Chapter 15 : Chapter 15 - Belinda
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We had never been very big celebrators of Christmas day. I knew Wizarding families that treated the day just like any more religious Muggle would, but my parents never really had much time for it. As we were younger Ben and I did most of the decorating and cooking for the big day. It was only in the last few years I had at Beauxbatons that my mother and papa had started joining in the festivities; though my mother didn’t like the food much associated with this time of year, and my father thought gift-sharing was overrated, they were at least supportive of the family atmosphere.
It was a time that I generally kept for being with my family, though this year Isabelle also seemed to be more that then she had been in the past. She permanently had her hand glued in Ben’s, and more often than not, their lips were joined too. It wasn’t as though I’d thought she wouldn’t be here for the holidays, but I had thought she’d be spending more time with me than my older brother.
She did however, choose to spend Christmas eve out of Ben’s arms and in the kitchen with me. My mother never really had the knack for Christmas cooking, or the liking for cooking in general, so she left food to be organised by either Ben or I. Ben decided to buy gifts while I was left alone to make mince pies. Well, I was alone until Izzy knocked at the door.
‘You’re not with Ben?’ I asked as she barrelled, somehow gracefully, through the door, shaking away the cold and puffing out her rosy cheeks as she breathed in the warm air.
‘Nope,’ she winked, reaching out gloved hands, ‘I came to spend the day with you,’ she grinned, as her arms enclosed me in a hug.
I was somewhat doubtful as to how much help she’d be but grateful for at least some time with her I welcomed her into the kitchen and hung up her festively red cloak on the hook.
‘What are we cooking?’ Isabelle asked, rubbing her hands together enthusiastically before hoisting herself up onto a counter.
I smiled. There was something about her enthusiasm that reminded me of when we were kids. I pointed over to a large china bowl filled with pastry dough, ‘mince pies,’ then indicated to the plate on the table, ‘Yule Log, and we can cook the turkey tomorrow, but we should probably prepare the Christmas Pudding today...’
‘How many people are you planning on feeding,’ Isabelle laughed loudly, shaking her dark hair and taking a chocolate frog from the pile of sweets that Mariano had brought over the other day. ‘Mr Potter,’ she held up the card to show me, seeming pleased with herself and reading the back carefully.
‘I know his son,’ I said absently as I swished my wand, commanding the dough for the mince pies to roll itself out, much more neatly and quickly than I could have managed.
‘What?’ Isabelle’s head snapped up, she looked at me with wide and eager eyes, ‘James Potter? The Quidditch player, oh Merlin he is so sexy it’s like...’
‘No,’ I felt slightly hurt for Albus, so that must be what it’s like being him, second place to James, ‘the other son, Albus.’
‘The one...’ Isabelle’s eyes narrowed, ‘from...’
‘Yes, the very same, and Scorpius, and we never met her then but Rose Weasley too.’
‘Scorpius,’ Isabelle’s lips formed the name very carefully, she hardly breathed it but still it hung in the air. To distract myself from the awkward silence I began putting fixing the pies in trays and spooning heaps of fruity jam into them.
‘Do they remember?’ she asked after several seconds of tense silence. I couldn’t tell what Isabelle was thinking, she was quite touchy when it came to this subject, but I knew that this was not a conversation I wanted to have, not now, not ever.
‘No,’ I looked up, ‘and I don’t plan on telling them.’
‘Obviously not,’ she put in. I shoved the first tray into the oven and set the timer across the room with my wand, while getting the dishes to wash up in the sink, ‘do you want to help or are you just going to sit there eating sweets?’
‘Helping,’ she jumped down off the counter with forced brightness in her voice and began picking out ingredients for the Yule Log, and following the recipe that was hovering in front of her. We didn’t go back to that conversation.
