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SIYE Time:4:27 on 21st June 2018


Christmas Fair
By Northumbrian

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Category: Post-Hogwarts, Post-DH/AB, Holidays
Characters:Harry/Ginny
Genres: Drama, Fluff, General, Humor, Romance
Warnings: None
Story is Complete
Rating: PG
Reviews: 26
Summary: An attempt to hand deliver a letter to Little Whinging leads Ginny and Harry on a journey of discovery.
Hitcount: Story Total: 2856
Awards: View Trophy Room


Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made for this work.



Author's Notes:
Thanks to Kellie for her beta services, and thanks to everyone else for reading. Merry Christmas, one and all.




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Christmas Fair

Shielding my eyes from the reflected glare of the winter sun, I peered through the window. The room was empty and, as I expected, show-home tidy. There was no hastily abandoned cup or suspiciously swinging door; there was nothing to indicate that anyone was at home. In fact, there was little to indicate that anyone actually lived there.

Taking a step back from the window, I caught Harry’s eye and shook my head. It was obvious that he wanted to leave, but I had to be absolutely certain. Walking across the lawn to the hedge, I turned back to the house and looked up at the bedroom windows. I had to give my fiancé a smile of encouragement before he reluctantly extended a forefinger and pressed the doorbell for the third time. I concentrated on the windows. No curtains twitched.

‘Excuse me,’ the voice calling from the street behind us was soft and hesitant. ‘They aren’t in. I saw them drive off a couple of hours ago.’

When I turned and peered over the hedge at the man who’d spoken, he appeared to be preparing himself for a verbal onslaught.

‘We’re here to deliver a Christmas card to my aunt and uncle,’ Harry explained politely, waving the card.

The man’s relief was obvious, but he remained a little nervous, and the woman at his side was definitely worried. Leaving Harry to push the card through the letterbox, I stepped off the lawn onto the drive and tried to reassure the couple.

The hedge screening number four Privet Drive from the world had also hidden the couple’s two children from me. I was faced with an oddly anxious family of four. They were standing on the drive of number three, directly opposite. The family were, like Harry and I, wrapped up against the chill December wind.

‘Thank you.’ I gave the man a grateful smile and watched as he and his family relaxed. ‘We’d hoped to speak to them. But sometimes, if they realise it’s us, they don’t answer the door. That’s why I was looking through their windows.’

‘I don’t suppose that you know when they’ll be back, do you?’ Harry asked, stepping alongside me. He put his arm around me and squeezed my shoulder.

‘No, sorry.’ The man shrugged. ‘We moved here in the summer.’ He indicated the house behind him. ‘And, while we’ve spoken to most of our new neighbours, but … we … don’t really … know your relatives, do we Hameeda?’

His hijab-wearing wife nodded in agreement. ‘We don’t know them at all,’ she said defensively. ‘They don’t, they, er…’ she stopped, struggling to find the right words.

Harry sighed, so I put an arm around his waist and hugged him.

‘I’m sorry about that,’ Harry apologised on their behalf. ‘My Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon don’t like…’ He hesitated.

Even with my limited knowledge of the Dursleys, and Muggles in general, I realised that–like the woman he was talking to–Harry had talked himself into a corner. As both Harry and the woman, Hameeda, were unable to find a polite way to express their opinions of Vernon, I went to their rescue.

‘People,’ I suggested.

Harry’s grip on my shoulder tightened, and he pulled me in closer as he laughed. The man joined in, and his wife risked a hesitant smile.

‘Ginny’s right,’ Harry admitted, still chuckling. ‘They don’t really like anyone very much.’

The little girl in the bright pink padded jacket was beginning to fidget. She reached up and grabbed her mother’s hand. ‘C’mon, Mummy,’ she said softly. ‘We’ll be late for school.’

‘We’re going, Zahrah,’ the woman told her.

The man gave us a polite smile. ‘I’m sorry you’ve had a wasted journey. I hope you haven’t travelled far. Goodbye.’

