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Chapter 10 : Christmas Day
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The snow had continued to fall and so by the time Christmas Day rolled around, the front door of the Bennett house could barely open. Inside the Bennett house, things were in full swing by nine o’clock. Everyone, even Jacob who rather liked to sleep in until at least noon most days, was up. Marcelle was working her way through each room, making sure that absolutely everything was in perfect condition. Jacob was setting the dining table, with enough place for each of the Bennetts, include Allisyn and her daughter, as well as Aunt Gisele, Uncle Adrien and their three children - Elliot, Remy and Lottie. Angus had been left in charge of moving all the Christmas presents to their place under the tree, though it took him a bit longer as he stopped to shake all of his presents. The act of not putting the presents under the tree until Christmas morning had become a tradition after they’d all made it downstairs one year to find that Jacob had already ripped open all of his presents and was starting on Violet’s. He was already sixteen at the time. Coralie and Violet had been left in charge of the food, or at least of the desserts - they were simply the best at checking to make sure that all the food was safe for everyone else to eat.
By eleven, almost everything was in place. Coralie and Violet had just moved the last of the desserts into the fridge when the doorbell had rung. Being closest to the door, Angus had opened it and ushered Allisyn and Haley inside.
“Maman?” Allisyn called out, handing a bag of presents over to Angus who placed them under the tree with the rest.
“Allisyn, ma cherie!” Marcelle exclaimed, making her way over to the door to greet her eldest child in a tight hug. “And my little flower.” She smiled, bending down to Haley’s level so that she could wrap her arms around her too.
“Bonjour grandmamma,” Haley giggled, kissing Marcelle on the cheek. Though Haley had grown up speaking mostly English, she was determined to speak French whenever she came to visit.
“Are Vi and Cora in the kitchen as usual?” Allisyn asked, motioning towards the kitchen. Marcelle nodded in response, and Allisyn disappeared into the kitchen. “Look at you two!” she teased, looking between her two younger sisters.
“Allisyn!” Coralie half-squealed, moving around the kitchen counter so that she could hug Allisyn. Her older sister let out an excited laugh and spun Coralie around before placing her back on the floor.
“You’re almost getting too old for that,” she sighed, moving to kiss Violet on the cheek. “I can’t believe your already going to be seventeen next year, can you Vi?” Violet shook her head with a laugh. “I feel so old, but I can still remember the day you were born.”
“Yes, yes.” Coralie waved her arms around dramatically, “You’re both almost old enough to be in a retirement home. Trust me, I’m working on finding you both a nice one by the sea.”
“Oh, you’ve gotten cheeky,” Allisyn teased, tickling Coralie around the waist, while the latter tried to escape, “What have they been teaching you at that new school of yours?”
“I don’t think they’ve been teaching her anything,” Violet replied, “Except how to attract all the boys.” Violet winked at her, as Coralie rolled her eyes.
“Ooh, shall we be expecting a boy for Easter then?” Coralie scoffed and rolled her eyes in response, but Violet nodded her head. “Is there already a boy?” Coralie sent Allisyn a look.
“There’s two,” Violet responded before Coralie had the chance. Allisyn pretended to be shocked and threw her head back in happy laughter. “One’s just a ‘friend’, apparently. But he sent our little Cor a bunch of flowers.” Allisyn made kissing noises at this. “The other, Sirius Black, refused to leave the Hospital Wing until he knew Cor was alright.”
“Oh, Cor! Why didn’t you write me a letter with all these details?” Allisyn cooed, throwing her arm around Coralie’s shoulder and going back into the living room.
“Because there aren’t any details,” Coralie replied dryly and when both her sisters sent her knowing looks she continued, “Remus is honestly just a friend. And Sirius, well he’s not my type.”
“Cor has already figured out her type?” Allisyn mocked, sending Coralie a wink. “Besides, I don’t believe you. I need to hear all about this Sirius boy.”
“There’s nothing to tell. He’s nothing, no one, unimportant, so stop it,” Coralie snapped, picking up some of the snack-filled plates and making her way out of the kitchen without looking back at her sisters.
