
The three boys began to study the various daybooks, finally choosing one with a pretty lime green cover with a tree of life on it. Jamie wanted to pick the inks out, so Sirius and Teddy chose the quills, getting one with an eagle feather and the other two were an ostrich plume and a green Amazon parrot feather.
The attendant boxed them in a pretty paisley print box and tied a bow around it. "Christmas gift for your mum, lads?"
"Yes, ma'am," the boys all said.
"I'm sure she'll love it."
Then Severus came up with his gift for Lily. It was a pair of twinned journals, made of soft leather that was dyed an emerald green and turquoise. There were runes stamped on it to make the leather cover waterproof and fireproof. It came with special quills that matched the journals and were always full of ink. The journal was something they could use to talk to each other and it was made so no one could read what was written there except the one whom the journal belonged to. Anyone else who tried would end up with either a blank page or some totally inane and boring entries.
"Could you please wrap one for me?" Severus asked the attendant.
"Of course, lad," The attendant wrapped the journal and one quill in pretty Christmas wrap. "Will there be anything else?"
"No, ma'am," Severus said, and then he gave her a Sickle tip.
"Thanks! Have a happy Christmas!"
Once they were finished with the stationary shop, Jamie begged to go to Eeylops and see the owls.
"That okay with you, Harry?"
"Sure." He turned to Alby. "Now, Alby, I want you to not make a commotion in there. We're just here to look, not to buy, and I don't want the owls going crazy thinking we're going to take them all home."
"Okay, Daddy. I'll be quiet." Alby said, looking a bit dejected. "Can I at least say hello?"
Harry sighed. "Fine. But just say hello."
They entered the store. The owls were all in cages, some were sleeping, but some were also awake and they started cooing and hooting when they saw the boys. They preened and fluffed and attempted to make the boys notice them. It reminded Severus of girls trying to impress a boy.
One small barn owl with a sweet heart-shaped face and dark amber eyes cooed at Alby.
Alby looked at her, smiling. "Hi! My name's Alby. What's yours?"
I am Honeygold, young master. Are you seeking a familiar?
"No, I'm sorry. My dad says I'm too young for an owl yet," Alby whispered to her.
Honeygold chirruped at him. A Beast Master, too young? Nonsense! You are never too young for a companion. Out of all wizards, a Beast Master is a familiar's dream! She moved forward on her perch and rubbed her head against the boy's hand, making soft cooing sounds.
"I . . . I'd like you to come home with me, but . . . Daddy says not today," Alby sighed, blinking back tears. "I really like you though, Honeygold."
"Hey there!" the proprietor cried upon seeing Alby's hand scratching the owl. "Owls don't like to be petted, kid! They can bite."
Alby looked up, unconcerned. "Honeygold won't hurt me, sir. She's my friend."
"How did you know her name?"
"She told me it."
Eeylop eyed Alby. "Told ye, did she? You wouldn't be puttin' me on, now, would ya?"
Severus moved to stand next to Alby. "My brother's a Beast Master, sir. He's not a liar."
"Beast Master! What's your name, boy?"
"Albus Severus Potter."
Eeylop's eyes nearly fell out of his head. "You're Harry Potter's son!"
"Excuse me, is there a problem?" Harry asked, seeing the proprietor talking to Alby and Severus and fearing the worst.
"A problem? No, no indeed, sir!" Eeylops said, smiling. "Your boy here was just telling me he's a Beast Master. How extraordinary! I haven't seen one of those in centuries. Honeygold here seems to have taken a shine to him."
"They all do." Harry said. "But we aren't here for a familiar, Mr. Eeylop . . . My son is only four . . ."
"Ah, but Mr. Potter, the owl here has bonded with the child . . ."
"What do you mean?"
"Sometimes that happens, with owls, particularly ones like her, who are particular. She won't have any other master now. Only your boy."
Harry looked aghast. "Alby, what did you say to her?"
"Nothin', Dad. I just told her my name and said hello. Then she told me hers and asked if was lookin' for a familiar and I said no. I did what you said," Alby sniffled. "She really likes me though!" Sudden tears filled his eyes.
"Y'see, he's already feeling the pressure of the bond," Eeylop said. "Apart, they're miserable. Their hearts know that they belong together."
