Thursday afternoons were always difficult. Thursdays were almost always a long, hectic day for the Potter family. Ginny can count on two hands the amount of errands that need to be done, and the amount of time she actually had. Paired with a grumpy toddler, this made things difficult.
Albus wasn’t a bad kid. She wanted to scream that to every witch or wizard or muggle who would witness him in public. He was a good kid, with a good heart. He was shy, yes, but he was also very kind. Albus just had his own way of doing things, sometimes questionable. His comprehension with the world around him may have led to confusing scenarios, but Ginny knew it was just Albus learning to process things his own way.
She didn’t question his nursery teacher when she suggested Albus needed extra help in the friend making department, or in the manner department. He was a four-year-old boy; he had his struggles. His social skills weren’t often up to par with his classmates, but there wasn’t a fault behind it. Albus was simply Albus, and she wouldn’t have him any other way.
Sometimes after his Thursday sessions he would be given homework. It would usually be to work on a new skill, or a new learned item. Most of the time he had to implement one of his new learned skills into daily life, such as using please and thank you, or making sure to make eye contact when he talked to an adult.
Today’s new implementation was Albus focusing on buying a gift for others. He was getting to that age where he needed to start focusing on other people, and not himself. Ginny knew it was difficult being a young child. She knew the struggle of older brothers and wanting to fit in. She also knew that Albus needed to start expanding his horizons more and start focusing on gifting for others. They would help, of course, but Albus needed to start getting into his mind how to shop for other’s wants, and not his own.
She and Harry were easy, as were many of the adults. A majority of them didn’t mind little gifts of cards or artwork. Albus had coloured a lovely card in nursery school, and she knew he would love it. She also had a nice scarf in mind for Harry as well, and she hoped that she could convince Albus to say he picked it out himself. (She also would convince James to do the same with the quidditch book she recently purchased.)
“Mummy,” Albus says with a quiet little whine. He’s already tired and she always hates having to drag him along on errands after his visits with the muggle mind man. The visits always left Albus tired and in a large need for a nap. But today wasn’t the day; he would have to nap later.
Ginny scoops him up as he cuddles into her shoulder. She kisses her little boy’s head, adjusting the toy owl he kept firm in his grip. He had the left toe in his mouth for comfort. She smiles warmly at him. She wished everyone could see how sweet Albus actually was. Everyone was so focused on his recent bad behavior; not too many focused on all his positives.
“Thank you,” she says as she leaves the waiting room, waving bye to the office. She bounces her little boy and when in a secluded spot, apparates to Diagon Alley with Albus still in her grip. The sound makes a little pop, and she quietly kisses Albus’ head again to sooth him.
“Lets get Daddy a scarf, hmm?” She asks him, still bouncing him as she walks. She adjusts the little hood on his jacket over his head so he stays warm in the chilly December weather. The little bell dingles as she enters the store, and the girl at the register just widens her eyes.
“You’re Ginny Potter,” she exclaims. “From the Holyhead Harpies!”
Ginny pauses, reaching to try and tighten her bun with one hand. “I am,” she greets with a forced, tired smile. She didn’t want to come off as fake, but as a mother with three children she was tired. Especially considering how she currently had a very tired little boy on her hip. “I was wondering if you had that dark green scarf I saw in last month’s edition of Quidditch Weekly? The one that comes with warming charms build in?” She asks, then bounces Albus a little more.
The cashier smiles. “Oh, yes, Mrs. Potter,” she exclaims, reaching under the counter. “It’s been mentioned you were coming in. We had it on hold.” She gives the biggest, purest, smile she can muster. “Oh, isn’t he cute!” She takes a peek under the hood of the little jacket and grins at the bright green eyes of Albus Severus Potter. “He looks like a little Harry!” She coos. She taps his little white owl and Ginny winces.
“Please don’t touch that,” she says quickly. “Albie doesn’t like others touching his owl.”
The girl watches as the little boy protectively yanks his owl closer to his chest, little green eyes in a glare. “Mine,” he says defensively.
Ginny sucks in a breath, handing over her money. She leans in to the little boy. “Al, look, this is for Daddy,” she expresses. She uses her free hand to show off the scarf, smiling as the little boy uses his free hand to run his palm over the smooth material. He gives a tired smile to his mother, who just bounces him once more.
“Do you want to me to wrap this for you?” The cashier asks.
“Please,” Ginny responds, turning Albus to face the girl who used her wand to wrap up the gifts. She let the little boy marvel at the simple spell, watching as his tired eyes take interest in the simple spell. “See Al, one day you’ll do that too,” Ginny whispers, kissing the side of his head.
