Gift-fic for Cody, December 2007, from Dianne as "Secret Santa" at the Charming Roots board; Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noël, Feliz Navidad, Frohe Weihnachten, Natale allegro, Vrolijke Kerstmis!
Pairings: FFPS and ADMM; I can't resist.
Category: Romance and Fluff; my first ever song-fic if you squint at it long enough.
A/N: I hope you enjoy this little one-shot; please let me know if I messed up any of the Christmas greetings on top. This is not a Christmasy-wintery story, but it was the most aggressive plot bunny in the most recent attack which I experienced.
Bad bunnies! Get down! Wait your turns, for goodness sake…
Summary: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry; June 1997. Filius and Pomona are quarrelling, and Professor Flitwick enlists Headmaster Dumbledore's help with his apology…
The summer holidays at Hogwarts had just begun. Students had departed two weeks prior, and a few of the faculty were still in residence, tidying up from the school year and just generally catching up on chores they had unavoidably put off while keeping busy with teaching classes, marking papers and other such things. While most of them loved their Wizarding careers at the most prestigious school of witchcraft and wizardry in Great Britain, they were only human. It didn't take much these days to grow short-tempered, albeit briefly, and just plain old tired and in need of some time off.
It didn't happen often, but Filius and Pomona were having a fight for about the third time in their thirty-year marriage. Well, a disagreement really. The Head of Ravenclaw House and Charms Master (that would be Filius Flitwick) and the Head of Hufflepuff House and Herbology Mistress (that would be Pomona Sprout) had disagreed where they would go for their two-week holiday that summer, planned for late July/early August.
Pomona wanted to take Filius to her childhood holiday spot in Scotland: a quaint village called Inverbeg on Loch Lomond, to rent a caravan and simply hide away from the world for a little while. Flitwick wanted to see something new for both of them, a small town in Switzerland called Davos; they could go cycling and camping if they so desired.
They had both been more than a little exhausted one afternoon when they'd started the discussion regarding their holiday destination, hoping to make plans well in advance, each trying to alleviate some of the reservations and leg-work hassle from the other. Misunderstandings started out miniscule but then grew larger of their own accord. Feelings were hurt on both sides and neither was sure how to reconcile.
And Filius had slept on the sofa in their private quarters, two nights in a row.
Heavy-hearted despite her outward smile to those whom she passed, Pomona Sprout made her way down to the greenhouses to check on the plants and herbs, hoping against hope that the flowers would cheer her as they usually did. She hadn't seen her husband when she'd left their rooms and had to fight down a frisson of disappointment; she hadn't seen him at breakfast in the staff room, either. Her closest friends Minerva, Poppy and Rolanda had all asked her about Filius, inquiring whether he was well, and Pomona had made his excuses about being busy over the past few days with some Charms research and a publication he was hoping to finish soon. It was the truth, but only a partial explanation.
With a sigh, she pulled on a well-worn pair of gardening gloves, dug open a fresh bag of "Madam Ceres' Potting Soil" and started repotting a batch of fanged geraniums. They were a bit cranky about being disturbed from their summer napping just then and tried to nip at her fingers, but settled down quickly as she shushed them and gently placed them in their roomier terra cotta pots. It was almost as if the bright red and pink geraniums knew she would lovingly take care of them, as always.
"Have you made plans for your summer holidays, Rolanda? Any exotic locations in mind this year?" Minerva McGonagall asked her colleague. She gestured with the pitcher of lemonade they were sharing on the terrace just off the castle front steps, offering a refill.
"Cheers, thanks," came the reply as the golden-eyed witch held out her glass. "Not really a holiday this year, Min, more like a working vacation, but I am looking forward to it. Believe it or not, I'll be a member of the referee squad for the Pacific Rim Quidditch tournament in New Zealand; it starts in a few days, so I'll be heading down under tomorrow morning to stay with my brother and sister-in-law for about a month."
"New Zealand, how wonderful! But that's quite a long journey getting there, isn't it?"
"Indeed," said Rolanda, grimacing a little as she swirled her ice cubes noisily. "But the tournament organizers arranged all of the connecting Portkeys for me right into Auckland, so it shouldn't be too much trouble. Once I'm there, a taxi to Lincoln is not so bad…I hope."
"Not one for Muggle-modes of travel, are you?" Minerva knew of her friend and old schoolmate's bothersome claustrophobia; little wonder that the witch preferred the wide-open spaces of the Quidditch pitch to any other on the Hogwarts' school grounds.
