Thanks again to my fabulous beta-reader, Weasleytwin2. There IS an email coming for you =)
Now. The fic.
All I want for Christmas.
He'd always wanted the room with a view. There was no higher place in the Gryffindor tower, no one bed suite that could quite match the finery or rash elegance, with the sole exception of the three other, tower top rooms that were laying dormant this year. You were supposed to be able to see everything from these windows, here at the top of the world, where only the elite were allowed to rest. And all the others, the ones you represented and worked for, the ones who were your responsibility and your cause, were all to look up to you. You and your room with the view.
Strange, how now that the view was his, he could only see a blanket of endless snow, that seemed to mute everything in its apathy. There were no plains of exploration, no mountains of potential. No lochs of acceptance. Just an empty paleness, emotionless as it was colourless, devoid of as much life as it was vibrancy. He'd been expecting something different, even though the view from the ground had always been the same.
A fire that was slowly being strangled by the ice breeze that filtered through the thrown open window gave one last strangled cry before collapsing into a pile of dust and ash, robbing the room of the allusion of warmth it had tried to provide. He didn't notice, he preferred the sting of the western wind to the false comfort of the gentle glow in any case, and there was enough light still remaining in the mid-afternoon sky that the room did not darken enough to draw his eyes from the sheet of paper that he held in his pale hand. Every year those who remained over Christmas had some form of this parchment thrust at them, whether it be by Prefects eager to rise in popularity stakes, or first years desperately clinging to some way of relieving the heavy home sickness that accompanied the first time they were to be away from family at this time of year. They all filled it out, some sent a copy home to their parents, others pointed out certain aspects of it to their friends. The Twins made hundreds of replicas each time, stuffing into peoples porridges or under bedroom doors, even plastering the walls with them like cheap Muggle wall paper.
All I want for Christmas. It was scrawled in different hand writing at the top of the otherwise blank sheet each year, but the wording always stayed the same. He'd only ever asked for one thing, always believing that the one thing he wrote down would lead to all of his other desires, once achieved.
The room with the view.
An anger that was spurred by betrayal urged him to pick up a nearby quill, and he did as it demanded. What did he want for Christmas, now that he had his beloved room, and all its promised 'answers'? Hand writing that was normally formal and light slashed down on the innocent parchment, indenting not only the paper, but the desk beneath it, at times even staining the oak wood with dabs of ink when the pressure became too much for the thin piece to hold. What did he want, the Percy that he had always ignored because he didn't fit in with the room with the view? Friends. Music. To sit in cafes and simply watch the world revolve around him, instead of always feeling the need to be leading them all as if they were part of some race. To experience, to be thrilled. To paint, to write, to sing off key and horrendously loud. As the thoughts came, he wrote them all down in a rush, not daring to stop, least his own fears convince him never to start up again. To socialise with his brothers, for them to *want* to socialise with him in turn. To crave, to lust. To be with others, instead of being isolated up here alone in this godamned room.
To have a new view.
As quickly as the urge to bear his soul came, it flew once again away, leaving nothing but a paper filled of damning evidence of just how pathetic he was. He would throw the parchment on the fire, but the heat that had so fuelled his own anger had long since deserted the muted coals, no longer an amber red, but a soot black. Instead he tore the list in half, not with the violence that he had had only moments earlier, but with a jaded indifference. It was a list made in wistful thinking, a list that none would ever lay eyes on. Yet, he watched it with silent eyes as he let the torn pieces rise on a magical wind, and float towards the window, before releasing the spell. He kept his eyes on the two halves briefly, as they were wiped away by the storming snow. He did not see their turbulent journey to the white washed ground, many stories below, nor did he see the first sprinkle of fresh snow gently begin to cover it. He then missed also, the pair hands that reached for the two pieces just before the snow had hidden them completely from the world.
The 1st Day of Christmas.
Percy had discovered long ago that, if he merely chose not to get out of bed during the holiday months, no-one would notice. Days he had spent, cocooned in his quilt, staring blankly at the entwining design that made up the painted wall opposite him, thinking little, enjoying the sense of numbness while being unable to rid himself of his lethargicy. He'd wondered sometimes if they could possibly forget him forever, never noticing if he failed to ever emerge from his blankets. He'd then of course ridicule himself - Perfect Percy, angsting? Hardly.
