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Finding Faith by sour_grapes_snape
Chapter 18 : A Very Weasley Christmas
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 11


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                “Merry Christmas!” came a loud, excited squeal next to my ear. I moaned quietly, shifting on the mattress in the middle of the sitting room at the Burrow.


 

          “C’mon, Val,” the voice continued. “Wake up! Presents!” Whoever was trying to wake me up was going to die. And so was James. It’s his fault I was up super late last night. And now someone was trying to disrupt my sleep. Good Merlin, now they were poking me. If they aren’t careful, they’ll lose that finger.


 

          I rolled over, burying my face in my pillow. The person bothering me apparently got the message because the prodding stopped. I heard a thump and James grunted loudly. “What the hell, Lily?” he groaned.


 

          “Wakey wakey, sleepy head! It’s Christmas!” Lily, apparently, said brightly.


 

          “I don’t care, I just want to sleep,” James responded, his voice muffled. I wondered briefly if was lying face down on his pillow as well, but then decided I was too tired to care.
 

          “Presents, James, presents!” Lily insisted. Judging by the commotion that was coming from their direction, she was probably jumping up and down on him. It’d probably be funny to watch, but I’d have to open my eyes to do so. And it just wasn’t worth it.
 

          James groaned again, louder. “For the love of all that is holy, Lily, get the bloody hell off me.


 

          “Then get up!” she sang. “We’re opening all the presents as a family and you and Val are the only two still sleeping. Up, up, up!”


 

          James mumbled something incoherent. After a brief moment, I thought I heard splashing water and James let out a loud yelp, followed by a thud. Rolling over once more, I managed to peel my eyes open, and I was glad I did. James was hopping up and down, completely soaked with water, while Lily laughed in delight. I began to chuckle as well, amused as James tried to remove some of the ice that had gone down his shirt.


 

          “I didn’t know we were having a wet t-shirt contest, James,” I said cheekily. “I think I’ll just forfeit right here and now.”


 

          “Oh, I don’t think so, Sullivan,” he mock-growled. If I wasn’t so tired, I probably would have foreseen what came next. As it was, I was utterly unprepared when James ripped my blanket off and tackled me, his sopping shirt getting me wet as well.


 

          “James bloody Potter!” I yelled, pushing his off me as he started laughing. “I’d shut up if I were you, unless you want me to remove all chances of you having children.”


 

          James sobered up immediately, giving me a wary look. Lily snorted before laughing harder than ever and I grinned smugly. Then I batted my eyelashes innocently, a vapid expression overtaking my face. Lily continued giggling and James just looked confused. While he was contemplating my sudden change in demeanor, I grabbed the half-full bucket Lily had discarded and threw the rest of the ice water on his head. He began to splutter indignantly as Bill, George, Dom, Al, and Molly walked into the room.


 

          “Atta girl, Val!” George whooped, giving me a high five. Everyone else joined in Lily’s laughter, as James shook the water out of his hair like a dog, sending droplets flying. Dom smacked him upside the head when some of it landed on her. I’ve always liked Dom, she has a delightful proclivity for violence. Must be the Veela blood.


 

          Nana Molly – she’d insisted that I call her that – bustled into the room next. She shook her head when she the damp clothes James and I were wearing. “Oh dear. You two better go change your clothing before we get started. Can’t have you catching a cold, now.”


 

          James grinned at me impishly. “You heard the woman, Val. Let’s go change. I’ll help you.”


 

          I shoved him into the pool of water on the floor. He looked at me indignantly and I raised an eyebrow. “James, I’m pretty sure she didn’t mean for us to change together.”


 

          James pouted. “You’re no fun.”


 

          “Watch it, buddy. I’m thinking of revoking your friend status,” I said jokingly. “Also, what are you, five? Pouts and puppy dog eyes only work on the weak.”


 

          “And people with hearts!” he protested.


 

          I shook my head at him reprovingly. “Are you calling me heartless on Christmas? For shame, now you have to give me one of your presents.”


 

          “What! Who made up that rule?”


 

          “Me.” I smirked at James. “You have to listen to me because I’m the guest here and it’s your job to make sure my stay is enjoyable and stress-free. And let me say, tackling me when you’re covered in water and then insulting me isn’t really helping your case.”


