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Chapter 5: Home for the Holidays Part 1
“HAPPY CHRISTMAS LILYKINS!!!”
I shrieked in horror and disgust as a pair of lips laid a big, slobbery, smacking kiss on my cheek. “GROSS, BLACK!” I protested loudly, dragging the back of my hand across the afflicted area of my face. “I may have to scrub the skin off my face just to disinfect it!” I complained.
“No, no, darling. You need not go to such extremes. I’ve had my rabies shot,” Sirius assured me.
“Oh. In that case…” I smacked his arm with a satisfying THWACK, “don’t do that ever again,” I reprimanded him.
“Happy Christmas anyway,” he said.
Somehow, time had crept by with astonishing speed since that first Quidditch match, and we were already half way through December. In fact, it was already the end of the first term. I’d just been on my way to the entrance hall to depart from Hogwarts when the Marauders had derailed me.
“Yes, and to you four as well. Are you staying here over break?” I inquired.
“Nope,” James replied. “We’re all going to my house.”
“Well, that ought to be a madhouse,” I commented. “Please send along my condolences to your parents. How will they stand it?”
“Same way they do every year, I suppose,” James answered with a shrug.
“Poor Adam and Colleen put up with the lot of us every Christmas,” Remus told me.
“They’re actually very fond of us,” Sirius added matter-of-factly. Peter just nodded in agreement.
“So, judging by your trunk, is it safe to say you aren’t staying here either?” James asked.
“Safe enough,” I replied with a shrug. “You know what they say. There’s no place like home for the holidays.”
“And yet, strangely enough, you don’t sound all that enthused at the prospect,” Sirius pointed out.
“Yes, well…I have my reasons…” I hedged uneasily.
“No need to be so secretive, Lily,” Remus said consolingly, putting a friendly arm around my shoulder. “We’re all friends here,” he added lightly. “What’s wrong with home?”
I rolled my eyes to cover up how touched I was by all of their concerned gazes. “It’s not really such a big deal. Just the fact that Tuney’s never all that thrilled to be under the same roof as I am…That, and her fiancé will be there for Christmas dinner. I’ve never met the man myself, but Tuney’s always had terrible taste in men.”
“Bugger,” said the ever-eloquent Peter in sympathy.
“Want us to come bust you out?” James offered, a mischievous glint in his eyes. “Mum and Dad wouldn’t mind another person staying over. They love guests.”
“That’d be something of a shock to them,” Remus mused. “They’re used to harboring a gaggle of boys, two of them being completely unmanageable. Imagine what a pleasant surprise it’d be for them to have a well-behaved girl under their roof.”
“That won’t be necessary, but thanks anyway. I’ll manage. Like I said, it’s not such a big deal,” I assured them.
“If you’re sure. But if you happen to change your mind, just let us know, and we’ll come get you,” Sirius told me.
I smiled at the quartet. “I appreciate the sentiment, but honestly, I’ll survive. And I’ll see you all next term.”
I was about to walk away when Remus suddenly shouted, “GROUP HUG!!!”
Before my brain could even register what those words meant, I’d been surrounded, engulfed, and tackled.
Had this been any previous year, I would’ve been enraged and feared for my life. However, since it wasn’t, in fact, any previous year, the only thing I feared for was my sanity. Because all I did was laugh. I laughed in delight as the Marauders practically smothered me. They were suffocating me, and all I did about the attempt on my life was laugh.
At some point, this fact finally clicked somewhere in my brain, so I elbowed the unfortunate soul who happened to be closest to my right elbow and gasped, “Back off, will you?!?”
They all backed away and I saw that it was James who’d been the unlucky recipient of my self-defense. He was massaging the area just underneath his ribs.
“You know, maybe we do bring out the worst in you,” James said indignantly. “Whenever you’re around us, you seem to have a greater tendency to unleash your violent side.”
I chose to ignore him. “See you next term,” I told them, and gave them each a quick, separate, civil, one-armed hug. And then I left them.
“FREAK!!!” Petunia screeched as she stomped up the steps. I heard her bedroom door slam shut from my post in the kitchen. Honestly. Who got so worked up over a bloody owl? Leave it to Tuney…
It was New Year’s Eve…finally! The holiday break had been nothing short of a never-ending migraine. Petunia had been a consistent pain in the neck, and her cynical, pudgy, blob of a fiancé had only worsened the situation. Then, of course, my parents were annoyed and miserable at our lack of ability to get along.
Happy Christmas, indeed.
Sure, go ahead. Tack a bah-humbug on the end there.
The owl brought me screaming – or at least yelping – back to reality by nipping impatiently at my hand. Muttering to myself, I took the parchment tied around the owl’s leg. “Do you have something better to do? Something more important, perhaps?” I demanded of the bird as it seemed to glare at me.
Unfolding the parchment, I instantly recognized the handwriting. It read as follows:
Our Dearest Lily,
Season’s greetings!!!! We weren’t going to bother you again, (correction: Remus was against “badgering” you) but we (meaning James in particular) were concerned for your happiness. We just wanted to know how you were doing.
Also, we wondered if perhaps you’d like to join us on New Year’s Eve. We figured that you’d surely be fed up with your family by now and could use a break.
I stopped reading and laughed at the absolute accuracy of their guess. Recovering from the moment of hilarity, I read on.
Please send your reply back with this owl, and if you’re coming, we’ll come pick you up around 7:00.
Fondest farewells from,
Messers Moony, Wormtail, Padfooot, and Prongs.
I grinned to myself. “Mum!” I called. “I’m going to a friend’s house for New Year’s Eve!”
A/N - Okaaaaaaaaaay, so it's been a really long time since I've updated. So sorry about that. To make matters worse this chapter was, like, the very definition of filler chapters. That's why it took me so long to write. Anyway, I'd like to dedicate this chapter, unbefitting as it is, to everyone who reviewed chapter four, especially lately. Thanks for encouraging me out of my writer's block.