They never noticed, when he wasn't down for breakfast. Even when he traipsed down for Dinner or an afternoon snack, his presence barely registered. It did not surprise them when they saw him not in the fields throwing snowballs, or in front of a roasting fire with a cup of cocoa and ever-roasting marshmallows. They didn't seem to remember that he used to love those things as much as they did, in fact, they seemed to have convinced themselves that he had never participated or enjoyed those things ever before.
Ah, Winter. The season for good will, peace between all men and antidepressants.
There was something not quite right about his view of the opposite wall, he suddenly realised. He knew every line, each crack on first name basis, yet it still took him a moment to note what was so out of place that his mind had managed to pick it up before his eyes had.
There was an envelope, gently resting against the ruby skirting boards.
He blinked, but the mysterious envelope remained exactly where it was, directly in his line of vision. Hesitantly, he rose from his bed, shuffling towards it, blankets still wrapped firmly around his frame. He sat down in front of the envelope, not daring yet to touch. Cream in colour, only two words adorned the front, written in a curved gold that shone in the dim room: Percy Weasley.
It was his. Somehow, that thrilled him. It was too splendid to be one of the types of letters he normally received, he doubted whatever was inside told of new responsibilities or meetings he had to attend. And while perhaps the Twins could have planted it as some cruel joke, the spells he had cast on his room made it impossible for either of them to enter. He picked the envelope up gingerly, flipping it around revealed no sender's address or name, and somehow he found that such an admission did not surprise him. The flap was simply folded down, not sealed, and the thin sheet of parchment inside slipped out easily.
A frown formed as he traced his finger over the words that were inscribed delicately in the same golden glamour of his name on the envelope. What did it mean, the simple '1st Day of Christmas'? He turned the piece of paper over, but there was no more writing even on the other side. Tapping the paper gently in thought, he was caught by surprise when the golden letters suddenly began to unfurl, and then disintegrate into tiny golden flecks. Rising on invisible currents, the flecks seemed to dance in the streaks of morning sunlight that had begun to filter into the room. Enchanted, he could do little more than watch as the twirled first one way, then dove another. He almost groaned aloud in dismay when Hermes suddenly squawked, causing the golden dancers to collapse back instantly on to the parchment. He trailed a finger through the flecks a couple of times, hoping to entice them back to their impromptu dance, with no avail. He rose to his feet, gently carrying the parchment and envelope over to his desk, slowly tipping the golden flecks into a small glass jar that had been given to him one Christmas by Ginny. Even behind glass, they flickered beautifully, now bronze, then a sun-kissed gold.
He would ponder the cryptic meaning of the words later, he thought, heading towards the sanctuary of his bed. However, he found himself pausing mid-step, suddenly in two minds. The door was only a quick change of clothes away, perhaps, perhaps ...
He suddenly found himself in the mood for breakfast.
Warm candles lit the Great Hall, the morning mog darkening the room enough that such light was necessary. There was unlikely to be any games in the snow today, Percy reflected, eyes focused on the magical ceiling above, which was being pounded by heavy snow. The storm that had been threatening last night had broken, much to the disdain of all the students who had plans for sleigh rides and toboggan contests.
"What are we going to do all day?" Ron moaned in a manner that reminded him of a 10 year old who needed to be constantly entertained in some way. "We had a smashing time yesterday building those forts, and now this ruddy storm has gone and ruined them all!" Percy listened on silently as the prattle between his brothers and their friends continued on. The Twins and Ron were joined as always by Harry and Hermione, but this year Seamus and Lavender had remained behind also.
"Pass me the salt, would you, Perce?"
And Oliver, he added as an afterthought, as he handed his smiling, ex-roommate the salt container. This all felt rather ... domestic, sitting here, having breakfast and the conversation that one held at such a meal. Even though no-one had uttered an intelligent word all morning, he'd enjoyed their silly nonsense, even if that enjoyment failed to be reflected for others to see. But this slight respite was doomed to be short lived, and it wasn't long before they all rose from the table, off to do something to pass the time. He found his eyes suddenly drawn to the delicate design of his plate as they began to leave, a design much like that of his wall. The curves where not quite as circular, and the lines more narrow, entwining a tad too tightly to be an exact replica. The pieces of egg that clung to the plate still were distracting, and he moved them aside irritably, not wanting to lose his concentration as he followed the swells and dips of the design.
