Harry grabbed a bag and stuffed it full of things he thought he might need. After repeatedly being asked by Esme, and later Rosalie, to come and spend Christmas with their family he had finally caved. He didn't know what to bring, for what do you bring to a house full of vampires? Which is why anything he thought he might need would be thrown into the bag; grateful it was a magical bag.
"Are you ready to go, little man?" he asked his son who was still lying in his crib.
"Dada," C.J. babbled reaching out with his tiny arms.
"You want to see Esme, don't you?" Harry gently picked him up.
"Meme," C.J. replied, talking about Esme.
"Let's go then." Harry took one last look around the house before he left, carrying his son. He somehow always forgot to take the buggy with him. It took him about 40 minutes to walk to the Cullen estate. He was grateful the winter clothes he had bought for C.J. had a warming charm on them for it was rather cold outside.
"Harrison," Esme greeted him before he even reached the door. "I'm glad you came." She hugged him close and smiled down at the babe still in Harrison's arms as he protested. "Why hello dear C.J. I'm very happy you came as well."
"Meme," C.J. babbled as he saw Esme. Whenever his daddy was away, she took care of him. He never really liked it when his daddy wasn't with him but he did like Esme and liked spending time with her.
"Please, come in and I'll introduce you to my family." Together they walked inside towards the living room. "You know my husband, Carlisle."
"It's good to see you again, Doctor," Harry shook the man's outstretched hand. "I never got a chance to thank you properly for helping me out with my son when he was sick."
"Don't worry about it, I'm glad I could be of assistance," Carlisle smile was kind and genuine, "and please call me Carlisle."
"Harrison! I'm glad that you came," Rosalie walked over towards them and enveloped him in an awkward embrace, even after all the time that had passed, she was still more comfortable with his son than she was with him. A rather tall vampire, who reminded him of his godfather, because they were both rather scruffy and big, followed her. "This is my husband, Emmett."
"It's a pleasure to finally meet you. I've heard so much about you," Emmett told him as he shook his hand.
"And you as well," Harry replied.
"I believe you've met our other children at school," Esme continued to introduce them, as they walked into the kitchen and noticed the three other vampires. "Jasper, Alice and Edward."
Harry just nodded at them in greeting and introduced his son to the vampires who hadn't met him yet.
"He's so cute," Alice squealed when the baby cooed happily as Rosalie took him in her arms.
"I've brought something with me," Harry said digging into the bag he'd packed. Esme had told him that he didn't need to bring any presents but he didn't feel he could come without bringing at least something. He withdrew a few things C.J. would need during dinner and placed them on a spare counter before finally reached the bottom of the bag, and finding the box he was looking for.
"These are blood pops. According to the shop assistant they should taste like your favourite animal's blood." The past Wednesday, when he had gone to magic school, he had stopped by one of the stores to pick some up, for his resident vampire friends. "I just didn't want to be the only one to be eating and this way you could eat, or at least suck on something."
Esme smiled as the human turned redder by the second. "Thank you, Harrison. It's very thoughtful of you."
"So, these taste like blood?" Emmett asked as he picked one up. When Harry nodded he popped one in his mouth and sighed. "Grizzly blood..yum…"
"How fascinating…" Carlisle took one of the blood pops from the box and examined it. "This is actual blood?"
"Yeah, well, it's magic, you know? They used a drop of animal blood and the rest is enhanced by a potion."
"Ingenious," Carlisle's charming smile warmed his heart.
"They taste fantastic too." At Emmett's outburst the whole house burst out laughing.
"We better start or else Emmett will finish them all." Everyone smiled and sat down.
All the vampires tried at least one blood pop, as not to hurt the wizard's feelings. Rosalie fed C.J. so that Harry could try the fabulous dinner the vampires had cooked for him.
"So, Harrison, you're a wizard?" Emmett asked, starting the conversation.
"Yes," Harry answered after swallowing the food that had been in his mouth.
"You practise magic?"
"Yes," was the simple reply.
"Can you show us something?" Emmett had never met a wizard before and wanted to find out more about this one while he had the chance.
"No," Harry shook his head. "Unfortunately we aren't allowed to practise our magic outside the magic school." He really didn't want to get into why he couldn't practise his magic outside of magic school and hoped the subject would be dropped.
