Chapter 15 : Christmas Smiles
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Yawning and throwing his feet over the bed, he rubbed his face and stood up, feeling the dull ache of inactivity in his limbs. As he clumsily moved around the room, he was stunned to find some packages at the end of his bed. He lowered slowly to his knees and sat down in front of the presents. There were only two, but it was more than Haiden had expected. He began to open the larger of the two, and was surprised to find a brand new broom. It was a Nimbus 2000, the newest and fastest broom on the market. His eyes were saucers as he picked up the card perched upon the broom.
I know things have been strained between us, but I wanted you to have this. I know Quidditch means a lot to you, and I hope that, perhaps with this broom, you will come to the try-out for seeker in January, since our present one quit. I would also enjoy it if you took time out this Christmas to come see me, as we have things to discuss. I will continue to love you, even if you do not wish to accept me as your true parent.
His face was expressionless until he glanced back at his broom, and then he smiled as he picked it up and examined it. Carefully moving it to the side, he picked up his second package. Unwrapping it hastily, he found an interesting looking cloak inside. Standing up, he wrapped the cloak around himself and moved to examine himself in the mirror. What he saw, however, shocked him. His entire body was invisible! Dropping the cloak, he moved to read the note.
This cloak belonged to your true father, James Potter, and I think it is time that it was given to you. Use it wisely
The note was unsigned, but Haiden recognized the cramped scrawl of Professor Dumbledore. There were so many questions that invaded his mind, and he put them all away, focusing solely on the invitation extended by his father. Should he accept? It was, after all, Christmas.
Before he knew it, sheer curiosity was driving his feet as he made his way down the dark corridors towards his father’s room. Stopping at his door, he closed his eyes and threw caution to the wind.
Haiden knocked softly on the door of his father’s private quarters, unsure of the choice he had made. Within seconds, the barrier between father and son was broken, and Severus, the man Haiden had called father for eleven years, gazed down at him. For a moment, there was silence in the hallway as the two engaged each other in an impromptu staring contest. Finally, Severus’s baritone issued a salutation.
“Happy Christmas, Haiden.”
“Happy Christmas…Father.” Haiden kept the greeting formal as he stepped into the dark chambers.
Severus pointed him to a small table with two chairs, where they used to share dinners away from the prying eyes of the students when Haiden had been a child. After the two were seated, Severus attempted to ease the tense atmosphere.
“I trust you got your present.”
“I did. Thank you very much. I was hoping you would let me try out for the team.”
“Of course I would. You’ve always loved Quidditch, I wouldn’t keep you from that,” Severus said quietly, looking down as he spoke the words.
“I also got another gift, from Professor Dumbledore I think. It…it makes me invisible.”
Severus sighed painfully. Dumbledore had told him about his intentions to give Haiden James’s old cloak.
“I know. He told me. It belonged to your father.”
“I know.” There were several ways Severus had imagined their meeting would go, and it certainly wasn’t like this. He took a deep breath and looked into Haiden’s brown orbs. He was amazed to see no fire or anger there.
“I asked you down here to tell you something.”
“Okay…” Haiden said, dragging the world out dramatically.
“I wanted to tell you about your mother.”
“My mother?” Haiden was stunned, and his jaw dropped. He eagerly repositioned himself, placing his elbows on the table and leaning forward, desperate to hear of his mother.
“Yes, Lily Evans, who became Lily Potter.” Severus’s eyebrows dropped as he said the name she gained in matrimony, but this was lost on Haiden.
“You knew her?”
“She had one sister named Petunia. Her parents loved both girls equally, though Petunia always suspected that the Evans’ liked Lily more because of her gift. She – Lily – was so smart. At first she was scared when she learned that she was a witch, but eventually she flourished during her studies. She was a Gryffindor, and really, in the end, I definitely think she belonged there. She was beautiful, too. She had red hair that she often threw back in a messy bun, rather than fix it up. But when she did style it, it was always shiny. I think it had a natural wave to it. Her eyes were a clear green, and she could pierce right into your soul. She was so understanding, and she forgave. She always forgave, even if your sin was…unforgivable.” He paused momentarily, attempting to squelch the emotion threatening to spill from his dark eyes.
“She truly believed people were good, and she loved you…so very, very much. She would do anything to protect you. Even stop talking to people who…might’ve caused you harm.”
It was becoming too much.
“And she died…protecting the one thing she loved most in the word…you.”
When he had finished, he turned his head away and let the single tear fall. It was just another tear to add to the ocean he’d already cried for her.
Haiden sat with his mouth agape.
“How do you know all that?”
Evidence of the tear gone, he turned back to face Lily’s son. “We grew up together. She was my best friend.”
“Oh,” Haiden replied quietly, looking up from the table to meet his father’s tired, sorrowful eyes.
“Was she nice?” he asked stupidly, silently pleading for the conversation to continue.
“Very. She put up with a lot of situations that she shouldn’t have had to.”
“What did she sound like?”
“Her voice was often soft. She didn’t need to speak loudly to be heard. Usually, if her voice was raised at all, it was when she was very angry. Throughout school, she usually raised her voice at James Potter and Sirius Black, because they were — well, I’m not going to talk about them. I’d like to keep this civil. But her voice wasn’t too high or whiney; it was actually a little low at times, but it would make her seem — ah… authoritative.”
This, however, was not at all what Severus had intended to say, but an instant realization to who he was speaking with shook him back to reality.