"Percy Weasley, pal." The firm pat on his shoulder followed by the warm voice pulled his thoughts from the dish in front of him, and he turned surprised eyes instead on the small boy who had appeared at his side, and the wide grin that adorned his face.
"Seamus?" It came out far more abrupt than he had planned it to, and he scolded himself as the Irish smile faltered slightly at the corners, before returning just as brilliantly as before. "Is, is there something I can do for you?" The smile widened, something that he had moments before believed was actually impossible, as Seamus dropped into the vacant seat to his left.
"We're going to play Trivial Pursuit upstairs, I need a partner." Seamus looked at him expectantly, yet he could only return the boy a startled gaze. A quick glance around the room showed many potential partners for Seamus, ones who were more popular or well liked, those who were as witty and humorous as they were intelligent. Far better, and funnier, partners than he could ever be.
"You want ... me? Are you sure?"
The smile was accompanied by a nod and laughter that tinkled with friendliness, not the mockingness he was so used to. Seamus was a strange boy, Percy decided. He wondered if he could convince Molly to adopt him. Or better yet, trade him for the Twins.
"You're intelligence mixed with my ability to charm the opposition, we make the perfect team!" Seamus didn't so much as rise from his seat as bounce out of it.
"Seamus, I don't see how 'charm' plays into Trivial Pursuit."
"Simple Perce," Seamus replied, and that smile was back again. "While I'm busy dazzling them with my wit, they will be too busy admiring me to see that you are enchanting the cards so we know the answers!"
"I would never do such a thing! That is cheating!"
"And see, you've even got the denial down perfectly, no-one will suspect you!" It was said triumphantly, and Percy found he had to duck his head to hid the tiny grin that was being forced into public by Seamus.
"I do have much school work I have to get done." It was his token resistance, the last chance for Seamus to realise that he really didn't want Percy as a partner, after all. But the other boy simply pfted, practically dragging him to his feet.
"You have all holidays for that, now is designated play time. We better be quick though, I bet the others have already started without us, the prats."
And that was how he found himself many hours later, sitting to the left of Seamus and on the right of Ron, who was scowling at him rather ferociously, no doubt because the team of Ron and Harry was losing heavily. Even Oliver and Lavender, who had entered the game much later, had over taken the luckless pair, who were losing more due to haste and arrogance on Ron's behalf as opposed to any lack of intelligence. The Twins had surprised him with their intelligence - he'd checked carefully several times to make sure they had not enchanted the cards in any way, always coming up negative. They were running second.
He and Seamus were coming first, of course. It turned out that Seamus was as good a charmer as he had bragged to be.
"I can't believe you two got that one!" Ron growled in disgust, before throwing the card down. Seamus laughed, and Percy found himself smiling, just a tad. Oliver shook his head slightly from his position up on the couch, disbelief warring with humour in those brown eyes. This time Percy found himself having to bite back what would have been a full fledged grin. Had he *ever* grinned in such a way? Oliver was the only other person in the room to be able to sense that there was something that was not completely innocent about how he and Seamus were playing the game, but was not quite powerful enough to call Percy on it. There were times it certainly paid to be the strongest Wizard in the house.
But that last card had signified the end of the game, or rather, the end of the 7th game. They'd taken a break for lunch and then dinner several hours ago, and half drunken mugs of hot chocolate littered the soft carpet in front of the glowing fire that were all mostly sitting on. In between the games of Trivial Pursuit there had been games of Exploding Snap - for 8 or more players, Monopoly, Wizard World and many of the other games that came out when a storm kept them in. The sun had only shone weakly for a few hours around noon, before disappearing completely, but even in the candle light that had kept the room at the same brightness all day, it was easy to tell if only be the yawns that were beginning to make their rounds that it was well into the night. He found that he would have done anything to keep the games going and the hot chocolate refilling, rather than to face to coldness and loneliness that was in contrast his room. But it seemed that it was unavoidable that they were all to soon go their separate ways to bed, although chances where that sleep would not come quickly to those who had others in their dorm.
So it was a surprise then, when Dumbledore suddenly appeared in the Gryffindor common room, Flinch at his side. The Care Taker had what could only be described as a mountain of sleeping bags in his arms, and it was hard to see the bitter twistedness that always made up the man's expression over the top of them.
"It seems there has been a little problem with the heating," Dumbledore spoke up with a slight frown. "The fire places in the upstairs dorms appear to be not working."