"But . . .he doesn't even go to nursery school yet!" Harry sputtered.
"Age makes no never mind, Mr. Potter. He's a Beast Master, and there's no better caretaker of an animal than that."
Harry groaned. He looked from the crooning owl to his son, who looked as if he was about to start crying any minute. He had not intended to get an owl. Especially not for his four-year-old. "I . . . let me think about it, okay? This is a big responsibility and I don't know if he's ready for it."
"I am, Dad!" Alby pleaded. "I can take care of her. I didn't mean for her to . . . to like me that much. It just happened."
"We'll see, son." Harry said. But he already knew he'd be returning here and purchasing the owl. He knew about bonded familiars, Hedwig had been his bonded. And they couldn't be separated for long, or else the familiar would pine away and die of longing. "Tell her goodbye for now, Alby. We need to visit the bookshop next."
As Alby turned and told the barn owl goodbye, Harry leaned over and whispered in Eeylop's ear. "I'll be back, I just want it to be a surprise. For Christmas."
"Ah, I see now!" the old man winked. "Come back this evening, I'll have her ready to go."
"Uh, couldn't it wait a few weeks? Like closer to Christmas?"
"Yes. And just so ya know, Mr. Potter, this may not be his only familiar."
Eeylops smirked. "Being a Beast Master, he may bond more than one, and probably will. It's how it is with them. They are beloved by all creatures. Most Beast Masters that I knew of usually had two or three familiars."
"Two or three?" Harry gulped.
Eeylops nodded. "It all depends. He could have one winged familiar and one beast or two of one kind."
"Merlin's hat! Uh . . . thanks for telling me. I think." Harry didn't quite know what to say. He wondered how Ginny would take this news . . . that she might have a menagerie in her home before long. He bent and picked up his son, who buried his face in Harry's shoulder and wept quietly. "Shhh . . . Alby, stop crying. You'll see her again, I promise."
"Uh . . . maybe you could ask Father Christmas to bring her. How about that?"
"If . . . if he does bring her, then you have to let me keep her, Dad. 'Cause you can't send back a present from Father Christmas," Alby said solemnly.
Harry fought to keep from smiling. "I know, Alby." He winked slyly at Eeylops, then he hurried out of the store before Alby got even more upset. "Al, let's go into Flourish and Blotts. Then you can help me pick out books for Sevvy and Mummy. Won't that be fun?"
Alby nodded. He felt very sad and there was an ache in his chest, but he took comfort that Father Christmas might bring him the owl, because he had tried so hard to be good all year.
Sirius saw Harry leave the store with Alby and asked Severus, "Where's Harry going? Did your baby brother throw a fit?"
"No. Alby just wanted to go to the bookshop, hearing all the owls talking to him was making him get a headache," Severus lied glibly. He would never tell Sirius the real reason behind Alby's departure. There were some things only family needed to know. "I'm going with them," Severus decided suddenly, and ran after Harry.
Not long after that, Remus rounded up his three and Cory and they went to Flourish and Blotts.
By then Severus had picked out a book for Cory called The Dragon's Beastiary, and also a recipe book for Alby to go with his little cauldron.
Cory tugged on Harry's shirt. "Unca Harry, can you help me pick a book out for my daddy? An' Lily too? That's what I wanna buy them for Christmas."
Harry smiled down at the little imp, who looked so much like Draco. "Sure, I will. Now . . . I know your dad likes books about Quidditch, and potions, and Lily likes potions and charms . . ."
"And fairy tales," Severus spoke up. "She liked Hans Christian Anderson and mythology stories."
"Thanks, Sev. I didn't know that," Harry said. He led Cory and Severus over to the Legends and Myth section and said, "You two look at the books here while I go and look at the Quidditch biographies."
They were in the next section so Harry could browse and keep an eye on the two boys at the same time. He had already picked out books for Severus from Alby and from him and Ginny as well. Alby was sitting with Remus, who was reading him a book of children's tales, while Jamie, Sirius, and Teddy were in the practical joke and humor section.