 

          James quickly got onto both knees, holding his hands out pleadingly. “Oh, wonderful and mighty Val, thou art truly majestic and beautiful. Thy mercy knows no bounds and thou art great. Tales of your generosity and power have spread through all the lands, and all speak of your stunning visage and insurmountable knowledge. Oh please, Val the Magnificent, grant me your forgiveness and do not remove one of my oh-so-valued Christmas gifts. If you so please, you will forever be in my gratitude.”


 

          I stared at James for a moment before bursting into hysterical laughter. Everyone else in the room joined in and James waggled his eyebrows at me. “You are, by far, the most ridiculous person I have ever met,” I told him.


 

          “And that’s why you love me.”


 

          I patted his head. “If you say so. Now, carry me up to my designated room if you want to earn forgiveness.”


 

          “Your wish is my command, your majesty,” he said pompously before scooping me up into his arms and skipping – yes, skipping – up the stairs. I started giggling and James ignored Fred’s shout of “whipped!” from behind us.


 

          Wait – I was giggling? Who giggles? I laugh. I chuckle. I snicker. But giggle? It’s so… girly. And I was giggling at James, who was holding me in his arms. It was almost like I was… flirting with him. But I wasn’t. And if I was, which I’m not, why the hell would I do it by giggling? It makes me seem like some insipid, air-headed bint that… bats her eyelashes or something stupid like that.


 

          Oh, Merlin. I did that earlier. I batted my eyelashes at James. Granted, it was in jest, but still. What the hell is wrong with me? Just a few days ago I was wallowing in misery, completely convinced that my life was crap. Yes, things aren’t exactly going swimmingly, but… I don’t think I’ve been this happy since Joy died.


 

And the vast majority of that is due to James. But that doesn’t mean anything. He’s just a good friend, is all. It doesn’t mean I fancy him.
 

          Does it?


 

***


 

          An hour later, the sitting room of the Burrow was littered with ripped and discarded wrapping paper. The endless members of the Weasley family were talking merrily, discussing gifts and throwing the socks Fred had gotten everyone at his head. That is why people shouldn’t leave all their shopping for the last minute. Also, where did he find neon orange socks with purple bananas on them?


 

          There was just one thing that was bothering me. The Weasley family had been overgenerous, all going out to get me gifts and insisting that I didn’t have to give them anything. Their generosity was touching and I really appreciated it. However, the one person I didn’t get a present from was James.


 

          He was sitting next to me, fidgeting nervously. Was it because he didn’t get me anything? It’s not like I’m mad about it. A bit hurt and surprised, yes, but it’s not like I was going to say anything.


 

          Suddenly James cleared his throat and sat up straight. “Er, if I could have everyone’s attention. Um, as some of you may have noticed, I have yet to give Val her present. It’s a bit… unorthodox, so… yeah.”


 

          He turned to look at me. From behind him, he pulled out a wrapped gift, handing it to me. “Originally, this was your gift. But I recently decided it wasn’t enough. I was up late last night thinking and I was struck with inspiration. So, once you feel asleep around two, I stayed up until four in the morning preparing this for you.”


 

          James reached under the couch and pulled out a guitar. I stared at him in wonder. “When I told you I sang like a dying cat… well, I was lying. I just wanted to make you laugh. I actually do a bit of singing and song writing. And last night I wrote this for you.”


 

          He dropped his head, looking down at his guitar as he set his hands into place. The whole room was quiet as he began to play. He started out by plucking out a haunting melody in a minor key. Soon, the music eased into chords, a harmony interwoven through it. Then, he began to sing.


 

          She wears a mask of smiles
 

          She’s a joyful girl, a happy child
 

          But beneath her false mien
 

          Lies thoughts that remain unseen


 

          Her past plagues her mind,
 

          The one person she left behind.
 

          She’s forgotten what she did,
 

          She’s forgotten what they said.


 

          Do not love your Lord in haste.
 

          You must now love Him at your pace.
 

          And you won’t need to make your case,
 

          When you finally meet Him face to face.


 

          Do not love your Lord in haste.
 

          You must now love Him at your pace.
 

          And you won’t need to make your case,
 

          When you finally meet Him face to face.


 

          Listen to the wind blow.
 

          It speaks thoughts that no one knows.
 

          The breath of God will heal your wounds.
 

