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The Christmas holidays arrived in a flurry of snow and rain. Teddy was bounding around the dorm in a fit of good spirits. We had all owled our parents and told them that we were staying with Teddy for the holidays. We were all packed the day before and were getting ready to floo to the Potters home. They had politely asked us to floo, rather than catch the Hogwarts express back, as Lily and Albus were currently grounded and Harry was rather busy at work. I had laughed at the description of Lily and Albus' antics, blowing up the cubby had been perhaps a bit dangerous, but it was certainly a funny tale. 

We met James Sirius Potter the Second (Poor kid has as bad a name as I did, I thought ruefully in amusement) outside McGonagalls office, James had just started his first year, and was looking relieved to be going home again. I remembered my own feeling of homesickness during my first year. And could empathize with the poor boy. I clapped him on the shoulder and winked at him. He smiled at me, and then bounded up the stairs into the office, clearly over excited to go home again.

"All ready then?" Asked McGonagall as we stepped into her office carrying our gear. She pursed her lips at our attire but said nothing more. 

Teddy flooed first shouting out, "The Potter Mansion!" 

Johnny and I followed shortly after. I was flooed into a large living room, and I carefully stepped out of the fireplace, and vacating the area in front quickly. As I presumed Nick flooed next and was catapulted out. Nick hated flooing and was pretty bad at it. Don was far more graceful and managed to daintily hop out. James shot out, skidding on his butt and slamming into a table. He didn't cry though, he just jumped up and looked around. His eyes drinking in the sight of home. 

"Aunt Ginny?" Called out Teddy, "We're here!" 

"Teddy? James? Is that you, boys? We're in the kitchen." Ginny called out. Followed by a sharp reprimand to Albus. We walked into the kitchen where we found the Potter family making a cake. Albus was dusted in flour, having clearly upended the bag into a bowl. Lily, the youngest and only girl was clinging to her Mum. I smiled at this picture perfect family. The boy was a carbon copy of his Dad, while the little girl took after her beautiful mother. 

"Hello, Mrs. Potter," I said politely. As I entered the kitchen first, Teddy was needed to help James control his sudden homesickness. He had started to cry. I saw him enter out of the corner of my eye, his eyes slightly red but otherwise cheerful.

"Severus, is that really you?" She asked. "Merlin you have shot up." She walked around the table to enfold Teddy and then each of us into a hug. 

"Johnny," She smiled hugging him, "Still handsome as ever." 

Johnny grinned charmingly at her, "Still beautiful, as ever, Mrs. Potter." Johnny returned winking roguishly. 

Ginny laughed delightedly, "Always the charmer." Ginny then moved to Nick, "Hello Nicholas, how are your parents and sister?" She asked gently.

"Very well, Mrs. Potter." Nick said smiling at her. "Glad to be rid of me for a few extra days while they have Genevieve and her friends over."

"Quite understandable," Ginny nodded agreeably. "And how are you Gordon?" Ginny smiled at the gentle giant of the group, his Mohawk and tattoos gave him a fierce aspect but he was so gentle with her children. And with Nick, for whom he nursed a soft spot. She looked forward to having a few late night conversations with him.

"Quite good, Mrs. P. How are you?" Don asked his deep voice rumbling in his chest.

"Oh you know, trying to keep up with Lily and Al," Ginny said, fixing her son and daughter with a piercing glare. They wilted a little under the force of her stare. Lily had been splashing milk and cake batter over the table top.

James wandered over to his mum and gave her a brief hug, before walking over to his brother and sister and started telling them all about his first term at Hogwarts.

"Did you want a hand?" Teddy asked, causing the Potter boys to grin at him, and nod at their mum. "It'd be no trouble, we'll just take them outside for a bit." Ginny looked at them uncertainly, weighing up free time versus leaving two unrestrainable boys and an excitable girl with five sixteen to seventeen year olds.

"I'll behave myself mum," James said earnestly while looking angelically at his mother. "I promise. And I'll make sure Al and Lily behave too!" James wheedled.

