Merry Christmas my lovelies! I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to update – and it's not even that good an update to compensate! Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
"If that goes off one more time I'm going to curse it," murmured Ginny as she tightened her grip on the pillow around her head as Harry shifted in the bed to reach for the offending device, yawning profusely. Eyes scanning the flashing paper blearily, he rubbed them with the heel of his left hand and threw his glasses on his face, trying harder to focus.
"Shit," he muttered. From next to him, his sleepy wife groaned and pressed the pillow closer to her face.
"What is it?"
"I've got to get to work," he told her, kicking the duvet off of his side of the bed and pushing himself to his feet as he looked around for some fresh clothes.
Ginny removed the pillow and pushed herself into a sitting position. "What?" she asked incredulously, raising her eyebrows. "On Christmas Day? That's ridiculous!"
"That's the Ministry," Harry replied sourly, and Ginny frowned. "Look I've got to go in, it's an emergency. You understand, right?"
"When will you be back?" she asked, and he shook his head as he shrugged into a shirt, buttoning it up unevenly in his haste.
"I don't know yet."
"Do you think you'll be back today? Should I get Mum to save you some lunch?"
Harry had to smile at that. "If you wouldn't mind. Listen, I'm so sorry about this, but it has to be sorted out."
"What has to be sorted out?" Ginny enquired as Harry buckled his belt and pulled on some socks, running a hand through his hair and ruling it finished.
"Nothing you need to worry about, Gin," he said, moving round to peck her on the cheek. "Merry Christmas, darling."
"Don't you 'darling' me, Mr Ambiguity," she snapped, pouting, and he laughed before pulling her into a proper kiss.
"Nothing to worry about!" he repeated as he grabbed his shoes, slung a tie around his neck and swung around, apparating mid-stride, leaving a loud crack and a thoroughly bemused Ginny.
The probability of explosion on consuming any more food was rather high, Scorpius thought as Mrs Weasley ladled more buttery potatoes onto his plate, Albus stabbing one with his fork and stealing it for his own.
"Oi, cheeky!" Mrs Weasley chided cheerily as Al grinned and bit into the potato, making an "mmmm" noise as he swallowed.
"Grandma, your potatoes are fabulous as ever," he commended her, and she swatted him with the spare end of her oven glove, which made him smile more.
If he had thought yesterday's meal and atmosphere was anything to go by, today's experience blew him away. The room was an explosion of colour, vibrant decorations chasing each other through the air, the tables groaning beneath the weight of the mountain of food. Scorpius had at first started with the intention to taste everything in the room, but this had soon proved more difficult than he would have thought, especially with Mrs Weasley providing him with perhaps the most generous portion sizes of all of them (bar Lily's third year friends, all of whom had made suggestions of not possibly being able to finish their first plates and instead polishing off third helpings). Everyone was clad in one of Mrs Weasley's signature jumpers, bar Mrs Weasley herself. That struck Scorpius as a bit odd, but Al had shrugged it off.
"If you had to knit all of those jumpers, you wouldn't want to knit one for yourself, would you?" he had explained. "You'd want someone to knit one for you, and none of us are any good at that kind of stuff."
There was a cacophonous noise too; the three Gryffindor boys were killing themselves laughing as they took it in turns to pull stupid faces with their food while Roxanne and Lucy played football with forks and a Brussel Sprout, cackling whenever it hit someone. Despite this, however, no-one could help but notice the three empty seats that should have been filled by Harry, Ron and Teddy, all of whom had been called into work during the early hours of the morning.
"Well, Gran, that was beautiful, thank you," James announced finally, rubbing his belly. "But now is the moment you've all been waiting for. The Annual War of the Redheads."
Scorpius raised his eyebrows. "So you weren't kidding," he muttered to Albus, who grinned.
"Do I ever kid?"
"Well you are generally a bit of a joke."
"Why've you appointed yourself as head of this?" Dominique interrupted, folding her arms brusquely.
"Because I'm the eldest Weasley male, and therefore it is my duty."
"No you're not, you're not even a Weasley," Fred said from next to him with a grin. "Therefore that would make me the eldest Weasley male."
"Actually, I think I should be in charge as the eldest Weasley redhead," another voice interrupted from further down the table, and everyone turned to look at a tall man with long greying red hair who was smirking, his arms folded. This was a surprise for Scorpius. Never in history had an adult from his family offered to partake in any activity with him. In fact, it was rarely that any activity happened at all.
