12 inches of parchment.
That’s all he was given.
12 inches of parchment, on which he was expected to write all that he wanted to say to his family. How was he supposed to fit all that he wanted to say onto 12 inches of parchment?
He wanted to tell them that he loved them. He wanted to tell them that he missed them, and he wanted to tell them about all the adventures he had been on while he had been away. But most of all, he wanted to tell them how much he wished he could be home, in front of the fireplace, curled up in a blanket with Teddy, James, Al and Lily all snuggled up against his as they listened to the carollers walk up and down the streets outside and sipped Molly’s famous eggnog.
As he stared down at the parchment, quill hovering in the air above, Harry Potter longed for his family. It was christmas, and he was stuck in Alaska, chasing some rouge wizards and witches through the mountains. Apparently they had committed some offence against the ministry and then ran. Harry hadn’t even been told what offence they had committed, just that he and his partner were to chase them and take them down for their crimes. So here he was, stuck in a shallow cave in the middle of a mild snowstorm freezing his toes off.
Harry looked over to the other side of the small cave where Ron sat, huddled under his blanket, which was much too small for his tall, lanky body. Ron seemed to be having the same problem as Harry; his quill hovered as he fought to find the right words to say.
Sensing Harry’s eyes on him, Ron looked up. His face was drawn and white, small patches of red on his cheeks and nose showing where his body was trying to fight the cold.
Neither friend spoke. Words were not needed as they looked into each others’ eyes and saw that they were sharing the same pain. Ron had Hermione at home, with Rose and the newly born Hugo. Harry had Ginny, James, Albus and little Lily.Teddy had even come home from Hogwarts especially, just to see Harry for christmas. It was both Lily and Hugo’s first christmas, and both men were missing it.
Harry placed his piece of parchment to the side and got up to stock the small fire they had created. Ron watched him as he pulled out his wand and the flame flared up. Harry pulled his bottomless bag towards him and pulled out his tin of beef jerky and crackers.
And then something snapped. He wasn’t meant to be here. He was meant to be at home, eating Ginny’s delicious roast chicken and listening to corny carols while singing them terribly with his family.
He wasn’t meant to be infant of a campfire, he should be infront of his fireplace! He wasn’t meant to be eating crackers, he should be eating smores!
With all these thoughts running around his head, Harry fell to the floor and started heaving great sobs into his hands.
Ron immediately jumped up and joined Harry by the fire, rubbing a comforting hand over his back,
“Hey, hey, Harry. It’s okay, it’s alright. You’ll see them again and you’ll get to celebrate christmas with them, just a little later than expected, alright?”
Harry leaned into Ron’s embrace. He felt ridiculous. He was a grown man and he was crying because he didn’t get to celebrate christmas. He felt so pathetic, but he just couldn’t stop sobbing,
“It’s not okay Ron! I’m meant to be at home and you are too! It’s Lily and Hugo’s first christmas and we are out here sitting in the snow while Hermione and Ginny are left to have to watch the kids by themselves! I bought James one of those toy brooms that he loves and now I don’t even get to see his face as he opens it! A-A-And Teddy… Teddy, Ron, Teddy came home these holidays just to be with me! What if I don’t see him? He’ll go back to school and I won’t be able to see him for another 6 month! I-I-I just miss them all so-o-o much!” Harry heaved in deep breaths as he leaned even further into Ron’s hug. He could feel Ron swallow before he replied thickly,
“I know mate, I know. You don’t think I wish I was with my six week old son? I miss them just as much as you do. I don’t want to be trapped out here in the cold. Especially when I heard mum say she was going to make plum pudding for the christmas gathering,” Harry laughed wetly at that comment; trust Ron to always think of his stomach, “but mate, we need to think about the positives at the moment-“
Harry gave him an incredulous look as he cut his best friend off, “What positives?”
“Well, for starters, I’m here,” Harry snorted. Ron gave him an exaggerated hurt look before continuing, “We also have blankets and food and shelter, not much of any of those things, but still a little,” Ron looked around for a minute then turned back to Harry, “And that’s about it.”
Harry snorted again, “Wow, thank you Ronald for that in depth analysis of our stock, it was so reassuring, I’m feeling much better now,”
Ron rolled his eyes, “Look mate, it may be christmas eve and we may be out in the middle of no where, but we need to keep our hopes up and fight on, okay? We’ll catch these guys in no time, I mean you’re the Boy Who Lived! They’ll take one look at you and run away screaming like little girls!”
Harry looked at Ron, “You do realise that the whole point of us being out here in the snow is to stop them from running, don’t you?’
Ron scratched his head, “Oh yeah, well then maybe you should wear a mask, like one of those full face masks muggles use; belarva? becalava?”
Ron nodded, “Yeah one of those!”
