Chapter 17 : Chapter 17- A Festive Time of Year II
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I'd like the thank the crew over at The Golden Snitches for motivating me to do this (even if they don't actually know it)
It was a while now since we’d been back home. Because after all, Leon and Audrey’s house was home to us now.
Jasper and I stood under the landing, sheltered from the light snow that had just begun to fall. The place hadn’t changed much; it was easy enough to see that.
The sandy, gravel drive was now coated by a shin layer of ice, and the wild flowers that grew in the long grass, away from the confines of the otherwise tailored gardens were glittering with snow.
The trees behind the house that were a part of the Wiley’s very own personal forest swayed in the evening breeze, whispering to one another, sharing secrets perhaps.
Ivy grew up and across the front of the house, covering the whitewashed timber walls, giving the mansion a slight cottage-esque feel.
Warm light shone from behind the thin, lace curtains of the living room and kitchen. I could see Leon’s tall silhouette in the frame, bending over another, shorter, smaller person. That was Audrey. I knew they’d heard us arrive, but I also knew they would let us take our time.
We walked slowly up to the entrance, huddling under the roof and hiding from the snow. From inside the house I heard Audrey’s high, chiming laugh. I smiled.
She reminded me of my mother Audrey did- perpetually happy and perfectly kind, with enough love for the whole world.
And in so many ways Uncle Leon reminded me of my father. They were brothers after all. Leon and Evander, inseparable until death did they part.
I looked at Jasper, just making out his pale face in the dull evening glow. He looked at me and grinned, raising a fist to the door.
“Do I dare?” He laughed. We both knew that the door would be open within seconds of us knocking. I smiled.
“I dare you, go ahead.”
So he put his fist to the wood and knocked twice. Before the third strike could sound the door was being unbolted.
The glowing, beaming faces of our Aunt and Uncle were silhouetted in the door frame, set against the light and warmth or their house.
“Jasper, Lulah!” Audrey cooed, ushering us in the door. I laughed and smiled as I walked into the hall. Nothing had changed indeed. But I was glad.
Leon shut the door behind us with a click before turning to us, smiling larger than I’d seen him smile in along while.
“Uncle Leon!” I cried and rushed into his arms, breathing in his scent of tangy cologne and fresh rain. The light whiskers on his chin tickled the top of my head. I tilted my head up to look at him. He looked just the same as usual. Olive skinned, dark haired and sapphire eyed. A shorter, less clean-shaven version of his older brother.
“Why if it isn’t my little Lulah.” He chuckled brushing my dark fringe out of my eyes and stepping back to examine me. For as a long as I could remember Uncle Leon had held a soft spot for me, and I one for him in return. We talked for a moment, but could barely hear each other over the noise of a struggle beside us.
At last Jasper managed to extricate himself form Audrey’s tight embrace, laughing and smoothing down his hair. He came to stand by my side and Audrey by Leon’s and the two separate entities examined each other. Jasper and I scoured their faces for the dark shadows of grief and lines of sadness that had been present when we had them. They were still there, but dimmed and shrouded by the smiles the two now beamed at us.
“It’s so good to see you both.” Jasper grinned, always the charming lad. Audrey’s eyes shone as she gave us a watery smile.
“And you too dears. You both look quite happy, I must say.”
I opened my mouth to say that of course we were, but Jasper beat me to it.
“Well, Lulah should be. She has a boyfriend, don’t you know?”
I felt my face burn at Leon and Audrey’s collective intake of breath.
That little bitch. I should’ve known he wouldn’t have wasted any time in telling our Aunt and Uncle.
“What’s this Tallulah?” Leon asked, but I never got time to answer because I had already bolted down the hall after my fleeing brother.
Our first week at Leon and Audrey’s passed by in a blur. It didn’t take us long to get settled into the flow of things.
