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The next few days flew by in a blur of snowball fights, Quidditch matches, wizard's chess, and hot chocolate. Lily had almost forgotten about her fight with Petunia, almost. A few mornings after Lily had arrived at James' house, she was sitting in the kitchen all by herself, reading the paper, enjoying a cup of coffee. James and Sirius didn't usually show their sleepy faces until noon, and Mr. and Mrs. Potter had still not come home from the Ministry. Lily was just reading an article on her favorite Quidditch team, the Holyhead Harpies, when a large crash startled her, causing her to slop hot coffee all over herself.
"Bloody hell!" she cursed. Suddenly she heard someone on the floor mutter the same word. She looked down and saw a dusty trunk and a pair of long, jean-clad legs. She slid off her chair to get a better look. There, in the fire place, sat Devon. Her black curls were all mussed and tangled and her pale skin was streaked with grey ash. She looked miserable.
"Dev, sweetheart! What're you doing here?" asked Lily, scrambling over to where Devon sat.
"Lily! Thank Merlin you're here!" cried Devon, tears leaking from her navy blue eyes, as she pulled Lily into an dusty hug. After a moment, Lily pulled away.
"Dev, what happened? Why are you here?" asked Lily, brushing the stray locks of hair out of Devon's beautiful face.
"Oh, Lily it was horrible! My brother, he got called away on urgent business. I didn't think he'd actually go, after all, it is Christmas. But he told me he had to, and we got into this awful fight, and I ran away to Jules' house, but no one was there, and I didn't know your address, so I came here. And now, I'm all covered in soot, and my hair is a mess, and I tore my sweater. I must look a frightful mess"
Lily shook her head, and smoothed Devon's hair comfortingly.
"Oh, Lily, you can't even imagine how horrible my day has been so far," Devon sniffed, rubbing her cheeks, smearing the soot with her tears.
"Actually, I have a pretty good idea," said Lily quietly, remembering way in which she arrived only a few mornings ago.
Devon looked up sharply at Lily. "Wait a minute, what are you doing here?" she demanded. "And what is all over your shirt?
Lily grinned. "You startled me, and I spilled my coffee," she said, standing up. She helped Devon to her feet. "And as for why I am here, same reason you are."
"What do you mean, same as me?" asked Devon curiously, brushing soot off her sweater, creating a large grey cloud of dust.
"It's just that I arrived here in the same way you did: dirty, miserable, crying, and my jeans were torn. But it was Sirius who found me, and I'd just had a terrible row with Petunia. I've left my family, for good." said Lily, looking at the stain on her sweater.
"Oh, Lils, I'm sorry," whispered Devon, hugging Lily again.
Lily nodded, forcing the tears back, the ones she'd been holding in for days. But it was too much. The sight of her best friend, whom she'd missed very much, and finally admitting that she had left for good, combined, put her over the edge. She choked out a sob, and buried her face in her hands. Devon led her over to the table and pushed her into a seat, taking the one next to her.
They sat together for a while, the silence only being broken by the occasional sniffle from Lily.
"Do you want to talk about it?" asked Devon, gazing at Lily intently.
"Well, there's not much to say. I got into a fight with Petunia, and then I left, and I'm not going back." said Lily bitterly.
"What about your parents?" asked Devon, clearly shocked by Lily's cold statement.
"I've already written them a letter. But it's not as if they'll miss me. Of course they loved me and all, but they never really understood me, and they treated me a bit formally at times. The day I was accepted to Hogwarts, I didn't really belong to them any more, I didn't belong with them." whispered Lily, brushing away a fresh wave of tears.
Devon nodded, but Lily could see that she didn't really understand. Devon had never know her parents, and didn't understand how Lily could brush hers off so easily, Muggles or not.
"Well at least we'll all have a good Christmas," said Dev, sounding uncertain.
"Of course we will!" exclaimed Lily, laughing over her tears.
Devon beamed, wiping the tears off Lily's face. Lily grinned and pulled Devon into a tight hug.
"I’m so glad you're here! I've really missed you!" said Lily thickly, her vision blurring as yet another wave of tears took over. She pulled away to see tears in Devon's eyes also. Lily laughed.
"Why are we crying! It's Christmas!" She cried.
Devon laughed, and squeezed Lily's hand. Just then the door swung open, and James walked in, already showered and dressed. He didn't even bother to look confused, or surprised.
