Christmas Eve was upon us, and Grace was currently running around the living room squealing about Father Christmas coming to visit.
“Gracie, Father Christmas isn’t going to come if you don’t calm down, darling” Marlene frowned at her daughter, catching her around the middle as Grace began a fresh run of the living room.
“No! No, Mummy I’ll be good!” she pouted, her eyes wide with panic as she kissed Marlene on the cheek carefully, lovingly.
“And quiet” Marlene stroked Grace’s hair in a motherly manner. “Daddy’s had a long day at work, sweetie.”
Grace nodded eagerly, her eyes wide and adorable as she pursed her lips and tapped them meaningfully.
“She’s so cute” Lily giggled as Marlene left the room with Grace on her hip. “My baby is going to be just like her, honestly.”
“Your baby?” James spluttered into his Butterbeer, his eyebrows reaching his hairline as he stared fearfully at Lily, glancing down at her stomach and back up again as Sirius sniggered in the background.
“No, James!” Lily laughed as James began to panic, muttering to himself underneath his breath about ‘being careful’. “I’m not pregnant, I was just saying when… if” she amended. “I have a child they’ll be as lovely as Grace is… I’m not… we’re…”
“Please don’t talk about your sex life while we’re in the room, Lils” Sirius groaned, sitting down beside me on the couch and flinging his arm around my shoulders. “Ade and I don’t want to hear about you two doing the nasty.”
Lily’s eyes met mine and she smirked slightly, I knew she was acting all smug because Sirius had his arm around my shoulders. James plonked himself down on the sofa opposite, pulling Lily onto his lap and he and Sirius began to chat about something manly whilst Lily raised her eyebrows meaningfully at me.
“Shut up!” I mouthed to her silently, widening my eyes and shaking my head slightly.
She shook her head, shrugging and raising her eyebrows meaningfully as she tilted her head towards Sirius.
“James… can you come and find Marlene with me for a moment? I want to talk to her about Grace’s present” Lily announced, smirking in my direction and I inwardly groaned as she tugged James out of the room, leaving Sirius and I alone on the couch together.
“What was that all about then?” Sirius asked immediately, shooting me a suspicious look as I blushed slightly.
“Don’t know” I shrugged. “Maybe Lily wanted James alone for a moment.”
Sirius smirked, leaning back against the edge of the sofa and sipping on his Butterbeer with an attractive sort of elegance.
“So… Ade, how much did you miss me at Hogwarts?”
“I can’t answer that” I smiled ruefully. “It might inflate your ego a little too much.”
“That’s good to hear” he smiled, his eyes crinkling at the edges as he watched my cheeks colour slightly.
“So… how’re things going with that girl…?”
“Oh” Sirius sat up straighter, clearing his throat. “Annie?” he shook his head. “She wasn’t my type of girl.”
“So you had fun with her and then decided to move onto the next girl?” I scoffed, taking a sip of my Butterbeer and regarding him with a disapproving glance.
“I’m hurt!” Sirius exclaimed, an innocent expression plastered all over his face. “You think I’d ever do something like that?”
“Come on, Sirius” I laughed sarcastically. “Everybody knows that you think you can get any girl!”
The cocky smirk he’d previously been wearing slipped off his face and he leant forward, lowering his voice and looking at me earnestly. “That’s not true, Addie.”
I almost choked on my Butterbeer… and I was suddenly terrified of where this conversation was going.
“There is this one girl… and she’s fairly oblivious” a smile twitched at the edge of his lips as he noticed me staring at him, wide eyed. “I’ve been interested in her for a while, but recently… well, I’ve realised how much I’ve missed her” he looked at me meaningfully.
“Oh… right” I swallowed nervously, my throat suddenly very dry. “And… what are you… err…”
“It’s you, Addie” Sirius laughed under his breath, staring at me with those lovely brown eyes and reaching for my hand. “I’m not… I’m not exactly Prongs with declarations of love or whatever… but I was…” he cleared his throat. “I was wondering if there was any chance…?”
“You don’t have to…” he shrugged. “If you’re not interested… or, if there’s someone else…”
“No! No, Sirius… you’re great, really… I’m amazed you’re even interested in me… because I’m not exactly…” I racked my brains for the right words, but I didn’t know how I was feeling… did I like Sirius?