He stops sucking on the toe of his owl to look at his mother. With tired eyes, he blinks. “Now?” He questions out in a soft mumble.
“One day,” Ginny promises her little boy. She grabs the bag with her husband’s gift inside and gives a thank you and slight wave, Albus mimicking his mother and waving softer. There’s a chuckle from the cashier as the little boy and mother leave the building.
Ginny opens the door to the next shop. It’s bright and colourful, and she knows it well. Albus does too, as he squirms about. His tired eyes are brightening at all the goodies.
“Welcome to Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, the best shop for your holiday stop!”
“’Nuncle George!” Albus climbs out his mother’s arms to the floor of the shop. He’s still holding tight to his little owl as Ginny smiles at her brother.
“Al’s here to get Jamie a gift,” she explains. “He’s a little tired; he just came back from his session.”
“Yeah?” George smiles down at his nephew. “What’d you learn today, Bud?”
Albus taps his chin in thought, growing shy at the question. He shrugs softly and goes to hide his face behind his owl. Ginny just smiles sweetly, patting his messy hair. “Tell Uncle George what you learned,” she whispers to him.
“Um, I shouldn’t hit people,” Albus whispers quietly. “Or grab things without asking.”
George thinks for a moment, looking at his younger sister. He turns to his quiet nephew. He was a part of the minority who didn’t really get why Al needed to go to these things. He didn’t disagree that the little boy had problems, but he also didn’t fully understand why he needed the help.
Ginny and Harry had explained that Al needed help with people skills. Percy was the first to speak up and agree, with Molly just shaking her head in disagreement. She didn’t doubt that her grandson needed to learn better manners, but she doubted the involvement with the muggle man at first. After seeing success in Albus’ behaviors and actions, her opinion changed and she relinquished the change.
“And what else?” Ginny urges. “Why are we here?” She questions the little boy.
“To buy Jamie Christmas,” Albus mumbles shyly. Ginny watches as he stumbles in his step, looking at his little owl he’s holding near the ground. She rests a hand on his messy hair, immediately dreading their visit to her mothers.
“Oh?” George’s eyes twinkle. “And what do you want to get James? What do you think he likes?”
Albus looks around the store and then shrugs his shoulders. “Don’t know,” he says softer. His eyes gaze over all the products on the shelf. He looks to his mother for guidance.
“What about one of these?” George asks, holding up one of the biting tea cups. Albus shakes his head with a little giggle. He thought it was silly.
“Jamie don’t dwink tea,” he expresses a little louder.
“Well what about this?” He shows off a jar of U-No-Poo which Ginny immediately gives a glare to her brother, indicating that was not an option. “Or, how about something completely not harming and innocent?”
Ginny nods her head in approval.
George looks around the shop and his eyes settle on something. “This?” He suggests. He holds out a nonthreatening, nonharmful prank. ”Not threatening, not harmful, boring.” He directs the word boring to his sister.
Albus lets out a shake of his head and points to something else. A twinkle hits George’s eye. “Ah, yes. Make a gentleman’s day by having his hat fly away. Good choice, Al. Good choice, indeed.” He ruffles his nephew’s hair. Albus beams at his uncle, proud of the gift he picked out.
“I don’t know Al,” Ginny says, looking over the box. “Don’t you think James might like something that isn’t that?” She gestures to the row of gifts she knows won’t be used as a torture device at a family dinner.
“No! Jamie Christmas!” The little boy narrows his little green eyes at his mother. He stands firm in his ground. “Jamie make Uncle Percy hat go fwoosh,” he exclaims, and George snorts. Ginny represses a giggle as she too thinks about the idea of her older brother having his hat fly off.
“Lighten up Gin,” George says. “Let someone’s hat go fwoosh,” he mimics his nephew’s wording.
“Go fwoosh!” Albus repeats, exclaiming loudly with glee. “Fwoosh!” He giggles. He stomps on the ground, giggling and repeating the word fwoosh over and over in a sing song voice. “Mummy go fwoosh; Daddy go fwoosh; fwoosh, fwoosh, fwoosh.”
Ginny looks at the joy on her toddler’s face and sighs, giving in. Sometimes being a responsible mother had to come second in regards to stopping a possible tantrum. This wasn’t the battle she wanted to fight. Not today. She had another battle coming up in the afternoon that was going to cause a tantrum, she knew. Besides, he looked adorable so happy like that. She knew her eldest would enjoy a toy like that. He had that streak of prank in him just like his deceased grandfather and uncles. Having a hat fly off didn’t seem like it would be the most harmful of a prank anyways, not compared to other toys in the shop.
