Chapter 8 : A festive dip
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The Christmas holidays had crept up on most of the group, except Sirius who had been jumping up and down singing carols for the last few weeks. It was strange for Lily to be home again and although she had her friends with her she longed to be back at the castle. She particularly wanted to be with the twins as she desperately needed a girl to talk to. She couldn’t get James out of her mind for the last few weeks and she wasn’t quite sure what to do about it. She had settled so far with just ignoring the feelings and hoping that everything would just work out, or that they would just go away but that hadn’t happened. She had found him staring at her a fair few times lately and the thing that worried her most was that it didn’t bother her, in fact she felt quite glad when it happened. Maybe that was just because he was one of the most popular guys in school, who wouldn’t be flattered?
So Lily carried on as normally as she could, and she didn’t have too much time to dwell on her problem. The Marauders were happier than ever at Christmas time. On the third day home, Mrs Potter had enlisted the five friends to help her decorate the house. They had jumped at the chance and spent the day hanging tinsel, untangling fairy lights and desperately trying to make the tree stand up straight as Sirius managed to knock it over in his excitement 4 times within the space of an hour. The festivities took them well into the evening and they were all exhausted by the end of it.
After Peter had gone home, Sirius excused himself for the evening. He had gotten a date with a muggle girl a few streets away, who he would no doubt never see again, within minutes of talking to her and was going to take her for a “walk” which he was teased about all afternoon. Remus had to leave as well it was full moon and he would need to be home in plenty of time to secure himself away. Lily hugged James goodbye and left with Remus. He was unusually quiet as they walked together and Lily got the feeling that he was hiding something though she didn’t ask what, she knew him and he would tell her when she was ready. Overall she walked home happy after another fun day with her best friends.
On Christmas day itself all the Marauders had gone back round to James’ house in the afternoon to exchange gifts. There were so many nice presents, sweets, clothes, books and many new prank accessories for Sirius and James to play with when they got back to school. Lily was thrilled with her gifts which consisted of a new quill set from Peter, her own wizard’s chess set from Remus as she had never owned her own, a surprisingly pretty top from Sirius and a handsome leather bound diary from James.
None of them had stayed long though as Peter and Remus had needed to get back to their families and Lily felt slightly obligated to go home to see her sister though she didn’t imagine much of a festive reunion. When she had been leaving though James had pulled her into another room away from the others.
“I just wanted to give you this, you know, away from the others. I just saw it and thought of you so I got it but you know what they’re like, they’ll just poke fun.” He explained with an awkward smile as Lily took the blue velvet box he was holding. She opened it to find a stunning gold bracelet with a pendant hanging from it in the shape of a Lily.
“Oh James it’s beautiful! But I can’t accept this, it’s far too much!” but she was cut short as James just smiled at her and she knew it was no good to argue. Before she left he helped her put it on and she admired it for a moment. She gave him an extra big hug and walked home deep in thought about her extra special present.
When Lily arrived home, it was her usual welcome by Petunia who had taken over the living room with her horrendous boyfriend Vernon who loved to treat Lily as though she no more intelligent than a toilet brush. “Why do you have to be so mean all the time?” she screamed at her sister, who just gave an evil smirk that reminded Lily horribly of Snape, “You’re just jealous!”
“Jealous of you?” Petunia spat. “I don’t know what they tell you in that freak school you go to but you have absolutely nothing anyone would ever be jealous of, you’re just an ugly little freak!” but that was too much for Lily, she stormed towards the door which Petunia was blocking but her sister didn’t move an inch. “You can’t go out, I’m in charge here and I say you have to stay.” This didn’t worry Lily though, she never went anywhere without her wand and she whipped it out of her pocket and before Petunia could move she shouted “Wingardium Leviosa!” and levitated her sister right up to the ceiling and let her land on the other side of the room.
“I’ll see you later” Lily muttered and slammed the door. She could never spend long in the same house as Petunia, she just walked around the village for hours rather than go home to face her.
Lily walked and walked until she found herself by the lake. She lay down on the cold grass by the water and just gazed up at the stars that could be seen in the gaps between the clouds. She was startled suddenly though when a shadow passed over her face. When she looked up she saw the smiling face of James standing above her.
“And what do you think you’re doing out this late alone my Petal?” he said in a mock stern tone. Lily knew that he would genuinely be unhappy about it as the boys were still very protective of her even if they had calmed down a bit since the ball.
“Petunia” she replied simply and immediately James understood. He had heard many stories of Lily’s sister and none were very complimentary.
“Well at least come over to my house for a bit, it’s getting cold out now the suns gone down. You’ll catch your death!” he said in a voice that was imitating his mothers. She laughed, she always laughed at James’ jokes. He walked around to face her and pulled her to her feet. He was taken off guard slightly though and she walked slowly closer to him, as close as when they had danced at the ball. He gulped hard his mind racing, was she going to kiss him?
He didn’t have time to think anymore as she got up onto her tiptoes and whispered into his ear “James?”
