Content Harry Potter
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Chapter 40: Noel Activity

Thank you to my Betas; Donalddeutsch, Cateagle and Sparky40sw.

Mrs. Weasley was surprised to find Harry waiting in the kitchen when she went down the first morning of the Christmas Holidays; drinking his morning cup of tea.   While Harry had started a habit of morning exercise the summer before, even then he hadn’t been waiting for her at the breakfast table when she came down each morning, and now his presence surprised her.

"Harry," she said when she saw the mop of raven hair, "Why up so early?   You didn’t have any more nightmares, did you?"

Harry smiled.   It was nice to have a motherly figure on occasion.   "No, Mrs. Weasley," he said.   "I just had something to do before everyone else got up."

Mrs. Weasley, who had been taking pots and pans out of the cupboards, halted her progress at the mischievous smile in Harry’s voice.   Surviving the twins’ childhood, she had long learned to recognize a prank in progress by her children’s voices alone.

"What have you done?" she asked.   "I thought that the pranks were over."

Harry beamed a smile directly at the matron.   "They all had their chance.   Now it’s my turn.   I can’t let it go without an answer."

Mrs. Weasley set the knife down that she had picked up to start on breakfast and wiped her hands on her apron.   "Harry," she said, "Please don’t hurt my children."

Having heard the plea, Harry took it in the joking manner that it was meant, but he couldn’t help but notice the underlying worry in her voice or forget her experience with the boggart.

"They’ll be perfectly fine, Mrs. Weasley.   By the end of breakfast, they won’t be able to miss the effect of the prank and in some time they’ll have figured out what’s causing their problems," Harry said confidently.

"What’s going to happen?" she asked.

"Just wait for the surprise," Harry said.   "Oh, and take one of these pills," Harry added as he reached into his pocket for a small velvet satchel of small pills.   "Just put it under your tongue.   It’ll dissolve quickly."

She eyed the small white object warily.   "It’s not that I don’t trust you, Harry," she said slowly.   "It’s just that…"

Harry cocked his eyebrows in amused inquiry.   "…raising the twins taught you not to eat unidentified things?"

She smiled, "I learned that lesson as a child.   My brothers were nearly as bad as those children."

Harry smiled sadly at the former Miss Prewett.   "I see," Harry said.   "This is the antidote for the prank.   Hermione, Ginny and Mr. Weasley get one too.   I already took mine before brushing my teeth this morning."

She slowly took the offered pill.   "I suppose I’ll just have to trust you in this," she said before doing as instructed and placing the pill under her tongue.   "Hmm," she commented, "not bad.   Almost sweet, what little I can taste."

Harry smiled, "Yeah, after five years of foul tasting concoctions, I was glad to find that this only required a tincture of potion and that sugar wouldn’t affect the dose.   Wish that worked with all potions."

"Pipe dreams, Harry," she chuckled, "but keep trying and who knows where ingenuity will take you."

What sounded like a hundred stampeding elephants descending the stairs heralded the arrival of the rest of the Weasley clan.   Harry was amazed by the naked enthusiasm with which this family could greet each meal.   They were all, save Percy, tussled and tired after their night’s sleep, but had, at bare minimum, brushed their teeth before approaching the table in their dressing gowns and, in the case of Fred and George, matching pink bunny slippers.

Harry got up and gave Ginny a peck on the cheek and went to the cold cupboard and retrieved the pumpkin juice and glasses.   He quickly poured himself and Ginny each a glass of the sweet orange liquid.   Under Ginny’s curious eye, he then went back to the dry cupboard and brought back two spice jars.   Into his and Ginny’s glasses he sprinkled some nutmeg to cover dosing her glass with a magic pill.   Ginny looked at him askew but stayed silent.

"Hey, where’s ours?" Ron asked groggily.

"He’s my boyfriend, not yours, Ronald," she said with a giggle in her eye.   "If you want a boyfriend, go talk to Malfoy."

Ron looked appalled and sickened for a moment as Ginny sipped her dosed drink.   The older brothers were cracking up; even Percy had displayed a rare smile.

"Mmmm, Harry," Ginny said.   "This is good.   What’s that you added?"

"Hmm?" Harry looked at her.   The look told her more than when he answered, "Nutmeg."