Hooch chuckled. "No, thank you…twenty three hours in some bloody thing called a 'jumbo jet' is not my idea of transport. I'd rather risk heaving my lunch from a dodgy Portkey than suffer through that again. I don't know how Philip manages it, though he doesn't get back to London much since our Mum and Dad died. Anyway…" she trailed off with a tiny smile of remembrance.
Minerva nodded, deciding to change to a happier topic: "And how are the twins? What are they, six now?"
Rolanda grinned proudly. "Oh yes, the twins are doing very well; growing like little weeds they are! Cody and Crys are seven years old last April 14th, and absolutely brilliant on their broomsticks from Auntie Ro," she said, her eyes sparkling. "They'll be tops in their junior girls' Quidditch league when the time comes, I'm sure. Cody has the makings of a first rate Seeker, and Crys will most likely play Chaser…we'll see! They both have amazing amounts of potential, and I'm not just saying that because I'm family."
McGonagall had to grin back at the enthused gleam in Hooch's eyes; her friend had never had children of her own, but whole-heartedly doted on these nieces of hers. "I'm sure they will if you have anything to say about it. Has your brother mentioned anything further about the school they will attend when they get to age eleven or so?"
"Louisa wasn't too certain at first, being a Muggle and all, but she eventually came around; plus the twins did their own research, the cheeky little ones, using something called the 'Internet'. Their School of Magic, which serves both islands of New Zealand, is at a place called Matarangi. It's only about a quarter the size of Hogwarts, but well reputed from what Philip says."
The two witches chatted another fifteen or so minutes, enjoying the idle time and the warm Scottish sunshine before Rolanda stood and stretched. Minerva stood up as well, banishing the empty pitcher and glasses with a wave of her wand. It was just after two in the afternoon and the Sun had risen high enough to make even the terrace stones hot to the touch.
"Thank you, Min," said Rolanda, flinching at a popping noise in her shoulder (an old Quidditch injury that never quite healed properly, regardless of the excellent attention from Poppy Pomfrey). "I'm sure I'll see you before I Portkey out tomorrow."
"I think I might have a wee run around campus as 'Tabby' before I journey back into my office to actually get some letters written before dinner time. Have you packed yet?"
Hooch smiled sheepishly. "Haven't even started, but you know I always wait 'til the last minute. I probably should…" She shrugged and gave a cheery wave as she headed off to the Quidditch storage shed to pick up a few things for her trip.
Just as Minerva was about to Transform, Headmaster Dumbledore and Charms Master Flitwick came striding out the front door of the castle and hurried down the steps; she waited for them to pass the terrace, hoping to speak briefly to her husband before she headed out to exercise (and perhaps even nap on a cozy tree branch) in her Animagus form. She noticed then that Filius was Levitating some sort of metallic box behind his left arm.
"Right," said Dumbledore to the tiny wizard, clapping him on the shoulder. "Off you go, Filius, and good luck."
Flitwick reached to shake his boss' hand gravely. "Thank you for your help, Albus. I was sure I had reached the end of my tether with this one." He turned and nodded to McGonagall, smiling when the Headmaster took her hand and held it to the crook of his elbow in a familiar and comforting gesture. "And a good afternoon to you as well, Minerva."
Before she could return his friendly greeting, he had hurried off toward the greenhouses, the mysterious metallic box trailing dutifully behind him.
"Dearest, what is Filius doing?" True to her feline-alternative nature, Minerva's curiosity got the better of her just then.
"Apologizing," Albus replied, giving her fingers a squeeze with his free hand. "The young Muggles would call that device a 'boom-box' and I was helping him to program it to work within the castle grounds…"
Minerva nodded understanding. "Yes, of course, and Muggle electronics cannot usually work within the boundaries of the wards here. But for what is he apologizing?"
Albus looked down at her, his blue eyes twinkling over the rims of his half-moon spectacles and a smile quirked at the corner of his mouth. "Apparently he and Pomona had a bit of a quarrel two days ago regarding their summer holiday plans, and he's been sleeping on the settee in their quarters ever since."
"Oh my," she said, wincing in sympathy for the couple. To the best of her knowledge, the Charms Master and his lovely Herbologist wife rarely had a harsh word for anyone, much less toward each other. For them to not be sharing their own marital bed had to be something of a shock. "What on Earth…"
Albus put a finger gently to her lips, then wrapped one arm about her shoulders, pulling her closer to his side. "Come. I want you to hear this, darling wife; it really is lovely music that he picked out for the occasion." Then, he whispered a spell and Minerva felt the ice-watery chill of a Disillusionment charm wash over both of them; because he had cast it with her so close to him, she could see Albus, but no others could see the Headmaster and his Deputy. Truly he didn't need an Invisibility cloak to become invisible.
