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Old August 23rd, 2011, 8:40 pm
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The Godfather
 
Join Date: 02nd August 2007
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Age: 50
Posts: 1,127
Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era PART II

Chapter 15 – A Yule Time Reprieve

The snow arrived later in the season than usual. Molly Weasley brushed a few wayward flakes from the skirt of her dress and sighed in relief. Had it gone any longer, she was of a mind to ignore the Ministry proscription against magically inducing weather patterns and made a snowstorm herself. She strode across the new blanket of white across the Burrow towards the weather beaten garage she’d demanded that her husband build as far away from their home as possible. The fogged over windows offered a flickering wisp of light from the gas lamps inside and every so often, a shadow would pass between the light and window, casting the image of her husband on the ground outside. Molly pulled the opening of her jacket closer together and trudged up to the double door and wrapped on it loudly.

“Arthur Weasley, you open up these doors, this instant!” Her voice trailed higher as she ended her sentence. Almost immediately, the door opened a crack. She inserted her fingers into the opening and pulled the door open wide. A voice within echoed out as her eyes grew accustomed to the glare of the hanging lamps.

“Hello, Molly Wobbles! It looks like you got snow after all.” Arthur Weasley was standing by his workbench, wearing a long carpenter’s apron over his clothes. There were traces of soot in his hair and his face was streaked with a rainbow of brightly colored paste.

“Don’t you ‘Molly Wobbles’ me, Arthur Weasley.” She pointed the end of a wooden spoon at his face. “And don’t change the subject.”

“What subject is that, Molly Wobb…I mean, my dear?” Arthur cringed slightly and prepared himself.

“It’s Christmas Eve and we’ve got a million things to do, while you’re out here prattling away in your workshop.” She pointed around the room to the cavalcade of junk and debris littered about the room. “The delivery owls haven’t stopped bringing your muggle putty since last week and you KNOW I don’t want you to make a mess of my living room with your crackpot whimsies.”

Arthur offered his best offended look to his wife. “It’s tradition, Molly. I always provide a theme for our Christmas gatherings. We haven’t had one in so long, it’s expected.”

Molly and Arthur were parents to six (a brief shudder of sadness passed through Molly’s chest, remembering her seventh child, Fred, who died fighting at the Battle of Hogwarts) children. The Weasley home was always a hive of activity during the holidays with the Christmas party being the hallmark event. As their kids grew into adulthood and began building families of their own, the parties simply stopped. During an offhand conversation with Ron the previous summer, Molly had seized upon the notion of having another party. With all the grandchildren growing older, she wanted another taste of the holiday spirit.

Arthur had his tradition during the holidays as well. He’d seized upon the idea of creating a special theme display in their living room. It had started with a simple Victorian village, with the figures magically conjured to move about. It escalated every year, much to the chagrin of his wife, who usually found bits and pieces of his masterpieces well into the new year.

“I’ll not have a repeat of your famous Feline Advent Calendar, Arthur Weasley. We spent most of the holidays at St. Mungo’s.” Arthur blushed and his face fell. One year he’d created an Advent calendar, with each day containing an exotic cat. He’d been especially proud of being able to put a live miniature lynx on December 21st. Unfortunately, Audrey, Percy’s wife, was unremittingly allergic to cats. Allergies among wizards and witches were a dreadful thing. She’d immediately broken out into hives, which, in turn, had grown into fur and whiskers. It had taken the healers at St. Mungo’s almost a month to reduce her tail.

“This is completely innocent, Molly. I promise.” He held up his hand in a solemn gesture. Molly stared at him skeptically, then shrugged her shoulders.

“It’s too late to undo what you’ve done, but mark my words, Arthur, if I find so much as a scrap of that junk in my floorboards, I will make sure that ‘Play Doh’ is all you have to eat for the rest of the year. Now come along, you’ve got help me with the pavilion.” She twirled around and marched away. Behind her, Arthur let fly a fist pump and followed her out the door.

***
Four figures suddenly appeared in the center of the courtyard of the Burrow. Harry felt a momentary pang of sadness as he realized his middle child was not with them. He could only wonder how Ginny felt. As if on cue, Ginny’s hand reached down and took his and she led him towards the door of her parents’ home. Lily and James stood where they were, taking in the scene. James smiled and winked at his sister.

“Can you smell that? Grandmother must have been cooking for a month!” He rubbed his hands together and then stopped. “Oy, what’s eating you, sis?”

Lily’s brow was knitted close together. “Nothing.”

