Chapter 9 : Meet the Potters
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Chapter 9: Meet the Potters
“Are you nervous?” Neville asked me for the tenth time in the last thirty minutes.
“What do you think?” I snapped at him. My solid ‘no,’ that I had held to the first nine times, had finally been seen through. As my house Head, Neville had to approve of me going to visit James’ family and as one of the two that knew that I was in fact Sirius Black and not an ordinary eleven year old boy, he knew what a big deal this was to me.
As soon as James got the letter from his Mum, Okaying my stay, I made plans to put off seeing Professor Longbottom or Professor McGonagall until I absolutely had to. Knowing full well that both of them would probably object to this. I decided Neville was the weaker link of the two.
So far, he didn’t object to my visit, but I could tell it worried him. Probably almost as much as it worried me. Almost.
Initially, when James asked I didn’t really think it through. I kind of just thought it was a normal thing for James to do. Then I realized that this wasn’t the same James that I was thinking of at the time. Damn, I need to straighten this out before I completely revert back into a child who doesn’t make a big deal out of anything.
This was a big deal though. I would be seeing my Godson for the first time since I came into this world. It would be the first time he has seen me since my ‘death,’ even if he doesn’t realize who I am exactly.
“Sirius, I can understand if you don’t want to go through with this.” Neville said softly. We were in his office and he made sure to lock and charm the door so we would have any eavesdroppers. “I can always disapprove of this because it’s so late in the semester. James won’t blame you.”
I shook my head. “I want to go…I’m just a little scare…”
Neville laughed at me and I glared.
“I didn’t think Sirius Black was scare of anything?” He countered.
I rolled my eyes and got up. “Will you tell McGonagall for me?”
Neville frowned. “Maybe I’ll leave her a note. You know, after we are both gone…”
“Hmm, I didn’t know Professor Neville Longbottom was scared of anyone.” I repeated back at him. “You are the one who pulled the Sword of Gryffindor out of the Sorting Hat in front of Voldemort, right?”
“McGonagall is scarier.” Neville laughed.
I nodded. “That’s why I came to see you. Merry Christmas.”
I unlocked the door and left. His office was on the same floor as Fat Lady Portrait so I didn’t have far to go. When I entered the Commons only James and Teddy remained. Everyone else had already left on the Hogwarts Express a few days ago. I found out that James and Teddy had permission to use the Floo Network on the account of Harry and Ginny being unable to pick them up at the Platform. Harry’s schedule was busy during the Holidays if he wanted Christmas off, and Ginny had a final meeting for the Holyhead Harpies. I’m sure one of the other many Weasley’s could have picked them up, but Harry and Ginny had this arranged early on in the school year. It also didn’t hurt that Harry was close friends with the Gryffindor Head and McGonagall still favored him.
James turned to me and looked worried. Teddy was lounging in a chair nearby just staring at the fire. His hair was no longer bright blue with pink, instead it was a dark blue that was almost black. He appeared to be trying to force it bright blue, but his current mood just wasn’t having it.
“Well?” James asked.
Panic came over me and there was suddenly a voice in the back of my head saying, You can still say no. I quickly ignored that voice, even if it probably had the right idea.
“Professor Longbottom approved.” I said with a smile.
“Brilliant!” James jumped up from his chair. “I guess that means that we can leave then.”
Teddy got up and dragged his trunk over to the fireplace. I saw that James’ trunk and mine for that matter, was also down here. I guess James’ Plan B was to kidnap me. I grinned at the thought.
“Are you two ready?” Teddy yawned, and glared our way. He was in a bad mood ever since the party after the Quidditch game about a month ago. I could guess why. One of Victoire’s friends confessing to Teddy probably caused a few problems between him and Victoire. Just after Courtney kissed him, Victoire came in the room and after a minute she ran out. Teddy followed her, but I’m not sure what happened next. They are probably having a fight, putting them both in a bad place since they have no one to talk to about it.
“Yes, and Teddy?” I answered.
“Yes, James?” Teddy looked completely out of it like he hasn’t been sleeping well for days.
“It’s Sirius, actually.” I corrected.
“Sure, sure.” Teddy took a small bag out of his pocket, the Floo Powder.
“Why didn’t you just apparate? James told me you passed the test your sixth year.” I asked him.
