Legends of Potter

Chapter 9 - A Potter Place Christmas

Harry and his friends were anxious for Christmas vacation to arrive. Since they were attacked in Hogsmeade, no students were allowed to go again until they could guarantee safety. His friends wanted to see Potter Place and Harry was ready to spend more time at home.

As the days drew nearer though, Harry started having problems sleeping. He was plagued with the same dream over and over about a dark stoned corridor and black door at the end of it. One night the dream changed. His body felt different. It was smooth and he was sliding across the cold dark stone on his stomach.

He saw up ahead a man sitting in front of the door with his head hanging down. He was asleep. Harry wanted to bite him but he had far more important things to do so took control of his impulse. However, the man started moving. He dropped a silvery cloak onto the floor and jumped to his feet. He saw the man draw his wand so Harry realized he had no choice so he raised himself up high from the floor and struck the man several times. The man yelled in pain. There was much blood. The man became silent and slumped against the wall…

Harry’s scar was ready to burst….

The man Harry saw injured by the snake was Mr. Weasley. Harry was yelling in his sleep. Ron ended up waking him up and Neville fetched Professor McGonagall. She took him and Ron to the Headmaster where he related the story of what he saw. He had a vision he assured them, not a dream. Arthur Weasley was in dire need of help. Dumbledore seemed to know exactly where Arthur was and got help to him right away. He had Professor McGonagall go get the other Weasley kids and bring them to his office. Dumbledore explained about their dad being hurt and that he had been sent to St. Mungos for treatment. He then provided a portkey that took them all, including Harry, to Grimmauld Place.

When they arrived, they found Sirius waiting for them. He would not let them go anywhere but insisted that they wait to hear from Molly. He provided them with hot cocoa and they sat around until she arrived. She finally showed up a few hours later. She had seen Arthur and although he was hurt bad, he was going to be fine she told them. She hugged Harry and thanked him for saving Arthur’s life.

They were all supposed to get some rest and go see Mr. Weasley later in the day but Harry was worried. How did he become the snake in the vision? What was with the repeated dream? It was the same location as the snake attack.

Harry tried to talk to Sirius about it but was told he should not worry about it right now but be thankful he saved Arthur. He wanted Harry to eat some breakfast and get some sleep instead. He thought Harry was too tired and just needed rest.

Harry was afraid that there was a connection to Voldemort that allowed this vision. He was not sure how much Voldemort was aware of it. He needed to talk to Simon and Henry about this. It was time he learned a couple things right away. He needed to learn Occlumency to block Voldemort and he needed to be able to apparate. He hoped they could teach him. He had already read through the book on Occlumency and read about Legilimency as well. He needed a bit more direction and he thought he could pick it up fairly quickly with his new learning abilities. Harry decided that after visiting Arthur at the hospital later he would head over to Potter Place and talk with Simon and Grandpa about it.

Later in the day, Moody and Tonks came by to escort everyone to St. Mungos to visit Arthur. Everyone was excited except Harry. Harry had not rested at all. He pretended that he had so no one would worry. While they were there, Harry overheard Mad-Eye telling Molly that Voldemort could be possessing Harry since Harry was the snake in the vision. This really made Harry worry. He told Ron and Ginny that he needed to get to Potter Place quickly to get some answers. He asked them to explain to the others and he would be in touch with them as soon as he could. Harry walked off to the loo to use his watch. The loo was empty so he said “Legends of Potter” and disappeared.

Harry hurried down to the library and found Simon. Mattie showed up worried about Harry. She witnessed him running down the hall.

“Sorry, Mattie but I have an issue and I need answers and of course more assistance. Would you mind telling Grandpa I could use his help too?”

“Sure, Harry. I will tell him and then I will bring you some tea. You look like you need it.”

“Thank you, Mattie. I don’t know what I would do without you.”

When Henry arrived, Harry described the vision to his two mentors and left out no details. He also let them know of what he was worried about and asked if they could teach him Occlumency and how to apparate.

Mattie returned with tea for Harry accompanied with some scones for a snack. Harry thanked her and dug right in.

Henry began. “The way I understand it Harry and from what you described, I don’t see where Voldemort is possessing or was possessing you. You didn’t describe any symptoms representative of being possessed by someone. On the contrary, what it appears you have experienced is Legilimency, which is the opposite of Occlumency. Do you agree Simon?”

“Yes, Henry. I believe you have it right. The question is how did Harry get into the mind of the snake without initiating the connection and why all the dreams of the same corridor? I believe the answer is in his scar. Remember Harry when you cast the spell on yourself we saw that green color around your scar and it had no description as to what it is? I believe the answer is there. Voldemort is probably initiating the connection without knowing it. It would appear you have a connection to him via that scar he gave you. We still are unsure on how to remove that so we will have to wait until we have a good approach for it.”

“And that’s why my scar hurts so much. It’s a connection to Voldemort,” Harry said. “He must’ve possessed his snake Nagini to get her there and he obviously was after something when she ran into Mr. Weasley. Was Mr. Weasley guarding what Voldemort wanted?”

“Could be Harry,” said Henry. “Why else would he have been there? By the way, I believe you described the corridor to the Department of Mysteries where I worked.”

“Thank you Grandpa. I was wondering what that place was. I hope Dumbledore will be willing to share the information with me this time. I could help figure all this out if I knew more of what’s going on,” said Harry. “And with you guys helping, we could probably work it all out in short order.”

“We are certainly willing to help Harry and we will help you with Occlumency, Legilimency, and Apparition,” said Simon. “Voldemort may not realize it now but he could figure it out and that would be bad for you. Why don’t we meet in the training room right away to work on this?”

“Sounds good to me,” said Harry.

A few days later…

Harry had been going back and forth between Potter Place and Grimmauld Place to check on his friends via his watch. With Henry’s help, he had picked up apparition right away. With his magical abilities, it was quite easy for him actually. Occlumency, on the other hand, required preparation and time to organize your mind.