‘Goodbye,’ Harry and I spoke together.

Harry silently watched the family walk down the street. The man was pushing the buggy, which contained a cosily wrapped-up boy who looked to be no more than two years old. His wife held their daughter firmly by her red-mittened hand. As we watched the perfectly ordinary Muggle family depart, Harry’s grip on my shoulder tightened a little.

Trying not to alert him to what I was doing, I turned my attention to his pensive profile. It was easy to see the thoughts rolling around inside his head. As Christmas approached, almost everyone’s thoughts turned to family. Harry was no different. I could sense his sadness, his longing to be a participant in a scene like the one he was watching.

He now had a surrogate family in mine, but it would never be the same. Nothing I could do would make up for his childhood memories, and I was certain his childhood contained no scenes like the simple one we were watching. The only thing I could do was put my arm around his waist and my head on his shoulder.

‘Back to The Burrow?’ Harry asked. Finally freeing himself from his gloom, he readied himself to Disapparate. ‘Your mum and dad aren’t expecting us for hours; we could go to Grimmauld Place for an hour or two.’

There was a hopeful look on his face, and I was tempted, but I was also curious. Releasing myself from his embrace, I turned to face him. One thing about our encounter was puzzling me.

‘They’ll be late for school,’ I observed. ‘But it’s almost eleven o’clock, and it’s a Saturday. Do Muggle kids go to school on Saturdays?’

‘No,’ said Harry thoughtfully.

His expression told me that I’d asked a good question. The challenge of this minor mystery was enough to push the melancholy from his mind. As I watched him think, I had to stop myself from kissing him. Harry always claims he’s not clever; he’s wrong. Admittedly he’s not book-clever, like Hermione, but he’s smart. He happily began his attempt to find an answer to the poser I’d presented him with. Concentration creased his face, and I had a front row seat. The way he arranges little scraps of information and places them in such a way as to see the greater truth is wonderful to watch. He is so damned sexy when he’s working on a puzzle.

Harry stared down the road, deep in thought. Turning, I too watched the departing family. When they reached Magnolia Drive, they turned the corner, and vanished from sight. I returned my attention to Harry, who continued to ponder over the little girl’s words. He ran his fingers through his tousled hair, and his sudden half-smile showed me the exact moment realisation struck. That’s when I gave in to my urges.

‘Today is the first Saturday in December,’ Harry told me the moment we finished our kiss. ‘They’ll be going to the Willow Road Primary School Christmas Fair.’

‘Willow Road Primary School?’ I repeated those four words carefully. ‘Primary school? Does that mean it’s the best school in the area?’

‘Primary means first, not best. It’s the first school Muggle children go to,’ Harry explained. ‘When that little girl is eleven, she’ll move up to a secondary school, probably Stonewall High. Willow Road is the closest school to Privet Drive. It’s my old school. I went there until I was eleven, and then I got my Hogwarts letter, so I didn’t go to the High School.’

As he spoke, I saw many more recollections of his poignant past cloud Harry’s eyes. I needed to know more.

‘Well, what are we waiting for?’ I asked. ‘Let’s go.’

Harry didn’t move. I tilted my head to one side and looked into his surprised face. I’d presented him with a very minor mystery, and he’d solved it. That, so far as he was concerned, was enough.

‘The Christmas fair is open to everyone, not just pupils and parents, isn’t it?’ I asked.

‘Yes,’ he told me. ‘But why do you want to go?’

‘Curiosity,’ I admitted. ‘Mostly about your school. I want to see it, to find out what it’s like. But it would be interesting to see a Muggle school Christmas fair. What’s it like?’

My main reason, of course, was that I wanted to know more about what had happened to Harry at his first school. I wasn’t going to admit that. If I had, he’d have made an excuse not to go.

