A/N.: Hey, guys! This is more of a filler chapter. But there’s way more to come. And I hope you enjoy it anyway. There’s Emma and her family, her friends and, of course, Albus too. Please let me know what you think. Your review inspire me so much to write this! Have a good read!!
Ps.: if anyone needs some help getting into the Christmas spirit in July, here’s a suggestion of two beautiful songs (they’re a bit sad, but remind me of snow and Holidays!)
When Christmas Comes Around – Matt Terry
Christmas Lights - Coldplay
How are you love? Your dad sends of kisses. We miss you and can’t wait for you to come home! As an answer to your last letter, of course you can spend Christmas Eve with the Potters! James has been your friend for years and he’s always so polite! I didn’t understand, though, why Albus was the one to invite you... Well, I suppose you are doing a project together. Anyway, ask him for the address so you can take the Floo to their home. Everything’s fine here. We’re all waiting for you to come home. Your brother arrived yesterday and can’t wait to see you!
Lots of love, Mum.
I read the letter from my mum at the breakfast table with a smile. Christmas was all worked out. I didn’t have the chance to speak to Al since our last meeting but two days ago during lunch he told me about his parents’ confirmation by pointing me his newly arrived letter and giving me a thumbs up, along with his trademark wink.
- News from home? – Fred asks me, munching a toast.
- Yeah! Mason arrived yesterday!
He’s spending the whole holiday season with us!
- Your brother is my idol, Emma! – Jacob says, a bit too lovingly.
My only brother, Mason, is four years older than me and moved to Romania three years ago, pursuing his dream of being a dragon tamer. The boys all think he is a badass because of that and Zoe idolizes him for acting on her future profession. His natural charm helps too and I’ve seen her get really shy near him. He is the first wizard in my family and we’re very close. I can’t wait to see him again.
After our meal, or in case of James, more like two meals, we have a double period of Charms. I really like this subject. It fits so much the definition of Magic I used to have before I knew anything of the Wizarding World that it’s very amusing to me. Every class I get more in awe by what we can do with a simple wand.
At lunch I seat with Matt and his friends at the Hufflepuff table. We did truly become friends, after all. Though we only see each other during meals and studying sessions in the library, he’s a great listener and we already know each other a lot better.
- So, what are you doing for Christmas? – he asks, between mouthfuls of pumpkin cream.
- Nothing much. I’m spending Christmas Eve at the Potters this year.
- Really? – he raises his eyebrows – Albus invited you then?
- Yea... Wait, what?! – I realize what he’s said – Why do you think Albus invited me and not James?
I wasn’t even planning on telling him that Albus invited me. I assumed everyone knew James and I are friends and he is the obvious choice.
Matt just sips his tea and says:
- Well, I thought he finally made a move. Remember I told you in our Hogsmeade date you liked someone else? – he says nonchalantly.
- It was him you were talking about?
- Of course! Who else?
I didn’t answer him, letting the matter drop. It wasn’t James Matt thought I liked, after all. Was I missing something there?
- Hey, girls, what are you doing for Christmas – Zoe ask us, later tonight, while we’re getting to sleep.
- My grandparents are going to visit. So it probably includes my grandma’s traditional Shepherds pie. – Anna says licking her lips.
- Perfect! Are you staying home too, Emma? I thought we could get together after. Do a little party of our own. – Zoe gets excited.
- Humm... actually. I’m not staying home.
- Awwww Emma!
- Where are you going? – asks Anna, a bit curious, since I hadn’t told her anything.
I clear my throat:
- I’m spending Christmas Eve at the Potters.
They look at me as if I’ve grown two heads.
- James invited you? They never invite us. It’s a common agreement.
- Albus did. – I say quietly but I could as well have shouted cause they now look at me as if I’ve grown three heads and am breathing fire through them.
- I knew it!! – shouts Zoe. – I knew there was a thing between you two. And you didn’t let me write my story about it. A Gryffindor and a Slytherin! It would be amazing!
- Albus Potter invited you to spend Christmas at his home? – Anna looks confused, which isn’t a common look for her.
- It’s only Christmas Eve! – I protest. – And it’s not like that, he’s gonna help me with the History paper, letting me interview his dad.
They look even more intrigued, so I blurt out:
- And we have a lot to do for the Runes project so we’d have to meet up anyway. – I blush.
- If you say so. – Zoe says, with her eyebrows raised. – Though your blush says something different.
- You’ve really got to stop with this!
– I say, more seriously. – We’re just friends, nothing more. And he wouldn’t even look at me anymore if you say something like this in front of him. He’s a very reserved guy.
- We know, love. Don’t worry. – Anna placates with a smile, always comprehensive.
- Yeah, Emms. It’s just us joking, really. It’s good to see you making more friends, you’re always so shy.
I smile at them both, very grateful.
- Especially hot ones, which gives an excuse for us friends to check them out.
I throw a pillow at Zoe and we laugh.
