There was another long, agonising pause. “He’s never told me he loves me before.”
That’s why she ran off? Thank heavens. “That’s it?” I said, relieved.
“What do you mean, that’s it? It’s a big deal, Eva!” she said, hitting me with her scarf.
“Of course it is, but I thought for a second you were going to declare your undying love for Peter.”
“That was weird... does he really like me, do you think?”
“You cannot over-estimate the amount of fucks that I do not give. Lily, do you love James?” I said, taking her by the shoulders.
“Then don’t leave him hanging. Go and bloody tell him, or I’ll drag you there.”
Lily looked at me, her green eyes huge. “But what Peter said-”
“Which bit? Because you knew James was an arrogant berk before you went out with him.”
“About James using you...”
“Lily, just because James was a dick to me, does not in any way mean that he’ll be a dick to you. I should never have gone out with him in the first place, especially as I knew James loved you.”
Sometimes you need to say it aloud to realise you mean it.
“Thanks,” she said, quietly.
“Go,” I said, “before James kills Peter for stealing his girlfriend.”
She hugged me before running back to the castle. I was left by the lake, the sun high overhead. What wouldn’t I give for a quiet life? The nearby trees rustled in the cold wind, and I shivered. How could I have not noticed it was December?
And I hadn’t even started to think about presents. And now Remus was coming home with me. Bloody Nora. What part of ‘and no, you can’t bring anyone home,’ did Alice not understand?
If we both got through Christmas alive, I was going to murder her.
I was probably speaking far too soon, but this term hadn’t gone that badly. A few minor hiccups, like James’ family being in mortal peril, but that seemed to be all water under the bridge. The Slytherins had certainly backed off considerably since they attacked us, I mused.
And I didn’t get that nauseous sinking feeling in my stomach that I usually felt when thinking about the Slytherins.
Being at Hogwarts was easily the best thing that had ever happened to me.
When I got back up to the castle, I realised that I had missed our third lesson, and I was now free until tomorrow, so I scrawled a quick note to my mother, telling her that I was coming home for Christmas, plus one.
A tiny part of me wanted her to object, but I knew she wouldn’t. If she had her way, she’d have a house full of children and guests staying for months at a time.
But the rest of me was excited to show Remus where I grew up, to meet the lads, and to have an awesome Christmas with him. I couldn’t have picked anyone better to share Christmas with.
But Alice was still annoying.
I walked up to the Owlery alone, and sent my letter without seeing anyone, but on my way back I bumped into Peter, carrying his trunk.
“You’re leaving?” I said unnecessarily.
Out of everyone, I knew Peter the least. He sat in the corner, quiet and unassuming, laughing in the right places and disappearing when things got tough. I remembered suddenly that it was him who tipped the Slytherins off about our prank.
He shuffled his feet. “Yeah, I’m going on holiday early.”
“Where are you going?” I asked, more out of politeness than anything. I have no idea why I was talking to him as if this morning had never happened.
“Albania,” he said. “They have really big Christmas trees.”
Really big Christmas trees? He might have well as just said; "It's out of the way so I can hide like a coward". He made to move past me, but I stopped him. “What was that this morning?” I said, almost angrily. “If you have all those problems with James then why do you hang around with him?”
He mumbled something intelligibly, and walked away quickly.
“Peter!” I called, but he merely walked faster.
I pointed my wand at his bag, and it split, sending clothes and books across the corridor. He looked back and scowled at me, but I was already helping him to scoop them back up.
“Just tell me, Peter,” I said. “It’s alright.”
“I just had to do it,” he muttered.
“Tell James? Well, fair enough, he is a bit of a prat, but you were too harsh, Peter. You’ve really hurt his feelings.”
“I had to do it! And... he deserved it!” he spat angrily, grabbing his clothes from my arms, and waddling away. I felt bad for breaking his bag.
I was about to turn and walk back to the common room, but I saw someone in the shadows, eavesdropping. I pulled out my wand again.
“Who is it?” I said. “Because honest to God, I have had enough with the bullshit today.”
Regulus strolled out the shadows. “And it’s only two o’clock,” he said, checking his watch.
His words reminded me I had had no lunch, and my stomach growled in protest.
“Down tiger,” Regulus said with a smile. He had his brother’s easy humour, which contrasted so much with what I believed of Slytherins.
I put my wand away.
“Are you sure you want to do that?” he asked. “I’m a big bad snake.”
“A big bad snake who isn’t really that bad to me. Or big, for that matter. What are you going to do Regulus, bite my kneecaps?”
He shuffled his feet self-consciously. He was at least half a head shorter than me, and I was no giraffe. I was probably being a bit spiteful, but Peter had eclipsed my good mood like a black cloud.
He slipped his own wand away into his robes. “That’s harsh,” he said. He looked down, suddenly ill at ease, and I realised that he was a year younger than me, and the youngest in an extensive family.
“What do you want?”
He half-smiled again, on familiar territory. “To warn you. Don’t mess about with Peter, and don’t buy anyone a breakable Christmas present.”
Well, if that doesn’t sound ominous, I don’t know what does.
“What is that supposed to mean? There are earthquakes forecast?”
“It means exactly what I said,” he said, turning to leave.
“Why should I trust you?” I called after him.
He stopped, and looked back. “Because I’m tired of playing games.”
When I finally actually made it to the common room, James and Lily were being forcibly held apart by Frank and Remus. This doesn't look good.
“What the hell is going on?” I asked loudly.
“SHE’S HERE!” yelled Sirius. “THE AUDIENCE IS COMPLETE!”
Frank and Remus let go of Lily and James, and they both stumbled towards each other slightly.
“What is going on?” Lily asked apprehensively, while James looked thunderous.
“Don’t you bloody dare...” he began-
But he was cut off by a beautiful soprano from Sirius.
“TWOOO VERY DIFFERENT PEOPLE, TOOO SCARED TO GET ALOOONG,” he warbled.
“TILL TWO HEARTS BEAT TOGETHER, UNDERNEATH ONE SUUUN,” sang Remus, mock-waltzing with me.
Sirius was on the table in the centre, conducting with flourishes of his wand.
“ONE VERY SPECIAL MOMENT, CAN TURN A DESTINYYYY,” crooned Frank, dancing with Alice, who looked astonished.
They stooped singing, and looked at James meaningfully.
“We’ll make you,” Sirius said threateningly.
“Please, James?” Lily said. “I’d love to hear you sing.” She twisted her fingers with his.
“Blackmail,” he muttered, looking around and realising that nearly all the seventh-years and half of sixth were in the common room, watching him gleefully. “Fine.”
A/N: Hmmm.... what do you think?
I was also thinking of changing the name of this fic to 'And mayhem ensues'. Like it? Hate it? Better ideas?
Credit for the lyrics to Westlife: 'We Are One'. Quite possibly the cheesiest song in all of humanity. If you manage to listen to it without puking up tiny confetti hearts then you are a braver (wo)man than I.