A/N:Disclaimer: All Harry Potter-related characters, names, places, objects, spells, etc. belong to J.K. Rowling. I only own the original characters and the plot.
“Checkmate,” I say triumphantly. “Fancy another go?”
“You’re on,” James says with a grin, setting up the pieces for another game.
“Boys, dinner!” calls Mrs. Potter.
“After supper,” James says determinedly, as we leave the chess board behind in favor of Mrs. Potter’s cooking.
“So, have you boys got all of your presents?” says Mrs. Potter over dinner.
“Er…” James says, and he and I exchange a glance.
Mr. Potter laughs. “Best get a move on, boys. Christmas Eve is tomorrow, after all.”
I’ve got presents for all the Marauders. Had them for ages. For James, I’ve got a knife that can open any lock. It’ll be highly useful, I reckon, for when we’re trying to get into places we’re not supposed to be. Cost me a bit, but he’s my best mate.
For Remus, I’ve got a book. He likes books. But this one is even better. “Hairy Snout, Human Heart.” Written by a bloke who also struggles with lycanthropy. It dispels some the nasty rumors that go around about them. I figured Moony would appreciate that.
Peter was easiest. I just got him some of Honeyduke’s best chocolate.
I bought things for Mr. and Mrs. Potter too. I got Mr. Potter a paperweight for his desk, in the shape of a broomstick. Mrs. Potter, a Christmas apron for her to wear while she cooks on Christmas day.
I hadn’t bothered buying anything for anyone in my family. As far as I was concerned, my Christmas would be a merrier one with them not around.
The only person I hadn’t gotten anything for was Mads.
See, I normally don’t do Christmas presents with Maddie. Remus, Peter, James and I all buy for each other, and Lily, Alice, and Maddie all buy for each other. With the exceptions that Maddie and James buy for each other, and of course James gets Lily something every year, even though she never gets him anything in return.
Last Christmas was the first Christmas Maddie and I ever spent together, since it was my first Christmas at the Potters’. We didn’t get each other anything, since we never had before, not realizing we’d be seeing each other on Christmas Day for the first time. We laughed and teased each other about it.
But we’re closer this year. Considering the events of evenings past, we’re way closer.
So I feel like I should get her something…but what?
Mrs. Potter pulls me out my reverie. “Why don’t you boys go finish up your shopping tomorrow?”
“Sounds good,” says James. “Padfoot?”
“Sounds good,” I echo, still wondering what you’re supposed to get a girl you’ve just snogged and not had a proper conversation with since.
I’m not quite sure how to explain this, but something happened after Quidditch practice before the holidays.
Whoa, cut the drama. You don’t want to scare her.
Sirius kissed me.
Nothing like jumping in all the way.
I miss you already. Hope your holiday is going well so far and that Petunia isn’t being too horrible to you.
Things are pretty good here. I’ve been baking with Mum, which is always nice. And we made snicker doodles, your favorite!
I can’t wait to see you on the 26th. Write me back and let me know what time you’ll be Flooing in.
P.S. I have something to talk to you about when you get here. It’s not a big deal, so please don’t worry about me. Have a happy Christmas!
There. That was a letter I could send. Now when I finally do tell Lily, she can’t say I was hiding it from her.
I attach the letter to the leg of my owl, Callista, and send her off. I head downstairs to see if Mum needs any more help.
“Oh, Maddie, are you busy?” asks Mum as I enter the kitchen. “I’ve just had owl post from Aunt Gwen; she sent the recipe for the mince pies I was telling you about!”
“Sounds great,” I say with a smile, sitting down at the kitchen table. “Mum, how did you and Dad get together?”
She looks slightly surprised. “Well, we were in Gryffindor together,” she says, which I know already. “We hung out in the same group of friends, but we were never the closest of the bunch…and then one day, he just asked me to Hogsmeade.” She smiles. “Kind of out of the blue, actually. I asked him what made him do it, some three months after we’d been dating, and he said he really didn’t know. He just thought it was the right thing to do.” She looks at me. “Any reason you’re asking?”
“Just wondering,” I reply, and although she gives me a look that suggests she knows that there’s more going on here, she drops it.
My mum and dad had gotten together because of something Dad had done out of the blue. Well, what Sirius did would certainly qualify as out of the blue.
Wait, does this mean I’m thinking Sirius and I could end up together?