- But, seriously, guys. I didn’t know you were planning this. I really don’t need to go, we can do our own party.
– I meant it. As awesome an opportunity as it was, I wouldn’t trade it for my friends.
- No! – they shout.
- You’re going Emma Parker! There was nothing planned anyway, and you are not gonna waste the opportunity to interview Harry bloody Potter and spend Christmas with Al Potter, that gorgeous boy. – Zoe sighs.
I throw another pillow at her.
In the last week of school before the Holidays, the student body is already in the Christmas spirit, completing the last homework before break. Or in case of Jacob and Fred, have already stopped studying altogether.
- I don’t understand how you stop caring about your studies. It’s Newts year! – Anna yells exasperated just as Jake and Fred have told us about their last detention during dinner.
Fred acts offended:
- We didn’t stop caring Anna, love. We’re just taking a well deserved break.
- For it to be well deserved, you have to earn it before. – Zoe says.
I high five her and we all laugh, minus Jake and Fred who pretend they have fallen off their chairs.
- You should do something during the Holidays. Chill out. – Jacob says
– Us men are going out!!
- For your information we’re doing something. Zoe and I, I mean. Emma has plans already. – Anna looks at me teasingly.
I roll my eyes.
- I’m spending Christmas Eve at your place, James.
James looks at me confused as if trying to remember something.
- You didn’t invite me, James. Albus did.
- What?! Albus?
- Yeah, we’re doing an assignment together, remember? And we’ve become quite good friends.
- Albus has never invited a girl for Christmas before.
I shrug, secretly very pleased by this bit of information.
- What can I say? I’m not just any girl.
Jake and Fred yell:
- Wow!! She got you there James!
- Go Emm!!
Zoe and Anna look at me surprised, but happy.
I could pretend that my new confidence doesn’t come from a certain green eyed boy.
But not even myself would buy that.
- I’d love to have you there Emm! Really! – James raises his hands to defend himself – I was just surprised, that’s all.
- Actually, Al is helping me with the History assignment, that’s the main reason really. He guaranteed an exclusive interview with your dad.
- Al must really like you. Dad hates interviews.
- We’re just friends, that’s all. And I won’t ask your dad anything personal. It’s all about the history really.
- That’s alright, Em. You know I trust you completely. I wasn’t even worried about that. The family wil love to have you there.
I smile and a weigh falls off my shoulders. I hadn’t realized how much James’ approval of this whole thing was important to me. He is one of my closest friends after all. I guess I’ll always care for his opinion.
The day before our trip back to London, I’m walking back from the library after returning some books when someone pulls me inside a classroom. The corridors are almost deserted after dinner so no one hears my scream of surprise. I haven’t even had the time to feel scared when I hear familiar laughter.
I really try to get angry at Albus for scaring me and mocking me but honestly, these days, I’m always wanting a reason to talk to him.
- Sorry, Emma. Didn’t want to attract attention.
I love how he says my name. With a more prolonged “m” than normal.
- Are you ok? – Al asks after I spend some time without answering.
Honestly he should be used to that by now.
- Fine! A little warning before would be nice though.
- Sorry. I thought you didn’t like the messages I normally send you.
- Why? I love them!
He looks surprised but no more than me for what slipped from my mouth. Very subtle Emma.
- I mean. I like them – I clear my throat – They’re well written. Great!
For the second time ever I see Albus blush, a pink color rising to his cheeks. While he sees me do it for the hundredth time.
- So, everything’s fine for you going to my place on Christmas Eve? – Al changes the subject. – I’ve already spoken to dad. There’s no problem with you interviewing him.
- Yeah! Just don’t forget to give me your address.
- I’ll send the location by owl. – he runs a hand through his hair.
- Great! Thanks again for doing this Al.
- No problem. My dad would have said yes if you asked either way.
- I meant spending Christmas with you. – I bite my lip, waiting for his answer.
- it’s a pleasure, Emma. I love spending time with you. – he says softly but I hear his emphasis on “love”.
I wait for him to correct himself as if to tease me. But he doesn’t.
- I gotta go. – He opens the door. – see you tomorrow.
My body shivers as he gives me a kiss on the cheek. And maybe it’s my friends’ influence but I’m almost sure his hand lingers a little as it touches mine.
One second later he is out the door and I’m alone with my thoughts in the dark classroom.
The next morning I closed my trunk after checking everything was in place, including my friends and family Christmas gifts, which may or may not include one for Albus. Alright, it did include one. But I told myself I was only giving it to him because I didn’t want to enter his home empty handed. Never mind I made it myself too.
Most of our dormitory was already clean and organized. It’s so much easier packing for winter break since we don’t have to bring all our stuff home.
That didn’t apply to our roommate Kate though.
- Where’s my bathing suit?! Please, someone help me find it! – she yells.
I almost wince as she takes clothes out of her bursting trunk, which she was almost closing.
- Why do you even need a bathing suit?? It’s winter!! – Zoe yells back, clearly out of patience.
