A thin shaft of afternoon sunlight glowed across the dormitory floor as Albus packed his trunk. The light was fake of course. The Sltyherin dormitory being in the dungeon and all, it would have to be. Across the room Scorpius packed his own truck, making sure everything went in just so.
"So, we'll be spending Christmas Eve with your muggle Aunt then?" Scorpius flipped the latch on his trunk before turning to sit on his four poster bed.
"My great-aunt," Albus corrected. "She's great though. Always has a load of muggle video games for us to play and she usually takes us all out to the theater to see a movie." Scorpius' nose scrunched up at the thought of doing something so muggle. "Trust me, it'll be awesome. Then the next day we'll go to the Weasley's as usual."
"Where I'll finally get to meet your dear mother and sister," Scorpius interjected, smirking at the other boy's discomfort. "Come now, they can't be all that bad."
"They're not. I'm just worried it'll be really uncomfortable."
Scorpius sighed. "I suppose it won't be full of the usual Weasley cheer. It'll still be much better than being at Malfoy Manor. Christmas Eve was never a cheery affair."
Albus chewed his lip, not knowing exactly what to say. "Don't you ever miss your parents on Christmas?"
Scorpius laughed. "Of course not, can you imagine my father getting into the Christmas spirit? Christmas Eve is bad enough. My grandmother sits like a statue while my father sips a glass of wine. Daphne's not too bad though. One year we snuck out after everyone had gone to bed and made snowmen in the back garden."
"Doesn't it bother you though?" Questioned Albus.
"No," Scorpius shook his head. "Look, I love my father, but even he knows that he has the emotional range of a teaspoon. I'm nothing like him and glad for it." He exchanged a grin with Albus. "Besides, I would never miss out on Mrs. Weasley's Christmas dinner!"
Albus laughed with his friend, but he still had that gnawing feeling in his stomach. He'd only been five when his parents had divorced, so he barely remembered a time when they weren't hostile to one another. Everything was always a fight and he and his siblings were always smack dab in the middle of it.
The next morning dawned clear and bright. A light snow had fallen overnight blanketing the grounds of Hogwarts' with a sparkling white glaze. Albus and Scorpius joined their fellow second year Slytherins in their usual compartment on the Express. Albus was actually quite excited about going home. Christmas holiday was always the best time of year. He would help his Dad and James decorate the house, then Scorpius would come to stay and they'd have the best times together.
"Did everyone get their shopping done for Christmas?" Mindy Atwater questioned. She pushed a lock of blonde hair from her blue eyes before smiling shyly at Scorpius.
Albus chuckled as he noticed a hint of red on his friend's cheeks. He nudged the blonde and Scorpius nudged him back.
"I got all mine done," Albus stated. "Except for my sister, I have no idea what to get her. Maybe I'll just get her a certificate for Honeyduke's or something like that."
"How about you Scorp?" Asked Maxwell Zabini.
Scorpius shook his head. "Only for the Potters and Weasleys, I still need to find something for my father and Daphne."
"Don't you feel strange calling your mother Daphne?" Todd Nott questioned from his seat next to Maxwell.
Albus could feel Scorpius tense. Of all the subjects in the world, none bothered Scorpius more than speaking about his mother. Albus could count on one hand the times that Pansy Malfoy's name had been mentioned even when the two boys were engaged in private conversation.
"Why would he?" Albus broke in. "She said its okay."
Todd shrugged. "Just seems odd is all. Do you call your mum Ginny?"
Albus shook his head. "No, but my sister calls my dad Harry and she calls Viktor her dad."
"How do you think your mum is going to take your dad playing with the Harpies?" Mindy questioned and Scorpius gave her a small smile, obviously glad for the change of subject.
"Probably not very well," admitted Albus. "But that's not my dad's fault, that's her problem." The small group of Slytherin's nodded their agreement. "It's been seven years since they divorced, she can't expect him to tiptoe around her forever."