“Okay, but you’re getting Lily that doll, okay?” Ginny reasons. Albus pays no attention as he spins and sings his little song about hats flying away. “And Gran is getting that pretty picture of you, and James, and Lily,” she adds on.
The boy stops spinning and looks at his mother. “Yuck,” he says.
Ginny only chuckles, and grins at George. “Al had his picture taken in his nursery school last fall,” she says. “He didn’t like having to look like a little gentleman, as Mum calls it.”
George looks at his nephew with sympathy. “I don’t think that’s fun either.” He looks at the gift and then at his nephew. “Want to help me wrap his gift?” He asks Al, as Ginny lifts him up to the counter to see. She lets his little hood flop back and pushes his fringe to the side of his face so he can see.
“Is Mum next?” George questions, noticing how the fringe is currently swept to the side. He, like all his siblings, know the unfortunate consequences of being a little boy with unruly hair around Molly Weasley. Having grandchildren didn’t seem to discourage Molly from her own fashion preferences.
“She promised Al that he could help decorate the cookies for Andromeda.”
“He’s not going to like that,” George says, as he waves his wand and lets the ribbon manifest its self into a giant, fluffy, bow.
“Shh,” Ginny shushes, watching her little boy marvel at the spells.
George is right. In all ways, George is right and Ginny is regretting ever allowing her son to come over to his grandmother’s house.
Molly is in the kitchen with a bowl and whisk in hand, mixing cookie dough. The little boy sits on his knees, leaning over the bowl as his grandmother whisks. He’s peering into it, little owl clutched firm in his grip. He uses his free hand to paw at his fringe that has fallen into his eyes, trying to scoot it off his face so he can peer more at the cookies.
“Scoot back, Albie,” Molly instructs, as the little boy reaches into the bowl trying to get the dough. “Nuh uh,” she tuts. “No hands in the dough, please.” She stops stirring and waves a baking sheet onto the counter, greased cookie cutters already laying around.
“What animals are these Al?” Molly asks, holding up the cookie cutter. She holds up one shaped like a hippogriff.
“’Ippogrit,” he exclaims, mumbling around the toy he had put back into his mouth. Molly beams at her grandson, holding up another cookie cutter, in shape of a niffler. “Niffer!” He exclaims, toy still pressed in his mouth. “An’ that Chrith-a-mith,” he says, pointing to the cutter shaped like Father Christmas.
“Father Christmas,” Molly repeats, correcting her young grandson. She tugs at his owl, which leads to a howl from the little boy. “Speak clearly, honey. People can’t understand you when you have Hooty in your mouth.” She turns to Ginny, concerned. “He doesn’t do that at school, does he? Talk with his owl in his mouth.”
“No,” Ginny responds. “Hooty doesn’t go to school. He won’t go to Primary next year either. I just don’t want Al to lose him.”
“No, you don’t want that,” Molly agrees. She remembers the time the owl had been misplaced in her own house. It was a nightmare trying to get the little boy to sleep without his favourite toy beside him. Eventually she found the toy under a pile of blocks Albus had forgot to clean up.
Molly continues to press cookie patterns into the dough, waving the pans to fly into the oven for cooking. She does the same with the second pan, when she notices her little grandson pawing at his messy fringe, scooting it to the side.
“When’s the last time you cut Al’s hair?” Molly asks. She looks at Ginny’s knot secured in the back of her head. “Or yours, for that matter.” Ginny looks at her little boy who is happily licking at the spoon of dough Molly had left for him.
“Mum, Al’s had a long day. He had one of his sessions today and he’s very tired. He could hardly keep his eyes open when we were shopping.” She doesn’t answer her mother’s question about her own hair.
“It won’t take long dear. Just a few snips and then he can take a rest. I can set up the blankets in your old bedroom. He particularly likes Charlies old dragon quilt.”
“Mum— “Ginny goes to protest, but her mother has already scooped up the young boy. Molly tugs the owl from his mouth and hands it to Ginny, placing Albus on the kitchen counter near the sink.
“It’ll only take a few minutes, dear. She waves her wand and it takes Albus seconds to realize what is going to happen. A loud howl comes out the little boy’s mouth, as Molly snaps on a bib she had lying around. “Albus, let’s be a big boy about this,” she instructs, wetting his hair and running a comb through the thick locks. She doesn’t go gentle on the knots and tangles. “You’ve already got cookie dough in your fringe dear, don’t you want to eat without messes in your hair?” She asks him, getting screams in return. Thick tears run down his face as the little boy’s hair is cut short.
“Mum,” Ginny protests.
“Nonsense Ginny. It looks better off his face. You can see his eyes and now he doesn’t have gunk in his fringe.”
