A/N: When you first start this story, you may think it has nothing to do with Harry Potter, but I promise you that it does. Just keep reading. I was prompted to write this after seeing the Deathly Hallows Part I movie for the second time. I got this idea after seeing it for the first time, but I didn't write it down. The simple fact that the same idea presented itself to me in the same format after the second viewing, a month-and-a-half later, was taken as a sign that I needed to write it. This is not my first Harry Potter fanfic, but it is the first I'm posting to FF. I can't recall details for this particular scene from the novel, so I should mention that this is based on the events shown in the movie.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own the characters or ideas created by J.K. Rowling. I merely borrowed them for the entertainment and amusement of my audience.
SUMMARY: A Christmas Eve visit.
GENRE: Holiday Drama
DATE: January 5, 2011
She was six years old and she was dancing in the snow. Running to and fro, she sought to catch as many snowflakes on her pink tongue as she possibly could. She giggled every time she caught one, but soon the activity started to bore her and she moved on to something new.
She was waiting in childish agony as her parents continued talking to some of the other adults that had just departed the church. It was Christmas Eve and the special Christmas service had just ended. Now she was anxious to go home and flee to her small, pink bed to dream the night away as Father Christmas' arrival was imminent. She walked over and looked up at her parents, grunting her disapproval, worried that if she didn't go to sleep soon, Father Christmas would miss her. Realizing none of the adults, related to her or not, were paying her the least bit of attention, she turned away with a frown. She would just have to wait in impatient silence.
Staring earnestly at the deep burrows in the snow where passersby had wended their way, she smiled as she jumped into the nearest one. Giggling to herself, she jumped to the next. Her happy play continued as she hopped from one deep hole to the next and so on and so forth. She quite soon forgot her desire to go home as she became enmeshed in continuing her little game. It didn't take long for her to have traveled some distance away from the cluster of adults still chatting animatedly near the church entrance. One more exceptional jump brought her right next to the low stone wall that separated the small church graveyard from the snow-covered street she was standing on.
She stopped and secretly peeked over to the adults. No one had noticed where she was standing and so she shuffled closer to the wall. Her parents had always scolded her when she had tried peeking into the small site, telling her not to disturb the eternal slumber of those resting inside. She had no idea what her parents had meant by that, as she had never been able to see anybody sleeping inside, but she definitely didn't want to be the one to wake anyone up from sleep. So she had kept her distance, but the curiosities awakened in her little heart could not be stayed this night and so she stood on the tips of her toes and peered over the top of the wall to the quiet scene on the other side.
Her eyes floated over the different stone markers that stood like silent sentinels, bases buried in the snow. Few had been dusted off, showing words half obscured by the icy powder draping the whole yard. The ground in front of these stones bore the marks of recent activity as visitors had passed by. She stared intently at the words that she could see. She couldn't read yet, but she liked to pretend that she could.
Her attention was caught by a small wreath of roses nestled gently against the foot of one stone. She thought they were the most beautiful flowers she had ever seen. She smiled widely before turning around. Her parents' warnings lost on the frosty air, she called over to them. "Mummy! Daddy! Look at the pretty flowers! Aren't they so beautiful?" Her parents, alarmed by her shouts, quickly bid adieu to their group and hastened over to her. The group of adults, taking note of the interruption, started dispersing, heading towards the promised warmth of cozy homes.
"Sweetie, you know you're not supposed to yell outside the church. Come on, let's get you home and into bed. Father Christmas will be here before you know it." Her mother bent down to ensure her daughter was bundled satisfactorily against the cold before straightening up. She took her daughter's hand in hers and started to lead the way away from the cemetery.
"But, Mummy! I just wanted to show you the pretty flowers. Look."
The father rolled his eyes in amusement at his daughter's antics before gazing longing up the road in the direction of where their warm house lay a couple of streets over. He rubbed his hands together as his wife reluctantly allowed herself to be dragged back over to the stone wall. He was distracted from his pleasant thoughts of hot cider before bed, by his wife's voice calling to him
"Honey, look at that," she beckoned him over and pointed to one of the gravestones in the yard. He picked his way through the snow and stood behind his wife and daughter, following her finger.
"It's a wreath of roses on a gravestone. It's not unheard of in a graveyard." He started to turn away to begin the trek of taking his family home, when his wife's hand on his arm stopped him.
"Wait! It's not the decoration I'm talking about; it's the grave it's on. Honey, it's the Potters' grave."
He whipped back around, suddenly oblivious to the cold. If what she said was true... It couldn't be, though. The Potters' grave had stood unadorned since it was erected sixteen years ago. No one had decorated it with so much as a solitary flower, let alone a wreath of roses, that, upon careful scrutiny, appeared to have been freshly cut and assembled. He looked at his wife and then back at the wreath, the unspoken question mirrored in their eyes: who had placed the wreath on a grave long since forgotten?
The event that had occurred, resulting in the erection of the gravestone, was one that baffled the small village even today. The second level of the house had just exploded one Halloween night. Those who had arrived first on the scene, both onlookers and emergency personnel alike, immediately attributed it to a gas leak that had caused the house to explode. The first thought on everyone's mind had been to rescue the family, though, after hours of searching, only the bodies of Lily and James had been found. Their one-year-old son, Harry, had vanished, leaving no trace behind. That had been the first mystery, only to be followed by many more. Oddly dressed strangers had passed through the village in large numbers in the weeks following that tragic Halloween night, decreasing in numbers as the months went by. Residents of the village had heard these strangers mutter perplexing comments, not least of which were several references to "The Boy Who Lived." When first heard, the comment had elicited confusion in the locals until a connection was made. These strangers passing through had always stopped at the ruins of the Potter house and even a newly furnished statue in the village square before leaving the village behind. That could lead to only one conclusion. Had Harry survived somehow? It was logical as he was the only boy attached to the mystery surrounding the explosion, but that didn't explain the reverent tone and the odd label that had been leaving the lips of the strange folk that had been passing through.
Another mystery had been the cause of the explosion. After an investigation had been launched into the Potter residence, it quickly came to light that a gas leak may not have caused the explosion after all. In fact, the more the detectives delved into the investigation the more questions they had uncovered instead of answers. Finally the report had been released on the Potter case and, while several things had not added up, it was uniformly agreed among the investigative team that a gas leak was to blame. The refused to waiver on their decision despite the frustrating questions directed towards them.
A sharp tug on his pants brought the father back to the present. He looked down to see his daughter holding onto his pant leg. "What's wrong, Daddy? Why do you look grumpy?"
Skirting around his daughter's question, he looked to his wife and saw a query in her eyes. "Harry," he whispered. "Maybe Harry has come home."
"Why wouldn't he let anyone see him? Why would he sneak in and out to visit his parents' grave? He has nothing to hide."
"I don't know. There could be many—" His words were cut off as the sound of glass breaking nearby echoed through the night air.
A/N: When I first saw this scene in the movie (Hermione using her wand to create a rose wreath for the Potter gravestone), I wondered if that was the first ornament to adorn that stone since it was installed there. I then wondered what kind of a reaction it would elicit from the local Muggle villagers who had probably grown used to seeing the Potter gravestone sitting there with no one to visit it.