"If I could do magic I'd probably use it all the time," he told the group as he popped another blood pop into his mouth.
"I kind of like doing things manually," Harry replied. "It gives you time to think about things and you shouldn't take the little things for granted."
"Where do you practise your magic if you aren't able to at home?" Jasper asked, feeling the wizard's emotions turning morbid.
"Most of the things I'm able to learn I do so through books and some things, which I can't learn through just reading books, I practise at my magical school before I go home or before classes. Also whenever I need the extra lessons I can just pop in, quite literally," Harry explained.
"You go to two schools and raise a child? It must be exhausting for you…" Jasper observed.
"It can be," Harry replied, "but I'm very lucky I met Esme; she's been a great help and Rosalie too, of course." He quickly added after seeing Rosalie's glare.
"Yes, they don't shut up about you," Emmett told him, laughing. His mate snarled at him as they watched Harrison turn a shade of red.
"Why don't we retire to the living room?" Esme asked after Harrison had finished his dinner.
Harry took in the new surroundings, because he had been too focused on meeting the vampires earlier to have noticed much about it, especially the big tree in the centre of the room and the large pile of presents under it. "Nice tree," he observed. The only time he had seen such a big tree had been while he attended Hogwarts.
"Yes, we decorated it yesterday," Alice told him. "We wanted to give C.J. his first Christmas."
"You've got presents for him?" He asked Esme, slightly worried. He hadn't bought anything for them. The last day before the Christmas break he had given Esme a small Christmas present; a protection necklace, but that had been it. He wasn't expecting to have to buy for the family and began feeling guilty he hadn't thought of it.
"Yes, but don't worry about it, Harrison, we just wanted to give you and C.J. this."
"But I didn't bring anything." He didn't have time for the guilt to really settle in for Esme was beside him in a heartbeat.
"Do not worry about it, dear. These presents are for you and C.J." Her smile was kind and heart warming and all Harry could do was nod. "Besides we didn't want C.J. to miss his first Christmas."
Harry looked at his son, who was playing with Emmett, Rosalie and Alice. "Okay," he replied. "I don't want him to miss any holidays."Not like I had…
"Shall we begin?" Carlisle asked, feeling that the mood had shifted.
They began with the presents for C.J; he got a lot of new toys, not to mention all of the clothing he was only going to outgrow in a couple of months. Once all of C.J.'s presents had been opened there was only one present left and that one was for Harrison.
"This is from us all," Esme told him as she handed him the present.
Harry carefully unwrapped the package and looked at it in bewilderment. "A key?" He asked. It was then that he noticed the brand on the keychain. "A car key?" Confused eyes fell on Esme.
"I know you don't drive yet, and that's why we've also included drivers lesson, but once you have gotten your license you'll be able to drive it," Esme explained.
"You're giving me a car and lessons?" Harry was shocked, to put it lightly. Why would anyone want to spend that much money on him?
"Yes," was Esme's only reply. "You deserve this, Harrison," she added when she saw the disbelief in the green eyes.
Harry hadn't noticed the room had gotten silent and was watching him. "Thank you," he whispered, not knowing what else to say. Everything was a little overwhelming for him and he wasn't sure what to make of it. Were they really sincere or were they going to stab him in the back once he turned around?
"Come, let me show you what kind of car we bought you," Esme held out her hand for him to take and when he did, she led him to the back yard. They crossed a few other cars, one Harry recognised as Esme's another as Rosalie and one he saw at school every day.
"This one is yours," Esme told him when she led him to a black SUV.
"Wow," was all Harry could say. It definitely had a lot of room.
"We added a baby seat so you can take C.J. with you," Esme said.
"I can't believe you're giving me a car," he turned to the vampire.
"We figured you'd need one, especially when C.J. gets older."
"Thank you," Harry said again. "I love it."
They went back to the crowded living room as Alice, Emmett and Rosalie tried out a few new toys with C.J. while Carlisle and Jasper watched them with a smile tugging at their lips. Edward had given him a polite nod when their eyes met before leaving the room. Esme led Harrison to the couch where they sat down.
"How are you holding up?" Esme asked. She had noticed his sunken eyes, bags under them and not to mention the yawns he was trying to hide every few minutes.
