Disclaimer: Not my universe.

Author's Note: This will be a collection of Christmas fics for all of my lovely friends. This one's for Cuban-Sombrero-Gal. Enjoy!


"Ariana, come back here!" Albus yelled after his sister, who completely ignored him. But then again, what did he expect?

"Make me!" Ariana stuck her tongue out at him and scrabbled over several more rocks. Beside him, Aberforth winced as she nearly slipped and impaled her foot on a particularly jagged edge.

"Be careful!"

"What for?" she shrieked, sliding down into the sand to creep closer to a seagull that was resting on the ground. It gave a loud squawk as Ariana tried to grab it and flew up into the air. "Bye birdie!" she called after it, waving as it disappeared into the thick grey clouds. Albus and Aberforth quickened their pace, taking advantage of the fact that she was finally still. Mama would kill them if they let Ari get hurt, and Albus was sure that she would eventually break some vital bone climbing over those rocks again.

"Gotcha!" he said, grabbing her by the waist and hauling her up onto his hip. She frowned and tried to wriggle free.

"Let me down!" she ordered, crossing her arms. Albus spluttered as her long hair was whipped into his face by the breeze. Aberforth snatched Ariana from him so as to allow his brother a few moments to compose himself and pick hairs out of his mouth. Ariana looked pleased that she had caused this, and waited patiently for so long that Aberforth finally relaxed his grip on her wrist.

"Abe, no-" Albus began, but Ariana had already slid her hand out of Aberforth's lax grip and was taking off down the beach, searching for more seagulls or possibly people to scar permanently. Both brothers ran after her immediately, Albus thankful that he saw no one lounging in the sand that Ari could annoy. Her hair was streaming behind her, and she twisted in such a large circle that it took he and Abe a few moments to realise that she was heading straight for the water.

"Ari, don't you dare-" Abe started at the same time Albus said, "Don't you even think you can!" But Ariana ignored them both and gleefully pulled up the hem of her dress (at least she had some common sense) and was calf deep in the ocean before the boys caught up to her.

"Grab her dress!" Abe told him, indicating the bow her dress was tied with. Albus smiled gratefully at him before yanking at the bow, effectively hauling his sister back several inches and into his grasp. He and Abe looked at the bottom of their trousers, now soaked, with anguish. Albus wished terribly that he knew how to use magic to dry them- Mama wouldn't be pleased that they had got their clothes wet.

"I wanna play in the ocean!" Ariana moaned, trying to pull away from Albus and return to the water, but he was having none of that. Instead, he and Aberforth dragged her back onto the sand. Ariana flopped down, breathing heavily, and closed her eyes. Her brothers sat beside her- perhaps she would take a nap? After all, they were just as tired as she was- or, as she seemed to be.

"Ha ha!" she shouted, scrambling up so quickly that Albus and Aberforth's heavy eyelids had barely risen before she was running over to the large tree that stood in the place where the sand met the grass. They groaned simultaneously, and Albus tried to think of a way to explain this all to Mama when they got home.

"Why don't we just let her play?" he suggested to Aberforth finally. "I mean, what damage can she do to herself looking at tree?"

"I guess." They both felt pleased with the realisation that they could let their sister entertain herself for a while, and lay back in the sand with grateful sighs. Albus decided that he liked the low rumble that the ocean made as it hit the shore, and the wind as it blew tiny specs of sand over them. It was all very soothing, like a cross between hot cocoa and Mama reading to them at bedtime.

"Albus?"

"Yes, Abe?" he asked, struggling up into a sitting position, slightly irritated at having been interrupted.

"I- I don't think Ari's just looking."

"What?"

"Look at me!" Ariana crowed suddenly, and Albus whipped around.

"Oh dear Merlin."

"This is fun!" Ariana swung her legs, which were, Albus guessed, at least ten feet off the ground. How did she get up in a tree?

"How did you get up in a tree?!" Aberforth asked this before he could, and was now tugging on Albus' hand to pull him up. Albus gave an almighty sigh at the mess they were going to have to get Ari out of this time and stood up, brushing sand off of his still slightly damp trousers. They both ran over to the tree, which Ariana was still sitting in, on the highest branch, no less.

"How did you get up in a tree?!" Aberforth repeated, glaring at Ariana. She shrugged.

"How do you think?" she said smugly. "I climbed, Abe."

"You climbed a tree," Albus said, seemingly struck dumb. How could she climb a tree that high?

