Chapter 12 : Everybody Seems So Happy
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Everybody seems so happy
Have I possibly gone daffy?
What is this?
- Jack, The Pumpkin King (The Nightmare Before Christmas)
"I hope you don’t balloon up over holidays," Stephen told me as he climbed into the horseless carriage; he was going home for Christmas, while the Marauders and I remained. To my great dismay, Lily Evans would remain as well. "Goodness knows you’re going to eat all the chocolate in the castle."
I scoffed. "You say that as if I don’t already." Laughing I shut the door to his carriage and waved him off. I was glad that I had learnt his name; he turned out to be a great mate.
"So, my partners in crime, what are we going to do this fair holiday?" I asked my main men, the Marauders, as I joined them on the stone steps in front of the castle.
"Well I was thinking it’d be a great time for planning. I don’t know how we’re supposed to pull any pranks with a grand total of twenty students in the castle," Remus said logically.
"Very true," said James. "We could go get Lily to fall in love with me!"
"Sure, Prongs, sure." Sirius laughed and put his arm around his mates shoulder.
Sirius was reaching for the large doors to let us into the castle when I had an idea. "Let’s have a snowball fight!"
"Er, Anna, there’s no snow," Peter pointed out.
I looked around. How had I not noticed the lack of snow?
"Come on, Anastasia, you are in dire need of some snackage," Sirius said, leading me inside. "To the kitchens!"
As we walked, I contemplated our food-centered adventures. We sure did go to the kitchens often, and every time we did we ran into someone unpleasant. I couldn’t help but wonder who it would be this time.
"Alex!" Alex, short for Alexandra, was one of Lily Evan’s friends. She was by no stretch of the imagination a friend, but she was a sight better than Evans.
"Sirius Black! How lovely to see you here," drawled Alex, hate overenunciating her words.
"I wish I could say the same for you! And what’s with the full names? How would you liked it if I called you Alexandra Bones?"
"I’d say you better watch your step," Alex spat playfully. I had to admire her. She wasn't much taller than me, and other than that we were about the same size. Her beautiful, naturally bleach blonde hair made her look even less intimidating.
"Sorry, but I can’t hit a girl," said Sirius, sidestepping his classmate and going to the house elves, asking for something sweet for us all to snack on.
"Excuse me!" I yelled. "What do you mean you can’t hit a girl? You hit me all the time!"
"You don’t count as a girl, Xanthis." Alex sneered. Well, despite the fact that I could see beyond her association with Evans, it seemed that he couldn't see past my association with James.
I growled at her, and chucked an apple that had been sitting on a nearby table at her head.
She ducked. "Bitch!"
"I think you’re confusing me with Lily Evans!" I called. I found myself having to duck as the apple came flying back at me.
"Missed me!" I yelled.
"Woah, ladies, break it up," said James, coming in between us. We glared at each other over James' outstretched arms. "No need to fight." He groaned as Alex tossed something at his head and it made contact. Satisfied, she stomped out.
"You know, I’m getting this feeling that someone doesn’t want us in this kitchen," I said, sitting down, and waiting for the elves to finish up with the food.
"Yeah, the rules don’t want us here," Remus pointed out.
"Oh, shut up, you prissy little Prefect," Sirius said. Peter laughed.
"Let’s go, mates," I said with a smile on my face. "I do believe we have some pre-Christmas shenganigans to engage in."
Said pre-Christmas shenanigans were a tradition. We did not usually go home for Christmas, unable to bear the thought of leaving each other. So instead, we messed around in the common room, putting up extra bits of mistletoe and tinsle, and decorating the tree with homemade ornaments. We’d nick marshmallows from the kitchens and roast them over the fire, getting the sticky all over ourselves and others. This generally happened on the last three days preceding Christmas.
This year, however, Lily Evans was staying too. We went on with our usual activities, but I often caught James glancing at Evans, curled up on the couch and reading a book. Apparently, James caught Evans glancing at him a few times. I suppose it must have taken a lot of loyalty not to go over and flirt with Evans while we were doing stuff together in such close proximity to her; that, or he just really liked us a lot.
On the last day of pre-Christmas shenanigans (which really needed an official name) we always stayed up until three in the morning, sharing old Christmas stories, and funny stories in general. Sirius was always at his most quiet when we launched into stories about our families, but this year, he told them with gusto about the Potters and their fun lifestyle.
One day, I’m going to ask that boy about his family, and demand that he tells me everything, I told myself.