"Fine," Harry replied automatically. A long time ago he had learned to just say he was fine even if he wasn't. His aunt or uncle would never ask him how he was but sometimes a teacher would and if he told them what was actually wrong with him, his relatives would beat him much worse. He knew he could trust Esme, but that didn't mean he could just give up on years of survival skills he had picked up.
Esme gave him the look that told him she didn't believe him but wasn't going to pry; yet it always made him want to talk to her. "I'm tired…" Esme gave him the look again. "Okay, okay, I'm exhausted." He smiled when C.J. reached out to him but was tickled by Alice.
"I just…" Harry shook his head. "C.J. likes to spend the night talking when I want to sleep. He's kept me up every night for the past four days. He's either taking advantage of the fact that now I'm home so much or he just can't sleep…"
"We can watch over him while you sleep for a while," Esme suggested and Harry was suddenly aware of how quiet the room has gone.
Harry bit his bottom lip, something he always did when he was feeling slightly nervous. "I guess, I mean, if it's no bother." Suddenly 4 vampires were telling him it was not a problem. "I didn't bring anything for me to sleep in," he had packed his son's pyjamas but didn't count on him needing a set as well.
"I'm sure we can find you something to sleep in," Esme told him, kindly.
Harry bit his lip again. "Okay," he said after a few moments. He stood up and walked over to his son. "Daddy's gonna get some sleep now, okay, little man? You be good," he waited for his son to give a reaction before he let Esme lead him to the room where he'd be staying.
The room was big, with a bed in the middle and musical albums surrounding him. "Someone likes music," he observed as he read a few of the titles.
"Yes, this is Edward's room," Esme explained to him. "I'm sure he wouldn't mind you using it for the night."
Carlisle came in and handed Harry a shirt and some baggy pants. "I hope this will do," he told the wizard. "I'm afraid they'll be too big for you but it's all I could find."
"It's fine, thank you," he told the older vampire.
"We shall let you get some sleep," Esme told him before placing a kiss on his cheek, hugging him and leaving the room with Carlisle following her after he told Harry goodnight.
Harry took a deep sigh before he changed into the shirt and baggy pants. If this was Edward's room then where was he? He had noticed that the bronze haired vampire hadn't said anything to him during dinner, or when they opened the presents for C.J. Had he done something wrong? Why was the vampire keeping his distance from him?
Harry shook his head; it wouldn't do to analyse everything, especially when he should get some rest. Esme was right; he really needed the sleep. He'd been working so hard for both his schools and taking care of his son that he'd forgotten to take care of himself.
When his head touched the pillow he was asleep within 5 minutes.
The next morning Harry woke up and walked into the living room, when he found the room empty he walked into the kitchen. As he walked in he found Esme making him some toast.
"Where is everyone?" He asked before taking a sip of the milk Esme had handed to him.
"Alice, Rosalie, Emmett and Jasper took C.J. outside to play in the snow," Esme explained. "I hope that was all right?"
"Yes," Harry answered. "They do realise he's only one, right?
"They figured it would give you some peace," Esme confirmed. "Carlisle's at the hospital and Edward's in the living room. We've decided to give him some space after all that's happened," she continued her explanation. Living room? Harry hadn't seen him there, had he?
"No offence, but it seems like he's closing himself off from you guys and he doesn't seem to like me much. He has yet to speak a word to me." Harry picked up the jar of milk and refilled his glass.
"Ever since he broke up with his girlfriend he has been pulling himself away from his family. He's also been more careful who he befriends." Esme took a moment to think. "It has never been easy for us to make friends. When Edward was finally able to open up to someone, he got stabbed in the back." Esme shook her head as if it would make her feel better to deny everything. "If there's someone who deserves to be happy it's Edward but I feel fate has other plans for him."
"I know what you mean. I once thought I could trust my friends but they turned out to be back stabbers as well."
"Once you get to know each other, I believe you'll find you have much in common," Esme told him.
"If he ever decides to talk to me," Harry mumbled. He didn't know what he'd done wrong to deserve the silent treatment from the vampire; all he knew was that he didn't like it.
"Give him time," she encouraged him for reason's Harry didn't understand yet. "I'm going outside to paint for a while. Feel free to look around." With a kiss to his cheek she was gone.
