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Chapter 9 : Birthdays and Snow
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With a wolfish grin on her face, Marlene ripped into the paper. Scraps of it ended up everywhere in the Common Room, but no one bothered to point that out - they were all too busy watching her face light up with glee."You’re kidding me!" She grinned again. "This is amazing Cor. How did you do it?" She placed the scrapbook that held pictures of all seven girls on the floor and leaned over to hug Coralie.
"It wasn’t too hard." Lily and Coralie shared a knowing look. They’d be up late almost every night trying to find good pictures of each of the girls as well ones of the Marauders and even of Marlene’s family. It hadn’t been easy, especially considering they had to hide it every time Marlene would walk into the dormitory. That had made getting everyone to include their own little notes incredibly difficult and time-consuming, but they’d learnt to be very sneaky.
"Where’d you get the book? It’s insanely gorgeous," Marlene commented, flipping the book over in her hands as she inspected every inch of it.
"It’s from France," Coralie replied, "From Orleans specifically, where I’m from. The muggles say it’s infused with some kind of ‘magic’, it’s supposed to make your friendships last forever."
"Yeah, so no cutting us out, eh Marls?" James teased from his place on the armchair.
"I make no promises. It depends how you act towards me as to whether I decide you deserve being in here or not." Marlene grinned, popping a cube of cheese in her mouth from the platter that sat on the table beside her. "That goes for all of you, by the way." She sent them all pointed looks. "Except Cor, this present has given her immunity." Coralie laughed.
"You should probably know then that Lily helped me collect all the photos, especially the ones of your family." Marlene grinned, leaning over to hug Lily as well.
"Okay, Lily’s safe too." Lily beamed at her friend. "Though, if the rest of you buy me presents from France then I won’t cut any of you out at all."
"Damn it," Sirius whispered, staring down at his badly wrapped present. "Guess I’m out then."
"I’m disappointed in you Sirius, I really am. I thought we had something special but if you can’t buy me gifts from France, then I suppose you don’t really love me after all." At this, Marlene buried her head in Miranda’s shoulder and pretended to sob loudly as Miranda rubbed her shoulder soothingly.
"But, I hope you’ll still accept my crappy birthday present," Sirius said, handing his package off to Marlene who grinned and ripped into it. It was a leather bound journal with a beautiful old clasp. Marlene smiled, undoing the clasp so that she could flick through the yellow-tinted pages.
"It’s beautiful. Thank you Sirius." She smiled again, gently placing the journal among the other presents.
"That’s all of them, right?" Everyone nodded. "Well then, I’d like to thank you all of you for your wonderful presents. Honestly, you are all amazing!"
"Aw, you’re cute Marls," Kiki cooed, blowing kisses to Marlene who pretended to catch each of them.
"But really. Thank you all so much for actually buying me things, but even more than that for being here. Extra special thanks to James and Sirius for not organising a massive party this year without me having to threaten them. This is so much better!" Marlene grinned again, carefully stacking all of her presents into a neat pile so that she’d be able to carry them upstairs once they were done down here. "Enough of that mushy stuff anyway, we’ve got food to eat!"
"Amen!" James yelled, as everyone began to dig into the food in front of them. Soon, they were all laughing and throwing little bits of food around the room at each other - laughing even harder when they managed to hit each other square in the eye.
Since arriving at Hogwarts, Coralie had discovered a new love for many things. The Castle and its grounds for one, but also for Hogsmeade and for the Halloween Feast, for her new friends and for the Gryffindor Common Room, but nothing surprised her more than her growing love for Quidditch.
It wasn’t a sport that was frequently at her old school - it was in the middle of Orleans and the muggles surely would have noticed people flying around on broomsticks. In addition to that, Coralie’s dad was not a big fan of the game so none of the Bennett children had seen a game. She wasn’t excited for her first game anyway - it seemed like a ridiculous sport. However it was a big thing at Hogwarts - everyone seemed to be in attendance, even those whose houses weren’t even playing. Coralie figured it must be pretty spectacular if they were all willing to face the cold just to see a bunch of balls being thrown around.
The pitch was bigger than Coralie imagined it would be. It looked even bigger sitting in the stands. Lily wasn’t much of a fan so the girls had banished her to the end of the row so that Coralie could have a ‘full Quidditch experience’. She wasn’t sure that she’d liked the sound of that. That was until the game started. She cheered with everyone else as the Gryffindor team flew out, though she tried desperately to ignore the looks that Sirius was sending in her direction. She pretended that they were made for some girl behind them, and maybe they were? She brushed the thought off anyway.
