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Chapter Fifteen: The House in Godric’s Hollow was decorated to the hilt. Bows of holly, mistletoe, the sweetest little Christmas Tree Lily had ever seen. Everywhere her eye settled she saw something festive as she merrily cooked in the kitchen. Every now and then, with a loud pop, the gifts beneath the tree would vanish and reappear. It was a spell James had placed on them to keep Lily from peeking. He told her she was too impatient to ever wait for anything and they had both laughed. But she was waiting for Christmas to give him his special gift. She’d gone to Hogwarts with the excuse that she wanted to talk to McGonagall. “You see Minerva all the time at meetings,” James had commented, “Why do you need to run off and talk to her now?” “I need to ask her advice about my sex life.” She grinned and stuck out her tongue, they’d both collapsed with laughter at the mere thought. Then, when they were done laughing, they were rather busy doing something else entirely so the subject hadn’t come up again. Madame Pomfrey had tears of joy in her eyes when she had confirmed what Lily suspected, she was pregnant. “Are you happy Lily?” She’d asked. “Happy is too small a word for this!” Lily nearly shouted with glee. “But you can’t tell a soul Madame Pompfrey, not anyone, not even the Headmaster.” “My word of honor, dear.” Poppy had promised. “When are you going to tell James?” “I’m going to tell him at Christmas.” Lily left Hogwarts, running lightly through the Great Hall, delighted by the enchanted ceiling that was sprinkling her glistening hair with snow. It was three days until Christmas and Lily was already hard at work getting things cooked for the feast. She’d taken time off from the ministry in order to get ready for the party. James had transferred into the Auror’s department and spent a great deal of time training with the Longbottoms primarily. “God they’re good!” James had told her enthusiastically. “You wouldn’t know it to look at either of them but they are both unbelievably skilled. They can block spells with just the flick of a wrist and they even have incantations for protection against mind invasion.” “You used to hate the Dark Arts, James.” Lily reminded him. “I still do in a way Lily, I just know now that it’s necessary to know as much as possible about them.” James was suddenly serious. But strangely, the violent activities of the last few months had slowed as Christmas approached. When Lily had asked Dumbledore why that was his answer had made perfect sense, “He’s weaker at Christmas, Lily. He despises it. Such a time of life and hope, it is against everything that he is.” “It’s going to be a wonderful party Lily.” James said and led her into the living room where the tree lights twinkled. “I have a surprise for you.” “You do? Well let’s have it then but we can’t take too long, I’ve got to ice that cake soon.” “Not that, you lusty woman you.” James teased her then considered. “Well, perhaps after you ice the cake.” He smile was full of mischief. They were all enjoying the break from the hard slog they had been facing. No one ever spoke his name any longer, even the Daily Prophet had taken to writing out “He Who Shall Not Be Named” when there were reports. Still, the air of terror that had been pervasive for what now seemed like ever had definitely lessened. “So, my surprise would be?” Lily prompted and James waved his wand at the tree. Immediately it began to sing Christmas Carols in a low tone and magical snow sifted down around it, vanishing before it ever hit the carpet. “Oh! How lovely!” The fire in the grate suddenly burned bright green and they knew that there was a visitor coming. Remus Lupin stepped from the fire and smiled at them. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything.” “Not at the moment, Moony but I’ll be frank, you can’t stay long.” James said with a huge grin. Lily blushed crimson. “I won’t be.” Remus’s hair had developed a few strands of grey in it. He never spoke of Amelia though and overall, he seemed to be doing well. “I just came to see if there was anything you’d like to send to Megan we’re doing sort of a relay, it will be harder to trace that way.” Megan Hogan would not be at the Christmas Party, she was spending the holidays somewhere else. Probably the same place that Dumbledore had whisked her off to after the night Amelia had died. Not even Lily knew where it was, but she suspected that Sirius Black did. He sometimes went missing for days at a time and everyone knew not to question him when he reappeared. “I’ve got loads of things for her.” Lily missed Megan and hoped that she would be able to come out of hiding soon. She gathered together a large stack of presents