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Penultimate Year by GREX101
Chapter 21 : Christmas Spirit, Don't You Love It?
 
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And it’s chapter 21 time! Good to know you’ve put up with me all this time- I promise this is a Marion/ Sirius romance, they just don’t get together until close to the end :P anyway thanks for sticking by me and the enevitable is now one chapter closer.


The Christmas holidays were now drawing nearer. People were making their holiday plans and Marion was no different. As usual she and James were having to go to their parent’s holiday party, grinning and bearing it until the last guest left. Now, however, things were going to be different. This time, Sirius was going to be there. Marion was nervous at the thought of being alone with him. Well, relatively alone without lessons and her budding new relationship to hide behind. The day before the Christmas holidays, she was sitting on her bed thinking with her packed bag beside her, when a masculine figure appeared at the door, with familiar scruffy black hair and hazel eyes.

“Knock, knock.” he said, catching Marion’s attention. She smiled and nodded for James to enter, and he sat beside her quietly.

“What’s up?” she asked with a bright smile. James said nothing, but remained solemn faced and handed his friend a letter. Taking it, her smile faded and became a look of confusion. She unfolded it in her delicate hands and read it.

My dearest, darling James,

I know that this may be of an inconvenience to you, dear one, but we will no longer be celebrating Christmas with the Preston’s. Cerfice it to say that your father and I have had a disagreement with Persephone and wish that our families not spend time together over this holiday that should be spent in the company of those we love and enjoy the companionship of.

We do still look forward to seeing you, my darling, and assure Marion that we mean her no offence as we still hold her in the highest of regards, along with her brother. Give them our love.

We love you and miss you

Your mother and father xxx

Marion looked up, part astounded at the fact that it had taken the Potters (who were both good and friendly) this long to realise how awful her mother could be, part devasted that she couldn’t spend Christmas with James, who was like her brother and with whom sharing this holiday had become a tradition, and part glad that she wouldn’t have to put up with Sirius. She placed the letter gingerly on the bed and looked up at James sadly.

“Yeah, I know.” he sighed, just as sadly, “I got that yesterday. I wrote them back and begged them to change their minds but it was no good. I don’t know what they’ve done but it must’ve been awful.” Marion read the guilt on James’ face and patted his shoulder sympthetically.

“Don’t be daft. Your parents are lovely people and the only thing they could ever be guilty of is spoiling you.” she chuckled, James smiled also, “It’s most likely my bitch of a mother. She’s probably put her foot in it somewhere, it was bound to happen eventually. Why do you think she has hardly any other friends? Your parents have been far too tolerant of her.”

The two of them sat there in silence for a moment, wondering what to do. Marion’s eyes drifted over the words of the letter again and again.

“So what do we do?” James asked Marion. But, unlike usual, her cunning, clever and coniving mind was run dry. She couldn’t think of anything, so she merely looked up at James and took a deep breath.

“We indulge them, and respect their privacy. This’ll all blow over by New Year’s, Easter tops! I promise that we’ll be spending next Christmas together ignoring party guests and annoying our parents as always.” she smiled solemnly. James’ mouth twitched up slightly in a half smile.

“Promise?” he asked.

“Swear.” Marion confirmed certainly and James pulled her into a hug. Letting her go, he took the letter and walked to the door.

“Have a great holiday, Preston. Maybe I’ll see you.” he said as he left.

“Yeah, maybe.” Marion called after him, lying back on her pillows and getting lost in thought.

Later on that day was the last trip to Hogsmede for the year. Michael was accompanying Marion, Lily, Mary and Alice as a sort of first date. Lily, who was still feeling little guilty, was acting strangly uppity and always trying to keep the conversation going, determined for the date to go well. Marion was too busy making sure that happened herself to notice. Mary, who was still sure of her feelings for Peter, kept glancing over her shoulder to check if he or the other marauders were in sight, but thus far she was out of luck.

With Marion and Michael hand in hand, Lily linking arms on the other side of Marion and Alice and Mary linked also, the five of them walked into the Three Broomsticks. Mary then squealed in delight as she saw her latest crush sitting on one of the back tables.

“Oooh look!” she exclaimed to her group. “Peter’s over there.”