Once the snitch had been released, Coralie didn’t even have time to think about Sirius. She watched the game carefully, making the same noises as everyone else whenever someone was bumped into or a bludger flew too close. In the corner of her eye, she could see Marlene looking over and grinning at her every now and again. Marlene, unlike Lily, was massively obsessed with the game. Whenever there was something Coralie didn’t quite understand, Marlene was quick to explain it in basic terms before any of the other girls even had the chance to respond.
Marlene’s spirit was catchy and hard to ignore. Soon enough, Coralie was joining her - yelling things at the Gryffindor team as they passed as if she knew more about the game than they did. She could see that sometimes her yelling attracted James’ attention as he flew past and she could see his head shake with laughter. She just hoped that it wasn’t distracting enough that they’d lose the game.
That thought made her laugh to herself, which caused Alice to look over at her with raised eyebrows.
"I think I’m becoming a real Quidditch fan," she yelled over the noise - the girls laughed and Alice shuffled closer to her so that she wouldn’t have to yell.
"Now you’re a real Gryffindor," she said with a grin, before the two of them turned their attention back to the game. Gryffindor was up by 90 points - Hufflepuff, their competitors, had only managed to score twenty points. The snitch had yet to be spotted, but the girls assured her that Gryffindor’s seeker - the small but incredibly quick Ness Perry, who was Miranda’s cousin as well as Angus’ new friend, was sure to catch it.
Coralie had to admit that the girl was adorable in that little sister kind of way. She had dark brown hair that was practically black - it was tied back in a neat ponytail for the game. She had sweet-looking face, though she was so concentrated on the game that she looked fierce. It was when the girl smiled at something a chaser said - another of Angus’ friends - that Coralie could see the resemblance between Miranda and Ness. The girl was quick on her broom - she had darted her way through the Hufflepuff players and towards a flicker of gold before the seeker for the other team had even realised she’d moved. Unfortunately for the Hufflepuff, Ness had already closed her fingers around the snitch and was about to land before he could move.
The screaming from the Gryffindor stands continued as the rest of the team landed beside her and threw their arms around her in celebration. It had been an easy win. However Coralie still couldn’t understand how quickly she had fallen for the game.
The weeks that led up to the Christmas break were easily some of the best times for Coralie. She’d spent more time with Angus in those weeks than she had before her ‘accident’ and had the chance to officially talk to Ness, who was undoubtedly the nicest friend Angus had ever had, as well as Angus’ roommates, Mattie and Ryan Davies, who were also lovely though massive troublemakers. Despite that, she was just glad that her brother had made such nice friends. Even though they were both returning home for the holidays, she still enjoyed being able to spend time with Angus.
Coralie also got to spend a lot of time with her own friends. As it turned out, she, Marlene and Mary ended up having ridiculous amounts of fun in Potions class together, especially as Mary had a habit of messing up her own potion. Maybe they weren’t exactly passing with flying colours like Lily, but the three of them weren’t doing too badly for themselves. Besides, Lily was always willing to lend them a little extra help whenever they needed it.
In fact, Lily had easily become Coralie’s best friend at Hogwarts. They both felt incredibly comfortable with one another and spent a lot of their time together studying in the library or laughing about something in between classes. Lily reminded Coralie a lot of Emma, but also a lot like Marcelle - the fact that Lily was a mixture between Coralie’s best friend and mother was one of the reasons they seemed to get along so well. Sometimes she couldn’t help but wonder if they wouldn’t have become friends if Shelena had returned to the school, but Coralie knew better than to mention Lily’s ex-best friend’s name. It only made her upset.
Her friendship with the rest of the girls and even with the Marauders had also strengthened. Though, she still felt wary of Sirius. He seemed to have lost his interest in her though - she and Alice had very awkwardly stumbled upon him and a girl. She felt more relieved by that discovering than anything else. At least now she understood what the girls meant by him.
The first snow had fallen that week. Coralie sat restlessly next to Lily in Ancient Runes - in Ancient Runes, their last class of the day on Fridays, and everyone had agreed to a walk outside before dinner. To say Coralie was excited by this prospect would have been an understatement.
"Do you even remember how to breathe?" Lily teased her, nudging her in the arm as Professor Babbling wrote something down on the board. Coralie, very maturely, stuck her tongue out at her friend.
"Usually we’d just have to stay at home when it snowed, but here we can actually go outside rather than just sit down all day," Coralie whispered, the excitement clear in her voice.
"Hey, I’m only joking. I get it, I love the snow as much as you do - Winter is my absolute favourite season," Lily replied, copying the notes down onto her parchment. "Well, it wasn’t until I came to Hogwarts but it’s kind of hard not to love how the grounds look."
"Usually, I hate the snow," Coralie admitted, "but I’m actually looking forward to it this year. I think because it’s not just about how the grounds are going to look, but this year it means I’ll get to go home and see my family."
"Your family is so lovely." Lily smiled and Coralie sent her a knowing look.