“Come on, you can tell me.” James needled her, but put an arm gently around her shoulders. When they were kids, he would have been inclined to pick on her, but they weren’t kids any longer. She sighed and let the tension drift from her shoulders. “I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m in the mood for all this sappy stuff.”

James studied her face and then shook his head. “That’s not what’s bothering you.”

Lily returned his gaze and then smiled. “Oh, all right. I’m still upset with all the close attention I’ve been getting at school. There, happy?”

“Well, it’s not like you haven’t given them a reason to be so interested in your activities, Lily.” James snorted. His sister had become an even more notorious troublemaker than even he’d been.

“I know, it’s just that…it’s just that…” She tried to explain why she was feeling so lost.

“You don’t know what you’re supposed to be, right?” James finished her thought for her. She nodded emphatically.

“That’s right. I mean, I have all these offers to play Quidditch, but Mum did that when she graduated. I love the game, but every time I interview with a team, all I get is, ‘if you have half the talent your parents did, you should do fine’. It’s like I’m always getting compared to Harry and Ginny Potter.” She let out her breath in a huff.

James smiled knowingly. “There’s a lot of that going around, sis. It’s not easy being the offspring of living legends.”

“What do you mean?” Lily asked. James shrugged his shoulders.

“Well, look at Albus. He ran off thousands of miles to escape being compared to Dad. And me? I can’t seem to do anything right working for the old man.” He related the events at Azkaban Prison to his sister. Despite his momentary bout with depression, Lily seemed a bit buoyed. She laughed.

“It’s good to know that I’m not alone.” She replied. This time, James laughed out loud and pointed to the haphazard shape of the building down the way, the Weasley home. A raucous roar was emanating from the building, the party in full swing.

“One is never alone when one is related to the Weasleys, little sister. “ James grew serious one more time. “Look, we can’t help who our parents are. All we can do is live our lives. Uncle Ron has been pounding that one into my head for the past few days.”

Lily nodded, as James continued.

“Just do what makes you happy, Lily. If you want to play Quidditch, play it. Don’t do it to fulfill some destiny. I became an Auror because that’s what I wanted to do, not because I’m Harry Potter’s son. In the end, that’s all we can do, okay?”

This time Lily nodded and embraced her brother warmly. They broke away and she daubed her eyes. Lily, like her mother, was not one to make outward displays of sadness. James turned away while his sister composed herself. After a moment, he turned back and offered Lily his arm.

“Shall we?”

“If we must.” She took a deep breath. “I still think that this is going to be boring.”

“That is where you’re wrong, little sister.” The confident James was back. He gave a devilish sneer. “You might not remember, but these parties are an excellent opportunity for me to get back at Uncle George.”

“Get back for what?” She asked. James reached into his pocket and pulled a tattered sheet of parchment out. He held it up for her to see. At the top were two names written by a child’s hand. It simply said “James” and “Uncle George” with a series of tick marks below each name.

“Christmas is known for an escalating war of pranks between me and Uncle George.” He rolled the parchment up and put it back in his pocket. “I seem to be one point down. It’s time for payback. Want to help?”

Lily gave him a conspiratorial grin. “Of course, after all, I’m the most accomplished prankster in the Potter family.”

Normally defensive, she’d offered him an argument that he couldn’t fight. Instead, he nodded and brother and sister walked towards the door.

***
Molly had outdone herself. She’d created an opening in the house wall near the living room and had attached the side of the large pavilion tent to that opening, effectively creating one, seamless space. At one end of the tent, she’d had Arthur build a full kitchen, and the living room with Arthur’s display was at the other end. A giant, twenty foot Christmas tree was at the center of the room with long tables between the tree and kitchen and an open space between the tree and living room. The room was buzzing as the extended Weasley family enjoyed just being together. Molly stood near the stove, looking out over the scene.

All of her children were there. Ginny and Harry, with Lily and James, were seated at one of the tables, enjoying part of the feast. Molly felt a twinge of anxiety, noting that Albus was not there. Ron and Hermione were sitting with the Potters, with their children, Hugo and Rose. At another table, Percy and Audrey sat with George and Angelina, while their children, Molly and Lucy for Percy and Fred and Roxanne for George, were sitting cross-legged in front of the winter scene Arthur had created from Play Doh. The scene was constantly moving, constantly changing. Arthur had gotten the idea from watching stop motion animation films that Albus had shown him on the computer. The scene was the entire campus of Hogwarts, completely made out of the moldable child’s toy. Miniature representations of the people and animals literally moved through the scene.