“You’re amazing, Addie” he smiled. “I’d really like to… take you out for dinner or something. Before you go back to Hogwarts and I don’t see you for months again.”
“Really… thank you, Sirius, this is…”
His face fell slightly and he tried to stay confident, but this conversation felt like I was saying no… and I felt guilty. Was I saying no? I didn’t know. I knew Sirius was a fantastic catch; he was gorgeous, older, brave… Marlene liked him enough… but did I?
“It’s ok Addie if you don’t feel the same… it won’t be… I understand, I’m not at Hogwarts anymore and you might find it weird or whatever…”
I shook my head slightly, panicked as he rambled, trying to make this whole thing less awkward but really just making it worse.
“… I know a lot of other guys must be interested in you, so I wouldn’t be surprised if…oomph!”
I cut him off with a kiss.
It was cliché, and stupid… but it seemed to work. Instantly he relaxed, his arms moving to my waist as I clasped my hands on his shoulders.
His lips were warm… smooth, they were nice. It felt nice, it was good… Sirius knew what he was doing; of course I’d never really doubted his skills. Millie in my dorm had talked about his kissing enough for me to know he was good.
There weren’t… butterflies though, or sparks or anything like I’d thought a kiss with a man as handsome and perfect as Sirius would be. I was kissing him, and yet I wasn’t even sure if I was interested in him. What was I doing?
I didn’t feel like I did when Regulus kissed me. Sirius’ kiss was kinder, less forceful… yet I preferred Regulus’. His had been so much more passionate, ferocious, and the idea of kissing Regulus was tempting because he was bad, everything about him was dangerous.
… Merlin, I was kissing a boy and comparing his kissing to his brother. What was wrong with me?
Instantly, I broke away, closing my eyes and pursing my lips. I could feel my blush spreading across my cheekbones already; I was so embarrassed that I’d been thinking about Regulus whilst I’d been kissing Sirius.
What sort of girl did that make me?
“Is something wrong?” Sirius asked in a low voice, and my eyes instantly snapped open, and I looked up at him, biting my lip.
“What was that? The kiss?” he asked tentatively, and I vaguely wondered if this was the first time I’d ever heard a hint of nerves in Sirius’ voice.
“It was…” I sighed, blinking slowly and looking down at my lap, where my hands were twisting together with nerves. “I don’t know what that was” I admitted, glancing up at Sirius with a sorry expression.
“Did you want to kiss me? Or was it to… I don’t even know what you were trying to do, Addie.”
“Do you like me?” he asked quietly. “Would you… would you think of me… like that?”
“I don’t know Sirius!” I replied, suddenly feeling angry. Angry at Regulus, for kissing me and making me so damn confused. I wasn’t meant to be confused, I was meant to like Sirius! That was what I was meant to do, but I couldn’t.
“I can’t… I don’t know…”
“Think about it” Sirius smiled, patting my hand kindly. “Because whether or not you did, I liked that kiss.”
I smiled slightly, turning my head so he could kiss my cheek before he stood up. “Merry Christmas, Addie.”
“Merry Christmas” I nodded to him, standing up as well and watching him walk to the door.
“Tell Marlene thanks for dinner” he grinned easily, his expression back to normal and I sighed with relief. “And owl me… when you know.”
And then he left, and I sunk back down onto the sofa, feeling guiltier than ever.
If Regulus hadn’t kissed me I wouldn’t be feeling like this. This was entirely his fault.
“Presents! Presents!” Grace cheered gleefully as she charged into the living room, hurling herself underneath the tree and cradling the perfectly wrapped parcels with adoration.
“Come on Gracie, come and sit on Daddy’s knee and we’ll open some” David chuckled, heaving her onto his lap as he collapsed back into his armchair.
“Merry Christmas, Ade” Marlene smiled, kissing my cheek gently as she handed me a freshly brewed cup of tea.
“Merry Christmas, Marls” I blew her a kiss, settling myself into the cushions of the sofa as Grace began to rip her presents open with extreme vigour.
“Wow!” she squealed as she handled the beautiful doll I’d given her. “Thank you Aunty Addie!” she leant over and gave me a sloppy kiss on the cheek before cradling the doll to her chest.
“She’s so pretty” her eyes shone as she played with the dolls blonde curls, comparing them to her own chestnut brown ones with amazement. “Emily” she announced. “That’s her name!”
“I’m glad you like it, sweetie” I beamed, receiving my bundle of presents gratefully as Marlene handed them over to me.