"Do you think he'll bring a date to the New Year's party?" asked Mindy and everyone froze in anticipation of his answer.
"Who knows," Albus shrugged. "It seems strange that he hasn't moved on yet. I hope it's not because he's stuck on my mum, because she's certainly not stuck on him."
"Ginny, are you home?" Hermione called out from the floo.
Ginny rushed into the sitting room and smiled at her friend. "Come on through Hermione. I was just about to have a bit of lunch, would you like to join me?"
Hermione smiled and extracted her head. A moment later she gracefully stepped out of the fireplace. Ginny embraced her immediately and Hermione returned it without hesitation. Ginny was glad for that.
"What brings you here? Shouldn't you be at the station picking up Rosie?" Ginny questioned.
Hermione laughed. "Don't let her hear you call her that. She's Rose now, not Rosie. Hugo, James and Albus love to call her Rosie to get a rise out of her. Ron wanted to pick her up by himself. I think he's going to take the children to get my Christmas present."
"And probably get his own for you as well," chuckled Ginny. "He always waits until the last minute."
Ginny motioned for Hermione to follow her into the kitchen. "Lily's at her friends today and Viktor is off doing his own Christmas shopping, so why don't we have lunch in the kitchen."
A small table with four stools sat in the homey kitchen. They both sat at a stool and served themselves to the plate of sandwiches on the table. Ginny poured out milk for the both of them, which Hermione thanked her for before digging in.
"I stopped by the other day, but Lily said you had an appointment somewhere and wouldn't be back for an hour," Hermione mentioned offhandedly then waited to see if Ginny would elaborate.
Ginny stopped in mid-chew, silently mulling over whether to tell Hermione where she'd been. On the one hand, it really wasn't any of Hermione's business, but on the other hand, Hermione is incredibly intelligent and would probably find out eventually anyway. Besides, it might feel good to tell someone especially someone like Hermione who she knew would never judge her for getting help.
"I went to see a Healer."
Hermione gave her an alarmed look. "Are you alright? Is there something wrong? Are you sick?"
Ginny shook her head. "No, I'm fine. He's a Mind Healer." Hermione's eyes widened in surprise. "It was my first appointment, but I'm fairly sure I'm going to go again."
"That's wonderful, Ginny!" Hermione exclaimed. "I've always thought the magical world was a bit behind when it came to treating psychological illnesses. Would you mind if I asked how it went?"
"No, I don't mind," she replied truthfully. "Actually, I was really scared when I went, but now I'm glad that I did. It felt good to talk about things."
"You know you can always talk to me."
Ginny sighed. "I know, but it's nice to talk to someone who wasn't in the thick of things. You try really hard to be both my friend and Harry's, but I know Harry will always come first."
Hermione folded her arms over her chest. "Now that's not true. Just because there was some unpleasantness between the two of you doesn't mean that I can't empathize with you both. I am completely aware of the fact that Harry can act like a right git sometimes and you're not always a princess yourself." Ginny couldn't stop from grinning and Hermione smiled in amusement.
"I'm glad that we're still friends," Ginny admitted solemnly.
"Well, as your friend, there's something I want to tell you." Hermione took a deep breath. "I was at the Ministry and I overheard Geoffries from Magical Sports talking about the Harpies. I know why they picked Harry for their team. They had to recruit a man."
"What?" Ginny questioned. "But why?"
"Do you remember last year when that bloke from Dublin wanted to start an all male team?"
Ginny nodded. "The Dublin Dementors," she stated, shivering a bit. "What a horrible name for a team."
"Well, there were a lot of complaints and when it came before the Wizengamot they ruled that it was unfair to not let women try out for the team. The owner of the Dementors hired a lawyer and he argued that it wasn't fair to allow all women teams and not have the same thing for men."
"So the Harpies had to find a male player," Ginny stated, finally beginning to understand what Hermione was getting at. "And if Gwenog was going to be forced to take on a man, it was going to be someone worth getting." Hermione nodded in agreement. "Does Harry know?"