She pursed her lips, "Oh very well, at least I'll be able to finish this cake." She waved her hands in a shooing motion, "Out, out out!". Ginny smiled at the delighted faces of her children as she sighed and tried to salvage the cake they had been trying to make.

The three Potter children dragged Teddy outside, followed by my friends. I stood just inside the doorway for a while, while Ginny puttered around, trying to fix the damage that her son and daughter had made to the cake mix. It looked to a rather interesting task. I chuckled to myself, I wasn't really one for baby sitting, unless it was Lily, that girl had me wrapped around her little finger.

"There's an easier way to do that," I said finally, pulling out my wand. "I've been reading up on cooking by magic. As long as you don't dob me in to the ministry?" I grinned cheerfully.

Ginny rolled her eyes in amusement, "You're irrepressible. Oh go on then, try not to blow up my kitchen, I could use a cup of coffee." Ginny watched me as I worked, a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. I wondered what was so amusing for her, before setting myself to my task.

Laughing, I started waving my wand and repairing the damage to what I assumed would be a chocolate cake. I was completely focused on my task, that I didn't notice Ginny exit the kitchen. Cooking, I thought, was like potions, you had to follow the instructions, certainly. But you also had to know what went where, and why. Listening to my 'sixth sense' as Nick called it, I doubled the choc chips and added more flour, a dash of cocoa and milk. There, I thought, now for the baking part. I tapped my wand on the oven, lighting and heating it instantly, placing the cake in carefully, I closed the door with a satisfied smile. I then turned my attention to the dishes. Dishes I thought, didn't need magic to clean themselves, there was something satisfying about scouring stains and dirt from metal objects, letting the water cleanse them clean again.

"All done," I said happily to myself when I put the last spatular into the holder.

"You know we have a house elf, right?" Said a childish voice. "Her name is Hippy."

I turned around to see Lily Potter standing at the kitchen counter. "I know, but I like to clean the dished by hand. I'm not sure why, it's just satisfying I guess." I smiled at her.

She regarded me seriously with her brown eyes. "Okay." She shrugged. Her little face was serious, and her hair a red mane of tangled knots that tumbled down her thin shoulders. Her eyes were amazingly expressive, a kind of browny green that shone with childish delight at the world. I hadn't know this girl long, but I loved her nonetheless.

"Why aren't you inside, Lils?" I asked her quietly. It was curious, a small child who refused to be outside? Particularly a child who was as willful and boisterous as she was. 

"James is being mean, and Albus is boring." Lily complained, I raised my eyebrows in understanding. "So I wanted to make the cake, but you've finished it." She said this last part accusingly.

"I'm sorry, Lily," I apologized. "But if you want, you can help ice it with me?" 

"That's would be nice," Lily agreed seriously, reaching up to twirl her finger through her hair. "What colour icing are we going to use?"

"I thought I'd make it from scratch. But I can always use a colour changing charm on it if you want?" I said helpfully. "Come here, let's start planning the decorations and colouring." Lily walked over to me, and I lifted her up onto the counter.

"I'm not supposed to be up here, Mummy said its dirty." Lily said worriedly.

"I won't tell her, if you don't. It'll be out secret," I whispered, winking conspiratorially to her. She giggled, and nodded. "Okay, what are we going to colour it?" I asked.

An hour later Lily and I were staring at a bright blue cake with pink icing and green, red and white decorations on it. There was a red man who was standing in front of a green house with a white cat next to him. There was blue writing on the bottom that said 'Decorated by Lily and Severus, for Daddy'. 

"It's a masterpiece!" I proclaimed, hilariously, Lily giggled her agreement. It had been a lot of work charming the cake to colours that Lily had wanted. But now, after all of this, I thought that my colour change charms were second to none. "What shall we do now, Miss Lily?" I asked the eight year old girl.

"We eat it!" Lily crowed. "But when Daddy gets home." Lily added frowning at me accusingly. "So keep your fingers away from Daddy's cake!" I grinned at her.

