Winter break wasn't all fun and games, however. Harry still needed to practice, even during the holidays. Muscle memory was something that wasn't going to fix itself; Harry needed to focus if he wanted to get into shape. Being able to defend himself was something that was becoming increasingly more necessary the longer that he spent within the magical world. Half the population was hailing him as their savior (Gabriel snorted, as he always did when that particular truth was brought up) and the other half wanted him dead.
'Hard truths,' Gabriel winced. It was beginning to get easier, as time went along, to converse with Gabriel without zoning out from the rest of the world. Hermione barely ever snapped at him to get his attention anymore and Ron looked less worried than he had been getting in previous months. It wasn't perfect, he still had his moments when he lost himself when thinking about some of the memories that he had gained but it was an improvement. One that he had desperately needed.
Being winter break didn't make finding time to practice any easier. Ron, the Twins, and Ginny always seemed to have something for him to do to occupy his time and Harry was already beginning to twitch in irritation at the amount of effort it took to get time alone. Luckily, Percy was the one to step in when it was becoming obvious that Harry was about to blow.
The oldest of the Weasley siblings that were present was far more observant to his surroundings than the rest of the Weasley's. Except the Twins but Harry was half convinced that they were doing it on purpose at this point anyways so where or not they noticed was a moot point. Harry was at the edge of his patience. He liked spending time with the Weasley's. He loved spending time with them, actually. That didn't mean that he didn't want to have some time to himself, even if Ron and Ginny seemed more than pleased to attempt to spend every waking moment around him.
Ron was his best friend but…there was only so much of one person Harry could take. Even at Hogwarts they weren't attached at the hip; Harry was always going off on his own when he was tired of company. The Twins weren't making things easier on him either, in fact the two of them seemed to delight in pouncing on him during his rare moments of alone time.
Three days until the end of Winter Break and Percy finally stepped in, carefully distracting the Twins by purposely stepping into one of their pranks (and when had the two of them had time to booby-trap the back door?). As the two redheaded menaces broke down in laughter, Harry was able to slip outside the front door after a grateful nod in Percy's direction.
The usually posh and mannered redhead gave him a sly wink, one of the few actions that allowed Harry to see the resemblance to his twin brothers in his face, and grinned back. While the twins were rather sure that Percy was lacking of sense of humor, it was still there. Just far more…restrained than the rest of his brothers. Harry was pretty sure that Percy enjoyed letting them think that he was a stick in the mud, if only for the inside jokes he could create with others in times like this.
The silence that accompanied living away from large chunks of civilization was like a symphony to his ears. One of the perks of his near death experience hadn't been increased magical power (as if he needed something else he had to learn to control) but the affect that it had on his senses. When he started regaining his memories, Harry had gained certain skills that he hadn't had before; the ability to see magic for example.
Now it was like someone had lifted a blindfold off of his eyes and he could see the world clearly for the first time. He found that he didn't even need his glasses anymore, not really. In fact, wearing them was starting to make his head hurt as they blurred the world out of focus. He just didn't know how to explain the fact that he suddenly didn't need them anymore. Sure, no one had ever reacted to Dementors in that fashion before but it was unlikely that they wouldn't find it fishy that his near death experience had fixed his eyes.
It wasn't like he could tell them the truth, either. Even if by some miracle they believed him when he told them that he was an archangel, he didn't really know himself why his eyes were suddenly fixed. Even Gabriel agreed that it was rather strange that their Grace would choose that moment to fix his eyes instead of when he was in the Chamber or when they had first reunited. 'Nothing like this has ever happened before,' Gabriel had said when Harry had asked. They were the first angel (arch or otherwise) to ever be brought back in this manner so they were flying blind on this.
Sometimes, Harry thought as he slammed into one of the higher tree branches, that was more literal than most people meant. His head gave a painful throb from where he had hit it on the tree. He longed for the days where he wouldn't have to worry about crashing; days that were looking farther and farther away the more he practiced.
'You just need to get your balance right,' Gabriel tried to encourage. 'It's like learning to walk, we'll get it eventually.'
'Somehow I don't think toddlers have this much problems learning how to walk,' Harry grumbled grumpily. His head was throbbing and his wings were twitching behind him in response to his irritation.
