Or, Twenty-One Letters to the Order of the Overly Inebriated Owl
Letter Twelve – "Ow."
A temporary truce had been called over the next two days in order for everyone to organize the procuration of birthday presents, wrap them (or have someone else wrap them, in several cases), and send them off into the darkness.
On Harry's sixteenth birthday the Anti-Elmer Squad and the Defenders of the Camel resumed warfare and the Tea Club reclaimed the kitchen. Leadership of the Religious Squirrels had been transferred from Luna to Kingsley, and Molly was making sure that all three factions received regular deliveries of sandwiches and pumpkin juice.
Luna, having abandoned the Religious Squirrels early on in the day, had taken to sitting mysteriously still in the corner of the kitchen and staring blankly at the wall with a vague smirk. Occasionally, she would chuckle. When asked, she had assured the Tea Club that she was 'quite fine, thank you', and seeing as she was eating regularly and taking bathroom breaks they let her be.
The next day Luna rejoined the Religious Squirrels just in time to assist with a raid on the Defenders of the Camel that nearly resulted in Elmer being camel-napped. Luckily Bill intercepted Charlie and Neville just in time to prevent them making off with the animal and the Squirrels were forced to retreat. Luna chose to have Kingsley remain their leader, as he was having entirely too much fun to give up the position without, as she put it, 'sulking away the rest of the war'.
At around seven that evening, Molly enlisted the rest of the Tea Club to assist her in locating everyone in the building and bringing them into the kitchen for 'a proper dinner' (using force, if necessary).
No one bothered to protest too much (except Kingsley, who would have been more than happy with his cheese sandwiches, and Severus, just on principle) and by eight thirty they were all seated around the kitchen table, on which was more vegetables and roasted meat than they would possibly be able to eat. Many of them suspected that Molly was going to be sending them leftovers instead of sandwiches during the following day's warfare.
Hedwig flew into the room in a decidedly odd manner and crash-landed in a bowl of mashed potatoes in an Errol-like fashion. Ginny rescued both her and Harry's letter, handing the latter to Ron and taking Hedwig to the sink.
Ron reluctantly put his fork down, swallowed his mouthful and opened the letter, beginning to read as Ginny attempted to rinse the worst of the potato off Hedwig.
Ow. My head. Harry no like hangover.
"That's it?" Fred demanded, staring at Ron in astonishment.
George looked highly affronted. "He didn't even say thank you!"
Ron rolled his eyes. "I was taking a break, calm down." He quickly ate a few mouthfuls, choked, and had to be rescued by Mad-Eye.
"Chew your food, laddie," the auror growled.
Once Ron had fully recovered, he resumed reading Harry's letter.
"'PS. Ron, thanks for the soup spoon. It's very shiny. Snape, no thanks for the voodoo camel. You have serious issues. Stop picking on Elmer.' Hey, how does Harry know about Elmer?"
"I am of the belief that he had been behind all of the strange happenings here this summer," Severus said dryly.
"Yes, but you also believe Harry is behind overpriced potions ingredients, global warming, and that door," Remus said, gesturing to the basement door on the other side of the kitchen.
Severus did not strangle Remus. He thought he was being very restrained. Luna began smirking at the wall again.
Ron cleared his throat, apparently ignoring the mystery of Harry's knowledge of Elmer for the time being. "'Fred, George, I'm sure you're both falling off the edge of your seats in anticipation…so I'll thank you guys last. Ha.'"
Fred and George, never ones to turn down a challenge, both fell off the edge of their seats. George managed to flip a forkful of peas at Minerva in the same move, and was rewarded by a rainfall of carrots. Albus averted Fred's attempt at avenging his twin and stopped the emerging food fight in its tracks. As the twins clambered back onto their chairs the Headmaster gestured for Ron to continue reading.
"'Molly, Arthur, thanks for the cake and pies and candy and vegetables and…other food…and for the disco ball. It looks great in my current location.'"
Ron looked up and stared at his parents in shock. "Disco ball?"
Molly blushed slightly and gave Arthur a reproachful look, at which he smiled sheepishly and shrugged. "It's shiny, and he seems to like it."