‘I’ve no idea, Vernon and Petunia never went,’ said Harry with a frown. He shook his head sadly. ‘Uncle Vernon used to say that it was just an excuse for the school to fleece more money from parents. He always complained about it. “I pay enough in council tax, why should I give them more of my money? They’ll want us to buy raffle tickets!” He always refused to go, especially…’ I could hear Vernon’s dismissive grumbles in Harry’s quote. It seemed to me that Harry’s school days might have been more miserable than he’d admitted to me, possibly even more miserable than he’d admitted to himself.

‘Especially?’ I asked.

‘Especially the year the teachers put my picture of Santa on the wall in the entrance hall,’ he admitted reluctantly. His voice was quiet, and he was staring sadly into my eyes. ‘Do you really want to go?’

That partial confession was enough to inflame my curiosity. I had to know more about Harry’s early years, but I couldn’t ask him directly. I’d have to manoeuvre him into confiding in me, and I was certain a visit to the school would stir up more memories.

Harry isn’t as thick skinned as he pretends to be. Over the years I’d known him, I’d slowly realised how much stuff Harry bottled up. He’d admitted some things to Ron, but he’d always put up a brave front. And he often blamed himself for things that weren’t even his fault. I hoped that, if we explored his past together, he might be able to come to terms with more of it.

‘It’s a chance for me to visit your other school, Harry, your Muggle school,’ I said. ‘It’s a part of your past I don’t know anything about. You hardly ever talk about the Dursleys. I can understand that, because I’ve met them. But I don’t think you’ve ever really talked to me about your school, either. Can we go?’

Harry hesitated, and I knew he was weighing up his options. He wasn’t exactly secretive, but he was private, and he wanted to shield me from the worst aspects of his childhood. It was frustrating. We were engaged, yet his childhood was still a topic he avoided. It was a time in his life I wanted to understand. I wanted to know more; I wanted to know everything, the good and the bad. Certain it would do him good to talk about it, I took his hands in mine and looked up into his memory-shrouded eyes. I gave him a hopeful smile, stepped forward, and hugged him.

‘I really would like to see your Muggle school,’ I said quietly.

Finally, he nodded. ‘It’s this way,’ he said, taking me by the hand.

As we strolled slowly along Privet Drive towards Magnolia Avenue, I watched him lose himself in his past. His hand tightened on mine, not painfully, but with more force than was necessary or usual. It had been some time since I’d seen him like that, but I knew what to do. I didn’t flinch or complain. I knew that he wasn’t trying to hurt me. He was beginning to squeeze out unpleasant memories. I didn’t have to wait long before the first one arrived.

‘When I was very little, Aunt Petunia used to take us to school,’ Harry began. As the words started to flow, they acted as a release valve; his grip on my hand returned to its firm but gentle normal. ‘Dudley in his push chair, me trailing along behind them.’ As the past took hold and began to overwhelm him, his stride momentarily slowed into a recalcitrant shuffle. ‘Then, when we were older, we had to walk to school ourselves.’ He speeded up, and his grip on my hand tightened again.

This time, rather than break into a run, I squeezed back and pulled him back from whatever memories he was reliving. ‘I ran,’ he admitted. It seemed I’d prevented him from physically reliving the experience. ‘I had to get there before Dudley met his friends, or I’d be in trouble. But I was safe when I got to the lollipop man.’

‘Lollipop man?’ At the unfamiliar term, my imagination went into overdrive. Was this some colourfully-clad clown handing out lollipops? As I wondered, I heard Harry chuckle.

‘Sometimes, I forget what you don’t know,’ Harry told me as we turned off Magnolia Avenue. ‘You have no idea what a lollipop man does, do you?’

‘Hands out lollipops?’ I suggested, although I was now certain that I was wrong. Harry laughed.

‘He stops the traffic to let kids cross the road safely,’ he told me, stopping at the roadside. We had reached the junction with Willow Road. ‘He stood right here–probably still does on schooldays–and used a big round stop sign on a long pole, like a giant lollipop, to stop the cars.’