"Morning Devon, Lily," he said as he made his way towards the coffee pot. "Why are you two crying?"
"Oh, you know, the soot from the fireplace got in our eyes," answered Devon lamely, standing up to give James a hug.
Lily quickly brushed the tears off her face, and stood up to pour herself and Devon coffee. She returned to her seat, and handed Devon a coffee cup.
"So, where's Sirius?" asked Lily, after taking a sip of her coffee.
"Probably still asleep, that lazy bum," said James, smirking.
"Wrong! I am alive, awake, alert and enthusiastic!" came a voice from the hallway. Sirius, freshly showered and dressed, entered the kitchen, grinning from ear to ear. He stopped when he saw Devon, who was looking a little overwhelmed.
"Dev," he whispered, frowning slightly.
"Hey Sirius," she said softly, looking at the floor.
"Hey," he said, frozen where he stood.
"So, Devon, er- how're your holidays going so far?" asked James a bit uncomfortably.
"Fine, I just need somewhere to stay for a bit," she said, smiling slightly.
"You can stay here." said Sirius eagerly. He turned to James. "She can stay here?"
And without waiting for a response from James, he turned back to Devon and said "You can stay here."
James nodded, as if he had something to do with this decision.
"Your parent's won't mind?" asked Devon, turning to James. He shook his head.
Sirius stared intently at Devon, who was looking uncomfortable. Lily could tell they needed to be alone for a while.
"James, could you come with me for a bit?" called Lily, walking towards the door.
"Um, sure." said James, setting down his coffee cup and following her into the hall, leaving Sirius and Devon alone. Once out in the hallway he turned to Lily expectantly.
"Well?" he asked, after she didn't say anything for a bit.
"Oh, I just wanted you to get out of there." Lily explained.
"Why?" he asked, dumbfounded.
"Because they needed to be alone." she said simply, grabbing James' hand and leading him away from the kitchen door.
"Where are we going?" asked James, following obediently.
"I don't know," said Lily, stopping and turning towards James.
"Let's go to the sitting room," James said, taking the lead. Once inside the sitting room, James lit a fire and took the seat next to Lily's.
After a moment he said "What do you think they're talking about?"
Lily shrugged. "I don't know, but it's not our business," she answered a little bossily. James rolled his eyes, and fortunately Lily didn't see.
"So, tell me about you parent's party," Lily said, breaking the silence.
"Um, well it's just a bunch of my parent's work friends, and maybe a few of their kids, but the kids are mostly younger than us. And there's music and dancing and food and champagne. It's good fun," he said, stretching his arms over his head.
"Is anyone from school going to be there?" asked Lily, curiously.
"Err- well, no." Suddenly, James eyes grew wide, then he groaned.
"What is it?" asked Lily, slightly alarmed.
"Oh, nothing it's just I've forgotten to tell you about Felicity." said James, his nose wrinkling in distaste.
"Who?" asked Lily.
"Felicity is the daughter of my parents' best friends. They all have this dream of the two of us getting married and having lots of children. And recently, Felicity decided she was madly in love with me, and whenever she come over she acts like we are married." said James miserably.
"I see," said Lily, a bit frostily. "And you don't like her?"
"What do you think?" said James, staring at Lily as if she was mad.
"Okay, so we'll just have to figure out a way to tell her that you don't like her," said Lily thoughtfully.
"I've already told her many, many times," sighed James.
"Well, then we'll have to show her," said Lily, grinning mischeviously.
James looked up sharply. "What do you mean, exactly?" he asked, suspiciously.
"I guess that I'd have to be your date for this party, if I must..." said Lily dramatically.
James sat up, looking very serious. "Lily, if you're serious, that's wonderful, but if you are joking with me, please stop, because it's not funny."
"Of course I'm serious," said Lily, grinning.
James smiled, but still looked suspicious. "Thank you," he said.
"You're most welcome, but this means you have to buy me an excellent Christmas gift," said Lily cheekily. Even as she said it, she could feel her stomach begin to sink. Christmas presents! I totally forgot, she thought frantically. From the expression on James face, she could tell he was thinking the same thing.
"So how about a trip to Diagon Alley today?" said Lily quickly.
James nodded, relieved.
"Shall we go check on Sirius and Devon?" asked Lily, standing up.
