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It was December 20, and Lily Evans was sitting at her kitchen table across from her sister, Petunia. Petunia was painting her nails a deep red color that reminded Lily horribly of blood. Lily was watching sullenly, heaving huge sighs every once in a while for dramatic effect. She had just heaved her best sigh yet, when Petunia looked up, wearing an expression of utmost annoyance.
"Lily, if you keep breathing like that, you are going to have to leave!" Petunia said shrilly. Lily rolled her eyes and ignored her. Petunia returned to her nails, pausing every now and then to admire them.
"What do you think?" she asked Lily, as she eyed her hands critically.
"Um, very festive." said Lily dully.
"Stop being so... depressing!" scolded Petunia. "Here, give me your hands. I'm sure this color won't clash terribly with your hair."
Lily raised her eyebrows, hesitant to place her hands in the control of Petunia, who also happened to hate Lily.
"What color is this anyway?" asked Lily, reaching for the bottle, just as Petunia did the same thing. Lily accidentally knocked the bottle over, and it rolled right onto Petunia's lap, staining her pristine white sweater.
"Lily! Look what you've done, you little wretch! This was brand new!" shouted Petunia, jumping up and wiping at her now red-stained sweater.
"Here," said Lily, pulling her wand out of her jeans. "I can clean that spot off easily. Come here."
"NO! Don't point that thing at me!" screamed Petunia, stumbling backwards.
"Pet! Hold still! I won't hurt you! Just let me clean your jumper!" cried Lily, walking toward Petunia.
"Get away from me, you freak! Better yet, get out! Get out of this house!" shouted Petunia, pressing herself against the opposite wall.
"Petunia! Calm d-" started Lily.
"I said GET OUT!" screamed Petunia. "Take all your little freakish things with you! You don't belong here anymore!"
Lily stopped, mouth agape. She was stunned her sister was being so thick. Then it hit her like a cannon. Petunia was right. She didn't belong here anymore. She was a witch, her family members were Muggles. She did need to leave.
"You're right." whispered Lily faintly, tears blurring her vision. "Let me just go pack my stuff."
She climbed the stairs slowly, absorbing what had just happened. Where will I go? What will my parents say? How will I get money? Will I ever come back? She pondered these things as she shoved all her most precious things into her trunk. In went her few Muggle childrens books, the porceline lily her father had given her, a few family photos, and all her clothes. She took one last look at her old room, one last breath of her old life as she put on her coat and headed down stairs to the living room. She stopped in front of the fire place and took out her bag of Floo powder. Petunia walked into the room and shoved a furry ball into her arms. It was her black cat, Felix.
"Take him with you. He's yours." said Petunia quietly, not meeting Lily's eyes.
"Petunia wait. Tell Mum and Daddy...well, tell them... just tell them." mumbled Lily, unable to finish her sentence. Tears slid silently down her face as she lit a fire with her wand. Felix leapt into her arms, purring contentedly. She grabbed her trunk and threw a handful of powder into the fire.
"Thomason Manor." she said firmly and stepped into the swirling geen flames. Just as she entered the fireplace, she thought she heard Petunia call out.
"Wait!" she heard the voice sob. But when she tried to turn around, she was sucked into the fire, and all she could do was close her eyes and cry into Felixs' soft, black fur. She finally stopped and was ejected out of the fireplace, right into Jules' living room. Lily's knees hit the ground painfully. Her trunk landed a few feet to the side and Felix jumped out of her arms and scampered under the couch. She stood up, and bent over to examine her knees. Her jeans had torn, and her knee was scraped. She winced at the pain as she straightened up, and looked around.
"Hello?" she called. Silence. She looked around. The house was empty. No one was there. White sheets covered everything, like ghosts frozen in time.
Lily felt a lump rising in her throat. Where am I going to go? she thought, feeling a little panicked. No Jules or Devon, she had no idea where Remus' house was, and Sirius' house was full of Death Eaters. Not a lot of options.