“Is she alright?” Allisyn whispered once Coralie was far enough away. Violet shrugged her shoulders, as the two of them watched after their little sister. “Has something happened at Hogwarts?” Allisyn pressed on, grabbing onto Violet’s arm and forcing her sister to look at her. “Has she told you anything?”
Violet rolled her eyes. “If you can remember, Alli, Coralie and I haven’t told each other anything since we were about ten. I don’t think that’s going to change. This isn’t some Christmas miracle.”
Allisyn sighed, letting go of Violet’s arm and pretending to busy herself with one of the plates in front of her. “I thought you were getting along better. You looked like you were,” Allisyn paused for a moment, looking up to stare at Violet, “When are you going to let this go? It’s not her fault you’re here. You can’t blame it on her forever, otherwise you’re going to get left behind, Vi.”
“Oh, sorry I forgot. Coralie’s always been everyone’s favourite, hasn’t she?” Violet snapped. Allisyn opened her mouth to retort, but Violet continued. “I know, alright? Jacob will always protect Cora. Angus and Haley will always look up to her. You’ll always treat her like a little kid. Papa will take time off work to come and visit her and Maman will move to a completely different country for her. But not for me, never for me.”
“Violet,” Allisyn exclaimed, grabbing back onto Violet’s arm. “Stop it. Cora never asked for any of this.”
“I know, but I always did,” Violet replied, tearing her arm out of Allisyn’s grip and storming off in the direction of her room.
Allisyn let out a loud sigh. Leaning back on the kitchen counter, she closed her eyes and tangled her fingers in her hair. “Why is Christmas always so tiring?” she whispered to herself.
“Would it really be a Bennett Christmas if it wasn’t?” Allisyn opened her eyes, and smiled softly at Jacob who stood beside her. “What did Vi say to Cora?”
“Why did you assume it was Violet that said something?”
“Come off it, we both know that it was her. There’s no one that can get Cora quite as riled up as Vi.” Jacob sent her a pointed look.
“I’m beginning to suspect that Cora might have found someone else.” At this, Jacob sent her a confused look. “A boy. One that riles her up just as much as Vi can.”
Jacob furrowed his eyebrows at this, and pushed himself away from the counter. “That’s a scary thought.”
Soon enough, the whole family was seated around the table for lunch. All the presents had been opened - Coralie’s favourite gift was a collection of cloth-bound books given to her by Lottie, who now sat beside her at the table.
Lottie was only a few weeks younger than Coralie. As a result, they’d always been rather close when they were younger but then Adrien had taken a job in Paris and the family moved with him. They’d never really fallen out as such, but the distance between Orleans and Paris had made it more difficult. Somehow, despite the distance, whenever they were reunited it was as if they had never been apart. Coralie loved that.
“You have to tell me about all ze cute English boys,” Lottie giggled, twirling a piece of her short hair around her finger. “All ze boys at my school are positively boring,” she continued with a roll of her eyes.
“What are you two gossiping about down there?” Marcelle asked with a knowing smile, she winked at the two of them before turning her attention back to her sister.
“Well, the boys aren’t that different here,” Coralie started, but at Lottie’s glare, she sighed, “Okay, some of the boys are really different from those in France. I don’t really know many, except for these four boys.”
“Cors,” Lottie leaned closer to her, “Don’t you hide anything from me.”
“Okay, these four boys. They’re very popular, and they’re pranksters too -” At Lottie’s confused look, she paused for a moment. “They joke a lot, and cause trouble.” Lottie nodded in understanding. “I’m friends with one of them - his name is Remus. He’s the most serious of them, but he’s very lovely. Then there’s Peter, he’s very quiet but he’s nice too. Then there’s James, he’s completely smitten with my friend, Lily, but…”
“She does not like him back?” Lottie finished off her sentence. “Do you remember mon ami, Marie? There is a cute boy that likes her, but she refuses to believe him.” Lottie trailed off for a moment. “It’s sad, isn’t it? It’s always those kind of girls who get the boys, while the rest of us have to wait around.” Coralie raised her eyebrow slightly. She could not believe that her cousin, with her doll-like features and ballerina figure, did not have plenty of boys in love with her. “Anyway, tell me about this last boy.”