Before long Jasper was stringing Christmas lights along the roof with Leon and I was baking gingerbread with Audrey. Some days we sat around doing nothing at all, merely playing wizard chess or eating the biscuits that had been made the previous day. We looked through the old family photos albums- photos of Leon and Dad as kids and of Audrey, and her childhood in France.
I felt a pang of sadness when we went through the albums that had been taken from our house after our parents’ death. The ones of Jasper and I as toothy children sitting on swings in a park or the ones of the last holiday we had ever spent with our parents, a Christmas in the boiling heat of Australia.
It was our second Christmas without Rosalind and Evander Wiley, but the pain hadn’t lessened. It was those days that I missed them the most. The days when I had nothing to take my mind off the fact that they were gone bar wrapping presents and making snow men. The days when I had no Sirius to wrap me up in his arms.
However, the rest of the week was spent in a flurry of action. We played a slightly more danger version of Quidditch through the trees in the backyard. Slightly more dangerous in the sense that we may crash into a branch at any moment.
We raged an epic snowball war, girls versus boys. The females came out victorious on that one. Leon and Jasper had gotten so excited they’d gone to flame and started to melt the snow in their hands.
When Audrey wasn’t watching Leon taught Jasper and I cool tricks, ways we could manipulate our condition. He taught us how to shoot balls of flame from our palms and how to give off a controlled amount of heat without hurting anyone.
It was hard for me to learn, because of the memories. Memories that I wished I could forget, but no matter how hard I tried, could not. It was my fault our parents we dead, and I could never forget that, and I could never forget the cause. But I could make sure it never happened again, so I kept trying until I mastered it.
I took a break from practicing as Christmas day approached. The house was in full festive mode, even if it was just the four of us. Every inch of place was decorated with some form of Christmas ornament. Even the bathrooms.
I went to bed on Christmas Eve, very tired, my mind filled with the smiling faces of my parents as they handed out presents for Jasper and I.
The next morning no one woke exceptionally early. We were all too exhausted from our week’s worth of decorating and chess games. We passed around presents, small but lovely things. I got a collection of muggle books from Leon and Audrey (who said they’d bought them in the village), a sneakeskope from Jasper who passed it off as a gimmick, but I could tell it was a precaution. He also gave me a huge box of toffee, the best kind from honeydukes. Then as if to make my day, Leon and Audrey presented me with an ornate ring, just like the one my mother had always worn, only gold.
We ate a massive lunch, seeing as we had not woken early enough to bother with breakfast, and soon after that Leon and Audrey passed out asleep on the couches. It was then that Jasper and I made our escape.
We wanted to explore the village, on the outskirts of which they lived. It was only a short walk, but a chilly one (not that we could really feel it).
We traipsed down the main street. It was cobbled stone, lined with houses that looked like they could have been made of gingerbread with the snow on their roofs, the icing.
“Oi! Over here!”
Both Jasper and I stopped at the sound of this familiar voice. We shared an excited glance before pin-pointing the exact location of Remus Lupin.
He was standing across the road, an expression of mingled relief, amusement and weariness etched into the premature lines of his face. He was dressed casually and would have blended in well providing there had been any muggles out for him to blend in with. He waved at us and we waved back. I wondered if he was alone.
“Remus!” Jasper cheered, jogging across the road, closely followed by myself. He embraced Remus is a brief one-armed hug, I hugged him too.
“I thought you were staying at the Potter’s this Christmas?” Jasper asked his brow creased. “Do you live nearby?”
To my confusion, Remus rolled his eyes and shook his head.
“No, no,” he started wearily, though laughter tugged at the edge of his voice “You see, we were at the Potter’s-”
“We?” I interrupted. “Who is we?” My mind was suddenly over active. If one marauder was in town then….
Remus smirked but kept going as if I had not said a thing.
“As I was saying,” he continued “We were staying at the Potter’s, up until this morning, when a certain someone decided they couldn’t wait to get back to Hogwarts to see another certain someone.” Both he and Jasper exchanged a half knowing, half amused sort of look while I flushed with pleasure.
