Or, Twenty-One Letters to the Order of the Vastly Vicious Vulture
Letter Seventeen – "I forgot Neville's birthday."
With Molly refusing to provide sandwiches of any kind, Kingsley had taken to making his own. Despite wishing to shove nutritious meals down the throats of everyone, Molly wasn't willing to let Kingsley go on a food strike all together (which he had threatened to do, until Hermione, lamenting that accursed lack of logic in the wizarding world, pointed out that Kingsley was a grown man and fully capable of making his own damn cheese sandwiches).
Kingsley had taken to keeping a plate of them on the kitchen bench at all times and snacking on them whenever he was peckish. This often left him with only one or two sandwiches on his plate, as he never made any more until he had run out.
With this arrangement in place, and no more spells being cast over Grimmauld Place, the last two days had been remarkably peaceful. Even the twins hadn't caused any explosions, and though Severus was still leading Crookshanks on Elmer hunts, he didn't seem entirely dedicated anymore and tended to spend more time reading books in the sitting room with Crookshanks sleeping on his feet.
And then somebody stole Kingsley's cheese sandwich.
It was the middle of the afternoon, and as usual there were several occupants of the house lingering in the kitchen.
Hermione was working on homework, while Ron was reading comics hidden in the pages of his Potions textbook. Neville was comparing notes he had taken on the rainforest plants with a book he had found in the library.
Ginny was experimenting with hairstyles on Luna, who was once again staring at the wall. Her expressions changed and she was gesturing with her hands as though she was having a conversation, but she was completely silent. Ginny had chosen to just ignore her friend's odd behaviour and put up with the occasional head movements.
Tonks was also sitting at the table, working on paperwork. She claimed Kingsley was making her do all of his as well as her own, though Kingsley had been seen to be doing his own enough times that no one believed her.
As usual Albus was seated at the head of the table with a large cup of tea. He was paging idly through an ancient looking leather bound spell book with no title, glancing up every now and then to send a twinkle-eyed smile to anyone who caught his gaze.
Kingsley had left a single sandwich on his plate after lunch and had disappeared somewhere with a trashy looking novel, muttering about having been too busy lately and needing to catch up on his reading.
Hermione's attention was drawn from her essay when she caught movement in the corner of her eye, and she started slightly when she realised Elmer had wandered into the kitchen.
The camel was known to be incredibly bad tempered, so she didn't dare move as he passed behind her. She almost, almost, raised her wand to protect Kingsley's sandwich when she realised where the animal was headed.
Almost. Instead, she just watched as Elmer sniffed his way across the kitchen, finding the sandwich and picking it up. Oddly he didn't eat it immediately, but left the room with the sandwich still dangling from his mouth.
"Well that was odd," Ginny observed after a moment. Hermione nodded, Ron shrugged, Luna grinned, and Neville looked up from his book with a dazed expression on his face, having completely missed Elmer's appearance.
Several minutes later, they had all returned to their previous activities and had for the most part forgotten all about Elmer when Kingsley returned to the kitchen, took one look at his sandwich plate, and screamed.
Barely two seconds later Fred and George raced into the kitchen, instinctively reacting to the possibility of chaos.
Severus was on their heels. "What the hell is going on in here?"
"My... my sandwich," Kingsley said, staring forlornly at the plate. "It's gone."
Rolling his eyes, Severus turned to leave. "That's no excuse to be screaming the house down, Shacklebolt, I thought somebody was being murdered." He sounded almost disappointed.
"Who took it?" Kingsley demanded, switching from upset to angry in a heartbeat. "Who took my precious last sandwich?" He stared around the occupants of the kitchen suspiciously.
"Elmer did it," Ginny told him.
"Well he did, Ron. Really, if you're going to raise a kleptomaniac camel, maybe someone else should take care of him."
Severus stuck his head back through the kitchen door. "Did I hear that correctly? The Beast stole the sandwich?"
"Yep!" Ginny said cheerfully.
"I will have revenge," Kingsley vowed.
"Wonderful," Severus said with a dastardly smirk. "Welcome to the club."
"Oooh, can I join?" George asked eagerly. "I've always wanted to try camel!"
Fred sat at the table and stole some of Hermione's parchment and Tonks' quill. "I'll write some recipes down."
Ron sighed and stood up. "Well, if you're going to hunt Elmer again, I suppose I will have to protect him with my life. Again."
Hedwig, with impeccable timing, chose that moment to swoop into the kitchen and at least temporarily disrupt the impending camel hunt.
She landed on Kingsley's shoulder, holding out her leg as he untied the letter and then staying where she was, talons digging in perhaps more than necessary.
Kingsley sighed. "I don't know what I've done to upset you, Hedwig, but I do wish you would stop drawing my blood."
Hedwig just ruffled her feathers and dug in deeper. Wincing, Kingsley gave up and opened the letter.
I have just realised that I have made a very grave mistake. To be fair, I was falling down a bottomless pit at the time, but that is no excuse.
I forgot Neville's birthday.'"
Kingsley stopped for a moment while they all shared looks of surprise. Neville's birthday had been celebrated with a small party in the time between the first wave of the Camel Wars and everyone running around like headless chickens to find birthday presents for Harry. Because it hadn't been a letter day, the fact that Harry hadn't mentioned it had never crossed their minds.
After a moment, Kingsley continued. "'Neville, I am so, so sorry. I promise I will make it up to you. I will buy you all the exotic monkey eating plants you could ever possibly want. I will buy you candy. I will buy you alcohol. I will even buy you a pony, if you like.
I hope you don't want a pony. I don't think the Headmaster will let you have one at Hogwarts, or that your Gran will let you have one at home. Plus Trevor might get jealous.
Maybe I could talk to Hagrid about getting you your very own Thestral? Or Hubert might help me find a second Crumple Horned Snorkack.
Just let me know, I'll hook you up.
There was silence, then Albus spoke. "If you would like Harry to buy you a pony, Neville, I'm sure an exception could be made for you to keep it at Hogwarts."
Neville coughed. "Uh, thank you, sir, but I don't think I really want a pony." He paused. "Monkey eating plants, though..."
"I suppose we should be glad we don't keep monkeys at the school," Severus muttered. "Though I expect we will lose a few less than intelligent pets."
"Maybe I don't want one," Neville said. "I know Trevor more than likely comes under the definition of less than intelligent."
"On the plus side, then you could get a smarter pet?" Tonks said with a cheeky grin.
"I think I have plenty now, what with the fish," Neville sighed. "I'm not sure how we'll transport them to Hogwarts."
"Oh, I'm sure the Headmaster will take care of it," Luna said, turning away from the wall to give Albus a little smile.
"Ah, yes, of course," Albus agreed, smiling.
Severus looked between the two with suspicion. No one else noticed.
Hello again, lovely readers!
Wolfie kind of has some wonderful news. She has finished writing Dear Order. As such, the remaining chapters should be posted with relative frequency, though not on an actual schedule because Wolfie never remembers to stick to those. But it shouldn't be too long until the end is posted.
Wolfie is a little sad about having finished Dear Order, but Wolfie is also excited to be writing Something Else.
Anyway, Wolfie will stop rambling now, enjoy the chapter everyone!