Meanwhile, to start us off, I hope you enjoy this cautionary tale of Rose, Scorpius and Albus and a seasonal magical object.
Title: The Yeoman's Yuletide
Written for: flaminia_x
Length: 2,500 words
Character(s): Rose, Scorpius, Albus
Author's Notes: Thanks to the wonderful nnozomi for betaing.
Rose Weasley and Scorpius Malfoy stood bolt-upright, both resolved not to make eye contact. At least with each other.
In other circumstances this might have been difficult. But we were in Hogwarts, and there was no telling what magical distractions would arise. After a few moments, Scorpius paced over to the bookshelf, quickly scanning several of the spines without reaching out.
“Get back,” Rose hissed.
“What?” Scorpius turned to face her at last. “If the Headmistress isn't going to show up, I might as well find something to read.”
“Something to read, yeah. That sounds like a great idea. If you want something to read, next time just go to the library like the rest of us and look up your answers there!”
“I'm not looking anything up,” he said, but he stepped back.
“Well, you should've, if you hadn't thought to correct Professor Shafiq in the first place we'd never have gotten to this point.”
“If you hadn't been trying to be such a teacher's pet we wouldn't have either!”
“Save it for Headmistress Muir.”
“Oh, believe me. I will.”
It was about then when I sneezed. I hadn't meant to, but the winter was a cold one, and even inside the protective magic of Hogwarts, sometimes the urge just comes upon you. It was enough for Rose and Scorpius to turn to me, sheepishly. “Sorry,” said Rose. “Didn't mean to drag you into this.”
“It's all right,” I said. “From everything I've seen, Headmistress Muir is very understanding. You'll be fine.”
“Maybe you should put in a good word for us,” said Rose.
“Oh, she won't listen to me,” I said. “But if I was in her place? I'd be too pleased that there were students who actually cared about History of Magic to punish either of you.”
Professor Shafiq was the insecure History of Magic teacher. To be honest, I thought she was doing a very good job, and the faculty all said she was a great improvement on Professor Binns, who'd held the position for the preceding centuries. Plural. The ghosts of Hogwarts had been exorcised in a mysterious ceremony some years before, and while I wasn't privy to the details, it was apparently causing people in the Department of Mysteries to rethink their conceptions about imprints of departed souls and how true Beings might be able to move on, while leaving other reflections on the earth. Deep stuff, but it's the kind of thing that I liked to study.
But, even if you're a ghost, I suppose you leave an imprint on any school you that you haunt for as long as Binns did. Shafiq wasn't used to dealing with argumentative students with different explanations for the 1612 Goblin Rebellion, one thing led to another...and we all found ourselves in Headmistress Muir's office.
Had I been responsible for it? Well, no. But that didn't change the fact that I wasn't going anywhere any time soon either.
“James is going to laugh at us,” Rose eventually said.
“When we get detention?” said Scorpius. “Yeah, he would.”
“No, that we get into fights about the Goblin Rebellion of all things.”
“Given our family history...you're probably right.” He glanced up at me. “Sorry. Er...”
“It's fine,” I said. “Call me Albus.” At his startled look, I said, “We're going to be sharing a school for the next six-and-a-half years. Why stand on ceremony?”
“Yeah, well,” he shrugged, turning back to Rose. “It's not like I'm hoping to see much of you,
“You say that. Wait till third year, when we get to take electives!” Rose brightened.
“That'll be fun,” said Scorpius. “Even more classes to prove you wrong in.”
“If we ever get out of here. I wish Muir would hurry up, I've got Potions homework...”
“That won't take long. Unless you're slow. So it probably will.”
“I'm in no rush.”
Rose looked at me. “Do you have the time?”
“No,” I said, “no watch.”
She shrugged. “Worth a shot.”
Scorpius paced towards the desk. “We're going to miss dinner. Want to skip to dessert?”
“What?” said Rose. “Did you bring poison?”
“Of course not,” he smiled, “our other argument would have been over quicker.”
I laughed. Scorpius paled. Rose just shrugged and said “It'd have gotten me out of detention, anyway. What are you doing?”
“Advent calendar,” Scorpius pointed.
“Oh, you definitely can't—this is the Headmistress' calendar!”
“She's...” Scorpius counted quickly. “Five days behind. I think at that point, you're entitled to help her catch up.”
“Maybe you are.”
“What, and you're not?”
Rose hesitated, her Gryffindor Daring counterbalancing her Gryffindor Confidence in Doing the Right Thing by Respecting Other People's Property. Scorpius, too, paused, his Slytherin Ambition for Free Professorial Sweets counterbalancing his Slytherin Ambition for Not Antagonizing the Arbiter of his Academic Future.
