I swallowed before meeting the gaze of the angelic woman. Her smile remained plastered to her face as she exclaimed, “You must be Stephanie! It is a pleasure to finally meet you! Louis could go on for ages about you.”
My cheeks reddened at the comment. She didn't seem to notice but only scolded the girl Louis was holding, “Missy! You will catch a cold if you stay outside without proper winter clothes! Come inside!”
Louis kissed Missy's cheek and she giggled, “Uncle Lou, put me down!”
He obliged, setting her back on her feet. She looked up at me, “Are you Uncle Lou's girlfriend?”
I felt my blush deepen as Louis steered Missy towards the door, “Missy, why don't you go get a cookie from the kitchen?”
“But grandma won't-” She argued, a pout on her cute face.
“Tell her I sent you to get me one,” he grinned, pushing her to the door.
She happily ran inside to get her cookie and I broke out in laughter, “Uncle Lou?”
He groaned, explaining, “She couldn't say my name when she was younger!”
I smiled, “Mhm.”
Louis grabbed my hand, leading me through the doorway. I felt my nerves return as I saw kids running about and some older adults chatting away in the living room. I bit my lip, hoping nothing would go wrong, as Louis reassured softly, “They're not that bad, trust me. I'll be with you the entire time.”
“Promise?” I looked at him.
“I promise.” He kissed my cheek, “T'en fais pas, ils vont t'aimer. (Don't worry, they will love you.)”
I nodded in response, my throat suddenly feeling dry. His reassurances did little for my nerves that ran through my body. I could not bring myself to feel completely calm. Louis squeezed my fingers as he led me to the living room where Melissa was playing with another girl of about thirteen. We walked over to the couch where a red haired man wearing a forest green sweater was sitting with his arm around a pretty brunette woman. The man grinned. “Hey Louis! Finally got yourself a girl, huh?”
“Oh Charlie! Quit teasing him already!” The woman chastised, giving him a look.
Charlie laughed and his wife smiled at me, “I'm Becky. I apologize for my husband's rudeness.”
I felt my nerves slowly dissolve, and I offered a warm smile in return. “It's okay. I'm Stephanie.”
Becky nodded, “It's nice to meet you.”
Charlie nodded at me, “Yeah, same for me.”
Before Louis could say something, we were interrupted by a voice screeching, “Oh come on! I
didn't do anything-”
“Yeah right! Hugo Weasley, I swear you are just as bad as James!” A girl's voice shouted back from an upper floor.
The discourse continued amongst the running around of children and loud chatter of adults. Not even thinking, I moved closer to Louis. He put his arm around me and softly whispered reassurances in my ear, “It's just my cousins arguing. They do that a lot.”
I could only nod. The past memories of my mother and her abusive boyfriend shouting were still stuck on my mind like glue to paper, but the last thing I wanted was for Louis to worry about me and have to tell his relatives to be peaceful and calm for me. He kissed my cheek, only to receive a teasing remark, “Awwww aren't you just the sweetest couple?”
Louis didn't even have time to comment because a fiery red haired girl scolded the black haired man who'd made the comment, “James, leave Louis and his girlfriend alone! The last thing he wants is for you to scare her away!”
I smiled slightly at her comment, saying softly to Louis, “I don't think your cousins could scare me away too easily.”
“Good. Let me know if any of them bother you,” Louis grinned.
Suddenly, a cry of joy rang through the room and a silvery blonde haired woman a bit older than Louis came running over and threw her arms around him. “Louis!”
He hugged her back, “Hey, Dom.”
Dominique threw a serious look at him, “Don't ever go to France for two years again. Mother was driving me up the wall.”
Louis laughed, “I'm sure she was! Is Thomas here?”
“Oh yeah he's around here somewhere. We just got here, so father probably pulled him aside to talk or something,” Dominique shrugged.
I couldn't help but notice how gorgeous she really was. She was like one of those blonde, pretty, skinny, happy girls I often saw in ads in the papers. Dominique averted her icy blue gaze to me. “And Louis, how could you fail to introduce me to your girlfriend?”
He muttered a quick apology just as Dominique introduced herself. “I'm Dom, Louis' older sister.”
“Hi, I'm Stephanie,” I managed with a shy smile.
Dominique smiled, “It's nice to meet you. Well, I better go find my husband to save him from a boring lecture with my father.”