          He smiles at you in the moon.


 

          Your sister is with Him now
 

          Though you may not know how
 

          One day you’ll realize
 

          You won’t have to say goodbyes



 

          Do not love your Lord in haste.
 

          You must now love Him at your pace.
 

          And you don’t need to make your case.
 

          Now that she’s finally met Him face to face.


 

          Do not love your Lord in haste.
 

          You must now love Him at your pace.
 

          And you don’t need to make your case.
 

          Now that she’s finally met Him face to face.


 

          She’s gone on…
 

          She’s gone on…
 

          She’s gone on…
 

          She’s gone on….


 

          Don’t cry, my dear.
 

          Dry your eyes, no more tears.
 

          God has her now, don’t fear.
 

          Don’t cry, my dear.


 

          I stared at James as the song ended. Tears were rolling down my face, but I smiled gently. Many of James’s family were crying as well. James was just looking at me, biting his lip uncertainly. I leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek.


 

          “That was beautiful,” I whispered, my throat feeling choked. “I can’t believe you… that was so… just… thank you.”


 

          “C-can I talk to you? In another room, I mean. I just want to… explain some things, I guess,” he asked hesitantly.


 

          I nodded in assent and we both left the room, retreating up to the top floor where he was technically supposed to be staying with the rest of the boys. We both took a seat on the same bed, James taking my hand. We looked at each other for a moment before I broke the silence.


 

          “It was a beautiful song, James, and it means a lot to me. But… well, you know I don’t believe in God.”


 

          “That’s why I wanted to talk to you,” he said seriously. “I want you to tell me why, exactly why, you don’t believe in Him anymore.”


 

          I gaped at him for a moment. I hadn’t realized this was such a big deal to him. “God is supposed to be this greater being, someone who knows everything and controls everything, right? Well then, tell me why He would do something like take my sister away from me? What higher purpose does that serve? And why Joy? She was a believer. She was a good person. Why take her away from the world?”


 

          “Just because you don’t know the reason, doesn’t mean there isn’t one,” James said quietly.


 

          “I don’t care what the reason is, it’s rubbish!” I said loudly. “Joy didn’t deserve to die and I didn’t deserve to have her taken away from me. If God is supposed to love everyone, why would He do something to hurt me so badly?”


 

          James gripped my face between his hands. “Because it’s made you stronger. You may not see it, but you are the strongest person I know. You have put other people’s happiness above your own since you were ten years old. You hid your hurt so it wouldn’t hurt others. I know you love your sister and I’m not saying her death is in any way a good thing, but it has made you such a good person.”


 

          “So I was a bad person when she was alive?” I asked, growing angry.


 

          “Not at all,” he replied, still calm. “Look, Val, there are things in this world that we can’t understand. Things that can’t be explained by magic or science. If we can’t believe that it was all done by God, then what can we believe?”


 

          “I just don’t see why I should have faith in anything. It’s caused me nothing but pain,” I said stubbornly. I could feel myself weakening though. I wanted to believe, I did. It just hurt too much.


 

          “Would you say you trust me Val?”


 

          “What?” I asked, confused by the turn in the conversation. James stared into my eyes.


 

          “It’s a simple yes or no answer. Do you trust me?” He withdrew his hands from my face. I found myself missing their warmth.


 

          “You know I trust you, James. You’ve given me no reason not to and frankly, I don’t know what I’d do without you,” I replied confidently.


 

          “And would you say that you’ve been happier since you started trusting me?” he continued, still looking at me intensely.


 

          “I-yeah. I have been,” I said in bewilderment. Where was he going with this?


 

          “You trust me to be there for you, you trust me not to hurt you, and you trust me with your secrets, correct?”


 

          “Without a doubt,” I responded with a slight smile.


 

          James brushed my hair back from my face gently. “So then you have faith in me. Right, that’s what that means? You blindly hope and have faith that I will not let you down, that I will be your friend and I will always care about you.”


 

          Without missing a beat or waiting for me to answer, he continued, his voice growing stronger. “And back before Joy died, you trusted and had faith, not only in God, but in everyone around you? Am I right?”


