Chapter 9 : Christmas
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The library door opened and she heard Harry’s quick footsteps approach the table she was sitting on.
“Ginny!” Harry spoke out, breathlessly. “C’mon, get up! We’re going out.”
“What?” she looked at him incredulously, “Harry, are you alright? It’s freezing out there!”
She watched as he smiled mischievously.
“I know,” he beamed. “We’re still going out, Gin.”
Before she could protest, he grabbed her hand and pulled her out of her chair. The corridors outside were extremely cold and she shivered slightly. She only had on a thin sweater as she had been in the warmth of the library. Harry too, she observed, was dressed lightly and showed no sign of feeling cold. She narrowed her eyes as he picked up pace, pulling her along.
“Where are we going exactly?” She asked suspiciously.
He merely grinned at her and kept on walking until they reached the seventh floor. There, he stopped her in front of the wall which, she knew, concealed the door that led to the Room of Requirement.
Harry paced in front of the wall for a few minutes and then stood by her. Taking a deep breath, he looked at her, his eyes warm with affection and asked, “Ready?”
She nodded, not knowing what was coming for her.
He moved forward and slowly opened the door that had appeared on the wall. She took two steps forward to stand in the doorway and the scene that lay before her took away her breath.
Ginny was standing at the edge of a ballroom of sorts. The wall opposite to her had floor to ceiling windows covering majority of its area and allowing most of the daylight to enter the room. Through the windows, she could see a beach hugged by the beautiful water, reflecting the rays of the sun. After the intense cold, the warm atmosphere of the room and the sweet music of the sea waves was almost heaven. She took one tentative step into the room just as Harry slipped her hand through his.
The room was half the size of the Great Hall yet seemed much more magnificent. The wooden floor thudded as they walked on it; the light from the windows giving the room a diffused glow which made her smile automatically. As they reached the centre of the room, she looked up at Harry.
“What’s all this, Harry?”
“I wanted to get you away from the tense atmosphere of the school and the cold outside,” he looked around the hall and inhaled deeply, “How do you like it?”
“I love it,” she smiled, “It’s beautiful. I just wish there was some music we could dance to.”
Harry laughed; he waved his wand once and suddenly, the hall was filled with music. Then, slightly backing away from her, he surveyed her pair of jeans and sweater, giving her a disapproving look and waving his wand again. She could feel her clothes transfiguring and an instant later she was wearing a long, black backless gown, which hugged her curves perfectly and seemed to shimmer in the daylight. Her hair was let down from the ponytail it had been in; her shoes turned into black heels, that she could feel were made for ballroom dancing only.
“Wow,” both Harry and Ginny said at the same time. She looked up from examining herself and saw admiration and love in Harry eyes. The overwhelming feeling of attraction she felt towards him overpowered her and before he could step forward and take her hand, she had moved and was now in his arms.
“I love you,” she whispered in his chest. The black dress shirt he was wearing felt soft against her cheek.
His arms gripped her waist as he slowly began leading her, swaying with the melodious music.
“I love you, too,” he murmured in her hair.
Feeling such happiness and comfort as they hadn’t felt in days, they danced along with the music, hugging each other and completely forgetting that it was night outside and that they were not in their own time. Nothing mattered anymore, apart from the person they were with and the time they had with each other.
“Where the hell is that old man?” Xenon muttered to himself. It was well past midnight and he was sitting in the house waiting for his incompetent father to return home from who knew where. He had wanted to go out on this night before Christmas, had wanted to go talk to the other boy, find out how much he had progressed in his research but little had he known that his pathetic excuse of a father would leave without telling.
Standing up and pacing his room, he kept on waiting. He wondered why he was waiting for his father. Xenon knew that he could have easily gone out, leaving the house unprotected and not caring the least what happened behind him. However, at that moment, he was rendered incapable of stepping out of the house. For some inexplicable reason, his feet and more importantly, his heart refused to leave the house.
Knowing that any more time in the house would cause his mind to go down his pathetic memory lane again, he opened the door to his room and descended the stairs. There, in the living room, stood a tall tree, almost seven feet tall and touching the ceiling. It was supposed to be a Christmas tree, yet, it was undecorated. He could see that his Dad had planned to decorate as there were boxes of decorations lying on the floor beside it. Though, he had no idea why his father had not finished what he had almost started.
The splendid tree drew him towards itself and as his feet moved towards it, he suddenly realised why the tree was attracting so much of his attention and why he had wanted to run away from the house yet couldn’t.
After his mother’s death, Christmas hadn’t been celebrated in Xenon’s house as Xenon had refused to celebrate it without her. He remembered clearly how they had spent the last Christmas with his mother.