My presents this year were brilliant, and I truly felt lucky for being surrounded by such wonderful people. Marlene always tried to make Christmas as special as possible for all of us, seeing as it had always been such an important day when Dad was alive and Mum was well, and it was already shaping to be brilliant this year, despite the whole Sirius fiasco last night.
David was kind enough to cook us breakfast whilst Marlene and I cleared away all the mess from the present opening. We ate quickly, and Marlene, David and Grace dressed to visit David’s parents, whereas I was off to see Lily and James and the rest of the gang at their London flat. Marlene and I promised to meet at St Mungo’s in two hours, and then I patted my hair down one last time before apparating onto their doorstep.
“Merry Christmas Addie!” James grinned as he flung open the door after I knocked a few times. Even though it was only midday, his grin was already lopsided and his eyes sparkling, and it was easy to tell they’d had a lot to drink already. He kissed my cheek quickly before propelling me through into the living room, where Remus, Peter, Sirius, Mary and Lily were congregated.
“Merry Christmas!” I beamed, throwing my arms around Lily enthusiastically before greeting everybody else. Sirius was last, and he smiled gently to me before kissing me lightly on the cheek.
“Thanks for my present, I love it” I gestured to the gold chained necklace they’d all chipped in to buy me, and they brushed off my comments with easy smiles and thanks for their own presents.
“You deserve it” Lily smiled, wrapping an arm around my shoulders swaying slightly, clutching her Butterbeer tightly in her hand. “How long are you here for?”
“A few hours” I smiled around to the group. “I promised I’d meet Marlene at two.”
Lily smiled, pulling me into the kitchen under the excuse she was ‘pouring me a drink’, but I knew what she wanted to talk about.
“How was Grace this morning?” she asked casually as she sourced a Butterbeer and handed it to me with a grim smile.
“Oh, she was very excitable, she loved her dress by the way, Marlene put her in it today” I smiled, taking a long sip of Butterbeer to fill the silence Lily had created.
“So… I heard what happened last night.”
“Did he tell you?” I asked after a moment of heavy silence between us.
She shrugged, and took another swig of Butterbeer. “He told James. James told me.”
“You could have warned me, Lils. It was a bit unexpected.”
“It wasn’t Addie. You knew… he flirted with you enough for merlins sake.”
“Are you blaming me?” I asked quietly, my eyes cast downwards as I studied the tiled floor.
“No, Addie, I’m not. But I don’t get it…” Lily stepped towards me and I grudgingly looked up to her. “I thought you liked him?”
“I don’t know!” I sighed heavily, leaning back against the counter. “I know I should do… but I don’t know if I actually do. I just don’t know…”
“If you don’t know Addie then you shouldn’t lead him on.”
“I didn’t! I didn’t promise him anything!”
“You kissed him” Lily regarded me with a stern smile.
“As if that means something, Lily, it was just a kiss, we both know what Sirius is like.”
“He was trying to be careful with you Addie, it’s not every day you suddenly become interested in a friend… not for Sirius anyway.”
“What do you think I should do?” I asked her, biting my lip and shooting her a pleading look I knew she’d melt under. “You’re my friend, Lily, tell me what I should do.”
“I’m not doing it for you Addie” Lily fixed me with a slight glare. “But if you’re confused… then it probably means you don’t feel the same.”
“Lily…” I took a deep breath. “The thing is…. there might be someone else… no” I hastily amended my sentence. “There isn’t somebody else… but there could have been…. And it seems wrong to have something with Sirius because of that somebody… do you get what I mean?”
“Sort of” Lily smiled, pulling me in for a hug. “Is he special… this somebody?”
“He’s different” I shrugged. “I don’t think he’s particularly…. good for me, though.”
“Look how different James and I can be” Lily smirked. “But we still love each other” she smoothed my hair down and kissed my cheek kindly. “Just tell Sirius, I’m sure he can get over this little crush, Addie.”
“Thanks Lily” I smiled, clinking my Butterbeer against hers. “Merry Christmas.”
“And you, my darling!” she sang cheerfully, downing her drink before clutching my hand and pulling me back into the sitting room.
“How was everyone then?” Marlene asked as we fought our way into St Mungo's. It was always busy here on Christmas Day, when there had been one to many family bickers that had ended in a spoon up some Aunt's nose, or a hiccuping brother.
