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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 get fat over holidays," Stephen told me as he climbed into the horseless carriage; he was going home for Christmas, while the Marauders and I remained. Not to mention Lily Evans. "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; 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 my 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 overflowing 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. I had to admire her. She hovered only a few inches above my height, and was maybe slightly larger than myself. Her 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.
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 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. "No need to fight." He groaned as Alex threw something at his head, then 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 activities to engage in."
Said pre-Christmas activities 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 decorating the tree with homemade ornaments. We’d nick marshmallows from the kitchens and roast them in the fire, getting the sticky all over ourselves and the 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 all having such a great time; that, or he just really liked us a lot.
On the last day of pre-Christmas activities (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.
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.
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 from the team next year.
I decided to open that first, because it was in my hands, and 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 everyday.
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 when I 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 of the sort.
"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 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 I found Muggle writing badly written, corny, and absolutely bloody hilarious.
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, in his left hand was a very expensive watch. All over it, it had stars and moons, and a small inscription, wishing him luck. It was tradition in the Wizarding world for the family to present their coming-of-age son with a watch.
"I know your birthday is not until next week," I began. "But think of this as a combination gift."
"No buts. It doesn’t matter what it costs, what it stands for, 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 always be your family."
"Thanks," 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 said 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.
I unwrapped the badly done, plain brown paper and carefully opened the box. Inside was a silver ring; a large, emerald 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.
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 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 the elite," I proclaimed.
"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. "Potter," she asked. "Did you just let me go?"
He nodded silently. Then, if James had given us the surprise of the day, then Evans had given 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 it was possible. He had goofy smile on his face.
"You know, Potter, that was actually quite a good bit of magic. And you really proved something to me when you let me go. 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 excitement. 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; 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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