Henry wanted to teach Harry how to apparate and let Simon teach Harry Occlumency. Henry knew that Simon could teach both but Simon was a little better at Occlumency and legilimency. Henry’s job was over in a matter of minutes and he was able to turn it over to Simon. Harry, however, was apparating all over Potter Place before he finally came back to learn from Simon, a big smile on his face.

Simon’s method of teaching Harry Occlumency made everything Harry had read about it make perfect sense. Simon filled in the gaps that the book left out, instructing Harry in a way he knew Harry would understand completely and be able to implement.

After several hours over a couple days, Harry took over from there and began the process of protecting his mind. He had spent a few hours each day and some time before going to sleep searching through his mind, getting familiar with it, and organizing it.

He learned how to lock away his important memories and thoughts where he could only retrieve them. He took all the memories that he did not need to hide and dumped them into a decoy mind he setup. This was to fool anyone into thinking he was not capable of Occlumency. Taking Simon’s advice, he also created traps for unwanted guests.

Once he learned Legilimency proficiently, he would be able to use those traps even more effectively. Harry continued to work daily on his Occlumency. Simon then taught him Legilimency, which was much easier to learn, especially after learning Occlumency. He found that his focus training in karate helped tremendously. Harry needed a few more weeks but was fast on his way of mastering both.

During the middle of all of his training, the time for Christmas holidays had begun. The guests were to arrive any minute. Harry was working on his Occlumency when he was informed of his first arrivals. All the ones from Grimmauld Place were showing up. Mattie was welcoming all of them when Harry walked up.

Harry made portkeys for all his guests to arrive safely at Potter Place whether coming right away or just to the Christmas Ball. Andrew received all of the guests and announced their arrivals. Mattie took over to welcome them and assign house elves to take care of their bags and show them to their rooms. Mattie, Sirius, and Remus were like old friends seeing each other after a long time.

“I see you’ve met one of my great grandfathers – Andrew Potter and Mattie who is my right arm. I could not run this place without her. She is indispensable to me,” said Harry putting his hand on her shoulder. Mattie almost blushed but maintained her decorum in front of the guests.

“Master Harry I have assigned elves to your guests and they can take their bags and get them settled into their rooms. After that, perhaps you would like to show them around?” asked Mattie.

“Just a second everyone,” Harry said to his guests holding up one finger. All the guests had questioning looks on their faces. He led Mattie a few feet away and whispered to her. “Mattie, are you sure this is the right time to call me master? These are my friends and are like family.”

“Only if you insist Harry but at the Ball you will be addressed formally,” replied Mattie.

“Okay,” said Harry walking her back to their guests.

“I apologize everyone. Mattie is trying to teach me when it’s appropriate for her to call me master. On a daily basis with just us around, she calls me Harry as I’ve asked her to. She told me just now that for you guys if I insist she will drop the master but she also informed me that at the Ball she must address me formally. I’ve agreed. Thank you, Mattie.”

“You’re welcome, Harry,” said Mattie.

“Well, I believe Mattie has everything under control as usual,” continued Harry. “The house elves she has assigned will be the ones who will help you should you need anything while you are here. Of course, you can ask me as well if I’m close by. They’ll show you to your rooms and help with your bags. Please introduce yourselves to each other so you know each other’s names. I know I don’t have to worry about you guys but let me just say that the house elves at Potter Place are my family and that is the way they’re to be treated. Please help me to let anyone who visits here know this.” They all smiled back at Harry including the elves. “When you are settled in lets meet back here in the foyer and I’ll give you the grand tour. Hopefully others will arrive soon and we can include them at the same time. Go get settled in because we have lots to do and see. Lunch will be served promptly at noon and dinner at six. Make yourselves at home.”

They all trooped off to their rooms following the elves, except Sirius and Remus. “We know our way around Kipper,” said Sirius to the elf. “Please put our bags in our rooms and you can show us later which rooms are ours. We would like a word with Harry here. Thanks for your help.” Kipper bowed and disappeared with their bags.

“Harry it is so good to be back over here at Potter Place,” said Remus. “This place has always amazed me. I have spent less time here than Sirius but I came here a lot when we were about your age.”

“Same here, Kiddo! It’s good to be back,” said Sirius. “I lived here a while with your dad, you know. I had run away from my crazy family and your dad’s parents took me in. They let me stay here. It was an awesome time we had.”

“I want you guys to know,” Harry began, “that you’re always welcome here. Sirius, I’m going to get you a portkey that will take you back and forth from here to Grimmauld Place. That way you can be there for the Order if they need you but you can return here and have many things to keep you busy and enjoying life.” Sirius started to protest. “Don’t argue with me Sirius. I know how bad it is for you over there when nothing is going on. You’re stuck in that house. A house you ran away from once. I want you to live in my house with me. When I go back to school, you can still stay here. Why suffer over there? I’ll make you a promise right here and now. I will find Peter again and you’ll be set free so you no longer have to hide.”

“Harry, don’t worry about Peter,” said Sirius. “He’s too dangerous. I’ll accept your offer to stay here and enjoy life when the Order does not need me at Grimmauld Place. Thank you, Harry.”

“This is great Harry,” said Remus. “I’m so tired of seeing him moping around in that old house. He needs to have some fun.”

“You’re welcome here too, Remus. Stay as long or as much as you like. You can have your own room even. I mean it.”

“Thank you Harry. I’ll definitely be visiting a lot.”

“I guess we better see where our rooms are now,” said Sirius. “Kipper?”

Kipper appeared in front of them. “Yes, Mr. Black and Mr. Lupin? Kipper is at your service.”

“Kipper feel free to call me Sirius-”

“And you may call me Remus, Kipper”

“Thank you sirs. It will be my honor Sirius and Remus.”

“Well, we are off to a good start Kipper,” said Remus. “Can you show us to our rooms now?

“Certainly, please follow me.”

Harry watched them go down the hall then heard Andrew announcing Neville Longbottom and a few seconds later, he announced Luna Lovegood. Harry arrived at Andrew’s room about the same time as Mattie. She opened the door and welcomed Neville and Luna to Potter Place. Harry introduced Mattie to his friends and Mattie provided house elves to take their bags and get them settled in their rooms.