I don’t know what to think. I don’t even know how I feel about Sirius. I mean, he’s…Sirius.
Doing my best to stop thinking about him, I throw myself into making the mince pies with my mum, pushing all thoughts of Sirius Orion Black to the back of my mind. I won’t think about him again until I absolutely have to, which will be when I see him tomorrow.
I’m sure it’ll be a jolly good time.
“Okay, Prongs, who do you still have to buy for?” I ask as we stroll down the cobbled streets of Hogsmeade Village. We’ve Side-Along Apparated here with Mr. and Mrs. Potter, who are having a drink in the Three Broomsticks while we finish up.
“Lily,” says James. “How about you? You haven’t even bought anything yet today. Didn’t you say you weren’t done with your shopping? Who do you have to buy for?”
“Mads,” I say, because at this point it’s unavoidable. Before James can ask, I say, “We’ve become quite a bit closer this year, and er-she’s had a bit of a rough time of it, and I just thought it would be… nice,” I finish, somewhat lamely.
James looks impressed. “What a mate,” he says. “Alright, where shall we go to shop for our girls?”
I know James doesn’t mean it in a couple sort of way, but before I can stop it, the idea has popped into my head. James and Lily, Maddie and me. It doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.
“Gladrags?” I suggest. “Girls like clothes.”
“Right you are, Padfoot,” says James. “To Gladrags we go.”
Once we’re inside, we separate. James heads over toward the jewelry, while I stay near the scarves, hats, and gloves. I haven’t got quite as much to spend as him. My parents cut me off when I ran away. My uncle Alphard, real decent bloke, just passed, and he left me some money. But I’m saving up to buy a place of my own, so I can’t spend too much.
I find a scarf. It’s chocolate brown, the exact color of Maddie’s eyes. I know this is a good choice, I can feel it, so I buy it.
James has found an emerald necklace for Lily. I guess he’s going for the eyes thing too.
We head back to the Potters’, eat dinner and wrap all of our presents, Mr. Potter whistling “God Rest Ye Merry Hippogriffs,” and Mrs. Potter insisting we have seconds and thirds of pudding. We turn in early, knowing tomorrow is going to be a long day.
As I lie down on my bed, listening to James’s snoring across the room, I wonder what seeing Mads tomorrow will be like. Will she be all jumpy like she was on the train? Or will she be calmed down by now?
Maybe she’ll even be glad to see me.
“Maddie, darling, are you ready to go?” calls Mum from downstairs. “The Potters are expecting us.”
“Just a minute!” I survey myself in the mirror. Hair, loose and curly, lovely green sweater from Mum, new earrings from Lily. Perfect.
I head downstairs, grabbing my present for James from my bureau. I’ve gotten him a book (wait for it) called “Questions, Queries, and Quaffles: A Chaser’s Guide to Quidditch.”
We crunch across the snow to the Potters’. We ring the bell and James throws open the door, shouting, “Happy Christmas!” He shakes my father’s hand, takes the Christmas cookies from my mum, gives me a hug, and ushers us in, beaming all the while.
Inside the Potters’ manor it’s warm and I can smell Aunt Laura’s cooking. James disappears up the stairs. She bustles out of the kitchen wearing a new Christmas apron.
“Hello, hello,” she says cheerily as we enter the sitting room. “Olivia, would you like to join me in the kitchen? I’m just about done preparing everything for dinner. Andrew, Robert is in the dining room, he’s been waiting for you to play chess.” She shakes her head and laughs. “Oh, and here’s Sirius,” she says with a smile, nodding to someone behind us as he enters the room.
My mother and father go where Aunt Laura has suggested, leaving me alone in the room with Sirius. I turn around.
“Hi,” I say, and it comes out more breathlessly than I would have liked.
“Hi,” he says, looking straight at me.
“What’s up with you two?” asks James, coming down the stairs.
“Nothing,” I say quickly.
“Let’s do presents!” suggests James, the awkward exchange of a mere thirty seconds ago completely forgotten. We sit down on the couch near the tree.
I hand James my present and he hands me mine. He tears open the paper as I open mine a little more carefully.
“Whoa, Maddie, cool!” he says enthusiastically. “Thanks!”
I open his present, a brand new pair of Quidditch gloves that I’ve been needing. “Thanks to you too!”
