“And then, if you’ll believe this, when he tried to shrink his head back, he turned his ears to radishes!” Lily exclaimed. James heard raucous laughter from Lily’s room as he climbed the stairs. A loud thump and more laughter told him that someone had fallen off something. When Lily’s doorway came into view, James quickly hopped the last few steps to come to the rescue.
What he found was Lily sniggering on her bed as Calla rolled on the floor, clutching her sides. He found himself grinning against his own will. When both girls saw him, they erupted into fresh waves of giggles.
“What?” James asked. “What’s so funny?” He looked at both of them, raising his eyebrows.
“Lily’s just been telling me some of your more... impressive childhood antics,” Calla said, straightening up and sitting crossed-legged to face him.
“Lily,” James whinged.
Lily laughed. “Ah c’mon, Jimmy, they’re hilarious! I was just about to tell her about that time when you shrunk your-”
“Lily!” James exclaimed indignantly.
“Alright, now I’m curious,” Calla said, glancing between them with her eyebrows raised. “What’d you shrink, James?”
James turned bright red. “Nothing,” he mumbled. “Forget about it.”
“Jimmy, I’ve already shown your baby pictures. You really can sink no lower,” Lily informed him.
“You’re joking,” James said, staring wide-eyed at his devious little sister. “Please tell me you’re joking!”
“Alright, alright, I didn’t get to that yet,” Lily said. James let out a sigh of relief. He turned to Calla.
“Want to come for a walk with me?” he asked.
“It’s almost midnight,” Calla said, raising her eyebrows.
“So?” he asked mischievously.
“Alright, yeah, let’s go.” Calla grinned and summoned her jacket and boots from the other room. She took James’s hand after calling goodnight to Lily.
“Have fun!” Lily called slyly. James had to resist the urge to stick his tongue out.
“You really were an adorable toddler, splashing around in your tub with your rubber duck,” Calla said, eyeing James out of the corner of her eye.
“I’m going to kill Lily,” James grumbled.
“Nah, you were adorable!” Calla protested.
They walked hand-in-hand, talking about anything, around the Potter house. The snow was laying itself on thick across the grounds. It had started in the early evening and was already up to their knees.
“So, why did you want to go for a walk?” Calla asked, huddling close to James for warmth.
“Just thought you might enjoy the snow,” James said evasively. Calla smiled.
She’d walked on ahead to examine a frozen pond on the outskirts of the woods when she felt something very cold and rather mushy hit the back of her head. She gasped as she felt it and pulled large chunks of snow out of her hair. A snowball.
“James!” she screeched and she heard him laughing somewhere in the darkness. “That’s it,” Calla growled and began fiercely making a stockpile of snowballs. As soon as James came into view, she began furiously pelting him with the balls of frozen water and soon enough they were involved in a full-fledged snowball fight, laughing and squealing- from both Calla and James- the entire time.
It ended when James tackled Calla and they both landed in the snow, Calla lying onto of James. They were laughing and breathless, but under the stars and the snow, Calla smiled as she leant down to kiss James in the snow bank.
Harry and Ginny Potter stood in their bathrobes at the kitchen window, sipping tea and staring down at their son and his girlfriend playing in the snow.
“She makes him happy,” Ginny observed. “Enormously happy.”
“Mmm,” Harry remarked, swallowing his chamomile.
“She’s good for him. They sort of remind me of us,” Ginny said, wrapping her arm around Harry’s waist.
“My mum and dad, too,” Harry laughed. “James Potter chasing after a lily for years until she finally gives him a chance in their seventh.”
Ginny laughed. “Honestly,” she said as they watched James and Calla begin walking again, heading towards the other side of the house. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Al points that out in his toast at their wedding.”
They had stayed up all night and were finally retiring. Calla, feeling too tired to climb the extra staircase to reach the guestroom, just crawled into James’s bed. It was big enough for both of them, a queen, and James didn’t seem to mind much.
Calla had the sudden remembrance of what Sam had told her when he’d pulled her aside at Kings Cross. “Be safe,” he’d whispered half seriously and half jokingly. Calla smiled to herself, feeling and knowing that right here, with James, she was safe. From all kinds of pain.
As he wrapped his arms around her, James whispered in Calla’s ear, “Happy Christmas, Calla.”
Her eyes widened. “Merlin? Are you serious?”
“I’m always Sirius,” James said cheekily. She shoved him and grimaced.
“Don’t. It’s much too cringey,” but Calla felt herself laughing a little anyway.
“Well, aren’t you going to wish me a Happy Christmas too?” James asked, looking a bit like a five year-old.
“Not until it’s properly Christmas. Means when the sun actually comes up. It’s much too early for festivities. That goes for your present, too,” Calla said firmly, pretending to talk to a five year-old.
“It’s never too early for Christmas, Calla!” James said indignantly. “Just wait until later today when we head over to the Burrow for the annual Weasley family Christmas shindig. Then you’ll learn it’s never too late for Christmas, either. It’ll be quite... memorable.”
Calla eyed him. “That’s exactly what Rose said. What d’you mean?”
James laughed. “You’ll see,” he said cryptically.
Calla rolled her eyes and gazed up at the ceiling, realising that this would be the first Christmas without her parents. However, for once, the pang of sadness for them wasn’t overwhelming. It felt like they were happy for her, right here and right now. She turned to James.
“You know,” she began thoughtfully. “This would actually be the time I’d normally be waking for Christmas. I’ve never been able to sleep in. I’d always run around at five in the morning, jumping and hollering that it was time to open presents. Used to drive my parents mad.” Calla laughed at the fond memories.
“I did the exact same thing. Still do, ‘smatter of fact,” James said simply and they were both laughing together, wrapped up in their own fond memories of the day.
James turned and watched Calla, seeing the laugh-lines that surrounded her mouth and crinkled her eyes as she chuckled. He found himself smiling just looking at her.
She stopped laughing when she noticed him staring intently. “What?” she asked suspiciously, not putting it past him to throw another snowball that he’d managed to hide.
He grinned. “You know I love you right?” he asked.
She surveyed him before smiling. “No, I don’t suppose I did.”
He beamed. “Well, I love you, Calla Matthews.”
“You know, I just might love you too,” Calla said and she rested her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes as he drew her close.
And it was the first time either of them slept in on Christmas.
A/N: And that’s it! It’s over- my first novel! Excuse me while I go blow my nose loudly...
However, before I get into all the sappiness that’s sure to come and bore you to death: THIS IS NOT THE END! That’s right, there is a whole new semi-sequel/ short story to come about Calla and James. And I already have it written so you won’t have to wait that long! Hoorah!
But seriously, thank you for reading my story. As you’re at the end, I assume you’ve read or at least skimmed all the chapters and I can’t tell how much that means to me. Even if you never left a review and/ or this story isn’t in your favourites, I’m still just glad that you took the time to pop on by and get to know Calla and James, as I have.
I’d like to dedicate this epilogue to Crescent Moon, who was my first reviewer of this story and has since left wonderfully encouraging reviews on every chapter. Thank you for letting me know that I had at least one person to keep writing for! ;)
Thank you to you, too, if you've ever reviewed or favourited. I value every, single person who's ever given me feedback, including making the number of reads go up ;)
I’ve enjoyed watching this story and its characters grow and I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know my characters as much as I have. Thank you for giving me the support over the last year that enabled me to write this story. I’ve had so much fun :D
UPDATE 8/22/12: SEQUEL IS UP AND POSTED! GO CHECK OUT 'BOLDER' NOW!