Harry chose two books for Draco, one was a biography of his favorite Quidditch player, Seeker Ian Lynch, and then he chose a potions book called Elite Brewing Techniques. One was for Cory to give, the other was from him. He and Ginny usually did gift baskets for the adults. He moved over to the Charms section to see what he could find for Lily.
As Severus found a book called World Mythology: from Aoife to Zeus, Cory asked softly, "What did you get Lily, Sevvy?"
Severus told him.
"That sounds cool! How about Aunt Ginny?"
"Uh, I got her a teapot that can pour tea itself and brew it also. She likes her tea, specially now when it's hard for her to walk, her feet are swollen." Severus said. "What did you get your mum?"
"Daddy picked out a shirt in a magazine that was pretty and he's gonna put my picture on it."
"That's a good present."
"How about Uncle Harry?"
"Shh . . . you can't tell him, but . . ." Severus whispered in Cory's ear.
"He's gonna love that!" Cory squealed.
"Shhh!" Severus hissed. "How about this one?" He held up the mythology book.
"Coolness! I like it!" Cory said, jumping up and down.
"Maybe Lily will read some of it to you after she opens it. She can read like me."
"I'd like that." Cory said.
They went to find Harry, and he agreed the mythology book was a good choice. He showed Cory the two books and Cory chose the Quidditch book to give Draco and then Harry paid for the purchases. Astoria had given him money for Cory to shop, and he had money for Severus and Alby also.
By then Teddy, Sirius, and Jamie had finished looking at the joke books and making their purchases as well.
"Let's go to lunch now, it's almost noon," Harry suggested, knowing full well that the next set of shops coming up were Fortescue's and the sweet shop and Weasley's Wizard Wheezes.
Everyone agreed, and they all went to a café to eat. Once they had finished, the older boys were begging to go back to Quality Quidditch Supplies.
"All right, but no asking for brooms!" Remus said. "You all have perfectly good brooms and don't need new ones."
"Does he really mean that, or is he just saying that?" Sirus asked Teddy. He was sure he could persuade his old pal to upgrade to a faster model.
Teddy snorted. "No, he means it. Don't push your luck, Siri. Otherwise you'll be in trouble."
"Oh, come on. Asking can't hurt."
"It's your funeral if he gets ticked and won't get you any sweets or joke products," Teddy shrugged. Sirius always had to learn everything the hard way. Rather like Jamie. Except Jamie at least had sense enough to know when to stop. Sirius, even though he was older, still hadn't learned when enough was enough.
They entered the store, which was all decked out in Christmas ribbons and wreaths. Right in the middle of the store was the latest model of the year—a Phoenix Starfire 2006. It was said to be better than the Firebolt. It was incredibly expensive.
"Wow! Look at that, Harry!" Sirius called, pointing. "Isn't she wicked? She looks like she's flying just standing still."
Harry stepped up to admire the broom. It was very impressive, but he found he still liked his Firebolt.
"I'd give my right arm to own that!" Sirius said longingly. He looked at the price tag and whistled. It was so expensive, but he had enough money in his vault to get it . . . if only he could spend it how he wished. But he knew Remus had control over it and there was no way he'd let Sirius spend that much on a broom he'd have to wait years to ride.
"It's okay. But I know a broom that's even better," Severus said quietly.
"What you know of brooms, Severus, could fit in a thimble," Sirius snorted. "You were never interested in them before."
Severus stiffened. "Just because I wasn't a fanatic doesn't mean I don't know anything. There's a rare broom called the Shadowstreak 1500 that blows this model away. There were only a few hundred ever made and then they were retired."
Sirius stared at him. He had heard of that broom, but couldn't believe Snape actually knew about it. "How'd you know that?"
"Because my grandfather owned one. It's in his vault."
"What? You have a Shadowstreak? Oh, Merlin!" Sirius gasped. He thought then how it was so unfair for Snape, who didn't even fly well, to have that broom! "Would you . . . err . . . ever let me fly it sometime?"
Severus shook his head. "No. It's an adult broom, and Harry said it's not a toy. The only person who could even handle it would be him."
Sirius scowled and stamped his foot. "Being little sucks! If I was big enough . . ."
"I still wouldn't let you ride it."
"Why? Don't you think I could handle it?" Sirius demanded belligerently.
"I fly better than you!"