“So go and talk to him.” Marion urged, annoyed.

“I can’t, I’m too nervous.” Mary mumbled.

“Rio’s right.” Lily perked up, “Plus you can’t be as nervous as him. No girl’s have ever liked him before.” She, Marion and Michael cracked up. Mary just sulked and sloped off with Alice.

As he saw Mary and Alice approaching them, Sirius knew that was a signal that Marion must be there too. As they sat and Mary started throwing herself at Peter- who looked terrified at her advances- he looked around and spotted her sitting by the window next to Michael and opposite Lily. She was smiling and having fun, snuggling up to him and really letting loose which told him that she, for once, was truely happy. And, although he’d never tell anyone due to his macho reputation which he’d like to uphold, he too was truely happy, because as much as it pained him to see the girl he wanted with someone else, she was finally as happy as she deserved to be. That was consolation enough for him.

Over at Marion’s table, she herself was rather enjoying Lily’s happy attitude, which was rare in times of late, which made it even more pleasant. As she thought back to try and remember anything Lily may have done to cause such a happy outburst, Marion remembered this morning when she had been told that she would have to spend Christmas alone with her slutty mother and poor, shy, younger brother. Due to her lack of mental control, she had no way of knowing that her thoughts would just jump out of her mouth.

“I don’t want to spend Christmas alone.” she murmured quietly, still in a daydream and completely unaware that she’d said it aloud. Lily looked at her as she continued to gaze off into space and Michael looked at her as if she were daft. Once Marion became aware of their eyes on her, she snapped out of it, her train of thought shattering.

“What?” she asked their staring eyes. Lily chuckled.

“You said something about not wanting to spend Christmas alone.” she explained, Marion nodded, understanding what she’d done.

“Oh yeah, right. Well, the deal is James’ parents have finally realised what a troglodyte and cougar slag my mother is and aren’t throwing a joint Christmas party with her any more, so me and Johnny will be home alone with mum. Oh, and quite possibly her Christmas dinner whoever he turns out to be this year.” Marion divulged.

“Your mum’s a cougar? Sweet!” Michael put in. Marion chose to ignore him as thus far, their relationship had been going a few weeks and was doing well. Lily looked at him in disgust before rolling her eyes and turning back to Marion.

“Not that I see the joy in spending the holidays with that arrogant, scrawny, idiotic toe rag, and to be honest I’d rather take my chances with the cougar mum, but if it means that much to you, you should let me know if there’s anything I can do.” Lily smiled, Marion chuckled, then an idea popped into her head.

“First of all, James is like a brother to me so please be civil although I understand why you despise him and rightly so, secondly, he may be arrogant and idiotic but thanks to quidditch scrawny he is not, thirdly, you have no clue how slutty my mother is so you wouldn’t want to spent 5 minutes in a room with her and lastly, actually, there is something you can do.” Marion ranted. It took Lily a few moments to get up to speed, but after a while she caught up.

“Well what is it?” she asked.

“You could come over for Christmas.” Marion proposed. Lily, who genuinely wanted to help her friend on top of the fact that she still owed her, was stunned to hear this.

“I don’t know, Rio. My parents actually enjoy spending the holidays with me.” she doubted, Marion remained unwavered.

“Well then bring them too. Heck, bring your horseface sister if you must!” Marion cried, causing a few people to draw their attention to them.

“Ok, I think that’s doable, but a word to the wise, don’t call Petunia horsefaced in front of my parents. I think they still see some good in her.” Lily said in a hushed voice.

“Yay!” Marion said excitedly but quietly, clasping Lily’s hand over the table, “What about you, babe. Can you come over?” she addressed Michael.

“Sorry I can’t. Got family over.” Michael said with his flawless smile.

“Oh, well that’s ok.”Marion sighed in slight disapointment. “I still get to spend crimbo with my best mate!” Marion squealed excitedly again.

“If we can convince my parents to go along wth it.” Lily added, but she also giggled happily. Marion then snuggled into Michael hurridly as she saw Mary and Alice approaching and, in the corner of her eye, saw all four boys walking over to them too.

“Hey, Preston.” Remus smiled. Although Marion smiled also, her mind drifted back to that day at the train station when Sirius had called out to her in exactly the same way.