“I have to babysit.” Teddy responded. “And it’s easier to make sure James and you don’t take any unnecessary trips.”
“I am not a baby!” James retorted.
“Shut up and step in the fire, Teddy needs his nap.” Teddy shoved a handful of Powder into James’ hand and pushed him toward the fireplace.
James grumbled, but did as he was told. He through his handful of Floo Powder into the fireplace and yelled, “Potter Mansion, Godric’s Hollow.”
James went up in flames and disappeared.
Teddy handed me some Floo Powder too and pushed me up as well.
I repeated what James did and said and pretty soon the flames engulfed me. I tucked my arms against my side really quick and was taken up, down and all kind of angles until I was thrown out of a fireplace headfirst. I stumbled a little and didn’t recognize the room I was in, so that was a good start. I quickly focused on the first thing I saw which was the small red-headed girl across the room in the armchair.
She had her legs neatly folded and a book propped up on the arm of the chair. Her red hair was braided to the side and she had light green eyes. The more I looked at her the more I was reminded of the previous Lily Potter, which indicated that this had to be the new one. At least that was my guess because she didn’t look like an Albus.
She glanced at me and frowned. “You’re not Teddy.”
Just as I was about to respond, Teddy came rolling out of the fireplace on top of me, with our trunks.
She giggled. “Welcome home Teddy, why is your hair dark?”
Teddy and I detangled ourselves and he offered me a hand up.
He looked around. “Where’s James?” He asked ignoring her question.
“Kitchen.” She merely said returning to her book. Without looking up she continued to talk, this time directed at me. “I’m Lily. Lily Luna Potter. You must be Sirius, James wrote about you in his letters. I must say you are not at all what I expected.”
I nodded, slightly confused. “It’s a pleasure.”
I left for the kitchen, finding James had already found food. He looked at me and tossed me a roll. “Took you long enough.”
“Where did Teddy go?” I asked. I was sure he came this way.
“He mumbled something about a nap and headed upstairs.” James said shrugging. “Come on, I’ll give you a tour and introduce you to Lily and Al. You already met Lily though, I’m assuming.”
He took me all around the house. There were two living rooms, a kitchen, a study, two bathrooms and the master bedroom on the ground floor. A basement. Another study, a bathroom and two more bedrooms on the second floor, one was Lily’s room and the other was a guest room that Teddy currently occupied. On the top floor there were two bedrooms and a bathroom and this floor is where we found Albus Potter.
James knocked on his bedroom door and Albus opened it.
Out of all of the Potters he looked the most like Harry. He had dark hair and green eyes, it looked like I was looking at a younger version of Harry from when I last saw him. Just without the glasses and the scar.
Albus gave James a huge smile, but then a frown quickly came across his face and he slammed the door in his brother’s face.
James looked wreaked for a second and then seemed to remember something.
“Al, is this about Skvader I left in your bed, the day I went to Hogwarts?” James asked through the door. “It was going to keep you company while I was away.”
“You gave it fangs James! It bit me, giving me a stimulated version of Dragon Pox!” Albus yelled through the door. “I thought I was going to die.”
“Now you see that was Fred’s idea, not mine. Be mad at him, besides I want to introduce you to a friend of mine.” James banged loudly on the door.
“What in the world is a Skvader?” I asked James.
“It’s a winged rabbit.” A soft voice came from behind me.
I turned around to see Lily leaning against the wall.
“I adopted it after Albus tried to throw it through the window.” Lily continued. “It’s in my room currently, our Uncle George was breeding them for his joke shop, they are quite rare. So I’m assuming Fred nicked one for Jamie.”
“Albus, open this door!” James continued to yell ignoring Lily. He took out a paperclip and jammed it into the keyhole just to have it shot out. James cussed loudly. “You charmed it! Real mature Al!” He then turned quickly to Lily. “Don’t you dare repeat what I just said to Mum or Dad.”
“What will you give me for not telling?” She said with an evil smirk. I could defiantly see Lily in her, and James for that matter.
The current James frowned. “We’ll talk later. AL OPEN THE DOOR!”
As James banged louder on the door Teddy stomped up the stairs.
“Why are you screaming?” He hissed at James. Albus peeked through the door.
“Welcome back Teddy.” He said still glaring at his brother.