He broke first, reaching for that day's date on the calendar. He opened the flap and removed a small chocolate, eating it with a smile. For a moment, all seemed calm.
And then he was shrinking before our eyes, not just growing smaller but falling into the box itself. Rose whipped her wand out—“Finite incantatem!”—but either that spell was too advanced for a first year or the charms on the calendar went beyond what any of us had expected, for it was to no avail. He was gone—trapped inside the empty space? I couldn't see.
But Rose didn't hesitate. Ripping open the previous day's square, she wolfed down the chocolate—and shrunk down in the same way.
“Can—can you hear me?” she called, timidly.
“Yes,” I said, without thinking.
“Albus? Just—keep an eye out for the Headmistress, okay? She can get us out.”
“Yeah, then I'll really be in trouble,” came Scorpius' voice.
“We both will,” said Rose.
“What are you doing?”
“Had to help you, didn't I?”
“What? That's no good, now we're both stuck.”
“We'll find a way. Do you have your wand?”
“Yeah, but I can't move.”
“What do you mean you can't move? You're in the box, aren't you? There's not much room, but you can move your arms and all...”
“In the box? I'm on the box. I think. I'm staring straight ahead, into the office, but I can't move anything.”
“Huh. I'm in the box.”
“Why? You did the same thing, didn't you?”
“Yeah. Any ideas? Albus?”
“I'm not sure either,” I admitted. “But—there was only one piece of chocolate in every box, wasn't there?”
“Of course,” said Scorpius. “More's the pity.”
“My sentiments exactly. So, she must have picked a different day. Perhaps it has different results?”
“I guess,” said Rose. “Have you ever seen anything like this before?”
“No,” I said. “Sorry.”
“Not your fault,” said Scorpius.
“Okay,” said Rose. “Scorpius, can you feel anything? Like, at all?”
“But you're moving your mouth, right? If you're talking to me.”
“Not really, it's just sort of—coming out of me.”
“That was a mental image I didn't need.”
“You can't try coughing up the chocolate?” I asked. “It would be a shame to waste, but it might reverse the effects.”
I heard some gagging noises that had to be Rose, followed by her “No chance,” and Scorpius' agreement.
“Just a thought.”
“Scorpius, did you feel that?” Rose asked.
“No,” he said. “What are you doing?”
“Jumping around. Trying to see if we can bust our way out.”
“The door's open, isn't it? Climb out that way.”
“Locked, I tried.”
“Rip out a hole.”
“I did, it grew back.”
“The cardboard? Grew back? What is this?”
“Magic,” I suggested, just as Rose said the same thing.
If Scorpius' eyes were under his control, he'd have rolled them; if his full breath was at his beck and call, he'd have laughed; instead, he just made a strange little sound that made the tiny version of Rose snicker.
At last, he paused. “Hey. Um. Albus?”
“What kind of an Advent calendar do you think this is?”
“I don't know,” I said. “You're the one who ate the chocolate.”
“Well, okay, Rose, if you jump hard enough, you can tip it over, right?”
“Tip it over?” said Rose. “You'll suffocate!”
“No I won't. I already can't breathe, remember?”
“I don't want to risk it.”
“Oh, now you get all paranoid? Great, now we're both stuck.”
“I don't want to risk you.”
“There you go, all high-and-mighty, you think I can't get into enough trouble of my own? You want to take the blame for it too? Nuh-uh. What? Stop laughing.”
“I was just going to say, at least Headmistress Muir doesn't seem so intimidating anymore.”
“Yeah, really. She's a pushover, it's the stupid calendar we have to worry about.”
Rose snickered. And then she pushed off, bouncing off the plastic sheath that had held the chocolate. The calendar tipped, and fell forward, hiding Scorpius entirely. “You all right down there?” she called.
“Sure. Did you tip it?”
“Yeah. So what?”
“So, maybe it's one of those calendars with a quote or a Bible verse written on the back. For today, Albus, what's it say?”
I reached for my glasses, squinting across the room. I could read the calendar without moving. “What do angels give people to eat? Revelation 10:10.”
“Drat. Thought it would be a countercurse. Unless you're really up on the book of Revelation, either of you?”
“I am,” Rose said. “I think.”
“Oh? What's the answer?”
“I have no idea. But I mean, if the answer is on the inside flap, then I'm literally standing on top of it.”
“Can you read?”
“No, it's dark in here.”
“Do you have your wand on you?” I asked.
“Right, then. Lumos! Huh, looks like I can read something...have to step aside here...The guy ate a book? Ew.”
“As long as it tasted good,” I said.
“You're impossible. And anyway, that's no hint.”
“What about the cardboard you ripped?” Scorpius asked.