“Hey, Preston, I was wondering where you’d got to. I almost missed you.”

“Yeah, that’s hilarious, Black. No really, my sides are splitting.”

Only for a moment, she wished she could just go back to that moment, the way things should be befor all this crazy mess started. She quickly pushed the inappopropriate thought to the back of her mind to keep herself from daydreaming again.

“Hey. Wassup?” she asked, beaming. James spoke.

“We’re off to do some Christmas shopping and wondered if you guys would want to come.” he offered. Michael sniggered.

“You sure?” he laughed, “Marion, and Black? You must be insane Potter, you know what’s been going on.”

James, Remus and Peter looked comfused at Sirius, who scowled and looked away, Lily looked away guiltily and Marion looked at Michael sternly. After a while of complete awkwardness, James turned back to Marion.

“So what do you say?”

“I actually have some things to do.” Lily said hastily, shooting up, “But Rio, you go ahead if you want to. See ya.” and with that, she shot out of the pub at light speed. The others looked back at Marion. She considered, put on a happy face, and smiled at Michael.

“Yeah, we’d love to.” she cooed. Michael then whispered to her.

“Are you sure? I mean Potter’s ok, but what about the dweeby rat-like kid and the goody-two-shoes prefect?” he said, thinking that only she could hear him although James heard it too. Marion was distraught, but wasn’t about to let it ruin her day.

“Yes I’m sure.” she sneered angrily, pulling him up with her and following the marauders out. Michael was fuming on the inside. She had dragged him around like this all day, he was sick and tired of being treated like her doormat. Trying to contain his temper, he sucked in a breath and followed suit.

After having left the Three Broomsticks, the marauders, Marion, Michael, Mary and Alice all made their way around Hogsmeade. They were buying presents for each other and subtly pretending that they had no idea who got who what. What wasn’t so subtle was how Sirius was chronically avoiding Marion and Michael. Wherever they were, he would quietly shuffle down into another aisle or corner of the shop, usually dragging either Remus or Peter with him- well, when he wasn’t being violated by Mary. Marion, however, took his avoidance better than well. Every time he turned away from her or looked away she would smirk at herself and draw closer to her boyfriend. James, who was trying hard to accomodate both his friends and Marion, tried to spend as much time as he could keeping them all together, which is why he allowed them to cut the Trip to Honeydukes short to go to Dominic Maestro’s music shop for Marion.

“Please James.” she had begged, “I need some new piano music to learn over the holidays.”

In truth, James had thought that he had been the only one she really played for, as she was strangley shy about it. But it was something she always loved to do in her free time, so he nodded and waved to the others to follow them. James, Marion and Michael were in front of the group. Michael again bragging and James and Marion pretending to listen. Peter was within footsteps of them, as he wanted to know he wasn’t completely alone with a terrifying Mary, who was practically on top of him, followed by Alice. Sirius lagged back with Remus, who still had no idea what had happened, nor why Marion was yet again so angry with Sirius.

“Pads, mate.” he muttered s no one but Sirius could hear, “Seriously, what’s going on? One minute we thought you liked Marion and she liked you and you were gonna end up together- we had money on it! Now she hates you again and you’re avoiding her. And what’s all this business about you ‘doing the right thing’? Michael’s a prat and we all know it.”

Sirius grunted. He knew he couldn’t tell Remus the true reason to what he had done. Although he didn’t particularly like Lily, he knew Marion did, and ratting her out would mean another fight. He could cope with Marion not speaking to him, or even liking him- she hadn’t in the first place, even when he had liked her- but to lose somebody as important to her as Lly just wouldn’t be fair to her, so he continued his protective lying streak.

“Look, Moony, I did the right thing by Preston. She’s happy and that’s all that matters.” he insisted. Remus’s face crinkled in confusion.

“But it doesn’t make sense. James told us that he went to talk to Marion before you did and he said that he thought she liked you too. Then 10 minutes later you come storming down the stairs more pissed than the time your brother stole your broom and broke it.” he persisted. Sirius turned to his relentless friend.

