Summer and Autumn.
Amazing chapter image by visenya. @TDA
"Out of my way, you nasty bint, I’m in a hurry!"
"Well, it’s not my fault you didn’t wake up, is it?"
"OI! GET OUT OF THE BATHROOM, I’M UNDER THE SHOWER!"
"Shut up, all of you, I’m trying to sleep!"
"No way, I’m next, I got here first."
"You did not, you pushed me out of the way."
"I have absolutely no idea what you’re on about."
"WILL YOU CRAZY BINTS JUST SHUT UP?!"
"WHO ARE YOU CALLING A CRAZY BINT, YOU NASTY SLA –"
We swivelled in unison, grinning sheepishly. "Hi, Mum."
She shook her head, yawning. "Autumn, let your sister shower first. She takes more time to get ready. We’ll leave for Christmas at Mamie’s in about an hour. And I don't want to hear you talk to one another like that."
Summer smirked, and I stuck my tongue out at her.
We are so mature in our morning routine.
Yes, it’s always like this. Explanations.
Hello, my name is Autumn Seasons. The charming person I was squabbling with is my twin, Summer Seasons. Under the shower, Fern Seasons. And trying to sleep, ladies and gentlemen, is Ivy Seasons.
No, we do not
find it funny. Our second names are even worse.
Would you like to be called Summer Daffodil, Autumn Jonquil, Ivy October or Fern April? Yeah, I thought so.
Surprisingly enough, mum has a completely normal name: she’s called Ellen. Our father was Andrew, and that’s all we know about him. He dumped mum after Ivy was born, for reasons Mum won’t talk about, and it has just been the five of us since then.
Mum works as an optician during the day, to afford the rent of our flat, and is a waitress at the Snitch, a wizard bar, in the evening, in order to pay for our school supplies and whatnot.
Summer and I are sixth years in Hogwarts: she’s a Hufflepuff, I’m a Ravenclaw. Next in line is Fern, whom we generally call Rain to her demand, fifth year Slytherin, and Ivy is a third year Hufflepuff.
The four of us, generally referred to as the Calendar Girls (you know, because four seasons) by the morons of Hogwarts, are very close. Maybe it’s because we follow each other closely age-wise; maybe it’s because we share a room at home since the day of our birth; maybe it’s due to the fact that we’ve never had any choice than to rely on one another; in any case, be warned: attack one of us and you’ll have four red-haired furies chasing after you.
Ah, yes. We also look very much like one another: over 5’9, with long red hair and dark brown eyes. Well, except for Fern, who is the only one with grey eyes. She also bleaches her hair, thus making herself the easiest to distinguish.
And Ivy is only 5'7, but don't tell her anything about that, it pisses her off to no end.
Next to that, it’s a regular competition on who swears the most and who ate the last cookie, arguments about socks and jeans, and a general morning race to the shower. That’s about everything that happens in our dull lives.
Speaking of showers... Fern walked out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel, followed by waves of white steam, and Summer quickly slipped through the door, smiling evilly at me.
"Shae," I called out through the wood of the door, "if in ten minutes you’re not out of there I will hex you."
I heard her laugh, followed by the sound of running water, and I trudged back to our bedroom.
If you can call it a bedroom. It’s more of a large broom closet. There’s only a small window, with very little natural light, and it gets freezing in the winter. Years ago, we stole a few of those little booklets you get in decoration stores, the ones that sample all the possible paint hues or wallpapers, tore them apart, and plastered the sheets individually to three of the walls, leaving one of them blank. The last wall holds our scribbling since forever: love or war declarations to one another, doodles, highly philosophical quotes (enemies are like flowers: you pick them and you kill them), and other sisterly ramblings.
The floor is even less organised than the walls: our mattresses are sprawled across it, shoes, clothes and books filling up the remaining space. The only difference today was that our clothes for the day were neatly hung up by the window. It was, after all, Christmas, and we didn’t want to arrive at Mamie’s looking all frumpy.
I tiptoed carefully up to where Ivy was snoozing again.
"Vee, get up. We’re leaving soon."
She snapped her eyes open, then rubbed them with her knuckles like a small child.