I stared into his face, and knew that there were things he wasn’t saying. ‘And he keeps some children safe in other ways, too,’ I suggested.

‘Yes,’ Harry admitted. He pointed up the side road. ‘The school’s just up there. Once I got here, Mr Kedge–the lollipop man–could see me all the way into school, so I was safe. Some families gave him presents at Christmas. Sweets, usually.’ He paused thoughtfully. ‘Not me, of course,’ he scowled, then brightened up a little. ‘But one year I drew his picture and gave it to him. He seemed pleased.’

After carefully looking both ways, Harry led me across the road and up the side street. There were so many cars lining the street that they were parked on the footway. We were forced to walk in single file.

‘I didn’t really enjoy school much.’ As we got closer to the school gates, Harry finally admitted what I’d known for a very long time. He sounded very sad, but as I was in front of him, I couldn’t see his expression. ‘The lessons were okay, and most of the teachers were nice, but playtime!’ I heard him sigh.

We reached some yellow zig-zag markings on the road and, suddenly, there were no more parked cars to contend with. I waited, and he walked alongside me and took my outstretched hand.

‘What happened at playtime?’ I asked.

‘I tried to hide from Dudley and his friends,’ Harry told me. ‘I succeeded most of the time, because I was faster than them. At playtime, I either hid from everyone, or stayed close to the playground monitor, especially when....’

‘Especially when?’

Harry gave a short grunt of a laugh. I didn’t need to look at his expression, I recognised that particular laugh. It was his “am I really that stupid?” laugh.

‘Especially if Mrs Kedge was on duty,’ he said. ‘She was one of the dinner ladies, too.’

We’d reached the school gates, I stopped and turned to face him. ‘Mr Kedge and Mrs Kedge. But you didn’t make the connection until now,’ I deduced.

Although all I’d done was pay attention to what he’d told me, Harry seemed both surprised and impressed by my observation. I smiled at him. Reaching forward with both hands, he pushed my hair off my shoulders and we kissed again.

I looked into his eyes, and he looked into mine. Unusually, he didn’t hold my gaze. We were standing in the gateway, and his anxious eyes were examining the grounds and building behind me. I could almost see the memories of his childhood returning. He needed more encouragement to speak, so I stood on tiptoe and kissed his cold cheek. As he hugged me, his head turned and he looked back the way we’d travelled.

‘The walk didn’t take long,’ he said contemplatively. ‘I always thought that it was a long way to school, but it isn’t.’

‘Your legs are a lot longer than they were when you were five, or even eleven,’ I reminded him.

He hugged me and, while I was imagining little Harry running around the playground, he continued to remember. I tried to imprint the image of my surroundings in my mind. Harry’s old school was a sprawling collection of interconnected single-storey, red-brick buildings, and most of the roofs were flat. A large sign announcing the Christmas fair was attached to the railings at the roadside. Freeing myself from his embrace, I walked across to examine it.

‘Santa’s Grotto, Tombola, Raffle, Stalls,’ I read aloud. Harry wasn’t paying attention: he was fixated on the buildings and the schoolyard.

‘The whole place has shrunk,’ Harry observed as he looked at the playground.

I smiled up at him and again took his hand. ‘It’s more than ten years since you were here, Harry,’ I said seriously. ‘You’re all grown up.’ I led him towards the double doors. ‘Come on, let’s see if you can surprise yourself by discovering how much smaller it is inside, too.’

As we entered the school, I realised how little I really knew about Muggles. Although I was becoming more familiar with the Muggle world, my experience was limited. I had visited many public spaces and buildings, and three very different homes.

The Grangers’ home was very familiar to me and, under the watchful eyes of Hermione and her mother, I’d been allowed to investigate many of its mysterious Muggle gadgets. It’s remarkable what they can do without magic. Who needs a warming charm when you have a miniwave? Unfortunately, the only other Muggle residences I was familiar with were the antiseptically clean Privet Drive–where I hadn’t been allowed to touch anything–and Dudley’s scruffy and untidy flat–where I hadn’t wanted to touch anything.