Harry explained again that the elves would help them if they needed anything while they were here at Potter Place. He recommended they get settled and meet back here with the others so he can give everyone the grand tour. He also told them to make themselves at home. They thanked Harry and followed the elves to their rooms.

Harry thought for a minute. I believe that is everyone except Hermione’s parents and Tonks. Remus would have to leave on occasion for Order business. Tonks had to work so would be coming and going spending mostly evenings and weekends with them. Bill and Charlie could only come for Christmas Eve and stay for Christmas day and the Ball. The twins, Ron, Ginny, and Molly came over for the full stay but occasionally will go to visit Arthur who is still in the hospital. However, he was to come straight to Potter Place when he was let out. Hermione came with the Weasleys from Grimmauld Place. He would have to ask about her parents. Neville and Luna are here for the full stay. Neville’s grandmother was coming to the Ball only and Luna’s father was coming to the Ball as well. Harry had an invite sent to him when he realized later it would be the right thing to do. He would have to ask him not to write about it though.

Harry also amended the Christmas Ball, allowing his guests to bring dates. It would not be much of a Ball if there were not enough couples to dance together.

All the guests met Harry in the front foyer near Andrew’s room. Since it was morning teatime, he asked if they all would like some tea when they made it through the kitchen and into the Dining Room. They agreed so he had them sit and Leru brought out tea for everyone. After tea, they thanked Leru and continued on. When they arrived at the Study Harry introduced everyone to his grandparents’ portraits – Henry and Elizabeth. Sirius and Remus spoke the most to them. They all remembered each other.

Next, they went to the Library where Hermione nearly fainted after seeing it. Harry introduced them all to Simon and explained that he had been getting training from Simon, Henry, and Elizabeth. He told them about Simon’s tremendous teaching ability and his grandpa’s too. He also mentioned Simon’s powerful magic and Elizabeth’s great healing knowledge.

They continued through and finished the tour. They were impressed with the Training Room. It was almost lunch. Harry recommended they break and have lunch. He would show them some of the things outside afterwards. Everyone would need to dress warmly as well. Harry spoke to Hermione at lunch and found out that her parents were coming in a couple days.

Two days later…

Dan and Emma Granger were announced by Andrew. Mattie went and welcomed them into the manor.

“Hello, Dr. and Dr. Granger. It is so nice to finally meet you. My name is Mattie and I am the head house elf here at Potter Place. Please step this way.”

The Grangers were not accustomed to portkey travel but overall it was not an unpleasant experience. Harry was taught how to make them where you feel no pull behind the navel. However, the portrait that welcomed them was quite different in their opinion. Andrew was pleasant as always but a talking and moving portrait was a new experience for them but they soon recalled Hermione’s description of magical portraits and calmed down a little.

The house elf that came through the door and greeted them was a sight they had never seen before but once again, their daughter had described house elves so they were not completely ignorant about them.

“Uh…hello, Mattie. It is so nice of you to invite us,” said Emma. “We have been looking forward to seeing our daughter again and spending time with her and her friends. My word, the house is lovely. It’s amazing actually.”

Dan added, “Yes it is dear. I absolutely love what I’ve seen so far.”

“Thank you. The Potters have always been a delightful family to serve. Your daughter Hermione is a very special person and has been a delight since she has been here. They are all currently outside riding.” She called another elf and introduced them. “This is Kacey. Kacey this is Dr. and Dr. Granger.”

“Very nice to meet you, Kacey,” said Dan.

“Kacey will take your bags and lead you to your room. If you need anything at all, just say ‘Kacey’ and she will be prompt and available to help you. We want you to enjoy your stay here at Potter Place so make yourself at home. After you are settled in your room, please have Kacey bring you to the kitchen for something to drink if you like. While you are settling in I will let Harry know that you have arrived and he will meet you there.”

“There’s no need to disturb Harry. We can wait until they come back,” said Emma.

“Oh, no ma’am. Harry left instructions to come get him when you arrived, no matter what he was doing so I will be sure and let him know you are here,” replied Mattie.

“Okay, then, Mattie we’ll meet Harry in the kitchen after we see to our room,” said Emma. “Lead the way Kacey.”

Kacey bowed deep, levitated their bags, and said, “Follow me please.”

Mattie left with a soft pop and appeared close to Harry and his guests who were all riding horses. They had spent the last two days getting everyone comfortable on the horses and now they were officially riding around and seeing the sites. Harry noticed Mattie and had everyone pull up so he could talk to her.

“Hello, Mattie! What a pleasant surprise. Can I help you with anything?”

“Yes, Harry. You have more guests. The Grangers have arrived and you wanted me to let you know as soon as they did.”

“Great!” said Hermione excitedly.

“That I did Mattie and now I’ll go and get them,” said Harry.

“Should I come along too, Harry?” asked Hermione.

“No, Hermione. You continue with the others and your ride. You told me that your parents know how to ride so I’ll fetch them and get them mounted up. We’ll catch up with you guys in a bit.”

“The Grangers are getting settled in their room right now and will meet you in the kitchen, Harry,” said Mattie. “See you back there.”

“Alright, Mattie. Thank you. I’m going to ride Rolly up to the back of the house. I’ll meet the Grangers in the kitchen.”

Mattie disappeared and Harry took off really fast on Rolly, heading back to the house. They were not that far out yet and Rolly was wanting to run anyway so Harry let him. He could get a breather while Harry went in to get the Grangers.

Harry was waiting in the kitchen working on a cup of tea when Dan and Emma Granger arrived. Harry hopped up and went to greet his guests.

“Thank you Kacey. Dr. and Dr. Granger, it is my pleasure to welcome you to my humble abode. Would you like some tea?”

“Sure but Harry you may call us Dan and Emma,” said Dan. “And I don’t think ‘humble abode’ quite describes it.”

“Harry, your home is magnificent and we haven’t seen all of it yet,” said Emma.

“That will come. Everyone else got the grand tour a couple days ago but I will make sure you get it as well. But right now I need you guys ready to go outside and pick a horse to ride for each of you.”