and handed them to Remus. “Lily, I’ll need a sack the size of Santa’s to haul all this with me.” Remus was amused, but obviously pleased. The firelight glowed green again. Entrance to the house was blocked to anyone but a member of the Order and they all turned expectantly towards the fire. Alice Moore stepped out and began brushing off her clothes. Her face was no longer round as she’d lost weight. She was thin and rather pale, but she was smiling. “Hello. I heard you might be here.” She was speaking to Remus. “I’ve got something for Meg, if you’d just take it along.” Alice Moore had apologized to Megan as soon as she had come to her senses but they would never be true friends again. No matter how much Alice didn’t want to blame Megan, in a small corner of her heart, she still did. She handed over a small package. The fire glowed again. “For heaven’s sake Remus, did you put an announcement in the Daily Prophet?” James laughed. Into the room stepped Peter Pettigrew struggling with the weight of an enormous turkey. “Lily, you’ve got to get a house elf.” He said by way of greeting. “Thanks Peter, James would you mind…” James grabbed the turkey and headed for the kitchen. “We’re just getting our gifts together for Megan.” Remus told his short, stout friend. “Have you anything you’d like to send?” Peter Pettigrew blinked oddly and said, “No, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that anyone was traveling out to…” He left the statement open-ended for moment. “Wherever she is.” Peter finally finished. Of all the members of the Order, Peter seemed the only one to ever hint that he’d like to know where Megan was. Lily suspected that he had a bit of a crush on her. “Well, wherever she is, she’ll have a Happy Christmas.” Remus said with all the enthusiasm he could find. Somewhere inside of him, the hollow feeling threatened to rise up again.“That reminds me Lily, Sirius…” “Won’t be here for Christmas. It’s all right Remus, I already guessed that.” They were all silent for a moment. Lily hoped that poor Megan wouldn’t have too lonely of a holiday. ::::::::::::: Megan ran through the glen shrieking with laughter. Plowing through the snow as she went. “Come back here Hogan!” Sirius Black was laughing, snow still clinging to his face. “That was a dirty trick.” “All the better because you fell for it!” Megan shouted over her shoulder. Sirius had arrived an hour before and Dumbledore had left quite promptly afterwards. His eyes twinkling behind his glasses. Since then, Sirius and Megan had been playing in the snow. Megan had bewitched the forest to bombard Sirius with snowballs. Megan had no real idea of where she was but she was fairly certain she wasn’t in England. There was a Confudus charm on the fireplace, if anyone were to arrive, they would promptly forget where they were when they’d arrived. The same thing would happen to them when they emerged on the other side. It had been Professor Flitwick’s idea and it helped make Sirius feel better about Meg’s safety. If anyone happened to stumble across Meg’s location, they would forget it immediately. It was very unlikely that anyone would, her flu was not on any network and operated only under a cloaking spell. Only Sirius and Dumbledore were immune to the charm, or so Sirius thought. One time when the fire glowed green Dumbledore had stepped forth and was quickly followed by two confused looking people, a man and a woman with the last name of Weasley. Megan shook their hands, greeting them pleasantly and if they had ever wondered why she had nodded to Dumbledore afterwards, they would have promptly forgotten as soon as they left. It was a gorgeous little cottage though and Megan was not too unhappy there, although the days did drag a bit. Sometimes she would amuse herself by bewitching the contents of the house. She had spent an entire afternoon making the china cabinet waltz with the sideboard. However, Dumbledore came frequently and Sirius was as faithful as could be. She never told Sirius that Severus Snape had visited her three times. It would have enraged Sirius to the point of homicide and betrayed Snape’s role. Megan had no choice but to conceal these strange visits from her devoted boyfriend. It had surprised her to no end, the day she had been sitting reading a book on the sofa and the firelight had flared green. She put the book down immediately, ready to welcome either her old headmaster or her lover. She’d nearly died of shock when Snape’s tall, thin frame had emerged. “God you put the heart across me!” Meg screamed and had her wand out, pointed at his chest. “What are you doing here? Is there trouble?” “No.” Snape sniffed. “There’s no trouble.” “Then why are you…” but suddenly Meg understood. Severus was