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Chapter 11: If Santa Had a Broomstick
Lily looked up, smiling as she noticed Ellery looking down at her, watching her put her fork down on her now-empty lunch plate. “Hi. You ready to go to Charms?”
“Yeah,” Ellery smiled back, but something about it seemed sad. “Where’s Celestine?”
“She said she felt ill this morning. I have a feeling it was just the Potions test.” Lily smirked, tucking her hair behind her ear and following her friend into the corridor. They walked side by side, clutching their books to their chests and heading to class.
“Oh, how did it go? I’ve got Potions after Charms.”
Lily shrugged. “I thought it went fine. No surprises.”
“You would say that,” Ellery replied, her tone muted.
“Ellery…” Lily stopped, letting a crowd of seventh-years pass them on their way up the stairs. “Did I do something? You seem like you’re upset.”
“Oh, not with you.” Ellery sighed. “It’s just—” She glanced around. “Come here. We have a few minutes yet to get to Flitwick’s classroom.” Before Lily could protest about the possibility of being late, Ellery pulled her into a nearby girls’ lavatory.
Ellery checked to see that they were alone, and then she turned back to Lily, twisting the end of her blonde braid nervously around her thin fingers. “Are you still planning to go to Hogsmeade with James tomorrow?”
“Well, we’re going with his friends, and I’m sure Celestine will want to come.”
“I don’t think people in the other houses have heard this, but last time we had a Hogsmeade weekend, a fourth-year girl from Hufflepuff went missing. Professor Sprout thinks she wandered off, but I wonder if one of them grabbed her.”
“One of who?” Lily asked. “You don’t mean… not his people, right?”
“Exactly. Who knows what they’ve done with her!”
“Ellery, I think you’re being a little paranoid. What would they want with a student?” Lily sighed. “Don’t worry. All of us have high Defense marks as it is.”
“Just be careful, please?” Ellery frowned. “If anything happened to any of you…”
“It won’t,” Lily said, giving her friend a hug. “But thank you for warning me.”
They moved up to the second floor and took their seats in Flitwick’s classroom. Lily couldn’t help but smile as she looked around her, for it had been transformed into a winter wonderland. A slow parade of delicate snowflakes rained down from the ceiling, disappearing as soon as they reached the desktops, melting with no trace of a puddle. A few lingered momentarily in Lily’s hair before vanishing into thin air. Below their seats, a magical train set ran along the first row of desks, causing even the students who had been displaced to higher rows to grin and poke their friends. Boughs of evergreen needles draped on the back of each bench smelled like fresh pine, though a quick touch test revealed that they were composed of false greenery. Flitwick had even spread a thin carpet of pine needles along the classroom floor.
When the professor finally entered a few seconds later, Lily found herself shocked not to see him in a bright red Santa suit, with a little white puffball atop his head. Instead, he appeared to have crafted a rather large pair of pointed blue elf shoes.
“Good afternoon, students!” he chirped, climbing atop his podium in the center of the room. “I trust if you were not in the holiday spirit before, you must be now!”
The students laughed.
“Excellent.” Flitwick took out his wand, pointing it at a closet across the room. The door creaked open, and out flew a small assortment of identical wooden Santa figurines, each of them perched atop a tiny replica of a broomstick. The Santas came to rest lightly atop the desk in front of each pair of students.
“Now, now, try to restrain the choruses of 'If Santa Had a Broomstick',” he chuckled.
Lily looked around as some of the other students laughed again politely. She prodded Sirius in the back gently, leaning close to him. “Is that a wizarding carol?”
“Oh, yeah,” he said. “Not that we sing too many carols in the Black household, but there are a few. 'If Santa Had a Broomstick', 'The Littlest House Elf'…”
“That one’s my favorite,” Peter chimed in. “That, and 'The Winter Floo Song'.”
“If it wasn’t for the ice and snow, I’d Floo right home to you,” James sung daintily.
Lily giggled. Every day she loved magic a little more.
“Now, now, Mr. Potter, that’s enough,” Flitwick chided. “As I was saying, you’ve all mastered the levitation spell by now, and I thought today we could work on precision. You’ll need to know how to carefully guide fragile objects for your exams, particularly if you plan to collect any expensive trinkets in your eventual homes. So, your task today is to have these little Santas riding their brooms along a precise path, one that ends with them safely back in the closet. If that proves to be too easy, try making the noses glow red on a few of Santa’s little helpers.” He gestured to a smaller collection of reindeer that were stacked upright on the desk behind him. “Good luck. You may begin now, and you have an hour and a half, as usual.”