“Al, James make up and start planning to blow up the bathroom again or something. If I have to come back up here before I get at least an hour of sleep, I swear I will throw all of you outside into the frozen pond.” Teddy turned around and went back downstairs.
Albus opened his door a little more and eyed James. “Welcome back…”
James grinned. “Missed you too little brother.”
James took Albus into a one armed hug and then turned him to me.
“Al, Lily, this is Sirius. My best mate, we met when he fell on me from the train. Sirius, this is Al and Lily.” James introduced us.
“Nice to meet you two.” I said politely.
Both of them nodded back at me.
“How did Fred feel about you having a new best friend?” Albus asked, pulling his head out from under James’ arm.
“Fred loves Sirius, I saw him try to kiss him the other day.” James grinned.
“That was only because I helped him on his Transfiguration homework.” I grimaced at the memory. “He would have kissed anyone since it was due in ten minutes.”
Albus and Lily grinned.
The next few hours were filled with James tormenting Albus, I think he was trying to fit the last three and a half months into one day, Lily stealing James’ wand and using it to change her winged rabbit different colors, and me wondering how on earth these are Harry’s and Ginny’s children. While they all shared very similar face and features with their parents and grandparents, I realized for the first time since I met James, their personalities were completely off. James, had an older brother feel to him when he needed it, but also picked on Albus like no one’s business. Albus, who was a little more refined than his brother actually had a meaner streak when it came down to it, he remembered everything James said or did to him and paid him back tenfold. However, Albus seemed nicer than James was for the most part. While James just had an overprotective brother complex over his siblings, Albus seemed to admire James and look after Lily well. When compared to the first James and Harry their personalities just didn’t match up completely. Albus did seem to behave more like Harry and James the second was more like the first James, but they seemed off. I suppose I should just separate them completely and not compare them anymore, but it was so hard, especially when James and James shared the same name. So confusing…
Setting James and Albus aside, Lily was the one that through me off the most. While she seemed like a mix of Lily and Ginny in looks, she somehow developed a manipulative personality. The first Lily was very nice, quiet and only outgoing if she needed to defend her friends or family. This Lily was almost the opposite. She was completely outgoing, louder than James at times, which was hard to do, and could get James and Albus to do almost anything for her.
I don’t think she knew what to make of me yet, otherwise I’m sure she would have me dancing around her every whim as well.
As James hassled Albus some more, I found myself playing Wizard’s Chess with Lily after a while. After she beat me and she fixed the pieces with James’ wand, according to James she wants to practice, her head tilted toward the window.
“I think Mum and Dad are back.” She said over James and Al’s bickering.
They both looked over at her and sure enough a moment later you could hear the front door open and voice coming from below. I felt scared all of a sudden.
I shouldn’t be here.
I should have never come to Harry’s house. What if he figured me out? What if I slipped up? Thousands of things could go wrong. In the midst of my panic I heard James’ voice over all the other voices that now filled my head.
“Albus, Lily, go wake Teddy up.”
I heard them get up and leave, I remained where I was.
“Are you okay, Sirius?” I turned to James who had sat down next to me on the floor.
He had a worried look on his face and something in his eyes that I didn’t understand.
“Yes.” My voice cracked a little. “Just nervous to meet your parents.”
“Why are you worried Sirius?”
I didn’t answer.
James gave me a reassuring smile that did no such thing. “Don’t worry.” I did. “They’ll love you.” You don’t know that. “If they can put up with me, they can put up with you.” Yes, expect I was in Azkaban for a third of my life and if they knew who I really was well, I don’t want to think about that.
James pulled me up with him and looked me in the eyes.
“I’ll be here for you. There is no need to be afraid.” He told me. I didn’t completely understand how he knew I was freaking out about this or even why, but I nodded. “I’ve got your back.”
He smiled and turned toward the door.
It seemed like everything was in slow-motion and I felt like we’ve had this talk before. No, we didn’t, but the other James and I did.
After I had ran away, his house was the first stop I made. When I told him my Mother disowned me, he told me to move in with him. The idea seemed fantastic at the time and we were completely thrilled about it. Then reality came caving in on me as his parents returned home. I told him to forget about it and he frowned at me and said almost the same thing James just told me:
“Why are you worried Sirius? I’ll be here for you. There’s no need to be afraid. I’ve got your back.”
This seemed to push me then, and now the words mixed together with his Grandson’s and I followed James out the door and down the stairs.
