We slept well that night, Jinjin and I curled up in my bed out of the cold, snuggled in and sleeping for most of the day. Mum got us all up to eat and have some hot chocolate before having the heart to send us back to bed again, as Nikita accidentally poked herself in the eye with her spoon and Emma fell asleep at the table. Grandpa and dad thought it was hilarious, but I was too tired to laugh.
Emma and Nikita went to their own houses at noon on Christmas Eve and I slept on, trying to catch up on the sleep I missed earlier. However, on Christmas morning, it didn’t matter how much sleep I had missed out on, or how tired I was; I was up early. I shot out of bed and began waking the house up, yelling loudly and swinging a load of tinsel I found on the Christmas tree around.
“ITS CHRIIIIIIIIIISTMAS!” I yelled, barging into mum and Dad’s room and dancing around their bed to open the curtains. They yawned and scowled, mum actually air bending me out of the room so she could go back to sleep. I huffed as she shut the door. Well, that was rude. What was that about my mother being a lovely woman? She definitely isn’t a morning person.
“Child, not so loud, I have sensitive ears” Grandpa said softly, passing me by on the landing and heading down the stairs. I grinned and followed him, Jinjin on my shoulder. He went and sat on the couch, air bending all the presents to his feet. I sat on the other couch across from him, bouncing in my seat happily.
“Should we wait?” Grandpa asked. We both stared at each other for a moment, before laughing.
“I thought not. Here; Merry Christmas Vida”
Grandpa handed me a present and I ripped the wrapping paper off, and out fell a full set of master air bending scrolls, yellowed with age and tied up with fraying blue string. I stared at them in shock. They were very rare; grandpa had taught me his moves from memory, from things he had learned in his youth. I had never seen so many scrolls in one place. Most of them had been destroyed by accident but this; this was a treasure in my hands.
“They’re for you to learn from. I am getting old Vida, I’d hate to leave for the spirit world without giving you the means to become the best air bender there is. These will help you” He said, and I dived at him, giving him a hug.
“I have you grandpa, and you’re not leaving yet. But thank you, these must have been so expensive” I said, letting him go and handling the scrolls gently. I was afraid they’d turn to dust in my hands. He chuckled.
“You never mind that child. Just be careful with them, they’re very valuable and much older than me”
I guess I deserved the strong gust of wind to the face. We laughed and grandpa reached for the present from me. I hoped he liked it. I watched anxiously as he pulled of the blue wrapping paper which looked very messy, but I never was good at wrapping.
“What’s this child?” He asked.
“Well Fluffy and I went flying a while ago. We travelled to the ruins of the western air temple, you know, the ones that look like caves? It was so beautiful grandpa, untouched for centuries. I found a room full of statues and trinkets. That’s a totem of Avatar-
“Aang. And his next re-incarnation, Korra. You went all that way for me? I am a lucky man. It seems we both worked hard for our gifts”
“I was going to give you more, but the temple- I didn’t want to disturb such a place, take too much. If I took lots of things, the temple wouldn’t have that life to it; as if the memories are still there” I explained.
“I understand Vida. These are perfect. Now, since we can’t open your parents gifts until they’re here, how about you open your gift from Albus?” Grandpa suggested, and handed me Al’s gift. It was light and squashy, like fabric, and I ripped the wrapper off.
“Yes!” I cried. Out fell a hat, a llama that looked a little like a kangaroo. I put it on my head, and grandpa smiled.
“A perfect match. It looks a little like Jinjin” He said. Jinjin squeaked, looking up from where he was playing in the wrapping paper.
“You’re much better looking Jinjin” I reassured him. He squeaked again and returned to his game. We laughed.
“He’s very intelligent. Must learn a lot from you” Grandpa said thoughtfully. I nodded.
“I do talk to him a lot, and I read to him a lot during third year. No idea why; it just seemed like the right thing to do” I told him with a shrug. We looked up when we heard footsteps on the stairs; mum and dad had arrived. Grandpa and I smiled and waited for them to sit down before giving out the presents.
“Why do we have to wake up so early?” Dad yawned.
“Jack, its Christmas tradition!” Grandpa told him, and I nodded.
“yup. Its tradition for the children to wake up their grumpy parents at six in the morning and open presents” I confirmed.
“I can’t wait until you have children” Mum grumbled, and I laughed. I couldn’t see myself with children, although I was 16; I was only just not a child myself.
“Oh mother, I have a child; Jinjin is my baby” I told her, and Jinjin squeaked. I hope it was in agreement. She rolled her eyes.
“Open your presents Vida”
And that I most certainly did. I got bending things from my family; things to care for my glider, novelty items. The magical presents came from my Hogwarts friends. Rose sent a box full of chocolate frogs and Scorpius’ present arrived by owl; a selection of colourful inks and sugar quills to use in muggle studies. Fred had gotten me merchandise from his father’s shop which all exploded in some way. Mum looked wearily at the presents, as if they would bite her.