"Shit," she whispered sadly, walking over to the couch. She slumped down and cried into her hands for five minutes, allowing herself to feel sorry for herself. When she finally felt exhausted, she wiped away her tears. She fished a flannel out of her trunk and went to go wash her face. She studied her reflection in the mirror in the bathroom. Her eyes were bloodshot and puffy and she had snot running down her upper lip. Ha! I look like crap, if only James could see me now. He'd probably vomit. Then she came to a simple realization. James. He had a house, and he was her friend. Her mind was made up, she would go to James' house.
Lily washed her face and the scrape on her knee, and walked purposefully to the living room where she gathered her trunk by the fire. Felix slunk out from underneath the couch, looking for attention. Lily scooped him up and headed for the fireplace. Just as she was about to throw the Floo powder into the fire, she realized what she as about to do.
"What am I doing?" Lily wondered to herself. "It's five days before Christmas! I can't just show up, uninvited!"
But then another voice said "But I have nowhere else to go."
Lily decided to listen to the second voice, seeing as how it was right.
She bravely stepped up to the fire place and said in a weak voice "Godric's Keep." Once inside she was whisked away by the swirls of green fire. She felt herself come to a halt and was pushed out of the fireplace, cat, trunk, and all. She fell into a dusty heap on a stone floor, hitting her already injured knee. Felix shot out of her hands and disappeared under a stove.
"What the-" she heard a familiar voice say. Lily looked up, and found Sirius Black standing over her, a sandwich in his hand, frozen mid-way to his mouth.
"Lily?" he asked, squatting down next to her. Lily found a lump rising in her throat again.
"Oh Sirius, I'm so glad to see you!" she sobbed into her hands, unable to control her tears. Sirius put down his sandwich, and pulled her into a tight hug.
"Lily love, what's wrong?" he asked, his voice betraying his concern.
"Oh, it's just I've had a rotten day." sniffed Lily. "I got into this huge row with my sister because I spilled nail varnish on her sweater, and she made me leave my parents house. Then I got to Jules' house and it was empty, and now I have nowhere to go. And I scraped my knee and it really hurts."
Sirius smiled kindly. "Well, come on up off the ground." he said, helping her stand. He led her over to a kitchen chair, where she sat down tiredly.
"Alright, let's have a look at your knee." he said, kneeling down to examine it. He tapped it lightly with his wand and instantly the pain vanished.
"Thanks, Sirius." said Lily quietly, giving him a watery smile.
Just then, the kitchen door banged open, and James entered, wearing a black woolen coat and a Gryffindor hat. He was covered in a light dusting of snow, and his cheeks were red from the cold.
"Sirius, do we have any butterbeer left? It's bloody freez-" He stopped when he saw Lily sitting at his kitchen table. He looked slightly confused.
"Look who I've found." said Sirius, grinning as he gestured to Lily.
Lily smiled tiredly. "Hello James." she said.
"Er- hello," he said, unsure of what was going on.
"Lily is going to stay with us for the holidays," announced Sirius cheerfully.
"She is?"
"I am?"
"Of course! The more the merrier!" cried Sirius, throwing his arm around James' shoulders.
"Oh, no Sirius, really, it's alright. I just came to find out if you knew where Devon and Jules are. I didn't mean to-" started Lily, extremely embarassed.
"Devon is with her brother in London and Jules is away with her parents." said James simply, staring at Lily.
The news hit Lily like a ton of bricks. Where am I going to go now? she thought frantically, wringing her hands
"You can stay with us, if you want." said James, reading her thoughts.
"No, I can't impose." said Lily, shaking her head.
"Why not? I did." chimed Sirius, grinning.
"Are you sure? Your parents won't mind?" asked Lily tentatively.
"No, not at all. They'd be happy to have you." said James, who was now also grinning.
"Alright then! It's settled. Lily's going to be here for Christmas!" cried Sirius.
Lily found herself smiling inspite of herself. She allowed herself to relax. James and Sirius grabbed her trunk and led the way to the second floor, Felix slinking along behind. James' house reminded Lily of Jules' house, but it didn't have the museum feeling. Everything was stately and grand, but it was also warm and lived in as well. She followed James and Sirius up a sweeping wooden staicase and down a maze of hallways, until they reached they reached the bedroom wing. James chose the guest room across the hallway from his own room and down the hall from Sirius'. He put her trunk at the end of the bed and stood back to appraise the room.