I’d visited many Muggle shops, cinemas, pubs, and restaurants, and I’d travelled by train, tube, car, and even bus. I was perfectly capable of ordering a meal at a restaurant or a drink at a bar. This, my first experience of a school, put me in an entirely new environment. It certainly wasn’t Hogwarts.

The doors led into what was something between a compact entrance hall and a very wide corridor. Narrower corridors led off the hall to both left and right. The wall to the left contained several colourful paintings and drawings. They were Christmas scenes, apparently drawn by the pupils. All were surrounded by gold tinsel, which appeared to indicate first prize. There were a lot of first prizes. It finally made sense when I spotted the different class numbers next to the names. Harry stared sadly at the pictures and reached out to touch an illustration of Santa Claus.

‘Okay?’ I asked.

‘Fine!’ His lie was obvious, but I knew better than to challenge him directly. I was certain I’d be able to get the story from him before the day was out.

Opposite the paintings, behind three tall windows, was the school office. That fact was made obvious by the sign above the windows. Attached to the central, opening, window was a notice saying “All visitors report here, please.” The room was in darkness, and it was obvious that there was no one to report to. Beyond the office, double doors opened into a large, well-lit, noisy, and busy room. There was no doubt that this was our destination.

‘Lower school.’ As we stood outside the doors, Harry pointed down the corridor to the left. ‘I was in that end until I was seven.’ He then pointed in the other direction. ‘And this leads to the upper school, for the older kids.’ As I followed his gaze, I felt him shiver. I gently squeezed his hand.

‘And through here?’ I asked, indicating the double doors ahead of us, where the fair was.

‘The school hall,’ Harry said. ‘It’s… I suppose it’s a little bit like the great hall at Hogwarts; it’s a combined dining room and assembly hall, but it’s the sports hall, too.’

Pulling open the door, Harry released a crescendo of conversations and the heat of a crowded room. Parents chattered while their children squealed and pestered. I pulled off my leather gloves and my green woolly hat, stuffed them into the pocket of my duffel coat, and looked around. There were a lot of things to spend money on. We couldn’t even enter without being accosted.

‘Hello, welcome to our school. Would you like to buy any raffle tickets?’ the smiling woman at the table next to the door called. Her sales pitch came out in a breathless rush. ‘It’s in aid of school funds. First prize is a meal for two at Yannis Restaurant, just up the road. There’s lots of other prizes. There’s a list.’ She indicated the sheet of paper in front of her. ‘Pound a ticket, or a fiver for five! The draw’s at four o’clock. If you can’t wait until then, just fill in your name and phone number.’

Pulling out his wallet, Harry handed her a crisp, blue five-pound note. ‘I’ll take five,’ he told her.

‘Thanks,’ the woman said. ‘Just write on the first stub, I can do the rest.’ Handing him a pen and a book of five tickets, she gave us an assessing look. Harry released my hand in order to write on the ticket, and I saw her staring at my engagement ring.

‘I don’t think I’ve seen you around the school,’ she began her enquiry circumspectly. ‘Do you live locally, or are you thinking of moving into the area?’

‘Neither, we’re here visiting Harry’s aunt and uncle,’ I told her. ‘This was his old school.’

‘Really?’

Harry gave a reluctant nod.

‘When did you leave?’ the woman asked him.

‘Why do you want to know,’ Harry asked suspiciously.

‘I was wondering if any of your teachers are still here, that’s all,’ the woman sounded hurt.

‘Eleven years ago,’ I told the woman. ‘It’s not a secret, Harry! And even if you’re worried about meeting one of your old teachers, I’m looking forward to it!’ I winked at the woman. She smiled back.

‘Mrs Jacobs has been here forever,’ the woman said, looking round the room.