- You never know. We may travel somewhere!! – Kate says, looking around.
Anna puts her hand on Zoe’s back before she loses her mind. Julia, Kate’s best friend, makes a sign for us to go while she stays helping. We follow her advice. It was almost one hour since we were turning our room upside down trying to find Kate’s things.
Down at breakfast, the Hall is full. Everyone excited to go home but knowing they’re gonna miss the castle.
- What took you so long? – Jake asked, with his mouth full of eggs.
- “What”? More like “who”? Kate doesn’t understand the concept of packing lightly. – Zoe says, hand on her head.
- I don’t get why. She looks gorgeous on anything. – Jake sighs.
- What’s the deal between you two, anyway? – Anna asks.
- Yeah, you hooked up on fifth year, didn’t get together but now you’re always swooning over her and flirting. – I continue.
- It was supposed to be just a hook up. But I don’t know. I have yet to find a kiss as good as hers. – Jake rests his head on the table.
- The heart wants what it wants, bro. – Fred pats his back.
- We’re going out anyway. Maybe you’ll find the one this Christmas. – Our red headed friend continues, excited.
- Count me out, guys. – James says beside me, but he has a proud smile on his face.
- Oh yeah. James is a whipped man now. – Jake laughs.
And as the girls reprimand then and the guys continue to joke around I have a new realization. James never liked to lose a party before. But his relationship with Sophia has been so solid, and he did spend more and more time with her, that he didn’t care anymore . And this fact didn’t bring me feelings of jealousy or hur like before. I was genuinely happy for my friend and his smile brought a smile to my lips too.
- Emma! – Fred brings me back to the conversation. – You’re gonna be with us this year right?
- Just one night. But don’t let me stop you by any means.
We all laugh.
- And don’t let it stop you from your little party girls. – I tell them seriously.
- Don’t worry, Em. – Anna takes my hand from across the table. – Maybe we’ll watch a movie together. We can do our party another day. Or here, back from break.
I smile and grab Zoe’s hand so we’re all holding hands. The boys start mocking us and I’m almost bursting with gratitude and fondness, seeing them all sitting around me.
One hour later, we’re at the station putting our baggage on the train. I’m busy trying to push mine in when someone clearly taller than me gives me a hand.
- Need some help, darling?
I turn around and look up to meet bright green eyes. Albus is already putting his hand in his black jeans pockets. He’s wearing a jeans shirt over a dark green hoodie and flashing his trademark white toothed smile. Does he have to wear green shirts just to make me even more mesmerized by his eyes?
I myself am wearing three coats. It’s quite cold outside. And still I’m almost sure I can feel his body heat, this close to mine.
- Are you ready to go home? – I can see his breath in the winter air and smell that same mint scent I remember from months before.
- Definitely! I love this place but it’s time for a break from all the homework.
- Couldn’t agree more. I myself am very excited for Christmas Eve. – he runs a hand through his hair, his eyes are shining, looking straight at mine.
- Well, me too. For the interview, of course. – I tease him.
He laughs, full and carefree. I realize I love the sound of his laughter, especially when it’s caused by me.
- Al! You coming or not? – Scorpius Malfoy calls him from his group of friends.
- I’ll see you around, Parker. – he squeezes my hand.
- See you, Potter.
My reddened cheeks aren’t just from the cold anymore.
The train journey to London was uneventful and just a great time spent with friends. We talked about the previous semester, Hogwarts gossip, played some Exploding Snap. At one point we all took a nap too.
Before I knew it, the Hogwarts Express was stopping at the station to a crowd of waiting families.
We helped each other take our trunks off the train, already hugging goodbye. Freddie pretended to be crying and pulled me off the ground making me laugh.
- I’ll see you on Christmas, Em. – James kissed my cheek.
- See you. – I hugged him. Jake grabbed me from behind.
These boys are way too strong for their own good.
Mine, Anna’s and Zoe’s families are talking to each other waiting for us and we all get to them together.
- We missed you, darling!! – my mum kisses me and hugs me tightly.
We are practically the same height and share the same brown hair.
- Me too, mum!!
My dad looks at me with his kind blue eyes.
- Come here, love. Your old man missed you too.
I laugh as he hugs me and kisses my head.
I look beside him and find my brother Mason with open arms. I jump at him and he catches me and spins me around. He’s almost a copy of my dad, with blue eyes and blond hair, but has my mum’s face.
- Missed you, bug.
- Missed you too.
After a bit of talk, the girls and their parents say goodbye, with my friends and I promising to send letters.
When they leave, my family and I stay while Mason talks to some of his old friends and I look around for something.
On the opposite end of the platform, a huge family of red heads is talking and laughing together. A group of messy black haired men stand out though. James is talking animatedly to his parents, Lily in the middle of the two. And Albus is laughing at the story his brother is telling. He sweeps his eyes through the station and finds me.
By this time, my dad is already with my trunk and mum calls me to go home. I turn to leave, not before receiving a traditional wink from a certain green eyed boy.
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