A fresh wave of nostalgia came over me. I was as nervous as I was back then, but I couldn’t help smiling the whole time. James seemed relieved by my new attitude toward things and brought me into the kitchen where we found Ginny and Harry.
They seemed to be in the middle of talking and Ginny had a stern look on her face. Much like when I met her on Platform Nine and Three Quarters.
“…and I swear Harry, if they so much as think of calling you in while the family is here I’ll go and give Kingsley a swift kick in the goods, because there is no way in hell-Oh! Boys!” Ginny was the first to see us enter the kitchen. Harry turned around and looked, as well.
Harry looked much older now. He was no longer that little fifteen year old boy who ran to the Ministry to save his Godfather no, he grew up. He still had all the features I remembered, black hair, green eyes, lightning bolt scar, but he looked wiser and matured. He would be in his thirties now, and if my math was correct, the same age I was when I fell through the veil.
I felt my eyes water a little, but before anything else happened I composed myself. I wasn’t Sirius Black anymore, I was now Sirius Lee, James Sirius Potter’s best friend. I looked Harry full in the face and smiled. He smiled back.
“Hello, you must be Sirius Lee. James has written about you.” Harry said politely. “I’m Harry and this is my wife Ginny, who I heard you already met.”
“Yes, it’s a pleasure to see you again Mrs. Potter. I didn’t properly introduce myself last time.” I smiled and nodded at Ginny before I turned back to Harry. “And it’s a pleasure to finally met you Mr. Potter. James has told me all about you two.”
Ginny and Harry both laughed.
“Please, call me Ginny.” She corrected herself. “Excuse me, for our last meeting. I probably came off rather cross because of how livid I was at James, but I assure you it’s just part of raising boys.” She rolled her eyes and looked at her husband. “I blame you for that.”
Harry laughed. “Says the one with six brothers.” He then turned back to me. “You may call me Harry as well. I feel like I’m in school again when someone calls me ‘Mr. Potter.’”
I smile at them. “Thank you, for inviting me over for the holidays Harry and Ginny.”
“Anytime, Sirius.” Ginny said as she waved her wand and pots and pans appeared on the stove.
“Feel free to come over anytime you have break. I always did it to her parents.” Harry pointed to Ginny. “One time her brothers came and got me in a flying car.”
Ginny smile. “I remember Mum was a little livid at Ron and the twins for that one. She was ecstatic to see you though.”
I don’t think I knew that story. I wonder if it happened after I died. Or maybe before I got out of prison.
I felt more relaxed now. I felt like the worst was over and James was by my side the whole time. He looked like he was ready to come to my recue if needed, but fortunately that wasn’t necessary.
Pretty soon after, Ginny made a quick meal for us and we were all sitting down at the table. Teddy was drug down the stairs by Lily and Albus, still looking completely worn out, and we all started to dig in.
“How’s being Head Boy, Teddy?” Ginny asked him.
“Fine.” Teddy said indifferently.
Harry and Ginny looked at one another and then back to Teddy.
“What’s wrong?” Harry asked as he was finishing his plate and putting his fork down.
“Nothing, may I be excused? I didn’t get much sleep last night.”
I looked at his plate and saw he only ate about half of what was on it. Ginny nodded to him regardless and without saying another word he got up to leave for the guest room again.
“Do you know anything James?” Harry asked.
James shrugged and took a drink of butterbeer that Harry and Ginny had bought before they came home.
“I bet it’s his girlfriend.” Ginny said with a grin.
“Andromeda told me that he doesn’t have a girlfriend.” Harry told Ginny.
“Please, Harry!” Ginny rolled her eyes. “He’s very popular at school and he looks depressed when it’s his last year and the holidays. I bet you anything it’s a girl.”
“Lots of seventh year students have a lot of stress riding on them. I mean Ron, Hermione and I didn’t exactly have the best seventh year.” Harry defended Teddy.
“So instead of girlfriend trouble, you think that having Voldemort chasing after him is a more likely scenario?” Ginny raised an eyebrow.
“Sirius thinks that Teddy is upset because of Victoire.” James piped up as he finished his butterbeer.
“Victoire?” Harry asked.
“Yeah, Sirius says they are dating.” James told his parents.