He had woken up at four in the morning just to see how many presents he had. Satisfied with the number, he had fallen asleep again only to be woken up by his mother two hours later. She had come and sat beside him on his bed, smiling down at him. There she had sat as her son had opened his presents one by one and had laughed with happiness many times. As he finished unwrapping the gifts, he had noticed that his mother’s gift wasn’t there.
“Mother? Where is my present?” he had asked looking up at her smiling face.
“It’s outside, son,” she had replied, getting up and going out of his room, “By the tree.”
“The tree!” He got out of his bed and ran out into the lounge. There it was! The tree his mother had decorated overnight just so she could surprise her son with it. He had always liked Christmas trees, especially the ones her mother decorated. They always reminded him of peace and they carried a scent just like his mother’s. They had a tree in the house every year.
Every year until his mother betrayed him and died. After that incident, Xenon had refused to celebrate Christmas and had forbidden his father from bringing a tree inside the house ever again.
This year, however, his father had had the audacity to bring a tree into the house! A helpless anger simmered through him as he stared at one of the greatest reminders of his mother in his life. The tree. His soul had wanted to stay home to protect the tree, to stay with the tree, to stay with his mother. However, now that he was looking at the tree, he felt an unrelenting rage at it and his mother. He yelled out in fury and grabbing the tree, pushed it down on the ground.
Still screaming out in anger, he stomped on the tree, breaking its branches and damaging its leaves.
How dare he bring this into this house? How dare he try reliving her memories? How DARE he?!
Suddenly, the main door opened and closed as the clock struck one. Xenon snapped out of his rage and rushed out of the hall and barely glancing at his father; he walked out of the house, deciding that he needed a major time-out from the man and the house. However, as he stepped out of the fence of his house, he realised that his father hadn’t walked into the house. He had stumbled.
“Well, hell,” he muttered to himself and then turned back to his house. His father was lying on his stomach on the floor of the living room, breathing heavily and barely conscious. Xenon stopped two feet away from his form.
“What’s up with you?” he asked brusquely.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” He was getting extremely irritated now, “What the hell is wrong with you now, old man? Drunk much? Almost dead, eh?”
There wasn’t any response for a few moments and Xenon crossed his arms across his chest, waiting. Then, his father moved and turned over, slowly opening his reddened eyes. Looking up at Xenon, he smiled.
“Rudy,” he rasped, “I’m going to your mother. I’m going to her.” His voice was ecstatic and his face exuded happiness which Xenon hadn’t seen on his face since the past four years.
“Finally,” he said disgusted and ignoring the mention of his mother. “Good riddance.”
His father kept on smiling, “Do you want to say something to your mother? Do you want to give her any message?”
Xenon’s face hardened.
“What do you want to say? Should I tell her that you miss her?” It was obvious that his father was having extreme difficulty speaking and the way his voice faded at the end of his previous sentence, Xenon knew he didn’t have much time. However, the continuous mention of his mother had caused his blood to start boiling.
“I – SAID – SHUT – UP!” He punctuated each word with a kick on his father’s leg. However, the man did not respond again and his head rolled to the side, his hand falling to the floor, his eyes closing for the final time.
Xenon stood there, his chest heaving, his hands balled into fists, and his eyes unfocused, totally lost, unable to grieve a father who had never been there for him and had once again, left him totally alone in the world.
Everything in the Slytherin Common Room had a green shadow over it giving it a slightly haunted look. The fire had died out and there seemed to be nobody around. It had remained like that for the better part of Christmas and now, as the day blended into night, the room seemed to shiver. The fire suddenly crackled and the flames began dancing as they too, turned green. One by one students in long black cloaks entered the Common Room through the fire and sat down on the chairs surrounding it. As the fourth and final member of the group exited the fire and sealed it behind him, the murmuring began.
“Enough,” Severus Snape’s voice was a little louder than a whisper. He threw the hood of the cloak off his head and looked over at the person sitting at the last chair on his left.
“What the hell had gotten into you, Black?”
The person called Black looked up, his posture totally relaxed and his boyish face of fourteen reflecting innocence.
“I don’t think I did anything wrong,” he replied to Snape, “In fact, I think that the Dark Lord was pleased with the facts I gave him.”
“Facts?!” Snape looked angry now, “You call that theory of yours facts? They were not facts, you genius! That was just an attempt you made to get glory!”
“It was NOT!” Regulus Black stood up as one of the two figures fidgeted. “You know perfectly well that there’s some suspicious activity going on in Hogwarts, particularly the Library, and the Dark Lord has given us clear orders to report any sort of doubtful activities! I did not do anything wrong, Snape!”
“Yes, you did!” Snape yelled, “You gave him incomplete information, you immature boy! What if what you said isn’t even true?”
“I told him I wasn’t sure, Snape.”
Snape merely snorted.
“What’s wrong with you? I just told him that I thought that someone else was also passing information out of Hogwarts. What’s wrong with that?”