“Pick a horse?” asked Dan.

“Yes, everyone else is out riding and Hermione has assured me that the both of you know how to ride. I rode my horse Rolly up to the back door practically to fetch you. We need to get you mounted so we can catch up with the others.”

“We do know how to ride but it’s been a few years. We used to ride quite a bit,” said Dan.

“Do you prefer English or Western saddles?” asked Harry.

“English” said Emma.

“Same here,” said Dan.

“Alright, I’ll get the blankets, saddles, bridles, etc. ready for you while you both go back to your room. Look in your closets and you’ll find riding boots, riding pants, shirts, etc. There are both English and Western outfits in there. You can also just wear jeans if you want.”

“But how did you know our sizes?” asked Emma.

“I don’t but my mum was a genius at charms. She pretty much charmed every piece of clothing and shoes in this place to auto-fit anyone. I’ve also learned her spell from notes that she left me. I’ll meet you out the back door here after you’ve changed. I’ll then take you to the horses so you can each pick one out to ride.”

The Grangers went back to their room while Harry headed outside. He had Rolly follow him back to where the other horses were. He then grabbed two saddles and the other equipment they would need. He and Rolly walked back up to the house to wait on Dan and Emma. They both came out a couple minutes later ready to go.

“That is one beautiful horse, Harry,” said Emma

“Thank you,” said Harry. “This is Rolly. He has quite the personality too.”

Rolly nuzzled Harry. “See?” said Harry.

The Grangers laughed. They picked out a couple nice quarter horses. They were worried the thoroughbreds would be too high-spirited for them. The horses they picked out were both about 15 hands high. They looked very comfortable in the saddles.

“Ready?” asked Harry after they were mounted and settled.

“Yes! I love it already,” said Emma. Dan nodded his head and smiled.

“Okay, keep up and we’ll catch up to the others. Let’s just go at a nice gallop, shall we?”

Harry took off with the Grangers following him. He looked back on occasion to make sure they were doing okay but they obviously knew how to ride so he soon quit checking on them. Harry had a good sense of where the group might be so they caught up with them in no time at all. He knew Jojo would be showing off his prize cattle, sheep, and goats so they would be stopping a bit and talking.

When they came into view of the group, Harry saw Hermione lift her hands straight up in the air and give a loud yahoo. They all got off their horses to greet each other properly. Hermione was happy to see her parents and they were happy to see her. He overheard Emma telling Hermione that this could turn out to be the best vacation they have ever had. Harry smiled and hoped they did have a good time.

They finished their tour of the grounds by horseback. Ron got excited when he saw the quidditch pitch. He was ready to play right then but Harry recommended another day for that. It was nearing dinnertime so they needed time to take care of the horses and get cleaned up themselves.

Harry and Jojo instructed all who needed it on how to take care of your horse after riding it. Jojo offered to do it for them but Harry insisted that they all learn and show the horse they rode some attention in thanks for the nice ride it provided. Dan and Emma needed no help. They were old pros. Sirius and Remus seemed at home as well with the horses.

Everyone had a great time and thought that the Potter Place lands were a magnificent place to ride. There was so much to see with the fields, gardens, livestock, woods, streams, hills, etc. you never could get bored. Even the manor itself from an outside view was a site to behold with its three stories above ground and the connecting terraces, ornate and beautiful.

Everyone cleaned up and changed after the horse rides then met in the Dining Room. Harry had shrunk the table down from 24 seats to 14 so there would be the right amount for him and his guests. He wanted Mattie to join them but she had duties she informed him. Dinner was marvelous. Everyone was amazed at Leru’s ability to put on a spread. Two other house elves served the meal and drinks to the guests. All the guests were very thankful and polite to the elves giving them praise when appropriate. When they were done with dinner and dessert, Harry excused himself for a minute, went to the kitchen, and brought out Leru.

“Ladies and gentlemen may I have your attention?” asked Harry.

Everyone quieted down and looked to Harry who had his arm on the shoulder of Leru.

“Honored guests, I give you the one responsible for that marvelous meal and desserts. Potter Place’s very own Leru!” Harry stepped away gesturing toward the elf with his hand.

All the guests at the table gave him a standing ovation. Fred and George even whistled.

Leru was obviously embarrassed but managed a deep bow and hurried back to the kitchen.

After dinner, Harry recommended a 30 minute rest followed by a dip in the heated pool and sitting around in the Jacuzzi to relax the muscles of the first time riders. They all accepted his offer except Mrs. Weasley who decided that she would take the opportunity to spend the evening alone with Arthur at St. Mungos. Even Tonks arrived in time for dinner and joined them in the pool afterwards. He let everyone know that swimsuits would be provided if anyone were without one. Harry had asked Mattie to purchase several men’s and women’s swimsuits of various styles which Harry had charmed himself to auto-fit. He found the charm in his mum’s diary.

Mattie had the pool surrounded by clear walls and ceiling then had it heated to the perfect steady temperature. The Jacuzzi was quite a bit warmer and very relaxing. Harry, Ron, and Neville were all wearing swim trunks that reached to their mid-thigh and had arrived at the pool ahead of the girls. The pool area was warm so their chests were bare.

When Ginny, Hermione, and Luna arrived and took off there soft but thick towel like robes with the Potter crest emblem, the guys were having a difficult time looking away. The girls were somewhat modest wearing one-piece swimsuits but they were far from their usual loose robes that fully covered them at Hogwarts. When the adults showed up the boys decided they had better maintain more control.

The girls thought it was funny how the boys were struggling not to look. Although, truth be known Ginny was having a difficult time not looking at Harry with his tan muscular body in those black swim trunks. Hermione would snatch a glimpse at Ron on occasion as well. All the guys and the girls were in great shape and looked good from all the exercise and karate Harry put them through. Harry was a bit more defined than the rest but Neville had the biggest transformation. He was no longer overweight but in good shape with nice muscles.

