UltimateHPfanfiction.com Story id: 1779719 (Please submit reviews!)
Kjkit - Harry Potter and the Marcello School
Chapter 37 - Christmas Day
A/N Just had to get this chapter out quick, just to let Fanfic know that I'm no longer having "chat or keyboard" dialogue at the ends of my chapters. I know this is annoying, but I will try and respond to any questions you may have via email, hopefully they'll get to you. Enjoy the chapter!
Chapter 37: Christmas Day.
Ron awoke slowly to find the morning sun crawling weakly across the dark carpet of the living room at Grimmauld place. The fire was still glowing warmly in the hearth and the candles on the tree in the corner were still twinkling from the charms that had been put on them the day before, though the empty space below its branches was now taken up with a pile of brightly wrapped presents.
He felt a slight movement beside him and looked down with a smile to see Hermione look up at him, her head resting comfortably on his chest and his arm wrapped protectively around her.
"Merry Christmas" he whispered gently as she smiled at him contentedly.
"Merry Christmas, Ron." Hermione replied, pushing herself up to stretch slightly. Ron quickly reached out to catch the blanket that had been covering them before it hit the floor, but missed and couldn't reach it with his girlfriend leaning against him. Hermione leaned over his lap, supporting herself with one hand on his stomach as she pulled the blanket up and looked at it. "Did you parents leave us here all night?" she asked.
Ron nodded and pointed to the tree. "They even managed to deliver the presents without waking us." He said with a smile, and Hermione laughed slightly, looking around the empty room. "I'm surprised we haven't been woken up by the others yet…" he said with a smile, but his voice trailed off when Hermione's laughter died. "What's wrong?" he asked.
"Who's that?" she asked, pointing to the window over his shoulder.
Ron sat up a little and twisted around to find himself blinded by the winter sun as it shone through the window. He squinted and raised a hand to shadow his eyes and saw the silhouette of a bird standing on the inside window ledge, its plumage glowing unnaturally bright in the sunlight.
The bird opened its wings and bent its legs slightly before taking off and floating effortlessly across the room with a box clutched in its talons, landing softly on the arm of a chair next to the sofa on which Ron and Hermione were sat. Their eyes widened when they realised that the unnatural glow from the bird was due to it being a phoenix, and the magnificent fire-bird trilled slightly as it looked down at the package at its feet, and then back up to the two Gryffindors, patiently waiting for one of them to come and claim it.
"That isn't Fawkes, is it?" It was more of statement than a question, but Ron answered anyway.
"No. Fawkes is a lot redder. This one is a lot more golden…"
"With a touch of black, just like your feather." Hermione couldn't tear her eyes away from the magnificent bird and so felt rather than saw Ron nod next to her. "Do you think it's the one that sent us the messages from Harry?"
"Maybe." Ron said and pushed himself slowly off the seat, moving slowly towards the phoenix so that he wouldn't startle it. The phoenix returned Ron's gaze calmly, and didn't seem the least bit worried about the Weasley boy's advances.
Ron gently knelt by the chair the phoenix was perched on and slowly reached out for the package, wary of any attack that the phoenix may have for him. The bird trilled again, softer this time, and Ron felt himself relax as he took the package and knelt back onto his heels.
"Maybe we should wait until Moody or your father get here." Hermione said nervously. "It could be cursed or something."
Ron shook his head. "It's addressed to us." He said and smiled slightly. "And I'd place any bet that it's Harry's handwriting."
The phoenix trilled again and opened its wings slightly, cocking its head on one side as it sang. Ron stared at the bird for a second before nodding thoughtfully. "I think he recognised Harry's name. And I think he's trying to say that I'm right." He said to Hermione.
"I don't know," Hermione said slowly. "I still don't trust it. I mean, we haven't heard from Harry since that note on your bedside table. It's been nearly two months, so why now?"
"Because it's Christmas?" Ron suggested. He took the package and went over to sit on the floor in front of Hermione. "Look, there's a letter attached to the outside. We'll see what it has to say and then decide on whether we should wait for Moody or not."