“Look, I got this- this voice in my head that kept telling me these things that I’ve eventually fuck up if I went out with her, what with us being so dangerously explosive and all. All the fights we’ve had this year alone would be noothing compared to what would come if we went out. Plus, I was all for what I wanted, but what about what she wants? Looks like she’s got it now. And there will be plenty other fish in the sea.” he explained smoothly and showing none of his underlying emotions.

“Not for you there’s not.” Remus continued, “Where are you gonna find another girl like Marion?”

The answer of course was ‘nowhere’, but Sirius wasn’t gonna admit to that.

“Mate, I only said I fancied her, nothing more. I’ll fancy someone else at some point in my life, won’t I?”

Remus couldn’t answer that. He just wanted to know what had really swayed Sirius’ decision. Then, they both followed the others into Dominic Maestro’s and just meandered around, as they didn’t know anything about music, or who out of them did.

Sirius was flicking through some old records of bands he liked like The Panthion of Discord and Flitter Wand Disaster when, down the aisle and out of the corner of his eye, he spotted Marion sitting and reading a piano music book. He had had no idea that she could play music. He had no wonder that she never told anyone because she was worried about her reputation, just like him. Yet another similarity. He was initially going to pretend that he hadn’t seen anything and leave before he saw her put it back and Mary and Alice joined her.

“Hey, Rio. Seen anything you like?” Alice asked.

“Yeah, I really liked this one, but it’s the only one and I don’t have enough money left after buying all of your presents. Maybe Michael will get it for me.” Marion pondered.

“I doubt it babe,” Mary said, “I was just talking to him and he said he’d got you something from Honeydukes.”

“Awww. Well at least he was thoughtful. And there’ll be other music. Now, let’s get back before people start realising why we’re here.” she said, scuttling off with her friends and leaving the shop with Michael, Peter, James and Remus. Sirius, however, lagged behind and looked at the book she had left behind. It was entitled, Love Songs by Great Men. He picked it up and turned it over, seeing the price of 26 galleons. Granted it was a big book and he had absolutely no clue about music, but that did seem outrageous. He aslo had no idea why someone like Marion would want something like this anyway, but she said she did. He considered for a moment, the book in his hand.

On the way back to Hogwarts,Sirius jogged back up to his mates, his feet leaving tracks in the snow. James heard him trudging back up and turned to spot.

“Oh, there you are, Pads. I was wondering where we lost you.” he joked.

“I just had to pick up a few things.” Sirius mumbled, the weight of everything he had bought heavy under his robes. They all walked into the warmth of the Grand Entrance and shook off the snow before trudging up to the Common Room. Once there, they began peeling off wet layers of clothing and warming themselves up. Sirius sloped away straight away to his room, followed shortly after by Remus. The others sat on the sofas and caught up with things. Marion, sitting inbetween Michael and James, laughed loudly as James whispered funny remarks in her ear about Mary and her advances of a mortified Peter. They had their fun little conversations until Peter looked like he may run away screaming, then Marion got up and nodded to Alice, who caught on and nodded back.

“Mary, c’mon we’ve gotta back our presents.” she covered to get Mary out of the room.

“Ok.” Mary beamed before slyly turning back and pecking Peter’s cheek before hopping up and following her disbelieving friends up to the girl’s dormatories. Peter sat on the sofa, still and unable to move at all. As soon as James and Michael heard the door shut upstairs, they both burst into fits of laughter. Peter scowled and left the room. As their laughter halted, the remaining two guys turned to each other.

“He’s just nervous, no one has ever liked him like this before.” James explained with amusement.

“I can see why. Has he always been that scrawny and tubby?” Michael asked, still chuckling, James stopped laughing and looked offended.

“What?” he inquired angrily.

“What? I’m just saying he’s not exactly a looker is he? Especially not compared to guys like you and your other mates, or me.” Michael explained, not knowing why James was so upset all of a sudden. James was now very angry. He had know Michael for several years through quidditch, but had never really spoken to him, now he knew why.

“He’s my friend, Michael, and he happens to be a really sweet guy.” he snapped. Michael’s grin faded.

“Sorry, I’m just expressing my opinion, Potter, no need to get all snappy about it.” Michael sneered.

“You don’t have to be such a dick about it,” James sapped, getting up to leave him alone, “and, for what it’s worth, Peter may look a little like a rat, and Remus may be a dedicated student too, but both of them are better frieds to me than you wil everbe, no matter whether or not you’re dating Marion.”