"So what? That broom is special and only the best flyer can fly it. And that's not you. It's Harry."
"How would you know, Snape? You're not an expert. You can barely sit on a broom!" Sirius sneered. "I'm a better flyer than anybody here . . . kid wise."
Teddy turned around when he heard that comment. "Not better than me, Sirius!"
"Are not! I made the Junior Quidditch League and you didn't."
"Only 'cause your dumb coach wouldn't let me on!" Sirius shot back.
"Because he didn't think you were ready," Teddy snorted.
"No, it's because he's an idiot!"
"Boys, enough!" Harry growled. "Neither of you are good enough to fly the Shadowstreak, and besides, that's not your decision to make. It's Severus' broom and nobody's riding it without my permission. Clear? Now, why don't you go and try some of the test models?"
He pointed to where there were three training brooms set up for children to test out.
Cory and Jamie were already on one, and it slowly rose and descended and turned in a circle.
"I think I'm going to ask for this one for my birthday next year," Jamie said.
"Dad says I have to be six to get a training broom," Cory said.
The broom landed and Cory and Jamie hopped off. "Let's go look at the jerseys," Jamie suggested, and they ran over to where the children's sized team jerseys were.
Remus and Harry were there with Severus and Alby. All of them began looking through the jerseys, trying to find a size and favorite team. Remus looked up and saw his two eldest getting on the test models and then he returned to picking out a jersey for each of them.
Sirius stalked over to the models, still seething over Harry's comment that none of them were good enough to ride the Shadowstreak and the fact that Snape had a broom of such value when he was barely worthy of sitting on a regular broom. It was unfair! Back in the day, he had been a terrific flyer, and he had ruled the pitch with James. He would wager he flew better than Harry. Certainly better than Teddy or Snape.
For the first time since returning, he cursed the fact that he was a child again. What had seemed fun at first now wasn't. He hated being made to follow everyone's stupid rules, hated being told what to do and when. Hated that a smug eight year old got more privileges. He forgot that he had promised Remus at the start of this trip to behave, forgot that he should be good because Christmas was coming, forgot all of it in his anger and need to prove himself the better flyer.
When he mounted the broom, he felt instinctively the safety charms on the broom. Charms that restricted how high and fast he could go. His frustration grew. He didn't need the charms. He wasn't a baby. He was Sirius Black, Quidditch star. He ground his teeth.
He pushed the broom to the limit of the charms, then began to do some rather dangerous aerials.
"Sirius, watch it!" he called.
"What for? Scared, Teddy?" his brother sneered.
"No!" Teddy retorted, stung. "But you're going to get in trouble again!"
Sirius shrugged and began to fly a few spirals. "Who cares?"
Suddenly Teddy was angry. "Obviously you don't. Guess you must like getting time out and your bum spanked. Or Mum and Dad being angry with you all the time."
Sirius rolled his eyes. "Don't be stupid. Of course I don't like it."
"Then why do you keep doing things you know are wrong? Why do you keep pushing them? Why can't you just follow the rules for once?"
"Look who's talking. Like you always follow rules. You like pranking teachers, don't deny it."
"Only once in awhile. Sometimes it's funny and then it isn't. And I don't like it when my parents are upset with me. I feel bad, letting them down. Don't you, Siri? Don't you ever feel bad? Or do you just care about yourself?"
Sirius didn't answer. Instead he turned away and made the broom swap ends and twirl in midair. A part of him did care if Moony and Dora were angry with him, since he did respect them. But the rebellious side held sway now, and that side cared only for the risk and not following any whim save his own. He didn't need to hear advice from an eight-year-old.
But just as he was about to launch into a full spiraling death drop, he heard an angry voice cry, "Hey, kid! What d'you think you're doing?"
It was the store manager, come to see what all the commotion was about. And he was not pleased to have a kid doing crazy stunts on the store models.
"I do this all the time at home," Sirius said nonchalantly.
"What you do at home is one thing, but here in my store it's another. Now come down. I'm not going to be held responsible for you breaking your neck. You could get seriously injured. Do you know that?"
"But I wasn't. I'm a good flyer," Sirius said flippantly.
"Sure you are, until you fall off. Where's your mum or dad?"
