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Chapter 10 : Christmas
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The next few days passed far too quickly for the girls. James had informed them the second day that the family had a formal party the night before Christmas eve. "Nothing too fancy," he had said. "Just my family and close friends."
That day had come quickly and that morning found the friends outside in the snow. They were in the middle of a snowball fight that had started when Sirius had decided to chuck some snow at Brigid's butt. Everyone had eventually started throwing snow and were still, except for Brigid and Sirius, who, after Brigid had tackled Sirius, were now on the ground, seeming to attempt to suck each other's faces off.
James threw a snowball and a dirty look their way. "My parents are watching," he hissed.
Sirius grinned up at him from the ground, his hair more mussed than usual. Brigid was lying in between his spread legs, still kissing his neck. "C'mon, Prongs," he said. "Your parents aren't idiots. With a face like this, there's no way they could think I'm a virgin."
Remus hit him in the face with a snowball and Sirius gave a shout of protest. "What?" he said in mock anger. "Is this pick-on-the-handsome-guy day?"
"No," said Remus. "Because notice that nobody's throwing anything at me."
"Wrong again," said Elle, who had thrown a snowball at him while he was distracted.
He lunged at her and grabbed her round the middle, tickling her. She fell to the ground, shrieking with laughter.
"Looks like everyone's on the ground," observed James. "What d'you reckon?"
Lily laughed. "I thought your parents were watching," she teased.
James winced. "Good po-"
He couldn't finish his sentence, because Lily had pounced on him and knocked him to the ground.
He fell and Lily landed heavily on top of him. "Just tell them it was my fault," she whispered in his ear, before kissing him passionately.
Back inside the house, Marian and Henry Potter watched the young couples, smiling to themselves.
"Where's the other one?" asked Henry. "Peter?"
"Oh, the poor dear," said Marian. "He's caught a horrible cold and I told him if he wanted to go to the party tonight, he had to stay in bed."
"Marian," said Henry. "Just give him some Pepperup Potion and let him be with his friends."
"Oh, hush," said Mrs. Potter. "Maybe you should go out there and break them up."
"Might take a chisel," muttered Mr. Potter, before he grinned at his wife. "Does it give you ideas?"
"Henry," said Marian warningly.
"Come on, sweetheart," said Henry. "I'll not be outdone by my son."
"Lily, fill you ge' me thome more bobby pinths?" asked Brigid, her mouth full of pins.
She was putting up Elle's hair. "You have enough," snapped Lily, combing through her own hair.
"Oh, yeah!" said Brigid, taking the pins out of her mouth.
She stuck a few more in and then stepped away from Elle. She had put Elle's light brown hair up in an elegant fashion. "Want me to do yours, Lils?" asked Brigid.
"Leaving it down," mumbled Lily, finishing her hair.
"Fine," said Brigid, bouncing on the bed.
"Get off my bed before you break it," snapped Lily. "And go put your dress robes on."
Brigid rolled her eyes and stalked off to her room. "Lily," said Elle, standing behind her in the mirror. "I don't want to do this."
Lily was startled to see tears forming in her friend's blue eyes. "Tonight you don't need to worry," said Lily kindly. "Just have fun with Remus."
Elle's eyes moved from Lily to her own reflection. Her freckles stood out against her pale skin and her blue eyes shown back at her. She wasn't wearing much make-up, but she still looked pretty. She smoothed the front her light blue robes, with hugged her slight curves.
Elle looked back at Lily. Lily, who Elle had always been slightly jealous of, looked beautiful as usual. Her eyes shone as she put a bit of lip gloss on and smiled at herself. Her long red hair fell down her back, with slight curls here and there. Her dark green robes complimented her eyes and looked lovely against her hair.
"What's taking Brigid so long?" snapped Lily impatiently.
"Sorry, love," said Brigid, appearing in the doorway. "I was busy beautifying myself."
And she had made herself looked gorgeous. Her robes were a soft rosy pink and her long blonde hair fell about her shoulders in curls. Brigid's bright eyes looked excited and she grinned around at them all. "The boys should be here soon," she said, giggling.
"To take us down two floors?" asked Lily incredulously. "That's ridiculous."
Before Brigid could retort, there was a knock on Lily's door. "Are you decent?" called James.