"Is that because you’ve got a bit of a thing for my brother?" Coralie asked. Lily turned bright red and diverted her attention back to her notes. "You know, I think he’s got a bit of a thing for gingers, you know?" she teased, ignoring the scoff that escaped from Lily’s mouth. "I’m serious, two of his previous four girlfriends have been gingers. I don’t make this stuff up."
"Are you trying to play matchmaker, Miss Bennett?" Lily asked coyly, sending Coralie a wink.
"It’s just, I suppose he kind of looks like James and if you aren’t going to go out with him then you could at least give my brother a try," Coralie responded cheekily. Lily choked on her saliva at her comment and Coralie had to stop writing her notes to pat her on the back.
"Miss Evans, are you alright?" Professor Babbling asked just as the class drew to a close. Lily could only nod in reply as the class began to pack up their things and exit the room.
"I can’t believe you said that. Where do you come up with this stuff?" Lily asked, as they headed up to the Gryffindor Common Room to drop their things off before they met up with everyone else.
"I just call it as I see it," Coralie responded, bumping Lily’s side.
"I think you must be blind or something," Lily muttered dryly, following Coralie grudgingly up the stairs. "You better hope that you’re nice to me from now on otherwise you might just find yourself being pummelled into the ground by my snowballs very soon."
"You wouldn’t do that," Coralie responded, slipping her arms through Lily’s.
"Don’t bet on it."
As it turned out, Lily would dare. Coralie had been practically buried in snowballs that Lily had spelled to hit her. It turned out that the other girls had thought it was hilarious and had joined in, until Coralie had told them the story and then they had changed sides. It turned out that they all agreed, though they were also all willing to take Lily’s place if she decided she didn’t want Jacob either. Lily had tried to attack again, but with six against one - she was overpowered and was forced to give up.
Coralie was still shivering from the cold. She decided that maybe, after all, she didn’t love the snow that much. Though, she still felt excited to return home in a couple of days. As much as she missed her family, she knew she’d miss her friends as soon as she got home, just like she’d miss her family as soon as she returned to Hogwarts after the break.
She’d miss each of the girls equally, at least all of them except for Lily who she knew she’d miss just slightly more than the others. She was so grateful to Lily for making her first few months at Hogwarts so easy. She couldn’t imagine what it would have been like without her.
The dormitory was empty again - Coralie had hung back to have a shower while the others went to dinner. She wasn’t feeling particularly hungry yet - she was still too focused on the cold. After she wrapped herself up in a couple of layers, she made her way down to the Common Room to sit by the fire before joining her friends in the Great Hall. When she got down there though, she noticed that Lily was sitting there waiting for her.
"You weren’t hungry either?" Lily shook her head but offered no other response. "I was just going to warm up and then head down there myself."
"I need to tell you something," Lily finally answered, tearing her eyes away from the flickering flames. Coralie furrowed her brow slightly. "I feel terrible about it, especially since you’ve been perfectly lovely to me lately and you’ve become my new best friend."
"You’re mine too," Coralie interrupted - Lily smiled brightly in response but it was replaced with a solemn expression again in seconds.
"I read your letter." Lily paused. Coralie could feel the colour draining from her face and her smile faltering, but she didn’t say a word. "I know it was a complete breach of your privacy and you have every right to be angry at me for it, but it was lying on the floor and you seemed so upset by it. I thought maybe someone had died or something - I just wanted to make sure you were going to be okay. I didn’t expect...that."Coralie let out the breath that she was holding.
"It’s why we left France," she whispered after a moment’s silence. "He, I can’t say his name," Lily nodded in understanding, "He found us one day. It was a ball - my dad used to host them for my birthday every year, for all of our birthdays. He seemed lovely at first, he was very handsome but then he tried to hurt me. Angus and I had to run and hide in the paddock behind our house - we thought he was gone but he starting sending letters like that. Then we moved here. We’re hiding from him." Lily stared at Coralie - tears had begun to form in her eyes but she wiped them away before they fell.
"I’m sorry," she whispered, "I just - you’re such a lovely person and your family is wonderful too. I don’t understand why anyone would want to hurt you." She let out a shaky breath. "I know it’s not much, but I’ll do anything I can to keep you safe." This time it was Coralie who wiped away the tears from her eyes.
"Thank you, Lily."
Authors Note: So, it’s not exactly the big reveal but it gives you a little insight into what happened. I think, so far, this is my favourite chapter. Personally, I really love the friendship that is growing between Coralie and Lily and luckily, there is plenty more of that later. The next couple of chapters are about Christmas break and then things really start to kick off.
I hope you liked this chapter as much as I did and that you will continue to read on. Thank you so much for reading and I’ll have the next chapter out as soon as I can. Finally, I’d like to thank my lovely beta Raine again, I honestly could not manage this without her!
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