lonely. Unlike her he had no group of friends. “Would you like a pot of tea?” “Tea would not be out of the question.” Severus said stiffly. “I can’t stay long.” Won’t break my heart, thought Meg but what she said instead was, “Dumbledore told you how to find me?” “Indeed.” Snape’s eyes roamed around the room. Megan’s large comfortable bed was off to one side in the cottage. “Have a seat then, stay a bit now that you’ve bothered to come.” She knew Snape was trustworthy. What she could not make out was why Dumbledore would have told him where she was. ::::::::::: Severus Snape had tried long and hard to figure out a potion that would stop the dream. He knew that his mind was more vulnerable to penetration when he was sleeping and so he had finally been forced to sneak away and consult with his former headmaster. It was imperative that the dreams stop or else he might be discovered. “Severus, these dreams never vary?” Dumbledore had not looked perturbed. “Because I can assure you that Miss Hogan is quite well and entirely unharmed.” Severus had been loathe to admit what they contained, horrified to confess to Dumbledore that he dreamed. nightly of Megan Hogan’s dead eyes staring at him. “It worries me headmaster,” Snape had said, “And it is beginning to effect my ability to keep my mind closed even when I am awake.” “Tell me Severus, why is it that you worry for Miss Hogan’s welfare?” Snape wasn’t even sure himself. “It would be a terrible loss for the Order. She’s still needed.” Dumbledore had stared at him with his penetrating gaze for more than a minute. “It would indeed be a crushing loss.” Dumbledore felt troubled. Severus Snape was a very proud man and he already hated Sirius Black, James Potter and Remus Lupin with such intensity that the emotion was nearly flammable. He had always thought that it was Lily Potter that Snape had loved and perhaps he still did. He leaned back in his chair and thought carefully. The young man had no idea of his own feelings for the Hogan girl but it was sad indeed that Severus Snape seemed doomed to only love those whose hearts belonged to the two men he hated most in the world. Dumbledore had answered. “It seems best that you see Miss Hogan from time to time, it should ease your mind about her safety.” Severus had agreed to the plan but Dumbledore was troubled as to what it all might mean. The very infrequent visits had in fact stopped the dreams. :::::::::: “Oh you’re a cad! Let me up!” Megan had squealed from the snow covered ground. “Certainly m’lady but you must agree to certain terms…” Sirius was laughing. “Ask me to marry you again Black and I’ll light your britches afire!” She had been laughing. “Oh I’ve given up hope in that area.” Sirius lied. “I had other terms in mind.” “Speak your piece and be done with it you daft bugger.” Megan was still pinned in the snow. “I was thinking of a hot bath.” Sirius said loftily. “Well what’s stopping you then?” Megan struggled against him but he was much larger than she was not to mention incredibly strong. “I wasn’t thinking of taking one alone.” “Ah well then, you’ll have the cake of soap to keep you company. Now let me up you silly thing.” Laughing in defeat, Sirius had released her. She was up and away in second. Sirius had played Quidditch for years but he swore that Meg was swifter on her feet than most people were on a broom. :::::::::::: “Don’t Megan.” Sirius said later when they were alone in the house and thoroughly warmed. Her wand was out, pointed at her own chest. She had been about to utter the contraception spell. “You’re being ridiculous again. You’re prone to that you know.” Megan completed the spell. “Fine then, I can’t even trap you into to marrying me.” He’d laughed but it had been without mirth, then he’d lunged at her. He wasn’t even sure that he wanted a child, but he knew that the only time Megan had been willing to consider marrying him was when she had been pregnant. He longed to hold her and know that she was his, and he was hers forever. “Wait a moment love, you know that spells you put on yourself always take a bit longer to take full effect.” Megan giggled and tried to get away from him, moving quickly across the bed. But he was used to her movements now and had anticipated the dodge. He caught her easily. “Then I’ll just have to be otherwise occupied until we’re ready.” He laughed and kissed her some more. ::::::::: Lily looked down the table and smiled. Nearly everyone she loved in the world was there in her magically concealed home in Godric’s Hollow. They had all eaten their fill and lounged about, talking, and laughing. “You’re the best cook in all the country, Lily.” Alice Moore had said and Remus had agreed with her. “Truly a spectacular feast, Lily.” Peter