"Yes," said Lily.
"Damn," they heard Sirius mutter.
The door opened to reveal the four Marauders dressed in their dress robes. Sirius rushed over to Brigid and swept her up in his arms. "Put me down, you prat!" she giggled.
"As you wish, my lady!"
And he dropped her unceremoniously. "Sirius!" grumped Brigid.
Remus and James offered their arms to Elle and Lily. "What about Peter?" whispered Lily to James.
"My cousin, Jessica," said James. "He fancies her something awful. Don'tcha, Peter?"
Peter blushed and mumbled something about how they needed to get downstairs. The three couples and Peter made their way down the stairs to the ballroom.
"It's beautiful!" cried Elle, as they entered.
"You're beautiful," said Remus softly.
She looked back at him and felt as if her heart would burst, she was that happy. The music started and Remus swept her onto the dance floor.
He was a little clumsy, but Elle directed him and soon they were dancing slowly and smoothly.
"Elle," he said, as though he were struggling with what he was saying. "I really think that, well, I mean, this time I've spent with you...it's been...nice."
Elle looked confused, although flattered, and Remus mentally berated himself. "That's not what I meant at all," he said slowly. "The thing is...I really think that I'm falling in love with you."
Elle's eyes widened and she felt a happy tingle go through her body. "I love you, Remus," she said happily, laying her head on his chest.
Remus smiled and kissed the top of her head. Elle closed her eyes in happiness. She was pressed against a man that she loved, in a beautiful house, with her friends. It was a blissful moment, in which she thought nothing about what was to come. She could only think about the feel of her body against Remus's. She could feel the rise and fall of his chest as he breathed and could hear his heart beating as she kept her head on his chest. She sighed happily and kept dancing.
"Sirius!" laughed Brigid. "It's a waltz!"
Sirius was skipping her around the dance floor, breaking up older couples as they went. Brigid finally managed to pull him to a stop. "Alright, then," he said quickly. "Let's go find the food."
"I want to dance," said Brigid.
"But I'm hungry," whined Sirius.
Brigid looked at him suspiciously. "You can't dance, can you?" she said.
Sirius avoided eye contact. "What are you talking about?" he said. "Of course I can dance!"
"No, he can't," said James, sweeping by with Lily in his arms.
Sirius stuck out his foot, causing James to fall over, bringing Lily with him. "Hello, love," said James, as Lily landed on top of him laughing. "Excuse me while I go kill Sirius."
Mrs. Potter had made her way through the crowd. "James Potter!" she snapped. "Get off the ground the instant! What are you? Three?"
James flushed and helped Lily off the floor. "Oh, and don't bother trying to make Sirius dance, Brigid, dear," said Mrs. Potter. "He has two left feet."
"Thanks, Mrs. Potter," said Sirius through gritted teeth.
She was pulled away, laughing, by Mr. Potter. Brigid pulled Sirius's hand. "Please, Sirius," she said, giving him a look.
"C'mon, Brigid," he said. "You can't do that. That's my face."
"Oh, get over yourself!" huffed Brigid, starting to stomp away.
Sirius rolled his eyes behind her back and grabbed her hand. "Alright," he said, placing one hand on her waist and taking her hand in his other.
Brigid grinned at him and led him round, wincing every so often when stepped on her feet.
After a little while, she looked up to meet his gaze and, smiling softly, kissed him.
"Are we done dancing now?" asked Sirius, when they broke apart. "Let's get out of here."
And looking around nervously, Brigid let him lead her out of the ballroom.
"Sirius took my idea," mumbled James.
Lily laughed and said, "You have no excuse. You dance well."
"Since I was five," said James cockily.
"You never change do you," said Lily, rolling her eyes.
James grinned and shook his head.
There was an awkward pause. "So, Lily," said James. "About what happened the first day..."
"James, don't," said Lily. "Not now."
"Alright, alright," said James huffily.
They were interrupted when Mr. and Mrs. Potter approached. "I wondered if I could steal the lovely young lady away for a dance, James," said Mr. Potter.
"Of course, Dad," said James, grinning. "Only if I get a dance with Mum."
"I'd be delighted, sweetheart," said Mrs. Potter, taking her only son's hand.