"I think they've had long enough," said James, grinning, and followed her out the door. Once they reached the kitchen, Lily saw that the door was open. Inside, Sirius and Devon were sitting across from one another at the table, talking. Lily coughed lightly to get their attention. Sirius turned around. When he saw them, his face cracked into a wide grin.
"Where have you two crazy kids been, eh?" he asked, playfully waggling his eyebrows, as James and Lily walked over to join the table.
Lily smacked Sirius hard upside the head, and sat down next to Dev.
"Ouch! You're vicious," said Sirius jokingly, rubbing his head.
"So," began James. "Lily and I-"
"Are going to get married?" cut in Sirius, grinning cheekily.
This time it was James who hit Sirius, but in the arm. Sirius just laughed.
"As James was saying, before he was so rudely interrupted by Sirius, is that we both need a trip to Diagon Alley. Do you two want to come?" asked Lily.
"Oooh, shopping!" said Devon, grinning happily.
"I'm in," said Sirius, standing up. "Let's meet back in here in 10 minutes, and we'll take Floo."
Once it was agreed upon, Lily grabbed Devon's arm and dragged her up to her room. Lily sat down on the bed, Devon sat across from her.
"So, Devon, what happened with you and Sirius when James and I left?" asked Lily, grabbing the sleeping Felix and dragging him into her lap.
"Oh, well you know how we left things at school, kind of awkward?"
"Yes,"
"Well, he said that he wanted to start over, so we aren't officially 'dating', but, we're together. Kind of." said Devon, matter-of-factly.
"Oh, I see," said Lily, frowning. She didn't, in fact, see. "But why aren't you just together?"
"I don't know, we just aren't. Why aren't you and James together?" she asked, raising her eyebrows.
"James and I? We- we aren't even on the same level as you and Sirius. There is no discussion of 'being together', it's just trying to get to know one another," said Lily, gently stroking Felix's silky black fur, not meeting Devon's eyes.
"But you do like him?" asked Devon. She saw Lily smile to herself while still focusing on Felix. Suddenly Lily looked up, her emerald eyes alight, her smile slightly embarrassed.
"I do," she whispered. Suddenly, she felt a huge weight being lifted from her chest, and she had to laugh out loud. "I do! I like him so much, sometimes I can't stand it!"
"You like James!" said Devon in a sing-song voice.
"I like James!" Lily repeated, hugging Felix tightly. Suddenly, something caught her eye. It was Sirius, standing in the doorway, his eyes wide, and his mouth open. Lily flung herself off the bed and flew over to Sirius, forcibly clapping her hand over his mouth. Sirius looked at her, his eyes still wide.
"Please Sirius, don't tell!" Lily whispered, feeling panicked. After all, this was Sirius, the loudest boy in school. "Don't Sirius, I'll tell him, soon. I just need to figure things out."
Finally, Sirius nodded, and Lily could feel him begin to smile under her hand. She pulled her hand away slowly, watching Sirius cautiously. He was grinning from ear to ear.
"Lily," he began, but he seemed to be smiling too hard. "Lily! I knew it! You need to tell James soon!"
"I know, but I just sort of figured it out myself. I need to just think for a while, and I'll tell him." said Lily, beginning to feel nervous.
"I can't believe this! Lily, you don't understand how happy James will be." said Sirius, turning to Lily and giving her a hug. Lily hugged back tightly, and laughed. She felt this enormous happiness welling up inside her, she felt as if she needed to tell James now. But no, she wouldn't. She'd wait, until the time was right. But the question was, when?
The group spent a lovely afternoon in Diagon Alley, buying each other Christmas gifts. Lily had a good time with Devon, picking out ridiculous Christmas presents for Sirius and James. For Devon, she bought a beautiful pair of earrings that she found in a dusty second-hand shop. Lily ended up buying the boys the same thing. Silver broom nameplates, each inscribed with their name and position. Lily felt that this was a suitable gift for Sirius, but considering she had an official crush on James, she needed to get him something more. But there was a problem, what do you get a boy who has everything? Lily decided to seek Devon's advice.
"Devon, what do I get a boy who has everything?" she asked, fingering a pair of hideous fur mittens.
"Something he doesn't have, obviously!" answered Devon, grinning cheekily. Lily frowned. What doesn't James have? she thought. Lily pondered this all the way home. When everyone was safely back at Godric's Keep, they were greeted by James' parents, who had finally come home from work. They were surprised to see a group of four, not two.
