Chapter 21 : A Christmas Blizzard
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Albus spent most of the days preceding Christmas at Rose's house. James was determined to use all of his spare time for Quidditch practice, and he had to go to Rose's house for that. Albus usually went with him and he and Hugo would help James practice while Rose read.
Harry had to practically separate James from his broom by magic on Christmas Eve so they could go to Godric's Hollow. James wanted to stay at Rose's house and keep practicing, but Harry refused to let him. The trip was quiet since James was rather sullen the entire time.
“Professor Patil says I'm a natural at Transfiguration,” Lily bragged to Albus as they walked towards the Burrow afterwards.
“That's good,” Albus replied.
“Yeah, so I'm going to become an Animagus eventually. I want to be a cat.”
“You don't get to choose what kind of animal you transform into,” Albus told her.
“Oh,” Lily said, “But I think I'll become a cat.”
Albus nodded as Lily began to describe in great detail what kind of cat she would transform into.
Everyone else was already at the Burrow and Albus felt an immediate warmth come over him as he stepped inside. It had nothing to do with the fact that it was so cold and snowy outside, either. There was something so comforting about being at the Burrow surrounded by all his family. He was able to forget all the issues with the Quidditch tournament and Professor Killigan. All he could think about was how ravenous he was and how good some of his grandmother's cooking would be right about then.
Rose sat down next to Albus as he tucked into a large bowl of onion soup with a side of homemade bread.
“Uncle Charlie and Aunt Katherine are going back to Romania this summer,” Rose announced.
“To tame more dragons?” Albus asked. His uncle and aunt hadn't done that since Stanley started Hogwarts, but they often talked about how they wanted to go back.
“Yeah,” Rose nodded, “They might stay even after the summer's over, but Heather and Mark will come back to go to Hogwarts.”
“They get to go, too?”
“Yup. Stanley and Eddie are going, too. Stanley's quitting his job for it. He's definitely staying in Romania after the summer's over. He wants to get into dragon training.”
“Wow,” Albus replied, “They're lucky. I guess it's good that Stanley decided what he wants to do.”
Stanley had been working at the Magical Menagerie since he finished Hogwarts, but knew he didn't want to do that his whole life. He just didn't know what he did want to do.
“I wish our parents would take us to some other country,” Albus sighed.
“Me, too,” Rose agreed, “Imagine the history we could learn.”
Albus personally had enough of History from Professor Binns, but he supposed learning history by traveling would be fun.
“Christmas Quidditch tomorrow?” Teddy asked as he sat down next to Rose.
“Definitely,” Albus grinned.
“I wouldn't count on it, Teddy,” Molly said as she handed Albus another hunk of bread, “We're supposed to get the snowstorm of the decade tomorrow. The Muggle electricity is already out in town.”
“Is it really?” Arthur popped his head into the room, “Fascinating! I may have to go see it tomorrow!”
“You'll do no such thing!” Molly shouted, “It's near impossible to Appparate during such a storm. Not to mention the fact that it's Christmas and you should be here.”
“We don't need electricity to play Quidditch!” Teddy exclaimed, “It'll be perfect training conditions! If you can catch a Snitch in the middle of a blizzard, you can catch one in any weather. It's not like Kendrick ever calls off Quidditch because of snow.”
“We'll see tomorrow, Teddy,” Molly sighed.
Albus finished his soup and he and Rose went into the den, where they were greeted by a loud chorus of 'Odo the Hero', sung by George, Alicia, Charlie, and Ron. Bill and Fleur were laughing while Hermione shook her head. Albus had a feeling the only reason why Fleur approved was because the singing was drowning out Celestina Warbeck.
“So then I said, I'm not paying seven Sickles for that!” Percy said to Katherine, who was only sort of paying attention, “And the bloke looked at me like I was mad. I say he's mad, charging that much for a tour of a questionably historic old building. There really should be regulations on such things. It's one thing I'll change if I'm ever Minister.”
Albus stifled a laugh. His Uncle Percy had been talking about running for Minister for the past ten years, but still hadn't done it. Most of his uncles and aunts got sick of hearing him talk about what he would and would not change.
“Hey, Albus, Rose,” Victoire waved at him from across the room.
“Hi Victoire,” Albus made his way over to her, “How is Healer training?”
“Exhausting,” Victoire sighed, “And I have to figure out which part of the hospital I want to do the rest of my training in by September. We've been rotating throughout all the floors, but now we have to pick one. I'm nowhere near decided.”
“You have until September,” Albus shrugged. It seemed like a long time to him.
“I know,” Victoire replied, “But Amy's known where she wants to finish training since we were in fourth year.”
“You're not in Amy's situation,” Teddy appeared and put his arm around her, “And I think you'll do great anyplace you decide.”
“Thanks, Teddy,” Victoire smiled, “I'm thinking either the Maternity ward or Spell Damage.”
“There's a busy ward,” Teddy grinned, “Spell Damage. You'll get all the funny injuries there.”