said, although in truth he had barely picked at his food. He was still trying to fight it, the dislike he felt towards his own friends. Most of the time his head ached with the effort. He hadn’t wanted to eat Lily’s excellent food it seemed tainted to him. She had been the one who had done this all. The Marauders had been a solid and tight knit group before James had become obsessed with her. “Knut for your thoughts, Peter.” Alice said to him across the table and he realized she had been watching him rather closely. “I was just hoping that we all have a Happy Christmas.” Peter said with forced cheer. :::::::: After everyone had left and they had cleaned up the mess James and Lily were alone at last. “Maybe we really should get a house elf, Lily.” James joked as he helped with the cleaning. “Well it certainly isn’t as if it’s too strenuous to keep this place up.” Lily flicked her wand and the sink full of dishes began washing themselves. They retired together to the living room, looking at the tree, holding each other. Sometimes Lily wondered how they could be so absolutely happy together with the world in the state that it was. The magical clock on the mantle shifted gears and announced “Happy Christmas.” It was past midnight. James looked closely at his wife, and thought how truly beautiful she was. She’d put on a tiny bit of weight and it suited her, filling out her cheeks, seemingly adding even more luster to her hair. She turned and looked at him, her almond shaped, emerald green eyes dancing with joy. “We should each give each other one gift now.” She said suddenly. “It could start a tradition. Our first married tradition for our first married Christmas.” “I like the sound of that.” James said, admittedly he would have worn a goose for a hat if it would make Lily happy. “You first.” He stood and handed her a package from beneath the tree. She made a great show out of shaking it and listening to it before removing the paper. It was an intricately carved silver picture frame, with their wedding photo in it. There they all were Lily and James flushed with happiness, Sirius grinning charmingly, Remus raising his glass in a toast. Peter looking a tad uncomfortable in his dress robes, Alice waving like mad and Amelia, smiling jubilantly. Megan wasn’t in the photo and this made Lily wonder where her dark haired brilliant eyed friend was this evening. “It’s lovely James!” Lily said and kissed him. “Are you ready for yours?” “Why? Do I have to prepare?” James teased her. “You may well want to.” He looked at her enquiringly and she drew his hand onto her abdomen. For a moment he looked baffled and then he whooped with joy and pulled her into a fiercely protective embrace. “A baby?” He asked, his face buried in her hair, his eyes glistening with joyful tears. “That would seem to be the rumor.” Lily was blushing and grinning from ear to ear. He drew back, held her face in his hands and then kissed her softly, taking time to trace both of her lips gently with his own. “Well God bless Argus Filch!” James finally shouted. “I beg your pardon?” “He chased me into the library, he put all of this in motion.” James was tickled. “I absolutely forbid you to use that name in connection to our baby again.” Lily was laughing so hard she could barely speak. “Well then, give me something else to think about.” James grin was definitely mischievous. “Fine, I will.” Lily said, and then she did. :::::::::::: Sirius watched Megan sleeping, her hands tucked under her chin, her long black lashes curving down onto her cheeks. Her hair curled around her face, making her look angelic. Then she snored lightly and he burst into gales of laughter. This immediately woke the sleeping woman and she sat up indignantly. “What’s so riotously funny?” “You snore!” Sirius was gasping for breath. “Tiny little, snores. It’s the most adorable thing in the world!” “You should hear yourself Black, it’s like trying to sleep with a freight train.” Megan was laughing now too. Sirius peered underneath the covers at Megan for a moment and then returned his gaze to her face with a grin. “You are entirely insatiable.” Megan said in mock disgust. “Well, I’m young, and at my peek.” Sirius answered. Megan giggled, “You know, if you weren’t such a handsome creature I’d never consent to this, disturbing my sleep so that you can satisfy your…” He stopped her with a kiss that left her breathless. “You were saying?” He asked. “I was saying that you should hand me my wand.” She snuggled closer to him. “You’ll be the death of me yet, Black.” A chill suddenly ran down her spine but she decided to ignore it. Even a hunted seer deserved to take a break from pondering fate at Christmas.

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