And with that, he stormed after his brothers to his room, leaving Michael alone on the sofa with only the quiet muttering of other groups of people’s conversation.

Back in the girl’s dormitories, Marion had walked into her room and saw Lily sitting on her bed facing away from her doing holiday homework early. She walked up to her and jabbed her sides, tickling and scaring the crap oout of her. Lily then laughed and relaxed when she saw that it was only Marion.

“Hey there, Red.” Marion greeted cheerily as she plonked down on the bed next to her and looking over her work.

“Hey, good news.” Lily said cheerily, handing 2 pieces of parchment to Marion, who read them eagerly.

Dear Lily,

We’d be happy to spend Christmas with the Preston’s, provided you have aquired their permission. Marion is such a lovely girl. It’s a shame that we don’t spend as much time with her family as we’d like too. Petunia may be spending Christmas with her oaf of a boyfriend Vernon Dursley, which is just as well seeing as she, for some reason, doesn’t like anything to do with magic.

Looking forward to seeing you
Mum and Dad xx

“Well, clearly your parents have no idea who I really am then.” Marion laughed as she turned her attention to the second piece of parchment Lily had given her.

Dear Lily,

I find it unorthadox that you would ask so late to spend the holidays with us. Nevertheless, it would be nice to have company as, as I’m sure Marion has told you, the Potter’s are no longer staying with us. I regret to inform you that I’m not aquainted to muggle Christmas customs, but I’m sure that they are fascinating. And, as I’m sure she put you up to asking, can you please tell Marion that my new boyfriend, Anthony Russell, will also be joining us.

Faithfully,
Persephone Violette Preston

Whooping in delight, Marion hugged Lily tightly.

“Yay! I’m not alone anymore.” she beamed excitedly, “And your horsefaced sister isn’t coming!”

“Again, I don’t think much of her face either, but please refrain from using that phrase around my parents.” Lily laughed, hugging her back.

Meanwhile, down in the Common Room, Michael was still sitting alone on the sofa when Sirius exited his room. There was still one more thing he had to make sure of before he swore off of Marion Preston forever: make sure she’d be happy with Michael. He swiftly sat next to him.

“You alright, Paulson?” he grumbled. Michael casually regarded him.

“Black.” was all he said.

“Look, I’ll make this quick. I just wanted to say congrats, you know, on getting Preston. She’s a good girl. Just make sure that you treat her right, ok? She’s had her fair share of shitty boyfriends and-”

“Excuse me, but do you think you have any fucking say in the matter?” Michael sneered, interrupting him. “I know what I want from my relationships. And by the way, don’t think that you’re fooling anyone. We all know you’ve got some little crush on her, including her. Stop meddling, she can handle herself. Don’t you get it? You had your shot, you missed. You lost and I won and she’s with me now. So back off!” He then got up and left poor Sirius on the sofa by himself.

Michael walked up the stairs towards the girl’s Common Room, severely ticked off about everything. About to knock on the door, it was opened by the one person he wanted to see: Marion. He grabbed her arm and lead her up to the balcony without a word. Marion, who was very confused at this point, followed only as she had been looking for him too anyway. Coming up to the balcony, Michael slightly shoved her through the door, before shutting it and walking back over to her.

“What’s up, Michael?” Marion asked, concerned. 

“You listen to me, you’re with me, got it? That fucking moron Black is none of our business.”

“What? Black? You gives a fuck about him!” she howled again.

"Don't talk back to me!" Michael bellowed, "I'll fucking kill you if you dare step out on me with him, or anyone else!"

"Where the fuck has all this shit come from?!" Marion screamed, "I thought I liked you, but maybe I was wrong- again."

She made to leave but Michael blocked her path. He shut the door and held it shut, Marion was getting nervous. Michael reduced his voice again.

"I swear to God, I'll kill you if that ever happens. And I'll kill him too."

"What the hell is wrong with you? I've known you for years and I've never once seen you act like this. What are you, a psycho?!" Marion stressed. Michael's temper flared again. He charged her, there was a thud, then silence. Marion run from the tower and this time Michael didn't stop her, he knew she'd never tell anyone.

 


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