“That's not a good reason to pick a specialization,” Victoire groaned.
“Good a reason as any,” Teddy shrugged.
The time grew later and after Albus played numerous rounds of Exploding Snap with his cousins, his grandmother announced that it was time for bed. Everyone argued, but there was really no point. Everyone, including the other adults, knew that arguing with Molly Weasley was useless.
Albus trudged up the stairs to the highest bedroom that he shared with James, Ben, and Cedric. He climbed into bed and then realized just how big this impending blizzard was. The wind was howling louder than he'd ever heard before.
The wind was so powerful that Albus could feel it through the gaps in the window. Every once in a while, the house would creak and shake. Albus sighed and put his pillow over his ears to try and drown out the howling.
Albus didn't manage to drift off to sleep until after Cedric got out of bed, swore loudly, and disregarded the no magic outside of school rule to put a silencing charm on the room.
Albus was awoken by his annual Christmas wake-up call, Lily. She breezed through the door shouting about how they all needed to wake up and open their presents.
“And there's three feet of snow outside,” Lily said as she left the room, “I checked.”
“Merlin!” James jumped off the top bunk and looked out the window, “There is! And it's still coming!”
“Whoa, you can't see anything!” Cedric added.
“We could build the world's biggest snow wizard later,” Ben suggested.
“We could build an entire snow wizard army,” Albus said.
“Presents first,” James said as he located his pile of presents.
Albus descended upon his own pile of presents and began opening them. There were the usual sweets and Weasleys' products from his aunts and uncles. Another Weasley sweater, this one scarlet and gold striped. He pulled it on over his pajamas and opened the rest of the presents from his aunts and uncles. His Aunt Hermione had gotten him a few books he'd probably never read, including one about the history of house elves at Hogwarts.
Albus saved his parents' present for last, although he doubted they could top last year's. There really wasn't anything in the world that was better than the Invisibility Cloak.
“Al, did you open Mum and Dad's yet?” James shouted.
“I'm opening it now,” Albus said as he ripped the paper off the small box.
“You'll never guess what they got us!”
Albus opened the box and saw two tickets. Two tickets for the Quidditch World Cup that was taking place this summer!
“Whoa!” Albus shouted, “World Cup tickets!”
“I didn't even know they were on sale this early!” James said.
“You two get the best presents,” Cedric said.
“Hey, I got two tickets,” James replied.
“Yeah, two,” Ben sighed, “You can only pick one of us to go.”
Albus suddenly realized he had the same problem. Two tickets. Five friends he would want to take. Who was he going to choose? Not Rose. They may have been friends since they were babies, but she just didn't have a passion for Quidditch. Neither did Kaden. He was another to cross off the list. John and Matt were the Quidditch fans. He'd have to choose between them. Amanda liked Quidditch well enough, but she didn't follow a team or anything.
“Those are limited edition tickets,” Ben said, “They don't know who's playing yet, so they don't sell very many tickets ahead of time.”
“They're for the top box, too,” James said in awe.
Lily burst into the room with a big grin on her face. She was holding two tickets as well. “Did you get Quidditch tickets?”
“Yeah,” Albus and James said at the same time.
“This is going to be brilliant,” Lily said and then ran out of the room.
Albus's parents were already in the kitchen by the time Albus went downstairs. They were sitting at the table eating breakfast. Albus gave them each a huge hug and then sat down.
“How did you get the tickets?” he asked.
“They were a gift from the Minister,” Harry replied, “The Cup is in Canada this year and he's good friends with their minister. Got him a lot of free tickets.”
Albus grinned as he began to eat breakfast. Somehow his parents had come close to topping last year's present. Now not only was he going to get to see the World Cup, he would get to travel to a different country.
Rose came downstairs a little while later and was impressed with the tickets. She had no desire to go to the Cup and had no suggestions on how Albus was going to choose between John and Matt.
“Anyone up for Quidditch later?” Teddy announced as he sauntered into the kitchen.
“Not under my watch!” Molly shouted, “You can't see a foot in front of you out there! And it must be close to 15 below!”
“Maybe after lunch, then,” Teddy shrugged.
Molly shook her head and sighed as she set a few more platters of eggs and toast onto the table.
There was a knock on the door that could only just be heard over the howling wind. Molly glanced at Arthur, who shrugged and got up to see who it was. Albus followed, very curious to see who would visit on Christmas morning in the middle of a huge blizzard.
“Xeno, is that you?” Arthur shouted outside.
“Yes!” Xenophilius Lovegood shouted back. Arthur stood aside as the man walked in and then shut the door behind him. “Quite the storm we're having! Just thought I'd stop by and see if this place was still standing.”
“Quite the storm, yes,” Arthur agreed, “I heard the Muggles lost electricity. Fascinating. I wonder what they do without it. But yes, the house is still standing.”
“Good, but if you feel it's too rickety, just let me know and I'll go get some of my Jutispy Plants. The leaves do wonders on old buildings. Makes them like new. I just put a bunch into my place and it's a good thing, too. Of course, they tend to attract Nargles...” Xenophilius's voice trailed off.