“Nothing. Nothing’s wrong with that,” Snape’s face was hard, “You can do whatever you want, Black. You’ll pay for it if you’re wrong.”
Regulus did not look worried. “I’m not wrong.”
He turned and made his way to his dormitory. I know that someone’s passing information out of Hogwarts and I know it’s not Pettigrew. You wait and see, Severus ‘the brilliant’ Snape. I’ll prove it to you that I’m right.
It had been snowing throughout the night in Bath. People had been singing Christmas Carols all night in the nearby Church and Chris had been awake well into the night, listening to the melodious voices. So, the next morning when he woke up in the morning, it was well past nine. The daylight penetrated his window and fell on his face, forcing him to take out his pillow from underneath his head and cover his eyes. He did not want to get up at all. It seemed like it had been ages since he had last been home, sleeping in his own room; his own bed.
However, now that he was awake, the prospect of presents did not let him sleep again. Huffing and turning to his side, he climbed out of bed and made his way out of his room. There, in the room, stood the Christmas tree he had decorated with his father two days ago. It had always been tradition in his house that his father and he decorated the tree an entire week before Christmas and without any others’ help. They knew that it was ridiculous but they followed it every year and failed to forget about it. Looking at the tree, he grinned. It was definitely the best part of Christmas; the tree was surrounded with presents.
“Christopher!” his father exclaimed from the kitchen, “You’re awake. Go on, open your presents; I’m making pancakes.” He dragged the word, as if to indicate that they were a very rare edible item and Chris would be crazy to not eat them.
Chris sat down beside the tree and his eyes scanned the presents, looking for the one he wanted to open first.
“Ah!” There it was, wrapped in red paper, with the inscription ‘Love, Lily’ on it. He had been wondering what she would give him. He had, of course, given her a magnificent locket which had their pictures in it. The pictures’ idea had been Ginny’s. She had suggested that Lily would like this gift and Chris hoped with all his heart that she would. Unable to wait any longer, he unwrapped the box and opened it.
There was a loud BANG! And Chris vanished behind a cloud of red powder.
“Chris!” His father’s voice called from the kitchen. “Everything alright?”
“Yes Dad!” he shouted back, “Just somebody’s idea of a prank.”
Cursing under his breath, he made his way to the bathroom. Turning the tap of warm water, he put his head under the tap and washed away the powder. Then he washed his face and brushed his teeth before raising his head to look in the mirror. His face was fine; the red powder had all been washed away. However, his hair had turned parrot green.
“What in the world?” His hand moved up to touch his wet hair. He was staring at his own reflection in disbelief. Who in the world would do something like this?
Just then there was a whoosh! and he turned around to see a stag Patronus facing him. It opened its mouth and told him exactly who had done this.
“Merry Christmas, Parker!” The stag laughed in James Potter’s voice and then vanished into thin air.
“NO!” Chris clenched his fists and screamed at the world.
“Petunia, please!” Lily Evans ran after her sister, who was running away from her, crossing the garden of the Evans’ house. “Petunia! Stop!”
Petunia Evans, the skinny seventeen-year-old skidded to a halt as she heard Lily order her to stop.
Without turning around, she yelled out loud, “Yes! Order me around too, little Miss Perfect! Order me around just like you order other freaks like you around!”
Lily too had stopped and even though Petunia did not turn around to see it, she had accomplished what she had intended. Lily’s face showed how hurt she was. However, when she spoke, her voice did not show it.
“I know what this is about, Tuney. I know you saw the locket Chris gave me,” Lily stepped forward. “I’m sorry if you were jealous.”
“I AM NOT JEALOUS!” Petunia turned around and practically screamed out loud. “I am NOT jealous! And stop calling me Tuney, you freak! You’ve no right to call me that!”
Lily could not control her temper anymore.
“Yes, I do!” she shouted back. “I’m your sister!”
“No!” Petunia Evans, the plain looking girl when compared to her sister, Lily Evans, yelled out. “You’re nobody to me. You don’t exist for me anymore.”
“Tuney, please,” Lily’s eyes glistened with tears, “Don’t do this to me! You can have that locket! Replace mine and Chris’ pictures with yours and Johns’. But please! Don’t do this.”
But Petunia had already turned away from Lily and was stomping away from Lily, back towards the house which she now believed she was the sole daughter of.
Lily Evans sank to the ground, the snow wetting her clothes. The tears fell freely now and she kneeled on the ground, not caring about the cold. She had never expected her sister to react like the way she had. It was only a locket that Lily’s boyfriend had given her as a Christmas present! Why she was so jealous of that piece of jewellery, Lily could not comprehend at all. All she could have done was try and talk to Petunia, to calm her down but she had failed terrible. And now she was sitting here in her own garden, completely alone on Christmas.