“Great” I smiled. “Drunk though… how was David’s parents?”
“Cooed over Grace a lot” she smiled ruefully. “Pestered David about proposing to me as usual.”
“He should listen to them” I smirked, revelling in the quiet halls of St Mungo’s as we left the crowds behind us and made our way up to the Fourth Floor.
Marlene fell quiet, but I didn’t pester her for conversation. She was always like this when we came to visit; she’d never been able to cope with how quickly our family had fallen apart four years ago.
She didn’t enjoy it, by the way she behaved it was obvious how much she detested the Janus Thickey Ward, where our mother resided. I didn’t much like the thought that my mother was locked away from the rest of the Wizarding World either, but I could understand that it was easier for her.
I’d rather see my mother happy and smiling in her own make-believe world where all memories of my father had been erased from her memory, then watch her scream and plead for death as the Healers dragged her away.
At least we could see her now, for the first two years the mere mention, let alone the sight, of Marlene and I had sent her into a screaming rage, and now she’d progressed so far that we could call her Mum, and she remembered us… even spoke to her about our lives.
The war wasn’t mentioned, if the words Death Eater fell upon her ears she’d remember, and she’d stare off into space, screaming on the inside as she sobbed over the hideous memories of my father’s death. She wouldn’t ever be the same, but if we were careful we could have her back in most ways.
“Hello girls” the resident Healer on the ward, Margaret (as she insisted we called her) unlocked the door for us and smiled warmly. “Merry Christmas… she’s very well today… very happy. She helped put up some of the decorations actually” Margaret gestured to the ceiling, which was decorated with brightly coloured streams, too high up for the patients to reach in case they tried to strangle themselves. There was a lot of health and safety regulations in this particular ward.
“Adrienne, Marlene!” Mum cried happily, sitting up in her bed and beckoning us towards her for a kiss. “Merry Christmas to my beautiful girls, isn’t it looking lovely in here?” she beamed as we nodded and settled ourselves in the chair beside her bed. “Margaret helped me get all dressed up for you two, I wanted to look my best on Christmas!”
“How’ve you been Mum?” Marlene mumbled, wringing her hands together and unable to meet Mum’s eyes, and I shot her a warning look. I didn’t want Marlene’s behaviour to upset her, Mum was happy, and it was a rare thing to see.
“Oh, wonderful, darling, really wonderful. I’ve had such fun recently… the new lady opposite” she nodded her head to a particularly insane looking woman in the bed opposite who was smiling at the ceiling. “Dawn, she’s called… she showed me how to make you two some nice presents!” she reached into the drawer beside her and pulled out two bracelets, one blue and one pink, our signature colours when we’d been small girls. “It’s not much, I know” Mum smiled, holding them out to us. Mine was the pink one. “But you’re my special girls, I want you to have something from me this year.”
Her eyes grew slightly misty as she watched us slip the bracelets on and I quickly leant forward, kissing her cheek and smiling gratefully to distract her from any miserable memories that might arise during her daydream.
“It’s lovely Mum, thank you” I flicked my wand behind my back and produced a bouquet of flowers.
“Oooh, tulips!” she cooed. “My favourite, thank you sweetheart” she smiled gratefully and clasped them against her chest with a wide smile.
“How’s my little granddaughter, Marlene?” Mum loved Grace, and Grace loved Mum. Marlene had brought her along last Christmas, Mum’s Healers had said it would be good for her to meet part of Marlene’s life, and David had made an appearance too, so Mum didn’t worry about Marlene being a single mother.
“She’s great Mum, she and David were busy today, but they’ll come visit next time” she promised, a sad smile across her face.
“Oh, that’s lovely, I’ve missed the both of them as well” she smiled to me. “It’ll be you next, Adrienne, making me more grandchildren!” she laughed, and my heart swelled at the rare, familiar sound. “Have you got a boyfriend?”
“No, Mum, I haven’t” I shrugged. “I haven’t met that special somebody yet.”
“Some never do” she mused, staring down at her flowers and smiling slightly. I glanced to Marlene as she glared at the floor, her hands balled up into fists. I tried to ignore the fact that my mother couldn’t remember the love of her life… my father. She was happy, that was better than nothing.
“Marlene” I murmured to my sister, placing a reassuring hand on her arm. “Why don’t you go and speak to the Healers, and I’ll stay with Mum for the afternoon.”