“What about it? I still can't get out, it grew back.”
“Yeah, well, if it's a copy of the door, it has words on it, doesn't it? Can you eat them?”
“Eat a thing of cardboard? Sometimes I wonder how you're smart enough to pass History of Magic, let alone talk back.”
“You're trapped inside a magical Advent calendar,” I pointed out. “Do you really have room to talk?”
“I don't have room to do much of anything. Literally.”
“Then eat the cardboard already,” Scorpius called, “it'll make your little trap less crowded.”
I couldn't see what happened, of course. But a moment later Rose had reemerged from the calendar, growing back to full-size, and swooping up the calendar. “It worked! Thank you so much!”
“As I said.”
“Don't worry, I'll get you out next.”
“Yeah, because it worked so well last time.”
“I have a better idea.” She turned the calendar over. “And how did it feel?”
“To be trapped inside a box? Pretty terrifying.”
“No, I mean, that's today's verse. Still Rev 10:10, I'm guessing it's more of the same. What if I ripped you out and nibbled on the cardboard next to you?”
“Can't think of any way that could go wrong.”
“It's the best idea I have, okay?”
“Well don't rip into the thing until you're sure you know what you're doing!”
“How'm I supposed to know?”
“Albus, do you have any ideas?”
“Er,” I asked, “Are there any other references on the back?”
“Oh, loads,” said Rose. “I think this is from some of 'The Yeoman's Yuletide,' 'Sorcery at Solstice,' 'Midwinter's Magic...' Is that good?”
“Midwinter's Magic must be new. Yeoman's Yuletide is old; my father used to read it to us.”
“Seriously? Yeoman's Yuletide? My dad read it too, it's ancient.”
“Do you mind?” Scorpius called.
“Well, hear me out,” I said. “There's quite a mix of festivals represented...”
“Yeah, and we drew the short straw and got some very confused angels who are in the wrong Christmas story. But we got it to work last time, and they're quoting the same verse, so I like our odds,” said Rose.
“But it was a different magic,” said Scorpius. “Things grow and change size all the time, I'm stuck in here. You wouldn't—try to bust someone out of a Headmaster's portrait!”
Rose tensed up. I looked over at her, trying to calm her down—but of course, I couldn't really see Scorpius. “Ssh. You're all right. Obviously portrait magic is different.”
“Oh shut up.”
“C'mon,” said Rose, “you're not any flatter.”
“Technically I am.”
“You're still you! Still a Slytherin, still a worrywart, still argumentative, still...er...clever and persistent and concerned about me, which is, er, nice. But you're not just a picture! So we can get you out.”
“All right, all right. Are you trying to save me or flirt with me?”
“Good, because you trying to bite this cardboard is the closest I ever want to come to having my lips in your mouth.”
“Yeah, you really should have brought poison.”
I squinted, but then all of a sudden Scorpius was taking shape again, Rose leaping back as he grew to the floor. Teeth chattering, he leaned against the desk, as if to reassure himself of its solidity, then tested his limbs as they reverted to his free control.
“Hold still,” said Rose, “you have snow in your hair.”
But he flicked it off before she could reach out to brush it away, leaving his hand on his head for a moment to reassure himself that—somehow—it had been real. “Thank you,” he finally sighed, his voice weak. Then he repeated it, reaccustoming himself to the full weight of sound.
Rose gave a breezy shrug. “Least I could do.”
“Er...sorry about everything,” they both blurted at once, and started laughing. Even I was laughing—no, Rose did not need to flirt with Scorpius to know him, as a friend, enough to recognize him in the box. It was the kind of thing that made friendships out of any rivalry, no matter how bitter. I wasn't sure how much I'd see of them in the future, whether years from now I'd be hauled in to mediate their arguments about boys or house-elves or the Yeoman's Yuletide, but for one day, the relief I felt at seeing them all right—never mind on civil terms—was well worth my while.
It was then that the door to Headmistress Muir's office opened, and another first-year walked in. He was a Hufflepuff, and his voice barely carried across the room. “Er...Headmistress Muir said she's sorry, she got caught up with some faculty problems, but you can go down to dinner now, no sense in missing it.”
“When does she want us back?” Rose asked.
“I don't think she will,” I said. “I'll let her know what happened—she won't care about the chocolate,” I added, seeing Scorpius' reaction, “but I think, as long as you're alive and well, she won't bother with detention.”
“Okay. Thanks,” said Scorpius.
“Alive and well?” the Hufflepuff blurted. “What?”
“Long story, we'll catch you up,” Rose laughed. “Er, thanks for everything, Albus!”
“You're welcome,” I said. “Happy Christmas!”
“Happy Christmas!” Rose, Scorpius, and Albus Severus replied.