“Climbs down chimneys? Like a burglar?”
Ginny’s coworker, Felicia, rolled her eyes in exasperation.
“Well, yes, but he’s not a burglar. He leaves presents in stockings and under the tree for children to find when they wake up on Christmas morning.”
“Why would anyone put presents in socks?” Ginny asked, her voice skeptical. Felicia’s “Father Christmas” was an illogical and whimsical fellow, she thought.
“What? No—they’re not real socks. They’re just these large fabric bags in the shape of a sock.” Felicia was quickly regretting her decision to explain the Muggle holiday tradition of Father Christmas to her reasonable wizardly friend.
“Oh, right. Because that’s a great distinction. And you’re not concerned at all that some man breaks into your house every year?”
Bowing her head and covering her face with her hands, Felicia tried to elucidate her. “He’s not real, Ginny. It’s just a story Muggle parents tell their children in the hopes that they will behave, otherwise they’ll get a lump of coal instead of presents.”
“But, as I was saying, when it gets closer to Christmas, Muggle children write letters to Father Christmas, which usually include a list of what they want, and then they send them by throwing them into the fireplace. If they’ve been good all year long, hopefully they’ll get what they asked for.”
Ginny looked like she wanted to comment on the process of writing out a letter just to burn it, but she refrained, to her friend’s obvious relief. But she found other problems with the tradition to comment on anyway.
“What if you don’t have a fireplace?”
Felicia turned back to her desk and looked at the paperwork she was now only too happy to finish. “You send it in the post.”
“But if Father Christmas isn’t real, who do you send the letter to?”
Ginny waited for an answer in vain. Felicia was now ignoring her.
On Christmas Eve, Ginny was still pondering the inane tradition her Muggle-born friend had told her about. Ginny knew what she would ask for if she wrote a letter to Father Christmas, and she also knew that it would be an impossible gift to receive. All the same, she didn’t think it would hurt to write a letter of her own. Doing so could only improve her chances of getting what she wanted, and seeing as how her chances were currently slim to none, she eagerly sought a blank scrap of parchment and a quill.
Dear Father Christmas,
My name is Ginny Weasley. I know you’ve never visited my house before, despite the fact that we do have a chimney, but I hope that you will visit tonight. Recently (I hope you understand that this is a less pathetic way of saying “months and months ago”), I had a bad and very embarrassingly public break up with my boyfriend from school, Harry. He’s a great bloke, but it turns out he wasn’t my true love like I had thought he was when I was eleven. I haven’t dated anyone since then, and not just because I live at home with my parents, who had their hearts set on legally turning Harry into a Weasley. In my mum's eyes, no other man could possibly be worthy of me or our family.
But that’s a whole lot of bother you don’t really need to know about, do you?
This Christmas, I really only want one thing. If you’d be so kind as to send me my real true love, I’d greatly appreciate it. It would save me some trouble and lots of years of waiting. I’d rather get to the good stuff right now, if you please.
Oh, and I’ve been really good this year, I suppose. Certainly having to deal with idiots in the Muggle Liaison Office all the time wins some sympathy points for me, right? And throw in something nice for Felicia. She works too hard and has to put up with idiots too.
Signed, most dubiously,
Ginny thought her letter was sufficient, and if a Father Christmas did exist, she thought he would have to be a real prat to ignore her plea for true love. Satisfied with her work, she folded up the letter and then went downstairs to the kitchen and promptly threw it into the flames of the roaring fire her mum had constructed to keep out the chill. Ginny stared at the fire, almost as if waiting for a spectacular announcement that Father Christmas had received her letter, but the parchment merely crumpled and blackened, and eventually, it turned into ash.
Feeling absolutely childish when nothing happened, Ginny stormed upstairs and wished she had never written the stupid letter. Felicia had told her that this Father Christmas wasn’t real. Some exhausted parents from a bygone age had invented him to make their bratty children behave for once, and thus had spawned a holiday tradition. What rubbish!
Ginny fell asleep quickly that night, expecting nothing to come from her silly letter, but a hidden away, youthful part of her still hoped.