Lily gave me an approving look. It seems like I wasn’t the only one that figured this out. I winked at her and she giggled. Albus on the other hand was as oblivious about this as James was.
“Nu-uh! There is no way they are dating!” Albus said out loud.
“What makes you think this, Sirius?” Harry asked.
“Just something I thought was obvious, Harry.” I told him with a grin.
Harry nodded, I wasn’t too sure if he believed me. Ginny however, seemed to click everything together and dropped the subject after that. So far it seemed only girls really believed me, so did that mean I turned into a girl when I got here? Perfect…
After Harry asked James how our first few months went, Harry turned back to me.
“So Sirius, tell us about yourself.”
“Umm…what do you want to know?” I asked. I wondered if I would have to start lying now. I never realized how little James asked about my family and stuff until now. Fred did, but James always seemed to respect my privacy and let me talk when I wanted to.
“Well, Sirius is an interesting name. Is there a reason your parents named you that?”
I didn’t have to lie here, but then again I didn’t have to be completely honest. I thought of the first James and how I got my last name.
“Yeah…they had a horrid sense of humor.” I said bitterly.
“You don’t like the name?” Harry asked somewhat hurt. I guess he was thinking of James’ middle name. James however, knew exactly where this was going and was already shaking trying not to laugh.
“No, no, nothing like that. I’m actually rather fond of the name Sirius, I just don’t think it matches well with my last name.” I glared at James. “I mean, Sirius Lee is a seriously horrendous name to have.”
I heard Albus start laughing and saw a smirk appear on Lily’s face. Harry and Ginny even looked slightly amused.
I felt an urge to punch the James Potter next to me though. Something made me believe that if I punched his Grandson hard enough that the other James would feel it beyond the grave.
“As you probably know James’ middle name is Sirius. I named him that after my Godfather though.”
We continued to talk for just a little while longer until Ginny dismissed us from the table and went to clean the kitchen. By the time everything starting to calm down it was already eleven and Ginny was rushing us off to bed. I was staying in James’ room of course, considering Teddy occupied the guest room and the Potter didn’t think any of the five hundred couches were worthy to sleep on.
As we walked up the stairs Lily gave her brothers and myself a hug goodnight and ran off to her room. Albus, James and I went onto the third floor. Before Albus could escape to his room, James nearly tackled him to the ground and forced him into giving him a hug. Albus, with now ruffled hair, retreated to his room in defeat.
I was surprised to see that my trunk had made its way up here already and that Ginny or Harry had made a second bed right next to James’. I didn’t know when because I thought I saw them the whole time and not once did I see them go upstairs.
We said our good-nights, turned the lights out and crawled in bed. It was silent for a few moments before I heard James’ voice.
I laughed. “Yes, James?”
“I’m glad you’re staying over. My Mum and Dad really like you. I think they want to adopt you and give me the boot.” I could tell James was pretending to pout.
“Aww, now James that’s not true. If they didn’t have you, who would steal Polyjuice Potion just to play Quidditch?” I decided I hadn’t talked about this in a while and now that we were alone it was the perfect time to tease him a bit.
James was silent for a moment. “Oh Merlin…Mum can’t find out about that! She would strangle me with my own belt.”
“Seriously, James. Who uses a Polyjuice Potion just for Quidditch?”
“I don’t know you tell me. You are Sirius Lee.”
“Very funny, James. Real original.” I rolled my eyes. Not that he could see this.
“Do you think I’m like my Father?” James asked suddenly.
I turned my head to his bed. I couldn’t make out his face, but I could tell he was facing me.
“Why do you ask James?” This came out of nowhere.
“Everyone compares me to him? The Boy who Lived, you know.” James sounded upset about this.
“Well that tends to happen with famous parents.” I remember being compared to Bellatrix and my other family members. After all, Black was practically royalty back then. My parents would probably scream if they knew that the Black name died off. That’s what you get when you want to keep the blood pure. “But no, you’re different from your Father.”
I laughed. “Well, I suppose you have the same face, but besides that you look nothing like him. Personality wise, from what I know, you seem a little more outspoken and immature.”
James laughed too. “I guess that’s true…”
There was a long pause.
“Do you have something else on your mind James?” I asked.
“What about my Grandfather?”
I froze. Where did this come from?