Hermione shook her head. "No, I haven't told him."
"Don't," Ginny urged suddenly, feeling a sudden ache in her stomach at the thought of how Harry would feel if he knew the circumstances behind his sudden drafting to the Harpies. "Unless you think it will come out later."
"No, I don't think it will come out. The Prophet has been working to get on Harry's good side for years and Witch Weekly isn't much better."
"Don't tell him then, it will only hurt him."
Hermione nodded in agreement. "You're probably right. He's always been absurdly sensitive about things like that."
Ginny laughed and grabbed another sandwich. She chewed slowly, watching Hermione as the bushy-haired witch seemed to contemplate something else she wished to speak about but didn't know if she should.
"Out with it," Ginny finally huffed when she could take Hermione's fidgeting no longer.
"Are you going to the New Year's party at Malfoy's?"
"You know we go every year, why?" Ginny questioned, suddenly feeling very curious at her friend's nervous behavior.
"Harry will be bringing a date this year. I stopped over at Grimmauld the other day and he said that he has to find a date or else Draco will find one for him."
Ginny smiled and it was taunt and rigid for a moment, but soon softened. It was wrong to be jealous when she'd been happily married for so long. She analyzed her feelings and realized that she was more jealous at being replaced than she was at the idea of Harry having a girlfriend.
"You're not going to blow up or anything?" Hermione asked. "I can't read the expression on your face right now."
Ginny shook her head. "No, I'm not going to blow up. Harry should find someone. Merlin's beard, we've been divorced for seven years now. It's definitely time to move on."
"For him or for you?" Hermione asked, eyes narrowed.
Ginny just grinned and took a large bite from her ham sandwich.
"Dad!" James shouted, causing more than a few heads to turn.
His dad waved from the other side of the platform. James could see a photographer standing a few feet away. It was Fillmore from the Prophet, a small, brown-haired man with thick square spectacles perched on his small nose. He gave James a small wave as well and the Gryffindor couldn't help but smile. Fillmore was practically part of the family. He'd been assigned to them by the Prophet and followed his dad, James or Albus anytime they were out in public. He was a nice man though and would immediately disappear if one of them asked.
"James!" His dad called out and James laughed as his dad engulfed him in a large hug. A camera flash went off and James pulled away from his dad.
"Hello Fillmore," he greeted the photographer.
Fillmore tipped his hat at the pair. "Hello James, how's your year been so far?"
"Excellent," James stated assuredly. "Gryffindor's won three out of four of our matches this year."
"Thinking about going pro like your dad?"
James shook his head. "Nah, I like Quidditch for fun, not profit. Albus might, he's quite the Seeker for Slytherin."
"Speak of the devil," his dad interrupted. "Albus, Scorpius, over here!"
James turned to see his younger brother running across the platform. He grinned when the two embraced and the camera flash went off again. His dad reached out and grasped Scorpius by the shoulder.
"It's good to see you again Scorpius," He said in greeting.
"You too, Mr. Potter," Scorpius smiled happily. "I hear we're going to be decorating the house tomorrow."
James nodded. "This will be your first time helping us, it'll be a blast. And afterward Kreacher will make hot chocolate and we can roast marshmallows in the fireplace."
"A picture for the Prophet before you leave?" Fillmore questioned hopefully.
His dad nodded and turned toward the photographer. Scorpius stepped to the side to get out of the picture but James pulled him back. The camera flash went off and they all blinked until their vision returned.
"Thanks Mr. Potter, I'll see you all Christmas Eve." The tiny photographer tipped his hat before disappearing into the crowd.
"You're crazy if you think you're not already part of this family," James chided Scorpius and the blonde blushed. He grabbed the Slytherin around the neck and rubbed his head with his knuckles.
"My hair!" Exclaimed Scorpius and everyone laughed.
"Come on you three," His dad. "The car's parked outside."
