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With Peals of Glee
Harry is undecided.
He sits with a wide assortment of toys from Gambol and Japes and from Weasleys’
Wizarding Wheezes and a few from a Muggle shop he stopped at that afternoon spread
before him on the kitchen table. He has been collecting a toy here and there for weeks
– mostly when he is out with Molly which seems to happen with more regularity than he
ever imagined – but he has rather lost his head over this business in the last two days.
That is evident when he runs out of space on the desk in his study and has to move
the lot to the kitchen.
Ginny has already said that he must get it over with and decide tonight.
(She has not been as supportive or enthusiastic, by her own admission, as he had hoped.)
And Harry wants to make a decision. He truly does. But he thinks of this as a very important
exam, as the deciding Quidditch game, as the elusive clue that breaks the case wide open,
so he can’t risk rushing in and making a mistake.
He is undecided as to what, exactly, he should give to James on his first Christmas.
Harry knows there are many people excited for this occasion. Molly has knitted scarlet
booties and a matching woolen hat for the baby. Bill has found a small, gold box from
his treasure hunting days that Fleur has enchanted to play a French carol. And Hermione
has collected picture books for him.
Ginny says that he will be more interested in the wrappings than any toy. He nods and
lets her think that he agrees with her.
* * *
Ginny, of course, knows better. She watches him carefully pick out wooden wagons and
toy broomsticks. Her mother tells her that he stands in the shops, staring at the brightly
coloured displays for ages and ages before he decides on something. Molly just shakes her
head at his behaviour and gives her opinion, unbidden, of whatever it is he is looking at.
The few times Ginny is with him, she almost does the same thing.
She does not, though. The expression on his face stops her.
She watches him guardedly as he runs his fingers over different Muggle toy cars.
He seems a little odd for the remainder of the day. She wonders briefly, at first, if he
had remembered a toy he once had when he was a child. But then she remembers that he had
a miserable childhood – watching his cousin Dudley receive gift after gift after gift while
he had to climb trees to avoid being bit by his aunt’s dog – and she realises that all the
gifts, the toys cluttering his desk, his fastidious pursuit, they have become part of his
way of giving James the things Harry had missed out on for all of those years.
She wants to join him in his enthusiasm. She purchases a stuffed mooncalf from Gambol
and Japes one day. And the next time she is out with Harry and her mother, she sees him
pretend to listen to Molly’s advice about capturing Dark wizards and recount family news
as he meticulously looks for just the right gift for their son. She decides that she needs
to let this be his mission.
So she lets him pile toys on his desk and, when he runs out of space, lets him move them
onto the kitchen table. She tells him that James will more likely be diverted by all the
wrapping paper so he will not be too let down on Christmas morning. (He conveniently does
not seem to remember Teddy and Victoire and baby Fred’s first Christmases.)
But she hopes to Morgana that James will greet Harry with peals of glee come Christmas
* * *
Harry does not let Ginny see what he has decided to give to James. He clumsily wraps it
himself and hides it while she gives James a bath, and when she comes back to the kitchen,
he grins and points out the toys he has set aside for Teddy, Victoire, Fred, Dudley’s
daughter Georgina, and for Ron.
They wrap the gifts together and send the parcel to Dudley with their owl, Gerda. Ginny
casts sidelong glances at Harry, wondering if his open expression will give his secret
away, but he only smiles and throws an arm around her shoulders as they make their way
slowly to bed.
He has a restless night. She wonders if she will have any rest, between him and James
who does not yet quite sleep through the night. Yet, early – much earlier than she had
anticipated – Christmas morning, she awakes and Harry is staring at her.
‘Happy Christmas,’ he whispers and kisses her on her forehead.
‘Happy Christmas, Harry.’
‘Are you wide awake now? Or would you like tea?’
‘No, thank you, I’m wide awake,’ she lies. She thinks that she will have a lie-down when
they are at the Burrow later.
‘Fantastic.’ He gets out of bed and picks up James, who is cooing happily, from his cot.
‘Time for presents!’ he whispers in James’ ear.
They all settle cozily in the middle of the bed and Harry places each of James’ presents
before him one by one. James picks each up like a ball until Harry tears the bright paper
off. James scrunches the paper between his plump hands and Harry and Ginny take turns
shaking the gift in front of him. Soon, he is dressed in scarlet booties and a matching
hat and his chubby legs are covered with a thick quilt from Percy and Penelope and he has
kissed all of his new toys, including the mooncalf from Ginny, and he is still reaching
for the wrapping piled around him. All that is left is Harry’s present, about which he
is still mysterious.
‘Are you going to give it to him, then?’ Ginny asks.
‘What if he doesn’t like it?’
She says something that surprises him. ‘Harry Potter, I think you have spent enough time
looking for the right thing to not be certain that James will love it.’
Harry sets it in front of James, still wrapped, willing James to like it just a little
James throws his arms around the wrapped gift, ignoring the paper around him for the
moment. Harry and Ginny laugh out loud. James looks at both of them and joins in. He
drops the gift.
Ginny picks it up and unwraps it. ‘What have we here, Harry?’ she asks.
He blushes and she laughs again. It is a piece of wadded up, bright red wrapping paper,
nearly as big as a Quaffle. Harry picks it up and holds it out to James. He reaches
out for it.
‘Maybe he has the makings of a Chaser,’ Ginny says lovingly.
‘Maybe,’ he says. Harry holds the wad of paper a little higher and James stretches even
farther for it until he is able to knock it aside with his fingertips. He shrieks in
delight. ‘Or, maybe, he could play Keeper.’
“With Peals of Glee” is a lyric from “Unto Us A Boy Is Born”.
Many thanks to my beta reader Chary and my alpha readers redlightspecial
and Mia, and to magicaljules and Grover53.