‘Mrs Jacobs! I liked her,’ said Harry. He brightened visibly.

‘She’s lovely,’ the woman at the next table joined in the conversation. ‘She was here when we opened up today, but she’s gone off to see Mrs Gibson. She’s been here for years, too, of course, but she’s on maternity leave. Had a baby boy last month.’

‘I don’t remember a Mrs Gibson,’ Harry said.

‘I don’t suppose she was married when you were here,’ the first woman said, taking the raffle tickets from Harry, tearing off the stubs, and handing the tickets back. ‘I don’t know her maiden name, sorry…’ She glanced down at the stubs, ‘Harry Potter.’ The name obviously meant nothing to her.

‘Never mind,’ I said, smiling. ‘Thanks for the raffle tickets.’

Linking with Harry, I pulled him further into the room. ‘It always surprises me when a Muggle says your name like that.’

‘Like what?’ Harry asked.

‘Harry Potter?’ I said, sounding more quizzical than the woman had. ‘It must be really nice for you to hear that rather than Harry Potter!’ I put on a breathless and besotted fan voice.

‘It is,’ he admitted, smiling. ‘I was a bit grumpy with the raffle lady. I… I think I was worried that there might be someone here who knew me.’

‘If they knew you, that wouldn’t be a problem,’ I assured him. Slipping an arm around his waist, I tried to convince him that any negativity wouldn’t be his fault. ‘Someone who’d heard, and believed, the Dursley’s stories about you might be worried. But who cares what anyone stupid enough to believe the Dursleys thinks? I bet the only people here you’ve met are that family we saw on Privet Drive, and if they found out about all the horrible things Vernon has said about you, you’d probably go up in their estimation.’

‘I suppose,’ Harry mumbled.

He was looking around the place, losing himself in memories that were–it was obvious from his expression–far from happy.

‘Oh wow!’ I looked down at the Christmas cards laid out on the stall we were passing. ‘Look at these! They’re lovely!’

‘One pound each, or six for five pounds.’ The girl who spoke looked to be ten or eleven. ‘I drew that one.’

‘They’re all drawn by pupils,’ the woman with her, who was obviously the girl’s mother, explained.

‘They’re lovely,’ I said. ‘We’ll take half-a-dozen.’

Harry silently handed over another five-pound note, and failed to mask the sadness on his face. ‘You choose,’ he told me. Shaking his head, he turned and wandered off, leaving me to make the selection alone. The cards were all prints of the tinsel-surrounded paintings in the entrance hall. As I made my selections, my heart sank.

‘How long have you been doing these?’ I asked the woman in an attempt to confirm my suspicions.

‘Since before Mandy started.’ The woman indicated her daughter. The girl was putting the six different cards I’d selected into a paper bag, and counting out six envelopes. ‘So that’s certainly six years, probably more,’ Mandy’s mother continued. Mrs Jacobs–one of the teachers–her husband works for a printing company; they do them at cost and whatever we make goes to school funds.’

‘Thanks,’ I said. ‘I don’t suppose you have any from previous years, do you?’

‘No, sorry.’ She shook her head.

When I tracked Harry down, he seemed to have cheered up a little. He was staring at the man in the red suit, who sat smiling in his chair in the corner. Harry’s mind was now lost in another memory, so I decided not to ask him to confirm my suspicions. The sign on the table in front of him read: “See Santa — Free — Any donations to the British Heart Foundation.” A number of bronze pound coins covered the bottom of the large sweet jar behind the sign.

‘Every other table says “to school funds”,’ I observed.

Harry continued to stare at the man in the white wig and fake beard.

‘I think that’s Mr Kedge,’ Harry told me.

‘Shhh!’ I poked him in the ribs. ‘It’s Santa, silly!’

Catching Harry’s eye, I looked meaningfully at the excited young children who were waiting to speak to the man in red. He gave a rueful smile, but wasn’t diverted.