Marlene nodded quickly, leaning to kiss Mum on the cheek and shooting me a grateful smile as she hurried out of the door to visit Mum’s physiatrists.
“Is something wrong with Marlene, sweetheart?” Mum asked quietly, a small frown appearing in between her eyebrows.
“No, Mum, she’s fine. Just wanted to talk to the Healers about something, that’s all” I reassured her. “Make sure they’re treating you well, you know how she fusses.”
“Oh, I’m perfectly happy here, Adrienne, please don’t worry about me, dear.”
I smiled, glancing about the room and wondering why it seemed a rule that everything in St Mungo’s had to be white. After all, it can’t help patients like Mum, who was trapped in her own mind, when she never sees enough colours. If I were her, the white would drive me even more insane.
“How’s school, darling? I hope you’re working hard for your NEWTS.”
“They’re not for a while yet, Mum” I laughed. “But don’t worry, I am. It’s alright.”
“How’re your friends?” she leant forward, as if ready to hear some gossip.
“They’re fine, my best friend, Lucy… she has a new boyfriend.”
“Oh, really?” Mum smiled happily, setting her flowers on the side and sitting back into her pillows expectantly.
I grinned, she may be clinically insane, but she could still tell when I wanted to tell her something.
“Mum… hypothetically speaking… what would you do if you were ever… involved… with two brothers?”
Mum’s eyes widened, and I knew she realised I wasn’t talking ‘hypothetically’.
“I'm not allowed to tell Marlene any of this, am I?”
“I’d rather you didn’t” I smiled hopefully, and relaxed when she nodded quickly.
“So… there’s this boy… and he sat next to me in History of Magic, and he wasn’t exactly… charming, or nice really… but he told me he found me interesting…” I glanced to my Mum, who was listening with raised eyebrows. “But I shouldn’t be with him, he’s not the right… type.”
“Whatever do you mean by that?” Mum asked disbelievingly, and I quietly reminded myself I couldn’t mention the real truth, the fact that he was a Slytherin, and that he’d probably become a Death Eater by this August.
“He’s just… there are sort of groups in school Mum, and he’s from the other group… and I’m not allowed to talk to him or anything” I sighed thankfully as Mum relaxed back against her pillow, listening hard. “But he kissed me, Mum, and then he said he didn’t know why he did it… and I told him to stay away from me…”
I watched my Mum for any reaction to what I was saying, but she was staring at her lap, her head tilted towards me as she listened, so I took a deep breath a continued.
“And then his brother, he's a year older but we've always been friends... … says he has an interest in me, and that he’d like to take me out. Everybody thinks we’d be good together, my friends, Marlene... but I don’t like him. I should, but I don’t… and I don’t know why Mum. But I kissed him… to make him feel better? ...I’m not sure… but Mum, I was comparing
them, and I felt horrible, and guilty and stupid. I can’t be with the older brother, when I keep thinking about the other brother, the one I’m not meant to be with… I don’t know what to do
Mum…” I trailed off.
After a quiet moment, filled with my small sniffing’s as I tried to stop the tears, Mum held her arms out to me and pulled me onto the bed beside her. I buried my head into her shoulder, closing my eyes and inhaling the essence of Mum, and smiling as she wrapped her arms around me and kissed my forehead like she used to do when I was little, when things were normal.
“Adrienne” she muttered into my hair. “You’re brave, beautiful and kind… and you’ll make the right decision, sweetheart, don’t worry. I love you so, so much darling.”
It wasn’t much, and she didn’t really tell me what to do, but we both knew I’d only told her because I didn’t feel I could tell anybody else, and I knew Mum wouldn’t tell anybody. Instead, it was enough, just to feel relieved as I’d told somebody everything… and yet I wasn’t being judged. I felt young again, encased in my mother’s protective arms as she stroked my hair and whispered how much she loved me.
This was what Christmas really meant, family and love.
“Merry Christmas, Mum” I whispered.
So, I hoped you liked that chapter! You learnt a lot more about Adrienne's personal life, and the whole Sirius thing (!!!) - what did you think of that?! I'd like to point out, this isn't really a cliche love triangle, it's more the tale of a girl having to choose good or evil, etc. Basically, I'm hoping this story isn't the kind so filled with cliches it makes you cringe! Thanks for reading, and please do leave reviews, I really value them :)