Harry rolled his eyes, “Okay Ron, sure thing,”
As the storm continued to get heavier, the two best friends huddled closer together and wrapped the blankets around themselves. Although they were in the middle of nowhere, miles from their families and loving homes, they tried not to give up hope, it was christmas eve after all, and no one should be giving up on a day of such wonder and spirit. So as the clouds grew darker and the night colder the two friends slowly started to fall asleep, but before they did, words of faith were whispered,
“Merry christmas Ron,”
“Merry christmas Harry”
And with that the two friends fell asleep in each others’ arms, the 12 inches of parchment left on the cool stone; forgotten and hidden in the shadows of their small sanctuary.
Teddy was missing his godfather. He had come home from his first year at Hogwarts to spend christmas with Harry and his family, only for Harry to be called away to chase and capture some rogue magical folk.
It just wasn’t fair!
Teddy had spent a good half of his last visit to Hogsmeade finding the perfect present for his much loved godfather, but now he wouldn’t even be able to see his face when he opened it. Teddy was due back at Hogwarts tomorrow and Harry still had not made an appearance.
Through-out the whole holiday season, Harry had only sent the family one, tearstained letter, but Teddy couldn’t blame him for that; everyone knew that the Ministry was cracking down supplies for the aurors who went on long-distance jobs. The writing on the letter had been cramped, but delicately scrawled. Harry hadn’t told them what he was doing, or when he would be back, but just told them about how much he missed them and how he wished he could be at home with them all.
And boy did Teddy want to write back and tell his godfather that he missed him, and that he loved him and that he wished he was here, but he couldn’t. The Ministry regulations didn’t allow families to write back to their relatives completing missions, for fear of infiltration.
Teddy knew he was being selfish. He shouldn’t be feeling this depressed, Harry’s family should be. Ginny and James and Al and Lily, they should be the ones really upset, and they were, but they didn’t have to go away to school, they would be there when their dad got back, but Teddy wouldn’t be.
Teddy miserably trudged up to the room he claimed as his own whenever he came to visit the Potters and flopped down onto his plush bed. Teddy had already packed his trunk for the next day, just in case Harry came home late that night, so that Teddy could devote all his time to his godfather, but it was already 10:47 and Teddy didn’t think Harry was coming. Teddy turned onto his side and watched as the alarm clock on his bedside table slowly ticked over. Time was running out and Harry wasn’t coming. Slowly silvery trails made their way down Teddy’s cheeks and he allowed himself to escape into oblivion.
Teddy was faced with a solid brick wall, and, though he had done this multiple time before, he still felt a bit queasy when faced with running at the solid stone. Ginny rubbed his shoulders soothingly, and, together, they approached the old archway and disappeared through to station 9 and 3/4. Ginny had left the kids at home with aunt Hermione, knowing that if they saw the Hogwarts Express, they would be too hyper to get back into the car once Teddy had left, and, knowing James, he probably would’ve snuck onto the train in Teddy’s trunk or something.
So, yes, best to leave the kids at home.
The pair stopped outside one of the carriage doors and Ginny patted Teddy’s vibrant green hair down affectionately, although at the moment it wasn’t looking anywhere near as vibrant as usual,
“You got everything, Ted?”
Teddy nodded sullenly, eyes downcast.
“Aww, honey,” Ginny lowered herself to embrace the small boy, rubbing circles on his back, “I’m sorry your godfather couldn’t see you these holidays, but I’ll make sure he writes to you as soon as he gets back, okay?”
Teddy didn’t respond, just buried his face deeper into Ginny’s shoulder, crying softly. Ginny tightened her hold on her surrogate godson.
Then Ginny gasped.
Slowly Teddy extracted himself from Ginny and turned to see where she was looking.
And there, through the bustling crowds of parents fighting to get their children on board the train, stood a man with messy, black hair, green eyes and a crooked smile.
Ginny rushed up to meet her husband, flinging her arms around him, as she did the same to her, burying his face in her long, fiery hair.
After a while they slowly pulled apart, gazing into each others’ eyes for a moment, before Ginny slapped Harry on the arm,
“You idiot! What took you so long! I’ve been worried sick!” Ginny then proceeded to fly back into Harry’s arms once again. Harry looked over his wife’s shoulder at his godson, standing there, staring at him with large eyes, tear tracks still visible on his face. Harry pulled himself away from Ginny and went to kneel down next to Teddy, wiping the silvery evidence of pain from Teddy’s face,
Teddy bounded into Harry’s arms, holding tightly to his beloved godfather, not able to respond, too overjoyed and shocked to be capable of speech.
Harry held on tight to Teddy as they slowly slid to the ground, not bothered by the passing people, or the questioning stares. They didn't matter, for he had seen his godson before he left for school and a little piece of happiness had fallen back into place in Harry’s damaged heart.
The-Boy-Who-Lived was happy, and this one hug expressed more love between the black and green headed males than those 12 inches of parchment ever could have.