"Well, what do you think?" he asked, pulling off his hat and rubbing his staticky black hair.
"Your house is beautiful." said Lily, walking over to her bed. She sat down and flopped backwards. "This room is beautiful."
"A beautiful room for a beautiful girl." said James, grinning cheekily.
"Aww, come on, Prongs, you can do much better than that!" Sirius cried, pretending to vomit. He excused himself and left the room.
"It wasn't that bad!" called James after him, his voice indignant. Lily laughed and sat up.
"James, I just wanted to thank you, for everything. You've been so nice to me. I don't know what I can do."
"Lil, you don't have to do a thing. Just enjoy your holiday." said James, as he turned to leave.
"I already am." said Lily, sighing. James nodded and left the room. Lily unbuttoned her coat and threw it on the floor. She kicked off her boots and lay back on the green blanket. Almost immediately she fell asleep, dreaming of Christmas.
When Lily woke up, it was dark out. She pulled herself up off the bed, and looked blearily around, confused for a moment about where she was. Then it all came rushing back to her; the fight with Petunia, leaving her parents house, and coming here, to James' house. Surprisingly, Lily didn't feel as sad as she had thought. On the contrary, she felt well rested and comfortable. Her stomach rumbled loudly. She decided to go in search of some food. She left her room and slipped quietly out into the hallway. Her watch read 11:37 pm. Perhaps James and Sirius will still be awake. she thought. She stood still for a moment, deciding whether or not to chance waking up James. Suddenly, she remembered all the times the Marauders had woken her up unexpectedly and she decided to take a chance. She knocked on James door softly. After a moment or two, James opened the door, looking very sleepy.
"Hey Lily," he said, pushing his messy black hair out of his eyes.
"Oh, James, sorry, you were asleep, I didn't mean to wake you I just wanted-" Lily was cut off by a loud growl emitting from her stomach.
"Some food?" he asked, his tired eyes smiling.
"Err- yeah," said Lily, grinning embarrassedly.
"Let me just grab a sweatshirt and my glasses," he said, disappearing into his dark room.
Lily stood in the doorway of his room, unsure of whether to follow him in or not. She leaned against the door frame and yawned.
"Come here, Lil!" called James, turning a light on and gesturing for her to follow him in. She walked in to his room, looking around. Quidditch posters dotted his oak paneled walls, and a few photographs waved cheerily at Lily from their frames. She leaned in closer to examine one of them. A pretty woman with dark hair and dark eyes stood next to her tall husband with equally dark hair, and two young boys. The boys were Sirius and James when they were starting their third year. Lily could see the strong resemblance between James and his father, and knew that is what James would like in a few years. She felt a twinge of sadness seeing James and his happy family, remembering her own broken family.
"Hey Lily, look at this," said James, coming over, holding something in his hand to show her.
Lily looked at what was another photograph. It was of herself, Devon, Jules, Peter, Remus, James and Sirius. They were in fourth year, and they were all playing out in the snow. The picture was taken just as James had dumped a massive pile of snow on Lily's head. In the photo, Lily had turned around and shoved snow down the back of James coat. Everyone in the picture was laughing, even Lily.
"You used to be frowning, not laughing," said James, quietly.
Lily looked at the picture again and frowned. "Did I?" she asked softly.
James nodded, pulling his sweatshirt over his head. Lily looked at the photo, her younger-self laughing and smiling along with the rest of the group.
"Well, things change, I guess," she said, handing the photo back to James.
James grinned, and put on his glasses. "Lets go get some food," he said, leading Lily out of his room and down the dark hallway.
When they reached the kitchen, James lit the fire and the lamps, causing the stone room to glow cheerfully.
"So, what would you like?" he asked, running his hands through his hair, looking around the kitchen.
"Um, anything would be fine," Lily answered, seating herself on a stool.