Hermione nodded, making it clear that she still wasn't impressed with the idea. But as Ron peeled the envelope away from the package and pulled out the parchment from inside it, he couldn't help but notice that she had scooted a little closer to read the letter over his shoulder.
Dear Ron and Hermione, Merry Christmas! I'm glad you are both safe and well, and can't wait to see you both again. I hope your parents took me up on the offer to use my Gringotts vault to rebuild the Burrow, Ron, I can only imagine how depressing Sirius' old place can get over the holidays. I hope the new place will be built by next summer when I can come and visit.
Congratulations on getting together! I have my spies everywhere, you see, and all I can say is that it took you long enough! You two make a great couple! Well done on your successes on the Quidditch pitch as well, Ron. I'm pretty certain you've done wonders with that team, and not surprising really. I don't know of anyone who lives and breathes Quidditch half as much as you do. I don't know if I'll get the chance to play again when I get back, but I'll definitely be there to support you if I can't. And I hope that you both stick on with the DA, I'm sure we all realise how much we need the extra practise with what is likely to happen over the next couple of years. I'll probably get together with you when I return, teach you a few tricks that I've picked up from around here.
As for my return, it shouldn't be too long now. I think I've pretty much learnt all that I am going to here and am beginning to feel that I've stayed away for far too long. Please let everyone know that I'm safe, and that I'm looking forward to seeing them again. I might even be bringing a friend or two with me. I've probably changed a lot since you last saw me, but hopefully for the better. I've pushed myself hard over the past couple of months and have realised a lot of things about myself, not least that I used to have a horrid temper! I've sorted it all out now, and I'm sorry for yelling at you guys last year. I just hope you realise that I only lashed out at you because you were my closest friends, and even though I've been gone a long time, I hope that doesn't change anything between us.
In the box you will find four presents and they should be labelled. Yours are a bit crude I'm afraid, but I made them myself and they were my first attempts. Just promise me that you'll wear them until I return? Think of them as a good luck charm! Maybe even as a homing beacon of sorts so that I can find my way back to Hogwarts safely! The third present is for Remus. Tell him that he may not understand what it is now, but to keep it safe until I come back and can explain its purpose better. And the final one is for Dumbledore; I think he'll understand.
Oh, the courier, by the way, is a friend of mine. You could say that we've formed a close attachment over the past few months. His name is Pyro. Introduce him to Dumbledore if he pops in, for I'm sure he'll be interested in finding another phoenix to befriend Fawkes. Pyro should hang round for most of the morning, so feel free to write a return letter if you get the time. I'd love to hear how you all are and what you have all been up to. He'll have to be home before nightfall though. Sounds childish I know, but there are a few rules to abide by here and he'd be noticed if he were missing.
Well, that's about it for now. I promise I'll explain more about where I've been and what I've been doing when I see you next, and as I said before, that should be real soon! I miss you both more than you can imagine, and I wish that you were here with me more than anything. Take care, both of you, and have a great day! Harry
Ron looked up at Hermione once he had finished reading. "Well…" he said, but wasn't sure how to continue,
"Well" Hermione repeated the word as if she were agreeing with him.
"At least he's still alive." Ron said coldly. There was a low whistle form the phoenix as it ruffled its feathers slightly. "And I bet you are enjoying this, as well." Ron directed to the bird. "Knowing where Harry is and not telling us! Do you have any idea how worried we've been?"
The phoenix hung its head slightly as if it was feeling ashamed and Hermione put her hand on Ron's shoulder. "Settle down, Ron," she said softly. "It's just a bird. It's not his fault." If anything the phoenix looked even guiltier and it's head dropped even lower as it started to sing a mournful tune. "See, you've upset him now."
Ron nodded. "Sorry, Pyro." He muttered, then shook his head and laughed. "See what you are doing to me Harry, old chap?" he said to the piece of parchment in his hand. "You've got me talking to birds."
"And if you listen carefully, they sometimes talk back." A familiar voice from the doorway said.
The phoenix gave a small trill of recognition and flew excitedly over to Dumbledore's shoulder. "Hello" the headmaster said to the firebird with a smile. "I don't believe we've met?"
