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Chapter 48: Chapter 48
‘Merry Christmas!’ Sirius bellowed.
‘Merry Christmas,’ James mumbled. Sirius pouted at the unenthusiastic tone.. He glanced at the window and then blinked. ‘Merlin, Padfoot! What’s the time? It’s still dark outside!’
‘Five-oh-three,’ Sirius said, bouncing onto James’ bed.
‘I wish Moony and Pete had stayed. It’s our last Christmas at Hogwarts,’ James said, shoving Sirius off. ‘More importantly, I could have made Moony deal with you and gone back to sleep.’
‘Well, Moony isn’t here,’ Sirius said, popping up beside James’ bed. ‘So you’re stuck with me.’ That said, he morphed and launched himself back up and onto James, barking wildly. James smacked him with a pillow.
‘Please, go back to sleep for another hour. It can be my Christmas present.’
‘Nope,’ Sirius said, changing forms. His full weight landed on James’ chest. ‘Oops, sorry, Prongs.’ He rolled off so that James could breathe again.
‘Please, Padfoot,’ James begged. ‘Go bother someone else.’
‘No one else is here. They’ve all gone home.’ That much was true. Parents wanted their children home after all the Death Eater activity in the area.
‘Lily,’ James said. ‘Go bother Lily.’
Sirius’ eyes lit up. Without another sound, he leapt off James, hid Lily’s present in the bathroom and tore out of the dormitory, wand in hand. James slumped back onto his pillows with a groan. Exactly three and a half minutes later, Sirius came in, Lily fast asleep in his arms and an odd bulge in his pyjama pocket which turned out to be Lily’s presents, shrunk to the size of fingernails.
‘Damn it, Padfoot,’ James said, pushing his blankets back. ‘What did you do?’
‘Nothing,’ he replied, depositing Lily on Remus’ bed. Sirius quailed under James’ glare as he was enlarging presents. ‘All right. I may have Stunned her. She’s fine!’ he added quickly. ‘Completely fine. I just didn’t want her waking up before she got here.’
James stumbled over to Remus’ bed. ‘Enervate,’ he said, sitting down next to her.
‘Lilllliiiiiannnnnn!’ Sirius yelled. James sighed, massaging his temples. Lily’s green eyes opened and she glanced around, amused. ‘Merry Christmas!’
‘Merry Christmas, Sirius,’ she said, sharing a look with James. ‘Dare I ask how I got here?’
‘You were kidnapped,’ James said kissing her, ‘by my charming roommate.’
‘I see,’ Lily said with a laugh. ‘And how long have I been your prisoner?’
‘Two minutes,’ Sirius replied shrugging. ‘I wish you’d slept longer – I was going to wrap you in tinsel and put you at the end of James’ bed.’
‘You- you what?’ Lily said, dissolving into laughter.
‘It would have been a pretty good present,’ James said, grinning. Lily smacked him.
‘Speaking of presents...’ Sirius said, barely able to contain himself.
‘How old is he again?’ Lily asked.
‘Age doesn’t matter in the slightest – it’s all about maturity. Padfoot has none.’
‘Shut up, Prongs. Open your presents.’ James jumped back onto his bed pulled his pile toward him. ‘All together for the first one?’ James and Lily nodded. James picked up a present with Peter’s shaky handwriting on it. ‘Open!’ Sirius cried, tearing paper off. James grinned; Peter had sent him a biography written by an ex-Auror, and a large box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. ‘Thank you, Jamie!’ Sirius shouted. James had given him a Beater’s bat, charmed to tell him how many hits he made per game and a box of dog biscuits; the latter was an ongoing joke between them, but Sirius was actually quite fond of the flavour, though he’d never buy them for himself. Sirius laughed waving the magazine clipping – the one James had told Peter to take from the St Mungo’s waiting room. James nodded and Sirius laughed again, having opened another present. ‘Oh, Moony,’ he said. ‘Look, Prongs!’ He waved a flea collar, a pair of Beater’s gloves at James, who’d already seen them; he and Remus had coordinated gifts. Remus had also bought Sirius a book entitled “Muggle Vehicles for Magical Folk”.