‘If he’s here…’ Harry looked across at the long hatch that opened into the school kitchen, where three ladies were selling tea, coffee, and home-baked goods. ‘I’ll treat you to tea and cake,’ he offered.

I followed him to the counter. He ignored the woman who was waiting expectantly for his order, looking past her into the school kitchen.

I caught her attention. ‘Two teas, please,’ I said. ‘And I’ll have one of those homemade mince pies. Harry?’

He looked down. ‘Oh, yeah, mince pie, please.’

‘I’ve no money. You’ll have to pay,’ I reminded him. As he reached for his wallet, I caught the woman’s eye and spoke quietly. ‘Your Santa, is he Mr Kedge?’

She nodded. I glanced meaningfully at Harry, who was sorting through his change.

‘Is Mrs Kedge here?’ I asked. ‘My fiancé remembers them both from his…’

The woman’s expression silenced me. ‘She died three years ago,’ she whispered. ‘Very sudden. Heart attack…’ she nodded meaningfully at the jar.

Harry shook his head sadly, paid the woman, and strode over to the jar. I watched him pull five purple notes from his wallet and stuff them into the jar.

‘That’s a hundred quid!’ The woman gasped.

‘My fiancé is a very generous man,’ I told her proudly. When he returned, I kissed him.




Aurors with young families were given first option on taking Christmas Day off work, and for that reason Harry had worked every Christmas Day since he’d started in the Auror Office. This year Mum couldn’t even postpone Christmas until Boxing Day, because I wasn’t going to be there. Neither was Harry.

On the day after Christmas, I’d be in Holyhead. The Harpies versus Catapults game was the league’s scheduled big Boxing Day match, and Harry would be in the stands, cheering me on. The game meant that my Christmas diet would be extremely restricted. No over-eating for me, not on the day before a big match. Mum had organised two Christmases, one on Christmas Day for the rest of the family, and another on the twenty-seventh, just for Harry and I.

It was going to be a complicated Christmas, and the card was very personal, so I gave it to Harry on Christmas Eve. We were eating breakfast in the kitchen at Grimmauld Place when I pushed it across the table.

‘Merry Christmas, Harry,’ I said. ‘Don’t get excited. It’s only a card.’

‘I thought you’d forgotten,’ he said. I’d received the card he’d sent by owl to my home in Beaumaris two weeks earlier.

‘I’ll never forget,’ I assured him.

I watched him carefully. He used his spoon handle as a paper knife and pulled out the card. The expression on his face when he pulled it out was one I will treasure forever.

‘How?’ he asked. I could see the tears forming in his eyes, so I kissed him.

‘I lied to you,’ I confessed. ‘After we left the Christmas Fair, I Apparated to Holyhead, but I didn’t stay there. I went straight back to your school and spoke to Mr Kedge. He introduced me to Mrs Jacobs. She’d gone to collect Mrs Gibson–who you knew as Miss Goodman. They were both very pleased to hear how well you’re doing, and they told me all about you!’

He opened the card. Inside, I’d written “To Harry, the budding artist, all my love, Ginny, xxx”.

‘Fortunately for me, Mrs Jacobs had kept one blank copy of every card her husband ever printed from the children’s drawings. You told me you’d won, Harry.’ I reminded him. ‘So, here it is: Santa, by Harry Potter, age 8.’

I kissed him again.

‘I’ve copied it, too! I’m going to send one to the Dursleys next year, and I’m going to fill it with Bulbadox powder, because that evil git Vernon deserves it.’

‘Petunia doesn’t, and she might open it,’ Harry pointed out.

‘A pox on you and your logic, Potter,’ I told him sternly. ‘Now either tell me exactly why you ended up on that roof… Oh, yes, I had a very long talk with Mrs Jacobs and Mr Kedge… He says thank you for your donation, by the way… Where was I? Oh yes… Either tell me about the roof, tell me about this card, or kiss mfff… Mmm.’
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