The older guests and the young ones who rode for the first time preferred the Jacuzzi the most. After a while, they were all in the Jacuzzi just sitting around relaxing and having good conversation. Dan and Emma seemed to fit right in with all the magic users and enjoyed themselves like everyone else.

After they were done at the pool, Harry recommended that Ron, Neville, Ginny, Hermione, and Luna get changed and meet him in his room, the master suite. He remembered that they still needed to get their formals out of his trunk. He also invited Dan and Emma to meet him there as well. He was going to give them the tour of the manor tonight if they were up to it and they could just start there. They agreed to meet him there.

When Dan and Emma arrived with Kacey, the kids were talking up a storm enjoying themselves. Harry stopped the conversation and apologized to Dan and Emma.

“I’m sorry, we were talking and haven’t taken care of business. What you are about to see is a secret. I don’t mind you knowing about this but for now please tell no one.”

“Alright Harry, we will not tell anyone” said Dan.

“Thank you,” said Harry. Harry picked up his trunk from his nightstand, kissed it, and placed it on its side against the wall. It turned into a door, which he opened and let his friends in to get their items for the Ball. He turned back to Dan and Emma.

“This is a magical trunk left to me by my parents. It has five compartments. The fifth is expanded and if placed on its side it turns into a door. Would you like to see what it looks like?”

“Sure Harry,” said Emma.

“Just step through here then. Your daughter and our friends are getting some formals I loaned them. They picked out what they wanted before we left Hogwarts. We decided to leave them safely in my trunk until we were here and they could get them out and take them to their rooms. They’re getting them now.”

The Grangers looked at Harry questioningly.

“We weren’t allowed to leave the school after I sent out the invitations so no one had a chance to buy a new formal for the Christmas Ball. We can no longer wear previous year outfits since we’re growing teenagers. I had this trunk, which is full of men and women’s clothing charmed to auto-fit. All the clothes are brand new. They were bought for my mum and dad and placed in the trunk just in case. Dad had several formals in there and Mum had several nice ball gowns. My friends were able to find all that they need for the Ball.”

Harry’s friends came back through thanking him again and headed to their rooms to hang up their formals. Harry described the trunk and showed the Grangers all the rooms. They were more than a little impressed with the trunk to say the least. When they came back out Harry shrunk it and pocketed it. He then gave them a tour of his magnificent master bedroom and loo before heading out into the hall to tour the rest of the manor. The Grangers were beyond impressed with Harry’s home. There were many oohs and ahs during the tour.

The next morning after Harry’s exercises and shower, he changed his appearance using some advanced human transfiguration spells he learned. Harry was now a couple inches taller, ten years older, and somewhat stockier than his normal self. His face was rounder with no scar and his eyes colored a dark brown. His hair was a sandy brown with a full but slightly darker brown mustache. He was attired in typical black wizard robes in an effort to not stand out.

Harry apparated to Diagon Alley for some Christmas shopping. The only person who knew he went anywhere was Mattie. He asked her to explain that he had some errands to run and he would be back later if anyone asked. Harry had not had a chance to buy Christmas presents so he was going to get some from Diagon Alley and then shop a little in Muggle London after that.

Harry headed straight to Gringotts after he arrived in Diagon Alley. He was going to need a bit of gold and some Muggle money for the day. After entering the bank, Harry walked up to the same goblin he met when Hagrid brought him here the first time a few years ago. Harry casually cast a wandless silencing spell around the goblin and himself so no one would notice.

“How can I help you?” asked the goblin.

“I wish to make a withdrawal and see my vault, good sir.”

“Your key?”

“Ah, yes. Here it is,” said Harry drawing it out of his pocket. He handed the key to the goblin.

The goblin leaned forward and whispered, “This key belongs to someone who looks quite a bit younger and different than you do.”

Harry leaned in closer to the goblin as well and whispered. “Yes, good sir. Thank you for your concern and seeing to my best interests. I am indeed Harry Potter but I do not wish for anyone to know that I’m here.”

“Not a problem,” replied the goblin. “Griphook will take you to your vault.”

Harry removed the silencing charm. “Excellent!” replied Harry. “I remember Griphook. He was very helpful once before. Thank you, good sir.”

As Griphook led Harry to the carts to take them down to the vaults, the goblin behind the desk took note of the young wizard who remembered the name of a goblin. Most wizards acted like goblins were beneath them. It would pay to watch the young Mr. Potter closely. He appears to be a different sort of wizard, much like Albus Dumbledore has been to the goblins. He also remembers some other Potters over many years who acted very much the same. Not to mention, young Mr. Potter would be coming into a rather sizeable fortune when he comes of age. It would be wise for a goblin such as himself to be helpful to Mr. Potter and gain his trust. It could mean a lot to Gringotts to do more business once again with the Potters.

Harry searched his vault carefully to make sure there were no other items hidden there. Satisfied he had found all he was supposed to find last time, he gathered up the gold he needed and headed back up with Griphook. Once back in the bank the goblin that helped him before waited on him immediately to exchange some galleons for pounds.

“Thank you, good sir. You and Griphook have been of great service today. May I ask your name?”

“You honor me sir. My name is Rogklaw. Please see me anytime you need assistance,” replied the goblin. Griphook eyed Rogklaw knowingly.

“Thank you Rogklaw and you as well Griphook. I will do that.” Harry departed the bank.

Rogklaw looked at Griphook who had a toothy grin. He whispered as he summoned Griphook closer, “Yes, Griphook, you know exactly who that was and we must keep that a secret today for him as he requested. I foresee great business opportunity with his family once again when he comes of age. It would be very beneficial to help him as much as we can and hopefully gain his trust.” They both smiled their toothy grin at each other and nodded in agreement. After all, it would not be difficult to be helpful to the young Mr. Potter. He was very respectful and polite and easy to work with.

Harry left Gringotts and did some shopping in Diagon Alley. He ran into Susan Bones and her aunt. He almost said hello before he remembered he was in disguise. They didn’t notice it was Harry at all. Harry looked around for a little while but didn’t see anything that struck his fancy. He wanted to get all the house elves something but wasn’t sure what to get them. He bought a lot of candy to give to everyone but was stumped on what else to get. Suddenly he had some ideas that would simplify his Christmas shopping and took off for The Leaky Cauldron where he could go through into London.