"Oh my God, you're not joining in are you, Dad?" Victoire asked, a look of mild horror crossing her face.
"What, am I too old?" Victoire's father replied, and Dominique shrugged.
"You are a bit, Pa, you must admit."
"She's just gutted because if Uncle Bill joins in that means she definitely has to," Lucy said with a knowing grin, and Victoire shot her a venomous look. "Doesn't want to mess up her hair, probably."
"I am not afraid to mess up my hair!" Victoire snapped back, and Bill grinned, standing up.
"Settles it then," he said, clapping his hands together, smirking at the expression on his eldest's face as she realised what she had just signed up for. "I'll see you in the orchard in about ten minutes. Don't be late or there'll be a forfeit."
At once the table bustled again as the din of scraping chairs sounded and the various Weasley members and their friends moved to go upstairs. Albus knocked Scorpius with the back of his hand and pointed to the stairs. "Come on then, Malfoy. I guess you get to come on our team. Lou! Wait up."
"You know, it would be helpful if you could explain to me what's going on, Potter," Scorpius replied as he followed him towards where the other blond boy stood, leaning against the doorframe and clutching his stomach.
"What's wrong with you, Delacour?"
"I'm so full I think I might burst," replied Louis, smiling feebly. He looked at Scorpius and then shrugged. "You're blond."
"I can see why you're head boy, brimming with that much intelligence," Scorpius replied, and Louis pulled a face as Albus grinned, continuing, "Gosh, Lou, what were your OWL results like? Was it you or Fred who could spell a rude word with them?"
"Shut up, I've been sticking up for you!" he said, though a grin broke through, swiftly followed by a yawn. "Anyway. You're blond. So you can be on our team."
"Albus isn't blond."
"Yeah, but I'm not a ginge, so I also can be on this team," Albus replied smartly, smirking. "In fact, eligible for the team alongside us are Victoire, Lucy, Roxanne and Lily's group of friends, plus some of the less boring adults."
"Yeah, but Victoire won't want to join in because she'll feel fat and is too mature for us and won't want to mess up her hair," Louis explained, and Albus grinned, adding "And Lily's mates are too scared to join in because they'll be so close to Louis, which we all know is shit-scary."
"Terrifying," agreed Scorpius, and Louis grinned.
"Anyway, I appoint myself captain as the oldest and the one who knows the evil mastermind known as James the best," he said, patting his chest. "All in favour say something."
The Ministry looked depressingly familiar as Teddy entered it, rubbing his hands through his hair. Even at Christmas it seemed cheerless and oppressive to him, the only striking difference being the thinned amount of people crossing through the atrium. He turned to look at Harry, who had an expression displaying how he himself was feeling. "This better be bloody good."
"Molly's going to save us some grub, mate, don't worry too much," Harry assured him half-heartedly.
"Yeah, but it's not the same, is it?" Ron grumbled, and both Teddy and Harry sighed in agreement. "We did have to pick the one stupid job in which you'd get called out for Christmas."
"You'd think all the evil forces would want to take the day off, wouldn't you?"
Teddy nodded, wrinkling his nose as he stifled a yawn with his fist. There was still a naïve part of him that made him wish that this might be some sort of Christmas surprise, and that in fact he would enter his place of work to find a party or a huge present, though the rest of him severely doubted this. It was nice to dream though, he supposed. The lift clattered to a halt and opened; Harry and Teddy followed Ron inside the long department.
At least in the Auror Department there was more of a hint that it was Christmas. Makeshift Christmas decorations had been strung up around the cubicles; strands of tinsel that had snapped off littered the floor like shiny blades of mown grass, photos of family had been tacked to the separate compartments, varying from the neat smiling faces of Ron's wife and children to the chaotic picture of Harry's children, all fighting to get into shot of the camera, Ginny laughing in the background. Teddy grinned as he passed the picture, before turning to look around. "Where are we meeting him?"
"Gentlemen," a voice answered him, and Teddy looked down the passage to see the wizened figure of Kingsley Shacklebolt. Elderly he may have been, but he still held a sort of presence that Teddy admired. His deep voice was calming and yet powerful, too; Teddy hoped that his own voice would have a similar resonance when he was the other man's age. "I'm so sorry to have to call you in on a day like today."