Rolling his eyes once more, Ron resumed reading. "'Professor McGonagall, I really appreciate you going to the trouble of buying my schoolbooks this year. I'd attempt to pay you back but I read the note you wrote in my Transfiguration text, so I'll just be grateful and say thank you and keep my spleen right where it is.'"
Minerva's smile was smug and not a little vindictive, but she didn't speak and no one dared to ask exactly what her note to Harry had contained.
"'Sherbet lemons, shiny socks, a cake and a new set of robes…thanks, Headmaster. I will make use of everything you sent me – I'll eat the sweets and cake, I'll wear the socks, and I'll use these robes as a defence against Death Eaters someday – because no one can see electric blue robes with pineapples and bananas on them and remain unscarred.'" Ron shuddered. "I can't even imagine them and remain unscarred," he moaned.
"It is a truly terrifying image," Luna said gravely, still staring at the wall.
No one but Albus disagreed, and he merely murmured something about no one understanding his fashion sense these days ("What sense?" Mad-Eye scoffed) before waving a hand at Ron.
"'Hermione, this new copy of Hogwarts: A History is fantastic – you realise that Ron and I have never read it before simply because you never let it out of your clutches, right? Now I can finally discover why you like it so much…has it got dirty pictures in it? Is that why?'" By the time he finished reading that paragraph Ron was shaking with barely-contained laughter.
His brothers, Ginny and Neville had no such restraint – Fred and George fell off their chairs once more, while Bill and Charlie were slapping each other on the back. Neville was bright red but still laughing, and Ginny was snickering as well – though more at the outraged expression on Hermione's face than at Harry's words.
Hermione sputtered near-incoherently in an attempt to deny such 'heinous accusations' against her personal bible, and eventually worked her way to a full sentence, directed at Ron. "I don't really prevent you two from reading it, do I?"
Ron answered reluctantly. "Well…you've never offered to lend either of us your copy. And that one time I tried to borrow it you yanked it out of my hands and hit me over the head with it, which, by the way, hurt."
"You tried to borrow it? The only time I remember hitting you with Hogwarts: A History was when you tried to steal it while I was reading it…"
"You were raving about this one section, I just wanted to see!"
She gaped at him. "I thought you were going to throw it out a window!"
They stared at each other in shocked silence for a few moments before Hermione began giggling and Ron's hold over his laughter broke at this apparent misunderstanding. Eventually Ron calmed himself, the twins reclaimed their seats once more and everyone settled down to pay attention.
"'Ooh, shiny…a shiny plant! Thanks Neville, you'll have to tell me all about it next time you see me. I'm sure that you have more information than what you put in your accompanying note.' A shiny plant, Neville?"
Neville shrugged, still slightly red. "It has healing properties."
"Certainly something Potter will be able to make use of," Severus said.
Ron nodded amicably and returned his eyes to the letter. "'Bill – love the pyramid pyjamas, particularly the way they twirl so hypnotically and send you right to slee…'"
Tonks snickered. "Well that will solve any insomnia he may be experiencing."
Bill grinned. "Plus they're red, so with the little gold pyramids they're very house-oriented."
Severus gave a disgusted snort.
"'…Okay, I'm back. Charlie, these dragon-hide gloves are the most awesome gloves I have ever owned, thanks!'"
"Sewed them myself," Charlie said with a straight face. Ginny, Molly and Bill knew better and laughed at him.
"'Ginny, Tonks, I love you. This is the most fantastically hilarious collection of photographs I have ever seen. I really like the 'Tommy in bikini', 'Tommy Snogging Twin', 'Tommy Flirting with Many Weasley Males in Drag', and 'Tommy Doing Laundry in McGonagall's Green Tartan Dressing Gown' in particular.'"
Ginny and Tonks grinned.
Kingsley frowned. "Wait, wait. Is that Tommy in drag or Weasley males in drag?"
Five Weasley males went bright red. Arthur chuckled and answered for them. "Weasley males in drag. It was…entertaining to watch, to say the least."
"What kind of father are you?" Fred asked while George gave a scandalised gasp.
Arthur gave him a steady look. "One who's spent over eighteen years raising you two, which gives me every right to make fun of you mercilessly."
"Touché, Dad," they chorused.
Ron took a drink of water before he spoke, half wishing he had given the letter to someone else – they were all still able to eat. "'Thanks for the hipflask, Mad-Eye, and thanks even more for filling it up. Ultimate thanks for sending those hangover potions as well – they were put to very good use.'"
