Early the next morning, the 21st the twins were rudely awoken at dawn by their grandfather. Still half-asleep, while it was still rather dark the twins were bundled up and pushed out into the bitter cold without breakfast. A most cruel punishment in consideration
The cold woke them up rather quickly as they followed their grandfather holding his wand high with the Lumos spell brightening the area. "Why are we up so early, grandfather?" Rowan asked as Severus shivered at the freezing morning chill.
"We're here to cut down an ash tree to use as a log for the hearth," Reginald explained as he glanced about the forest searching for a good-sized ash tree.
Seeing their puzzled gazes Reginald says, "When muggles and wizarding kind still lived together the burning of the log was a common symbol between us to keep the evil spirits away. But I always thought it referred to those of the heart, really.
Either way, in those days, the sun was revered by both wizarding kind and muggles. And so, we wished for the sun to return that much sooner and placed the log on the hearth to burn, the brighter and longer it burned meant the sooner the sun would return."
Rowan snorts under her breath, "Magic would easily resolve that problem."
"Yes, magic certainly does make it rather convenient to have the log burning for the entire night without going out," Reginald chuckled. "But it is to celebrate life on the darkest of nights, Winter Solstice." Neither Severus nor Rowan reply as they both stare at the shinning white-coated creature emerging from between the trees.
Reginald glances up and startles at seeming a large, majestic white stag emerge from between the trees. The white stag is easily a foot taller not including the enormous crown of antlers. Immediately placing his body between the stag and the children, Reginald shows his empty hands as he carefully lowers his wand to the ground at feeling the overwhelming force of magic with each step of the white stag.
The white stag merely snorts causing a puff of smoke to appear before Reginald's face. The white stag easily steps past him and pauses to stare at the twins. Bending down it sniffs the top of Severus's head as Severus tries not to move.
Satisfied, it moves onto Rowan and much to their utter shock, Rowan brings her hand up for the white stag to sniff. The white stag's nostrils flared as it takes in her scent. After a moment, the white stag presses its snout gently into the raised hand, before retreating back. With a snort, the white stag bounds back into the forest and swiftly vanishes from view.
The forest is silent for a good while before Reginald slowly bends down to grab his fallen wand. "What was that grandfather?" Severus said through cold lips as Rowan stared at her hand with some awe.
"A forest spirit," Reginald said in awe. "I thought they were long gone, but it appears that they still exist in old forgotten places."
"Is that a good thing?" Severus warily asked as Rowan still stared at her hand as if memorizing the feeling and memory.
"It's very good luck to see one much less be blessed by one," Reginald said with a merry twinkle in his eye.
Rather reinvigorated, Reginald said, "Well, onward! We've got a log to find!" The twins both groaned at that as they followed their grandfather deeper into the forest.
An hour or so later, the three of them finally emerged from the forest with a giant log being levitated behind them by Reginald. With a skip in his step, he brought the Yule log into the house and laid it by the main hearth to be burned later that night. Blue and frozen, despite a warming charm, the twins fled for the kitchens lest their grandfather include them in any other festivity tradition. But alas that was not meant to be.
The rest of the day passed rather quickly as the family in unison prepared two of the feast items. Rowan and Severus with the aid of Dawn made gingerbread, while the Prince a.d.u.l.ts made the Wassail to drink later. Even Sir Knight Prince was included as he prepared carols for which to sing later that night. After everything was done and over, the twins were given only a light snack for a meal and were sent off to bathe and sleep as they'd be up all night. It was a remarkably easy feat considering that the twins were rather tired from having woken up that morning before the crack of dawn.
It was quite late that evening when Rowan and Severus awoke to the scent of clove-spiced apples and oranges. Yawning, Rowan blurrily blinked all around as Severus rose with a headful of tousled hair. "What time is it?" Severus m.o.a.ned.
Rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, Rowan says, "Mm, after seven," pointing to the clock in the corner of Severus's room. "Well, we best get up, I think."
"Mm," Severus groggily groaned as he climbed out of bed. Rowan shivered as she pulled her robe around herself and trotted over to her room to dress. Dressed rather warmly as instructed upon waking, Rowan headed over back to Severus's room to find two small mugs of warm cider to wake them up with a single cookie for each of them.
Happily taking a sip, Rowan sighs in delight as she watches Severus try to tame his sleep hair. Finally, Severus gave up and pulled his hair back with a male clip. Turning around, Severus asks, "How do I look?"
"Awake," Rowan said with a mouthful of cookie and hastily swallowed.
Seeing Rowan's hastily averted gaze, Severus walks over to his desk to find a single untouched mug and a trail of crumbs leading right back to Rowan. "Did you eat my cookie?" Severus growled.
"No-," Rowan lied rather terribly unable to meet Severus's gaze at being very much caught in the act.
"I want my cookie!" Severus threatened.
"Oh, well you look at the time," Rowan exclaimed and rushed past Severus, successfully escaping out of the bedroom.
Glowering Severus descends downstairs with a mug in hand. To his surprise, their grandparents and Aunt Georgine were warmly dressed waiting downstairs. Pointing at Rowan, Severus crossly says, "Rowan ate my cookie!"
"Don't point, Severus, that is quite rude," Sirsa chided him, before turning her steely gaze towards Rowan. "And you, young lady, don't eat things that aren't yours."
"Yes, grandmother," Rowan and Severus said in unison.
With a neat pop, Dawn appears with a plate full of cookies. "A cookie?" Dawn warmly said as Severus happily a handful, while Rowan shrank away under the fierce gaze of her grandmother. Sulking Rowan glared at Sir Knight Prince in the corner as Severus flashed Rowan a triumphant snicker as Dawn popped away.