“Don’t worry mum, I’ll put them away” I promised. I carried them up to my room as mum and dad opened their presents, and they had a lot considering that our party goers often left them something in thanks for throwing an amazing party. I put the presents on my bed and took my hat off; my ears were getting a little hot indoors. As I removed it, something fell out, something small. I put the hat down and looked around for it, finding it under my bed. It was a bead bracelet, wooden and painted a light blue. Dangling off it was a little gold charm; the air bending symbol, three swirls. I smiled. Oh Al, you were very good at remembering. I put the bracelet on and skipped back downstairs, smiling widely.
“Oh dear, what’s that look for?” Mum asked.
“Nothing, I just love Christmas!” I chirped.
“Well I love it when my daughter cleans up the wrapping paper before Jinjin eats it” She replied. My mother had so much wit, she kept it in buckets. Metaphorical ones of course, you can’t keep wit in real buckets, that’s crazy! I chuckled and picked up the wrapping paper, having to wrestle It off Jinjin before I could air bend it into the bin. Jinjin squeaked moodily.
“Well you know you’ll regret it when it all comes back up later. I might as well save you from being sick” I told him. I swear he huffed.
“Alright, who’s up for some breakfast?” Dad asked.
“Mm, depends, is it a special breakfast?” I asked.
“Well, maybe there might be some special Christmas pancakes coming up…” He told me.
“I want breakfast” I said quickly, and he laughed. Dad’s Christmas pancakes were the best things ever. Well, maybe apart from when Gran gran used to make me shortbread. It was a close second. Dad got up and went to the kitchen and mum took their gifts to their room, grandpa doing the same. They returned to see me and dad flipping Christmas shaped pancakes around, seeing who could do it better. It didn’t matter if we dropped them; we were able to send them back up with a whoosh of air before they hit the ground.
“You broke it! That’s totally broken!” I cried, looking at the tear in dad’s pancake.
“What? No its not! No idea what you’re talking about” He said, and I laughed.
“Right there, a big old tear. I win, I get the best pancake!” I sang, before a well-aimed blast of air made my pancake split in half.
“Ah Vida, poor effort there, you split your pancake right down the middle!” Dad joked.
“No I’m not!”
“Oi children, stop it! I get the best pancake, because you’re both cheaters. I saw you air bend his pancake Vida” Mum said, sitting at the counter and smirking. Dad looked at me, pretending to be offended, and I shrugged.
“So, you cheated first” he said.
“Well, I was very discreet. I was ninja, and you were blundering dinosaur” I told him.
“I was what?”
“Dinosaurs aren’t very sneaky dad” I pointed out.
“Would you just serve the pancakes please?” Mum asked.
“Alright grouchy pants” Dad said, and I giggled. I joined mum and grandpa at the counter and dad gave us all a special Christmas pancake. Mine was very chocolaty, just how I liked it. Mum’s was filled with summer berries that weren’t even in season. Dad’s was drizzled with honey. I’m not sure what grandpa’s had in it; I think it had a bit of everything in it. An everything pancake. Maybe I should try one. Minus the berries. An almost everything pancake. Yeah, that sounded good!
“So, what should we do after this?” Dad asked.
“I think we should have a family day. I think it would be good to spend more time together, since I didn’t see any of you for three days straight” Mum said.
“We should go ice skating on the lake. It’s the perfect weather for it” Dad suggested.
“All day dear? It’ll be cold” Mum said.
“We could watch a film afterward. There’s a film about flying that I would like to see” Grandpa piped up, and I nodded.
“Oh, I know which one you mean, I want to see it too!” I cried.
“Alright, so we have a plan. Ice skating, film; get changed and we’ll go”
The lake wasn’t far from our house; a good sized, deep expanse of water that tended to freeze solid during the harsh winter months. We had skates to go on it, and every year we had a day skating on it before it melted and was too dangerous. We bundled up, me wearing the hat that Al got me and a scarf, gloves and coat and everyone wearing much the same, and set out to the lake. It was frozen just like we expected, safe enough to skate on for days. We changed into our boots, and dad took the first step…. And fell, right on his arse. Mum, grandpa and I roared with laughter as he got up, rubbing his behind and grumbling. Mum stepped onto the ice with no stumbling and began to skate, nimble and graceful. I joined her unsteadily. I was an airborne girl, skating was hard, which meant that whilst mum and Grandpa speeded around like pros, dad and I spent the majority of our time on our behinds on the ice. I’m pretty sure I broke something back there by the end of it.
“You two just need more practice” Mum said, as she hung her coat up by the door.
“I need a new backside” I muttered, and dad snickered.
“Me too. D’you think Argos sells them?” he asked. I giggled.
“Maybe not. We might have to buy them on the black market” I whispered.
“Not the black market!” Dad cried dramatically “Those backsides are so unappealing!”
I almost asked him how he knew that, but mum was giving us the raised eyebrow.
“Vida, can you get the snacks?” She asked. I nodded.
“I’ll help” Grandpa volunteered and we ventured into the kitchen. I began pulling the popcorn and the little biscuits from the top shelves, my sleeves falling down to my elbows as I did so.
“What’s that Vida? I don’t remember you opening it” Grandpa said, catching the pendant on my new bracelet. I showed him.
“It was in the hat that Al gave me. I showed him the symbol at Halloween, I’m surprised he remembered it” I said.