Without another word, she left ,and Louis grabbed my hand to pull me towards the kitchen door. He opened the door, sending a sweet aroma of freshly baked cookies in my direction. I breathed in the sweet smells and was greeted by an older gray haired woman, “You must be Stephanie! It is wonderful to meet you, dear. Are you hungry at all?”
I nodded, “It's nice to meet you as well.”
Louis reached over to the counter, grabbing a cookie from a plate, only to be scolded by the older woman, “Louis Alexandre Weasley! You know it's polite to offer to your guests first-”
“Sorry, grandma.” He apologized.
I giggled and he offered me a cookie, which I took as Louis' mother mentioned from the other side of the kitchen where she was cleaning some dishes, “Why don't you show Stephanie around the house Louis? She will be here for a couple days so she may want to know where things are."
Louis nodded, taking me by the hand and out of the kitchen. I couldn't help but tease him, “Louis Alexandre?”
He grinned, blushing slightly, “Yeah.”
“Well I guess it's better than Stephanie Leanne."
“Leanne?” He seemed amused by my middle name.
“I didn't have much of a say in it. My mother loved that name.” I shrugged.
Louis squeezed my hand then took me up the stairs. As we walked down the hall, I noticed several family photos and ones of him when he was younger. We stopped at the last door and he opened it, gesturing for me to go in. I entered the room and immediately knew it was his. The walls were painted the exact shade of pale blue of his eyes, there were photographs hanging all over the walls, his desk was covered in old film strips, papers and other things. The room looked as though no one had slept in it for a long time, as the bed was neatly made, the window shades were drawn down, and once Louis turned on the light, I gave him a quick smile.
I sat down on the edge of his bed, looking at every detail of the bedroom. Louis let out a sigh, “As much as I love my family, sometimes I just can't stand them.”
I bit my lip, my fingers playing with the zipper of the white hooded sweater I was wearing, “I like them.”
“Seriously? Even after all the chaos you've seen in the past half an hour?” Louis asked, seemingly surprised by my response.
I shrugged, not looking up at him. “I do like them but I don't think you can understand how much. I've never had a big, loving family before. Everyone at school would talk about what their parents did or how their aunt taught them this or their uncle showed them this or them that, but I was always left out of those conversations. I used to imagine what it'd be like to have a real family. Yours is the kind of family I've always wanted.”
Louis sat next to me, placing his hand on my knee. I half expected to hear him say something along the lines of 'I'm sorry', but instead Louis rubbed my knee. “Je T'aime, Stephanie.”
Quickly, I blinked back tears that had started to form in my eyes. I wasn't sure as to why I was starting to cry. Crying had not helped me before and it certainly would not help me now. I rested my head on his shoulder, my fingers covering his hand on my knee. My fingertips gently caressed the back of his hand, but then he flipped his hand over so his fingers intertwined with mine. The words slowly came from my mouth in a soft sound, “I love you too.”
We sat in silence for a moment before he asked, “Do you want to go back downstairs?”
I nodded eagerly and he took my hand, taking me back down to the living room. We were just in time to hear his mother shout from the dining room, “Dinner's ready!”
I was overwhelmed, seeing the long table with chairs on both sides. There were enough places to sit at least twenty people, and there was another smaller table for the children as well. I looked at Louis questionably, as I had no idea where to sit, and he asked curiously, “Would you rather sit by my cousin James, or my sister Victoire?”
“Which is worse?” I asked, biting my lip.
Louis shrugged, “Well if you like jokes and teasing, James is better. Victoire's pregnant and tends to get a little emotional.”
“Is there an option C?” I asked quickly.
He grinned, “We could always skip dinner but I think my mother would raise Merlin from the dead with her fury.”
“Oh well then just put me next to Victoire, I guess.” I made up my mind. I would rather be next to an overly emotional Victoire than a teasing James.
Politely, Louis pulled out a chair for me. I sat down and he sat in the chair to my right. All of the sudden, children and various cousins came into the room, grabbing seats and fighting over chairs. Louis mentioned offhandedly, “Not all of my immediate relatives are here of course. My cousin Rose is with her boyfriend's family, Lily, who is Harry's daughter is with her boyfriend's family, and I think my Uncle Percy and Aunt Audrey are spending Christmas with Audrey's family this year. That means you won't see everyone.”
I nodded dumbly at the enormity of his family as a blonde haired woman wearing maternity clothing sat down next to me. She groaned, “I cannot wait until February 4!”
I looked at Louis with a confused expression, so he explained, “That's when her baby is due.”
Then a tall sandy haired guy sat next to Victoire and grinned, “And what a glorious day that'll be! I can hardly wait.”