"James, who're these two lovely girls?" asked Mr. Potter.
James pulled away from the suffocating hug his mother was giving him with some difficulty. Mrs. Potter moved onto Sirius, who seemed to enjoy the attention.
"Well, this is Devon, and that's Lily. They both had some disagreements with their families and needed a place to stay over the holidays." said James, hanging up his and everyone else's coats.
"What, do you tell people at school that Godric's Keep is a safe haven for runaway teenagers?" asked Mrs. Potter, half-joking, half-serious.
"Actually, he passes out flyers," said Sirius, snickering. Everyone laughed. Soon, the group had dispersed, but before Lily could follow Devon up to their rooms, Mr. Potter caught her by the arm. She turned around to see Mr. Potter smiling slightly.
"So you're Lily," he said, giving her an appraising look.
"I'm Lily," answered Lily, confused.
"You know, James talks about you quite often," he said, his eyes twinkling.
"Does he?" asked Lily, surprised. But before Mr. Potter could answer, James entered the room.
"Dad, stop pestering Lily," he said, grinning.
"Oh, he wasn't pestering me," said Lily, smiling knowingly at Mr. Potter.
"Well, that's a surprise. When he first met Sirius, he wouldn't stop badgering him with questions," said James, coming to stand next to Lily. Lily looked from father to son, seeing the resemblance.
"Well, you two go off, then. I'll go see if your mother needs a hand with the Christmas decorations." said Mr. Potter, turning around and leaving. Lily followed James out into the hall.
"So, what did my father and you talk about?" asked James, smiling. His hazel eyes were twinkling, just like his father's. Lily felt her stomach do a little flip. "Well, apparently, you talk about me a lot," said Lily, grinning back. She saw James smiling cheeks turn red.
"Define a lot," he said, embarrassed.
Lily just laughed. The pair walked the stairs, where Lily left James for her bedroom. Inside, Devon was toiling with a roll of Christmas paper.
"Lily, help!" she moaned, throwing a ribbon across the room in desperation. Lily grinned and grabbed her packages from Diagon Alley and joined Devon on the bed. With the help of her wand, Lily had soon wrapped all the presents neatly and was finishing with the last bow, when Sirius burst in looking desperate.
"We don't know how to wrap!" he cried defeatedly, trying to unwrap the ribbon that had twisted itself around him.
Lily laughed, but Devon nodded sympathetically. "I'll come help," said Lily cheerfully. Devon looked relieved as she said "I'll bring these down to the living room."
Lily followed Sirius into James bedroom. It looked as if the Christmas paper factory had exploded. James sat on his bed, cursing as he tried to unstick tape from his sweater. It was all too much. Lily could not help but burst out laughing. James looked up, annoyed.
"It's not funny!" he said, desperately struggling with the tape.
"Actually, it is," said Lily, walking over to help James. She pried the tape out of his hands and peeled it off his sweater. Sirius struggled over, and Lily patiently unwrapped the ribbon from his leg. "You boys are hopeless," she said.
Sirius and James rolled their eyes. "Well if you are so good, why don't you do it?" asked Sirius haughtily.
"Fine then, I will," said Lily, with equal haughtiness. She grabbed the nearest package-a heavy book- and set to work. She laid the book out on the wrapping paper and set the tape next to it. She tapped the book with her wand, and watched satisfied as the present wrapped itself into a neat package, complete with a bow. Sirius and James watched, their mouths open wide.
"How on earth did you do that?" demanded Sirius, arms folded across his chest. "When I did that, the ribbon took on a life of its own and started strangling me!"
Lily just smiled and grabbed the next present, which was in turn immediately snatched out of her hands by James.
"That one's for you," he said, tossing the box behind him, grinning mischievously.
"Hand me one that I can wrap then," she said, holding out her hand. James picked around the pile for a bit, pushed two more packages off the bed, and shoved the rest of the pile towards Lily.
“Three presents, I’m impressed, Mr. Potter,” said Lily smiling.
“You do not know how long it took him to pick those out,” said Sirius shaking his head.
"Sirius, shut up. Lily, wrap.” he said. Lily laughed in spite of herself, and began the next package.