'You're thinking too hard,' Gabriel sighed, likely just as irritated as Harry was. 'Stop focusing on the movement of your wings and focus more on the air currents around you.'
This was advice that he had heard before and it was much harder than that. Harry was painfully aware of his wings; he had been ever since he had first regained them. He knew that they weren't actually a part of his body just a manifestation of his Grace. To his eyes though, they had feathers that were a variety of green and gold. To his mind, he could feel them up against his back and he could feel the joints that attached them to his shoulder blades. The fact that they, technically, weren't actually there wasn't doing him any good at all.
So it was really hard to focus on anything else besides them. It had been easier when they had been smaller and he hadn't had to worry about accidently finding himself in Antarctica if he wasn't careful. Even with only one pair, having them full sized opened up far more dangerous possibilities than Harry was really comfortable with.
"Perhaps you should ask your pixie friends for advice?" A dreamy voice asked from behind him. "It doesn't look pleasant to run into trees like that."
Harry jumped, his wings flaring outwardly as he whipped around in his surprise. The combination of the three movements sent him flipping backwards and landing roughly into the snow beneath him. "Oh dear," the voice that belonged to Luna Lovegood said from in front of him. "Are you alright?"
"I'm okay," Harry moaned, ignoring the pain that was flaring in his back. He sat up easily, his wings helping push him forward off the ground in a way that surprised him. He hadn't meant to use them instead of his arms.
'See!' Gabriel crowed in victory. 'I told you that you were focusing on them too hard!'
Harry fought the urge to roll his eyes. He'd already known that, thanks. It was figuring out how to move them without focusing on them that he was having trouble with!
"You don't seem to be able to fly very well," Luna said, the observation not as biting as it might have been due to the dreamy hue of her voice. "Did you forget how?" she asked, titling her head to the side in a very bird-like way.
'You can say that again.' Gabriel grumbled, ignoring the question all together.
'Hush,' Harry scolded before turning his attention to the question. "It's not that I forgot how," Harry told her. Well, not anymore at least but semantics. "It's more that I'm missing a few wings."
It surprised him how easy it was to answer her question at all, never mind that someone knew enough to even ask it. The fact that she could actually see his wings, the only other person able to see them besides him, relieved a giant weight off of his chest. A weight that he hadn't even been aware was there until it was gone.
Luna glanced at his wings, her eyes momentarily focusing on where the other two pair should have been before she nodded. "I suppose it would be hard to fly without all your wings," she replied, her voice just a shade less dreamy than he was used to. "Is that why you don't fly very high?"
Just how long had she been standing there watching him? Harry wondered, somewhat unsettled by the thought of her having stood there and watched him without saying anything. "If I fly too high there's a good chance I'll end up in China on accident," he told her honestly.
'Or space.' Gabriel added in helpfully.
'Hush!' Harry hissed back. The last thing he needed was to divide his attention in two different directions at the moment. He was trying to not focus on things to hard!
"Papa says that talking to yourself is a sign of a creative mind," Luna told him. Harry stared at her in shock. "I suppose that you must have a really creative mind to be able to get an answer."
"I reckon you're right," Harry said numbly as Gabriel seemed to direct all of his attention onto Luna. Just how had she known that he and Gabriel had been talking? He'd barely said more than a few words to him since she'd shown up!
Luna smiled serenely at him and reached out to brush her hand against his wing. Harry nearly gasped at the sensation of pleasure that her touch caused and he leaned the appendage closer to her in response.
They sat like that for a long time. Luna gently rubbed her fingers against his feathers while Harry allowed himself to bliss out at the sensation. He could definitely understand why Hedwig loved it when he stroked her wings, he thought as gentle fingers caressed green and gold feathers.
The sound of Ron's voice calling his name through the trees broke Harry out of his haze and, reluctantly, he pulled his wing back. Luna looked at the appendage in disappointment. "I'll see you later, then?" He asked and received a dreamy smile in return as the girl stood from the snow.
He waved a farewell as he headed off in the direction of the Burrow once more, not nearly as stressed as he had been for the last few weeks.
'I'm sure it had nothing to do with that wonderful petting we just got,' Gabriel snickered in the back of his mind.
Harry steadily ignored him.