“Umm…I don’t know? I’ve never meet him.” I lied. Honestly speaking I knew him better than anyone. This was a bit too personal for me to answer completely. That is, if I didn’t want to give away my identity.
“Well he looks like my Dad.” James said. I would say, half your dad, half you. “Dad says he was more of a prankster and roamed around Hogwarts like a king.”
Well that does sound like him. I smiled.
“Does that sound like me?” James asked with a worried tone.
I thought for a moment. This is something that had been rattling around in my head since I meet the new James. Was he like the old James? This was my chance to answer honestly.
I didn’t speak for a minute, but then came to an answer.
“No, I don’t think you are like that.” I finally said.
It was true. James was more refined than the other James and he had a more responsible side that James didn’t develop until he started dating Lily. James was more caring and thought about the outcomes a little more than the previous one. Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of similarities, but they were more different than I have expected. Not in a bad way, just different.
“That’s good.” James let out a sigh; I wondered why he worried so much. It’s not like he knew I was Sirius Black. If so I could kind of understand these random questions. I rolled my eyes. The new James was a lot harder to understand. Maybe I was just rusty.
“It’s after midnight, which means that it’s Christmas.” I could almost see his grin.
I laughed. “Merry Christmas, James.”
“Merry Christmas, Sirius. Do you want to exchange presents, now?” James sounded eager.
“Who says I got you anything?” I asked, joking.
“Lumos.” James lit his wand. I saw him roll his eyes. “Don’t lie.”
I grinned a got up to get his present out of my bag. When I returned his present for me, was already on my bed.
I threw mine at him and he caught it, easily. “Merry Christmas, James. You are by far the most high maintenance friend I’ve ever had, with the exception of Fred.”
James grinned. “Thanks Sirius and you are my only friend whose name I can’t take seriously.”
“Open your gift before I decide to take it back.” I sat back down on my bed.
He tore the paper off and looked shocked. “How…how could you afford these?”
He picked up his gift and held his wand up to them to examine it farther. They were top quality Chaser gloves, made from Dragonhide. I heard James and Fred go on about them shortly after I found out James was on the Quidditch team. As for the money, McGonagall and Neville couldn’t exactly get my Black vault back. No, that was now in Harry’s name, as I always intended for it to be. However, they did find out that Bellatrix’s vault could only go to a Lestrange or Black. Her sister was denied access to it on the account of her name now being Malfoy, but I on the other hand was still a Black technically speaking. It meant that I had to go to Diagon Alley with Neville for “detention,” but the vault is now in my name. The goblins fortunately don’t report to the Ministry on vault transfers. My wand alone proved who I was, Neville and I paid them off to keep quiet and told them I was a long lost relative to the Black family. I doubt any of them believed us, but results are the only thing that matters.
I smirked at how Bellatrix would be absolutely livid if she found out her gold was now mine.
I looked back to James and saw he looked overjoyed and confused.
“Are they the right ones? You and Fred only talked about them for an hour or two.” I grinned.
James smiled back and nodded. “Your turn!” He demanded.
I reached for the small present on my bed now. It was thin and rectangular. I unwrapped it quickly and froze.
“It’s not what you think.” James said when I saw the insides of the package.
No, it was exactly what I thought. On top of the paper that incased James’ present was a small handheld mirror, the same mirror that I received from the first James Potter many years ago. This was a magical mirror that let me see the person who held the other mirror; I only had to say their name. I looked at the reflection in the mirror and saw myself.
I looked up at James and faked innocents. “What isn’t what I think?”
“Well I’m not just going to give you a crummy old mirror for Christmas when you got me Dragon gloves, now am I.” He took out his mirror. “Say my name.”
“Umm…James Potter.” I said out loud. His face showed up in the mirror. I pretended to be surprised.
“It’s a two way mirror. All you have to do is say my name and I’ll appear and we can talk. Anytime, anywhere.” James smiled.
“That’s cool…” I was having a hard time choking back what I really wanted to know. How did James get a hold of these? Was it Harry? If so how did he get the other one? “Where did you even get these?”
“My dad, he never said who gave it to him, but his was broken. He found all the piece when he found the other one.” James said staring down at his. “I fixed his and begged him to let me have the other one.”
I nodded. So James didn’t know that I gave it to Harry. I wonder how Harry found the other.
“I love it James.” I was almost in tears. I composed myself. “Merry Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas.” James smiled.
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