"Shotgun!" James shouted loudly, causing heads to turn again. He chuckled as his brother punched him on the arm.
They made their way through the barrier and quickly pushed their carts outside. A shiny, red convertible sat in one of the parking spots, its trunk magically enlarged to hold all of their belongings. Scorpius moved to open the door and James stopped him.
"Scorpius doesn't know the rules," He stated. "Someone better show him."
"We don't use the doors," Albus laughed.
Scorpius gave them all a confused look. "How on earth do you get in then?"
"Like this," his dad replied before grasping the side of the car and heaving his body over the door. He plopped into the front seat and Scorpius gasped in surprise.
"Don't you know the right away to get into a convertible?" James questioned with a smile. He followed his father's lead and leaped over the door into the passenger seat. Albus followed suit and they all turned to Scorpius expectantly.
"No problem, I can do this," the blonde stated. He attempted to follow their movements exactly and ended up flipping face first onto the floor mat. With a huff he righted himself and gave them all a glare. "You Potters are all nutty, that's what I think."
They all laughed at Scorpius but were interrupted by a soft voice calling his father's name.
James looked up and was surprised to see a beautiful blonde woman with striking grey eyes. She wore a set of dark blue robes that fit her very nicely. She smiled at them all and James felt his stomach do a little flip. His dad must have been feeling the same way because his face became very red.
"Luna!" His father exclaimed happily. "What are you doing here?"
"I was just passing through actually. I'm taking the Express back to Hogwarts. I have a job interview."
"Really, for what position?" His father questioned
"Care of Magical Creatures," she explained. "I hope I get it. I'd love to live at Hogwarts."
"And the twins, how are they?"
"Very well," she stated and James wondered how his father knew this woman so well when he'd never seen her before in his life.
"Will they be transferring to Hogwarts as well then?"
The woman shook her head and laughed. It was a very pretty sound that seemed to have a strange affect on his father. The man fidgeted in his seat and played with the edge of his winter coat.
"O no, they love Beauxbatons, I wouldn't even think of pulling them out now. It wouldn't really be fair when they have so many friends there." She took a quick glance at the watch on her wrist. "I should go Harry, or I'll miss the train. It was wonderful talking to you though."
"It was good talking to you too," his dad answered, sounding reluctant to see her go.
Luna turned and headed into the station. James punched his dad in the arm, earning him an angry and confused look.
"What was that for?"
James threw his hands up. "You really are hopeless. Go ask her out to dinner or something."
"What?" His dad, Albus and Scorpius exclaimed at the same time.
James sighed and shook his head. "I'm surrounded by the densest…look, she obviously is interested in you, just go ask her. You better hurry though, who knows when you'll see her again."
His dad gave him a curious look before nodding. With a great leap he jumped from the car and rushed to catch Luna before the train left. James chuckled and Albus kicked the back of his seat.
"How'd you know that girl likes Dad?"
James rolled his eyes. "You're such a kid. She's not a girl, she's a woman. And I could tell she liked talking to him, who knows if she's really interested?"
Scorpius jaw dropped. "But you told Mr. Potter that she was."
"Dad needs to get out so I gave him a little push. It'll be good for him."
"Unless she turns him down," Albus ground out angrily.
"She won't," he stated assuredly. "She's obviously friends with Dad, so even if she doesn't like him like that, she'll still agree to go out to dinner."
His brother's eyes narrowed. "How do you know about all this stuff?"
James grinned. "Just gifted I guess." He winked at them both and Albus stuck out his tongue.
The three of them waited with baited breath for their father to return. James was still smugly confident that his father would be successful. Angela, his girlfriend, had told him all about what girls like and what they don't and the one thing that they really liked was when guys act all shy and nervous. She said it was flattering to the girl. Well, there's no one more shy and nervous around girls then his dad.
"She said yes," his dad exclaimed as he jumped back into the car. "I can't believe it."
James grinned. "I told you so. Now, can we get going? A Christmas Story is on at eight and I don't want to miss it."