Mr. Potter danced away with Lily and she was pleased to discover that he danced just as well as his son.
"Thank you so much for letting us stay in your house, Mr. Potter," said Lily.
"It's wonderful having you here," said Mr. Potter. "I'm glad James brought someone like you."
It's remarkable how much James looks like him, thought Lily.
"Don't you break his heart, Lily," said Mr. Potter, smiling at her. "You've been one of his favorite topics since he was a first year. I really think my son loves you. Don't you break his heart."
Lily couldn't bear to say anything except, "I won't."
It broke her heart to hear Mr. Potter talk of James like this.
Although, James Potter couldn't possibly love her. They were too young.
Not that it matters, thought Lily. It will all be screwed up in a few days.
"I really like this girl," said Mrs. Potter, as her son waltzed with her around the dance floor.
"I know, Mum," said James thoughtfully. "I do, too."
"Do you love her James?" asked his mother, her eyes searching his face.
"I don't know, Mum," he said truthfully.
"Well, I just want you to know, dear, that if you do, you have my full blessing."
"Good to know, Mum," he said laughing. "Thanks."
The tall raven haired girl turned to find a stocky boy standing behind her. "Oh, hello, Peter," said Jessica, putting on a fake smile.
"Could I, erm, have a dance?"
"Of course, Peter," she said, letting him lead her to the dance floor.
That night, everyone went to bed with happy dreams. Peter had gotten to dance with a girl he absolutely adored, and the others had spent hours in each others' company.
Brigid and Sirius had said a very long good-night, after they had spent the remainder of the party on an armchair in the living room, doing what they do best. James and Lily had danced for the rest of the night, before saying goodnight.
And Peter, with much encouragement from James and Remus, had taken Jessica out onto the terrace and asked her out.
Unfortunately, that didn't go so well.
"Don't worry, Wormtail," said James, thumping him on the back. "I have plenty of cousins."
Peter had gone to bed after that.
Then, there was Remus and Elle. Though they had both gone to bed at twelve after the party was over, around three in the morning, there was a knock on Remus's door.
Remus jolted awake as his door was knocked on a second time. He threw back his midnight blue bedcovers and reached for his dressing gown. "Hold on," he said sleepily, and went to open the door.
"Elle!" he said, sounding very surprised to see her there.
Elle looked him up and down, trying very hard not to giggle. He was wearing dark blue boxers and a white tee-shirt. All of a sudden she felt very shy. "I just wanted to...I don't know," she finished lamely.
"Do you want to come in?" asked Remus.
He reached out and slipped his hand into hers. "I couldn't sleep," she said softly, as he led her into the room.
"You could...you could stay here," suggested Remus.
Elle nodded silently and Remus was startled to see tears in her eyes. "Elle," he whispered, placing a hand on her cheek. "What's wrong?"
Elle burst out crying and clutched the front of his tee-shirt. "I can't tell you," she sobbed. "I c-can't!"
He pulled her close to him and tried to calm her down. "Come here," he said, lifting her off her feet and into his arms.
He carried her, tears still streaming down her face, and placed her on his bed. He lay down next to her and pulled the covers over both of them. Elle clung to him, her sobs becoming quieter and quieter.
She began to drift off into sleep, finally beginning to feel safe and unworried. All the pressure of what was going to come had really gotten to her. "I love you, Elle," whispered Remus, before drifting off to sleep himself.
"My dear Moony, you are an absolute man-whore!"
Remus opened his eyes to find Sirius standing over the bed, grinning at him. "And Elle Insontis, I always thought you were so innocent!"
"Sirius, get the hell out of here," said Remus, sitting up and glaring at him.
"No," said Sirius cheerfully, jumping on the bed. "I don't think I will."
"I'll go," said Elle, her face completely red with embarrassment. "See you later."
She gave him a quick kiss and hurried upstairs. "So, Moony," said Sirius. "How was it?"
"We didn't have sex, Sirius," said Remus, throwing off the covers and reaching for his already laid out clothes.
"Oh," said Sirius, clearly disappointed. "Well, that's unfortunate."
"Sirius, just because I can have a girl in my bed without shagging her, does not make it unfortunate," said Remus, pulling on his trousers.
"Nutters," mumbled Sirius, stalking out of the room.