 

          I nodded, too absorbed in his words to speak. “You were happy then. I know you were, you’ve told me, Victoire’s told me, and I’ve seen it in your pictures. But when Joy died, you lost all your faith and ability to trust and you were miserable. But now that you have faith in me, you’ve become happier. Maybe not as happy as you once were, but you’re better off than you were for the past six years. Do you see the connection? Faith is an important thing to have, Val. It doesn’t have to be in God, but you need it all the same.”


 

          I bit my lip. I could feel something twisting and rolling inside me. I felt as though I was on the edge of a cliff, leaning over the drop-off, but I couldn’t see what was below. I didn’t know how far I would fall or what was waiting for me at the bottom. All I could feel was a desperate desire to cling to the solid ground, what I knew, contrasting with a nearly overpowering need to just let myself fall, explore the unknown. The battle raged on inside me as James’s eyes bored deep into my own.


 

          “Have you ever considered,” James whispered, leaning in closer to me, “other ways in which Joy’s death affected your own. If it weren’t for your isolation, you and I probably wouldn’t have really met. You wouldn’t have shown me the importance of family, of being open to other people. We would just have continued to exist in our own worlds, with nothing to bring us together. If Joy hadn’t died… you and I wouldn’t be friends.”


 

          Realization hit me. Hard. I gasped in a breath that chafed down my throat and my heart began to hammer against my chest. James was my Joy. He was everything she had ever been to me. Someone to understand me, someone to talk and laugh with. Someone to love.


 

          When Joy left me, James came into my life to fill the void she left. No one can or ever could replace my sister, but James was someone new to rely on, depend on. Granted, it took time for him to become my Joy, but if he’d arrived in my life right away, I wouldn’t be able to appreciate how big of an impact he had made on me.


 

          Did God really not leave me alone after all? He made me learn how to survive on my own. I did I horrible job of it, but I did it nonetheless. I stopped depending on other people and I made myself strong. Now, God has given me a new person to need and love. I guess everything really does have a reason.


 

          “Why is it,” I said in a small voice, “that I spent six years convincing myself there is no God, but you were able to change my mind in under five minutes?”


 

          A smile broke out over James’s face as he caught the underlying meaning of my words: that I do believe. “Because, Val, you never really stopped. You just needed me to open your eyes and wipe away your denial.”


 

          “I need you for so much more than that,” I breathed. “James, you are everything that Joy once was and beyond.”


 

          “Glad to be of service,” he said cheekily. “Now, c’mon. If we don’t hurry, they’ll start Christmas dinner without us.”


 

***


 

          James and I joined everyone in the kitchen. The entire family was milling about, everyone wearing the sweaters that Nana Molly had knitted for everyone. She’d even made me one, rushing to finish it before today. It was a lovely shade of lavender and was very warm. I was rather touched that she’d thought to make me one, include me in the family.


 

          Dinner was delicious, even better than anything they’d ever served at Hogwarts. I sat by James and his Aunt Fleur. Across from me was Lucy. Throughout the entire meal everyone talked and laughed, sharing stories. I listened in delight as Harry, at Lily’s insistence, told everyone about how he spent his sixth year at Hogwarts watching Ginny jealously, waiting for his chance to be with her. I laughed at how awkward he was and next to me, James was shifting uncomfortably.


 

          Ron and Hermione also reminisced about their Hogwarts years, telling us about the secret Defense Against the Dark Arts group they formed with Harry. Their descriptions about that Umbridge woman were hysterical. I nearly cried from laughing when George started doing impressions of her.


 

          That evening, everyone congregated in the sitting room. We were all together, but everyone did their own thing. Fred was playing Ron in a few games of Wizard Chess while Hugo watched. Victoire discussed wedding plans with Fleur and Nana Molly, Arthur nodding off next to them. I was sitting with Ted, Dom, and James, of course, talking about Quidditch.


 

          Glancing around the room, I smiled to myself. The love and happiness everyone felt was so evident, I wanted to dance with glee. Now this is a family. It was so comforting to be surrounded by the care and affection the Weasley family felt for each other. I never wanted to leave.


 

          The day passed like this, with the easy camaraderie of family. So did the next day, and the day after that. I didn’t spend every second of my time with James, but he and I always made time to hang out, just the two of us.


 

          Three days after Christmas, he and I were in the bedroom on the top floor, avoiding Victoire. She was having a bridesmaid meeting today and she was freaking out before it had even started. I knew I’d have to come down for the meeting eventually, but for now, I was content to tell James about the time Joy and I decided to camp out in the park without telling our parents.