"Ooh, let me try some, Ginny," Ron commanded.

"Ron," Harry sighed to cover his quick maneuvering to prevent Ginny’s drink from being shared.   "Hold your horses and I’ll get drinks for everyone."

Harry got up and went about getting more glasses for the rest of the gang and filling them with the juice.   After a short question, Hermione and the Weasley parents decided on tea instead of the sweet juice.

Harry tried to ignore the twins performing detection spells on their pumpkin juice, if only to keep him from laughing at the table.

"Cinnamon?" Harry asked Hermione choking back his chuckle.   He had dosed the teacups before filling them with the steeped liquid, something that he couldn’t do with Ginny’s clear glass, so no further manipulation was necessary, but he liked to add confusing clues none-the-less.

"Please," Hermione said brightly.

A shake of the powdered bark later and breakfast proceeded smoothly on.

Within four minutes of the dishes being served, the point Percy had been trying to make through some very serious waves of his fork laden hand was interrupted by a popping sound as Ron was replaced by a startling mass of feathers with a long beak.   Percy froze mid-gesture with a piece of bacon on the end of his fork dangling, still pointing at Harry.   Their discussion on the suitability of the Ministry in general, forgotten by everyone as they all gazed wide mouthed at the bird.

Harry was gob smacked for mere seconds before he doubled over in laughter.     Had the others been listening, they would have heard Harry gasping breaths between laughter and comments about the excellent blue heron Ron had made of himself.

The Weasley boys didn’t have long to contemplate this before there was a staccato of popping, resulting from the transformations of Bill, Charlie, Fred, George and Percy into different animals.

Ginny and Hermione were still awed by the sight in front of them, seeing a grey hound in Bill’s seat looking around like the world had been pulled from under it.   Ron’s heron was no better, swinging its long beak left and right, trying to figure out what was happening.   Charlie’s place was filled with a large lizard, flicking its tongue, apparently trying to figure life’s changes out through the taste of the air.   A pair of tiger striped felines replaced Fred and George; perfect mirror images of each other.   Percy, always the odd duck in the family of pranksters, was absent, with a rather odd creature in his place.

Harry saw the new Percy and nearly fell to the floor in his continuing laughter.

Ginny was the first to gather her wits enough to speak.   "What in the heck is that, Harry?"

"That, I believe," Hermione said as she brushed tears from her eyes from her own concealed bout of laughter, "is a duck-billed platypus," she said with authority, belied by her grinning expression.

"Okay," Ginny said, "is there a non-duck-billed platypus?"

"No," Hermione said.

"So the duck-billed part is…" Ginny prompted.

"Because it has a duck-like bill on its face," Hermione stated.


Most of the animals, by now, had slipped off their chairs and were exploring the world from a new perspective.   Bill was sniffing around the cabinets, lingering at the cold cupboard, as he smelled something interesting and, no doubt, edible.   Charlie was nowhere to be seen.   Harry had a sneaking feeling that if he wanted to find the dragon keeper; he would have to look in a warm, dark place, remembering reptiles from his muggle school days.   Ron was walking slowly on the floor around the table, his head bobbing with each step.   Percy was still to be found sedate in his seat, causing no trouble.

The troublemakers, as always, were the twins.   Fred and George were off their seats and on the prowl.   As they jumped on the countertop, Mrs. Weasley sprung from her chair.

"Oh, no, no, no…" she said, "Off the counter boys.   That isn’t a place for cats or adults."

She shooed them off the counter and rounded on Harry.

"Harry, dear," she said sweetly with a smile, "As entertaining as your prank is, when will it end."

Harry smiled in return, "Well, they have to figure it out," Harry said, "but they’ll transform back in any minute now."

"Any minute?   Where are Fred and George?" she asked, twittering about in search for the pair, which had disappeared immediately after being relegated to the floor.

She was concerned with reason.   Those two could find trouble in an empty room.

With a pop, Ron was perched in an impossible position on the floor.   His position became a lot more possible when he fell into a heap with a shrill cry.

Shortly after Ron’s embarrassment, the cacophony of pops was recreated, this time spread over a larger area.   One pop with a matching exclamation of, "ouch," was accentuated by a heavy bang from the underside of the table.   Harry laughed as he realized where Charlie had gotten to in his lizard form.   The underside of the table was, apparently, a bit cramped for a grown adult.