An hour later, Lily had finished all the boys' presents. She had to admit, James and Sirius had good taste. For Mrs. Potter, James and Sirius picked out silver candlesticks and evergreen scented candles. For Devon, James got her a beautiful scarf, and Sirius got her bracelet with a silver moon on the end of it. Lily was pretty sure Sirius had gotten something engraved on the back, because when she asked to open in and try it on, Sirius blushed and refused to let her. And of course, they wouldn't let Lily get even so much as a glance at the presents they had gotten for her. But she didn't mind, she rather liked surprises. They set off, down the long winding corridors, each piled high with wrapped presents. The tree stood in the corner of the room, waiting to be decorated. Devon sat on the floor, rummaging through endless boxes of Christmas baubles. Lily set her load of presents down on the couch and went to join Devon. She picked up a hollow glass star, filled with golden sparks.
"Look at this," she said, showing the ornament to Devon.
"Wow," breathed Devon.
"James, where did you get this?" Lily asked, turning to face James. James reached out for the ornament, frowning.
"My dad gave this ornament to my mum, during their first Christmas together. The sparks are enchanted, and as long as my parents love is alive, the sparks will be there." he said, handing the star back to Lily. He continued to frown, his gaze glued to the ornament.
"What's the matter?" she asked quietly. He was still staring at the star in Lily's hand.
"Nothing," he said. "It's just that I could have sworn the stars used to be brighter."
Lily frowned, unsure of what to say. "Well, enchantments fade over time, I wouldn't worry about it," she said, standing up. She placed the ornament back in the box, eager to get it out of sight.
For the next half hour, Sirius and James toiled with the tree lights, emitting a few colourful curses every now and then. Delicious smells began to waft into the living room from the kitchen, making Lily's mouth water.
"We'll go see if your mother needs help in the kitchen," she said, starting towards the door. Devon followed, deserting the ball of lights she'd been trying to untangle.
The boys both burst out laughing.
"What?" demanded Devon defensively. Lily frowned, crossing her arms across her chest.
"You two? Cooking?" asked James, eyebrows raised. Sirius continued to howl.
"Yes, what's the matter with that?" asked Lily, her frown deepening.
"Do you remember when you made that soup for Remus when he was sick?" asked James, smirking. "It made him sicker, we had to throw it out."
Lily's eyes widened, her mouth fell open indignantly. "You're lying," she said.
James shook his head. Sirius was nodding, verifying James' story.
"Well, we'll have your mother teach us!" said Devon triumphantly. She grabbed Lily's hand. "Let's go,"
"Please, don't!" cried Sirius, "I'm starving,"
James nodded, his eyes pleading. Devon just smiled and pulled Lily out of the room.
Lily and Devon followed the smell towards the kitchen. When they entered, they found Mrs. Potter hard at work, cooking what seemed to be a feast for a king.
"Hello girls," said Mrs. Potter, who was furiously stirring a bowl of pudding.
"Hi," they answered in unison.
"Do you need any help?" asked Lily, moving uncertainly towards the counter.
"That would be lovely," she said, pushing some carrots toward Lily. "Peel these,"
"And Miss Devon, you can... chop these," she said, leading Devon towards the pile of celery.
"Just like this," instructed Mrs. Potter. Devon nodded, and took the knife.
"So what are we making?" asked Lily curiously.
"Dinner," she said simply. Lily's mouth fell open.
"All this food for dinner?" she asked incredulously. Then she realized the reason. "Oh, right. James and Sirius are here."
Mrs. Potter laughed. "You obviously know them well," she said, smiling at Lily.
"Since first year," she answered.
"It's made for an interesting experience at Hogwarts," added Devon.
"Indeed," said Lily quietly, remembering all the times they had had together. There was a silence in the kitchen, the only sound was the wind, blowing the snow against the window pane.
"So, I'm sure you girls have heard about my party?" asked Mrs. Potter, after a while.
"Yes, it sounds lovely," said Devon, smiling her most charming smile.
"When is it?" asked Lily, who had finished peeling the carrots.
"On Christmas eve," said Mrs. Potter. "And now you can chop those," she added, gesturing to the carrots.
Lily picked up the knife, and clumsily began to chop the carrots. Mrs. Potter watched her work.
"You girls don't seem comfortable in the kitchen," she said at last, with a chuckle.
"Thanks for putting it kindly," said Devon, laughing.
