This is my third time traveling by Floo Powder this year and every other time, it’s come with bad consequences. However, this time I manage to slip through the fireplace network without it taking its toll on me or any part of me. I fall onto the rug in front of the Potter’s fireplace less than gracefully and get to my feet.
“Hello Mrs. Potter…Mr. Potter,” I say politely. Mrs. Potter is standing in front of the fireplace looking worried while Mr. Potter is sitting on a comfy-looking armchair next to her.
“Hello dear,” Mrs. Potter simpers as she gives me a hug and Mr. Potter reaches out to shake my hand. He gives me a nod and rolls his eyes as if to say, what can I do?
I realize as I look farther out into the foyer that those were the exact stairs I saw Clover on for the first time. I remember briefly the shine of the light hitting her hair and the piercing look in her eyes when she first saw me. I almost wish I could go back there again when there weren’t any problems concerning Clover and her family name.
“Remus? Hellooo?” Clover is saying in my ear as I come back to the present.
“Sorry,” I mutter.
James and Sirius as well as Peter fall out of the fireplace directly behind me thereby knocking me into the coffee table. Clover stands by laughing at the scene we’re making until she hauls me up with surprising strength to my feet.
“That’s not funny,” I say in her direction.
“Oh, but it was,” she corrects.
I ignore her.
“C’mon you guys, let’s go upstairs. Clover your room is right next to Remus’s” James says with a mischievous smile.
“Wait,” I say confused, “I’m staying in a room by myself this year?”
“You’re a big boy now,” Sirius says jokingly.
“What about Peter?” I ask.
“What about me,” he pouts. “I’m going home for Christmas. I’m just here on a visit.”
“Thank God,” Clover whispers at my shoulder. Sirius snickers.
I shrug, “Whatever. That’s fine with me.”
“Of course it is,” James grins earning a punch in the shoulder from Sirius.
As we pull up our trunks to the second floor landing, Clover is already at the top pouting. “Remus’s room is bigger than mine.”
“We assumed that’s were all the action would be taking place,” James explains.
“That’s enough,” I tell him impatiently. “You can have it if you want it Clover.”
Clover smiles, “No, you take it. I just wanted to make sure you’d offer it to me.”
“Ah,” I reply as if that makes perfect sense. She disappears into her own smaller room next to mine. James and Sirius take their trunks into their own room and so I enter my room whereupon I realize it’s three times bigger than mine at home.
Oh, what it must be like to be a part of society’s A-list. My mother would have loved to have the chance…
My mother. I realize I’ve left her stranded for the holidays at the worst time possible. She needs to be around people no matter how much she might protest. I run down the stairs taking them two at a time nearly running into Mrs. Potter.
“Er…hi,” I say awkwardly. “Listen, would you mind if my mum came to stay over the holidays? She’s by herself this year…” I’ve stupidly just reminded myself of the fact that my dad won’t be there this Christmas making me suddenly and horribly depressed.
“Of course Remus,” she smiles gently, “I was about to ask her to come stay myself.”
“Great,” I say feigning a smile. I run back upstairs and jot down a quick note to send off to my mum. I hope she accepts although I’m really not all that sure she will. She’s always much preferred spending time alone than with groups of people.
After I’ve finished sending James’s owl on its way in the cold winter air, I sit down on the bed completely exhausted. I cradle my head in my hands and stare at the intricate maroon pattern on the cream carpet. Who needs such frivolities anyway? I don’t understand it.
I turn my thoughts to the fact that I need Christmas presents. Not for me of course, but for my friends and Clover. I’m assuming I need to get one for Clover. I mean, I don’t necessarily know if she’ll get me one. In fact, she might not even believe in giving gifts knowing her, but I want to give her something.
The next couple days though, we spend playing Exploding Snap or Wizard’s chess both of which I’m horrible at. Clover tries to teach me more about poker which I really don’t care to learn but I do just as an excuse to be alone with her sitting across from me.
She deals me out hearts once and I fold immediately saying, “I don’t bet with love.”
“You don’t,” she says drolly looking at me with big charcoal eyes, “bet with anything, ever.” She’s right; I only ever fold, call, or check when we play.
“Why bet when what you have is already good?”
“Why settle for good,” she counters, “when you could have something great?”
