Christmas With The Order
After Lord Voldemort’s surprise visit to Hogwarts at the Halloween Ball, Professor Dumbledore deemed the school to be unsafe for students to remain within over the Christmas holidays. So, while he set about revamping the school’s magical securities, all Hogwarts students were sent home for Christmas, and for those who usually stayed at school arrangements were made for them to stay with the families of friends.
This being the case, Harry was all set to spend Christmas with the Weasley’s at The Burrow but on the day before everyone was due to leave for home he was called to Professor Dumbledore’s study. Having finished packing his trunk, he made his way to the appropriate corridor, whispered the password to the awaiting gargoyle and ascended the stairs.
‘Come in,’ said the familiar voice of Dumbledore before Harry could even lay a knuckle on the ornate wood. Opening the door slowly, Harry stepped inside the study and made his way over to Dumbledore’s desk where the Headmaster was waiting patiently, his piercing blue eyes fixed on the young Gryffindor.
‘Take a seat please Harry,’ said Dumbledore, pressing his fingertips together as he gazed over his half moon glasses, the portraits of Headmasters and Mistresses past either snoozing or taking mild interest in the proceedings. Harry sat himself down in the available chair and waited for Dumbledore to speak again. ‘First of all Harry I feel I must once again apologise to you.’
‘Yes Harry, apologise. Since the sad demise of your parents I have regrettably underestimated the strength of the connection between yourself and the Dark Lord that was forged on that fateful night.’ Harry fought the immediate surge of emotion at the mention of his parents and continued to listen to what Dumbledore had to say. ‘Anyway Harry, I am currently looking into ways of how to solidify the protection here at Hogwarts but I will confess that Voldemort’s appearance at the Halloween Ball has unnerved me, I did not think it possible.’ Harry waited a few seconds for the conversation to continue but Dumbledore seemed to have trailed off, his usually serene gaze taking on a more troubled look.
‘Err, are you alright, Professor?’ ventured Harry.
‘What? Oh yes, fine,’ said Dumbledore, snapping back to reality. ‘Now, in the light of this recent revelation I feel it will be far safer for you to spend Christmas with The Order at Number Twelve Grimmauld Place.’
‘Oh, okay,’ said Harry, feeling slightly disappointed that he would not be going to The Burrow.
‘Now don’t worry,’ smiled Dumbledore, his manner returning to its usual genial nature. ‘It may please you to know that your good friends Mister Weasley and Miss Granger will be joining you at Grimmauld Place.’
‘They will?’ said Harry, perking up instantly.
‘Yes Harry, they will. As I am sure you will agree there is strength in numbers and I would personally feel better if you were under the watchful eye of The Order. Also, Molly has all but demanded that you spend Christmas with The Order, and you know it does not do to disagree with her.’ Harry smiled as Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled mischievously, spending Christmas at Grimmauld Place would not be so bad if Ron and Hermione were going to be there.
‘So I shall see you on Christmas Day then Harry,’ said Dumbledore, standing up.
‘I will?’ asked Harry.
‘Of course, The Order has a meeting scheduled for Christmas Day. What is it that Mister Moody is always saying? Constant vigilance.’ Harry nodded, happy in the knowledge that he would be seeing Dumbledore for Christmas. The Headmaster led Harry to the door, shook his hand and returned to his desk, the troubled look in his eyes returning. As he worked, one of the former Headmasters regarded the current appointee from his ageing frame.
‘The connection is too strong isn’t it Albus?’
‘I fear so,’ replied Dumbledore.
* * *
Sitting almost motionless before a miserable looking fire, Lord Voldemort was lost in thought, the dying embers going completely unnoticed. The muted crackle of the fire was the only sound that could be heard, until the door on the far side of the room was opened and closed by a nameless Death Eater, who approached the fireplace with caution.
‘Master, a word?’
‘Yes?’ replied the Dark Lord tartly.
‘Well,’ ventured the Death Eater carefully. ‘Everyone is of course most impressed with your well executed appearance at Hogwarts but, well…’
‘What is it?’ demanded the Dark Lord.
‘Well, people are wondering why we do not just mount a full attack on Hogwarts…’
‘No!’ shouted Voldemort, snapping forward in his chair and fixing the Death Eater with a cold, piercing glare. ‘I cannot do that!’