"Yes."

"Well, get down!" he commanded, crossing his arms and making his voice scolding. Ariana sighed and slid closer to the trunk of the tree, the bark scratching at her dress, and Albus thought of the lecture he and Abe would have from Mama for letting her scuff up her dress. She placed her arms and legs carefully, so as not to slip on the slender branch, and he was surprised that it actually held her weight as well it did, though both brothers flinched each time it creaked as she moved along.

Finally, Ariana sat as near to the trunk of the tree as she could get. Albus noted that the branch below her was naught but a foot away, and waited for her to climb down.

"What are you waiting for?" demanded Aberforth. Albus looked up at his sister expectantly, and felt a sinking feeling in his stomach. She wouldn't be...

"I'm scared," she whimpered, clutching at the trunk more forcefully. Albus smacked his hand against his forehead. This was so very typical.

"Well, you got up there, didn't you?" he called to her reasonably. Ariana nodded slowly, as if thinking this over. "Try, Ari. You won't fall."

"Okay," she said in a tiny voice. "Are you sure?"

"We're sure," Aberforth assured her, rubbing his hands together anxiously. Albus wondered vaguely of what would happen if they went home and told Mama that Ariana was stuck up in a tree that she had climbed- the response would not be pleasant, that was for sure.

"Okay," Ariana said again, bending so that her foot was reaching for the branch below. "But I can't see it!"

"It's there," Albus said in exasperation. "Look, you climbed it, didn't you? So it must be there." Deep down, however, he knew what Ari was feeling. She had been able to see each branch as she went up the tree, was able to look and see where she placed each hand, finger, foot, toe. Now, with nothing visual to guide her, she was horribly frightened.

"Branch," she muttered to herself, her foot waving in the air. "Branch, branch, branch..." Albus gave a relieved sigh as her foot made contact with the first branch below her, as she Aberforth beside him. Ariana gave a cry of delight and, just as Albus yelled, "Ari watch it!" let her hands go, far before her other foot had made it all the way down.

The result was instantaneous. Backwards Ariana fell, her hands desperately trying to cling to anything around her. She screamed loudly, squeezing her eyes shut as Albus and Aberforth tried frantically to think of what to do. When she was mere seconds from the ground Albus thrust out his arms-

and she stopped.

Not stopped as in, hit the ground and stopped moving. Stopped as in, stopped in midair.

"What the-" Aberforth whispered, looking mesmerized at the floating girl. Finally, Ariana seemed to notice she wasn't making contact with anything, and peeked open one of her eyes. Albus, shocked beyond belief, simply kept his arms held out. He thought he felt a brief frision of electricity in his fingertips, but it passed before he could identify it fully.

"Don't drop your arms," Abe warned, his eyes flickering between his brother's limbs and Ariana. "Let them down gently. I'll bet Ari comes down gently too." Too surprised to care that Abe was ordering him around, Albus slowly and deliberately let down his arms, and watched at his sister lowered at the same paced. By the time his arms were at his sides, she was lying on the ground, a fallen leaf entangled in her hair.

"Ariana!" The silent spell was broken as they rushed over to her. Ariana sat up, grinning, her dress stained green with grass and the smell of apples from the tree lingering on her hands.

"Al!" she cried, "you saved me! How'd you do it? How'd you do it?"

"I dunno," Albus replied as he and Abe helped her to her feet again. "Magic, I guess."

"That's neat!" she said cheerfully, spinning around and staring up at the sky, forgetting her earlier fear completely. "Ooh, Al, that was so fun, being in the air like that, just floating! Let's do it again, Al! Let's do it again!"

"Don't even think about it," Aberforth said decisively, grabbing her as she made to run back to the tree.

--

"So, did you all have a good time at the beach?" Kendra asked from the kitchen as her children walked in, the boys looking distinctly disheveled.

"Yes, Mummy," Ariana piped up, who alone looked happy and excited. "It was so fun, I played in the sand and there were birds and I almost caught one but it flew away-"

"That's nice darling," Kendra smiled, then looked at her sons. "So, would you like to go again tomorrow?"

"No!" Albus and Aberforth yelled at the same time. Kendra raised her eyebrows at them.

"Whatever for?"

"Al and Abe are big people, Mummy," Ariana said in a loud whisper. "They get tired running around with me."

"Well, isn't that a shock?" Kendra said with a smirk.