"His name's Pyro." Hermione said. "And he came with a letter and parcel from Harry."
Dumbledore's attention was quickly diverted from the phoenix on his shoulder to the parchment in Ron's hand. "What does the letter say?" he asked calmly, though both students could sense the desperate desire in the old man's eyes to hear that Harry was safe.
"He doesn't say that much, really" Ron answered, holding out the letter to the headmaster. "He comes across at being quite content where he is, wherever that is, but still says he misses us."
"And you doubt his sincerity?" Dumbledore asked, quickly reading through the letter through his half-moon glasses.
"Well, if he really missed us, then don't you think he would've contacted us sooner?" Ron spoke becoming angry. "A letter? Or a... a visit? Something to tell us he was safe?"
"Ron!" Hermione was shocked at her boyfriend's words. She knew that the Weasley was still upset over Harry's disappearance, but he had seemed so happy when they had first seen the parcel Pyro had been carrying.
"It's been two months since he last contacted us, Hermione! Two! And everything he wrote in that letter indicated that he had been in Hogwarts without making the effort to talk to us. Even if he hadn't been in Hogwarts that day, then all he had to do was borrow a phoenix feather and we could've had regular contact by now."
"But the letter says that he has had to live by rules." Hermione argued back. "Maybe he wasn't able to contact us often. Maybe he was allowed a special treat because it was Christmas!"
"Then how do you explain how he knows what's been going on here?" Ron asked. "It's almost as if he's been in regular contact with someone at Hogwarts! Why couldn't he have passed a message on with them?"
Hermione looked lost for words and shook her head slightly. "You've presumed once before that Harry had it easy, Ron." She started, quieter this time. "And you saw then how wrong you were. You nearly lost your friendship over it. Please don't do it again?"
Ron stared at her stonily, but didn't retort back. "Maybe he needed some space." Hermione continued. "He'd been captured by Voldemort, and tortured as well. You know how Harry is; he hates pity. And that's all he would have had if he had returned at the start of the new school year. Maybe he didn't want to be found, and he's been away all this time to sort himself out, just like the letter says."
"Maybe you should see the presents he has made for you." Dumbledore suggested quietly, gently stroking the breast of the subdued phoenix on his shoulder. "The letter suggests that he has made them himself. Maybe you could judge just how much he has missed you on the amount of effort he has put into them?"
The phoenix on his shoulder gave a low whistle and Hermione opened the parcel to pull out two small boxes, one of which she passed over to Ron. They were both wrapped in plain brown paper and string, and the small boxes they contained were made of folded card. Hermione placed the paper and string on the seat beside her, and carefully opened the box, letting out a gasp when she saw what was inside. Ron's eyes also opened wide when he opened his own box and saw its contents.
"Oh, my!" Hermione said and gently pulled out a silver chain and pendant. The pendant was of a silver phoenix, the details of the feathers and facial features delicately defined. Clutched in its claws was a small stone that seemed to swirl with a shimmering red substance. Ron pulled out a similar pendant, but instead of a silver chain his was placed on a black cord. Pyro let out a questioning trill to which Hermione gasped, "It's beautiful!"
"What kind of stone is that?" Ron asked, holding his pendant up to the window to see the light of the sun glowing through it.
"I have never seen anything like it." Hermione said, mimicking the Weasley's actions. "Its almost as if it's colours are constantly changing from silver to red."
"May I?" Dumbledore asked, and Hermione willingly handed over her pendant whilst Ron continued to examine his own. After a brief examination Dumbledore shook his head in defeat. "I assume that it some sort of liquid set in the stone." He said, handing the necklace carefully back to Hermione. "That would explain its shifting colours. Though what liquid it is, I am not sure."
"But surely the only liquid that can be that deep a red is blood?" Hermione said, looking at her necklace again.
The phoenix on Dumbledore's shoulder gave a low whistle, and opened his wings slightly, just like it had earlier when Ron had mentioned Harry's name. The headmaster stared intently at the bird, then raised an eyebrow. "In which case, I believe that Mister Weasley here owes Harry an apology." He said. "Something of such beauty, and with a trace of something as personal as blood must surely mean something to his perception of your friendship?"