James opened another of his presents; a block of Honeyduke’s best chocolate the size of his pillow, and a broom servicing kit from Remus.
Sirius sucked in a breath on the other side of the room. ‘Uncle Alphard’s dead,’ he told James, looking upset. ‘He died two weeks ago. Left me everything.’
‘Everything?’ James asked. Sirius nodded dumbly. ‘I’m sorry, Pads, I know you were close.’
‘Thanks. He and Andromeda were the only two that weren’t completely evil. And now Andy’s gone and Alphard’s dead, so it’s just me.’ He was quiet for a moment and then looked up at James with a grimace.
‘Typical of my mother to do this, though, isn’t it? Merry Christmas, by the way, your favourite uncle’s dead.’ James reached out and put a hand on Sirius’ shoulder. ‘Thanks, Prongs. Anyway, onto happier thoughts...’ He turned back to his pile of presents.
‘Is Sirius all right?’ Lily asked.
‘Stunned,’ James said in an undertone. ‘He’s not terribly good at coping with loss. He was destructive when Mum and Dad died, and he laughed when his owl died last year.’
James nodded. ‘More out of frustration and disbelief than anything else. He broke down in Charms two days later, remember?’ Lily nodded. ‘Give him a day and he’ll be inconsolable.’
‘And you’d bloody well better be there,’ Sirius growled.
‘Wouldn’t miss it,’ James said with a small smile. Sirius lobbed a present at him. ‘Thanks.’ Inside was a funny plastic box with a deer on it that said “Bambi” and a square of grass. James laughed and showed Lily who grinned. ‘Thanks, Padfoot, but what is it?’
‘It’s a video,’ Lily said.
‘You put it in a video player and it’ll show you a story,’ Lily said obviously struggling to explain. ‘It’s a muggle thing. We’ll watch it sometime.’
‘All right. Wait. If this is a muggle thing, then where on earth did you find it?’
‘That quirky shop at Diagon Alley.’
‘The one where you saw that funny bike?’
‘That's the one.’
‘James?’ James turned to stare at Lily. ‘This is beautiful! Thank you!’ She beamed, holding up the little glass ball he had given her – inside it was a white lily that was charmed to stay fresh forever.
‘That’s only part one, Lils.’ She stared at him, incredulous. James heard a muffled thump come from the bathroom and looked up. Sirius was grinning at the door. ‘We’ll be giving you part two later.’ She looked a little worried at that but smiled and pulled another present toward her. It was the biggest box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans that James had ever seen. It was the size of the bedside table.
‘Alice,’ Lily said to herself, laughing. She opened it and then laughed harder.
‘What?’ James asked, craning his neck to see. Sirius had stopped his frenzied unwrapping to stare too. Wordlessly, Lily reached in and pulled out a bean the size of her hand. James fell off his bed, laughing.
‘Sorry,’ Sirius said through his laughter. ‘That must have happened when I enlarged all the presents.’ He waved his wand and the box shrunk a bit, with the beans still larger than usual, but now an edible size.
‘Shall we give James his present now?’ Lily asked Sirius. Both looked at James, grinning. Sirius got up, which worried James a little, and reached under his bed. He handed James a long, thin package that could only be one thing.
‘You got me a broomstick?’ James laughed, barely able to believe it; hiding under his bed was an identical package for Sirius.
Sirius ran a finger along the parcel looking nostalgic. Why he looked this way became very clear, very quickly. ‘Mum and Dad had been talking about getting you the new Nimbus 1000 for months,’ Sirius said slowly. ‘They paid for three-quarters of it as a pre-order sort of deal, and the rest of it was supposed to be paid when it came into stock and they picked it up. While you were with Death Eaters, an owl came addressed to Mum and Dad, but it had been sent on to you... for obvious reasons.’ James nodded. ‘I was curious, so I opened it – I didn’t think you’d mind-’ James didn’t. ‘-and then I told Lily about it so we paid the rest. Merry Christmas!’ James hugged his brother, tears stinging in his eyes. Staying on Sirius’ bed, he tore open the wrapping paper to look at the - his - new broom. It was stunning. It looked fast; the whole thing was polished, not a twig was out of place on the tail and the handle was contoured for easy grip. ‘Nice, huh?’ Sirius said, as James went to hug Lily too.