 

          “So then, in the morning, we got out of our collapsing tent and started walking home. It was only on our way back that we discovered that the entire neighborhood was frantically searching for us,” I laughed, finishing the story.


 

          James laughed with me, lying down on the bed. I laid down the opposite way, my legs hanging off the bed and my head cushioned against James’s stomach. He started stroking my hair while I traced patterns on his arm. We were both quiet, but it wasn’t an awkward silence. It was more like the silence of two people who are completely comfortable with each other. There was no need to break the quiet with talk; it was enough for us both to be in each other’s presence.


 

          After a long period of time, James finally spoke. “What are you thinking about?” he asked softly.


 

          “How wonderful you are,” I said honestly. I cringed a bit after the words left my mouth, thinking it corny, but I felt James shake with laughter underneath me. I sat up to look at him, confused. His eyes were sparkling as he grinned up at me.


 

          “What’s so funny?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.


 

          James sat up as well. “Nothing really,” he replied with a nonchalant shrug. “But I was actually thinking the same thing about you.”


 

          I started laughing too. “Oh, God, we are so cheesy. We’re like that couple that everyone both envies and hates at the same time for being so sickeningly adorable.”


 

          He stopped laughing abruptly, looking at me with an unfathomable expression. I met his gaze and we stared at each other. The room began to feel hot and I felt a sizzling sting on my cheek when James reached out to tough my face. I wasn’t sure if he started leaning first, or if I was the one who moved, but we were suddenly inches apart.


 

          “Val,” James whispered, his other arm snaking around my waist. I continued to stare, unable to look away from him. His nose brushed mine, sending a tingling feeling down my spine. I brought one hand up to rest on his shoulder as his eyes slowly closed. My own fluttered shut as well, and I felt his warm breath tickle my parted lips –


 

          Bang!


 

          With a jolt, James and I jumped apart, him falling off the bed, as the door to the room was thrown open. I looked over at the person who had interrupted us, feeling strangely disappointed and relieved. Then I froze.


 

          Elbow-length chestnut hair, perpetually tanned skin, and brown eyes filled with concern. I inhaled deeply, swallowing harshly. “What are you doing here?”


 

          Standing in the door was my sister, Hope.


 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 

AN


 

Cliffhanger! I just realized that I haven’t had many of those… better late than never, I guess. Anyone hate me for interrupting that intense Val/James moment?


 

I would also like to take this moment to say that I am in no way trying to push my religion or God or whatever on any of you. Val’s issue with disbelief is a large factor to this story and for anyone who has experienced loss, I think, and it was something that needed to be confronted. If you are in anyway offended by my reference to God, I would like to sincerely apologize and I hope it doesn’t make you stop reading my story. It doesn’t matter to me what you believe, whether you’re Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, or if you worship the giant spaghetti monster in the sky. I just hope everyone can have an open mind about religion in general and specifically for my story.


 

The song in this chapter is actually a song my older brother wrote about a friend of ours that committed suicide over a year ago. I changed a few of the lyrics to better suit this story, but the vast majority of it is still the same. It’s a really beautiful song and I cried the first time I heard it. If I could somehow include a way for you all to hear it, I would.


 

Also, this chapter is dedicated to 227743Weasley and Choconut892, both of whom have lost family members. Thank you for your support, it means the world to me.


 

Anyway, let me know what you think in a review! I love reading them all and they encourage me to write faster. But no pressure or anything :)


 

Here’s a teaser for Chapter 19! I can’t believe this story is already this far.


 

          “Val,” she said, placing a hand on my shoulder. I wanted to throw it off. Its weight felt like a lie, like false comfort. “Joy’s dead. You can’t hold onto these past memories like this.”


 

          I whirled around, sudden anger sparking in me. “You’re saying I can’t remember my sister? That I should just forget about her? Believe me, Hope, I know better than anyone else that Joy is dead.”


 

          “You need to talk about these things!”


 

          “I do,” I said harshly. “With James.”


 

Disclaimer: Harry Potter and everything related to it belongs to J.K. Rowling. Not me. Sad face. Chapter title based off of “A Very Potter Musical,” by Starkid Productions. Check it out on Youtube if you haven’t seen it!           


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