Victoire shot him a look that could kill. Teddy avoided her to introduce himself to me, “I'm Teddy Lupin by the way and that's my wife Victoire.”
I briefly looked at him and responded, “Nice to meet you.”
Before we could talk further, however, a big, older, red-haired man wearing a green sweater stood, saying, “Alright, everyone settle down now. I'd like to welcome two new faces to our home and table: Stephanie as well as Kendra.”
My eyes wandered over to a shy blonde-haired girl about my age sitting next to a brown-haired guy. She met my gaze, smiling shyly as if to say, “I guess we're in this together.”
I smiled back, and I gazed up and down the table, I saw a black-haired, older man sitting next to a pretty woman with long red hair. Harry Potter was here, at this very table, and he was only a few seats down from me. He was looking at me rather curiously, but I shook my head to avoid his gaze.
Once we started to eat, my stomach began to settle. Thankfully, nothing embarrassing happened like spilling pudding or dropping the bowl of potatoes. Louis' fingers rested on my knee, a silent gesture of reassurance, and my fingers touched the back of his hand causing him to grin at me. I smiled back at him and James made a gagging sound. “Can you save the love stuff for later? I'm trying to eat!”
“Oh stop it, James! I don't see Louis bothering you about Amber!” His mother scolded from down the table. Louis held back a laugh as his fingers rubbed my knee.
Dinnertime was full of chatter and laughter amongst the relatives. Part of me was glad I'd sat next to Victoire rather than James,who was amusing himself by teasing Hugo's girlfriend Kendra.
Once we had finished, I felt a huge sigh of relief escape my mouth. Louis kissed my cheek and his parents approached me. His father greeted me, “It's a pleasure to have you with us, Stephanie. I never thought I'd see the day he'd bring home a girlfriend!”
I blushed and his mother mentioned, “I hope my family did not scare you.”
“No, they didn't,” I reassured her with a shy smile.
Louis' mother sighed in relief. “Good. You are welcome to dessert in the kitchen, if you are still hungry.”
She left and I looked at Louis, “I don't think I could eat another bite. Your grandmother kept passing all the food to me.”
“She thinks everyone is underfed, so it's not only you,” He chuckled.
“You're Stephanie Johnson, right?” I turned, hearing Harry Potter speak.
I slowly nodded and he mentioned, “I'm sure Louis told you, but I helped with your case a couple years back.”
“Yeah he did tell me. Thank you,” I nervously responded, and my skin became covered with goosebumps as I sat on the couch facing him. My mother would never believe me if I told her I was talking to Harry Potter.
He bit his lip, running a hand through his dark hair, “How's your mother doing?”
“She's doing okay,” I quietly answered, hoping the touchy subject would be dropped.
“I really am sorry, Stephanie. I know what it's like losing parents, but I can only imagine how hard it must be for you.” Harry added softly.
I shrugged, making no comment. If I said something, it would only be something I'd want to take back. He would never fully understand my situation because mine wasn't the same. Harry noticed my uncomfortable look and glanced at Louis, changing the subject, “How did you two meet each other, anyway?”
I smiled at the memory of our meeting, and Louis asked me, “Do you want to tell him?”
“No, you can.” I rubbed his hand.
“I want to hear the story too!” Melissa exclaimed, running into the room.
She sat on Louis' knee and suddenly his mother appeared, “I want to know every detail.”
Louis looked at me, grinning before looking back at Harry. “Now before you say anything, I did not try to find her. I know you told me not to go looking for her - I didn't. I had just gotten back from France and I was walking through Diagon Alley, snapping some pictures when I saw Stephanie slip on some ice. So I walked up to her, and the first thing that came from my mouth was some French phrases she couldn't understand. We got around to talking until she had to go back to the Leaky Cauldron, then I showed up there the next day asking her on a date. She said yes, of course, and I guess there really isn't much more to tell - unless you have something to add, Stephanie?”
I shook my head. “Nope, you covered it.”
His mother looked at me, “Does he give you a rough time with the French?”
I laughed, “Yes.”
Louis looked at me. I kissed his cheek and mumbled teasingly, “Well you do.”
Melissa fought a yawn and her dad walked over, picking her up. “Time for bed, young lady.”
Melissa pouted, “I'm not tired.”
“Oh, I think you are. Now say goodnight to everyone,” Charlie said sternly.
Melissa kissed Louis on the cheek, “Night, Uncle Lou.”
“Sleep well, Missy.” He grinned.