‘But you said your connection with the Potter boy was…’
‘It is,’ spat Voldemort. ‘But…you do not understand.’
‘What is it, Master?’
‘Be gone from my sight!’ hissed Voldemort.
‘Yes, Master,’ said the Death Eater quickly, scurrying hurriedly from the room.
‘Why did she have to come here?’ asked Voldemort to himself when he was alone again. ‘Why now? It was all going to be so perfect.’
* * *
Due to safety precautions implemented by The Order of The Phoenix, Harry was unable to travel to Grimmauld Place by Floo Powder but luckily Professor Dumbledore had arranged an unofficial Portkey to transport him to the back garden of Number Twelve Grimmauld Place, where Ron and Hermione were waiting for him.
‘Alright mate?’ beamed Ron, as Harry appeared on the lawn, his trunk landing heavily beside him.
‘Hi,’ smiled Harry, as he enchanted his trunk to levitate towards the house.
‘How are you Harry?’ asked Hermione, who unsurprisingly had a large book tucked under her arm.
‘Oh not too bad, you?’
‘Okay, considering,’ shrugged Hermione. ‘Professor Dumbledore said it would be better if I spend Christmas here. I do miss Mum and Dad but I guess he’s right.’
‘Anyway, lets get your stuff upstairs,’ said Ron, putting his arm around Harry’s shoulder and leading him up to the house.
Harry was pleased to see that the entire Weasley family were present at Number Twelve Grimmauld Place, and after enduring the inevitable hugs from Molly Weasley he, Ron and Hermione adjourned upstairs to unload Harry’s things.
‘I didn’t know you all be here,’ said Harry, as he placed Hedwig’s cage on top of his dresser.
‘Yeah well,’ shrugged Ron. ‘Dumbledore reckoned it’d be safer.’
‘I think it’s great,’ smiled Harry. ‘I love spending Christmas with you guys.’
‘Yes I’m sure we’ll all have a wonderful time,’ said Hermione cheerfully, causing Ron to blush slightly.
‘And it’s great that you’re here too,’ said Harry. ‘Isn’t it Ron?’
‘Yeah…definitely,’ mumbled Ron, as he turned a brighter shade of crimson and fixed his gaze on anywhere but Hermione. An awkward silence permeated the room before Hermione spoke again.
‘Well I’ll leave you to pack,’ she said. ‘I want to finish this chapter before dinner.’
‘Okay, see you downstairs,’ said Harry.
‘Yeah, see you,’ said Ron quickly. As soon as Hermione had left the room Ron’s gaze snapped to Harry and he fixed him with an accusatory glare.
‘What?’ asked Harry.
‘You know bloody well what,’ said Ron irritably. ‘Just knock it off, alright?’
‘I’m sorry,’ said Harry. ‘I thought you were going to tell her how you felt.’
‘Slow down there mate, I had just about plucked up the courage to ask her to dance at the Halloween Ball before You-Know-Who decided to drop in.’
‘Yeah, that was a real shame,’ nodded Harry.
‘Tell me about it.’
‘Well you’ve got to do something,’ said Harry as he sat down next to Ron on his bed. ‘Otherwise it’s just going to eat away at you.’
‘I know,’ sighed Ron.
‘Besides,’ grinned Harry. ‘You’re getting to be a real pain about it.’ Ron punched Harry playfully in the arm before the voice of Molly Weasley could be heard calling them down to dinner.
‘I’ll try and talk to her over the holiday,’ said Ron.
* * *
Spending Christmas at Order Headquarters was proving to be far more fun than Harry had expected. He was getting in plenty of games of Wizard Chess with Ron, Hermione had helped them both with all their homework and Christmas dinner looked set to be very interesting indeed. The Order had indeed planned a meeting on Christmas Day but Dumbledore had finagled it so that it would precede Christmas dinner. This meant that Harry would be having Christmas dinner with the Weasleys and The Order of The Phoenix. Granted that involved Professor Snape but Harry hoped they could put their differences aside for the sake of Christmas and The Order.
