Chapter 16 : Chapter Sixteen: Christmas Surprises.
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The rest of the term passes more or less without incident. James had gone up to Dumbledore’s office to inform him about Regulus Black. Dumbledore had been interested in that particular bit of information, but he didn’t think it was necessary to take any immediate action. He just requested that James and Lily keep a close watch on him.
James never did cease his taunting of Severus Snape. He was just more conscious about where he did it. He never could stop himself from muttering a trip jinx under his breath when Snape passed by. There had been an incident where his hair had caught fire. When questioned, James repeated stubbornly that Snape’s hair was so greasy that the sparks emitting from his cauldron had ignited his head.
After that, the matter was dropped. But as the weeks wore on, his pranks had become less and less severe. Something that Remus was quick to comment on, with a proud look oh his face.
Also, as the term went on, deaths and disappearances started becoming a daily ritual on the front page of the Daily Prophet. Dumbledore never acknowledged the news, but the students frequently saw him conversing in low tones with other teachers, the Prophet leaning against a pitcher of orange juice. Every day brought more attacks, each more gruesome then the last. The wizarding world had grown to fear the man naming himself Lord Voldemort so much that they would gasp and flinch whenever his name was brought up. Most people were insisting that his name were not used in their presence. They preferred that he were referred to as You-Know-Who.
The students began huddling together on their way to class, as if they were afraid that Voldemort would jump out, kill them, and then melt back through the walls. Dumbledore seemed to be afraid of the same thing, for he was giving the castle special precautions and insisting that no student leave the front door after five thirty. This new rule made it exceptionally hard for the Marauders to get outside of the castle to be with Remus. They eventually just tied a bunch of old sheets together and hung them outside the prefects’ bathroom. When it wasn’t being used James stored it underneath his bed.
The last week of term everyone was taking tests. Seventh years had it especially hard, for they would be taking their N.E.W.T.S in six months. But after their exams they were given their reward, the Winter Holidays. Most students were torn between the two choices. They wanted to go home and see their families, to make sure everything was alright. But they also wanted Dumbledore’s protection at Hogwarts. In the end, the two sides were fairly even.
Hogwarts was always breathtaking around the winter time. Trees lined the walls of the Great Hall. Tinsel was around every doorway and mistletoe hung at various places on the ceiling.
Lily was in a very good mood as Christmas day approached. Alice was going with Frank to visit her parents. Emma and Sarah were going to stay at Hogwarts. Sirius and James would be staying, as Remus and Peter went home.
It was the day before Christmas. Lily, Sarah, and Emma sat up in the head dorm, sipping form steaming mugs of hot chocolate. Outside, they heard the muffled yells as James and Sirius had a vicious snowball fight.
“So, how do you think you did on Slughorn’s final Lily?” asked Emma.
“Alright, I guess.”
“Yeah right. He probably passed you with a hundred and fifty percent. He absolutely adores you.”
“No he doesn’t.”
Sarah gave a loud cough that sounded suspiciously like, “slug club.”
Lily blushed, “Those are ridiculous. I never go.”
Each of her excuses was feebler than the last. But after she had taken her test he had make her promise to attend his new year’s celebration.
Lily jolted back to reality as she heard Sarah speaking, “…so sweet. He holds the door open for me and acts like a real gentleman.”
“That’s nice,” said Emma smiling, “He must be really something. I remember now. He was different last year…”
“How so?” asked Sarah.
“Well,” said Emma looking thoughtful, “He was a bit cocky last year. Kind of like how most sixteen year old boys are. But he’s much more considerate this year. Him and that James Potter. They’re both changed a lot over the summer. Don’t you agree Lily?”
“I suppose,” she said rather stiffly.
“Yeah, I get what you mean,” said Sarah, “Especially James. Don’t you remember how crude he was last year? Couldn’t do anything without mouthing off. But now he’s more reserved and he actually thinks before he speaks. A bit strange really.”
“Well, I think it’s a good improvement,” said Emma, “And of course Lily has noticed.”
Lily looked at her friend with raised eyebrows, “What are you talking about?”