Sirius was in town! The exact instance I had been hoping for. I shoved my hands deep into my pocket, hoping to somehow restrain myself.
It took an incredible amount of self restraint for me to stay put and not go off in search of him immediately.
“Everyone’s here.” Remus said. “We decided to split up to look for you. We lost the address- Peter dropped it- and thought we might cover more ground this way. We agreed to meet in a park up the road. So, er… you coming?”
I jerked out of my reverie. Park. Marauders. Sirius. Now.
I nodded and Jasper whooped and we set off alongside our friend.
It was a sweet reunion, filled with much cheering and hugging. Apparently Remus was the only one of the five who had bothered to search for more than ten minutes. When we arrived the rest were lounging around on the park benches. Peter had fallen asleep.
Sirius rose to his feet as he saw me approach. His handsome face split into a grin, his white teeth flashing. He ran at me and picked me up in his arms.
“Missed you.” He murmured into my hair, still holding me tight, my legs swinging above the ground. I breathed in deeply, closing my eyes and sighed happily.
“I’m glad you’re here.”
Dinner that night was a much larger affair than anything I’m sure Leon and Audrey had planned on. However, I must say, they rose to the occasion spectacularly.
They had no objections to their new guests’ unannounced arrivals, to be honest; I think they were quite taken with them. Especially Lily, who continued to apologize profusely for their unexpected presence.
To my intense delight, they seemed to approve heartily of Sirius. I constantly caught Audrey beaming at him or offering him more helpings of mint peas (which he so graciously accepted) or Leon showing him the embarrassing photos of me as a child when he thought I wasn’t looking.
That night, it was agreed that our five friends could stay the night at our house, providing of course we checked with James’s mother first. She was all for it. I think she may have been relieved to have them out of her hair for a night. As it turned out, they were quite rowdy.
We stayed in the living room, clearing a large place on the floor for seven sleeping bags, and lighting the fire. We ate chocolate frogs and shared gossip and stories that had been told a million times over.
Before long the fire was making us all warm and drowsy. We were full of food and content. Lily and James were already curled up together, eyes closed. Whether they were actually asleep or not was another question.
Sleep was about to take me as its own, when I felt a warm breath on my neck.
“Are you awake?” I smiled sleepily and nodded. I felt Sirius’s arm slide around my waist. “Do you want to go outside? I’ve got something to show you.”
Empowered by my sparked curiosity I rose to my feet and let him lead me out into the cool night air. The sky was a clear, cloudless, black. Stars spangled its surface. The fresh layer of snow crunched under our feet and our breath fogged before our faces.
“Look,” He whispered, still holding me close, for warmth I suspected. “It’s the bike you gave me.” He was pointing to the shadows underneath one of the trees. I could see the outline of a colossus, black, shiny something. I grinned.
“Well, the bike I helped give you.” I corrected, thinking that I should have given him something more as well. I twinged with guilt a little.
“Sorry, I was going to get you something else-“ But he ignored my protest. He pressed his lips to my forehead and murmured.
“Don’t. You’re perfect, I love you.” He was rummaging in his pocket for something. “I got you something, however. It’s not much.”
My guilt heightened. He laughed at the look on my face.
“Seriously, don’t feel bad. This bike must have cost a fortune for you guys, and besides, it’s nothing.” He smiled ruefully as he pushed a small box into my hands.
I opened it carefully, while Sirius waited patiently. Inside was a fine golden chain, a small charm hung from it. I picked it up between my fingers and looked at it closer. It was a small dog, made out of a shiny piece of red stone. I felt the tears of gratitude welling up behind my eyes.
“It’s you.” I said, giving a shaky laugh. “A little Sirius Black… the dog.” I laughed and so did he. I wrapped my arms around him and kissed him firmly.
“Thank you.” He grinned crookedly. “No problem.” And then he had taken my hand again and was leading me over to where the bike stood. He wheeled it out from under the tree and looked at me, his eyes glinting mischievously.