I realize I have no answer.
After a week of continual laughter and extreme amounts of food and sleep, James decides it’s time to go shopping. We all know it’s only because he needs to get something for Lily, but no one says anything.
We head into Diagon Alley and hit the shops with less enthusiasm than perhaps was required of the situation. Christmas shopping is nothing to mess around with, even I know that. Clover opted to stay at home so I don’t even have anyone to make fun of the shops with.
I suppose its better that way considering I don’t know what I’m getting her or anyone. I finally split up with the rest of the boys since I’m not getting anything accomplished with Sirius and James constantly whooping about some witch they see or the newest broomstick.
I settle for a new broomstick kit for James and a book called How to Know she’s the One for Sirius. I momentarily forget Peter who I promptly buy some candy for, and I get my mum a new cookbook authored by some fancy wizard who probably can’t even crack an egg without magic. I figure she’d like it though.
Now for Clover. There’s no arguing that she is perhaps the most difficult witch to shop for in the history of Christmas shopping. I’m sure that whoever created the idea of buying gifts for Christmas did not do so with a girl like Clover in mind. I’m crazy to even attempt to buy something she’d even remotely like or want. I should have asked what she needed, but she would have just commanded me not to buy her anything. Although maybe she would have told me to surprise her. She’s hard to figure out regardless.
I pop into a little trinket boutique at the end of Diagon Alley near Gringott’s where an older witch examines my piqued expression and determines I’m shopping for my girlfriend. I don’t even both correcting her. She herds me to the far right corner of the shop and points out several objects that would make Clover giggle with mirth. Then surprisingly, somehow the saleswoman hits on something exactly perfectly right for Clover.
I can’t wait for Christmas Day.
My mum’s owl arrives the day before Christmas with a letter complaining of migraines and house chores that simply can’t wait until after the holidays. She’s not coming and I find myself confused and saddened.
I’m still holding the letter in my hand when Clover knocks softly on the door.
“Remus,” Clover calls softly from the doorway. I wave her in and she takes a place next to me. “Are you alright?”
I shake my head. It’s not worth attempting to pretend I’m okay around her.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
I shake my head again.
“What do you want?” she asks gently. The usual harsh edge in her voice is gone and right now, at this moment she’s just a girl who feels emotions just like any seventeen-year-old.
I think about what I’d like to say to her question as I stare into her face. I want my father to be alive again. I want my mother to be alright. I want to feel like I did before any of this happened. I want to know that you’ll be okay when you’re away from me. I want you here always…I want you.
I realize with a shock as recognition registers in her eyes that I’ve just said all of that out loud.
“How badly do you want me?” she questions.
“More than anything,” I breathe.
She studies me as she’s done a hundred times before but this time it’s different. There’s a fire in her eyes that I’ve never seen before and it reminds me a bit of smoldering coals. She places a hand on my ribcage and gently pushes me down on the bed on top of the covers and lies down next to me. One of Clover’s small hands is on my thigh and the other cradles my cheek. It seems that all my nerve endings have chosen this moment to go crazy.
Of course at that very moment Sirius rushes through the doorway holding the newest Black Cats record and upon seeing Clover and I in our current situation, let’s loose all havoc. Clover rolls her eyes at me as Sirius continues his rant which I’m really not listening to in the slightest. She kisses me at the corner of my eye and walks out smoothly like she’s exiting a stage as the star of the performance.
Sirius is still standing in the doorway and when Clover leaves, stops carrying on and stares at me blankly. I sit up and run a hand through my hair shrugging as if to say, hey, there was nothing I could do about that.
His hands are clenched as if he wants nothing more than to punch me in the mouth, but he seems to be in a conflict with himself. I can see the gears turning in his head. He’s thinking – I should rail on this guy, but he’s my best mate. But she’s my sister!
In the end, he stomps away without saying a word to me, and I relax and settle in to a blissful haze filled with images of Clover lying next to me and her hands all over me. I wonder what would have happened if Sirius hadn’t so rudely interrupted us.
Damn that Sirius.
AN: I've got a question and it's a serious one. Is this story steadily getting less amusing? Reviews are down, and I think it's because I'm losing you guys. Is there something in particular you'd like me to change around? Please leave me some lovin'! I need it!