James rummaged around the kitchen for a while and proudly produced a block of cheddar cheese, an apple, a package of Christmas biscuits, and a stray bottle of butterbeer. Lily helped herself to the feast while James opened her butterbeer.
"So, hows your dinner?" asked James, after a few moments of silence.
"Delicious," said Lily, taking a bite of a crisp green apple. James grinned, and took a sip of Lily's butterbeer.
"So, what do you boys do around here for Chrismas?" Lily asked, taking the bottle from James' hand.
"Oh, you know, sleep in, stay up late, eat, play Quidditch, go to my parents party, and play chess." he said, playing with his wand. He was conjuring tinsel, each strand streaming lazily from his wand tip, coiling in a shiny pile on the counter.
Lily watched James make tinsel. "Your parents have a party?" asked Lily distractedly.
"Yeah, its really for their friends from work, but the food is good, so Sirius and I go." he answered vaguely, concentrating on his ever-growing tinsel pile. "Did you bring your dress robes?"
Lily nodded, still mesmerized by the tinsel. There was silence for a moment, each lost in their own thoughts, eyes locked on the tinsel. Lily reached her hand out tentatively, towards the tinsel. But when her fingers touched it, it crumbled into silver dust.
"Oh dear, I'm sorry," said Lily, staring at the pile of dust. James just shrugged.
"I guess I need to work on my conjuring skills," he said, with a small smile. They sat in silence for a while, passing the butterbeer back and forth.
"Lily, what happened with your family today?" asked James, breaking the silence.
Lily was didn't say anything at first, delicately tracing around the tinsel dust with her finger. "It wasn't my family, it was me." she said, still not looking up.
"What happened?" he asked gently.
"I realized I didn't belong there anymore. They're Muggles, and I'm a witch. It just wasn't working." said Lily, rubbing the silver dust between her fingers.
"Well, are you ever going to see them again?" James asked, frowning.
"I hope," said Lily, looking up at James. James saw the sorrow and fear in her eyes. Lily was so self-assured, sometimes James forgot that she was still 17.
"I'm sure you will," said James, smiling comfortingly.
Lily nodded, but still looked doubtful. She blew the silver dust off her fingers and began to tidy up the remnants of her dinner.
James tried to protest, but Lily ignored him and began to wash her plate in the sink, while James put away the uneaten food.
"Oh! James, look!" cried Lily, looking out the window above the sink. James turned to see what Lily was looking at. It was snow.
"Oh, snow. Its been snowing for days, Lil." said James, confused.
"I know, but its when it snows at night its magic, real magic." sighed Lily. She dropped her plate on the counter, and ran to the other room. James closed all the cupboards and followed. Lily had thrown open the huge french-doors that led from the hallway to the patio. Lily was sitting on the stone wall, staring into the vast grey sky. James went into the hall closet and grabbed two long, woolen coats. He put one on, and followed Lily outside.
"Put this on," ordered James, handing the coat to Lily.
Lily stared at the coat for a moment, then up at James. Her eyes were full of emotion, that James couldn't place.
"Thank you," she whispered, standing up and taking the coat. James nodded, and looked up at the sky. The clouds had broken in one spot, and the moon was shining through, brightly. It was still snowing, and the silver moonlight made the snowflakes look like silver sparks. Lily had been right, this was real magic.
"So, Lily, how long do you plan to stay?" asked James, trying to make conversataion. Lily bit her lip, and looked at her lap.
"Er- I don't know." she said quietly.
"You're welcome to stay as long as you want," said James, watching Lily.
Lily looked up at him, and for a moment their eyes met. She gave him a tired smile, and nodded. They sat in comfortable silence for a while, watching the snow fall. The fresh snow had accumulated on the spiky black trees softening them. James watched his own breath come out in short puffs, and realized how cold he was. He stood up, and flexed his numb fingers.
"I think I'm going to go inside," said James, shaking the snow off his shoulders. "You're coming?"
"Yeah," sighed Lily, also standing up. She turned towards James, her green eyes shining.
"James, thank you again. I-... thank you." she said, and hugged him before walking into the house. James smiled to himself, still feeling her warm cheek on his neck, and followed her into the house.

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