As soon as the spell had been cast, he chuckled and leaned down to kiss her tenderly; he could hear her almost purring with satisfaction, and he guessed the reason as there were no students on campus for the summer. The thought of being completely invisible with her husband and best friend of more than fifty years had Minerva going a little weak at the knees.
"Mmm, I don't know why we didn't think of this ages ago; all that skulking about in secret nonsense," she murmured against his lips. Almost of their own accord, her hands wandered greedily across his broad chest and shoulders.
"Shhh, Tabby; we can still be heard after all," he admonished, grinning down at her. "We don't want to embarrass the poor dears." McGonagall smiled back, a cheeky glint in her emerald green eyes, and she sketched a silent zipping motion across her mouth with two delicate fingers; hand in hand, they made their way to the path which led to the greenhouses.
They could see the tiny wizard heave a resolute sigh as he collected himself in front of the main entrance to the greenhouses, pausing momentarily to adjust something on the "boom-box". With a flick of his fingers, Filius Levitated the instrument closer to his body, balancing it carefully above his right palm. Eventually, he raised it so that it Levitated above his head, held steady with both hands in a supplicating gesture.
At first, it was several bars of very quiet instrumental music playing, and then a powerful male tenor voice came from the speakers of the Muggle-device:
I have been blind, unwilling
To see the true love you're giving
I have ignored every blessing
Now I'm on my knees, confessing
That I feel myself surrender each time I see your face
I am staggered by your beauty, your unassuming grace
And I feel my heart is turning, falling into place
I can't hide it, now hear my confession
From her spot at Albus' side, Minerva looked up at him with unshed tears glistening in her eyes. "I have never heard such a beautiful song…who is it?"
Dumbledore cocked his head, listening and then looked down at her, a very soft expression on his face. "I'm not sure of his name, but it is beautiful, isn't it? I think Filius said the young man is an American singer, but one who is well versed in singing in many languages."
She listened more carefully as the song flowed over them; they were close enough to see Flitwick as he waited for Pomona's reaction, but not close enough to disturb their heartsick friends. "Is he a wizard?" whispered Minerva.
Albus shook his head. "No, but I believe his music is certainly magical for those who need it to be." He rubbed her upper arm fondly as she leaned closer into his embrace, and he quietly placed a kiss on her forehead.
The song continued and there seemed to be some movement from inside the greenhouse's door.
I have been wrong about you
I thought I was strong without you
For so long, nothing could move me
For so long, nothing could change me
Now I feel myself surrender each time I see your face
I am captured by your beauty, your unassuming grace
And I feel my heart is turning, falling into place
I can't hide it, now hear my confession
As Albus and Minerva watched from a discrete distance, they could see Filius literally holding his breath as Pomona came slowly out and sat on a rough-hewn bench near the greenhouse's front door. Her pale brown robes had spots of potting soil here and there, and she had a smudge of dirt on her cheek. She removed her pointy witch's hat, setting the patched old hat on the ground at her feet. When she finally looked up to meet her husband's gaze, they could see that her face was wet with tears.
"Oh, Filius; I'm so sorry to have been so foolish," Pomona sobbed softly, holding both arms wide open to him. "I love you!"
"Pomona, I would go anywhere in the world with you," Filius promised, his voice breaking. "Just tell me your heart's desire…"
As fast as his little legs would carry him, Filius Flitwick ran to her, ecstatically leaping into her embrace and kissing away her tears as he stood on the wooden bench beside her. The boom-box remained where it was, Levitating steadily and continuing to play the Josh Groban CD. While the witch and wizard murmured sincere words of apology, love and devotion to each other, Albus Dumbledore bent and gathered Minerva into his arms, intending to carry her all the way up to their quarters and keep her there for the rest of the afternoon. He tilted his chin at the boom-box, which whirred obediently to the next chosen song.
"I believe this is where we should make our exit, my dear," he whispered huskily in her ear. In reply, she took his face in both of her hands, and drew him closer for a passionate kiss as they made their way back up to the castle, still hidden from view under the Disillusionment charm.
Behind them, the CD player was broadcasting the same powerful and passionate male tenor voice from its speakers, but the song had changed as the words echoed joyfully across the Black Lake:
When you say you love me the world goes still, so still inside and
When you say you love me for a moment, there's no one else alive
When you say you love me, do you know how I love you?
A/N: Visualize (or even better, go rent!) a movie from 1989 called "Say Anything" with John Cusack and Ione Skye (specifically, the boom-box scene…worth the price of admission for just this part). Now, play Josh Groban's CD "Closer" in the background. Lastly, think loving thoughts about Filius & Pomona, and Albus & Minerva. That should just about do it for some lovely Holiday cheer!