Lily got the Santa she was sharing with Ellery into the air with a perfect Wingardium Leviosa, and they began working on smoothing out the Santa’s journey. It began with many fits and starts, though Ellery astutely pointed out that at least their Santa hadn’t been in danger of flying recklessly across the room and hitting the professor in the head—that was surely a recipe for failure.
In the row below them, Remus prepared to cast an Aguamenti charm. James laughed gleefully as Sirius frantically poked at their Santa, trying to save it from being consumed by flames. A moment later, it was soaked and charred. Flitwick gave them a disapproving glare. Peter half-heartedly suggested a cleaning charm.
On their first trial run across the room, Lily and Ellery’s Santa fell out of the air mid-flight and nearly lost his wooden beard. Their second journey was much smoother. Flitwick awarded them each 10 house points and a tiny wooden reindeer.
By the end of the period, Sirius had tried to turn in the blackened Santa for credit (and gotten 2 sympathy points for Gryffindor), James had wound up with a soaked shirt as per Sirius’s retaliation, and Remus and Peter had flown their Santa perfectly. The latter exchanged a tiny smile with Ellery as they simultaneously passed their reindeer to Flitwick, each of the wooden animals now bearing a cherry red nose.
As Lily turned to get her bag, she noticed Ellery hanging back to talk with Peter.
“You see, the thing is, several of us are going to Hogsmeade tomorrow, just to get some Butterbeer and visit Honeydukes, and if you wanted to go… with me… us…” Peter was saying.
“Oh, Peter, it’s really nice of you to ask, but I’m not going tomorrow,” Ellery said.
“Oh, do you have Quidditch practice?”
“Mmm-hmm,” she replied, shooting Lily a glance that practically begged for an excuse to get out of this awkward conversation. “That, and other things.”
“It’s Ellery’s turn to put together the N.E.W.T. study guide for our group,” Lily piped up, causing Remus to glance over at her. She extended Peter a warm smile.
“I see,” Peter answered, frowning slightly. “How about after Christmas?”
“Yeah, maybe then,” Ellery said, blushing, and she and Lily left the room together.
Naturally, as soon as they got away from Peter, James sidled up alongside Lily.
“Looking forward to tomorrow?”
“Sure,” she smiled. “I always look forward to going to Hogsmeade with my friends.”
“Right, but we’re going to spend time together.”
“Part of the time, I suppose.”
“Right,” James grinned. “Well, I’m looking forward to that part.”
Lily shook her head, letting some of her hair fall into her eyes. They kept walking in silence after Ellery left to go toward the common room, and the two of them climbed six flights of stairs together before James stopped. “Well, I have Quidditch practice.”
“I’m going back to the common room,” Lily said. “Shouldn’t you go downstairs?”
“Yes. Right,” James said, smiling. “See you tomorrow, Lily.”
“You too,” she replied, smirking as she watched him move against the traffic flow.
The next day was shockingly cold, even for the time of year. Snow coated the ground like a thick layer of icing, and it rained down upon anyone who so much as tapped a tree with the toe of his or her boot when passing it. If any leaves from the fall remained under the cold blanket, they had long since gone into hibernation or succumbed to hypothermia. Lily briefly wondered if the same fate awaited her.
She trudged along the path, trying to avoid the deep puddles that she encountered every few yards, but her face bore a smile as bright as summer sun. Beside her walked Celestine, who had recovered enough to stroll with her hand loosely tucked into Sirius’s. Lily had yet to buy into the possibility that they were an actual couple. Up ahead was Remus, talking happily with James about the upcoming match against Slytherin. The latter occasionally stole glances back at Lily, as if he were surprised to see her still trailing along at the rear. Peter had lost a bit of ground, his nose suck in a book. He had asked Lily one question about Herbology but was otherwise quiet.
“So, Madam Puddifoot’s?” James asked, coming to a halt as they passed under the happy wooden sign that signaled the entrance to the village. Lily nearly walked right into him.
“Sure,” Celestine said brightly.
A sickly green pallor overtook Sirius’s face. “Come on, why not the pub, like everyone else?” he moaned.
“But—” James began, but Lily cut him off.