Molly probably would have read Mad-Eye the riot act for giving Harry alcohol, but the ex-Auror had evidently foreseen her reaction and Silenced her before she had the chance. Ron actually sighed in relief.
"'Kingsley…um. Thanks for the cheese sandwich? It was great. And thanks for the new trunk; my old one just wasn't cool anymore.'"
Everyone took a moment to raise an eyebrow or two at Kingsley, who shrugged. "Cheese sandwiches are good for the soul."
Ron shook his head slowly. "'Ah, Remus, what can I say? That is possibly the shiniest feather boa in existence, and it frightens me that you say it used to belong to Sirius. My father's sparkly shoes are no better. Are you trying to traumatise me? ...but thanks for the chocolate and my mother's locket. Insert sappy sentimental hug and tears here.'"
Remus seemed torn between a mischievous cackle and a rather teary smile. It made for an interesting facial expression.
Molly smiled gently at him and patted him on the shoulder.
Severus, on the other hand, stared at him in horror. "Was it…that feather boa?"
"Yes, Severus, yes it was," Remus admitted, almost smirking.
With a shudder, Severus turned to Ron. "Keep reading, Weasley, and assist me in blocking the existence of that monstrosity out of my memory once more."
"Gladly. 'Luna…nice robe. I bet this is what all the fashionable Death Eaters are wearing this season.'"
"Lovegood, did you send Potter my robe?"
"Indeed I did. You instructed me to never return it to your possession; as such I determined that it would be sufficiently shiny to appease Harry's wishes."
Severus shrugged. "Fair enough."
"Can I finish? Thank you. 'Thanks, all. Love Harry, again.'"
"That's it?" George shrieked, grabbing Fred dramatically.
"Are we truly that unloved?" Fred asked shakily, clutching onto George's arm.
Ron chuckled. "Fine, fine, I'll stop torturing you. 'PPS. Oh all right, Fred, George, I didn't forget you guys. Thank you, from the bottom of my slightly tipsy heart, for the firewhisky, the enchanted singing mice, the magical bubble-wrap, the Gryffindor coloured potions set (which I will definitely be using if I get into Snape's potions class), the plethora of fake wands and, most of all, for the owl-cohol. Hedwig loves the stuff. I hope I won't have to send her to AAA meetings.
Third time's the charm, Love Harry,'."
Molly was still unable to speak, but attempted to launch herself across the table to throttle her sons. Arthur held her back, pointing out that Harry was of age now, after all, and at least he had Mad-Eye's hangover potions. This did little to appease Molly.
Severus was twitching at the very thought of red and gold potions equipment, and most likely at the thought of Harry making it into his class as well (he had, in fact, done so, but Severus had been trying to repress that fact until the beginning of term).
Finally Ginny asked the question that was on most of their minds. "What's AAA?"
"Avian Alcoholics Anonymous," Luna, Fred and George answered.
Hedwig's hoot sounded embarrassed from where she was perched on the dish rack, attempting to finish cleaning and drying her feathers. Ginny petted her head sympathetically.
Kingsley sighed. "I'm not sure that Harry is the only disturbed one of you lot."
Fred and George feigned insult. Luna merely giggled at the wall.
It's been less than two months. No one die of shock, now. Not only that, but this is the longest chapter yet.
Wolfie may have forgotten to go anywhere today, but it turned out for the best in many ways. Wolfie also should have gone to bed hours ago, but refused to leave this chapter unfinished. Why? Well, what if Wolfie had left it half done and gone to bed...and woken up with no idea of where to take the chapter? Is tragic, tragic thing when this happens.
Well, because Wolfie loves you, Wolfie chose to post almost immediately after completion. She gave it a reread, fixed a few things, added a few things (that last part about Hedwig, because Hedwig sort of got forgotten in the reading of the letter), and is now writing this author's note as ramblingly as possible.
Wolfie would also like to announce that she has internets now, and while this does not necessarily mean more frequent updates, it will mean that when Wolfie has things to post she will be able to do so. Like right now. So yay.
Wolfie is going to bed now, and in her sleep will send unconscious love-waves around the world to her reviewers.
Love to all readers,