Harry grabbed another piece of toast, downed his milk and started to look around the manor. It was a normal looking manor. The walls in the front room were mostly made out of glass; giving it a summery feeling, despite the snow he could see. He had just started exploring when he heard the sweetest sound coming from upstairs.
A spell took over him as he followed that sweet music, bringing him to the room where it was coming from. The door was open and he peaked inside, hoping not to disturb whoever was playing.
Edward was playing the piano. Sometimes stopping to write the music down and sometimes repeating the same piece over and over as if he was trying to get the feel of it; then he would continue only to stop again and write it down.
Harry saw the moment Edward realised he was there by the stiffening of his back, the sudden silence and, eventually, the eyes burning into his own. "I'm sorry; I didn't mean to disturb you. I heard you play and I just wanted to…uhmm… listen." A slight flush graced his face and he had to look away as he felt his magic cackle under his skin.
"It is all right," the voice was a musical instrument on its own and Harry closed his eyes as the sound of the voice took him over. "It's not done yet," that heavenly voice continued. "But you can listen if you like."
"You write the music yourself?" Harry's head had shot up and involuntary took a step towards the vampire.
"Sometimes," was the only answer. The music continued and Harry walked over to the couch to just watch the vampire play. It was about half an hour later when he realised the song was done. He closed his eyes to thoroughly enjoy it as Edward played the song one more time to make sure it was perfect.
"That was beautiful," the wizard breathed when the last note was played. "Have you played for long?"
Harry knew the question was stupid the second it left his mouth, with Edward being a vampire at all, and he could feel the slight flush begin all over again when the vampire chuckled.
"I've been playing most of my life but I haven't been able to compose a song for the past few months," Edward told him as he turned around on the piano bench to face the wizard.
"Why is that?" Harry bit his tongue; his curiosity always got the better of him, whether that was a good thing or bad he wasn't sure. He was about to apologise when the vampire answered.
"I've been too angry, I suppose." Edward read the question in Harry's mind but knew he wouldn't ask it. "I've recently been through a rather difficult break-up."
Harry nodded. "Yes, break-ups can be rather difficult."
Edward studied the wizard as the memories took over. He found it strange that he could only read part of the wizard's mind. As if he was shielding it from him.
"I find it rather curious," Edward suddenly said after a rather comfortable silence.
"You may know that some vampires have a special ability," he continued after Harry's nod. "I'm able to read everyone's mind with the exception of my ex. Yet, sometimes your mind is closed to me as well." Edward found the answer in Harry's mind. "What is Occlumency?"
"Mind-magic," Harry replied but elaborated. "It's a way to shield my mind against invaders. I never quite mastered it, which is why you can read most of my thoughts."
"How interesting," Edward got up and walked closer to the wizard. "These shields, you could lower them? Even remove them?"
"In theory, I don't remember how I put them up and lowering or even removing them may damage my mind indefinitely." Harry locked his eyes with Edward's. "So, I just keep them up."
"Do you mind that I am able to hear your thoughts?" The question was soft, like a whisper and it shot through Harry as if it could touch him.
"No," he breathed. He could feel his heart beating in his chest and knew the vampire was able to hear it as well. Yet, somehow it didn't matter. It didn't matter that this being could know everything about him. All his secrets, the good, the bad and that was what scared him.
His magic was building, begging to be free. It was reaching out to Edward, to the room even to the earth. Something was happening to him and he felt like he couldn't control it. He closed his eyes, trying to control his magic as much as he could before he opened them again.
"Will you excuse me," Harry said to Edward when he could control his magic for the time being. "I need to check up on my son." He waited for the immortal's nod before he quickly left the room, almost running out of it, and went to the garden where he knew C.J. was.
He smiled at the vampires surrounding his boy. "What are you doing, little man?" He asked his son as he sat down in the circle. The baby crawled up to him, sending him calming waves, as he grabbed onto his daddy's hands so that he would be able to pull himself into Harry's lap. He closed his eyes as he felt his magic settle under his skin. "You are full of little tricks, aren't you?" He said, smiling warmly at his son and momentarily forgetting all about the strange vampire that seemed to be able to make him lose control like no other before him could.