“No, I agree. Tea just doesn’t warm you up like Butterbeer does.”
“I’ve got a craving for some Butterbeer,” Peter piped up, leading the way into the Three Broomsticks.
The six of them settled at a table before the fireplace, Lily and Celestine got up to use the restroom and powder their noses, and when they returned, Lily noticed that James had purchased a tall mug of Butterbeer for her. She thanked him politely and sipped at it, grateful for the sweet, familiar taste.
“Remus, not in the mood for Butterbeer?” James asked, sitting down across from Lily. She was glad to have Celestine sitting between her and Sirius, taking up the entirety of their side of the table. Things got weird when James got too close to her.
“Oh, no, it’s… my wallet. I can’t find it,” Remus admitted.
“Do you think someone nicked it?” Sirius asked, frowning.
“Maybe,” Remus replied.
“No matter, I’ll cover yours,” James said, standing up.
“No, I’ve got it,” Lily piped up, causing everyone to look at her. She flashed Remus a big smile and hopped over to the bar, returning a moment later with a mug for him.
“Thanks, Lily,” Remus said, smiling back gratefully.
“Sure, what are friends for?” Lily replied. She watched Remus take another sip, the smile still not leaving her face. She wanted things not to be awkward between them, and the way he had been even quieter than usual on their last patrol unnerved her. However, by the looks of it, her small token had at least helped dismiss the memory.
“Did Ellery get the notes done for N.E.W.T. review?” Celestine asked, turning to her.
“She said she was going to work on them after practice today.”
“Are we meeting before the holiday?”
“I don’t know,” Lily shrugged.
“Maybe we could just let it go until after Christmas,” Remus suggested.
Lily nodded, giving Celestine a smile as her friend settled back against Sirius’s chest. Everyone sitting around their table looked to be enjoying the remaining days of school, even with the threat of exams still looming over them all. As she drank her Butterbeer down into wispy froth, her eyes fell upon Sirius, and then Remus, followed by Peter, and finally James. It was crazy to think of these teenage boys going out into the forest and becoming animals right under their teachers’ noses. Her imagination went wild momentarily as she imagined what the others became, already knowing about James’ and Remus’s alternative forms. Magic is so incredible.
When she returned to the present, James was watching her with a warm expression. “So, is anyone interested in visiting Honeydukes?” she said, trying to hide her blush.
The others nodded, finishing the last of their Butterbeer and leaving the table. Sirius dug a few coins out of his pocket to leave as a tip for the bartender, and they once again braved the winter weather. Fortunately, Honeydukes was only a short walk.
It was a good choice, apparently, because the owner of the story was running a pre-Christmas promotion on behalf of the children’s ward at St. Mungo’s Hospital. Any customer who filled a basket of candy and paid for it to be given to a child would receive half off their own purchase. Celestine immediately grabbed a basket, excitedly jabbering to Sirius about how she wished Gladrags Wizardwear would allow her to fill a basket full of fashionable clothing to help out a needy patient as well as herself. (Naturally, this sparked a squabble over whether Zonko’s Joke Shop would in fact be the ideal choice for this sort of bargain.) Lily also picked up a basket, carrying it idly on her arm as she let her eyes roam over the available goods. Candy of every shape, size and color was piled high from the floor up to the ceiling.
As she trailed through the store, she caught sight of a cauldron full of tiny pink and purple bottles of “love potion,” which was apparently age-restricted because it was composed of some kind of syrup and a few drops of Firewhiskey. She passed a table of Acid Pops and Fizzing Whizzbees, and a bin piled high with Drooble’s Gum that was being mobbed by several third-years. She was considering picking up a Sugar Quill or Cauldron Cake, both of which were on sale, when she noticed a familiar figure out of the corner of her eye. Oddly enough, he wasn’t surrounded by his Slytherin friends. Instead, he was carefully inspecting a chocolate-covered rose that bloomed and closed with the tap of a wand, staring at it through his oily black hair.
Lily froze, ducking around a pillar out of sight. No, no, I cannot deal with him right now. Not when I’m technically here with James! She put back the Pumpkin Pasty she’d picked up earlier and ducked outside, bracing herself against the December wind.
Unfortunately for Lily, the day had yet more curiosities to offer.
Across the tiny store, James had finally found Sirius untangled from Celestine.
“Have you seen Lily, mate?” he asked.
Sirius shook his head. “Bit too busy with her friend.”