"Right here," Remus said. As soon as he had heard raised adult voices he had known his kids were in trouble, and had rushed over to the model area. "I'm sorry, sir, for any inconvenience we might have caused you."
"It's okay, just remember that we'r e not libel if your kid takes a spill off his broom and breaks his neck."
"Yes, I know that. I . . . didn't realize what he was doing," Remus sputtered. "Sirius, come on. Teddy, let's go."
Teddy immediately slid off his broom and followed. He cast a glare at his younger brother. Sometimes Sirius made him want to smack him upside the head, the stubborn git! Why did his brother always insist on having his own way?
Sirius abruptly stopped and just stood in the middle of the aisle, sulking. "No! I'm not going. I want a real broom, not the baby one I have now. A real one," he cried at his father's back.
Remus spun around. "Sirius, this is your final warning. Keep up this behavior and the only thing you'll be getting is corner time and no sweets or joke products."
Sirius lost it.
"It's not fair! I ought to have a real broom, I wanna real broom!" he wailed, stamping his foot on the ground. "Snape has a real broom and he can't fly worth spit. I need one, Moony!" Frustrated tears of anger and envy were gathering in his eyes.
Remus went back to Sirius and took him firmly by theshoulders. "Sirius Orion Black!" he hissed. "What you need, boy, is to stop throwing a fit before you get nothing for Christmas except coal and a spanking. What's gotten into you? You're too old to be having a tantrum like a baby."
"I don't care! I need a regular broom . . . right now!" he shouted. A part of him didn't even know why he was throwing a fit, but his emotions were ragged and filled with anger over the fact that Snape had an expensive broom and Snape didn't even like flying. And he was still stuck with a miserable training broom when he could fly rings around Severus, Teddy, Jamie, and Remus too probably.
Remus' face looked like a thundercloud. "Sirius, you know perfectly well what I said about brooms before we came in here. You aren't ready to handle an adult broom and that's final. Now stop this nonsense and get a hold of yourself."
But Sirius didn't want to hear that. "I can too handle a real broom!" he bawled. "I can! You promised you'd get what I wanted for Christmas . . . and that's what I want!" he sobbed, tears dribbling down his face. He had conveniently forgotten that an hour ago he had had asked for something totally different.
People were walking by and staring in disapproval.
Remus felt himself flush and suddenly he'd had enough. He didn't know why Sirius had suddenly decided to throw a fit, whether from sheer contrariness, jealousy, or being tired, but he refused to give in to this kind of spectacle. "Enough, young man!" Remus picked up the redfaced squalling child and tossed him over his shoulder.
He walked quickly towards the exit, growling, "I don't know what's gotten into you, but it's going to stop. I warned you when we started this trip that if you whined and threw a tantrum you'd get no sweets or joke products, only a long time out when we get home, and you sure as blazes need one."
"No, Moony! Nooo!"
Remus walked out of the store and down the street until he came to a section shaded by trees and a small bench on the corner. Remus sat down and pulled Sirius onto his lap. Sirius was still bawling and coughing from having a stuffed up nose from crying. "Now, we are going to sit here until you calm down. And you're lucky you're not getting your bum warmed for acting out in public that way."
"It . . . It's all Snape's fault! And Harry's too!"
"Why are you blaming them? I didn't hear either of them telling you to throw a tantrum over a broom."
"Snape shouldn't have a Shadowstreak and Harry said I can't fly!"
Remus raised an eyebrow. "Severus inherited that broom and Harry said you can't fly the Shadowstreak. Don't try and skew the truth. Just because someone has something you want doesn't mean you can throw a fit over it. There will always be someone with more than you, or something better than you, that's life. Having a screaming fit is not the way to deal with it. What you should do is ask yourself, how can I get my own and then figure out what to do to earn one."
"But . . . you said I couldn't have a real broom."
"Yes, I did. You're not big enough or strong enough, and you haven't shown me yet that you're responsible to fly alone without getting into trouble. Look at what happened at Harry's house. Did you learn nothing from that bruised tailbone? Doesn't seem like it, since you were doing stunts on a model that's not yours. When you can show me some responsibility and maturity, I might consider getting you a real broom when you're nine or ten."