Bill’s pop came from his hound-dog stakeout of the cold cupboard, leaving him sprawling against the cabinet.   Percy was left lying across his chair, where he scrambled to right himself in a dignified manner.   That left Fred and George; however, they were nowhere to be seen in the kitchen.

"Where are Fred and George?" Mr. Weasley repeated Mrs. Weasley’s earlier question.

Everyone looked around but didn’t see them.

"Everyone get up and go find them," Mrs. Weasley commanded.   "Who knows what trouble they were getting into when they changed back?"

Everyone filed out of the kitchen to a sight that had everyone clutching his or her side.   One of the startled twins was lying over the back of the couch while the other was only able to stay on the mantle for two seconds before he toppled to the wood floor below.

After everyone settled down and started eating breakfast once again, it was a full seven minutes before a disruption this time.   With a pop, Ron, being the faster eater, was nowhere to be seen.   Hermione, sitting next to him, pulled a white rabbit with a fluffy tail from his seat to her own lap.   She was laughing without reservation while she stroked her boyfriend’s fur.

The meal was to be further interrupted by the seemingly random transformation of a Weasley male and subsequent transformation back to their original form.   Harry was positive that they would figure out that the trigger was eating by the end of lunch that day.   Harry was sure that they wouldn’t starve, but he still couldn’t help but be amused at the short time it took them each to consume five-hundred calories.

Harry sat in the living room with Ginny snuggled into his side as he read a book he had borrowed from the restricted section of the Hogwarts library.   Bill and Hermione sat in opposite chairs near the warm fire, both reading as well.

Harry noticed that Hermione was not her usual tranquil self as she thumbed through the book in her lap.   Harry attempted to leave her be as she fidgeted around her seat, but that was becoming harder and harder.   Several times Harry caught her sending him an evil look, which he attempted to ignore.

Hermione shifted again, this time unfolding herself and placing both feet on the floor as she slammed her book shut.   She turned a baleful eye to Harry in an unwavering glare.

Harry slowly closed his book and set it aside.

"I get the feeling, Hermione," Harry said, "that you wish to discuss something."

"Harry," she said, "Do you know what I have been reading ever since we got off the train three days ago?"

Harry smirked, "It would only be a guess, but as I haven’t seen the Prophet or Quibbler lately, I’d have to guess that you have been reading books."

Hermione growled…actually growled, "I have been reading every book that I possess on the subject of Ancient Runes," she said.   "And do you know what I found?" she asked, menacingly.

"By the tone of your voice," Harry said, "Am I to assume that you haven’t found what you are after?"

"Yes," she said through her teeth, "I haven’t found what I am after."

"I might have some more books on Ancient Runes if you need some more material," Bill said helpfully without lowering his book.   He had apparently missed the tone of the conversation, causing Harry to nearly laugh and the amusement on Ginny’s face to become somewhat less passive.

"Thank you, Bill, for your consideration," Hermione said with strained sweetness, "but, unfortunately, I can’t be sure what I am actually looking for, as the objects in question are still at Hogwarts and Harry won’t tell me how it was done."

Bill put his book down with an interested eye for the conversation now.

"Well, Harry," Bill said, "I know some about Ancient Runes with my work for the Goblins and all.   Maybe if we could bring these things here we could work on them."

Harry smirked.   "Well, that could be a problem.   See, they’re all rather firmly attached to their current location."

Bill stared at him for a second.   "Okay.   What exactly have you made?" he asked.   "I assume, since she’s giving you the evil eye, that you’re the one that did it?"

Harry and Ginny exchanged a look.   "Yeah," he said, "I made ’em.   They’re the crests that you probably saw at the school when you came for a visit."

Bill leaned forward and placed his elbows on his knees.   "Oh, yeah," He said, "I saw those.   Mighty fine work you did.   Those were beautiful.   That’s quite a talent you have there for stonework.   Are they conjured?"

"Nope," Harry answered.   Hermione settled down, thinking that the answers would come now that a non-student was interested.   "The stone had to be natural for the magic to be focused and channeled correctly.   Conjured or even transfigured stone won’t ever have a perfectly natural crystalline structure, according to the translations that I found."