Once in London Harry found some Muggle candy to go with the wizard candy. He knew Mr. Weasley would enjoy that. He stopped in a jewelry store and bought some nice necklaces for all the ladies and some different ones for the men as well. He then bought pendants for all the ladies in different stones to wear on their necklaces. When he was done there, he found another jewelry store that had what he wanted to buy the Potter elves. He also bought necklaces for them with pendants that formed a double P for Potter Place. He bought one extra for Dobby without the pendant.

He finally finished at the jewelry stores and went back to the same sporting goods store he visited last time. Harry picked up some more jock straps for the boys and sport bras for the girls. He picked up some additional karate uniforms in white, black, and grey for extras and for Kingsley. He also picked up some more protection gear for sparring.

While there, he asked the checkout clerk if there was a place he could find western wear. Harry was given directions and he decided that would be his last stop. He found the store and they had exactly what he wanted. After making his purchases and leaving the store, Harry stopped again in an alley to shrink the packages like he did after each store. Noticing there was still no one else around he then used his watch to get back to Potter Place.

Harry was headed back to his room when Mrs. Weasley, Fred, and George stopped him in the hall. “Hello, sir. I don’t believe we’ve met. My name is Molly Weasley and these are my sons Fred and George. Are you a friend of Harry’s?” asked Molly.

Realizing he had not cancelled the transfiguration spell, Harry thought he would have a little fun. “Why yes, Harry and I are very close friends. The closest you could say. I‘ve known him for a long time. My name is Jack Peavey. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” Harry reached over and took Molly’s hand, bowing slightly he raised her hand to his face and kissed the back of it before straightening back up.

Others had shown up while he kissed Molly’s hand. Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville, and Luna had just arrived and were staring at the newcomer. Molly’s face turned red after Harry kissed her hand. She was looking a bit embarrassed. Harry could not remember the last time he saw Mrs. Weasley speechless.

“Strange, we’ve known Harry since he was 11 but we’ve never heard of you, Mr. Peavey,” said George.

“Yes, we thought we knew everyone Harry knows,” said Fred.

“Wait a minute,” said Hermione. “Mattie told us Harry went out to run some errands and now this guy shows up instead of Harry. Is there something you wish to share? Mr. Peavey, is it?”

“Why, young lady, I’m not sure what you are referring to,” replied Harry trying to keep a straight face. He held it for a couple seconds while Hermione looked closely at the newcomer. Finally, Harry burst out laughing.

“What’s so funny, Mr. Peavey?” asked Molly.

“Just one second Mrs. Weasley. Introductions are still in order.” Harry took Hermione’s hand and kissed it like he did for Molly. “Jack Peavey, at your service Miss.” Hermione had a knowing look on her face. Harry then went over to Luna and kissed her hand. “Jack Peavey, nice to meet you.” Harry next went over to Ginny but instead of kissing her hand, he grabbed her head and kissed her on the left check. “Jack Peavey, most delighted to meet you young lady.” Harry then kissed her on her right cheek. Ginny cracked up laughing. She had figured it out too.

Harry went back to Molly. “Mrs. Weasley, you wanted to know what was so funny.”

“Yes, what did you find so funny and Ginny as well I might add?” asked Molly.

“Only this Mrs. Weasley.” Harry undid the transfiguration spell so he looked like Harry again. The twins started cracking up. The rest of the kids soon joined them. Molly was standing there with her hands on her hips and her mouth gaping open in surprise.

“Harry Potter,” Molly said. Harry thought for a second he was in trouble. “That was…was…about the most….ah…never mind. Come here Harry.” Molly grabbed and hugged Harry in one of her signature motherly hugs. “Harry that was one of the best pranks ever. You could give the twins a run for their money.”

“Thanks, Mrs. Weasley. When I realized I had not cancelled the spell I thought I would have a little fun.”

“But Harry. That was…” said Fred

“…advanced…” said George

“…human…” said Fred.

“…transfiguration” said George.

“I guess you guys haven’t heard,” replied Hermione.

“Harry here is past seventh year in most of his classes,” added Ron.

“And I would like that to remain a secret as long as possible, please?” asked Harry.

“Sure Harry…” replied George.

“…no problem” added Fred.

Everyone else nodded in agreement.

“Thanks, everyone” said Harry. “This came in handy today for my errands. No one recognized me so I was able to do what I needed to do without incident.”

“What errands did you have to take care of?” asked Hermione.

“That’s my secret, Hermione. You’ll just have to wait to find out. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go to my room to change. I’ll meet you in a few minutes for lunch. I have an idea of what we can do today.”

Harry walked off toward his room. “He’s up to something,” said Ron.

“Yes, he is” replied Hermione.

“Yes, indeed,” added Ginny.

“I’m pretty sure he just went Christmas shopping,” said Luna. Everyone turned and looked at Luna. Somehow, she always knows.

Harry put up all the presents he’d purchased. He planned to deal with them tonight. After that, he changed his clothes and met up with everyone else a little later for lunch.

During lunch, Harry asked everyone if they would like to go hunting for a nice big Christmas tree that they would cut down and bring back to the manor to decorate. Everyone seemed excited about that, especially when he recommended they take the horses to look for it. Harry had a big space for the tree to fill so they were going to be looking for one that stood about 20 feet tall.

As everyone else went off to get ready for the cold outdoors, Harry asked Mattie if there were tree ornaments and decorations in the manor they could use on the tree. Mattie assured Harry that there were ample ornaments and decorations in storage so Harry asked her to get an elf to gather them up so they would be able to decorate the tree when they returned. He also told Mattie to inform all the elves they were invited to join with the guests in decorating the tree. “Christmas was for everyone to enjoy,” he told her.

Jojo assured Harry that he knew the best places to look for the tree so they all mounted and followed Jojo across the property to a portion of the woods on Potter Place. The land was beautiful, covered in a nice new dusting of pure, white snow. They spread out a little and searched for the perfect tree. After about 10 minutes, Fred yelled out “Found it!” so everyone went over to him to see the tree. What they found though was bent and gnarled and twisted beyond belief.