Ben returned home from Christmas shopping at lunch time, just after we’d finished gorging ourselves on sweets and sandwiches. We were talking about easier things, like how I missed France. ‘I don’t really think about it a lot,’ I confessed as Isabelle asked what I missed most. ‘It’s kind of just, this little nagging thought that most of the time I can push away but sometimes I think of what you guys must be doing here and I get a little sad.’
‘Aw,’ Isabelle crooned.
‘Isn’t that adorable,’ Ben added, standing in the doorframe waving his wand lazily in front of his face.
‘Go away Benny,’ I pushed his arm as I passed by carrying a armload of bowls that needed washing. ‘Unless you want to make lunch.’
‘No, don’t leave,’ Isabelle cut in neatly, dabbing cake mix on Ben’s nose and kissing it off him in this cute couple-y way that made me feel slightly ill.
‘Izzy please, PG13.’ I grimaced, Isabelle gave me a strange look, she probably didn’t even understand what I meant by PG13, it was more of a Muggle thing anyways. However it was safe to say even if she did understand she didn’t care because she continued the overly disturbing “cuteness” with Ben. I was grossed out to say the least. Particularly when the kissing started. That really was the limit.
‘Oh Maman,’ Ben broke away from Isabelle who nuzzled, catlike into his shoulder. I turned to see our mother tutting over the smells floating around the room and surveying the kitchen which resembled a bombsite of flour and broken eggs. ‘There’s a letter for you, the House Elf delivered gave it to me, I left it in the study.’
Her face paled a little, ‘did you open it?’ she asked, forced lightness almost undetectable in her voice.
‘No I was in a hurry,’ Ben brushed off.
Her shoulder’s dropped and she sighed a little, ‘I better go and see to it.’
~ ~ ~
The night before Christmas there was a strange atmosphere around the house. Papa had gone out with some of his friends from the French Ministry, as was his custom, and when he returned a hushed conversation had taken place in the hallway before we sat down for our Christmas meal. Isabelle’s family had joined us but her father was not altogether there either. This time of year was particularly hard on her family for reasons neither of our parents would like to talk about.
Mariano’s family had declined the offer to join us as they had prior engagements, which Mariano did not seem altogether thrilled about. Even Ben wasn’t so attached to Isabelle’s face as normal, I wasn’t complaining about that though. I was slightly afraid the mood would continue in the morning and Christmas would not be the same. However I was wrong and, as per usual, I was woken up by Ben at a far too early hour of the morning.
Isabelle was lounged out on the mattress that had been laid out beside my bed. Her hair was twisted on her head in a knot and she was wearing very pink, very silky pyjamas.
Monkey was in the room too, curled up in his little doggy bed with his forked tail wagging furiously in the air. It had always made Ben laugh to see him like that.
Ben was standing above me with his wand all to near to my face. ‘I will soak you with water,’ he threatened cheekily. I was in the living room before a spell could even be muttered.
‘Joyeaux Noel, ma Cherie,’ Papa boomed, bursting into the room behind me, decked in robes that he only ever wore at Christmas. He had a boyish grin plastered to his face, but Maman was nowhere to be seen.
Ben and Isabelle appeared shortly after, both laden with gifts that were dumped near a large pile under the tree. Isabelle collapsed into the sofa beside me whilst Ben brought out steaming mugs of hot chocolate beside a tottering house elf, who had already made an early morning snack of mince pies.
‘Ou est Maman?’ Ben asked, switching to French, which he had done so little during the time I’d stayed here.
I was beginning to wonder the same thing, as normal as the morning seemed there was always the constant nagging fear that something would go wrong.
‘Ici,’ maman breezed in gracefully, as though nothing was wrong, which was clearly not the truth from the expression on her face. ‘Open your presents,’ she beamed, there was something false about the way she held her slender frame, had she lost more weight since I had arrived, if she had she wasn’t letting us know, ‘I hope you like the gifts I picked out for you.’ She reached down to her own little pile of presents and began to pick at the wrapping of the smallest box.
We all followed suit, ignoring whatever secret that was hidden behind her eyes.