"Where are we going?"
"Mamie. It’s Christmas, remember?"
Ivy smiled, then pushed the covers away, sliding her feet into the slippers that lay discarded next to her.
It took us less than an hour to all be showered, dressed and ready, having had breakfast in the middle of it all. We Seasons are organised women.
The trip to Mamie’s house in Stratford-upon-Avon went by quite quickly, all of us singing along to Maroon 5 at the top of our lungs. We could have Apparated, but only Mum had her licence, and we liked being in the car anyway. It was only then that we were capable of having a full conversation, because we didn’t have the option of leaving in a huff, slamming the door as we left.
Ivy has tried. Once.
"Is everybody going to be there?" Fern asked between two songs.
"Yes, Noah is coming with Roger, and Newton with Emily," Mum kept her eyes on the road.
Okay, so maybe I lied, the generation of Seasons before us also has slightly uncommon names. That would be Noah Emeric, Newton Sebastian, and Ellen Joyce January to you. Mum is the eldest of the three, and there’s a two year gap between each of them.
I love both my uncles dearly. It was a bit of a shock five years ago when we found out Noah was gay, but ever since Roger Davies was introduced to the family eight months prior from today I couldn’t imagine him with anyone else. Newton married Emily Boot immediately after the end of his Obliviator training: she’s adorable, a petite woman with brown hair and bright, laughing eyes. Mamie is constantly pestering them for a grandchild to pamper.
She’s a special one, my grandmother. Born in 1932 in the North of France, she lived there throughout the war. She was one of the very first exchange students from Beauxbâtons to go to Hogwarts, in 1949, and once she got to the United Kingdom, she never went back to France. She also originated our name tradition, being June Louise Virgina Emma Léopoldine Joséphine Seasons, née Miller.
I also thought it was a joke the first time I heard her full name.
She also has the most awesome house I’ve ever seen. It’s on the banks of the Avon, all wood and old stone, with a small garden overgrown with shrubs and flowers and a wooden fence. It reminds me of the cottages that are described in fairy tales, except that Mamie got wireless network installed – since the flux of magic isn’t that powerful around and inside the house, it functions perfectly, along with the microwave oven and television set.
We had just restarted the album we were listening to for the sixth time when we pulled into the driveway, Mum tooting the car horn like a madwoman. Emily came running out of the house, wiping her hands on her apron, waiting for us to get out of the car. Fern was the first to manage this extremely difficult task.
I will spare you the flourish of hugs and greetings that followed. The only thing worth remembering was Mamie exclaiming "SHIT!" quite loudly as she jerked her hand too brusquely and sent the pile of presents she was levitating crashing onto Newton's foot.
We crowded into the living room, where the fire was happily crackling away, creating dancing shadows on the Christmas tree and on the cat sleeping on the sofa.
Ivy immediately ran over to said cat, named, in case you were interested, Tiggy – the result of letting us choose its name. Tiggy was, in a way, the last member of our family: she was seven years old, striped gray and black, and we talked to her on a regular basis. She also sat with us for dinner quite often, on a chair at the end of the table, her small head peeking over the top.
Summer joined her, and I was left with Fern in front of the fireplace.
"What are you hoping for this Christmas?" I warmed my hands to the flame.
She rolled her eyes at me, grinning. "You know what I'm hoping for, Autumn. You and Summer went shopping for it."
"Absolutely not, I have no idea what you're talking about." Lies, I was fully aware what she was on about. Her pastels had been hidden under the sink for the past week thanks to Summer.
"I saw you come back with the bags from Faber Castell."
"What bags?" Sneaky little thing, I should have guessed she would see us. But in our defence it was difficult to keep secrets when we all shared a room.
She poked me in the side. "Play it that way if you like… Fine. I'm hoping for drawing material, maybe that book on the advanced use of Runes in today's society, more drawing material… What about you?"
In case you didn't quite grasp that yet, Fern is an extremely talented artist, and she also loves languages. Her greatest aspiration in life is to become a translator, and she practices her French with Mamie.
"Hopefully, a new badminton racket, because mine bent when Dom threw it against a tree, and though I've tried to fix it it's not the same anymore, a watch and a pair of skates."