"Not at all, Minister," Harry replied, grinning slightly at the title. That was the thing about Harry; he always seemed to know everybody as far as Teddy was concerned. "What's the problem, then?"
"The case we were discussing during the week," Kingsley said with a meaningful glance at Teddy's godfather, and Harry raised his eyebrows slightly. "It's become urgent."
"Urgent," repeated Harry slowly, and Kingsley nodded. Teddy exchanged a glance with Ron, who seemed to be as equally in the dark as he was.
"Um, excuse me," Ron interrupted, smiling tiredly at them. "Sorry, but Ted and I don't really know what's going on here, so if you guys could maybe stop being so vague or become a little bit more subtle, mate..."
"Yeah, sure, sorry," Harry replied, ruffling his hair with a slightly lost expression on his face that unsettled Teddy to some degree. Obviously something had happened, and it wasn't some surprise Christmas present.
"There is something... unsettling... that has been emerging in recent times," Kingsley began in his rich tone, and Teddy felt just that at the way he had said it. "We've noticed a spike in... shall we say, certain disturbing views."
"Generally of the right-wing variety," Harry added, the undertone of bitterness bubbling just beneath his words.
Ron's eyebrows rose minimally. "Right. Okay."
"Until now it hasn't been anything too troublesome," Kingsley announced, which only seemed to make Teddy feel more unnerved. "However, certain information has come to light and... well."
"This is not sounding like particularly festive news," Ron muttered.
"There seems to be an organisation arising."
"A group of very extreme wizards has been discovered to have been campaigning," Kingsley explained.
"So we need to watch them?"
The look he got from the three elder men made Teddy feel like he had just said something incredibly naive.
Kingsley seemed to ponder him before he spoke. "Unfortunately, we've received contact from them."
Was it only Teddy who seemed to remain confused? This wasn't making much sense to him. Did he pretend he understood?
"Are you okay, Ted?" Harry asked, seemingly sensing his godson's confusion, and Teddy nodded, frowning to indicate he wasn't one hundred per cent clear (without having to admit to the Minister of Magic that he was the only person there that didn't seem to follow). As if in response, Kingsley produced a document of parchment sealed in a shiny plastic wallet, handing it over to Teddy.
Glad tidings and merriment! What a day for a celebration.
And how to celebrate without a fireworks display?
Maybe you'd like to join us!
The first bang will be at midday.
Merry Christmas, Ministry.
It was as if at the moment that it clicked in Teddy's brain that an enormous crashing noise rumbled from above him and everything went black.
"I am not a cheat."
"You so cheated!"
"I'm talented. You're old."
"I am not old, little boy, I am a man," Bill snapped in reply to his son, who looked very amused about the whole affair, "and you are a flipping cheat."
They trudged back up to the house, hair sopping wet with enchanted snow, Bill and his son fighting over the latter's victory. The afternoon had been, to say the least, enjoyable. Bill (who could be described as nothing if not cool in Scorpius's eyes, and he detested that word) had enchanted the orchard so that a thick layer of snow would cover the grass and tree tops and the group split into two, preparing two large (and in James's case, rather elaborate) forts of which to hide behind, before the battle commenced and Scorpius was introduced to his very first snowball fight. They had won by the skin of their teeth, and Bill was not about to accept this defeat graciously.
"Come on, though, I mean you have to admit, I'm bloody good at this game," Louis said, smirking at his Dad, who raised his eyebrows. "And I'm sure you would be too Dad. If only your bones moved a little bit faster, you could have caught up with us." He clucked his tongue and shook his head sadly.
"Could I now?" Bill asked, and Louis nodded.
"It's the arthritis, Dad," he began to explain. "It's crippling y-!" His sentence was finished with a mouthful of snow as Bill stuck his foot out and tripped him into the snow, wrestling him to the ground.
"Say that again, Lou?" Bill asked, grinning as Louis struggled beneath him. "What was that about old bones?"
"You know," Albus said, brushing snow and water from his hair, "I'm starting to worry about Hercules."
"What about him?"
"Do you reckon he's cold?"
"He's a stick."
Albus looked at Scorpius pointedly. "I can't believe you just called our child a stick."