“No problem,” he says. “I’ve got to go show this-” he gestures to the book. “To Dad.”
And with that, he leaves the sitting room, leaving me alone with Sirius. Again.
I take a deep breath. “Sirius-”
He cuts me off by thrusting a parcel into my hands. “Open it,” he interrupts.
“You-you got me a present?” I ask, completely thrown off guard. “I don’t have anything for you,” I say apologetically. “After last year, I just kind of thought-”
He waves my explanations away with his hand. “Just open it.”
So I do, not knowing what to expect. Inside is a soft chocolate brown scarf. Touched by his thoughtfulness, I’m at a loss for words.
“It matches your eyes,” he says, looking up at me, before I can attempt to come up with anything to say.
“Thank you, Sirius, I-”
“Dad said this is better than the book they had for Chasers when he was in Hogwarts!” says James excitedly as he re-enters the room, effectively ending our conversation. I pull my gaze away from Sirius, who is wearing an expression I can’t read. He seems to wear those a lot.
James looks from Sirius, to me, to the scarf in my hand. “Do you like it?” he asks. “Padfoot picked it out all by himself.”
“Yes, it’s lovely,” I answer. I can’t look at Sirius. “James, how did Lily like her gift?” I ask, changing the subject.
His eyes widen. “I can’t believe I haven’t told you yet! Look what she sent me this morning!” He produces a piece of parchment from his pocket and hands it to me excitedly.
Thank you very much for the necklace. It’s beautiful. My sister is very jealous, even though she’d never admit it.
I apologize that I don’t have anything to give you. Hopefully a “Happy Christmas” will suffice this time.
Thank you again for thinking of me, enjoy your holidays, and I expect I’ll be seeing you soon.
“She sent me a thank you note!” says James, as if he still can’t bring himself to believe it. “She’s never sent me a thank you note before!”
“That’s great,” I say to James, smiling to myself. Lily and I were going to have a long talk when she gets here.
“Dinner’s ready!” calls Aunt Laura, and we all make our way to the dining room. I sit down, and James takes a seat at my right. Sirius sits down next to James.
Everything looks wonderful. We waste no time in digging into everything. Uncle Robert strikes up a conversation about Quidditch.
“The Irish are favorites for the World Cup,” he tells us. “I think Argentina’s fallen out of it completely.”
“That’s one decent player, Ireland’s got seven,” I point out.
“Well that’s what makes the Gryffindor team so good,” says James. “We’ve got seven decent players too.”
“Yeah, we’re favorites for the Hogwarts Quidditch Cup Final this year,” says Sirius with a grin. Uncle Robert smiles too.
“Yeah, I forgot to tell you Dad,” says James. “You know Frank Longbottom? He’s on the team now.”
“Oh, I always liked that boy,” says Aunt Laura.
“Now?” asks Uncle Robert. “Did he join just recently?”
“Yeah,” says James. “Our original keeper quit.”
“Why?” asks Uncle Robert. “Haven’t you been winning your matches?”
“Oh, all of them,” says James. “He just-” He casts me a glance.
“He was a prick,” Sirius says flatly. Aunt Laura looks a little startled at the use of language at the dinner table but she says nothing. Uncle Robert chuckles.
“Well then I’d be glad to be rid of him,” he says. James nods.
Sirius catches my eye, and I look away.
After dinner, we all help Aunt Laura clean up, and she and my mum disappear into the kitchen to prepare dessert.
James turns on the radio, and the Wireless Wizarding Network announces that the singing sorceress Celestina Warbeck is next with her hit song, “You Charmed the Heart Right Out of Me.” James is about to change it when Aunt Laura calls, “Don’t even think about it, James!”
James groans. Sirius however, makes light of the situation. He grabs his wand from the table and, using it as a pretend microphone, begins to sing in a high and girlish falsetto, directly to me.
“Oh, my poor heart, where has it gone? It’s left me for a spell…”
I know he’s just kidding around but I can’t stop myself from blushing. He doesn’t stop, he sings straight through, making motions with his arms, and gazing at me as though completely lovesick.
“And now you’ve torn it quite apart, I’ll thank you to give me back my heart!” He finishes finally, still looking at me. James is laughing; Sirius looks pleased with himself.