Fern nodded, glancing briefly at the corner where Summer and Ivy were cooing to the cat. "Well. You shall see," she taunted.
"The suspense is unbearable," I muttered sarcastically.
"GOOD MORNING LADIES!" A loud voice exploded through the room.
"Uncle Noah!" We scrambled up to greet him.
"Well, thanks for me," Roger's voice echoed.
"They prefer me," Noah smirked. "I have red hair."
"So? I have blue eyes."
"Well I have a nicer arse."
"Yes, but I'm better in bed."
"That would be debatable."
"Are you honestly discussing your sex life in front of my daughters?" Mum appeared in the doorway. "I thought you had him better educated than that, Roger. You should be ashamed."
Roger shook his head sadly. "Alas Ellen, he is untameable."
Mum grinned – she's always adored Roger. "I said enough
with the innuendo. If Maman hears you…"
"Yes, I'd rather not face June's wrath today."
It was Mamie's turn to appear. "My wrath? Why?"
Standing there in her beige trousers and knitted red jumper, her white hair framing her face, it was difficult to imagine her angry.
"No reason, Maman," Noah swooped down to kiss her cheek. "Joyeux Noël."
We all settled down after that for lunch. It was always a bit of an adventure, as Mamie could barely cook. Come to think of it, that was a talent her daughter had inherited – which is why we were the ones doing the cooking at home.
However, this year Emily, probably annoyed of eating charred turkey, had chosen to take the matters into her hands, and we were treated to a delicious Sicilian fondue (that would be thin pieces of veal cooked in white wine), risotto, and a strange-looking but delicious dish of tomatoes and zucchini.
Emily had been the one to teach us how to cook, and we owed her eternal thanks for that. One can only eat that many microwave meals.
Mamie had just set the dessert – it was called bûche de Noël
in French, which literally meant Yule Log, and was the family Christmas dessert since forever – on the table, when Newton tapped his glass with the side of his knife, clearing his throat.
"Emily and I have something to share with you. As you probably know, Mum here," he indicated to Mamie sitting on his left, "has been waiting for us to have children. That has proven to be impossible." He squeezed Emily's shoulder comfortingly. "When we were told this a year ago, it didn't really come as a surprise. But we decided to do something about it."
Emily spoke up. "Yesterday, we finally received the confirmation that we were fit to adopt. Her name is Yuna, she's from Japan, turning seven and a half months old next week, and we should be leaving for Tokyo to bring her home mid-January."
There was a moment of stunned silence, before we all started clapping and cheering. I moved around the table to hug Emily.
"I'm so happy for you!"
"Thanks," she beamed at me, returning my embrace. "She even fits your exotic name policy: Yuna means moon in Japanese. Terry will be godfather, of course, but would you accept to be her godmother?"
I stared at her in shock. Obviously Emily's brother would be godfather, but me… "Why me?"
"You're Ellen's oldest daughter."
"I'm not quite sure how that's a decent explanation, but I'd love to! Except… What are my sisters going to think?"
Emily nodded understandingly. "Talk to them about it, though I'm sure they'll be fine, and then tell me afterwards."
I hugged her again. "Will do. Thank you!"
The way home always seemed much shorter. Exhausted, we pushed the door of the flat, arms loaded with presents. Fern had gotten her pastels and a new sketchbook; Ivy had happily read Twenty Great Healers
during the car trip, her new yellow and black quilt wrapped around her legs; Summer was proudly wearing her yellow sports hoodie with a badger, the number 2 and the name SEASONS embroidered on it; I was particularly happy with my new racket and Advanced Charms
book. Summer and I had also given one another identical necklaces with a tree-shaped pendant, except that while hers was bronze and embedded with red stones, mine was golden with green stones. Well, yes. Summer and Autumn.
Embrace the cliché, sister.
We were quick to put our things away and settle around the kitchen table, our hands wrapped around steaming mugs of Mum's signature hot chocolate. It's literally the only thing (other than profiteroles, for some reason) that she manages to make without burning the kitchen to the ground. It's also reserved to special occasions, such as now.
"Emily and Newton have asked me to be Yuna's godmother," I declared without preamble.