We said our sleepy goodnights; Peter had already fallen asleep in the middle of a story and James was beginning to forget what he was talking about mid-sentence.
The next morning, Christmas morning, I was rudely awaken by a throughly excited Sirius. "Wake up! Wake up! It’s Christmas," he yelled with a childish excitement and wonder.
Barely able to open my eyes, I looked at my watch with a groan. "Good Godric, Sirius! It’s seven o’clock in the morning!"
"Please! Please? No one else would wake up!" he protested, pulling me out of my bed, and not giving me a choice in the matter.
"I wonder why," I muttered and shook off Sirius’ grip. "Alright, just give me a minute." I went into the bathroom and brushed my teeth and washed my sleep-deprived face. I put my hair loosely up and exited the bathroom.
"Okay, let’s go."
Sirius let out an excited squeal that was far too out of character for a sixteen-year-old boy for me to tolerate. We each sat down at the foot of our beds, where there was a pile of presents each.
I was about to reach for the shiny blue package when there was a crash at the window. I jerked my head up to see a large, brown barn owl hovering in front of it. I opened it and smiled; the package was from Stephen. I had already sent him a book on Quidditch; he was hoping to try out for the team next year.
I decided to open that first, because it was in my hands, and came out with a sparkly red bracelet and a huge block of chocolate. That boy knew me too well. Unable to burden myself with jewelry, I attached the bracelet to my school bag. It sparkled whenever the sun hit it.
I looked at the dark chocolate longingly and sunk my teeth into it. "Anastasia, I’m appalled it’s seven o’clock; you don’t need any chocolate."
"Oh, of course not," I said, gesturing to him and the own chocolate he was biting into. "And you say that as if we don’t eat chocolate for breakfast every day."
Sirius nodded. It was true, we did eat chocolate for breakfast nearly everyday. I mean, it was usually a little square, or some chocolate chips in our pancakes. But, still.
I picked the shiny package back up. I unwrapped it, seeing that it was from Remus. I couldn’t believe it; it was more chocolate. I smiled when I noticed there was a book on history as well; leave it to Remus to take advantage of the fact that I actually liked a class. (Well, technically I didn’t like the class, just the subject.)
There was a rather large package sitting near my feet, and I excitedly opened it next. It was from Jason, and it was a giant cage. Inside, there was a note. It read: Just pretend there’s an owl in here. It’s actually in the owlery.
I laughed at my brother. Next, I opened a package from my parents; it contained a deluxe basket of Honeydukes chocolate. This is about the moment began to wonder just how much chocolate I ate; this was the third present of chocolate I had received. Not that I minded, or anything.
"Sirius, do I eat too much chocolate?"
"No clue, love," he said. He was too busy examining a small metal toy, trying to figure out how to open it.
From Peter, a Muggle mystery novel, by an author I did not know. I did, however appreciate the gesture, for it meant he had listened to me when I mentioned that those old Muggle paperback mysteries to be delightfully corny, awfully written, and terribly enjoyable.
I was about to reach for the present from James, which was rather oddly shaped, when Sirius exclaimed.
"Anastasia! Are you mad?!" I looked over and saw him clutching the gift I had gotten him.
In his right hand was the box the gift had been in and in his left hand was a handsome silver watch. It was a tradition in the Wizarding World for the family to present their coming-of-age son with a watch. The watch was numbered regularly around the edge, but instead of a face, the gears of the watch could be seen turning gracefully. On the back was a small inscription.
"I know your birthday is not until next week," I began. "But think of this as a combination gift."
I tried to wave him off and he continued with, "It must have been a fortune!"
"No buts! It doesn’t matter what it costs, or who was supposed to get it for you. I want you to know that even if your family is rotten, I will always be here, and I will always be your family."
"Read the inscription," I demanded.
Sirius turned the watch over and whispered as he read, "For the man who has shown me what 'family' truly means."
"Thank you," he said, with the most sincerity I had ever heard him speak. He quickly put the watch on his left wrist.
"You’ve made my day just by accepting it," I countered with as much sincerity. "Now . . . On to the presents! Again!"
I opened up my gift from James and was shocked to find a limp Bludger, a new pair of Beater’s gloves, and a note.
All this needs is to be activiated, the note said. Then you can practice to your big heart’s desire.
I laughed and thought to myself, Ruddy Quidditch captain.
Finally, I pulled the last gift out of the pile of wrapping. It was from Sirius. It was small, and I knew right away that it was must jewelry.