"We have no idea how to cook," said Lily, laughing guiltily. "The boys begged us not to help, claiming they were too hungry."
Mrs. Potter laughed. "Those are my boys," she said fondly. "But you girls are doing fine."
After a while, the carrots and the celery were chopped. Mrs. Potter suggested they bring a snack to the boys in the living room. Lily and Devon headed back to the living room laden with trays and mugs of hot coffee. Lily entered the living room and was greeted by a lit Christmas tree. She smiled happily, but underneath she could feel the familiar pang of sadness begin to rise within her. She placed the food down on the table and sat on the couch. James wandered over from where he'd been rifling through the boxes of decorations. He sat next to Lily and picked up a cup of coffee.
"How does it look?" he asked, gesturing to the tree.
"Wonderful," answered Lily, smiling. The lit tree reminded her powerfully of her family's house on Christmas.
James beamed. He picked up a cookie from the tray Lily had brought in. He was just about to take a bite when he looked at it suspiciously.
"Wait, did you make this?" he asked, sniffing the biscuit.
"No," she said. She didn't even bother to get angry. James noticed this and immediately felt bad.
"I- I was just joking- I would have eaten it anyway," he said, putting the entire biscuit in his mouth.
Lily smiled. "Well, I guess I'll see you later," she said, standing up. She walked out of the room.
James turned to Devon, his mouth open. "Where did she go?" he asked, confused. "Was she mad about the biscuit-thing?"
Devon shrugged. "She wasn't mad, she probably just wanted to be alone," she answered. "She does that sometimes,"
James nodded. "Is she okay?" he asked, concerned.
"I'm sure she'll be fine," said Devon. "She probably misses her parents."
"Oh," said James, comprehension finally dawning on him. The three friends sat in silence for a time, each contemplating their own family situations. James felt guilty, he was the only one that had a proper family. Sirius had his parents, but the pain of his past must be overwhelming at times, to be rejected by ones own family. James couldn't even imagine. And Devon, to lose both parents at such a young age, and then to have her brother desert her during the holiday. James shuddered.
"Hey James?" came Devon's voice, small and quiet. He looked up. Sirius had his arm around Devon, who looked sad.
"Thanks for letting me stay this Christmas," she said, a sad smile on her face.
"Yeah mate," agreed Sirius. He too, looked a little forlorn.
James felt a fresh wave of guilt wash over him. But he grinned all the same. "No, that's really not-" he began. He shook his head. "You are always welcome here," he said, still smiling.
"You should go find Lily," said Devon, her smile widening. "I'm sure she needs a shoulder to cry on,"
James instantly got an image in his head of Lily weeping dramatically all over James' shirt, leaving a large wet spot. He must have made a face, because Devon laughed.
"It's just a figure of speech," she said, smiling. "She won't actually cry,"
"Are you sure?" he asked. Devon's smile faded a bit. "No, I don't mind if she cries, I mean you're sure I should go find her?" he hastily corrected himself.
"Positve," she said. Sirius nodded.
"Alright then," he said, still a bit uncertainly. He stood up and made for the door.
Once out in the hallway, James realized there was something he needed to do before he found Lily. He walked toward the kitchen; he could hear his parent’s voices inside. They were laughing about something, his mothers voice light and rich, his father's deep and resonant and so like his own. He opened the door and stood in the doorway. They turned to him.
"James, did you want to eat in the dining room? Or-" began James' mother, but stopped when she saw his face. "James, are you alright?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. I just- I... just wanted to thank you," he said, looking at his feet. He had never had to thank his parents for nothing before, ad he realized it was a bit of an odd thing to do.
'Whatever for?" asked his mother, moving closer
"For being here, and being my parents," he said. "And for being Sirius' parents,"
His mother beamed, and pulled him into a tight hug. "You are quite welcome. And thank you for being, well, you."
James grinned and shook his fathers' hand. "And now, where did this gratuity for our existence come from?" he asked, his eyes bright.
"Well, all my friends come from these rotten homes, even Lily was pushed out, even if it wasn't directly. And you have always been here for me, and I thought it was time to thank you," he said, pulling at a loose thread on his sweater.
"Ah," said Mr. Potter, nodding. "Well, James you are growing up. We are very proud of you," he said.
"Thanks Dad, and Mum." answered James, embarrassed.