Ron was not having much luck with Hermione though, he was finding it very hard to be alone with her and whenever he managed it he could barely get his words out, let alone express his feelings. It certainly did not help matters to have Fred and George poking their noses seemingly into everything he was doing and to have Ginny almost always spending time with Hermione.
‘I thought it was bad at school,’ commented Ron one morning. ‘But trying to talk to her with my whole family around is murder.’
‘Want me to keep them busy for you?’ offered Harry.
‘Cheers mate but it wouldn’t work.’
‘’Cos, I think Fred and George have cottoned on.’
‘What makes you think that?’
‘This,’ said Ron, as he opened the top drawer of his dresser. As soon as he did so the room was filled with Fred and George’s taunting voices.
‘RON AND HERMIONE SITTING IN A TREE…’ Before the enchanted recording could complete itself Ron slammed the drawer and looked furtively at the bedroom door, waiting to see if anyone had heard. When he turned back to Harry a small smirk was doing its best to spread across his face.
‘It’s not bloody funny!’ said Ron heatedly.
‘No, you’re right, it’s not,’ said Harry, fighting back the laughter. ‘But have you thought about…’
‘Thought about what?’ asked Ron after Harry trailed off.
‘Well if Fred and George know what’s to stop them telling Hermione?’
‘They wouldn’t,’ said Ron sternly.
‘Because I know things they don’t want Mum to know and I told them if they said anything to Hermione I’d spill the lot.’
‘You sneaky thing,’ smiled Harry. ‘But…’
‘It’s just that Fred and George promised not to tell Hermione that you like her, right?’
‘Did they promise not to tell anyone else?’
‘What do you…oh hell!’ Ron’s eyes widened in fear and in seconds he was bolting through the door and heading downstairs yelling ‘Ginny? Ginny!’ He found his younger sister helping out in the kitchen and without saying a word he dragged her into the empty drawing room and slammed the door.
‘Ron, what the hell are you doing?’
‘We need to talk.’
‘Okay, and why couldn’t we talk in the kitchen?’
‘Just shut up and listen,’ said Ron, waving his hands about manically. ‘I don’t know what Fred and George told you but it’s not true.’
‘Let me finish,’ interrupted Ron. ‘You know what they’re like, always making trouble.’
‘I mean yes, okay I like her but if anyone’s going to tell her I want it to be me.’
‘Ron, can I talk?’ said Ginny, managing to get a few words in edgewise.
‘I have no idea what you’re talking about.’
‘You don’t?’ said Ron, raising his eyebrows in confusion.
‘No, what’s going on?’
‘Oh…err…nothing.’ stuttered Ron when he realised how much information he has unwittingly given out.
‘Ron, are you okay?’ asked Ginny, frowning slightly.
‘Yes, fine…err…I have to go.’ Before Ginny could question her brother any further Ron exited the room in a hurry, heading straight for his room where he did not emerge from for the rest of the day.
* * *
Christmas rolled around and as expected both Ron and Harry received knitted jumpers from Molly, which they wore for the remainder of the day. As soon as the presents had been exchanged Molly bustled herself into the kitchen and began preparations for Christmas dinner, clattering pots and pans and all manner of utensils. When Ron came in to collect the cutlery he noticed that there were more pieces than he had expected.
‘What’s this extra for, Mum?’
‘Oh didn’t Dad tell you?’ said Molly as she was cutting up some vegetables. ‘Dumbledore is bringing Professor Weatherwax.’
‘Yes, she’s joining The Order, Dumbledore says she’ll be a valuable member.’
‘Bad enough old Snape’s coming,’ muttered Ron. ‘Who’s he going to invite next, Filch?’
‘Oh Ron, it’ll be fun. Now go and set the table, there’s a good boy.’
While Ron was setting the table Harry was on his way downstairs when he caught a snippet of a conversation being held between Ginny and Hermione.
‘…and Ron was acting so weird…’ Harry stopped by the girls’ bedroom door and listened, suppressing the slight guilt he was feeling for eavesdropping.
‘Who do you suppose he was talking about?’ asked Hermione’s voice.
‘You, I think,’ said Ginny.
‘Me?’ Harry took a sharp intake of breath before creeping away from the door and heading towards the stairs, intent on finding Ron and telling him what he just heard. But before he could put a foot on a single stair the front door opened and in stepped Professors Dumbledore and Weatherwax. Molly emerged from the other room and greeted them in hushed tones.