Ron nodded meekly. "I just miss him." He muttered and looked up in shock as the phoenix glided silently across the room and settled heavily on his shoulder. Ron smiled slightly as he felt the warmth of the bird's feathers permeate his neck and cheek.
"We all do." The headmaster said, taking a seat on the arm of the sofa.
"But surely that doesn't explain why it shimmers the way it does." Hermione said.
"I suspect that Harry has charmed them in some way." Dumbledore said, rereading the letter quickly. "He seems to be adamant that you wear them, though I feel they may contain a little more than just good luck! Maybe you two could make a project out of it? And let me know of anything you find?"
Hermione nodded. "Of course!" she said with a smile and moved onto the floor and held up her hair so that Ron could clasp the necklace around her neck, rolling his eyes at her enthusiasm for extra time in the library.
"Oh, and here's your present, sir." Ron said, pulling out the appropriate gift from the parcel and handing it over.
Dumbledore smiled slightly and gently tore open the package, looking at its contents with a small frown before his face broke out in a wide grin. "Socks!" he exclaimed, revealing a couple of pairs of blue cotton socks. His grin grew wider as the two Gryffindors sitting on the floor looked at each other uneasily.
"Um, sir?" Ron asked hesitantly. "What is so funny about a pair of socks?"
If possible, Dumbledore's smile widened even more, and the students were surprised to see his eyes filled with tears. "Nothing's funny at all." Dumbledore said. "It just relates back to something that I told Harry back in his first year, and in this context I shall take it as a sign of his forgiveness; I really am only an old man who can make mistakes just like anyone else." His smile faded slightly and a thoughtful expression crossed his face. "And maybe I should take this as a hint that I should get a new pair of slippers to go with them!"
Ron looked questioningly at Hermione who shrugged slightly, before she looked up at the ceiling to hear various shouts of excitement as the rest of the Weasley's woke up.
"Will you join us for Christmas, sir?" Hermione asked politely as something went crash on the floor above, and Bill's voice could be heard shouting at the twins.
"I would be glad to." Dumbledore said, still examining his socks. "I believe we should be expecting some more guests throughout the course of the morning as well." He added, settling comfortably in an armchair by the fire. "I believe Professor Lupin should be over some time soon, though all the teachers will have to return to Hogwarts for lunch."
Ron and Hermione nodded and watched as Pyro gave a small trill and glided back over to Dumbledore, settling contentedly on the back of the thick chair and happily shuffling his feathers to get comfortable.
Moments later, the door burst open to reveal Fred and George still dressed in their matching pyjamas rush in like excited school-children. As soon as they saw the headmaster, however, their demeanour changed to one of adult seriousness, and they straightened their backs and sat calmly on the sofa behind Ron and Hermione before exchanging greetings.
Dumbledore chuckled slightly as their eyes kept glancing at the pile under the tree, and eventually he spoke. "Ignore me." He said. "Though I am sure this is the first time you two have ever felt the need to be anything other than yourselves!"
George's face broke into a grin as Fred leapt to the tree, sorting through presents and passing them to their respective owners. "Sorry, sir" he said. "I guess we're finally beginning to feel the need to grow up." He added as he was handed a large box.
Dumbledore crinkled his nose slightly and shook his head. "I'd rather you didn't," he said. "The thought of you two acting any more mature than you already do scares me."
"Sir?" Fred asked from underneath the tree.
"Well, who else would be able to provide me with appropriate passwords for my office if you two no longer do?" he explained. "I fear that security at Hogwarts would no longer be what it was!"
The four Gryffindor's laughed, and the door opened again to reveal Ginny standing there in her dressing gown. "No fair!" she exclaimed loudly, rushing into the room when she saw various piles of paper. "You could've waited for me…" she broke off as soon as she saw Dumbledore sitting there calmly. "Merry Christmas, sir." She said in a quieter voice.
Dumbledore just chuckled again and stood to great Molly and Arthur Weasley and their two eldest sons as they entered the door.