“Are you game?” He asked solemnly. I rolled my eyes. He seriously under estimated
Five minutes later we were soaring through the sky, far above the houses below. The
cold night air stung our faces and restricted our breathing, but it was too magical a moment to even care. I wrapped my arms even tighter around Sirius’s waist and he turned to smile at me.
“Having fun?” He called over the roar of the wind. I smiled and nodded.
“There something I want to show you.” I called back. He looked a little bemused but stopped the bike, so it hovered in the air, meters above the ground.
“Yes?” He asked, twisting in his seat to see me. His windswept hair fell into his eyes, his cheeks were painted pink. I smiled softly.
“Well, you see. There’s something Leon’s been teaching Jasper and I. A trick, so to say.” He looked intrigued and I continued on. “There are all sorts of things I can do being a duaaon that I didn’t even know about. I’d like to show you one.”
He smiled encouragingly. “Okay then. I’m ready.”
“Do you trust me?” I asked very seriously.
And with that I flung myself off the side of the bike and into the night. I was falling, falling and soaring at the same time. I concentrated hard on what Leon had told me and felt myself begin to heat. I pictured Sirius’s face in my mind as I rushed closer and closer to the ground. The smell of his body, the touch of his hands… the taste of his lips.
And then I’d done it. I was flying. A meteor, streaking through the sky. I laughed; euphoric. High above me I saw Sirius, the bike still stationary, and his pale face lined with worry, peering over the edge. Poor boy. I’d probably just given him a heart attack.
I soared upwards, flames licking behind me until at last I was level with the motorbike. I could see my fiery reflection in his eyes. The eyes that were as round as saucers.
“Don’t-ever-do-that-to-me-again.” He choked, leaning back a little so that I didn’t burn him, but I wouldn’t do that to him. I felt in control tonight. “I thought you were going to die.”
I’ll admit, I felt a little bad then. My face crumpled with regret.
“Oh- sorry.” I said lamely, sinking a little in the air. Sirius let the motorbike sink with me. “I didn’t mean to scare you. I guess I should have warned you better.”
He laughed loudly, the bark like peals echoing off into the night. “Oh man, you are silly. But I love you. It’s very cool, I’ll give you that.”
I grinned, happy that it had pleased him. I did a loop in the air and he chuckled again.
“I’m going to …er… unflame now. Will you catch me?” I asked, hoping he was calm enough. He looked nervous but nodded.
“Yes, I’ll try.”
I felt the fire go out and I was falling again, the wind rushed through my hair and I let out an exhilarated scream. Behind me I heard the rumbling of an engine and then suddenly he was there. The motorbike swept underneath me and I landed, draped over the back seat with a thump. He laughed loudly, calling to see if I was alright over the noise. He was very proud of himself. I righted myself before wrapping my arms back around Sirius waist.
We landed on the ground with a thump.
Laughing and clutching stitches in our sides we began clambered off the bike. I stumbled across the leaves towards him. He caught me in arms and held me right.
“That was insane- I can’t believe-“ But just what he couldn’t believe I never found out because at that moment, from inside the house came a scream.
Sirius and I rushed to the back door as the light flickered on; Lily, Peter, Remus and James were still on the floor in their sleeping bags. The fire had burned low. Leon and Audrey appeared at the top of the staircase the same time that Sirius and I ran through the door.
Everyone’s eyes turned to the object that had been hurled through the window. It was a rock, with a glowing message carved into it. I shifted a little closer to read the crude words. My heart rose to my mouth and I met my brother’s terrified gaze.
Tallulah and Jasper,
I’ve found you. Don’t bothering hiding. I’m coming for you.
SN: Ooh, a bit of a cliff-hanger there. I'd like to thank everyone who reviewed so far. I love all of you :) You're all so kind and helpful. I'd also like to encourage everyone else to review. HAHA. Thanks. I hope you liked it!
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