“Yes?” he asked in a voice much higher than his own. But she didn’t answer him yet, she placed her hands flat on his chest and then said, “Think fast!” and pushed him back into the cold dark water. With the shock he grabbed onto her t-shirt as he fell back and they both went toppling into the water. As they both surfaced Lily couldn’t stop laughing, it had been worth falling in herself just to see the look on James’ face.
“You bitch!” he yelled whilst laughing as his wiped the water out of his eyes. Then he dived towards her knocking her back under and they splashed and screamed in the freezing water for a few minutes before James managed to get out.
“Come on, let’s go back to my house and get dry before we freeze to death!” he said in with a mock glare and they ran back up to the house. When they got there they had to sneak up to James’ room so that no one would hear and find them in such a state, they were climbing the stairs like secret agents. When they finally got in and closed James’ door he did a commando roll across the floor which made Lily double up with laughter.
James took a towel out of the drawer and threw it over to Lily trying not to look at how gorgeous she looked dripping wet, her cheeks flushed. He took off his shirt and began to get dry himself. Lily almost fainted his body was so toned. It must have been all those quidditch practises that had done it but he looked amazing. She tore her gaze away not wanting him to know that she had looked and focussed on drying her hair.
A loud clap of thunder echoed through air and Lily jumped at least a foot off the ground. It was quickly followed by bolt of lightening that lit the whole room in a flash. James looked over and saw that Lily was whimpering and looking around like the house might cave in. He had never seen her so frightened.
“Are you ok Petal? It’s just a storm, though you might want to stay here tonight. Its not a good idea to be walking around in lightening.” He asked apprehensively, not sure what was wrong with her.
“You don’t understand” she said, looking at him like the world was ending, “I hate storms! Thunder and lightening have petrified me since I was a little kid.” And James could see that she had gone pale and actually started to shiver, though the wet clothes couldn’t have helped there.
“It’s ok Lil, it can’t hurt you” he said walking over and putting an arm gingerly around her shoulder. “Look, I’ll lend you one of my t-shirts to sleep in while you’re clothes dry and it’ll all be over by morning.” hoping that she was going to be alright. She looked so fragile.
“James,” she asked timidly, for what she was about to ask would usually be very embarrassing but drastic times called for drastic measures, “Can I stay in here with you tonight? I’ll be a wreck by morning if I’m on my own.”
“Oh…sure, yeah.” He answered slightly taken aback, but he knew that this wasn’t a time to be thinking of Lily in the sense of more than a friend. She was deathly afraid and needed him, so he would be there for her.
She smiled weakly as she climbed next to him on the bed in one of his old t-shirts. She did feel slightly awkward but couldn’t really think too much about that right now, her attention was on the loud bangs coming from the night sky. When another loud boom rang through the room she jumped again and shuffled up to James with her head resting on his shoulder. She felt much calmer having him there, and so safe in his arms like nothing could ever harm her again.
After half an hour or so James noticed that Lily wasn’t jumping anymore and looked down to find her asleep. He sat for a while stroking her hair just enjoying the closeness between them and the knowledge that he helped her. Eventually he shuffled down to a more comfortable position and drifted off to sleep after whispering, “I’ll always look after you Petal, always.”
James was woken abruptly the next morning as Sirius barged into his bedroom closely followed by Remus. “Hey Prongs wake up already, we’re getting bored waiting for-“ but Sirius stopped in mid-sentence as he looked at James and noticed another large breathing lump underneath his covers next to him.
It took James a while to realise why Sirius had stopped talking but then he remembered that Lily was next to him. Sirius, who didn’t know who the lump was yet had a smirk that filled his whole face as he looked at James. “So are you going to introduce us to your lady-friend Prongs?” he snickered.
“Please tell us it is a lady-friend,” added Remus and the two burst out laughing.
“Sssssh! Shut up you’ll wake her!” hissed James but too late. Lily sat up in bed and looked from James to Sirius to Remus and said to James “Gee now I know why you don’t have an alarm clock. Now I’m glad I live further away.” And she ruffled her hair slightly and pulled the covers back over her head, ignoring the stunned looks from Sirius and Remus. James however thought that this was the funniest thing in the world now that he knew Lily wouldn’t be mad about them finding out that she’d stayed over and dragged the others out of the room to go get breakfast and leave Lily in peace.
After that night and after James had explained what had happened, the two had been the butt of jokes for the rest of the holidays. James for being pushed into the lake so easily, Lily for her fear of thunder storms and both of them together for being an “old married couple” as Sirius had dubbed them. James and Lily had had to pull together to get through the taunting and used every secret of the others that they had to blackmail them into finally shutting up.
After that, the holiday passed fairly quickly and, not soon enough for Lily who was just about ready to kill Petunia, they were leaving again for Hogwarts, for home were Lily and James both hoped that everything would be back to normal and their problems would float away. But inside they both wondered, would they?
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