She sat there lost in her thoughts and not realising how much time had passed after she had come out. Sitting still as a statue, she barely moved as she heard footsteps behind her and then a voice she had been craving to hear.
“Lily!” Kate Jones’ voice filled her ears like a melody, causing her to jerk and stand up to greet her best friend.
“Kate!” Lily shouted, “Thank Merlin you’re here!”
Kate stopped running just as she reached Lily and then hugged her friend, guessing why she had been outside, crying.
“Are you alright?”
Lily sniffed and nodded.
“Don’t take what she says seriously, Lily,” Kate began leading Lily back towards the house, “You know that her only issue is that she’s not a witch too.”
“I know! But how is that my fault? Why does she keep blaming me?”
“She has no other way of venting out her emotions. And frankly, you’re an easy target for her, seeing as you don’t stand up to her,” Kate’s eyes twinkled, “The only person I’ve seen you stand up to is James Potter actually. Otherwise, you only sit aside and start crying.” Kate smirked.
Lily smiled through her tears. “Thanks for being so comforting. You know I don’t actually do that.”
“Aw, I know, honey,” Kate put her arm around Lily’s shoulder. “That was just my attempt at making you smile. Now, I didn’t come here to spend Christmas with a crying Lily. C’mon, cheer up and we’ll go inside and have some tea.”
Lily wiped her eyes with her sleeve, sniffed once again and then linking her arm with Kate’s, led her back to her house, talking animatedly and feeling cheered up already.
“You know, Potter sent me a present too,” Lily was almost smiling.
“Really?” Kate grinned. “What is it?”
“I don’t know, I haven’t opened it yet,” Lily shrugged.
“What are you waiting for then? Come on, let’s go!” And they ran inside, forgetting what they had been worried about a few minutes ago.
Term had started again and the students of Hogwarts were all returning back in groups. Some arrived back through the Floo network, some via Portkeys and some took the train back.
James Potter and Sirius Black, who had been staying together at the Potters’ house, arrived through the Floo network and landed in Professor McGonagall’s office. She wasn’t in there and so with a glance at the clock to check if they had made it in time to carry out their plans, they made their way down to the kitchens.
A frenzy of activity hit them as they entered the oh-so-famous kitchens. Elves ran from one side to another, carrying large dishes full of food; elves shouted at the top of their voices at elves who were not doing their work like they were supposed to; elves in dirty rags and towels and pillow cases; elves everywhere.
Out of this mass of confused and almost frazzled creatures, ran out an elf towards James and Sirius.
“Masters Sirius and James!” it squeaked. It had a high-pitched voice that carried above the other noise easily. “What can Toby do for you?”
“We need your help, Toby,” James leaned forward and placed a brand new bowtie into the little elf’s hands. “This is your prize.”
“Toby can’t accept this Masters! Toby will not!”
“Come on, you elfy,” Sirius sounded bored already. “You know we won’t take it back. So just shut your mouth and just listen to me.” The elf bowed its head, ignoring Sirius’ attitude as usual, and listened. “We want you to bring us a student’s trunk before you go and put it in his dorm.” Sirius had that mischievous grin on his face which indicated that he was up to no good and everyone he knows should be prepared for what was to come.
“Bring you a trunk?” Toby repeated vaguely.
“Yes.” Sirius spoke with exaggerated slowness as if trying to make a two-year-old understand.
The elf’s eyes widened once he heard whose trunk they needed and then vanished with a loud Crack!
A few minutes later, Toby returned with a large trunk supported on his head. The elf put it down in front of James Potter’s feet and without further ado, ran off.
“Probably gone to knock his head off,” Sirius smirked.
“What’s your problem, Padfoot?” asked James, curious.
“I can’t stand him and his entire race,” Sirius replied casually. Apparently, the elves’ existence wasn’t a matter worth discussing.
Turning their attention back to the trunk, they opened it to see a collection of robes, books, quills, undergarments and a few printed pyjamas.
Grinning, Sirius flicked his wand and with one flourish, turned everything inside the trunk a bright shade of pink. The books, the robes and even the quills; everything had turned an intense shade of pink that would normally hurt someone’s eyes if they looked at it too long.
Smirking, the boys ordered Toby to leave off the trunk in its destined dormitory. Then, shouting with mirthless laughter, they made their way to the Great Hall.
“The pink would look so amazing with Parker’s new hairdo!” Sirius clutched his stomach as an extremely vivid image of green hair and pink robes took over his mind.
A/N: Hey guys! I'm SO sorry I took SO long in uploading this chapter! I know you've been waiting to read more! Anyway, I hope you like this one! I wrote this one over Christmas (hence the content) and I loved writing it. I hope you love it as much as I did. Please review! Tell me what you think about the progression of the story and what you think about characterization. Reviews make my day! =) Thank you to everyone who has been reading and reviewing my story! Love you all!
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