Unsure, I unwrapped the badly done, plain brown paper and carefully opened the box. Inside was a silver ring; a large, square cut ruby sat in the middle, surrounded by intricate gold carvings.
"Gryffindor colors," said Sirius, from over my shoulder. I jumped. I hadn’t noticed that he was there. "I got one for myself and the rest of the guys as well. I thought they could by like those bloody friendship bracelets that girls make for each other, just way less girly. Ours are far more manly," he assured me. "No stone, just bands." He seemed very adamant that I know how masculine the boys' rings were.
I laughed and kissed him swiftly on the cheek. Upon further examination I saw that my initials were monogrammed on the inside.
"Sirius, this was incredibly thoughtful. I didn’t know you had it in you."
"You underestimate me, love."
"That I do," I admitted. "Ready to go to the common room? We can just wait for the rest of the sleepy-heads to wake up."
"Hey," said Sirius, as he offered me his arm. "You’d be one of those sleepy-heads too if I hadn’t woken you up."
I smiled and knocked lightly into his shoulders as we tried to squeeze through the doorway together. "That’s all besides the point; the point being that I am awake."
We stumbled clumsily down the staircase - mostly my fault - and arrived in the common room to find it still dim; it had yet to become fully light outside. The tree was brilliantly lit, and the silvery tinsel shined. Sirius and I collapsed together on the couch, staring into the fire. I tilted my head on his shoulder.
"Mhm. Your hair smells like strawberries," I told him.
"Well, you smell like vanilla," he retorted.
"That wasn’t an insult," I told him, laughing.
We sat together in silence for what might have been two hours. During that time, I fell asleep, and suspect that Sirius did too.
I was startled from my light slumber as I heard James thunder down the stairs, yelling. "Mate! Mate! These rings are awesome; I feel like part of some elite group!"
"You are," Sirius reminded him, as he sat up. "You are in the Marauders plus Anastasia group."
I smiled lovingly at my favorite people. "And we are obviously an elite group. We are the best. Everyone wants to be us," I insisted, half-joking.
"Well that’s a little arrogant, don’t you think?"
Oh, bollocks. No one needs a dose of Lily Evans this morning. I got up from the couch to confront her, but found myself laughing instead.
James was standing at the bottom of the staircase, under a bit of Mistletoe. Evans had begun to cross the threshold, but must have been stopped.
"Potter! What is this nonsense! Let me out of this - this . . . Whatever this is!" She was continuously walking into nothing in her desperate attempts to gain back her personal space. Honestly, for someone so supposedly brilliant, she was lacking common sense.
"Why, Lily dearest, I believe that it’s some mistletoe that you’re stuck under," Sirius informed the enraged red-head.
"What!?" she cried. "Potter, you better let me out!"
James, who had yet to say anything, gave us all the surprise of the day. He took out his wand and waved it a few times. Suddenly, Evans was able to step out of the barrier. "Why did you just let me go?"
He shrugged silently, then said, "Well, I realized it wasn't as funny as I thought it was." Then, if James had given us the surprise of the day, then Evans gave us the surprise of the decade. She lifted herself up on her tippy-toes, and gave James a swift peck on the cheek. "Mistletoe is a rule of Christmas. I always follow the rules."
James stood, staring at Lily with the widest eyes I had ever seen him with. He looked as if he’d been slapped across the face, but, in a good way, if that was possible. He had goofy smile on his face.
"You know, Potter, that was actually quite a good bit of magic. And you did recognize where you went wrong. Maybe, Potter, you’re not as bad as I thought."
She smiled at him, and James smiled back, looking as if his face would break from the ecstasy. Alex came gracefully down the steps, looking tired, but composed. "Lily, what did I miss?"
"Oh, nothing," she said, with a smile. Alex shrugged and they sat down by the Christmas tree, opening gifts.
The Marauders walked over to James and patted him on the back, congratulating him. I, however, stood stock still in fear. Evans doesn’t hate James. She may want to be friends with James. James is friends with me. I recoiled in fear and considered the question: Would I have to tolerate Lily Evans?
A/N: Well, to be honest I did not originally plan on sumbitting two chapters today. But, when I came home I had a nice little surprise - I was given trusted author status! So, I decided as a treat for you guys (and me, who is very excited to have this) I was going to post two, especially since the last one was quite short. And, just a little heads up, next chapter, we're mixing things up a bit.
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