"I don't want to wait that long, Moony!"
"Too bad. Right now you can't even control yourself, much less a regular broom. And don't tell me what you used to do, Sirius. You're seven, not seventeen, and this is the way it goes. Quit looking at me like that. It won't work."
Sirius pouted. "I can't wait to grow up." Then he gave his guardian a pleading look. "I'm sorry I was bad, Moony. Can I have just one sweet?"
"No. Whiny brats don't get rewarded by me," Remus said firmly.
"I hate your stupid rules!"
"Too bad. Deal with it." Remus knew he couldn't afford to give in to the boy's demands. Sirius could turn on charm and look pitiful when he chose, and Remus had been swayed in the past by his old friend to join one scheme or another. But this time he couldn't allow himself to. Sirius had to learn that his actions had consequences and what Remus said, he meant. He had started to learn that during the months he had come to live with the Lupins, but it was not a lesson that was easy for the former Marauder to remember.
Sirius sulked, and thought about how unreasonable his guardian was being.
Remus ignored the scowl and said, "Let's go and find your brothers and the rest of them." He set Sirius on his feet and began to walk back towards the front of Quality Quidditch Supplies.
Meanwhile Harry, who had been observing the whole incident, shook his head ruefully as Remus departed the store. "He never learns, does he?"
"No. He thinks rules are made for everyone except him," Severus muttered. Severus wasn't surprised by this latest escapade. Black had never been able to stay out of trouble, then or now.
"Remus will set him straight," Harry said.
Severus said nothing, but he doubted it. The werewolf meant well, but what h failed to grasp was that Sirius had to want to change his reckless ways, and he didn't. He wanted to do everything his own way. No amount of lectures or punishments would alter his behavior until he wished to become something besides a defiant selfish spoiled brat.
As Sirius was throwing his fit, Severus had been watching, and the one thought that came into his head was that Sirius didn't know how lucky he was that Remus was his father instead of Tobias Snape. If I had dared to throw a fit like that, Tobias would have beaten me half to death. Not that I would have. When you grow up half-starved, you learn quick what matters most, and it's not a broom.
"And if he can't, Mum will," Teddy said.
Jamie nodded. "Uncle Harry, can we leave soon? I want to go to Fortescue's. I need ice cream."
"If you're all done shopping here . . .?" Harry asked.
The boys all said yes and so Harry brought them outside.
Remus and Sirius were waiting for them.
"Daddy, we're going to get ice cream!" Jamie told him excitedly.
"Good." Remus smiled at Jamie.
They all stopped in the ice cream parlor and the children, except for Sirius, each got a small cone.
Then they went to Weasley Wizard Wheezes. Figuring it would be kinder to have Sirius sit with him outside, Remus did not go into the joke shop. But he did give Teddy and Jamie some money to buy two joke products apiece. The kids rushed into the store, where they found all sorts of practical jokes and joke sweets.
Jamie and Cory had fits of giggles over the U-No-Poo in a jar. Severus was examining the canary creams and licorice snakes. Alby had moved over to a tall display of jars with what looked like eyeballs in them. They were called Look n'Sweets and were fun to eat because the "eyes" were sugar that seemed like it was staring at you. Alby thought they were cool and reached up to grab a jar.
Only the jar he took caused the whole pillar of Look n' Sweets to sway and start to fall!
Alby stared up at it in horror. "Uh-oh! Sevvy, help!"
Severus turned, and saw the whole structure about to collapse. "Alby, move!" he called, going to grab his frozen brother and drag him away. "Harry! It's falling!"
Harry turned from where he was examining some slippery rope, and sprinted over. "Get back!" he ordered, then he drew his wand and shouted, "Arresto Momento!"
Light shot out of his wand and surrounded the tilting pile of jars, holding them suspended.
George clapped. "Good one, Harry. We'd be all day cleaning that up." He clapped Harry on the back. "Find everything you want or would you like some help?"
"Glad to help, George. Kids, would you like Uncle George to assist you?"
Almost all the kids said yes. George smiled. "Coming right up. Hey, where's Sirius?"
"He got in trouble for throwing a fit so he's not allowed to get any jokes," Jamie said.