"Really," said Bill enthusiastically.   Hermione was busy watching her conversation veering off course.   "Were you looking at translations from Egyptian or Crimean sources?"

Before Harry could answer, Hermione stepped back into the conversation.   "We’re getting off track here," she said vehemently.   "Harry, tell him what the crests are actually for.   Tell him how you invented a new form of magical transportation and no one but you knows how you did it."

Harry forced his smile down viciously.   "Bill, the crests are actually a new form of magical transportation," Harry said with all the seriousness he could muster.   "But, I’m not the only one to know how I did it.   Ginny knows too."

"Wow, what exactly is it?" Bill asked.

"I believed he called it a…" Ginny answered, "…Linked Runic Transport System."

"So you managed to use runes to make a new system?" Bill asked.   "I hadn’t realized that you were a rune master, or even a runes student."

Harry blushed.   "Oh, I’m not a master.   I really couldn’t decipher the simplest of phrases," Harry claimed.   "I just found all of the translated phrases that I needed in some books and put them together in an experiment.   I didn’t really make anything new."

"Well," Bill replied, "You may not have invented the original runic phrases, but taking existing parts and making a completely new whole is still invention if it hasn’t been done before.   I’d really like to see your work."   Bill sounded more the professional adult now than Harry or Ginny had ever remembered him before.   Normally when he spoke of his profession, it was more in an enthused boyish manner.   What they saw now was a combination of his professionalism and a curious nature that had won him a good reputation amongst his peers and superiors.

"What we need is for Harry to show us what he did," Hermione said, still trying to steer the conversation to her goals.

"Well," Bill said, "What about it, Harry?   Will you show us your notes so that we can all appreciate it?   I’d love to see it.   There are some Runic protections in the more sophisticated tombs that no one has ever been able to break without destruction of the key."

"Well," Harry said, "I really wanted Hermione to figure it out on her own."

"But, Harry," Hermione almost whined, "Bill is here now.   After the holidays he has to go back to work and London.   Show us now, please?"

Harry was now getting worked from both sides and Ginny was no help.   She just sat there amused and proud of Harry.

Harry batted it back and forth in his mind, trying to decide on whether to let Hermione and Bill see his notes.   On one hand he could show them the notes and let them have their fun, knowing that the conversation would be over his head within three sentences.   The good point would be forestalling having to listen to Hermione on the issue for the rest of the holiday.   He knew that she wouldn’t let the subject go.   On the other hand was his desire to have Hermione figure it out independently.   The problem with that strategy was that, now that he thought about it, his motivations were selfish.   He wanted her to appreciate his ingenuity in combining dissimilar phrases of runes, a subject that he had no experience in before, from several different origins to accomplish a new goal.   In the end, his decision was made when he realized that he wouldn’t like looking at his image in the mirror if he were to lower himself to selfish motivations when he was considering his friends.

Harry exhaled a large breath.   "Okay, I’ll get the notes, but…"

Harry was cut off by a shrill screech, causing him to grab the front of his shirt.   He reached to the side of his neck and pulled up on the chain to bring his necklace into view.   As he gripped his necklace pendant his eyes slid out of focus.   He shot from the couch and stood rigidly.

"Someone’s calling for help.   Ginny," He commanded, "Go get your parents and older brothers."

Ginny left his side instantly, quickly moving toward the kitchen.

"Bill," Harry said, "Grab this chain.   We’ll head to the location.   Hermione, tell them it’s   Howitt Road, Camden, North London," Harry told her.   "Wands out, Bill."

Before Hermione could object, Bill had grasped the necklace chain and both had drawn their wands.   They disappeared as soon as Harry said, "Portus."

Hermione was left gaping at the spot Harry had been moments before as the whole family rushed into the living room.

"Where’d they go?" Ginny asked franticly.

"Um…Howitt Road, Camden, North London," Hermione repeated perfectly to the group, still stunned.

This set the family into motion.   "Charlie," Mr. Weasley said, "Get the apparition maps for London.   Quickly.   Ginny, Ron, Hermione…stay here and floo the Headmaster.   Everyone else…wands in hand.   Be ready."   It was a testament to his command ability that his orders were not questioned.

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