“I'll keep that in mind,” Arthur smiled, “Are you spending the holiday alone?”
“Yes, yes,” he replied, “Luna and Rolf are with his family this Christmas.”
“Then you must stay here a while. Molly's cooked far too much food, like usual,” Arthur lead Xeno into the kitchen.
Albus followed them. He always found Xenophilius Lovegood to be an interesting wizard, if not a little mad. Always going on about Nargles or Nom-Noms or something.
Molly was more than happy to provide Xenophilius with a large platter of breakfast and he settled down to discuss the storm with the adults.
Albus spent most of the morning playing Exploding Snap, Wizard's Chess, and Gobstones with his cousins. They tried to play hide and go seek, but the house was too crowded to play it properly.
Teddy and James kept looking out the window, willing it to stop snowing. Both of them were just itching to go play Quidditch. Albus would have gladly gone and played if it would stop snowing so much. He was dedicated to the game, but not enough to play in this storm.
Lunchtime came and the snow was still falling. George went outside to measure it and came back with the news that it was three and a half feet.
Teddy went upstairs after lunch and came back decked out in three jumpers, a thick cloak, and a pair of boots. Under one arm was his broom and under the other was a box of Quidditch balls. James was right behind him, dressed the same.
“Theodore Remus Lupin!” Molly shouted, “I suppose I can't stop you from going out there and catching death of a cold, but I will not let you drag James with you!”
“He's not dragging me, Grandma,” James rolled his eyes, “I want to go!”
“Just let them, Molly,” Harry said, “They'll get cold soon enough and come back inside.”
“Fine,” Molly replied and went back into the kitchen.
“Excellent,” Teddy grinned, “Anyone care to join us?”
Georgia, Fred, and Heather suited up in warm clothes and joined Teddy and James. Albus decided against it. Quidditch was fun, but he didn't want to freeze when he could stay inside and be warm.
The Christmas Quidditch lasted a half an hour. Teddy, James, Georgia, Heather, and Fred all stumbled back into the house shivering with their faces red and covered in snow and ice. Molly immediately descended upon them with mugs of hot chocolate and dry clothes.
“Told you, Molly,” Harry grinned.
“C-can't find the Sn-Snitch,” Teddy muttered.
Harry laughed. “That doesn't surprise me. You'll find it when the storm calms down. You put the charm on it to stay in the yard, right?”
“Y-yeah,” Teddy replied.
Christmas dinner came and went in its usual chaos. Xenophilius stayed for it and James snuck sneezing powder into his soup, which he found incredibly funny. Molly was not as impressed and gave James quite the scolding. How she found out it was James was beyond Albus.
The storm continued throughout the night and Cedric had to put the silencing charm back on their room in order for any of them to get any sleep.
Nobody left the Burrow until two days after Christmas. That was when the snow finally let up. It topped out at around four and a half feet, which was a new record for Albus's lifetime. The Burrow's yard had been decorated by dozens of snow witches and wizards, along with hippogriffs, owls, and a variety of other magical creatures.
When Albus found out what his family was doing after they left the Burrow, he wished the snow would have kept coming. They were going shopping for dress robes for the New Year's party.
“Why can't I just wear my old dress robes?” James whined as they walked down Diagon Alley towards Madam Malkin's.
“Because they're five inches too short,” Ginny replied, “They're even too small for Al.”
“Yeah, Hugo's the lucky one,” James muttered. Hugo was wearing James's old dress robes to the party and therefore did not have to go shopping.
“Mummy, I want purple robes,” Lily announced.
“If they have any,” Ginny replied.
Albus wanted to buy the first pair of dress robes he found, so long as they weren't pink or purple. The sooner they were done robes shopping the better.
Rose and Lily made a beeline for the girls dress robes as soon as they walked in the door. Albus stood awkwardly next to James while their mother found various robes for them.
“Here, try these on, Al,” Ginny handed him a pair of emerald green robes.
“Very Slytherin,” James snickered.
“Shut it, James,” Albus muttered.
“They'll bring out your eyes, Al,” Ginny told him, “Now go try them on.”
Albus reluctantly tried on the Slytherin colored robes and then left the dressing room for his mother to see.
“Too short,” she announced, “But the color is perfect. I'll find a bigger size.”
James wound up with a navy blue pair of robes, which Albus would have preferred. Lily found her purple robes and Rose got a sky blue pair.
“Next time you're getting green robes,” Albus muttered to James, who was still making fun of the color of Albus's robes.
“No I won't. I don't have green eyes,” James grinned.
“Then we'll get you a nice red set,” Ginny said, “They'll clash horribly with your hair.”
“I don't care. They'd be Gryffindor colored,” James laughed.
A/N: Thanks to my beta, Dancer_of_Starlight, as well as all the awesome people who have read and reviewed this! Also, for anyone who read In Moonlight's shadow, the first chapter of the sequel, Beyond the Shadow, is now up!
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