Scorpius shrugged. "He can't hear us."
Albus smacked him on the shoulder. "That's beside the point. We shouldn't have left him."
"Okay," Scorpius said as he flicked his hand through his hair, "so you're saying that on Christmas day, a day when all over the world people come together to celebrate, and you are joined by your wonderful family and let's face it, your devilishly handsome beast of a classmate, AKA myself, a remarkable opportunity that many can merely dream of, and you're spending it worrying about a twig."
"Do you reckon Gran would knit him a jumper?"
Thankfully Scorpius didn't have to reply as a shriek of "OW! MURDER! MURDER!" cut across them.
Scorpius exchanged a look with Albus as they watched Bill and Louis wrestle on the ground, Bill seemingly more successful than his son.
Teddy's head was groggy and vision blurred, as if he were looking up through water. He felt as if he were too, his senses fuzzy. He heard a noise breaking through the constant ring in his head, a deep, muffled noise, as he tried to focus on the voice saying his name.
"He's over here! Ted? Teddy?"
Teddy squeezed his eyes shut tightly and then opened them again in a weak attempt to clear his eyesight. "Ted, can you hear me?"
He tried to speak but the only noise he emitted was a vague grunt.
"Let's get him out of here," Harry's voice said, and Teddy felt hands heaving him to his feet, his arm slung around his godfather's shoulders.
"Can he walk?"
"Grab his legs, Ron."
Teddy tried to protest, but his body didn't seem to want to obey his will, and he felt himself lifted, before being hoisted over the red headed man's shoulder.
"Not long, Ted, we'll get you home. Let's get him out of here," Harry repeated, and Teddy was aware of a pat on his shoulder and more anxious murmuring before his vision ceased once more and he was plunged into darkness.
"So, Malfoy, how was your first Weasley Christmas?" asked Dominique cheerfully, twirling her bottle of Butterbeer between her elegant fingers on the coffee table, leaning towards him with a smirk painted on her face. The increasingly familiar feeling of breathlessness returned to Scorpius as she did, the boy noting how she smelt of spice and shampoo as she did so.
"First?" James interrupted, raising his eyebrows as Louis pulled Scorpius backwards and away from his sister with a small smile on his face. "As in first with the implication that there will be many more Weasley Christmases in line for him?"
"You're so welcoming, James," Lily said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. "I don't know why you don't have more friends."
"Answer my question!" Dominique demanded as James started pulling faces at his younger sister. "I want to know, little Scorpy."
She was really quite intimidating. "You mean the communal bullying of Scorpius Malfoy?" he asked, and she smiled a glittering smile. "It's been the time of my life." He smirked, before shrugging. "It's been alright, I suppose. The food's been good. The family kind of sucks."
"It really does, doesn't it?" James agreed, clapping Scorpius on the back, and standing up. "I hate all of you, if I'm honest. Especially you, Lou."
"Glad to hear it."
"Drinks!" James exclaimed suddenly. "I want a drink. Someone get me a top-up. Rox!"
"Go on, woman, fetch one a whiskey."
"Go get it yourself, you lazy prick."
"For fuck's sake, I'll get it," Albus said, smirking, gesturing for Scorpius to follow. "Come on, Malfoy, come give me a hand."
Scorpius was about to protest, but Albus gave him a look not unlike that of the glances his mother and grandmother had been giving his older brother all day, and Scorpius decided it was probably wisest to do as he was told.
Stocking up a tray with bottles from the kitchen, the two boys grabbed a handful of chocolates each, before turning round to return to the living room where a very raucous chorus of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" was now emanating from, when they heard the clock on the wall chime, three hands flicking to the home sign.
Scorpius barely had a chance to marvel at this odd piece of furniture before Albus exclaimed "Dad's back!" and skidded to the door, swinging it open and grinning. Until his grin fell and he swore.
"What?" Scorpius asked, moving round to peer over his shoulder. "Shit," he agreed, staring at the two men, the Minister for Magic, and a very limp form that they took to be that of Teddy's stumbling towards them, James's voice the only accompaniment.
"WE WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAAAAPPY NEW YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAR."
Okay so it's ridiculously short considering it's taken me so long to post it. Believe it or not the majority was already written, I've only added on about thirty words since I last opened the document, but hey-ho. I promise I will try to post some more this year.