"Oh. Been there and done that," George said. "What are you looking for?"
The kids crowded around him and soon he was showing them all sorts of products. When it came time to pay, George insisted upon giving them the Weasley family discount, and a few new samples he and Beth had invented.
Last but not least, they went to the sweet shop and picked out some wizarding sweets. Finally, the men decided to call it a day. They had been shopping for over four hours and were starting to feel worn out. Cory and Jamie started squabbling over who had the better lollipop, and Alby was drooping and fighting to keep his eyes open. It was definitely time to go home.
When Harry and the boys Flooed back to Malfoy Manor, Alby was nearly asleep, so Harry just picked up the tray of Christmas biscuits and promised Cory he would have Alby talk to Lucifer some other time. Toria and Lucius thanked Harry again for watching Cory, then Harry Flooed home.
Ginny was delighted to have the biscuits, but the boys were so full from lunch and the ice cream afterwards that they skipped dinner and slept through till morning.
As soon as they arrived home, Remus made Sirius stand in a corner for seven minutes and then the boy ran up to his room. He didn't want to play with his brothers, he just wanted to be left alone. Remus made dinner, as Dora was working, and when he went to fetch Sirius found the boy sound asleep. Remus covered him and left. The sleep was good for the child, and if he were hungry later, Remus would cook him something.
As he turned to leave, Jamie came to him and asked worriedly. "Daddy, will Siri be put on the Naughty List for misbehaving today?"
"Well . . . I'm not Father Christmas, but I'm sure it would take more than that to get put on the Naughty List."Remus chuckled. "Don't worry about your brother. Father Christmas will give him exactly what he deserves." Remus ruffled his hair. "How about we play a game of Gob Stones?"
"Sure!" Jamie said happily. Christmas was only two weeks away and the little boy couldn't wait to see what he received this year and if everyone liked what he'd picked for them. He hoped so, he had tried to pick things he thought his family and friends would like. He also hoped Sirius would behave himself, so Father Christmas wouldn't put him on the Naughty List and only leave a lump of coal in his stocking on Christmas morning.
The two weeks before the holiday break were spent in a flurry of studying for exams and getting last minute gifts and for the professors, giving exams and then grading them and making sure all their final grades for each class were in before the deadline of December 23rd. Harry stayed up till the wee hours of the morning double checking all his grade logs and making sure they were correct before handing them in. No student had failed, but some had come close.
But at last it was done, and they could all go home for the holidays. The Potters usually celebrated Christmas Day at the Burrow with the Weasleys, and Christmas Eve with the Lupins and Malfoys. Boxing Day they spent with the Longbottoms. Other friends of theirs visited all during the holiday break, which lasted until after New Year.
Severus and Alby helped Ginny wrap the last of the presents and send them to their recipients by owl post on Christmas Eve morning.
Then she had the boys go and pick out a festive outfit to wear to the brunch at Malfoy Manor. Before she had gotten pregnant, Ginny had used the occasion to wear some fancy dress for the season. But now that she was large as a barge, she wore clothes more for comfort than for show, which was not to say she did not look good. Her empire waist blouse was a bright cardinal red with small sequins and she had on silver gray slacks. Her shoes were felt and matched the top, they were like slippers, since her feet were like balloons. She was wearing a pair of silver bell earrings Harry had gotten for her last year, and her hair was done in a simple chignon with a barrette in the shape of a reindeer.
Harry and the boys soon emerged from their rooms, dressed in black and charcoal trousers, black loafers, and Harry had on a white cable neck jumper with a small holly bough embroidered in the right hand corner. Severus had on a collared long-sleeved shirt in emerald with a cauldron filled with gifts and the words Brewing Up Treats for the Season embroidered on it. Alby had on a similar red shirt with Father Christmas in his sleigh pulled by reindeer and unicorns and the words Christmas is Coming Soon on it.
Ginny inspected her family before nodding her approval. "If we're all ready, let's go." She quickly ran a hand down Alby's cowlick and straightened Severus' bangs. Then she tossed Floo powder down into the fireplace and called, "Malfoy Manor!"
A/N: I was going to make this the Christmas Day chapter, but figured there already was enough going on in here. So next chapter will cover Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day with three very different families.
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