“I noticed,” James smirked. “Didn’t think you were actually interested in her.”
“Well, she’s gorgeous, no use denying that,” Sirius replied. “I think she wants to marry me and have my babies. The whole thing makes me a bit nervous.”
James laughed shortly, but he said nothing, unable to imagine such a thing.
“Listen,” Sirius said softly, stepping closer to James. “I need to talk to you about Christmas. I’ve got everything packed, so we can just go to your house straight off the train. I won’t even speak to my parents.”
“How did you swing that?”
“I packed a bunch of things when I went home for Narcissa’s engagement party. The rest of it, well… let’s just say I’ve worked out a system involving elves and owl post.”
“How are you going to get it all into your suitcase and on the train?”
“Remus taught me a spell yesterday to make my suitcase bottomless. Wish I’d learned it earlier.” Sirius furrowed his brow. “Speaking of which, I have to remember to ask him about the counter-spell…”
“Right,” James said. “Just off the train, then. I’ll write to Mum and Dad.”
As he turned, considering a small drawer full of Cockroach Clusters, a shadow behind a nearby pillar moved just barely, not even enough for the average bystander to notice. It bent down, black hair falling into its face, and handed a little girl a Peppermint Toad she’d dropped on the floor. As he straightened, Regulus leaned back against the pillar, unwilling to move again until he could wrap his mind around what he’d just overheard. After all of Sirius’s complaining about their parents, after his scheming and bitterness at Narcissa’s party, it was actually, finally happening.
His brother was going to run away from home, and he could do nothing to stop it.
Lily’s walk back to the castle was ten times colder than her journey into the village.
It had been the strangest thing to behold, mostly because she hadn’t even realized that Peter had departed from the group between the Three Broomsticks and Honeydukes. He had somehow ended up crouching next to the door of the Hog’s Head, or occasionally stretching on his tiptoes to try to peer into the window. It would have been a bit funny, if Lily didn’t know who tended to frequent the pub.
Sure enough, Peter had perhaps thirty seconds notice to duck out of sight before the door opened, letting Mulciber, Avery, and Rosier out into the cold weather. Mulciber was stumbling a bit, like he’d had too much to drink, though Rosier was attempting to support him. Avery was rubbing his forearm absently, seeming not to notice.
As she watched from afar, Peter had begun to follow them, moving along the tree line just behind them, like he was trying to eavesdrop on their conversation. He must have caught a twig with his foot, because Avery had suddenly lost interest in his forearm and turned around. Fortunately, Peter was quick enough to vanish.
Peter had always been a little odd, but Lily really couldn’t figure out his behavior this time. Knowing the way he tried to keep up with James and Sirius, she suspected that he was trying to gather information, maybe to turn the boys in to Dumbledore. Still, keeping such a close eye on them was dangerous. Peter should know that.
After she said goodbye to James, taking notes from Ellery in her polite refusal of his request for a kiss on the cheek, all Lily wanted to do was put on her pajamas and climb into the warmth and comfort of her bed, along with her study materials. However, she was still pondering Peter’s strange behavior when she finally reached the seventh floor. After all, if Peter turned in the others, Severus would be next.
A tap at the window interrupted her train of thought, and she was grateful to have the image of Severus putting on a black cloak and a mask chased from her mind. She stood up, trying to let in as little of the winter freeze as possible as she retrieved the note from the owl and gave it a little treat from the small tin on her bedside table. Then, she sat down on her bed and opened it, thinking it was a love note from James.
What were you thinking, going with Potter to Hogsmeade?
We need to talk, and soon.
How about the Slug Club party on Thursday evening?
I’ll pick you up outside your common room at nine o’clock.
Lily sighed, crumpling up the note and pitching it into the wastebin. She had expected that agreeing to spend time with James outside of class and mealtimes would come with consequences, but Regulus’s admonishment seemed a tad ridiculous. She sighed, realizing that her other options weren’t exactly attractive.
A Slytherin boy waiting for me in the middle of the night, she thought. Not again.
Hello, and thank you for stopping by for another chapter of Post Scriptum! Things sure are getting tangled for Lily and Regulus, and I hope you’re enjoying watching it all unfold. As always, everything you recognize from canon, including but not limited to all spell names and identified Honeydukes sweets, belongs to J. K. Rowling. The Christmas carols, however, are all mine :)
Thanks again for your continued support, and please leave a review!