"Okay then," I said agreeably. Lily, I had quickly discovered was very bossy, and had a piercing voice when it was raised. "What shall we do now?" I asked after I had placed preserving and untouchable charms upon the cake. I had explained what I was doing to the headstrong child, and she agreed with me that we couldn't trust Johnny or her brothers with our cake. 

"Let's go have tea in my room, I can introduce you to Marvin." Lily decided. With that I was promptly towed from the kitchen upstairs to Lily's room which was tastefully decorated in greens and browns. Marvin, it turned out was a purple and orange spotted octopus.

"He's not dangerous, is he?" I asked warily as I took Marvin from Lily. Marvin was velvety soft with plastic eyes. Even though I knew the toy wasn't dangerous, there was something unnerving about its slightly lopsided expression, giving it a fierce countenance.

"Of course not, silly, he's a muggle toy!" Lily said rolling her eyes at me.

I regarded her silently, she has too much of a handle on sarcasm for an eight year old. "What are we going to do then?" I asked warily. 

"We're gonna play tea parties. Honestly don't you listen?" She asked me seriously. Looking at me severely.

"Yeah, Sev, don't you listen?" Laughed a voice from the doorway. Don was leaning against the frame, his brown eyes watching us laughter sparkling in their depths.

"Donny!" Squealed Lily, so far as I know, Lily is the only one allowed to call Don, Donny. He'd gut me if I tried. "I want a piggy back ride!" Lily demanded, she was very much the little princess. Demanding,and spoilt, but really she had all ousts blame for that, she'd had all five of us spoiling her since she was born, along with her father and uncles. 

I smirked at Don, "Yeah, Don, Princess Lils wants a piggy back ride." I grinned broadly at my best friend. Don rolled his eyes at me.

"What Princess Lily wants, Princess Lily gets." Don proclaimed, walking up to her and scooping her up. This was probably why Lily was such a princess. She was the baby girl, and we were like her big brothers. And what Don had said was quite realistic. What Lily wanted, she really did get.

"Why are you up here?" I asked Don, as he hoisted a squealing Lily onto his broad shoulders.

"Teddy and Johnny are playing two aside Quidditch with the boys. And Nick is talking school with Ginny. So I thought I'd come and save you from Lily. That and I couldn't let you have all the fun." Don explained. He dark face split with a broad grin. 

"Sounds fun. Shame we don't have enough people for four aside Quidditch. That would be awesome." I mused. Looking out the window to see Teddy and James battling it out for the Quaffle. Johnny was screaming at James to beat Teddy up, one of the few times he was against Teddy in anything. James and Johnny always played together, calling themselves the J-Team. While Teddy and Albus were more reserved in their naming, calling themselves the TeAl team. It was always fun to watch their games. They were fast and rough. 

"Hey, earth to Sev?" Don bellowed. I snapped out of my thoughts and looked at them. "Princess Lils wants you to carry her now. We are going outside to the tree house." Don told me, smiling happily.

"Okay." I grinned and collected Lily from Don. She immediately hauled herself onto my shoulders, sitting up there like she owned the world.

"To the treehouse!" Lily ordered. Don and I shared a grin as we did as we were told.

The afternoon was spent playing with Lily, James and Albus, although the fighting and piggy backing was fun, the kid were hard work. Ginny was constantly thanking us for giving her some much needed rest. It was nice, I reflected to be able to come here and be myself. A wizard. My parents didn't understand, nor did they truly wish too. But Harry and Ginny had taken us all in as Teddy's friends and had given us an extended home and family. The Potters were very generous. Dinner was the usual torrid affair of attempting to get Al to eat his beans, Lily to eat her sprouts and James to eat anything of the vegetable variety at all. When Harry got home the kids all went flying over to him, ignoring their mothers calls for them to return to eat their dinner. Eventually, after an hour and a half wrestling with the stubborn devils the Potters call their children, they were eventually tucked up in bed. Sighing the five of us all collapsed into our room.

"Merlin," Johnny groaned, "I never want any children!" 

We all laughed and agreed. Passing the rest of the night with jokes and laughter before we decided it was late enough to head out.

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