Coralie sighed, “Sirius,” she paused, watching as a grin spread across Lottie’s features. “He’s a definite ladies’ man, a bit of bad boy, a smartass - you know the drill.”
“Oh, and you like him.” Coralie’s mouth dropped open and she shook her head furiously, but Lottie only chuckled in response. “You definitely like him, and I bet he likes you back.”
“No, you don’t understand -” Lottie raised her eyebrows, but Coralie ignored her, “Sirius Black doesn’t like girls, you see. Not like that, he uses them, sure, but he doesn’t like them.”
“Maybe, but you can change him,” Lottie responded dreamily, staring into space, “I’ve heard his name before. There is a girl at my school who speaks of him. I’m not friends with her, but he’s become quite the centre of gossip among the other girls.”
“That sounds like him,” Coralie replied dryly, popping a roast potato in her mouth.
“Anyway, let’s not talk about boys anymore,” Lottie grinned, snapping her attention back to Coralie. “Tell me about the books you’re reading at the moment.” Coralie grinned at this. Now this was a subject she could talk for hours about.
As Christmas day came to an end at the Bennett house, Coralie made her way back upstairs. She’d made a neat pile in the corner of the room of all her new gifts - she’d find a proper home for them tomorrow when she started packing her trunk for Hogwarts.
At the thought of Hogwarts, a smile spread across her face. She loved being at home with her family, she really did, and it was especially great to see her cousins. She and Lottie had talked for hours about all sorts of things, and she’d even joked around with Elliot and Remy too. Sure, she and Violet had barely made eye contact all day but was that really out of the ordinary? She’d miss Jacob, and her mother and Allisyn too, but little Haley had promised to write to ‘Aunty Cora’ every single day. Still, Coralie couldn’t wait to see her friends again.
Everyone had sent letters, as Coralie had sent hers last night. As expected, Lily’s letter had by far been the longest but every letter had been nice. She’d even received ones from Remus and James (with a note from Peter included), though there hadn’t been a single word from Sirius. Coralie was adamant that this proved that Lottie’s theory was wrong. Besides, she didn’t care whether he sent her anything or not. No, not at all.
Lottie had even taken a letter for Emma, as Coralie wasn’t allowed to send it herself, and she promised she forward on any letters that came for her. She seemed more than happy to act as an owl between the two friends.
She found it hard to believe that only a year ago, she’d been sitting in her bedroom in France, giggling with Emma about something. Emma’s parents had been downstairs, Marcelle and Coralie’s father too, all drinking champagne and laughing too much. Coralie hadn’t had a worry in the world back then, except for who’d she dance with at the Melot’s New Years’ party or who would be her midnight kiss.
It seemed crazy now. Only a year later and so much had changed. She was in a new school, with new friends in a new country. Yet, there was so much that was the same. Jacob was as laidback as ever, Marcelle just as worried, Violet and Coralie were disagreeing as often as they did before. It was almost a comfort, having that division between the two of them. It kept Coralie’s mind off the fact that, really, nothing was the same.
Jacob wasn’t laidback anymore, Marcelle was more worried than ever before, Allisyn was losing her usual calmness, Angus was maturing far too fast, Violet was growing more and more resentful, her father wasn’t visiting, Emma wasn’t there and Coralie. Well, as much as she hated to admit it, Coralie had changed the most.
She’d been so carefree and calm back then, now she felt anxious and confused most of the time. She felt like she was suffocating here, like she was losing control. She hated that feeling, so she pretended she couldn’t tell. Maybe her family believed her, maybe they didn’t.
She just couldn’t wait until she was back at school, so she could let just a little of her act go. She fell asleep with that thought playing in her mind.