“Fred,” said Harry, “I can see where that may be the perfect Christmas tree for you and George but not for my house. Please keep looking.”

About 15 minutes later, Neville said, “I think I found it.” Then a little louder, he said to everyone, “Hey guys, I think I found it!”

Everyone rushed over to Neville and looked at the tree. It was perfect. It stood about 23 feet tall and would need very little trimming. “Okay, everyone,” said Harry getting their attention. “Thank you Neville for finding the perfect tree. Now what I’m about to say may sound strange to the wizards and witches here but I doubt it will sound strange to Dan and Emma.”

Harry put his hand inside his coat, wandlessly conjured a sharp hatchet, and then pulled it out for all to see.

“What I have here is called a hatchet and instead of using magic I would like for us to cut down this tree the Muggle way by using this hatchet. In addition, I would like for everyone here to have a chance to strike a blow with the hatchet so that each and every one of us plays a major role in providing this year’s Christmas tree. I will finish the tree off after everyone has had a turn. Not only are all of you my friends but you are also like family to me and I wish to share my first Christmas at Potter Place with all of you in any way possible. Please join me in this. I understand that many Muggle families do this as a tradition on Christmas. It’s a shared experience they have of finding the tree, cutting it down, and decorating it together. I only wish Mr. Weasley were able to be here with us. I’m sure he would appreciate the Muggle tradition.”

Molly wiped a tear from her eye.

“That’s right, Harry” said Dan. “Many families do this just as you said and it’s a wonderful family bonding experience. I consider it a privilege to share your first Potter Place Christmas with you, Harry. May I have the honor of being the first to strike the tree? I’ve had a little bit of experience with this.”

“Thank you, Dan. Nothing would please me more than for you to start us off.” Harry handed the hatchet to Dan who stepped up to the tree and sank the hatchet in close to the bottom. Dan worked the hatchet back out and handed it to his wife Emma who managed to hit around the same spot as Dan. Dan instructed everyone on alternating with downward strokes and upward strokes to remove more of the wood with each strike. By the time it got to Harry, he only had to strike the tree 5 times before it began to fall. Neville was quick to cast a levitation charm so the tree did not break any branches when it landed. Using his wand, Harry cut the trunk evenly and cast a feather light charm on the tree. He then conjured a giant clear bag that he put the tree in and tied it at the top so all the limbs were protected. Everyone mounted back up and Harry floated the tree ahead of him back to the house where he turned it over to the elves so they could get it in place while the riders took care of their horses.

After everyone was done, they went back to the manor to warm up. Harry suggested they all get their swimsuits on and meet in the Jacuzzi to warm up. They agreed and met him at the pool. Harry showed up a little later but came with some hot cocoa and biscuits to share. Harry served his guests before joining them in the hot tub. Harry told them about all the decorations the elves had brought for the tree. They then shared Christmas traditions and stories with each other adding additional warmth on top of the water and the cocoa.

After Leru and a couple more elves served them dinner, all the elves, the guests, and Harry met in the lounge to decorate the tree. The elves had setup the tree magically so it would stay in one place and not fall over. With everyone helping, it didn’t take long at all and the tree looked magnificent when they were done.

“Oh, Harry,” said Mattie. “It has been so long since we had a Christmas tree at Potter Place and it looks absolutely beautiful. As a matter of fact you were just a baby the last time we had a tree.”

“You know Mattie there is only one thing left to do for this tree. The star needs to go on top. I would like you to have this honor because you are one of my most favorite people.”

“Oh, Harry I can’t do that. As Lord of the Potters and Potter Place it is your right and honor to place the star on top,” replied Mattie.

“Mattie, you are teaching me too well,” said Harry. “As the Lord of the manor I also have the right to choose who gets the honor of placing the star on top of the tree and that my dear is you.”

All the guests smiled at their two hosts while hearing the exchange.

“Okay, Harry, I will place the star on top of the tree but only if you will do me one favor.”

“What would that be, Mattie?”

“I want to put the star in place using my hands so I want you to levitate me up to the top of the tree so I can do that. I learned a lesson from what I was told you did with our guests when you all participated together in chopping down this great tree without using magic. In the same venue I think this Christmas will mean more to me if I can place the star there with just my hands instead of using my magic and if you levitate me then I will not use any magic at all to place the star on top.”

“It would be my honor Mattie,” replied Harry. Mattie picked up the large star. “Are you ready?” asked Harry. Mattie nodded yes so Harry took his wand and levitated Mattie up to the top of the tree very slowly being as careful as he can be. Mattie placed the star on top of the tree and fastened it in place the Muggle way. Harry brought her back down after she was done. Once her feet hit the floor she ran over to Harry and hugged him.

“Thank you Harry! That meant more to me than you will ever know. You honor an old house elf and I am so proud of you for making this Christmas the best ever!” exclaimed Mattie.

“You’re most welcome Mattie but I could not have done any of this without you and all the rest of the elves. You guys have been absolutely outstanding in everything you have done.” Harry waved his wand and a tray of drinks appeared. Picking up one of the drinks he raised his glass in the air, “May I have your attention? I would like to propose a toast.” All the guests stopped and picked up a drink. “To the house elves of Potter Place. They have done a remarkable job this Christmas and I want to thank them for being the best they can be.”

Harry raised his glass then took a drink. All the guests raised theirs as well and took a drink then put down their glasses and began applauding the elves and thanking them for taking such good care of everyone. The elves were embarrassed to say the least but they were very happy that everybody thought they were doing a good job.

It was getting late and some guests were showing signs of being tired so Harry excused himself to go to his room. He really wanted to work on his presents that he bought and he would need to get help from Simon a bit later after everyone was asleep.

Once in his room Harry started casting the auto-fit charm on several of the items he bought. When it was late enough he quietly apparated into the Library and asked Simon if he would meet him in the training room to work on something. He was afraid Hermione might make a late night run to the Library so wanted to do this in the training room just in case. Harry apparated to the training room and Simon was there about the same time. Harry cast a silencing charm.