Reactions to my statement were very different: Mum smiled knowingly, Fern dropped her spoon, Ivy clapped her hands together and Summer choked on the whipped cream she had been stuffing her mouth with.
"What did you say?" Summer sputtered, very red in the face. "I hope you accepted!"
"I said I had to discuss with you."
She snorted poetically (notice the irony here). "Ton, you need to stop being so selfless. Think about yourself for once and owl them now to say yes." Fern and Ivy nodded in approval. "Now!"
I grabbed a quill and a scrap of parchment from the kitchen counter, hastily scribbling a positive answer to Newton and Emily. As soon as I was done, Ivy yanked the note out of my hand and went to tie it to Polka's leg for him to carry. Yes, that's the poor owl's name, and yes, my sister loves animals more than sanity itself.
But as you've realised, sanity is a relative concept in our family.
Passing the barrier a few days later was a piece of cake, though Fern shut her eyes as we went through the wall. She’s afraid of violent impacts ever since she crashed through a window and into Flitwick’s Charms class the first time she got on a broom. But I digress.
We walked out onto the platform, Fern briskly shaking our hands off her shoulders. Trunks at our feet, we each gave mum a tight hug, allowing her to tuck a strand of hair behind our ear or to dust our jacket before scattering away as she Disapparated.
I immediately made my way to the next-to-last compartment of the train, the usual meeting point with my friends.
Said friends were trying to strangle one another on the floor.
I coughed. "What has she done this time, Dom?"
"Autumn!" She jumped at me, effectively tackling me to the floor. You can say whatever you want, but Dominique Weasley is bloody strong.
Roxanne, her cousin, followed suit and lunged herself on top of us, and Sophie decided to do the same, concluding the transformation of our group hug into a brawl.
"MY BOOBS!" Dom screamed out, her voice slightly muffled. "Get off of me!"
We gradually untangled, laughing like the idiots we are.
"How was your holiday, Tony?" Roxy looked at me. She’s been calling me that since we met, deciding Autumn was too long and too complicated.
"The usual, homework, hot chocolate and teaching Vee, Rain, and Shae new hexes." I intended to keep the surprise of being Yuna's godmother a little while longer, and as Newton had pointed out, nothing was assured before Yuna was on the plane home with them.
"I wanted to use the flamingo neck on Louis," Dom sighed, "but I couldn’t remember the incantation properly."
"It’s Phoenicopteri Collus
, and you bring your wand down in one movement," Sophie chimed in, giving her wand a flourish.
"What, like this?" Dom tried to copy Sophie, nearly stabbing her in the eye.
I leant back into my seat, watching them with amusement. Dom may have been in Ravenclaw, but she could be impulsive and way too brusque when it came down to spell work. Sophie snatched Dom’s wand out of her hand, before more calmly repeating the move wandless, while Roxy sat herself down next to me.
"If ever, I strung Dom's bras on the Christmas tree."
"That's why she was trying to strangle me."
"I thought that was something you did to her every year?"
"Except that this year, she had one with Property of Daniel Smith
written on it," Roxanne sniggered.
"Oh, no, he didn't," I clamped a hand to my mouth, laughing. "Please, tell me it's a joke!"
She shook her head, tears of laughter threatening to spill at any moment. "And Uncle Bill gave her a lecture about safe sex after that, because he thought there was something going on between Dom and Daniel…"
I collapsed into a fit of uncontrollable laughter, holding my sides and rocking back and forth. You see, Daniel Smith has developed this extremely unhealthy obsession for Dom, sends her flowers, notes, sings to her at mealtimes, and, apparently, sends her undergarments. It's even more scary to know that he's in Ravenclaw like Dom is, and she has no way to escape him, other than to get Louis to go apeshit on Daniel's arse.
"Other than that," Roxanne took a few deep breaths, "did I tell you yet how Fred got cereal stuck up his nose on Boxing Day?"