“Are you feeling alright?” Lily asked over the noise. Coralie didn’t bother to respond with words, she doubted Lily would have been able to hear her anyway, so instead she just nodded. Diagon Alley was packed full of people - it was only a few days after Christmas, and so the crowds were probably reasonable for the time of year but snow hadn’t helped the situation at all.
The girls had all organised to meet up for a coffee and some shopping, and so Lily had organised to travel by Floo via Coralie’s house. Coralie had teased that she just wanted to see Jacob again, but Lily was positive that it was not the reason at all. Inside, Coralie knew that Lily had just wanted to check on her.
Eventually, the two girls managed to slip into the little café that they’d all agreed to meet at. They were relatively early, and so Miranda was the only one waiting when they arrived. They all hugged and took a table by the cosy fire.
“Ness waited me to ask you how Angus was, apparently he’s a terrible letter writer,” Miranda chuckled.
“That’s probably true,” Coralie replied with a smile, “He’s been fine. I’m sure he’ll ask me about Ness.”
“Oh, she’s fine,” Miranda replied, “Do you think there’s something going on between your little brother and my baby cousin? Because if there is, you know that I’m going to have to give Angus a stern talking to.”
Coralie shrugged her shoulders. “My little brother’s a manipulative one, you see. Every time I try and tease him about Ness, he turns it right back on me.” The two girls laughed at this, before they both turned their attention to Lily who was staring blankly out the window. “Are you okay, Lily?”
“Hm?” she replied, snapping her gaze back to the two girls, “Yeah, I’m fine. I’m just worried about Kiki, you know how she gets every time she has to return home.”
“Why doesn’t she stay at Hogwarts?” Coralie asked, but Miranda shook her head.
“Her parents demand that she comes home every break, but then they don’t pay her any attention at all.” All three girls fell into silence that was only broken by the sound of the door opening and the other girls all filing in at once. “What’s this? Marlene McKinnon is on time for once in her life?” Marlene stuck her tongue out at Miranda in reply.
“You’re hilarious, Miranda, really you are,” Marlene teased, taking the seat next to Coralie and throwing her arms around her. “Oh, how I have missed you, Cora, my bestest friend!”
“Hey, I thought we were your best friends,” Mary replied, knocking Marlene’s feet off her chair.
“Yes, well you are but Cora is my bestest friend, you see,” Marlene replied calmly, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, “I don’t recall receiving any presents from France from any of you!”
“You’re still stuck on that?” Alice replied with a laugh and an exaggerated roll of her eyes. “I think we’re going to have to get rid of Cora, she’s making us all look like bad friends.”
Mary nodded in agreement, “I think we should dump her in the bottom of the Thames or something, that way no one will ever find her and we’ll get away with it.”
“Oh please!” Coralie exclaimed, “My family will look for me, they’ll catch you all out!”
“Ah, that is where you are wrong, dear Cora,” Kiki answered, speaking for the first time since she entered the café, “Lily here will distract dear Jacob and seduce him into believing that we’re all innocent.” At this, Lily turned a shade of bright red which matched her hair.
“I will do no such thing,” she replied, indignantly.
“Well, then I suppose I’ll have to,” Kiki replied with a sigh, “It’ll be a difficult feat, but I’ll sacrifice myself for all of you.”
“Oh, Kiki - you’re such a wonderful human being,” Mary replied dryly, tossing a marshmallow at her head. That simple marshmallow started a war of giggling and squealing that eventually got them tossed out of the café and into the cold air again.
Authors Note: I know what you’re thinking, I promised this chapter ages ago and this hardly makes up for the wait but here’s chapter ten anyway. I’m really sorry that this took over a month to put up, I don’t think any reason I have can really excuse that. I hope that some of you are still interested in this story, because I know I am.
I’m hoping to have the next chapter up in about a fortnight- it’s already partially written and it’s going to be a bit longer than this one, hopefully. So I hope to see you guys then. Quickly, before I go- Ma Cherie = my dear, bonjour grandmamma = Hello grandmother, mon ami = my friend…I believe that’s all the French.
* This is now beta'ed.
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