‘My turn,’ James said. ‘You know Mum and Dad left the majority of the Potter wealth to me... well, I figured they’d want me to get you something, so...’ He pulled out a package identical to the one that Sirius had just handed him.
‘You’re kidding,’ Sirius said, his mouth hanging open.
‘Nope,’ James said, while Lily burst into loud laughter. ‘Merry Christmas, Padfoot.’
Sirius accepted the parcel with a huge grin and threw his arms around James. ‘Thanks, Prongs! Can we go flying, please? Lily can use your old Nimbus, please, please, please?!’
‘In a moment,’ James said. ‘Lily’s present first. Padfoot, if you would...’
Sirius got up and bounded over to the bathroom, flinging the door open. He marched inside and came out holding a fluffy, black and white bundle which he deposited in Lily’s arms. The kitten mewled up at her.
‘Meet Tufty,’ Sirius said happily.
‘Tufty?’ Lily asked, cradling the little cat. ‘You named...’
‘Him,’ James supplied. ‘And yes, or, Sirius did.’
‘Because of the tail and the ears. But I had every right to name him,’ Sirius said. ‘Do you know how queer it is for two men to go cat-shopping? I don’t even like cats.’
‘You like this cat,’ James reminded him. ‘You squealed when you saw him.’
‘You promised not to talk about that,’ Sirius grumbled. 'And you still owe me big time on principle.'
‘I just bought you a broom!’ James said.
‘You owed me big time,’ Sirius amended. ‘Besides, he looks rather like a Tufty to me.’
‘He does,’ Lily said, tickling Tufty’s ears. She was practically aglow with happiness. ‘Thank you so much! I’ve always wanted a cat.’ She put the kitten down and hugged Sirius and then James.
‘I know,’ James said. ‘I’ve wanted to buy you one since fourth year but it would have been weird back then.’
Lily started to say something, only to be interrupted by a tapping on the window. ‘Post? At six in the morning?’ Sirius asked.
‘Apparently,’ James said, letting the owl in. ‘It’s for you, Lils.’ He handed her the letter and both he and Sirius watched her smile as she read it.
‘It’s from Dad,’ she told them. She frowned suddenly. ‘Do you know if it’s possible for me to leave school for a day during the holidays?’
‘If you talk to Minnie,’ Sirius said, shrugging. ‘You’re Head Girl, good reputation and all that. Why?’
‘He wants to know if I can come for a family lunch on the 29th.’
‘Why not?’ James said. ‘You’re of age, have your Apparition licence... if Minnie says you can’t, go anyway – we’ll cover for you.’
‘We’ll blow up the Great Hall or something,’ Sirius said, helping himself to a dog biscuit.
‘You could come?’ Lily offered suddenly. ‘Mum and Dad would love to meet you both. They’re dying to meet someone from Hogwarts.’
‘Why haven’t you had other friends over? Mary or Alice or someone?’
‘Petunia,’ Lily said darkly. ‘But she’ll behave. I put up with Vernon all summer, so it’s her turn to be civil back.’
'I'd like to meet your parents,' James said.
'My mum's all for planning the wedding,' Lily warned him with an embarrassed smile.
'That's fine,' James said. 'I'm all for marrying you.'
Lily blew him a kiss. 'I'm all for marrying you too.' James' stomach did a back-flip. They'd talked about marriage before but he'd half-proposed just then and she'd half said yes!
'Can we go flying now?' Sirius whined.
'Sure,' Lily laughed.
Sirius bounced out the door, broom in hand. 'Let's go!'
'Can Tufty stay here?' Lily asked.
'It's probably best - he doesn't know your dorm yet. Just leave him on Rem's bed.' James passed her his old Nimbus and then picked up his Nimbus 1000.
'Thanks.' She made to follow Sirius but James caught her hand and kissed her.
'Merry Christmas,' he whispered.
'Merry Christmas.' Lily kissed him again and then darted out the room after Sirius, laughing. James grinned and followed them.