Arthur had settled on a Christmas scene, so the hills and the castle were coated in white dust and Father Christmas flew by, his sleigh towed by thestrals, including the leader with a bright red nose. Despite her misgivings, Molly noted the joy on the faces of the younger children. She heard a loud snap, and she saw that Bill and Fleur had arrived, with their children, Victoire, Dominique and Louis. There were greeting all around, but Molly noticed the oldest, Victoire, slide away and move to a corner of the pavilion. Victoire seemed distracted and sad. Molly made a move to comfort her granddaughter, but Bill’s hand held her shoulder.

“Leave her be, Mum. She needs to be alone, for a bit.” Bill smiled at his mother and then turned to greet Charlie, who’d also just arrived. Molly stared at Victoire as a tear formed in the corner of her eye. Then, the matriarch of the Weasley clan took a deep breath and went to mix with her children.

***
The side flaps of the tent were down, but there were panes of actual glass imbedded on fabric that formed windows. Victoire gazed out at the barren, snow covered landscape. The snowfall had stopped and the sky was clear, with the stars showing through with surprising clarity. The breathtaking beauty of the landscape was lost on her. Her thoughts were passing through her mind at a racing pace, the idea that Teddy, her Teddy, was fighting a battle of wills with himself. As part Vela, she understood the pull of primal instinct, the notion that there was an utter purity of the animal spirit. Part of her felt a twinge of jealousy, that she was involved in some sort of competition. This contest, though, was for Teddy’s soul, his essence, and the stakes were of the highest sort.

She’d received no word since Charlie had told her of Teddy’s condition and his need to choose. The building anxiety from the lack of knowing was slowly causing her to unravel. There was a building emptiness in her chest. The longer she went without knowing, the greater the dread she felt. She hated admitting to herself that she could not live without Teddy. They belonged together and no matter what she said to her family, she knew that if Teddy chose his dragon persona, she would not know how to live.

There was a commotion coming from the room which snapped her back to reality. Victoire turned and suddenly, she forgot to breathe. From the living room, Teddy entered the pavilion, with Andromeda following a few paces behind. He looked healthy, the color returned to both his skin and his hair, which was a vivid shade of purple. He was dressed in a neatly tailored three piece suit, with a lavender tie. He ignored the cheers of the others, but strode purposefully in her direction. Without speaking, he gently reached down and pulled at her hand, drawing her to the center of the open room, in full view of everyone there. A hush fell on the room, even the displays seemed to freeze in place.

Teddy’s hair turned black and formal as he slowly went to a knee in front of her. From his breast pocket, he pulled out a small, cedar box and opened it. Inside, was the engagement ring his father had given his mother. It was a simple gold band with a large diamond mounted at the top. On either side of the diamond were two gray pearls that looked like two moons, glistening, even in the shine of the diamond. Teddy breathed out slowly, the only hint of his nervousness.

“Victoire, my love, I know you’ve been through a lot where I am concerned.” He paused. He’d been practicing this speech since he’d left St. Mungo’s. A glance at his grandmother, who was smiling, prodded him to continue. “I know that I’m not deserving of a life with you. You are the most wonderful person I’ve ever known. As I lay in my dreams, trying to figure out the right path to take, all I could think of was you. The love I have for you transcends everything. There is no temptation, even that of the soul, that would have kept me from you. In the end, the choice was no choice at all. I am, and will ever be, yours.“ He let the words sink in. She’d been shocked out of her depression with the sudden realization of what was happening.

He pressed on. “Will you marry me, Victoire? Will you make permanent, the bonds of love we share, and be my wife?”

The room was on edge. Not a sound could be heard. It was as if the entire room was holding its breath. Victoire stared at the ring on her finger. She’d known its origin. The emptiness in her chest filled immediately and she leaned forward, grasping Teddy’s face in her hands.

“Yes.” It was all she could muster. She tried to say more, but the happiness in her heart would not let the words come out. Instead, she reached down and kissed him hard on the lips. His hair turned rapidly from black, to pink, to purple, to blue, to red, covering the whole rainbow. The Weasleys burst into a tremendous shout of joy. The sound reverberating everywhere and was far louder than any crowd at any Quidditch World Cup.

***
“Where are we going?” Harry asked as Ginny led him by the hand up the spindly stairs of the Weasley home. Behind them, George’s howls echoed as he shouted expletives at James. Harry chuckled.