“Oh come on. Don’t pretend that you haven’t noticed that he is completely different now. I mean, you guys have lived in the head dorm for what? Four months now? He shaves in front of you. You can’t ignore the fact that he has changed.”
“Even if he has, it doesn’t make any difference.”
“Whatever you say.”
The next morning Lily awoke to see a pile of presents at the foot of her bed. She threw back her blankets, sat up, and felt the familiar feeling of dizziness that occurred when one got up too quickly when awaking.
The first parcel was from her mum and dad. They had sent her an embroidered black, knee length skirt and a few berry pies, along with a note explaining that Petunia hadn’t found the time to get a gift out to her.
Alice had given her a large boxful of deluxe sugar quills. She received a book explaining difficult charms work from Emma. Sarah had given her a pair of black sequined flats. At the bottom of the pile she picked up a small rectangular package that had written on it in delicate calligraphy, To: Lily, From: James
As head boy and girl she had thought it would be only polite to get him a present. At their last Hogsmeade trip when she had done all her Christmas shopping she had picked out a plain, dark blue neck tie for him. It wasn’t much, but she figured that it would suffice.
She picked up the parcel and untied the red bow around it. When the wrapper fell away a small black box was revealed. Her eyes widened when she lifted the lid. There, nestled in cream colored satin was a necklace with a diamond shaped emerald in the middle or the silver chain. It was lined with tiny, silver, diamonds. Lily reached over the side of her bed and pulled out her wand. After a few quick spells he came to the conclusion that the stones were real.
She set the necklace in front of her and stared at it. How was she supposed to respond to this? She couldn’t wear it. Could she? No. It would make it seem like they were going together…which they weren’t. Ever since that evening of the Quidditch tryouts he had not asked her out again. Was this another form of it? No. It was just some jewelry. It doesn’t signify anything. It was something one friend gave to another. Shit! Did she just refer to James Potter as a friend!? God no!
Lily leapt out of bed, grabbed the necklace, opened the door, ran across the room, and knocked on James’ door.
She heard moving around and then the door flew open, revealing James, standing ankle deep in wrapping paper, and if possible, his hair even messier than usual.
“Hey Lily,” he greeted her, “Cool tie. Just don’t have anywhere to wear it.”
She smiled weakly, “Ha-ha, no problem. Listen…,” she held up the necklace, “This is really beautiful…but I can’t accept it. I mean, it must have cost a fortune and all…”
His face fell slightly. He kicked a pile of wrapping paper out of the way and conjured a chair with his wand, “Have a seat.”
She hesitantly walked into his quarters and set the necklace down on the table by the door before sitting down.
He sat down in a chair next to her, “Okay, why can’t you accept it?”
She sighed, “It’s far too expensive for me to wear. I mean, how would I look walking down the hallways in that?”
“Well, you have a fair point. But, I want you to keep it. You don’t have to wear it. But…keep it; just in case something comes up that you need some formal jewelry for. Please.”
“But James, really,” she hesitated and then swallowed, “We’re acquaintances…maybe…maybe kind of friends. But this, it’s too much. People…People could get the wrong idea.”
James looked slightly amused, “And what would that be?”
She scowled at him, “You know what I mean.”
He raised his hands, “Just take it Lily. You don’t have to do anything with it. Throw it out the window. Give it to Sarah or Emma or anyone. Just…please don’t give it back.”
She sighed, “Alright. I’ll take it.”
She rose from her chair and started towards the door. James started after her to walk her out. He stumbled over the box of joke products Sirius gave him, threw out his arms and braced himself against the wall, one on either side of Lily.
She was startled by the sudden movement.
She looked up into his hazel eyes, and he looked back at her.
Suddenly it was like a thick fog was clouding her brain. There was a slight light and the sound of faint music coming from within the fog. She kept hearing different phrases from her friends.
Of course you know him. Tall, dreamy, Quidditch captain…
A hundred girls would kill to be in your position…
You can’t ignore the fact that he has changed…
Maybe you should date him…
The pressure built as she looked into his eyes.
Six years he has chased after you…
And then everything stopped.
You can do the math, right? I had fun with this...a lot of fun. If you could tell me what you think that would be lovely. Too cheesy? Not cheesy enough? Let me know!
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