Every year, the Weasleys invited Harry over to the Burrow to celebrate Christmas, starting with breakfast and ending hours later with dessert. He had no family of his own, no girlfriend, and all of his dearest friends just so happened to be Weasleys themselves, Ron and Hermione having been married the previous May. While he stared into his mirror and tried to wrestle his hair with a comb, he hoped the atmosphere wouldn’t be too awkward now that he and Ginny were broken up. True, they had broken up ages ago, but the publicity that had been put on their relationship and its end had caused a strain between them. When he tried to point this out to Mrs. Weasley as she invited him over through the Floo, she had dismissed his worry and insisted that Ginny would be delighted to see him as well.
Harry wasn’t so sure, but he accepted the invitation knowing he couldn’t refuse.
He Apparated to the Weasley’s back door and let himself in. Bill and Fleur sat at the kitchen table with their five year old daughter Victoire sitting at their feet with a pile of blocks. Mrs. Weasley whirled around in front of the stove to greet him warmly. She hugged him as if she hadn’t seen him in years, a wooden spoon dangling in one of her hands over his shoulder.
“Happy Christmas, Mrs. Weasley,” Harry said.
“Happy Christmas to you! Ron and Hermione will be here any minute now. Why don’t you make yourself comfortable in the living room?”
Fleur greeted Harry with a kiss on each cheek and a throaty, “’Appy Christmas, ‘Arry!” while Bill shook his hand and clapped him on the back.
Victoire pulled on Harry’s robes and when he looked down at her with a smile, she said, “You didn’t say hello to me!”
He replied, “Hello, Victoire! How are we this morning?”
“I’m fine, but how am I supposed to know how you are?” He laughed and lifted her into his arms.
“Mrs. Weasley, I hope you don’t mind that I invited someone else over too. He works with the Magical Law Enforcement Patrol, and I knew he was going to be alone on Christmas—”
“Oh, no! No one should be alone for Christmas. Of course we don’t mind! I’ll just have to look for another place setting…” Mrs. Weasley turned her attention to her cupboards as she searched for an extra plate.
“Who’s coming, Harry?” Bill asked curiously, and Harry’s stomach did an uncomfortable flip.
“Draco Malfoy,” he said, waiting for an explosion of outrage or questions, but none of either came.
“Oh, right. You might want to warn everyone before he shows up.” Then Bill went back to reading the Daily Prophet, which he had put down when Harry had arrived.
Grateful to Bill for being so blasť about their Christmas guest, Harry carried Victoire into the living room where someone had forgotten to put away the gift-wrapping supplies. There were Instant Stick Gift Bows littered all over the floor. Victoire amused herself with these for several minutes until Draco walked through the door from the kitchen looking less than pleased to be inside such an unsteady-seeming building.
“You came!” Harry said.
“I almost didn’t, but I was going to starve in my own flat without any house elves, so I reckoned I could brave this place to keep from dying,” he answered with a sneer. He sat down in a squishy pink chair, perched on the edge as if afraid of contracting some disease from it.
He and Harry made small talk, their conversation stilted by Draco’s condescending and short replies. A loud hubbub from the kitchen announced that someone else had arrived, and then Ron burst into the living room.
“Harry!” he cried and then froze upon seeing Draco, his face quickly changing from happy surprise to astonishment to confusion to disgust. “What are you doing in my house, you!” he yelled, socking the aristocratic and severely out of place man in the jaw. Draco made a high pitched ‘eep’ when hit before he fell to the ground next to the Christmas tree, unconscious.
“Uncle Ron! Maman says hitting people is bad!” Victoire admonished, but she didn’t seem to mind too much because she was slapping a red Instant Stick Gift Bow onto Draco’s cheek.
“Ron, what have you done?” Hermione cried as she walked in from the kitchen and saw Draco sprawled out beneath the tree.
“He was invited!” Harry was yelling at him.
At that moment, Ginny entered the room yawning. “G’morning, everyone,” she said, before she took in the scene and spied the unconscious form of Draco Malfoy covered in bows lying under the Christmas tree.
No one understood why she fled the room screaming.
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