Having waited for Severus to finish, Reginald finally said, "Then it is time, let us go." With a nod, they all followed Reginald out onto the lawns where Fidel waited for them as a watchdog rather than a peac.o.c.k. In the middle of the lawn was a large unlit wooden stack to be lit.
Georgine took out a silver bell from her fur coat and began to ring the bell. The bell loudly echoed in the dark of the winter night seven times, before she stopped and said, "Magic of old heed our call." A strange wind began to pick up as Georgine run the bell again seven times.
"Magic of old, hearken to our pleas." The breeze picked up even stronger as snow began to be thrown into their faces. "Magic of old, come forth!" The breeze suddenly stopped as old magic could suddenly be felt.
Rowan and Severus stared in awe at never having felt magic quite so old and powerful before. Not even at Hogwarts had the magic felt so very much alive as though it had an intelligence of its own. It was unlike anything they'd ever felt before.
Georgine stepped back and Sir Knight Prince stepped forth. "We sing for that which was yesterday and that is tomorrow. We ask that the sun rises again tomorrow and chases the darkness of yesterday away." As if listening, a presence dimly felt as Sir Knight Prince began to sing a song of old when the world was cold, and the very first phoenix awoke to warm the world. As his voice rose higher and higher the magic like presence seemed to swell until it was clearly felt once more. At the end of Sir Knight Prince's song, the wooden pyre burst into flames all on its as if in response to Sir Knight's Prince's words and song.
In silence, Reginald led his family back into the manor, but with them came the presence of magic old. Standing before the dim hearth, Reginald with care took the Yule log from its place next to the hearth. "We stand in place of those that have come before and those that will come after." Reginald bowed and knelt before the hearth as he gently placed the hearth in the dim fireplace. But despite the dim fire, the Yule log did not begin to burn nor smoke.
Rising back to his feet, Reginald stepped back as the neatly dressed Dawn and Tadbey appeared carrying a wooden chest between the two of them. With reverent care, the two house-elves opened the chest and bowed in unison, before taking a step back.
Sirsa carefully reached into the wooden chest and removed colored candles. With care, she bowed to the hearth and said, "We remember that which came before and we ask for light to brighten that which is to come." With a reverent air, Sirsa placed each unlit candle onto the Yule log, before stepping back into the family circle.
Georgine once more took a step forward and reached into the chest. Gently removing five gems, Georgine carefully hands out a gem to each one of them. A Diamond to Reginald, an Emerald for Sirsa, a Ruby to Severus, and a Bloodstone to Rowan. Seeing the stones, each family member in silence moved according to their gem.
Georgine remained in the center with a Garnet in her hand. "We call up the North, the South, the East, and the West. Be with us this day!" The fire grew dimmer as though an unseen pressure was suddenly suffocating. In the shadowy darkness.
Taking a breath, Rowan took a step forward and held out her open hand with the Bloodstone in the center. "To the north that is water. To the north that is winter. We ask for the path to be clear before us." The blue colored candle on the Yule log burst into flame as Rowan took a step back.
Rather than the South going next, Reginald went next to complete a full circle. He raised his open palm to reveal a Diamond gem. "To the East that is Air. To the East that is untamed. We ask to show us the way." The second candle burst into flame onto the Yule log.
The third member of the circle stepped forth, Sirsa to reveal an Emerald. "To the West, we find earth. To the West, we find spring. We ask for life to live day by day." As the green candle burst into flame.
The final member, Severus steps forth to reveal a Ruby in her palm. "To the South. we find Fire. To the South, we find power. We ask for strength to walk day by day." The final colored, red candle burst into flame as only the single remaining white candle remains unlit.
"To the North, the South, the East, and the West. We thank thee this day," Georgine said as the final candle burst into flame as old power swirled all around them. "Now go forth and brighten the way!" And just like that, the Yule log began to burn brightly as the shadows were cast away and the candles in the manor began to turn on their own. With a final pulse of energy, the old magic twisted about and left just as quickly as it came.
Finally, able to breathe Rowan found herself panting as she carefully returned the gem to Georgine to be placed in the wooden chest. Glancing over, Severus and Rowan shared a glance of awe and understanding. Magic was very much alive in its own way.
"That was incredible," Severus finally breathed voicing their thoughts.
"Yes, but like I said," Reginald murmured as he bent over to add a log to the flame. "It is a dying tradition mostly only found in old families."
"Well, that's a shame really," Rowan observed. "Why isn't it more commonly known?"
"I do believe that some muggleborn wizards find it a bit disturbing," Georgine said as she poured herself a mug of Wassail. "But really, it is simply not a common tradition among muggleborn wizards. If one does recall, Christmas replaced most of the Yule traditions and most celebrate that instead."
"But I can see why it's not taught at school," Rowan mused. "It's more of a private event, is it not?"
"Yes, it rather private event more inclined towards family and close friends rather than for large gathering of wizards," Reginald said as he took a mug of Wassail from his sister. "And that is precisely why Christmas is even celebrated by the pureblood families. It makes throwing a large festive gathering that much easier."
Unable to have Wassail yet as it was spiced with ale, the twins were given cider. Taking a sip, Rowan's and Severus's eyes grew as Dawn and Tadbey placed platters of food onto appearing tables. There was a Yule log, all types of cake, gingerbread, fruits, berries, nuts, all manner of pork dishes, roasted glistening turkey, gingersnaps, and so much more. Not to mention all the drinks, eggnog (non-spiced for the twins), cider, ginger tea, and all sorts of bubbling drinks never before seen.
All in all, it was a most enjoyable Yule as the twins were allowed to open their gifts early in consideration. Both were rather thrilled as Rowan received requested rare volumes and a new enchanted bookbag guaranteed to hold up to three times as much as before. While Severus gained a new potion's set with ingredients included and a rare potions manuscript.