"Now, go and tell your friends dinner will be in an hour, and we'll eat in the dining room." said Mrs. Potter, turning back to the stove. "And do change your sweater. The one you are wearing is all frayed at the cuffs,"
"But Mum-" protested James, but his arguments were met with his mothers infamous 'Because-I-am-the-mother-that's-why,' stare, and James couldn't argue.
He climbed the stairs and headed for his room to change his sweater. He chose a festive green one. His mum always said it brought out his eyes, whatever that meant. He left his room to look for Lily, and stopped to knock on her door. When no one answered, he opened the door slightly and stuck his head in.
“Lily?” he called softly, peering around the dark room. It was empty. James sighed. The room no longer had the characteristic slightly musty smell of his house, but had adapted the sweet apple smell of Lily. James could breath this air for the rest of his life. He smiled to himself and left the room. He wandered throughout the vast house for a bit before it dawned on him where Lily would be. He headed for the library.
Lily looked up as James entered. She was sitting in an arm chair in front of a fire flipping through a photo album she had found. James took the seat next to her.
“Hey,” he said, running his hands through his hair. It stood up more awkwardly than before.
“Hi,” she answered quietly. She stared down at the picture on the open page. It was of James when he was about ten. He was standing next to his father in the back yard. Mr. Potter was pointing to the dusk-sky, and James was looking up. He kept turning around and motioning for Mrs. Potter to join them.
“What is your father showing you in this picture?” Lily asked, showing James the album.
James gazed at the photo for a minute, chewing his lower lip. “I don’t remember,” he said, frowning. He took the album from her and flipped through a few pages. Lily sighed. If it had been her in the picture, she would have remembered every second of that moment.
Next to her, James chuckled quietly. He held up the book for her to see. It was a picture of James and Sirius, when they were about twelve. They were walking toward the camera, with their brooms over their shoulders. James and Sirius were making cheek faces at the camera, and laughing.
“Aren’t you two precious,” she said, laughing.
“That was us,” said James, grinning.
Lily smiled. “That is you,” she said.
James nodded. “You’re right,” he agreed.
There was a brief silence; the only sound was the crackling of the fire and the rustling of the album pages.
“So Lily,” began James.
“So James,” said Lily, tucking her hair behind her ears.
“Why did you look at this album?” asked James bluntly.
Lily frowned. “Was I not allowed to look at it?” she asked sharply.
“No, I was just wondering what drew you to this. I mean there are plenty of other books in this room, why did you choose the photo album?” he asked, keeping an even tone.
Lily looked at her lap. “Well, I was curious to see pictures of you as a child, but I also was feeling… I don’t know. Does it matter?”
“No,” said James, sighing. He didn’t really feel like dealing with a moody Lily at the moment. Not a Christmas. “Alright, well I came to tell you that it’s almost dinner,”
Lily looked at him sharply. “That’s why you came to fine me?” she asked, frowning.
“Well… yeah. Is that a problem?” he asked, confused by her behavior.
Her frown broke into a huge grin. She leapt out of her chair and threw herself at James, pulling him into a hug. Surprised, he stiffened for a moment, before hugging her back. When she finally let go, James was smiling bemusedly.
“Sorry,” Lily said quickly, “I’m just glad you came in to tell me it’s time for dinner,”
“Oh,” said James, staring at Lily as if she was mad. “You’re welcome.”
“It’s just that I’m glad I have a friend who would do that for me,” she said, “I mean, you’ve been so nice to me, letting me stay with you. And I know I’ve thanked you before, but I don’t feel like its enough.”
“Trust me, you being here is thanks enough,” said James. He turned around to go.
“Wait, I’m coming,” said Lily, grabbing the photo album. “But I’m taking this with me, I want to show Devon.”
“Oh, you don’t have to,” said James, as they left the room. He tried to take it from her hands.
“Oh yes I do.” said Lily laughing. “And if you’re afraid I will see something embarrassing, too late. I already saw the underwear-broomstick photo.”
“Ah, yes. That one” he said, nodding.
“Come on, it’s not that bad! You were so cute,” said Lily, laughing.
“What can I say, I’ve always been an attractive man,” said James, shrugging.
Lily rolled her eyes. “There we go again with the ‘man’ thing,” she said, remembering their train ride. Lily and James laughed all the way to the dining room.

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