By mid-morning, Remus Lupin had turned up with a small number of presents for the group, and Hermione and Ron introduced him to Pyro after handing him his gift.
Remus looked at the phoenix intently, frowning as he examined the bird that seemed to fidget nervously under his gaze. "And you say he came from Harry?" he asked again.
Ron and Hermione glanced at each other before they both nodded. Remus glanced down at the box in his hands, then back up at the firebird. "Hmmm," he breathed thoughtfully, and started to carefully unwrap the parcel.
"What is it, sir?" Hermione asked.
Remus shrugged. "Just a feeling I guess." He said, glancing up at the bird again before turning his attention to his gift.
As he pulled away the last layers a fist-sized stone and a slip of paper fell out of the box into his lap. He picked up the stone and held it up to the light, watching the red and silver shimmer and swirl.
"It's the same as our stones." Hermione said, showing him her pendant. "But much larger."
Remus looked at the phoenix again thoughtfully and the bird gave a small trill. He jumped with a small cry as the stone in his hand grew warm to the touch, and the stone fell to the floor.
"What happened?" Hermione asked nervously as the Defence Professor rubbed his sore hand.
Remus stared at the firebird as it gave another trill, though whereas his first had been questioning, the second had a definite tone of happiness to it. "I really don't know." He said.
"Is this the gift from Harry?" Dumbledore asked, coming over and picking the stone up off the floor to examine it.
Remus nodded and picked up the short note that had been in the box with the jewel.
Remus, this is just a short note to say that you should keep this stone safe until I return home. I've been doing a lot of research since I've been away, and believe that this stone will be able to give you something that you've wanted for a long time. You're my last link to my parents, Remus, and I would do anything to keep you from meeting the same fate as them and Sirius. Take this gift, and I will explain more when I see you next. Stay safe. Harry.
Remus stared thoughtfully, and gingerly took the stone as Dumbledore offered it to him. He held it carefully in his hand, anticipating the sudden burst of warmth to go through it like it had before. When nothing had happened after a few moments, he looked up at the firebird who had his head cocked slightly to one side and a look of humour in its expression as it gazed at the werewolf.
"Is he speaking in riddles again?" Ron interrupted the staring contest and indicating the note that Remus still held in his other hand.
Remus smiled and nodded, tearing his attention away from the hypnotic gaze of the phoenix. "I guess a lot of the questions that he is providing us with shall have to wait until he returns home." He said and sent one last questioning glance towards the firebird sitting on the chair.
Any further conversation was interrupted by Molly Weasley as she shouted a warning at her twin sons for playing with one of their smoke bombs. As Remus looked up, he saw Fred stumble slightly and the snitch-sized ball fall at his mother's feet, covering the room in bright orange powder.
Remus shook his head as he quickly exited the room behind Dumbledore and the gliding phoenix, shaking off the small layer off dust that had got on his robes; some things never changed.
A/N As mentioned at the top of the page, I'm no longer going to write to each of you at the bottom of the page. I feel really bad about this, as your reviews mean a lot to me, but it has to be done I'm afraid. I'm sure you don't want to see my chapters removed either! I will try to reply to any questions via email, so if you don't have a sign-in name or contact address (you can send it to me personally if you like, just put "fanfic" in heading) I'm afraid I won't be able to respond to you!
I will include a list of names as a mass thanks though, and if I go missing for a while then I guess that you know I've still been kicked off the site temporarily! Thanks to you all, and don't use this as an excuse not to review!
Big, warm, and Snuffles-styli hugs to all of you! (sorry if I leave anyone out!). Kit. Xxxx
Tara6, Ravenclawwannabe, Snifflers Unite, Sambow, Bado, Eliza Guerin, MindyLou, Elvenears13, Desert Hacker, Shdurrani, Hunta, Lock Shock and barrel, NoAlias, FrozenWings, Nasser Himura, Candidus-Lupus-full Moon, Rahl, SPASH Panther, StarWest45, Gaull, Chocoliciouz, LunaLovegood61, Madskillzpro, Omagic, Sexy Little Slytherin, Lily & James Potter, FroBoy, Blackdragonofslytherin,