Remus looked after him and rolled his eyes. What had worried Elle so much? he wondered.
She had seemed so horribly upset when she had come to him last night.
But Remus put the matter out of his mind as Mrs. Potter called him down for breakfast.
"Have a nice sleep last night, Elle?"
Elle gave a little squeak of surprise and whirled around.
Lily and Brigid were standing in the doorway with their arms crossed and their expressions accusing. "What happened to not getting attached?" asked Brigid, rounding on Elle. "Did you forget that last night, huh, Elle?"
Elle, no longer surprised, narrowed her eyes. "We didn't do anything. I just slept in his room," she hissed. "And being a bit hypocritical, aren't we Brigid? I didn't see you complaining when you left the party with Sirius."
"Alright, lay off!" said Lily, her voice rising. "Don't you go all bloody martyr on us! We all like them!"
"I love him!" screamed Elle.
She broke down crying and kept repeating, "I love him."
"Elle, please don't cry," said Lily, tears forming in her own eyes. "Don't cry."
"I can't help it," sobbed Elle. "I love him. I really do."
"I know," said Lily, hugging her. "It'll all be fine."
"No, it won't," said Brigid, still from the doorway. "Look at us all."
She gave a hysterical laugh. "We're all on the end of our ropes," she said bitterly. "I hate this."
She sat down on the bed with her head in her hands. "Tomorrow," she said, her voice muffled. "After Christmas."
They all jumped as a voice called from downstairs, "Girls! Breakfast!"
The day passed fairly quickly and before long, it was time for Christmas dinner. The house elves had decorated the dining room Christmas style. The girls came in together around eight. "Just in time," said Mrs. Potter, smiling at them as they took their seats.
There were four people they had never seen before sitting at the table. "We have guests tonight," said Mrs. Potter. "This is Alastor Moody."
She gestured to a man with straggly gray hair and a...disturbed look about him.
"This is Stanley and Therese Vasa. You go to school with their daughter."
Sitting to Mr. Moody's left, was a woman with bright blue hair and a man with bright blue eyes. They smiled cheerily at her and made them wonder if Sharon really could be their daughter. "They work with Mr. Potter," explained Mrs. Potter.
"Sharon's told us so much about you all," said Mrs. Vasa. "Especially you, Sirius. I think she fancies you."
After which, Brigid's smile became a bit forced.
"And this," continued Mrs. Potter. "Is James's grandfather, Richard Potter."
They turned to see at the head of the table, opposite James's father, was a man with a kind smile, round glasses, and messy hair, that would have been just like James and his father's, except it was graying. They all said their polite 'hello's and dinner was served.
"So, Gramps," said Sirius, obviously at ease with the old man. "Tell the girls how you completely conked out the last of Grindelwald's followers in your day."
Grandfather Potter, obviously proud of himself, gave them all a grin. "I had Alastor to help me, of course," he said.
They all glanced down at Mr. Moody, who, after sniffing his plate carefully, was eating it slowly, as though testing each bite for poison. Grandfather Potter went on to tell a long, exciting story about the dangers he had gotten himself in and out of.
Before they knew it, it was time to go into the living room to unwrap presents.
Mr. Potter got up from table first and led the way into the living room.
The girls, all worries pushed to the back of their minds, sat down excitedly. Mr. Potter, a wine glass in his hand, stood up. "I would like to give the first gift to my darling wife, Marian."
He reached under the tree and picked up a small wrapped box. Mrs. Potter, her face glowing with excitement, unwrapped it quickly. "Oh, sweetheart," gasped Mrs. Potter, lifting out a sparkling diamond necklace.
She threw herself on him and kissed him passionately. "Mum!" moaned James. "Dad! Cut it out!"
"Aw, let them have their fun, Jamesie boy," said Grandfather Potter. "Open your present now!"
After everyone had unwrapped their presents, the girls said their goodnights to the boys and headed upstairs. "Try to make it to your own room tonight, Elle," joked Sirius.
Elle rolled her eyes at him and kissed Remus goodnight. "Merry Christmas, Elle," he said. "I love you."
"Love you, too," she said, before hurrying up the stairs, overridden with guilt.
Brigid's words from the morning echoed in her mind. Tomorrow. After Christmas.
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