“I’m not” Grandpa said absentmindedly.
“You’re not?” I asked.
“No, I’m not, I learned a lot when I interrogated him. Pass me the chocolate squares, would you child?” He asked. I nodded and handed them to him, wondering what on earth he asked to know that Al would remember a litte thing like that. I hope he wasn't too harsh.
“Make sure to give him a proper thank you Vida, he must care a lot to get something so bending specific for you- its very hard for non-benders to acquire such things”
“I will Grandpa; promise” I said with a nod, and we carried our snacks back to the couches.
Overall, it was a nice cosy Christmas. Mum made Christmas dinner and we all ate until we were full and sleepy. Nikita, Emma, and our aunts and Uncles came around on boxing day and us cousins went out to take advantage of the sales. I told Emma and Nikita about the Potter’s New Year’s Eve party; both immediately agreed to go.
“Do you know how many famous people will be there? I’m not missing it even if you tie me to a bison and he flies to America!” Emma told us, and we giggled. We bought our outfits (Nikita’s was a tad more sparkly, but then again- she did love her sparkles) and spent the rest of the day roaming diagon alley, spotting a few people we knew, but mostly keeping to ourselves. Sometimes a day out with your cousins was better than a day full of friends. Nikita led us down some steps and into a small café that was full of benders.
“How have I never seen this before?” Em asked, ordering a coffee. Nikita shrugged.
“Its out of the way of non-benders, so they don’t wander in accidentally. It’s a nice place”
I agreed with that, looking around at the squishy chairs and friendly staff. There was a doorway that led into what looked like a huge library, probably full of books on bending. I could see a few of the customers looking over at us, and one young teen winked at us from the counter, whilst another waved in greeting; they’d been at the party.
“They have a library here?” I asked, and Nikita nodded.
“This café is like the leaky cauldron of the bending world; there’s all sorts back there. A library, a training arena, a bar, shops- there’s all sorts of bending buildings hidden away in London” She explained.
“We’ll have to explore” Em said.
“Definitely” I agreed.
We finished our drinks and got up, paying the woman at the counter and heading into the library. There were floor to ceiling bookshelves, air bender librarians bending books up to the very top where they belong. Several tables were full of college age kids pouring over books, several of them wearing fire bending symbols somewhere on their bodies. One girl had it tattooed on her arm, which I thought was cool. If I become a master, I’ll have arrows tattooed all over me. Its nice that some other benders have tattoos too.
The door leading off from the library opened out into what looked like an underground street, cobblestone floors and everything. Several shops lined the street, selling things from robes to rare items to pets. I didn’t like the thought of bending pets being kept in cages in a shop.
“Look at this, hidden away underground; if bending was revealed it could up with all the other shops!” Em said, petting a bear dog that was in a basket outside of the pet shop. It was an adorable little thing, all fuzzy with bear ears and puppy eyes and a wagging tail. If Em’s parents would let her, she’d buy it in a heartbeat. Maybe she would sneak it into Hogwarts like I did with Jinjin. I wouldn’t put it past her.
“You know, if bending is being revealed; don’t you think wizardry should be too?” I mused, also petting the bear dog because I couldn’t resist. Em and Nikita frowned.
“What do you mean?” Nikita asked.
“Well, bending will be revealed to wizards; so shouldn’t wizards reveal magic to benders, at least? I mean I understand why they don’t want muggles to know about it, but the bending world wouldn’t use them like muggles would”
“Maybe bending being revealed would be a first step. We’ll show ourselves first, wizards follow our lead” Em said with a shrug.
“How are you gonna reveal bending anyway?” Nikita asked. Em shrugged.
“I’ll start with telling the ministry. Then I go for Hogwarts. Then I contact people like the daily prophet, big public figures, have Harry Potter on my side; a little bit at a time” She said. I nodded.
“What about the benders? Do they have a say in it? What if we don’t want to be revealed?” I asked.
“Ah, I asked around about that. I had grandpa contact republic city, and I talked to loads of people at that party, who promised to be my ambassadors and spread the word. The avatar has spoken” She explained. Nikita raised an eyebrow.
“You’ve really thought about this, haven’t you?” She asked. Em nodded.
“More than you’ll ever know, ‘Kita. Now, do you think my mum will go ballistic if I buy this bear dog?”
Em did end up with the dog in the end; the shopkeeper had a heart attack when the avatar walked into her store and asked about it, and gave it to her free of charge. Em named the bear dog Chloe, which I didn’t think was a very bear dog name, but she was too stubborn to change it. I suggested she call it Borris, like the mayor, until Nikita pointed out that the bear dog was a girl. My bad. It was still adorable, and the moment she picked it up, it licked her and nuzzled her and I had a feeling it would follow her around all the time now. Nikita laughed, imagining what Em’s mum would say, but I had a feeling that my Aunt would give in and keep the pet, even though they already had three; my cousin’s family were bear dog people.
I love the sound of fuzzy bear dogs, I couldn't resist including them. Tell me what you think, I love hearing from people! And happy holidays, as Christmas is coming up! I hope you have a good one!