I manage to laugh as well, but something about Sirius has captured my attention. Maybe it’s the casual air that’s surrounding him as he runs his fingers through his hair, or the lazy manner in which he stretches out on the couch next to James, or maybe it’s the fact that he’s been sneaking glances at me ever since I got here. Whatever it is, it’s keeping me from interacting with him properly.
Aunt Laura sets out the desserts on the dining room table—treacle tart, pudding, biscuits made by Mum and me. We each take some and return to the sitting room where Uncle Robert has made a fire.
I sit down on the couch and to my surprise, Sirius sits down next to me. I immediately feel my heart rate increase. Snap out of it, Lane.
Sirius’s hand is lying inches from mine. What if I move and accidentally touch it? Who knows what will happen then?
I know I’m being irrational, but I can’t help it. Suddenly Sirius and everything even remotely related to him is making me nervous.
Why is he sitting next to me, saying nothing? Does he expect me to say something? Is he even worrying about all of this like I am or has he already pushed the kiss to the back of his mind, stored it in the vault with all the other girls he’s snogged?
I stand up, rather abruptly, judging by the confused look on my mother’s face. “I’m going to-er-wash my hands,” I say hastily, putting my empty dessert plate down on the table and departing for the kitchen.
My suspicions are confirmed when Maddie escapes to the kitchen under the excuse of having to wash her hands. She’s still weirded out by what happened before the holidays. I mean, I am too, but at least I’m doing a good job at hiding it! She, on the other hand, is being painfully obvious, and I’m really surprised Prongs hasn’t noticed anything strange yet.
Or maybe she’s not being obvious, and it’s just obvious to me because I know how she’s feeling, because I’m feeling the same way.
But like I said, I’m much better at hiding it.
I breathe easier once I’m alone in the kitchen, without Sirius to distract me. Realizing I have no real purpose for being in here other than to escape him, I decide to actually wash my hands, although what I’d really like to wash away is the stupidity I feel for allowing myself to act so immaturely, or even better, the thousand different thoughts that are running through my head.
As I’m drying my hands, I’m startled by the sound of the swinging doors that lead into the kitchen opening. I turn around slowly and find myself face-to-face with Sirius.
“Hey,” he says, softer than I would have expected.
“Hey,” I say, just as softly.
Then there’s a pause, so slight I might have imagined it, and then his lips are on mine for the second time.
I react instinctively. I kiss him back like it’s the simplest thing in the world, like it makes perfect sense. He has one hand in my hair, one on the small of my back, and he’s kissing me with the same sort of desperation that he kissed me with the first time. I can feel myself returning it with the exact same feeling, powerless to stop it.
How does he have this hold over me? When I’m kissing him, all that matters is Sirius. Everything else is insignificant, unimportant, compared to this.
We break apart and I look up at him.
“So…” He says, looking at me with a slightly amused expression on his face.
“So?” I say, not knowing if he expects me to finish the sentence.
“What’s going on here, Mads?” he asks, playing with a curl that’s resting on my shoulder.
“I don’t know,” I tell him honestly.
“Me neither,” he says. And then he kisses me again.
Well that was a productive conversation.
“Sirius,” I say when we pull apart for the second time. “We really should get back. I was supposed to be washing my hands remember?”
He nods (reluctantly?) and we leave the kitchen.
We reenter the sitting room, to an awaiting James who immediately engages us in a game of Exploding Snap, until Aunt Laura complains that it’s too loud. We finish up the desserts and help clean up, James and Sirius singing Christmas carols at the top of their lungs. By that time it’s late, and time to head home. We say our good-byes. I hug my aunt and uncle, James, and Sirius. And I don’t think it’s my imagination that that hug lasts longer than all of the others.
Before James and I decide to turn in, we say good-night to his parents, and thank them for everything.
“It was nothing, dear,” says Mrs. Potter when I give her a hug.
“Thanks especially for having me,” I add.
“You’re a part of our family, Sirius,” she says, and I give her another hug, hoping it’ll make her understand how much that means to me.
“Happy Christmas, mate,” I say to James as we climb into bed.
“It really was, wasn’t it?” he says, turning off the light. I know he’s thinking of Lily.
“Yeah,” I reply, thinking of Maddie, “it really was.”
A/N: Hey, everyone! This was kind of a long chapter, so I hope you liked it! Leave a review and let me know what you think on how the story is going. Thanks for reading!