“Well Harry, what can I do for you so late at night?”

“Thanks for helping Simon. I bought a bunch of Christmas presents for my guests and the elves. I actually bought them all necklaces and the girls also got pendants to go on their necklace. I know. I know. Why would I think the guys would want a necklace from me? Well, what I want to do is put all kinds of strong protections on all the necklaces and I also want them to be able to wear them but the necklace can be invisible. If they want it to show to others, they can but it will stay invisible if they don’t want it to show. I need your help with some of the protections and how to make it easy for them to show the necklace or hide the necklace. Will you help me with that?”

“Certainly Harry. I would be happy to help you. You are a good lad you know that? To want to protect your friends like that is a very noble and caring thing to do. Let’s get started shall we? Did you bring a necklace?”

“Yes, got one right here and remember this is a secret. They cannot know what I bought them and what we are doing until after Christmas morning when they receive their gifts. Got it?”

“My painted lips are sealed Harry. Here is what you need to do…”

Christmas morning finally arrived. Bill and Charlie came in the night before and helped bring Mr. Weasley as well. He was finally let out of the hospital but was still sore from his injuries. Everyone was starting to stir and the elves had prepared a breakfast feast for everyone. They all met in the dining room. Harry had Mr. Weasley sit at one end of the table while Harry occupied the other end. Everyone else sat where they wanted. On Harry’s left sat Ginny, Hermione, Ron, Neville, and Luna. On Harry’s right sat Dan, Emma, George, and Fred. Molly, Bill, Charlie, Remus, Tonks, and Sirius sat closer to Mr. Weasley on his end and helped to fill in the middle seats. The food was outstanding to say the least. Leru completely outdid himself with Christmas breakfast.

Harry had all his guests adjourn from the dining room and gather around the Christmas tree they had decorated. He also called in all the elves to join in on the Christmas celebrations. Once everyone was settled Harry asked Luna and Neville if they would do the honors and pass out all the Christmas presents. Harry noticed that all his guests, including the house elves, were wondering where all the extra presents had come from. Harry had brought all of his wrapped presents and put them under the tree in the wee hours of the morning so no one saw when he did.

Luna and Neville were very efficient handing out the presents. The elves were shocked when they were handed a present and shocked again when they were handed a second present. His guests were getting a little suspicious as well when they received two presents each from Harry.

“Harry, this isn’t fair!” said Ginny. “You bought us two presents?”

“Once we start opening them you will understand and I already realized I will have to explain both presents but I will do that once everyone has opened all their presents first. Wait until then and I will be happy to explain,” replied Harry.

Once all the presents were open, Harry was looking at the jumper he received from Mrs. Weasley, then the book he got from Hermione (she apologized for not knowing at the time how many books he had), the chocolates from Ron, a photo album from Ginny for his new memories, green dragon hide gloves from Charlie, a book on finance from Bill, a staff from Mattie (she said she would explain later), and a few other gifts. Harry realized everyone was now staring at him, especially the men who were looking back and forth at him and then at their necklaces. Harry slowly looked up and caught everyone’s eyes on him.

“Oh, I guess you guys would like an explanation?” asked Harry.

They all nodded yes, even the elves.

“Alright, then here goes,” said Harry. “Let’s start with the easy one. Could everyone put on their new cowboy hat?”

All the guests and elves put on the cowboy hat that Harry had bought them. Harry put on his as well. All the hats fit perfectly due to Harry’s auto-fit charm.

“Since most of us have taken up horseback riding and some were already old pros, I decided that you all deserved a cowboy hat that you can wear when you ride. It’s a special thank you to my guests and friends for spending this holiday with me. If you like someone else’s color and they are agreeable for a trade, then feel free. Otherwise, we will have to use magic to change the color. Up to you. The auto-fit charm will still work. Okay, you can take your hats off now if you want.” Most left theirs on.

George and Fred held up their necklaces. “Harry,” said Fred, “what were you thinking?”

“Yes, Harry a necklace?” said George. “Grant it, it is a man’s necklace but I’m not sure how to accept a necklace from another guy.”

“I know, I know,” said Harry. “Hold your horses while I explain.

“I love my new necklace and the pendant is beautiful,” said Ginny.

“Me, too,” said Luna “but I think I still like my cork bottle necklace a little better.”

“It’s lovely Harry. Thank you,” said Mrs. Weasley.

“Harry, I think the guys are still waiting for your explanation” said Sirius. “I know I am.”

“Alright, everyone. I would like you all to put on your necklace, yes, the men too,” said Harry.

Everyone put on their necklace and as soon as they did, it disappeared.

“Look around,” said Harry. “Do you see anyone with their necklace on? Look in the mirror. Can you see your necklace around your neck? No? You can feel it but you can’t see it. Nor can anyone else see it.”

“Now, everyone reach up and touch your necklace. While touching it say the word ‘show’ then look in the mirror or at another person. You can now see your necklace. Touch it and say ‘hide’ to make it disappear again.”

“Wow, this is so cool Harry,” said Emma. “It’s like I’m doing magic.”

“I am glad you like it. The magic is in the necklace. The word and the touch just triggers the change.”

“Harry, this is some very advanced magic. I am extremely impressed,” said Hermione.

“Thank you Hermione but there is more to this story. I made it so you can hide the necklace if you don’t wish for it to show but the important thing is that you wear it all the time or at least as much as possible. The reason you should wear it is because those necklaces have every protection spell I could think to place on them. I also got help and ideas from Simon to do this. While they cannot stop any of the Unforgiveable curses, they should prove most effective against others, even nasty ones. So, please wear them and stay protected.”

They all just stared at him dumbfounded.

“You are all my friends and family and I wish for you all to remain as safe as possible. So there guys, wear it hidden if you don’t want it to show and take advantage of the protection it gives.”

Harry received lots of hugs and thanks that morning from all his guests and all the house elves as well. They all looked real cute in their cowboy hats too.

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