"You're kidding, right?" Oliver spoke up above the groans. "How do fire places stop working?"
"You're guess is as good as mine, Mr Wood." This time the smile that was more well known on the Principal's face had returned. "But Mr Filch has promised me that the problem will be solved by the morning. Until then, perhaps it would be best if you all slept down here for the evening." He motioned towards Filch, who dropped the sleeping bags on the floor in a heap, before turning to leave.
The grumbling was mostly muted as they all set out their sleeping bags in front of the one fire that seemed to be working in the Tower. It was more the inconvenience that seemed to bother the Gryffindor lot, but as he slipped into his sleeping bag that had ended up between Oliver - The Twins had thrown him off the couch almost instantly, claiming it as their own, and Harry, he found that it didn't bother him at all, even though it wasn't silent or calm, as he had always assumed he wanted things. Conversation still went on for a good 20 minutes, mostly insane comments from the Twins, before someone suggested finally dimming most of the candles. Even as the brilliant lights faded, the warmth did not. He had a feeling that had more to do with the strange company he was in, than the fire that still burned softly.
"Good night, Ron."
"See you in the morning, Lavender."
"Seamus, I swear, if I find anything in my sleeping bag when I wake up ..."
"Would I do that?"
"Of course you would."
"Yeah, you're right."
"Good ... good night, George. Sleep well."
The 2nd Day of Christmas.
The storm had mostly blown over the next day, enough so that the forts that Ron had moaned about the other day could be rebuilt. He found himself mourning the storm, which had brought on its winds a social atmosphere that he had for once managed to be part of, an accepted part of. But as the winds had died down, so had his feeling of belonging, and the magic of the day before was no longer there. He mentioned something about joining them for lunch that afternoon, but did not venture from the common room before then or after, more than happy to snuggle up in one of the overly stuffed chairs with one of his text books.
Yesterday had been something special, and although the magic was no longer present, it still lingered in his mind. Had it been purely coincidental that the wonderful day had occurred on the same one that the strange letter had arrived? He'd realised where he had remembered the phrase written on the note earlier that morning - 'The 1st Day of Christmas' was from some Muggle Christmas song. A little known Wizard band had tried to do a cover of it, changing the Muggle terms for Wizard ones, but it had never taken off. Had whoever had sent the letter had some connection the strangeness of yesterday?
But perhaps it was silly to try and force such a connection. After all, the gold glitter had been enough of a present in itself, and it was hard to believe that someone had somehow arranged all the events that had happened yesterday.
As Dumbledore had promised, the dorms heating had been restored, and as evening began to fall, the tired Gryffindors retired early. The late night the night before, coupled with the physical exertion of today had sapped them of all their energy - there would be no Trivial Pursuit in front of the fire. Reluctantly, he forced himself from the chair he'd lived in most of the day, not wanting to go back up to his room with a view, now that he had experienced life briefly outside of it. The journey up the stairs tired him, although he'd been doing nothing all day that would contribute to such a physical weakness.
The moment he swung open the door to his room however, the tiredness deserted him, as did words. Astonishment coloured his features, as he slowly walked into the room that was his, yet at the same time, really wasn't. Tiny delicate candles floated around the room, their flames burning in wonderful shades of red and gold, making the entire room seem bathed in some unearthly glow. Hesitantly, he walked towards his bed, where a bed spread that seemed to be spun from silver itself lay, perfectly made. It looked nothing like the woven blanket his mother had bestowed on him on his first year upon entering Hogwarts. He rested a hand on it, unable to believe. He turned down the stunning spread, only to find that what lay underneath surprised him even more. Blushing, he lowered his eyes so that they no longer were locked on the black satin, satin! sheets. With a shyness that seemed silly to reserve for an object, he ran a hand gently across the silky sheets, his blush growing deeper as he kept his eyes averted. Satin sheets were impractical and silly, not to mention ridiculously expensive. They certainly weren't for the likes of him. He stole a glance at the sheets, which seemed to be dancing in a shinny black because of the light. And smiled. Not that it dimmed the warmth of his face.
Before he could begin to question the who and how - his mind had yet to begin operating on a normal level, his eyes glanced on the piece of parchment that lay on one of the pillows, no longer a set of standard Hogwarts ones, but what turned out to be stuffed with down feathers. The gold lettering was instantly recognisable, and for a moment he found he couldn't breathe. On the Second Day of Christmas.
To be continued ...