The feast had been the same as usual: Dom, Sophie and I sat at the far end of the Ravenclaw table, while Roxanne trudged over to the scarlet and gold side of the Great Hall, sitting with James and Fred. The Weasley and Potter families had been fairly dispatched, and it came as less of a surprise with each Sorting. Rose and Louis were in Ravenclaw too; Molly and Lily in Hufflepuff; Albus, Lucy and Hugo in Slytherin. Lily and Ivy were watching Molly with admiration as she told something, her hands moving at full speed. I winked at Summer, who was obviously demonstrating to her friends the spell that turned fingers into tentacles. Fern was nowhere to be seen, but I suspected she had already left.
"I'm going to go," I tapped Sophie on the shoulder as soon as Headmaster Flitwick had finished his speech. "There's something I want to check for Clearwater's essay that's due tomorrow."
"Weren't you finished?"
"I am, but now I'm just wondering whether or not using Engorgio
disturbs the molecular structure of the object."
"Oh, can you tell me if you find out? Because Nate has been bugging me about the instability of enlarged objects and I'm pretty sure there are no consequences."
Nate is Sophie's Muggle brother, who studies advanced physics. They were working together on a thesis about finding a rational explanation to magical effects, which they wanted to publish for wizards to understand Muggle science, and it was absolutely fascinating, though progressing quite slowly, as Sophie only saw her brother during the holidays.
That was something I wouldn't be able to cope with. Summer and I were joined by the hip, even though we had different friends, and it was the same with Ivy or Fern, minus what we liked to call the "Twin Bond". This made me closer to Roxanne, who was the only one to be able to see her sibling whenever she wanted.
Dom, on the other hand, was in Sophie's situation – in reverse. Ever since her parents' messy divorce three years ago, she lived with her father, and Louis with Fleur. The divorce was originally going to settle peacefully, but the media stuck its nose into the story, started spreading rumours on both sides, and then it was war. Fleur settled for the house in the South of France and Louis, Bill kept Shell Cottage and Dom. Victoire was already out of the house studying wandlore, and that was it.
Today, Dom only gets to see Louis at school, being underage and needing parental permission to go visit her brother in France. Of course, paperwork is disastrous in the International Floo Department, so interstate visits are extremely problematic. But Dom copes, and so does Louis, and Victoire takes them in when things get too crazy. They're coping I tell you.
I stopped in front of the Ravenclaw door and rapped the bronze eagle-shaped knocker once. It stirred to life immediately, greeting me with the musical voice I had grown so used to in the pat six years.
"Hello, dear. Welcome back. That is, if you manage to answer. What travels but always stays in its bed?"
"A river," I smiled. "You're getting old, that was easy."
"I was asked to be lenient on your first day back," the knocker replied with some disdain. "What if I were to ask you which is the laziest letter?"
I had to wait for Sophie to come up twenty minutes later to be allowed access to the common room.
"Oh, that's simple," she laughed. "U, because it's always next to the TV! You know Muggle riddles?"
"One must always to seek to widen his or her knowledge," the door opened for us. "You should not underestimate me. As for you, Autumn," the small bronze head turned to me, "I will make sure to find particularly difficult riddles for you in the future."
Sheepishly, I made my way inside, trailing closely behind Sophie.
We were greeted by a jet of green light.
Author's Note: Hello there! I intended to get this up later but I wanted it in time for Christmas as well, so decisions had to be made.
Firstly, I want to dedicate this story to Sophie. She is my number one fan, apparently, and I consider her to be one of my best friends on the archive. Sophie has reviewed all of my stories, fangirled over them, boosted my ego, and all in all been an absolutely lovely person who was the first to wish me a happy birthday and whom I contact at any moment for support.
Sophie, I know you love Christmas, I hope this rose up to your expectations. <3
Now that I'm done blubbing, welcome to The Calendar Girls! I would love to have your thoughts on Autumn, who will be accompanying us throughout this novel as narrator. What did you think of her then? What about Summer? Fern? Ivy? Dom? Roxanne? Sophie? June? Ellen? Newton? Noah?
A word must be said about Noah. He is entirely Siriusly89's, who wanted this name in another story, except that wasn't possible. So here he is, all yours.
Right. That's about it. Please leave a review? They make my day :)
Oh, and MERRY CHRISTMAS (or joyeux Noël, whichever you prefer) TO YOU ALL!