‘Albus, Professor Weatherwax, Merry Christmas.’
‘Molly my dear, Merry Christmas,’ said Dumbledore in an equally quiet tone of voice.
‘Nice little place you’ve got here,’ said Granny, in her normal, definitely not quiet voice. This was more than enough to set off the portrait of the late Mrs. Black into a screaming frenzy, sending her shrill, piercing voice echoing throughout the house.
‘Blood traitors, all of you!’
‘What the Disc is that?’ asked Granny, sticking her fingers in her ears.
‘The late Mrs. Black I am afraid,’ sighed Dumbledore. Granny screwed up her face in distaste and walked past Dumbledore and Molly towards the space where Mrs. Black’s portrait hung. Removing the dark material that covered it Granny was confronted with the twisted face of a wizened old woman, pale and ghostly, as she bellowed her accusations out into the hall.
‘Mudbloods, filthy mudbloods in my house!’ Granny fixed the hideous portrait with a glare that could cut through diamond and to everyone’s amazement Mrs. Black quietened somewhat under the unwavering stare.
‘That’s better,’ said Granny coldly. ‘Now if you don’t belt up I’ll take a bucket of whitewash to ya.’ No one had ever spoken to Mrs. Black like that before, not even Sirius, but it certainly seemed to work. Not another peep was heard from her and Granny was able to replace the covering and head into the kitchen, leaving Molly aghast and Dumbledore smiling to himself.
‘She’s quite something,’ said Molly.
‘That she is,’ agreed Dumbledore. ‘Now, Ron if you wouldn’t mind heading upstairs, we need to begin our meeting.’ Ron, who had followed Molly out of the kitchen nodded dutifully and headed upstairs, passing Harry as he went. Harry wanted to tell Ron what he had heard Ginny and Hermione talking about but for now he was more interested in hearing what would be said in the meeting.
Molly and Dumbledore had followed Granny into the kitchen and as quietly as he could Harry descended the stairs and secreted himself next to the kitchen door in an attempt to listen in on the meeting. He was already interested in knowing what The Order would be talking about but now that Professor Weatherwax was joining them as well it fuelled his curiosity all the more.
As he listened he was unaware of someone coming down the stairs and approach him quietly. It took them saying his name for him to notice them.
‘Harry?’ said Ginny. Harry jumped and waved her to be quiet, jerking a thumb in the direction of the kitchen. ‘What are you doing?’ she whispered.
‘Trying to hear what they’re saying in there,’ Harry said, as quietly as he could.
‘Oh, anything good?’
‘Not yet.’ Ginny took up position and joined Harry in eavesdropping and the first voice they heard was Professor Snape’s.
‘So, my good Professor Weatherwax, are we to understand you knew Lord Voldemort prior to his rise to power? Prior to his attending Hogwarts even?’
‘Knew him? I should bloody say so.’
While Harry and Ginny listened, Ron had found himself alone with Hermione at last and this time he was determined to get his feelings out once and for all. Unfortunately, it proved far more difficult when he was in the same room with her, but he knew this could be his only opportunity to get her all by herself. Neither of them spoke though, and Ron found this deeply unnerving. Hermione was not usually this quiet, but her conversation with Ginny had given her a lot to think about.
‘Err…Hermione?’ stammered Ron.
‘Yes Ron?’ said Hermione in an uncharacteristically quiet voice.
‘Well it’s just…’ Ron floundered over his words and the sudden silence caused them both to look up where they caught each other’s gaze. Looking into her eyes Ron was reminded of all the reasons why he liked Hermione in the first place but the look she was giving him puzzled him slightly.
Why’s she looking at me like that? Ron thought to himself. As soon as this thought entered his head a whole host of other thoughts scrambled for attention.
Does she know?
Is she angry with me?
Does she like me back? As all these thoughts jumbled and jostled inside Ron’s head the silence between he and Hermione stretched out forever and just as the possible thought to do something about it started to rear its head the silence was shattered by Molly’s resonating voice.
‘Dinnertime everyone!’ Hermione smiled weakly and left the room, leaving Ron feeling confused and increasingly frustrated.
- June 2005