“Authoritative? Hmm,” Haiden repeated, biting his lower lip. “What did you two do for fun?”
Severus smiled, a rarity, and relished in the short time he was able to know Lily.
“When we were little, we used to go hide in the forest, away from her sister. We’d sit and talk, and she’d tell me about her concerns. It wasn’t that she was scared to be a witch, but she was scared of the unknown. Most people are, you know. When presented with alien facts and a potential new life style, many shy away. But your mother accepted it; she embraced it. And she was probably the smartest witch in the entire school. We used to be partners in potions, and our professor was always in awe with our work. We published our own story once in Potions Today, a weekly periodical. People noticed, but it was mostly for our entertainment. She was a dynamic woman, and her death was a horrible shock for me.”
Severus’s face paled as he said the last phrase, and then suddenly he was angry. The stupid choices, unforgivable things he did, just because he wanted to be a part of something. He’d give anything to go back to that time and stop the events that so viciously slashed heart. There was no use in going back and crying about the past, but his the guilt inhabiting his mind never left; it never ceased to taunt him in the dark corners of his consciousness. It was his bane, and he would carry his choices with him until the day he passed on.
Severus rose from the table then, and walked to the other side of the room. He stopped at an old filing cabinet and began rummaging through some yellowed pages until he found his treasure.
He sat the package front of Haiden and returned to his seat, his heart dropping as he though what lay inside the manila envelope.
Curious, Haiden opened the flap and shook out a series of letters, which were tied together with a string.
“What’s this?” he asked, pulling the first letter off the stack. It was a post card, and a picture of the Eiffel Tower glowed brightly against the dark French sky on the cover. He turned it around and gasped at the loopy handwriting and signature.
Hey! We’re in Paris, France right now, and Mum, Dad, ‘Tuney and I just got back from the Eiffel Tower! The view was amazing! Tomorrow we’re going to drive down to Marsailles, and I promise I’ll bring you something back! Wish you could have come, I miss you!
“Is this…my mother’s hand writing?” Haiden asked, drinking the jovial message in slowly.
“It is. She sent me a few letters over the years, and I saved them. I thought you might like to see them.”
Haiden fingered the post card, his throat suddenly very dry. It was as though his mother was reaching out to him, speaking to him from beyond the grave. He didn’t think about his parents often, because it made him ache with an intensity he had never known before. Yet here was his mother’s own thoughts, laid out quickly while she was happy with her family on holiday in France.
“Here, read this one. It’s one of my favorites,” Severus suggested, pushing a letter toward Haiden.
I know it’s unlike me to let my mind drift during class, but I just cannot pay attention to Binns today. It’s not that I don’t find the goblin raids particularly interesting (or maybe it is…) but I just can’t keep my head out of the clouds. I wonder if you’re bored too. I don’t even know what class you’re in right now. Do you want to study in the library later? I think I need to brush up on some memorization in Transfiguration. Ugh, Potter and Black are making a girl’s hair catch on fire and then quickly putting it out. She has no idea. They’re total jerks. I wish there could be more intellectual guys in the world. It’s always nice to have someone to talk to, rather than someone to yell at. Anyway, Sev, library tonight? Around 7? Can’t wait to see you! I’ve got loads more to tell you!
“She was talking about my dad, wasn’t she?” Haiden asked slowly.
“Yes,” Severus replied curtly.
“I won’t ask you about him. I already know how you feel about that matter.”
“Thank you. Here, look at this…”
The two of them sat the rest of the morning and into the afternoon, talking about memories and wishing that the beautiful red headed woman would walk into the room any moment.
Towards the end of Christmas night, Haiden was still in his father’s quarters, full from dinner and happy to be talking to his father again. Still, the past few months was a topic that both of them had evaded, and finally Haiden decided that he would bring it up as a final thought before bed.
“I’m sorry, Dad, about the way I’ve been acting. I know it’s not your fault, and I don’t know how to explain it, but I’m sorry that I yelled and said the awful things I did.”
Severus nodded, feeling a weight drop off his shoulders.
“It’s alright. Don’t ever worry about that. You’re still my son in my thoughts, no matter what a biology test would say.” Haiden nodded and smiled on his way out the door.
I’m so happy I said I’m sorry to you tonight. I’ve been waiting to do that for ages, and I finally got the courage to do it. I liked having dinner, and I especially liked talking about my mom. I think maybe you might have loved her, but I don’t really know about all that. The thing is it’s just nice to talk to someone again. A lot of times I’m all by myself and I feel lonely, but I don’t know where to go. Now I can come see you, although I don’t know how comfortable it will be. It was nice to have a dad again. I still have problems with your lies though. But knowing that you didn’t hate my mom, knowing you liked her as much as you did, I feel a little better. I still wish you were my real dad. But I’d like to know about my real father sometime too. I wonder if you know who I could ask. I meant to tell you earlier, I’ve been feeling a little funny sometimes. I don’t think it’s particularly bad, I was just going to tell you and forgot.
P.S. I wonder if I will ever give you these.
A/N This chapter is dedicated to Krys and Alex (Di). You guys are awesome and oftentimes my inspiration. Even thought the ending is a ways away, I’ve thought of the perfect way to end it :) It’s genius, I promise. I don’t think my writing has particularly been up to par these last few chapters, and for that I apologize. I always seem to hit a rut in the middle of chapter fics. I promise there will be more goodies to come!
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