“That had to be Lily’s doing. McGonagall always said she had a knack for charms, if she’d only use her powers for good.” The scene they’d left was that of George with his arms and legs transformed into flippers and his nose turned into a bicycle horn. James was bounding a striped ball off the horn, causing it to toot the tune of jingle bells.

Ginny grinned. “I’m sure James was involved in the planning. He’s a sneaky one, our eldest son.”

“Where are we going, Ginny? Everyone will wonder.” Harry said without too much resistance. The reached top of the last flight of stairs and stopped outside the door to her old bedroom. “We haven’t been up here since school. Fancy a bit of snogging?” He winked at her. She smacked him playfully on the shoulder.

“Get your mind out of the gutter, Harry Potter. I want to show you something.”

“I bet you do.” Ginny rolled her eyes and opened the door. The interior had been left pretty much the same as the day she’d moved out to live with Harry. From time to time, the female offspring of the Weasley family had used it when staying over with Arthur and Molly, but the décor was still Ginny’s. She led them across the room to a pair of French doors on the far wall. With some effort, she pried the doors open and led him outside.

They were on a narrow terrace. Her father had built it for her when she was ten, in part, to placate her sadness when Ron went off to Hogwarts, leaving her alone with her parents. On one side of the terrace, there was a bench seat, that allowed her to sit and watch the sun and moon set in the western sky. She pulled up the top of the seat and reached inside. She withdrew a small rag doll and dusted it off gently. Then she handed it to Harry.

The doll had wild black hair and pair of drawn on spectacles covering two emeralds as eyes. There was an exaggerated scar drawn on its forehead and it wore dated Hogwarts robes. Harry looked at the doll and then back at Ginny.

“This isn’t some sort of voodoo doll, is it? I mean, I’ll behave, honestly I will.” He laughed and she reached down and took the doll from him.

“No, silly.” Then her voice grew lower, as she grasped the doll lovingly. “I made this after the first time we met. Remember? At King’s Cross Station?”

He nodded, too moved to speak. She continued.

“I would sit on this bench and look out to the west. You know why?”

He shrugged his shoulders. “Because you like the sunset?”

“I do, but that’s not why.” She sat down on the bench and held the doll to her chest. “Because that’s the direction that Hogwarts is. That’s where you were.” He sat down beside her and took one of her hands. She smiled at him.

“I’ve always wanted to be your wife, Harry. Even back then. I would hold this doll, look out there and pretend that we were always going to be together.” She chuckled. “Silly things we dream of as little girls.”

Harry touched her cheek and felt warmth radiating from her face to his hand. “Dreams are important, Ginny. Dreams tell us that there’s hope, even in the darkest of days. Dreams make sure we hold on to what’s most important.” He paused. “Why did you want to show me this?”

“I don’t know. Seeing Teddy and Victoire realize their dreams made me think of this.” She held her breath. “I love you, Harry. I always have and I always will.”

“I love you, too, Ginny. You are my world, never, ever doubt that.” They kissed, their lips meeting in an almost forgotten urgency. Harry felt heat reach from their connection and reaching down to his feet. He held her tight. Married couples sometimes get too involved in the minutiae of life, caring for kids, having careers. Sometimes they forget what brought them together. Harry knew that they needed times like this to remember.

After a lingering moment, they parted lips, the breath gone from their lungs. Together, they rose and stood by the rail, holding each other, looking out into the evening sky.

“I guess you did want me up here for a little snogging, eh?” His words broke the silence and they laughed.

“I guess I did.” She rested her head on his shoulder, the essence of lilacs drifting up to his nose. He pulled her close to him. She sighed.

“Look, Harry, a shooting star, let’s make a wish.” He glanced up and saw a small light streaking across the sky. He froze.

“That’s no shooting star.” He grasped Ginny to him and pushed her into her bedroom as the streak of light suddenly turned and shot towards them. It struck the terrace and exploded, destroying landing and showering them with debris. Then the whole world burst into a curtain of fire and light, as screams rippled through the Burrow.

A/N: Like I said before, I love writing the tender scenes, but I also love writing the smash bang stuff too...and for my readers who know, I absolutely LOVE cliffies....I do that from time to time when the feedback falls off...so, remember, if you want to know what happens next, then leave some...

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Thanks to cybobbie for the awesome sig pic!
Thanks to the best fanclub in the world!

My Fanfics:
A History of Magic: Part II - Beyond the Epilogue
Teddy Lupin and the Legacy of the Marauders ; A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era (on hiatus); You Are Cordially Invited... (First Attempt)
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