I was always thrilled at Christmas time, with the amount of presents I received. Each year I never expected it could get any better, but each year it did. Isabelle bought me the same presents each year; Muggle clothing. I had quite a collection now, of tiny shorts and flowery summer dresses and t-shirts with bitchy logos. This year was no exception; my closet was restocked with no-doubt expensive designer muggle clothes. These were matched by jewellery that Maman gave me in attempt to make me more girly, Papa on the other hand knew that the only things I would really use were books, and so piles were stacked up in my room, waiting to be flooed back to London, despite his disapproval in gift-giving. Ben followed tradition too, he always gave me something bizarre found in the tiniest Wizarding antique shops, which this year consisted of a tiny owl ornament decked in slightly dull jewels, that flapped it’s wings every so often. It was wrapped with a hair clip, of sorts, that was decorated with the same dull jewels and actually matched quite nicely, the thick yet somehow attractive woollen jumper that had come from Isabelle. Mariano had also had the courtesy to send chocolate, and a letter from Rose and Scorpius had arrived with an owl saying that they’d left a gift for me in my apartment (I didn’t like to think how they got in there.) And lastly was a box of odd looking... toys, for need of a better word, that I would have to go through later, with a short note.
I never got to take you to my Uncle’s Joke Shop, but we’ll go when you get home.
I was quite touching that my friends from England had remembered me at Christmas time, what with their own busy lives and huge families to shop for. It wasn’t though I hadn’t given them anything, before I left I made sure Rose was well stocked with Muggle romance novels and Albus had a good supply of Muggle movies, I just hadn’t really been sure what to expect from them.
‘From your friends?’ Ben asked, looking at my pile of gifts that was slightly smaller than his or Isabelle’s. Our parents had head off in search of breakfast, and Isabelle had gone to apply her thick layers of makeup with the new products I’d given her from Al’s cousin Victoire’s shop back in England.
‘Yeah,’ I mumbled, fingering at the books that were there, that I was itching to read.
‘You haven’t really told me about them.’ He collapsed on the sofa, waiting for some kind of explanation.
‘What is there to tell really, Rose is a trainee Healer at the hospital there, she lives with her boyfriend Scorpius, and then there’s Albus-’
‘Potter.’ Ben finished.
‘Was it only me who was oblivious to the Potter family.’
‘His brother is a big Quidditch star, and his sister should probably take up some modelling career, she’s in enough magazine’s anyway, and his father, well, everyone knows Harry Potter.’
I shrugged, ‘well yeah, he’s really nice... a little... interesting...’
‘In what way?’ Ben asked sharply.
‘I don’t know, he’s got some big secret, you probably shouldn’t mention that to anyone.’ I put in.
‘An you’re still getting involved with him?’
‘We’re not involved,’ I argued with an eye roll, ‘we’re friends, nothing more, nothing less.’
‘Belle,’ Ben began carefully, ‘you do know that this family-’
‘Yes Ben,’ I snapped, ‘but they don’t know me, I barely remembered them, I only realise Albus was... that Albus recently, I haven’t even met his parents.’
‘Don’t make it hard for mum and dad.’
‘I wasn’t the one that was deported, I could have stayed there my entire life,’ I hissed, ‘I’m not the one with a criminal record and nor are you, I don’t know why you’re acting like it’s a big deal, the ministry know I’m there.’
‘Because I don’t want you getting hurt,’ he replied in a hushed whisper, ‘and I don’t want mum and dad hurt either.’
‘Well you can’t have both.’ I stood up hautily and walked away, sour thoughts ruling my mind.
I’d rather not spend Christmas thinking about my history but now that seemed inevitable.
I can't even apologise enough for how useless I have been with updates recently... because to be honest apart from exams I have no decent excuse... but exams are a good excuse right?
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Ou est Maman – Where is mum?
Joyeaux Noel, ma Cherie – Merry Christmas my dear/darling
Ici - Here
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