“Whatever you say, Mum,” Ginny sighs and snaps the bib off Albus, going to pick him up and bounce him.
“And what about your hair, young lady?” She asks her daughter. “It looks like a mess.”
“Mum,” Ginny sighs.
“I’m just saying honey that if it’s too much to handle, you should let me fix it into a more manageable style. Believe me, I had seven children and I understand the need for quick.”
“Yes Mum,” Ginny says and rolls her eyes. She would never be the stay at home, dainty house wife type of mother. She loved her mother to death, but she could never be that type of person. Staying at home to cook and clean was not her idea of a life. She loved her children; she loved Harry; but she didn’t think she could ever become the type of house wife her mother envisioned.
“I saw some women with a hairstyle that I think would look every nice on you. Remember how you had it in your first year? That looked so cute.”
Ginny tightens her bun, pushing Hooty into Albus’ mouth as he still sobbed. She knew the haircut her mother was referencing. It was something that many of the women at Al’s nursery school had. The mothers with their cashmere jumpers draped over their shoulders and volunteered for the nursery school’s events. They were the mothers that didn’t have a life outside of their child, or their child’s school. She saw them at James’ primary as well, and those mothers always seemed to be the most troublesome. Ginny couldn’t envision completely giving up quidditch or her own job, just to reallocate the time to worry about how the schools spent their money, or to go door to door and raise money for a club that James had no interest in partaking in.
“I have an appointment this weekend,” Ginny lies, and Molly brightens a little bit.
“Oh, wonderful,” she says, and drops the conversation. “But honey,” she adds. “Don’t cut it like when you played quidditch. It was too masculine for your pretty face.”
Ginny hides the roll of her eyes by bouncing Albus again. His tears were settling down, and his lips had stopped trembling. Ginny pressed a kiss to the side of his head, soothing him. “It’s okay Albie. You’re okay,” she soothes. “Let’s decorate some cookies,” Ginny says and puts him down as the baked goods sit on the counter. “Want to make some for Daddy and James and Lily?”
Albus peers over the counter top, Hooty still firm in his mouth. He nods quietly, eyes and face still red from being upset. He reaches over to grab the icing with his hand when Molly stops him. “Albus, use the bag sweetheart. Use this little bag and draw like it’s one of your crayons.” She hands him the little bag full of icing and some cookies that didn’t reach their full shape.
Albus picks up a misshapen Father Christmas and draws on carefully a smile and a fluffy beard. He squirts on some of the red icing to make the suit, then moves onto the misshaped hippogriff, squirting white all over the cookie, then drawing a smile, before moving to the niffler. When the people shapes are put in front, he grabs at the icing once more, taking the black and making large, messy squirts covering half the person’s face, then two circles. He eventually ended up with a full Potter cookie family and their two cookie pets, and a Father Christmas.
“Mumma, look,” Albus cried out, pointing to his designs as Ginny went over to wipe his fingers free from icing. She notices the lack of icing in his fringe, and even though she knows he hates it, the short hair does keep his fringe food-free.
“I see Al,” she says, smiling. His tears were long gone by now, replaced with glee from decorating cookies. “Want to take them to Daddy? Mum, I think we’re heading out,” Ginny says, putting Al’s jacket back on and propping the hood up. “We’ll see you soon,” she tells her mother, as Molly gives both of them a large squeeze and a kiss on the cheek.
“Send Harry my love, dear.”
In seconds the two are in the floo, then back home to the Potter house. Harry smiles at the box of cookies and the gifts swinging in a bag.
“Someone went Christmas shopping.” Harry bends in to kiss his wife.
“It was Al, all Al,” she chuckles. “Thinking of others was his homework today. He had to implement picking out a gift that wasn’t for him. So we have yours and James’.”
“And what are these?” Harry asks, tapping the box with a grin. He looks at Albus, who doesn’t respond.
“We stopped by Mum’s because she said he could help her make cookies.” Ginny pulls the jacket off and Harry frowns, seeing his son’s shorn locks.
“She didn’t,” he mumbles.
“Did he cry?”
“Well, that’s a relief,” Harry sighs, raking a hand through his own messy hair. He watches as Albus tiredly takes a seat on the ground and he opens the box of cookies.
Albus pulls his owl out his mouth and points at one of the people.” Tha’s you, Daddy,” he mumbles and puts his owl back in his mouth. It sounds tired, and looking at Albus Harry can see the boy is about to fall asleep. He goes to pick him up and the little look alike lays his head on his father’s shoulder.
Tomorrow was Friday, which meant the hectic Thursday day wouldn’t happen for another week at least.