She gave me a hug. “Night, Uncle-Lou's-girlfriend.”
I tried not to laugh. Louis looked at Melissa and whispered something in her ear, making her giggle. She looked at me shyly and mumbled, “Night, Steph.”
“Night.” I smiled back at her.
Charlie took Melissa in his arms to take her home for the night. I asked Louis, “What did you say to her about me?”
“Nothing,” he kissed me.
“Sure.” I rested my head on his shoulder.
I yawned and he kissed the top of my head. “Are you tired?”
“Only a little but I'll be able to stay awake a little longer.” I answered, still fighting the urge to yawn. I didn't want to go to sleep now because I felt if I did, I would wake to find everything had been a dream.
Only an hour had passed when Louis took me back upstairs to his room. I fought back an urge to yawn - I didn't want to go to sleep just yet. He noticed my tired eyes, “I would have you sleep in the guest bedroom but that's where Dominique and her husband are sleeping. My mother converted Dom's old room into a sewing room after she moved out and we haven't changed it back yet; and Victoire and Teddy are in Vic's room, so it looks like you'll be sleeping in my room for tonight. I'm going to bunk downstairs on the couch.”
“Are you sure?” I didn't want to kick him out of his own room just for me.
“Yeah. I've slept on worse,” he said, and he didn't seem to mind.
I yawned, “Okay.”
Louis grabbed some clothes from his dresser, kissed me then said, “The bathroom is just across the hall. If you need something, feel free to wake me up.”
I gave a tired smile and he kissed my forehead, “Tu es dans toutes mes pensées.”
Before he left, I asked in a pleading voice, “When can I know what that means, Louis?”
He turned, grinning, “Christmas day.”
“That's like two days away!” I pouted.
He laughed, “Okay, Christmas Eve?”
“Fine,” I sighed.
Louis kissed me, “Sweet dreams, Stephanie.”
Once he was gone, I changed into a pair of sweatpants and a tank top. I rolled back the
thick blue blanket on his bed and crawled under the sheets. Curling up under the warmth of the covers, I buried my face in his pillow, knowing I would have sweet dreams. My dreams were always filled with him.
The wind blew outside against the windowpane. I groaned, rolling over on my side, feeling something heavy on the end of the bed, and I shivered slightly, only to realize I'd kicked off the thick blanket sometime in the night. Not bothering to open my eyes, my hands reached out, grabbing the edge of the blanket to pull it over me.
I sighed happily as I felt warm again. However, moments later, I opened my eyes and
slowly sat up to see Louis sitting on the end of the bed, leaning back against the wall. He was playing with a camera. I rubbed my eyes, wondering if I was dreaming, and he noticed I was awake. “Morning.”
“Morning. What time is it?” I asked sleepily.
“About nine,” he shrugged.
I noticed he was already dressed. “How long have you been awake?”
“Half an hour. My mother woke me up as she started making breakfast, and I couldn't get back to sleep.” Louis answered.
He was still playing with the camera, making sure it was working. I crawled over and mumbled mock-threateningly, “Don't you dare take a picture of me now.”
“I'm not that cruel,” he grinned.
I yawned and curled up to him, resting my head on his chest. He kissed my forehead. My stomach growled rather loudly and Louis asked, “Do you want to go down to breakfast?”
“No, my stomach can be patient. I need five more minutes to wake up.” I buried my face in his shirt.
I didn't want to wake up from this dream; this was by far the best holiday I'd had in a long time, and I couldn't believe how scared I'd been to meet his family. For once in my life, I felt as though nothing could go wrong until I heard the soft sounds of an owl pecking at the frosty windowpane. Neither one of us moved to retrieve the owl from outside. I groaned, reluctantly untangling myself from Louis. “I'll get it.”
I walked over to the window, opened it to receive a blast of cold wind. I shivered as the owl flew into the room, dropping the envelope at my feet. Before I could even get the owl a treat, it flew back outside. Quickly, I closed the window then grabbed the letter. I took one glance at the sending address, reading it slowly, “St. Mungo's...”
a/n: ok hex me I deserve it! I took forever to get this posted! I'm sorry! I really am! I have had interent issues, laptop issues and my beta had some tech issues herself so it's been kind of crazy! But I hope you enjoyed this chapter nonetheless and it's really long, I'm sorry! I hope you liked it anyways!!!! Thanks for everyone's support and reviews! And thanks to my beta for being sooo patient and wonderful in correcting my horrible grammar! lol.